2nd Summer of Rage – You reap what you sow

I tend to abstain from EVE drama for the same reason that I abstain from real life politics, it rarely affects me and if so, I can’t do anything about it anyway.  But I feel compelled to add my voice to the chorus of screamers, may my two remaining loyal and intelligent readers forgive me. I’ll be quick.

So, background, this week, CCP announced several changes to carrier and Rorqual income generation that collectively aims to reduce income from NPC (carriers) and mining (Rorqs) significantly.  The only relevant forum for EVE players – r/eve is writhing in spastic convulsions, unsubbing en-masse and shooting monuments.  EVE is dying, dead and buried, a decaying corpse, Gevlon was right etc etc.

When I started reading it, I was not sure I could trust my sensitive eyes (wormholers are used to live in the dark).  People were complaining that they could not achieve their risk free carrier “ticks” of 150mil + ISK.  Or they complained that the 15bn Rorqual now is now only twice as good as pimped out mining barge but of course much more expensive.  As an example, when our corp runs C4 sites with T2 fitted Dominixes, we may pull in together 1bn / night in loot and salvage that we need to export before we can realize the value.  Sure, you can make (much) more in C5/6 but you are putting a lot more ISK at risk as well and of course once you known in WH circles that you fly blinged out PvE ships you become subject to eviction.

So, I was truly blindsided by the whining of players who mine or rat in the safest possible place in New Eden (deep, sov nullsec) and make literally per hour solo what we make as a 10 man team. But unlike us, they have access to unlimited “Havens” or other PvE content.  I.e. afk mining with dozens of Rorquals and carriers is a viable method for risk-free ISK accumulation.  No wonder CCP saw this and counteracted.

CCP_Quant said very clearly:

CCP_Quant Responds

I totally agree with CCP_Quant that this is not sustainable.  The raw ISK faucet without risk and without real activity is damaging to the game and the community. It needed to be changed.  And I do believe many rational EVE players would see it the same way.

So, what the problem. CCP_Quant (or anyone else) fail to acknowledges’ that the screw-up is entirely CCP-made.  Moving the Rorqual from a mining support ship to the (by far!) best mining ship in the game should have given everyone pause.  Of course, they would run dozens of them afk for as long as there was ore, what were you thinking?  That people didn’t have Rorqual pilots?  Oh, you introduced injectors.  Anyone can have a Rorqual pilot within a few minutes if he throws down enough money.  Same with carriers. The high-end PvE was never supposed to be solo-able.  When they came out, carriers (all caps) were a thing of rarity and – like Incursions and that Blood Raider citadel now – were meant to be team work.  But skill and ISK inflation allowed individuals to skill into massively expensive ships that obviate the need for team play.

CCP solidly goofed – again – by not realizing that EVE is a system.  Yep, the company that become famous with the butterfly effect ad, blatantly forgot that every change and new feature will always be used for a single purpose: to reduce risk/reward.  And once that math is set, players will be scaled until a ceiling is reached. Unlimited rocks +  Rorqual afk mining + skill injectors = expectations to farm unlimited ISK forever.  Same for carriers of course.

So, while I wholeheartedly agree with CCP_Quant that things needed to change, I am annoyed that they goofed so hard, so solid and that it can impact the game that I actually like.

So, what to do?

  1. CCP does need to unscrew their economy and take the marketing hit that comes inevitably from dozens of Nullsec players verbosely unsubscribing their human bots.
  2. CCP needs a massive balance pass on all things PvE.  I personally would advocate removal of all bounties from nullsec and as consequence add value into the salvage, exactly as in Wormhole space. I don’t specifically care about the ISK itself but the market has to create a ceiling in the value of the activity, not endless bounties from Concord.
  3. PvE needs to be engaging, valuable and worth it.  I.e. Havens and Sanctums and whatever the end-game content in Nullsec are called need to be re-done with the oh-so-hyped new AI mechanic that took the goons nearly a week to figure out.  Or similar.
  4. EVE needs more conflict drivers in Nullsec and Lowsec.  There have to be hard reasons for fighting and taking regions. Evicting the goons during Worldwar Bee was a fine reason but player-made.  At the rate the goons accumulating assets and installing citadels, this will likely never happen again.
  5. New players need to be far more engaged in the game than they are with the NPE currently.  Missions, PvP, faction war, all of this needs a balance pass that borders on replacement.  New players can not just be cannon-fodder for the large coalitions, each one of us started at some point and discovered what we liked by trial and error.  All of EVE needs to change to make it a solid experience that generates stickiness and ongoing revenue.

