Friday, February 28, 2014

God Bless The Min/Maxers

Last night I finished rearranging my planetary interaction colonies to make them more efficient.  Making nanite repair paste is complicated and I'm not using a guide.  That means figuring things out on my own.  The process isn't too bad, except operating in low sec I got stopped transferring products to my factory planet by some PvP activity.  Having a Slasher warp in 30 km off the customs office isn't the greatest feeling in the world when you're only armed with a festival launcher.  I did manage to stay cloaked and warped off, although he did get within 8 km.  Maybe I should have fit at least one of my low slots with a nano.  My align time wouldn't have changed but the extra sub-light speed would help.  Especially after I had 2 pods warp 10 km off the CO the next time I tried to approach.  That was a sign; time to go to bed.

Is all the effort worth it?  I'm not going to make nearly the 830 million ISK per month Proto wrote about last week in his column on Crossing Zebras.  Not even half that amount manufacturing nanite repair paste.  I figure I can make 5000 units of paste per week.  Anyone who's interested can look up the price.  And that's gross, not net.  On the bright side, all the smart people have already figured that out and are going for the maximum profit.  In other words, I don't have to compete with them.  I plan on making a good profit, yes, but I also get the satisfaction of making something in low sec requiring a lot of travel between planets.  Supplying the market with a niche product mainly used and touted by PvPers means I have a much smaller population of players as potential buyers than a manufacturer of Damage Control IIs.

A niche market catering to PvPers that doesn't pull in maximum profit.  Sound familiar?  EVE Online is a pretty niche game catering to PvPers (and the sandbox crowd) that doesn't maximize profits.  Think about that fact.  Could CCP make more money if Hilmar moved the company out of Iceland to avoid all of the currency restrictions the government imposed after the banking collapse?  And while 500,000 subscriptions was what EverQuest drew at its peak (which is when EVE launched), I actually read some fool on the forums call EVE a failure because the game only has 500,000 subscriptions after 10 years.  I call him a fool, because outside of World of Warcraft and Lineage, what games 10 years and older have a 500,000 subscription base?  And I'm not sure of Lineage's number.

The min/maxers in the world took a look at WoW and figured they needed to do what Blizzard did because of the numbers.  CCP, on the other hand, so far has largely resisted the call to do what the rest of the market thinks is correct.  Perhaps because of embracing their niche status, those techno-Vikings sitting in the middle of the North Atlantic also have another distinction.  Ten years of year-over-year growth, with an announcement of an eleventh year of growth probably coming soon.  Perhaps filling a niche in an industry isn't so bad after all.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Monitizing A Blog

Sometimes I talk about my blog to people who don't play video games.  A lot of times it gets up when I talk about going to Iceland to attend Fanfest.  A question I get ask is, "how much money do I make?"  The answer is, none.

Why not?  Apparently I get enough traffic to make some money with Google Ads.  Right.  Google Ads.  Sorry, but I don't feel like having RMT companies advertising on my blog.  Besides the fact I'd feel dirty, with my stance on illicit RMT, that's all I'd need is screenshots of The Nosy Gamer floating around with an ad from a site like IGE on it.

I could try to get benefits from game companies.  CCP have officially approved fansites in which CCP gives the operators a paid media account.  Not a bad deal for CCP's advertising budget as they get real people writing about their game.  But since I'm not an EVE blogger, just one who writes a lot about EVE, I like the freedom to write about other games on this blog whenever I want and how much I want.  So no fansite application from me.

One idea that never crossed my mind until I read the ad for CCP's Buddy Program.  Basically CCP gives players a link they can use to give someone a 21-day free trial (the standard is 14 days) and then if the new player converts to a paying account, the existing player gets goodies like PLEX.  Nothing really earth-shattering as many companies have similar programs.  But here's the description that started me thinking...

"Send a buddy a personal invite to try EVE Online with you. Alternatively, post an open invite on your favorite social media."
I've seen enough of these links in the comments of news stories about EVE.  Yes, even on Forbes some EVE player almost always manages to include a buddy link.  So why not on the blog?  To tell the truth, I really don't know.  For now though, I'll just keep things they way they are.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Time To Play

There's a time to write and a time to play.  One of these days I'll figure out how to do both.  I'm in playing mode now as I race to get my alt up to 5.0 standings with a Caldari corporation before Saturday.  I think I'll succeed as I'm now up to 4.59 after last night's session.  I might have gotten higher if I hadn't spent some time exchanging EVE parody lyrics with Rhavas on Twitter.  But as my goal for the night was 4.6, probably not much higher.

