Thursday, April 17, 2014

CCP's War On Illicit RMT: Reviewing PLEX

I regularly listen to BigCountry's talk show on Wednesday mornings (Tuesday nights in the USTZ) and have listened to the complaints about the rise in the cost of PLEX.  The conversation is amusing, but I haven't felt compelled to write about the subject until EVE News 24 published a piece by Dirk MacGirk, a regular on BigCountry's show.  A very interesting read, but he completely ignored the primary purpose of PLEX: fighting illicit ISK sellers.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Casual Look At The Latest Manufacturing Dev Blog


Yesterday CCP announced in a dev blog that this summer's expansion for EVE Online will focus on industry as a whole.  Now, I'm not really qualified to judge the changes that CCP is making.  Sure, I do some mining, manufacturing, and run some planetary interaction colonies, but I'm more a hobbyist than a serious industrialist.  I'm slowly expanding my product line and finally reached the 250 million ISK total in sell orders on the market last night.  Basically, my operation is a rounding error to the serious industrialists and traders in EVE.  But I have fun.

People who do know something about industry have started to give their impressions.  Lockefox wrote a post with his impressions:
"The proposed changes are bad for cooperative industry and strongly incentivize solo industry as-is.  Though the changes aren't a catastrophe for corp-level/frontier industry, a lot of the changes will make many of the tools people use difficult."
No, CCP is not catering to my play style.  If I understand Lockfox's concerns, a lot of his concerns trace back to bad corporation role design and the possibility of corp theft.  Also, note that he stated "as-is".  CCP still has four more dev blogs to release that may address some of his concerns.

I don't know how important some of the changes are.  The rearranging of items into materials, components, and research equipment on the market UI might make things easier to find.  Getting ride of the "damage per run" on Robotic Assembly Modules (R.A.M.) and Research Databases (R.Db) is a welcome development.  I've created objects using these things and I never really did understand how they worked.  And getting rid of extra materials?  Hallelujah!

I wanted to discuss the POS changes next, but I need to address the biggest change for me first: the elimination of industry slots.  Yes, CCP is killing all the slots.  Living in low sec, I never have to wait on manufacturing, time efficiency, or invention slots.  But having to wait on copying and material efficiency slots is a pain and really slowed me down.  Instead of slots in manufacturing and research stations, CCP is instituting a cost scaling system, where the more activity in a station, the greater the cost.  CCP Ytterbium stated, "Expect costs ranging from 0% to 14% of the base item being produced for the most extreme case."  I expect the cost scaling system to become another major isk sink, although we will need to wait for CCP Greyscale's dev blog to learn all of the details.  But the one thing for sure is no more waiting for a slot to open.  Yes!

The last part of the dev blog concerns POS changes and blueprints.  As I've never owned a POS (and probably never will), I'm just going to copy the relevant section:
"The Blueprints in question can be researched remotely, by installing them at a station while using a Starbase Mobile Laboratory in the same solar system. With the removal of slots this use case is no longer that important, as we expect research slots to be widely more available.
"In turn, this allows us to change several points:
  • Allow Starbases to be anchored anywhere in high-security space and without standing requirements (minus some protected solar systems, like Jita or new player starting systems of course).
  • Remove the ability for players to use stations to safely store their blueprints without putting them at risk in Starbase structures. Players will still be able to start their jobs remotely (via the use of Supply Chain Management and Scientific Networking skills), but will now have to move their blueprints directly into the starbase structures that require it, like other materials.
  • Improve Mobile Laboratories and Assembly Arrays to compensate for such risk – we’ll give you final numbers as soon as we have them.
  • Reduce copy time on all blueprints to be less time consuming than manufacturing something out of it. This gives the option to use blueprint copies to build items at Starbases without risking the original.
"So player corporations will now have the choice between the safety of NPC stations or the efficiency of Starbases to operate. The core goal is to motivate player entities to actually defend their Starbases if attacked or be reactive enough to take the blueprints out before they go into reinforced mode.
"We are aware of the significance of this change and do not expect very expensive blueprints (Battleship and above) to be risked in such a manner, but we do feel it to be a good trade-off for smaller blueprints."
From watching Twitter I believe the big objection isn't exposing the BPOs to PvP loss, but to corp theft.  Under the current system industrialists had figured out how to safeguard their valuable blueprints so that other members of their corporations could use them.  Now?  The possibility for theft is much greater.  This is why Lockefox believes that the changes that we know about incentivize solo play.  An industrialist in a one-man corporation doesn't need to worry about the theft of a valuable library of BPOs.  I think CCP foresees players working around this issue by using blueprint copies, but that introduces additional issues that I don't quite understand, including running into the 1500 item limit in stations.