Phew. That’s it, politics hour is over. Now I can write positive things again, for example how elated I am that the current balance pass on my beloved Proteus probably allows me to keep flying it.  Yes, that’s my big thing for 2 years of product development in EVE.

 

EVE is unforgiving – and that’s why I love it

What follows is a cautionary tale that I want to impart to my remaining two readers.  It is a tale that starts with hubris, goes through stages of boredom, distraction and inattention and ends with a dead ship.  My dead ship.

But lets start at the beginning, a typical night in our small wormhole corporation had started with copious amount of scanning, Teamspeak banter and much hilarity.  The map is broad and wide and as usual has nobody in it.  Well, except for a group that is sitting in their force field (yes, POS-es are still a thing in WH space).  Its a nice C2 with a high sec static and we try to coerce our hosts into doing something, anything by baiting with a harmless Imicus hacking their sites.  No dice, the locals are not moving and our Imicus pilot is pulling 80mil ISK out of the site.  Opp success?  Anyway, we are not going anywhere with this baiting tactic and more exotic measures to provoke a reaction are being considered, including rolling holes, shooting the POCO or the POS, running their sites etc.  The majority of our corp is based in the UK and I have to tap out for a bit for real life things. Continue reading

Conflict is life

The May release has dropped and for virtually everyone outside of Delve nothing has changed.  In Delve some NPC raid content is happening and just like all PvE content in history of gaming, everyone expects it to be “on farm” within a few days.  But hey, I don’t live in nullsec, so I don’t expect anything new to happen until at least winter 2018.

Back to the topic.  With the publication of the roadmap out of the way, the EVE community ceased to focus on hypothetical and large scale solutions and hones in on features in the game that could be improved in order to make the game more playable and appealing.  Upfront at the moment is the War Dec system that allows a corporation to initiate a time period where legal conflict is allowed between them and another corporation or alliance.  The target does not have to agree and hence the term “non-consensual PvP” is used.  Generally, the receiving corporation laments that their gameplay is now effectively stopped while the aggressor finds ways to maximize his return by wardeccing multiple helpless targets and selectively culling the dumb ones.  For the vast majority of EVE players, wardecs are useless at best and a nuisance at worst; virtually nobody sees the current system as adding satisfying content to their gameplay. Continue reading

All quiet on the wormhole front

Its been quiet on these pages and I have to assume that both my remaining readers have defected to more content-rich pastures.  Of which there are many and with great variety.  Imperium.news which focuses on the great events in nullsec, Crossing Zebras doing excellent analysis of nullsec politics and of course the venerable EVE News 24 formerly a cesspool for pandemic legion and now a honorable news outlet for the whole of nullsec.   Lastly, the subreddit /r/eve is the de facto community hub of EVE online where all topics can and will be debated as long as they pertain to nullsec.   Continue reading

Fanfest Light

The EVE Online annual Fanfest came to a close yesterday and I presume the neckbeards are on their way home brimming with stories and headaches. Us unfortunate peasants who saw difficulties selling our significant others a trip to a windy rock in the North Atlantic as a romantic getaway vacation had to watch the gathering via Twitch.  And it was a good show.