I know that some people don't like the training skills, but leaving the house yesterday with my standings at 3.85 and then getting home having them at 4.13 was nice.  No, I wasn't botting!  I finished learning Connections IV while I was at work.  Gotta love real time skill training.

One misconception about low sec is that people won't run low sec incursions.  Not true.  I saw people doing them in Domain when I was grinding SoE loyalty points and again this week in Metropolis.  When I logged in the incursion in my home constellation was gone.  Started on a Sunday, finished on Tuesday.  Not too bad.

Sometimes I really should look up how to guides.  I'm working on planetary interaction making nanite repair paste.  I'm pretty sure I screwed up, because when I look at my spreadsheet I see that moving P1 products around is actually cheaper than moving P2 products.  I need to fix that before Saturday too.

Finally, my ammunition business is doing okay.  I really do need to start mining again, but the standings grind is taking priority.  Still, I have almost 1 million pyerite so I'm still in good shape on that front.  Jump freighter service between Molden Heath and Jita can supply a region with a mass of goods, but us small-time local producers still have a place.  After successfully undocking from the station in Bosnea, I did send out a "Vote for Sugar Kyle" message in local.  Something tells me I was preaching to the converted though.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Digital Dozen: 25 February 2014

The rankings of the top twelve MMORPGs as determined by the players of the Xfire community from play on Sunday, 23 February 2014.  For more details about the methodology, click here.  Historical data can be found here.

Rank Prev Week Game ScoreHours Played +/- %
11World of Warcraft 44.1 12,027-3.2
22Guild Wars 215.84,308+12.5
33Star Wars: The Old Republic8.82,395-14.7
44EVE Online5.61,516-0.6
55Final Fantasy XIV5.31,436-3.2
910Planetside 22.8751+18.3
1211Lord of the Rings Online2.0559-6.2
Total Digital Dozen Hours: 27,303

For the second week in a row, the number of hours the Xfire community spent playing its 12 most popular MMORPGs increased Sunday.  The 0.2% increase was led by Guild Wars 2 (+480 hours) while Star Wars: The Old Republic led all decliners (-414 hours).  Runescape re-entered the list after a one week abscence, replacing CABAL Online.

A Technical Glitch? - The rise and fall of the hours the Xfire community spent playing Star Wars: The Old Republic has left me scratching my head.  I don't understand how the game saw such big swings over the past two weeks.  I could understand if the game experienced a big drop last week and then a big gain Sunday.  But the reverse happened.  The net effect is that over the past 2 weeks, SW:TOR playtime increased by a total of 10 hours.

Escaping Lion's Arch - EVE Online is not the only game in which death and destruction can draw in players.  On 18 February Scarlet Briar launched a massive attack on the main city of Lion's Arch.  Game companies don't usually destroy their main player hubs, but ArenaNet is doing so.  How can players resist participating, or at least rubbernecking, at such an event?

Monday, February 24, 2014

To Be The Best...

... you have to beat the best.  In EVE Online, Gevlon Goblin as defined the best as The Mittani and  Goonswarm Federation.  In order to validate his theories, he can't just go up against a bunch of morons and slackers.  No, he has to beat the best EVE has to offer.

Up until now, I kind of brushed him off.  But given the reaction of both the Goons and RvB, I'd say that Gevlon is now a thorn in the side of both huge organizations.  I was hit over the head with this fact by a tweet by Powers over the weekend.

When a Goon like Powers is trumpeting the victory of a RvB fleet with T1 logistics support that outnumbers a Darwin's Lemmings fleet, which is essentially Marmite's farm team, by 3:2, something is happening.

The funny thing is that Gevlon is using Goon tactics against the Goons.  The latest is, to use the technical term, shit posting on forums.  I made the mistake of reading a Gevlon thread on the EVE-O forums and both sides were letting the fecal matter fly.  Once again, a victory for Gevlon as it shows that Goons don't trust RvB to fight a forum war on its own.  Especially as RvB is trying to put distance between itself and Goonswarm Federation.  Almost as if Goons want people to realize that RvB and Goons are close allies.

The linking of RvB to Goons in the minds of high sec residents willing to fight against the GSF presence in The Forge is one of Gevlon's strategic goals and I'm surprised that Goons are walking into that trap.  It is one thing for RvB to fight; that's what they do.  But fighting wars to protect The Mittani's financial interests?  That is something with the potential to rally the Grr Goons crowd against RvB and to Gevlon's cause. But Goons are known for playing the long game and perhaps tarnishing RvB's reputation will serve them down the line.

