Tag Archives: MMO Expansions

YC119.3 Update Brings Rorqual Nerfs and Bubble Decay to New Eden

This month’s update for EVE Online, YC119.3, brings some significant changes to New Eden.

I am once again content to use CCP’s logo for the update

The Rorqual and its capabilities are once again in the sights of CCPs nerf gun.  The industrial capital ship, which long languished in POSes across low and null sec space as an AFK booster for mining ops, was given a serious boost of its own with the Ascension expansion back in November.  Suddenly its new mining drones were the path to wealth in null sec.  Even after the previous nerf to mining yields, Rorquals from Delve to Cobalt Edge were still out making bank according to the February economic report.

February 2017 report mining value by region

This was bringing down mineral prices thus, according to Dinsdale Pirannah, who I am going to troll on this front (“Trolling Detected” tag deployed), depriving high sec miners their inalienable right to grown rich by mining veldspar two jumps out of Jita. (Note the mining value of the high sec regions around Jita, Lonetrek and The Forge, on that chart.)

So, despite the likely overall net benefit of making production cheaper and lowering prices for all (plus the insane nearly 103 trillion ISK negative trade balance Delve, the mining capital of New Eden, was running on that report, which means that ISK was likely enriching high sec, not impoverishing it) that had to be fixed!

Okay, the Rorqual has been too much of a money printing machine of late, but I wanted to point out that the economics aren’t as simple as “high sec loses.”  So now the billion ISK mining drones that Rorquals use (which will also now provide kill mails) will have higher skill requirements to get tech II benefits, while a change to spread out the asteroids in mining belts and anoms means that drone round trip time will effectively reduce yield.  This will reduce overall productivity of the Rorqual by an estimated 25%.

High sec has been protected from belt spread by having the lock ranges of mining barges increased proportional to the change.

Meanwhile, the invulnerable PANIC jump hictor usage of the Rorqual has been curtailed a bit, as the ship now needs to have an asteroid locked in order to activate its PANIC module.  So long as Jay can keep his super carriers out of asteroid belts, this should improve his quality of life.

Also on the null sec nerf parade is carrier ratting, likely the greatest source of individual null sec wealth.  (If CCP is controlled by Goons, how come they can’t stop this?)  Fighter signature radii are being increased and NPCs will view them as more threatening, thus making fighters both easier to hit and more likely to be targeted in the first place.  The range of responses I have seen to this change have gone from “carrier ratting is dead” to “no big deal if you pay attention.”

Since I haven’t mined in ages and still rat in an Ishtar, neither of these changes make a difference to me personally, but the drama around the changes has been mildly entertaining.  And fighters are getting a UI pass as well, so maybe I’ll figure out how to use them properly some day.

Another big change coming up for null sec relates to mobile warp disruptors, or anchorable bubbles as I generally hear them called. (I love when player terminology deviates from the official terminology.)  Up until today, these things lasted forever once you dropped them, were a pain to shoot, had enough passive regen to make them somewhat proof against solo attacks, and after all that work didn’t even provide a freakin’ kill mail.  Each of these items has been addressed in some way.

The biggest deal is that bubbles will die of their own accord when left in space.  The timers are:

  • Two days for all T1 bubbles
  • One week for all T2 bubbles
  • Two weeks for all Syndicate bubbles

Meanwhile, hit points have been reduced, regen has been toned down, and they now provide kill mails.  Let the bubble holocaust begin!  Also, the updates entry for these changes uses a screen shot I took at 319 station in Delve back in 2012.

319 Station, Many Bubbles Ago

Then there is a great big change to scanners and probes and that interface.  That has really been a work in progress since I started player, but maybe this time for sure!  I will have to see it in action to see if it makes any difference to my own indifferent scanning skills.

I mentioned the change to the Caldari Cormorant destroyer in a post last week, but the Caldari Chimera carrier is also getting a new look.  We will see how the former sits with me once it is live in space.  The latter… well the old model always looked like some sort of amphibian life that was trying to wade ashore, so I suppose it couldn’t get much worse… could it?

Those are what I think are the big items coming with today’s update, which has been deployed.  For further details the patch notes and updates page are both available.  And, as always, it isn’t an EVE Online release/update without another music track to go with it.