First of all, CCP deserves credit for being very clear about the scope of the event.  A party was to be had, CSM was to be announced, information about the new refineries was to be shared and the new citizen science project was to be introduced.  Add to this the staple of graphics updates, some balancing announcement, the introduction of a few new capital ships and a new “incursion-like” PvE mechanic and we were done.  Lastly, CCP did announce the launch of a new VR game later this year, kind of like 3D tennis.  Looks neat.  I am sure if I had a VR headset I would look into it. I don’t and hence I won’t.

Famous curmudgeon Jester posted his concern that no new large-scale release was planned, the community shrugged and moved on.  For the nullsec teams that populate Reddit, just about enough content is released to keep them happy for a year.  However, the rest of us got exactly nothing.

Lets try a list of what I remember (please let me know if I missed anything):

  • New Player Experience: Continuous improvement.  All regions, obviously.
  • New PvE mechanic: Incursion-style raid mechanic with intelligent foes.  Likely only accessible for well organized, large teams. While the mechanic could be rolled out anywhere, the first iteration will be launched exclusively in Goon Space.
  • New faction captial ships.  Nullsec / Lowsec.
  • Citizen Science: Exoplanet hunting.  Why this is in the client and not on an App is not easy to understand.  But yes its for all regions, I guess.
  • Refineries and new moon-mining mechanic:  Nullsec / Lowsec only with no firm plans to do roll out anything to WH or High Sec
  • New shaders, new graphics.  Yes, a shiny Vexor, amazing graphics for the suns.  All regions.  EVE is really, really pretty.

Anything I forgot?  Oh yes, CSM 12.  A virtual sweep for the few Nullsec power blocs with a sprinkle of part-time wormholer Noobman and industrial generalist Steve Ronuken.  I wrote before about the CSM and am not too concerned about the lack of diversity.  The new delegates seem to be fairly experienced and hence will contribute to make the overall game better. However, the EVE community chooses their delegates based on their region and it is telling that true highsec / lowsec / WH representation could be achieved.

As usual, two items closed to my heart were entirely missing, a decent online fanstore that is realistic in its pricing and an integrated mobile App with its own development pipeline. Heck, I’d pay for that App.

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So, that was Fanfest 2017.  I am getting ready to play the exact same game until at least Summer of 2018 when maybe new things are released that affect my EVE.

Actually that reminds me, I’ll do a little Fallout 4 survival mode this morning.

Fanfest 2017 – Stream and Expectations

Fanfest 2017 is about to start and while I can not attend it in person, I am certainly watching the streams.  Nosygamer has a good list of sessions to watch on his blog.

Personally, I don’t expect big announcements.  Citadels in all their form have to be in the game for a while until the economy and the warfare settles.  While I am a little annoyed that the new refining complexes add nothing to Wormhole or High Sec space, I understand that they are trying to release content in a manageable way. Continue reading

Bait is useless if not taken

Its been a while since I wrote on these hallowed pages, may both my remaining readers forgive me for spending more time at work, outdoors (spring?) and in Fallout 4 (survival).  By the way, Survival is the only way Fallout 4 should be played.  Its unforgiving, awesome and truly scary. The fact that death has real consequences makes stalking through open fields and dungeons so much more rewarding.  Yes, Fallout 4 gives me the shakes.

But back to EVE.  Our little corporation Z3R0 Return Mining (and yes we are recruiting, contact Epigene in game) lives in a C4 wormhole with access to C3 and C5 neighbors plus of course frequent incoming connections to pretty much everywhere.  A few days ago, I find myself logging in and scanning down an incoming connection from another C4 hole, mentally add scouting it to my to-do-list and proceed with a little bit of PI and a whole load of AFK-ness while the evening matures.

My corpmate Storm logs in for a little and we chat on comms while casually shutting down our respective RL households for the night when suddenly a Vexor Navy Issue appears from the incoming C4 and beelines to one of our gas sites.  A VNI is a fine boat (I have several) but this specific site spawns several sleeper frigates and cruisers, some web, some neut, all shoot.  Its a site type I know well and I tend to drop a Dominix into it rather than a Vexor but I am all ears how our guest wants to run it with a cruiser.  Turns out, he doesn’t do it well.  His drones get shot down, he is too slow and has to warp off.  Back to his hole, only to return with a Gila.  Oh, really.