I'm glad that the conflict over customs offices in high sec didn't end within a month of CCP making the customs offices player owned.  Fighting is good and drives the economy.  Besides, I now have something new to write about.

Friday, February 21, 2014

A Nice Relaxing Night

I don't think anyone who lives in high sec (and perhaps null sec as well) would consider a couple of hours floating around low sec as relaxing.  I'm also sure that many low sec residents would not consider the prospect of two hours spent carebearing and not shooting all the things relaxing either.  I guess that's one of the reasons EVE Online is called a sandbox game.

I've been fooling around over the last three nights trying to set up planetary interaction colonies in low sec in order to produce nanite repair paste.  I have this thing about making all of my own consumables in all the MMOs I play, so setting up to make repair paste is something I'd wind up doing anyway.  I think I finally set up all of my colonies correctly, so now all I need to do is figure out how to minimize my effort.  Once I do that, I'll write up a post explaining how I did things so people can point out everything I did wrong.

One of the things I hope I'm doing right is figuring out how much making 1 unit of nanite repair paste costs.  I'm not really of the camp that thinks that all materials I collect are free.  So I spent a bunch of time in a cloaked up Prowler figuring out production costs.  I still don't know the costs of exporting my finished P3 products, but I think I have all of the other costs recorded.

Hopefully Wandering Rose's low security standing of 4.1 didn't alarm the people I was in system with most of the time.  Apart from the occasional Amarrian plexer and the Chinese running around, the people in local all had a sec status of 5.0.  Once I logged Rosewalker on to do some additional PI work, one of the people in system recognized me.  He used to hang out in the area before I left for Domain to grind SoE loyalty points for a couple of months.  He had left and recently come back.  He is definitely a more serious player than me, as he had cloaked up alts watching the six gates leading to high sec.  So we got to talking and exchanging information until I had to log out.  Just because I have a solo playstyle doesn't mean I don't interact with people.

So that was last night.  No drama.  No dodging bad guys.  No shooting anything, including NPCs.  Just doing PI and chatting.  Not exactly EVE's reputation, is it?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Upon Further Review, The Play Stands

As I started gearing up to cover the CSM 9 election, I saw this comment left in Wednesday's post by CSM 8 Malcanis:
"Perhaps you should research what the classical Athenian word was for a man who did not engage in the politics of the city."
I got a chuckle and I salute him for the subtlety of the remark.  And then I decided that I shouldn't do any coverage of the CSM 9 election after all.  Thank you Malcanis for opening my eyes to what I almost stepped into.

Sorry for the short post, but I really wanted to play EVE last night.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Maybe I'll Cover It After All

About a month ago, I wrote a piece stating that I wasn't going to write about the CSM 9 elections.  At that time I thought I saw a movement within the CSM pushing policies that would turn EVE Online into Star Citizen with larger fights and worse combat.  Well, the combat that Chris Roberts is promising anyway.  In more personal terms, I saw another null sec dominated CSM with no low sec representation.  No incentive for me to pay attention at all.  And when CSM voiced policies that I didn't like? Well, HTFU or GTFO.

Then a funny thing happened.  Quality low sec based candidates started popping up.  Sugar Kyle got a jump on everyone by posting her candidacy thread first in the Jita Park Speakers corner of the EVE Online forums.  Then yesterday FunkyBacon of EVE Radio, TMDC and Gallente militia fame threw his hat into the ring after realizing he didn't need to wait for CCP Dolan to post the official election dev blog to start campaigning.

So, is it time for me to start paying serious attention to the CSM elections?  Perhaps I should, if for no other reason than to show how different the CSM process is compared what other game companies have developed.  Besides, I've always been a sucker for the silly season anyway.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Digital Dozen: 18 February 2014

The rankings of the top twelve MMORPGs as determined by the players of the Xfire community from play on Sunday, 2 February 2014.  For more details about the methodology, click here.  Historical data can be found here.