The Last EVE Online Update for YC118

After the big Ascension expansion in EVE Online last month, we’re back to smaller updates with just fixes and a few features showing up for a while.

But this update, called YC118.10, also heralds the end of an era in null sec.  Starting today, players may no longer deploy outposts or outpost upgrades in sovereign null sec.  Outposts are the official term for what we generally call stations, which is where most people make their homes.

Station bubbled

No more bubbles on the station undock to camp people once they’re gone

In the age of citadels though the plan is to remove outposts, stationary permanent structures that can be captured but never destroyed.  Out in the wilds of null we shall eventually all live in and work and produce and sell in structures that can be blown up.  It will be like wormhole space, only with gates and local.  And player owned star bases, POSes, will go the same way as well some day.  Though not any day soon, as mining/drilling platforms seem to be at least a year away at this point. (A statement from CCP on structure parity.)

Of course, this change has long been on CCP’s road map, so you have to wonder what sort of people would even bother with the expense of a new outpost these days.

Oh, yeah...

Oh, yeah…

Actually, that latest one pushed another GSF deployment off the list.  But we still need outposts for now.  You still cannot insure your ship in a citadel yet, finding assets in them is still imperfect, and transactions in them seem to make EVEMon crash for me.

Addendum: EN24 has a good piece up about the end of outposts.

As for features with this release, the big one seems to revolve around defender missiles.  As revealed at EVE Vegas, defender missiles are finally getting a rework in order to make them useful, so those skill points I put into them back in 2007 may now pay off!

A CCP graphic that is supposed to be a defender missile battery

A CCP graphic that is supposed to be a defender missile battery

Defender missiles have been pretending to be useful since I started playing EVE Online over a decade back.  Now, finally, they will have a place in the combat meta, at least in null sec, destroying incoming bombs launched from stealth bombers.  Null sec battleship fleets, long the primary victim of such bombing runs, can now defend themselves.

According to the details in the forums, defender missiles will also require a special defender launcher which can only be fitted on destroyer class vessels.  To make sure they are not completely over powered, the launchers will have a two minute cycle time (one minute when fit to command destroyers) and will randomly target bombs in flight, so launching for maximum fleet defense effect may take some finesse.

Other than that, there are some new reasonably priced SKINs for the Yoiul Festival and another set just for Sisters of EVE ships.

Everything else seems to be fixes or tuning.  Excavator drone yields have been reduced 32%, probably because, according to the November economic report, we’re strip mining Delve half to death.  The new player experience is getting some tuning, and NPC mining fleets got some changes.

Stations, which got citadel-like traffic lanes previously, are getting more of the same along with billboards running the same ads you see at gates or when docked.  Probably the most real-life change in this update, more pervasive advertising.

There are other items in the Patch Notes and on the EVE Updates page, but that is meat of the update for me.  The update is already live, so it is all there to see.

Of course, there has to be a theme song for every update.  This time we get the thumping theme “Into the Light.”

 

EverQuest Launches Empires of Kunark

After decades if slumber, Imperator Tsaph Katta awakens and vows to reform the Combine Empire – the progenitors of much of the human race – by any means necessary. He will lead them into a renewed age of prosperity. Tsaph Katta focuses on rebuilding the coalition between the races of Norrath in order to cement his place in the annals of history as The Great Unifier. But not all are ready to bend to the will of Katta and his allies, least of all the current inhabitants of Kunark. Will a unified Norrath prevail, or will the Combine’s arrival in Kunark lead to a war of catastrophic proportions. Find out in Empires of Kunark, EverQuest’s 23rd expansion!

-EverQuest Empires of Kunark promo text

The fourth new expansion this week (following Minecraft, EVE Online, and EverQuest II), which went live yesterday, is the Empires of Kunark expansion for EverQuest, the 23rd expansion for the game.

Everybody loves Kunark

Everybody loves Kunark

This is a nostalgia play by Daybreak as it returns to the setting of one of the most fondly remembered expansions, Ruins of Kunark.