Now to be fair, neither Storm nor I have really paid attention.  For all we know, there could be dozens of cloaked ships in our system cleaning their launchers.  A Gila can be brick-tanked, they hit like a dump-truck and his cavalry is at worst one jump over.  This is exactly how bait smells like.

We take it, of course.  My Proteus does his bull terrier thing, drops to zero km on the Gila and grabs him by the nuts.  I launch a couple of Hammerheads and start with the blasters while at the same time my other character in his Stratios lands and releases his complement of drones.  I have neuts on this boat but Gilas tend to be passive tanked and I am not too concerned about keeping it up.  Being in our own home system has a distinct advantage, Storm reshipped into a Deimos, undocks from our citadel and warps toward, then lands on top of us and makes the Gila go dead really fast.  Throughout this time, Storm had a character in a Falcon cloaked up on their hole but no hostile cavalry ever arrived.  The pod escapes our fangs and warps off.  I chase after it and a little bit recklessly jump into their system.  My logic is that if a trap had been set, it would have sprung when we dropped on the Gila.  It wasn’t and hence isn’t.  My jumping into their system is pretty safe and I make the usual complements of safe spots and tactical bookmarks around their citadels.

To be honest, they have a pretty decent size crew here, 4 citadels with a total of 6 characters docked up, likely one or two more cloaked somewhere (we saw a bomber earlier).  Not a brawl we can take head-on in a fair fleet fight (Storm and I can field 2 characters each and neither of us is elite PvP-er).  But if they were stupid once, they might be stupid again?

The waiting starts.  The locals undock a bunch of ships, even a hauler, an Epithal (!) but they only to move between citadels.  Its a surprising amount of activity for a corporation that has overtly hostile neighbors.  Interesting.

Finally, I have enough and scan down their C2 static connection, the only other signature in this place.  My presence here is not a secret, might as well see where the connections are.  Suddenly a Rattlesnake undocks from the citadel and warps to my newly identified C2.  Now that is bait if we ever saw it.  The Rattle jumps into the C2, my Proteus after it (impossible that they don’t know that I am here by now) and I am bringing my Stratios into the C4.  Storm is around with his Falcon but to be honest, we shouldn’t jump a Rattlesnake with an entire system full of hostiles between our home and the target.  That would be dumb, foolish and suicidal.

So, thats exactly what we do.

The tactics is the same as for the Gila, I drop my Proteus onto the Rattlesnake and grab him while bringing in my Stratios and guide in Storm’s DPS boat.  The idea is to overheat everything and burn the Rattle to the ground as fast as can be done before his friends arrive.

The view from my Stratios

 

The Rattlesnake targets my Stratios and he hurts me badly.  I have neuts on him primarily to shut down his tank and his launchers but I can’t do anything against his drones.  As a battleship, he is stationary and I turn off the webs to conserve cap. The fight keeps going, Storm lands on grid and adds considerable DPS.

Then, nearly as expected, 4 cruiser-size ships land on top of us and D-scan shows a bomber somewhere.  Our opposition even brings a an Exequror logistics boat.  I only have two scout-class ships both in 1/2 armor, Storm has his ship and a Falcon nearby.  We can’t win this and we bail – very luckily, neither Storm nor my characters are tackled.  I credit my neuts, that bait Rattlesnake should have had tackle and I probably had sucked him dry.  Lucky, I guess.  The hostiles spam local with oh-so scary taunts.

Disengaged, we decide that its a terrible idea to jump back through their system into ours.  We have no idea whats on the other side and if it was me in their shoes, there would be bubbles.  So, while Storm moonwalks around the system, I scan down the high sec and we both camp out in safety.

Lessons learned?  Sometimes obvious bait isn’t and sometimes it is. But you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take