Rank Prev Week Game ScoreHours Played +/- %
11World of Warcraft 45.6 12,422+2.3
22Guild Wars 214.03,828+2.2
33Star Wars: The Old Republic10.32,809+17.8
45EVE Online5.61,525+11.4
54Final Fantasy XIV5.41,484-2.0
1010Planetside 22.3635-11.6
1112Lord of the Rings Online2.2596-4.8
12--CABAL Online1.9512+6.2
Total Digital Dozen Hours: 27,249

Sunday saw the Xfire community spend 2 more hours playing MMORPGs than it did the weekend before.  The game that experienced the biggest jump in popularity was Star Wars: The Old Republic (+424 hours) while Aion saw the biggest drop (-272 hours).  Runescape fell out of the list and was replaced by CABAL Online.  Sunday was CABAL Online's third ever appearance on The Digital Dozen and first since September 2013.

The Thrill Is Over - Apparently the bump that Aion received with the release of the Steel Cavalry patch is over.  While managing not to drop during last week's 7.3% overall decline in the Xfire community's playtime of the top MMORPGs, Aion saw a 22.3% decline this week.

A Permanent Bump? -  EVE Online recovered from last week's overall decline and has seen an increase of 22.3% in the hours spent playing with internet spaceships by the Xfire community since the Battle of B-R5RB.  This is significant because CCP saw a huge increase in the number of trial accounts opened immediately after the battle.  Those 14-day trials have expired, which means that CCP succeeded in converting those trial accounts into playing accounts.  In other indications of permanent growth, actual peak concurrent user numbers reached over 50,000 for three straight days and CCP is increasing the cap on the size of corporations (guilds in other games) in order to accommodate the influx of new players.  It's nice to see that the Xfire numbers can show the increase in actual numbers of players.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Is EVE Online A Bad Influence On Sandbox MMORPGs?

"A while back I opined that SOE was the ideal company to carry the MMO sandbox banner. For the most part, I still believe that, given what I've seen of Landmark thus far and what I know of the company's design history. That said, some of CEO John Smedley's recent comments give me pause, as does his long-term involvement in EVE Online's community."

On Friday I ran across an article written by Massively's Managing Editor, Jef Rehard, wondering if the next couple of years will truly see a revival of sandbox MMORPGs.  A fair concern given the wild optimism that fans of various games have exhibited over the years for unpublished games.  I have to remind myself not to get too hopeful for EverQuest Next and even though I'm not into building games like Minecraft, I do want to try Landmark as soon as the beta is over. But then came the attack upon Sony Online Entertainment's CEO, John Smedley, and his choice of games.

Friday, February 14, 2014

An EVE Monument Update

I never thought when I started playing MMORPGs that I would wind up attending (and writing about) real world cultural events.  Last year I attended my first professional symphony orchestra performance at the Harpa the night before the opening of Fanfest 2013.  This year I plan on attending the unveiling of CCP's monument to EVE Online's players overlooking Reykjavik's harbor on Faxaflói Bay.

Artists conception of "Worlds Within a World"

Since many players have opined on the meaning and significance of the monument, I thought I'd post what CCP's CEO, Hilmar Veigar Pétursson, has said on the EVE community website:
"We would like to, as best as we can, reflect the same beauty that you have shown us. To make you into art. To honor you in the real world as much as you have earned in the virtual. To immortalize the already immortal pilots of EVE.

"To that end we are creating a monument to all EVE players whether they are currently flying or who have long docked their ships. A monument to players who are living and with us or who have sadly passed on.

"While most of our monuments have, up until this point, existed in game, this one will be placed in beautiful Reykjavik harbor and be donated to the city where EVE was first born so many years ago—the northernmost capital city on Earth.

"With the monument, entitled “Worlds Within a World”, we seek to honor the EVE’s developers (past and present), the volunteers, our partners and even the citizens of Reykjavik—all for the parts they play in this universe.

"The monument will stand testament to the collective and manifested will of hundreds of thousands of gamers, dreamers, leaders, wingmen, pirates, betrayers, victors and defeated.

"It will represent the past but also serve as a symbol for the journey to come—our commitment to this virtual universe and to the beauty it has brought into our lives. It is our hope that over the years this piece will grow in all of our hearts and that visiting it will be a part of every trip taken by a Fanfest attendee or a visitor to Iceland.

"We hope that it will, in a beautiful cosmic way, gather all our emotions and simplify what we have created together into one, universal distillation.

"And finally, we hope that it helps you understand how grateful we are to you, our bold capsuleers, for every second you have spent with us."
When most people think of EVE Online, they think of the single-shard universe players know as Tranquility.  But due to real world politics, EVE has a second shard, Serenity, run by TianCity in the People's Republic of China.  And yesterday a message from the players on Serenity reached the Tranquility forums asking about their place in the New Eden family.  Specifically, if the names of the players on Serenity will appear on the monument.  CCP Falcon, EVE's Community manager, posted this response:
"Serenity character names will be included on the monument.