The only fully good MMO expansion ever

The only fully good MMO expansion ever

It has actually taken them a while to get back to Kunark, given that the first expansion came out back in April of 2000.  I think they’ve done pirate themed expansions twice since then.

Anyway, without a site like EQ2 Wire covering EverQuest, I do not have as expansive a list of new features to steal as I did with yesterday’s post.  I have to make do with the official site, which isn’t always as helpful as you might imagine.  The latest item in the News section on the forums is an announcement that Daybreak branded game cards are coming, game cards which have since been discontinued.

From what I can glean, the expansion is the standard fare of new things to do with no rise in the level cap.

  • 7 Expansion Zones
  • New Quests and Missions
  • 8 New Raids
  • 24 New Collections
  • Familiar Key Ring – Access to your familiars in one easy location! Store up to 10 familiars per character, with the ability to buy additional slots to handle all of your familiar storage.

And, as with the previous day’s EverQuest II expansion, Empires of Kunark is available at various prices, depending on your need for fluff.

The Broken Mirror? Try the broken gaming budget!

I loved Kunark and all, but is any form of Kunark worth $140?

Unlike the EQII return to Kunark however, I am not at all tempted to pick up Empires of Kunark.  I follow EverQuest mostly out of a sense of nostalgia these days.  I haven’t played it in any serious way since the release of the Fippy Darkpaw progression server, when Skronk and I set out to relive old times… which we did for about 30 levels and then SOE got hacked, everything was down for a couple of weeks, and then we never really went back.

That was actually a good time… really, about as successful a nostalgia tour as you could probably get for us…  but if you scroll back through the Fippy Darkpaw tag on the blog, it was also over five years ago, and every attempt I have made at the game since has ended very quickly.  I am over playing EverQuest I think, preferring to just watch it from a distance these days.  But nostalgia remains a draw for others.  Look at this snip of the game’s server status, which looks about the same every time I check it.

Not so many servers as the old days

Not so many servers as the old days

The most popular servers are Phinigel, the true box nostalgia server, Ragefire, the progression server before before Phinigel, and Firiona Vie, the RP server where all the cool kids hang out and actually have a community.  I am actually a bit surprised that the Fippy Darkpaw server, and its sibling Vulak’Aerr, are still around.  I have lost track of where they stand, but they must be getting close to current after more than five years, at which point it would probably make sense to just roll them into a live server, as they did with the first round of progression servers, The Combine and The Sleeper, years ago.

Hell, with the zone spawning tech they put in for Ragefire and Phinigel, they could probably merge a few of those live servers together as well… maybe a lot of those live servers.

Still, I am happy to see that it is still alive and well enough to be getting expansions.  That it is still there lets me imagine now and again that we might someday form another group and return to old Norrath for one final adventure.  We certainly don’t seem to be in danger of getting a new Norrath anytime soon.

Kunark Ascending Goes Live in Norrath

Norrath remains in danger from Lanys T’Vyl and her pursuit of power! It is up to you to keep Lanys T’Vyl from acquiring the third and final Chaos Stone. Return to Kunark to stop Lanys from ushering in a new age of power. Will you stand against the Tenets of Hate? Adventures await you in Kunark Ascending, EverQuest II’s 13th expansion!

-Kunark Ascending promo text

Next on this week’s list of new arrivals (and the second to derive a title from the root word “ascend”) is Kunark Ascending, the 13th expansion for EverQuest II (plus 4 adventure packs along the way as well), which landed yesterday, close to the game’s 12th birthday.

Launched November 15, 2016

Launched November 15, 2016

As the name indicates, the expansion returns to one of the “classic” locations in Norrath, the island of Kunark, which was the setting for the first EverQuest expansion, Ruins of Kunark, more than 16 years ago.

The expansion gets you the following:

  • 1 New Overland Zone
  • 12 New Heroic zones
  • 1 Challenge Heroic Zone
  • 8 New Solo Zones
  • 4 New Advanced Solo Zones
  • 6 New Raid Zones
  • More than 50 New Solo and Heroic Quests
  • More than 65 New Collection Quests
  • 4 New Archetypal Epic 2.0 Quest Lines
  • 4 New Ascension Classes
  • New Wardrobe Function
  • New Mercenary Gear Feature
  • Level 100 Character Boost
  • Access to All Previous Expansions

I borrowed most of that list from the top of the EQ2 Wire Kunark Ascending FAQ which goes into the features of the expansion in great detail. (Feldon also has the expansion deployment patch notes available as well.)  You should at least browse that if the expansion interests you.