"With regards to name filtering, yes, we've thought about it. This was one of the first things that came up when we decided we were going to put player names on the monument.

"We have a taskforce in Reykjavik, and a group from Tiancity, who will be filtering the names before they're submitted for inclusion on the monument.

"Anything deemed inappropriate will not be included."
CCP Falcon's reply actually answered two questions.  Not only will CCP include Serenity players on the monument, but CCP will review the names before they are engraved for eternity.  I think that's a question a lot of people had, given how many of the name's are rather inappropriate.  But that bring's up a few more questions.  If a player has an inappropriate name, does that mean the second pilot on the account is inscribed?  Will TianCity representatives pull any names that are political along with those describing body parts and sexual acts?  And will CCP remove names for copyright and trademark violations?

Of course, EVE being EVE, the answers to the above questions will probably spark new controversy and player outrage.  But monuments in the real world outside gaming are not immune to controversy and protest either.  In this, as in so many ways, EVE Is Real.™

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Retasking An Alt

I have a little over 2 weeks before I begin my 1 billion ISK low sec challenge.  I'm really glad that our characters train skills in real time no matter what, because while I'm busy with my two main characters I can train up a third.  I have a PI/datacore farming/mining/tech 1 hauler alt who usually just zips around in a Venture visiting R&D agents.  But now that I'm expanding my goals, that pilot is going to have a bigger role.

I have a gaping hole in my ammunition product line.  I try to cater to Minmatar ships because that's what I fly and if something doesn't sell, I can always use it at a later date.  I manufacture standard missiles, but I don't offer Caldari faction missiles, mainly because my characters have great standings with the Minmatar and Gallente.  Great standings with those two usually means poor standings with the Caldari.  Somehow Wandering Rose managed to maintain positive standings with the Caldari (social skills FTW) but I have other plans.  Like datacore farming.

One of my personal rules in EVE Online is to try to accomplish multiple goals with a single task.  So what I want to do is grind standings with a Caldari NPC corporation that has R&D agents.  Not only do I get the loyalty points needed for purchasing Caldari faction missiles, but at the end of the grind I get access to a greater selection of level 4 R&D agents.  More importantly, I'll have 3 pilots with access to level 4 R&D agents.  As I continue to grind the loyalty points, I'll eventually reach 6.67 standings with the corporation, which means perfect refining is possible in that corporation's stations.  If I go at it long enough, I'll even reach 8.0 and have access to buy jump clones without having to go through a corporation.  That's always convenient.

With increased importance comes more expensive ships.  My alt will switch from flying a Venture to a Prorator, which is the best blockade runner for doing courier missions.  I still need to train Evasive Maneuvering to 5 and my social skills up to maximize my standings and loyalty point gains, but that's no reason to not start flying now.  Of course, the fact that I'm doing other things on my main characters does keep me from taking my new Prorator for a spin.  Which is why I'm so glad I don't have to actually do things on my alt to increase skills.

My plan is that by the time 1 March arrives that my alt will have at least standings of 3.0 with my target Caldari corporation so that I'm running level 3 courier missions.  I think I can push that to 5.0 and level 4 missions by then, but I don't want to let optimism rule my decision-making.  And then I can put even more products out for sale.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Story Behind The Challenge

"I think CCP, what they wanted to do, they wanted to do something RPG-wise, but as we know EVE is not exactly an RPG game."

Chitsa Jason, CSM 8 delegate,
CSM Town Hall, 19 January 2014

Despite what some may say, EVE Online is the MMORPG that I have played that has best incorporated the role-playing element into the game.  I think, in large part, that is due to people not really knowing what a capsuleer is and how a capsuleer is supposed to act.  Sure, traditional role players have a wealth of background information to draw from in order to create a back story for their characters.  But whereas traditional RPers usually are shunted aside, CCP's single shard world draws those who don't want to try to act like an Amarrian theocrat or Caldari corporate drone into a capsuleer culture all its own.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Digital Dozen: 11 February 2014

The rankings of the top twelve MMORPGs as determined by the players of the Xfire community from play on Sunday, 2 February 2014.  For more details about the methodology, click here.  Historical data can be found here.