I was actually considering purchasing the expansion due to the level 100 character boost and my current disinterest in the WoW Legion expansion.  The character boost would vault me into the current content at least, though there is no doubt some complexity in that.  Plus I would have to figure out which character to boost, since I used the free level 95 character boost they were handing out a while ago on what I would consider my “main” character already.  Would be a bit silly to use the new boost to jump him just five levels.  And then there is the question as to whether my disinterest in WoW at the moment is just WoW or would it apply to any fantasy MMORPG.  Some days you just don’t want to don your tabard and go swing a sword in any fantasy world.

Still, it is there and waiting, level 100 boost included, should I want to join in.  The expansion comes in the usual three levels of excess, with a 10% discount if you are an all access subscriber… and if you’re serious enough about the game to buy the expansion I have to figure you’re down for all access as well.

Premium packages available for premium prices

Premium packages available for premium prices

The standard edition will be enough for me when the time comes.

There is also a launch trailer, if you need that to tempt you.

Meanwhile, a couple of bloggers have already dipped their toes into Kunark Ascending.

Ascension Day in EVE Online

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

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

Coming in November

It’s here, it is finally here!

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

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

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

Can't touch that!

Upgrade to Omega

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

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

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

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

But there it is, deployed already.

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

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

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

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

 

YC118.9 Release Arrives in New Eden

We are all waiting in anticipation for the November release, a full on, old-school, EVE Online expansion, which even has a name now: AscensionNo doubt much of EVE Vegas will be devoted to reveals and discussions around that.

But Ascension is almost a month away, so we’ll have to wait for the goodies, which will apparently include an increase in capital jump range.  In the mean time there is the monthly-ish update for October hitting today.  No special name, no real glory, but still a few items worth note are being delivered.

The Crimson Harvest event is set to return to New Eden next week.  While the details are sparse, it is probably safe to assume that it is akin to last year’s event, with Blood Raider sites appearing in game, dropping a special skin and cerebral accelerators. In anticipation of this, CCP is setting up to peddle some additional skins and PLEX offers.  Or so I gather.  The information on the updates page is pretty vague.

Dark SKIN is Dark

Dark SKIN is Dark and possibly available to you in some unspecified context

Coming into the game with this update will be updated graphs for the market.

Using the new graphic library

Using the new graphic library

What is not to love about better, more detailed graph porn in-game?

Also arriving in New Eden will be the blueprints to create the charges that will be used with the much anticipated revamped fleet boosting mechanic that is coming with the Ascension release.  People can now start producing the charges and stocking the market in anticipation of their coming need.

Coming out of the game is the in-game browser.  This change, announced back in June, but appearing in the patch notes at the last minute, was due to the work needed to keep such a browser secure and up to date.

While an understandable motive in a time when CCP is devoting more resources to its VR games at the expense of EVE Online, it will be missed by people who play full screen or on a single monitor or who have third party utilities that take advantage of the browsers access to in-game data.

The Imperium’s participation link system used to use the in-game browser, but has been modified to use CREST to grab fleet members to note their attendance.  Now the FCs just have to remember to use it.  I used the in-game browser for the last time on Sunday for a fleet.

Other updates to the game include performance improvements to graphics post-processing, which seems aimed primarily at AMD users (so let’s hope it doesn’t kill nVidia performance in the grand CCP tradition of every change creating a new problem or three),  something about balancing the hard points on mining ships to match their appearance, and the usual round of bug fixes, including solving the wandering stargate issue that has come up on Reddit a few times of late.  From the patch notes:

Stargates would occasionally express their envy of dynamic objects by moving to a different position in their solar system after downtime. They have now been properly anchored and should remain firmly in their intended positions. “Pity the poor stargate, destined to remain forever immobile whilst faithfully sending ships towards locations that it can never know.”

And so it goes.

There are a host of other small items in the patch notes, plus the rather shallow entries on the updates page regarding today’s release, which has been deployed successfully.

As always though, there is a song for the release.

 

WoW Legion Sales Numbers Stacked Up Against Past Launches

Today, Blizzard announced that players have forged a truly formidable defensive front—as of the expansion’s first full day of launch on August 30, more than 3.3 million copies of Legion had sold through, matching the all-time record achieved by previous expansions and making it one of the fastest-selling PC games ever. In addition, World of Warcraft’s launch-week player concurrency climbed to its highest point since the 2010 launch of the Cataclysm expansion…

Blizzard press release, September 8, 2016

WoW Legion launched, which almost requires that there be some celebratory press release in which Blizzard referred to itself in the third person.

WoW Legion coming to a server near you

WoW Legion has been up for a week now

My guess is that they had that press release ready to go for a bit now, as they didn’t even bother to fill in the date before they posted it.  I imagine they will fix that before the day is out, so here it is a screen shot for the record.

Roman numerals maybe?

Roman numerals maybe?

So we got some numbers.  Blizzard kept to its promise not to mention subscription numbers ever again, so they had to make due with vague claims about concurrency. (No numbers = vague in my book)

The number we did get was 3.3 million copies sold in the first 24 hours. (Yes, they said “more than 3.3 million” in the press release, but if it had been 3.4 million they would have run with that number, so it is likely 3.3 million and change.)  As usual, with any number standing alone, I start looking for context.  Fortunately, the internet provides context if you look for it.  The first day sales track record looks like this:

  • WoW Legion – 3.3 million
  • Warlords of Draenor – 3.3 million
  • Mists of Pandaria – 2.7 million (first week)
  • Cataclysm – 3.3 million
  • Wrath of the Lich King – 2.8 million
  • Burning Crusade – 2.4 million
  • World of Warcraft – 240,000

So, for first day sales, WoW Legion ranks with… I don’t want to say “the best,” since its peers at that level are not my favorite expansions… past top sellers.

Warlords of Draenor did just as well according to the Blizzard press release from its launch, which included a mention of exceeding 10 million subscribers, a mark that would soon drop precipitously.

Mists of Pandaria, which in hindsight was a pretty good expansion, maybe my second favorite, and which held on to the player base admirably compare to WoD, had to go a full week to get to 2.7 million sales, which put it below every expansion save Burning Crusade.  The pleading for a new expansion towards the end of Mists of Pandaria now seem almost quaint given the mass exodus from the game that came with WoD.

Then there was Cataclysm, which I am going to say was probably the first point when digital sales made up a significant portion of the first day sales, setting a record as yet unbeaten, with 3.3 million sales.  There were some good things in that expansion, but the destruction of the old world still stings.

Then Wrath of the Lich King and Burning Crusade check in at 2.8 and 2.4 million units sold on the first day.  That was back when Fry’s was open at midnight to sell you a copy and they had pallets of boxes out on the sales floor.  That was the era of growth, which Cataclysm put paid to.

And finally, just for completeness, there was World of Warcraft back in 2004, which sold 240,000 copies on the first day, which was a record at the time.  No digital sales in that number I bet!

So that is how the list stacks up.  WoW Legion sold well enough, though judging from what I have seen… or not seen… on store shelves, it was almost all digital. (I was at Best Buy on Monday and they had a single standard edition, wrapped up protectively in an anti-theft device and sitting alone at the bottom of a shelf.  No display.  No signs.  No big deal.  How times have changed.) That likely means WoW Legion sold directly into the currently subscribed base in the US/EU.

It would be interesting to know what the subscriber base jumped up to with the launch.  I suspect that if it had passed 10 million, Blizz might have mentioned it.  But maybe not, and we’ll likely never see a number to prove it either way.

I will have to hang on to the two WoW Legion boxes we got at our house.

Retail Boxes! Old School!

Retail Boxes! Old School!

Given the state of the retail channel for the expansion, those might be collectible in a few years.  I mean, a DVD for WoW Legion?  I am not sure why they even bother.  The patcher had everything in place already.  All I needed was the code off the label and I was upgraded and playing.  Modern times.