Rank Prev Week Game ScoreHours Played +/- %
11World of Warcraft 44.6 12,143-8.9
22Guild Wars 213.83,747-4.5
33Star Wars: The Old Republic8.82,385-20.9
44Final Fantasy XIV5.61,515-13.7
55EVE Online5.01,369-9.8
109Planetside 22.6718+2.0
1210Lord of the Rings Online2.3626+2.3
Total Digital Dozen Hours: 27,247

On Sunday the Xfire community turned away from MMORPGs, with the amount of time spent playing its favorite games in the genre declined by 7.3%.  RIFT's leading 135 hour gain was dwarfed by big declines in the time spent playing World of Warcraft (-1,192 hours) and Star Wars: The Old Republic (-631 hours).  For the first time in 2014, no game dropped out of the Digital Dozen on Sunday.

What Happened? - The 7.3% decline in time was the largest since the 8.4% decline that occurred on 6 October.  Back then, I attributed the decline to the launch of Grand Theft Auto Online.  Last week saw the opening of the Winter Olympics in Sochi as well as the launch of the EverQuest Next Landmark alpha.  In addition, the Elder Scrolls Online beta picked up steam, with Xfire tracking participants for the first time this weekend.  Sunday saw Xfire members spend 285 hours in the ESO beta.

RIFT Happens - The most successful game at bucking the negative trend was RIFT.  Not only did Trion hold a 50% XP weekend for all subscribers, but they also gave away Frosty Budgie mounts to race winners.  Expect RIFT to continue to surge as patch 2.6 is scheduled to launch tomorrow.

Crash And Burn - Star Wars: The Old Republic witnessed a 20.9% reduction in the amount of time the Xfire community spent playing the Bioware offering.  That is surprising considering that the Galactic Starfighter expansion launched to all free-to-play players on 4 February.  Perhaps most SW:TOR players in the Xfire community are subscribers or preferred players.  But not really a good sign.

Monday, February 10, 2014

A Low Sec Challenge

I know that I play EVE Online a little differently than others, but I would sure love to see some of that ISK flowing through low sec.  Looking through the scant records I have, the most I've ever made is 830 million ISK in the five weeks leading up to the launch of the Odyssey expansion.  That is enough to let me replace my most expensive ship, but nothing to brag about.

I guess to those living outside low sec looking in, low sec is a land of milk and honey where ISK flows from the buttons in factional warfare complexes that faction bears circle in multi-stabbed frigates.  But low sec is more than factional warfare.  I play the game doing the usual MMORPG crafting activities.  You know, going around gathering crafting materials and creating interesting and valuable items.  I then sell (or use) the items and sell off any materials I don't plan on using.  I just play in a PvP environment where a ship loss is marked down as a financial loss in the ledger books.

But is Xander right?  If I just applied myself instead of wandering around bookmarking new systems and taking screenshots, would I find myself drowning in ISK?

Not making ISK
That leads to my next project.  Since I did a comparison of low sec at the end of Retribution and the beginning of Odyssey, why not do the same for Rubicon?  March is the last full month I can play EVE before leaving for Fanfest, so coming up with an evaluation of low sec after the two expansions makes sense.  At the same time, I want to see how much money I can actually make in a month.  I keep hearing about how much ISK people make running missions or trading.  Can I break one billion ISK for the first time?

The rules are fairly simple.  No factional warfare activity.  Travel in high sec is allowed, but all agents handing out missions must live in low sec.  That includes all the research agents I may use for datacores.  Only run data and relic sites in low.  All minerals are obtained from either mining in low sec, a wormhole accessed from low sec, or purchased from a market system.  I sell all my manufactured goods in a low sec trade hub in Molden Heath.

The only difference for this experiment is where I may sell excess ice, minerals, and planetary interaction items.  I'm thinking that this time I may sell these types of items in either Rens or Hek.  I think I could sell the extra ice and minerals in low sec, but I'll have to see how big of a market exists for PI items.

Some people may think my rules are too restrictive.  But I want to try to concentrate on low sec and just how hard or easy it is to live and make money in the region.  Besides, EVE is a sandbox.  I can play with any rules I want.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Midpoint Check

Tomorrow marks the half-way mark through my fifth year of playing EVE Online.  Fifth year?  Time does fly, especially since the longest I ever stuck with an MMORPG previously was my three years in EverQuest 2.  But I'm pretty sure that as soon as I hit max level in EVE that I'll wander off.

In the meantime, I do need to regroup a bit.  I've played a lot more The Secret World and Tropico 4 than I have EVE over the past two weeks.  Writing is good, but I really need to play the game.  Checking on the progress I made on my goals back in August is even better.  So, how am I doing?

I accomplished my first goal, obtaining the 2-run Tempest Fleet Issue blueprint copy, very quickly.  I didn't realize that I would only have to grind for weeks, not months.  I've thought about trying to get the 2-run Megathron Navy Issue blueprint copy for having 9.9 standings with the Gallente.  With the changes to warp speed acceleration I could run acquire the storyline missions a lot faster.  Maybe next year.

Speaking of ships, I'm halfway to my goal of getting the Minmatar command ships.  I have a Claymore and just need to pick-up a Sleipnir.  I could buy the ship now, but I'd like to get some more money in my wallet first.  As a bonus, I also have enough loyalty points saved up to purchase and build both an Astero and a Stratios.  I don't have the skills to fit lasers, but I can fly both ships.

The Rubicon expansion has changed my skill planning, but I'm not complaining.  The goal I set in August was to fly all the Caldari sub-cap ships (minus the tech 2 battleships) and acquire the proper gunnery skills.  But with the introduction of the Sisters of EVE frigate and cruiser plus the warp acceleration change, I don't want to fly battleships anymore.  I always found them ponderous, but now?  Too.  Slow.  I'm a Minmatar pilot at heart and we all know that speed kills.  I love how fast the Prowler and Cheetah move now and don't really want to slow down.  So out with the battleship skills and in getting all my ship skills below battleships to five.  I already have all racial destroyer and battlecruiser skills to 5 and plan on getting the rest of the racial frigate and cruiser skills to 5 by August as well.  I won't have the racial tech 3 cruiser skills trained, but that's okay.

I should add that with new modified skill plan my combat pilot will have Logistics trained to 5 and all the other tech 2 ship command skills trained to 4.  I figure that if I ever do join a real corporation that having the capability to fly any race's logistic ship at a high level will help me escape the chase to fly the flavor of the month.  The only skill I'll lack for flying logistics ships when I hit my fifth year anniversary is Repair Drone Operation V.

That's my combat pilot.  My industrial pilot (who can only fly up to battlecruiser-class ships), is going to fall a little short in learning all the trade skills by August.  That's due to a desire to have the skills to fly a jump freighter.  I'm going to take a quick detour and learn jump drive skills while I have the correct mapping.  Who knows?  I could wind up flying one some day.  Besides, I don't think I'll need Tycoon in the next few months anyway.

All is not going according to plan, however.  I really need to get my industry activity on track again.  Grinding the Sisters of EVE loyalty points took me away from my factories and I need to crank up the operation again.  Also, I need to get serious about planetary interaction again.  I've got four characters with good PI skills.  I just need a plan that will bring in some good ISK while not taking up a lot of my game time.

On the manufacturing front I think I'm in fairly good shape.  I have a lot of blueprints researched and enough blueprint copies made that I can start researching and conduct some small-scale tech 2 manufacturing.  With a little luck I can expand beyond my core faction ammunition business.  Well, once I re-establish my ammunition business, that is.

The last goal I have is to run a level 4 security mission in low sec.  I'm still a little hesitant on that.  I don't have a problem running around doing courier missions and running exploration sites in low.  But exposing myself running a mission?  Ugh.  Maybe I can build my Stratios and run one that way.

Looking back, I'm starting to feel a lot better about my progress in EVE.  I've met, or almost met, all of my harder goals.  Now all I have to do is re-establish my industrial activity and expand it.  Sometimes I forget what I want to do and looking back is a good exercise.  Now all I have to do is run that security mission.

Another Way Of Looking At The Losses At B-R5RB

I know that some people don't like the focus on the amount of "money" lost in the Battle of B-R5RB.  They object because people who don't play EVE Online will think that EVE is a pay-to-play game where some are crazy enough to spend $3,500 USD on an internet spaceship.  Losing the equivalent of $300,000 USD is bad enough without people outside of gaming thinking that the ships were just acquired by paying the game developer real life money.  People in EVE are pretty proud that all the ships built in EVE exist due to the efforts of players.  I think a lot of players do not want people to lump EVE in with other games where last year people paid $250,000 USD for 200 ships and have thriving and tolerated secondary RMT markets.

So what should we use to judge the size of loss in EVE's massive battles?  How about game time?  I have done that in the past, using PLEX as a way to adjust for in-game inflation.  PLEX is a good way of doing the comparison since PLEX do have an in-game as well as CCP-approved real world value.  Based on the going rate in Jita for PLEX, the losses were the equivalent of over 18,000 PLEX.  Not only is that approximately what players made per month running incursions in the last quarter of 2011,1  but is 1,500 years of game time.  I think that might impress someone who plays a subscription game like World of Warcraft.

One interesting development in the industry relevant to this discussion is the spread of the "EVE business model" throughout the MMORPG industry.  The EVE business model is usually described as a subscription model that has a component that allows players to purchase ISK from each other in exchange for game time.  Games like Runescape (Bonds) and EverQuest/EverQuest 2 (Kronos) have added PLEX-like options for players to pay for their premium time.2  The upcoming MMORPG, Wildstar, will launch with its version of PLEX, C.R.E.D.D, sometime this summer.  When talking to players of these games, doing a conversion of PLEX to that game's chosen in-game instrument can really give a scale to the destruction done in EVE.

One idea I've thought about over the years is how can people compare the cost of items between games.  Something that is expensive in Guild Wars 2 could sound cheap to someone in a nearly 10-year-old economy like World of Warcraft's.  The option of comparing RMT prices is not exactly appealing.  But if we have company-approved ways, such as PLEX, C.R.E.D.D., and Bonds, then sharing experiences, or at least prices, between games becomes just a bit easier.


1 - State of the Economy presentation, Fanfest 2012. (27 minute mark)

2. - While free-to-play, these games do offer subscription options.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

New Players: Asakai Vs B-R5BR

The word is out that a few people decided to try EVE Online after the Battle of B-R5RB took place last week.  Mabrick has already taken a quick look at the number of new characters created since the 21-hour battle and the resulting publicity in the mainstream media.  But HVAC Repairman, currently writing a column for Crossing Zebras, tweeted wondering how the Battle of B-R compared with the number of new players attracted to EVE by the Battle of Asakai.  While only CCP knows the true numbers after a week, we can look at the new characters created graphs on and gather the data from the page source code.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Digital Dozen: 4 February 2014

The rankings of the top twelve MMORPGs as determined by the players of the Xfire community from play on Sunday, 2 February 2014.  For more details about the methodology, click here.  Historical data can be found here.

Rank Prev Week Game ScoreHours Played +/- %
11World of Warcraft 45.4 13,335+2.0
22Guild Wars 213.43,925-7.5
33Star Wars: The Old Republic10.33,016-0.2
44Final Fantasy XIV6.01,755-1.4
55EVE Online5.21,518+21.7
911Planetside 22.4704+6.8
109Lord of the Rings Online2.4703-5.6
Total Digital Dozen Hours: 29,379

After 3 weeks of declining interest, the Xfire community increased the amount of time it spent playing the most popular MMORPGs on Sunday.  The 1.5% increase was led by EVE Online (+271 hours) while the game seeing the biggest drop in playtime was Guild Wars 2 (-320 hours).  Maple Story fell off the list while Runescape edged back on after a two-week absence.

Addition By Destruction - EVE Online is experiencing a surge in popularity due to the recent battle in B-R5RB that captured the media's attention for the destruction of a massive amount of ships valued at $300,000 worth of game time.  The Xfire community's 21.7% spike reflected the fact that so many new players logged in Sunday that CCP had to put a new player system onto its own node. This is usually only done for popular systems like the trade hubs of Jita and Amarr or any system that players notify CCP will hold a major fleet fight.

The Cycle Resumes - Guild Wars 2 saw a 7.5% decline in playtime as ArenaNet began its bi-weekly content releases again.  Sunday was the end of the cycle, with the next patch launching today.  So expect a jump in playtime next week.

About Landmark - The launch of the EverQuest Next Landmark Alpha occurred on 31 January.  Unlike some of the betas we've seen in the past, SOE looks like they are going to try to keep the servers up 24/7.  Try, because from all reports this alpha is a true alpha, complete with frequent server reboots.  If Landmark is popular enough, I will include the game in the list.  However, Xfire did not record any hours for the game on Sunday.

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Battle Of B-R5RB5: The Curious Case Of The AP Story

I don't play in EVE Online's null sec regions or participate in the epic fleet fights, but I do follow the news.  In the case of the fight in B-R5RB5 last week, a lot of news outlets carried the story, courtesy of an article written by Associated Press entertainment writer Derrik J. Lang.  The unusual part of the tale is that readers received a different answer on how big the fight was depending on the site hosting the article.