I don't want to get too excited one way or the other because CCP still has four more dev blogs to publish.  Also, I expect to hear additional information once inside Fanfest.  But at this point I'm cautiously optimistic I'll like the summer expansion more than I liked Odyssey.

Edit 16 April 2014:  The original version of this post stated that the theme for the summer expansion will be industry.   While industry is getting a comprehensive revamp, CCP stated last year that expansions would no longer have a single focus on one area of play or on a "Jesus feature".  I've changed the introduction to reflect that change in CCP's development philosophy.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Digital Dozen: 15 April 2014

The rankings of the top twelve MMORPGs as determined by the players of the Xfire community from play on Sunday, 13 April 2014.  For more details about the methodology, click here.  Historical data can be found here.

Rank Prev Week Game ScoreHours Played +/- %
11World of Warcraft 36.5 4,779-39.2
22Guild Wars 215.01,967-40.1
33Star Wars: The Old Republic12.61,651-10.8
44Elder Scrolls Online7.1929-47.8
55Final Fantasy XIV6.2810-41.9
66EVE Online4.9642-28.8
77Aion3.9506-40.3
88Tera3.4439-40.2
911RIFT3.1410-5.1
1010Neverwinter2.4319-35.4
1112Planetside 22.4316-18.8
129Runescape2.4314-38.7
 
Total Digital Dozen Hours: 13,082

Normally I would begin this post with a comparison of Sunday with the weekend before.  But something happened with Xfire not recording hours, with a decline of 36.1% in hours recorded over the previous Sunday.  Because the problem apparently affected most games equally, I recorded the Digital Dozen scores and hopefully when the problem is resolved the score will make sense.

Everyone Loves Huttball - One reason that Star Wars: The Old Republic did not see a drastic decline in hours played was the release of Game Update 2.7: Invasion.  Bioware is doing a variation on Guild Wars 2's Living Story, with Invasion beginning a new epic storyline arc with the introduction of two major characters and two new flashpoints.  The storyline will have two more releases spaced throughout the rest of the year.  Also among the new features are new Huttball and Galactic Starfighter maps.

Mounts - RIFT is another game that did very well on Sunday.  The only event that stood out for over the weekend was Budgie week.  Players are able to get mounts and partake in racing events.

Azeroth Choppers - Since I really can't do a comprehensive post today, I thought I'd include the mention of a cool little project that Blizzard is doing.  On Thursday, an 8-part web series will begin called Azeroth Choppers.  A famous motorcycle designer will oversee the building of two motorcycles, with the most popular one becoming an in-game mount.  The last episode will probably come out sometime in early June.  I'll finish this post with the introductory video.

Monday, April 14, 2014

CCP's War On Illicit RMT: Player Auctions Revisited

The latest security dev blog is making some people take another (or perhaps first) look at the secondary RMT market1 in EVE.  The graph included by CCP Bugartist sparked some posts in the comments thread that contain a question I've read in the comments for some of my own articles.


Namely, how much illicit RMT goes on in EVE Online?  No one really knows.  Some claim that CCP turns a blind eye to illicit RMT, claiming that the company ultimately profits from the practice.  Given CCP's history, from its decision in 20062 to allow a company owned by a major figure in the secondary RMT markets3 to become an authorized Eve Time Code seller, to last November's revelation concerning SOMERblink and other EVE player-run gambling sites using a loophole in the GTC resellers agreement to launder ISK4, that some EVE players have a freighter's cargo hold worth of skepticism concerning CCP's efforts in fighting the illicit RMT trade is understandable.

After watching and chronicling CCP's efforts for the past 3 years, I am not one of those players.  However, I don't want to see Team Security rest on its laurels and backslide from its currently successful Forever War against botters and the illicit RMT merchants either.  So since CCP has published its figures, I have some from the only source I know where I can get my own data of ISK sales: Player Auctions.

Friday, April 11, 2014

CSM Election Information: 4-10 April 2014

The elections for EVE Online's 9th Council of Stellar Management have begun.  Not only did CCP Dolan publish a dev blog making that announcement last Friday, but published the non-NDA'd portions of the Winter Summit minutes the same day.

The interface has changed to make voting a straight party ticket much easier this year.  I believe the rationale is that the major blocs will figure out a way to introduce automation into the voting process so open that automation to the public.  CCP Dolan included instructions for doing so...
"Veteran Voters will notice some improvements to our voting interface. We've added a multiple search and sort function to our candidate search bar. Simply place a comma in between the names of the candidates you'd like to search for (no spaces) and they will all be brought to the top of your ballot page. Additionally, we know a lot of voters like to share their prefered [sic] candidates with their friends and assosciates, [sic] so now when you search for candidates the URL in your browser will change on-the-fly. Once you have a search that you like, simply have your friends copy and paste the URL into their browsers (make sure they are logged in first) and then they are free to drag the candidates into their ballot in whatever preference order they wish."
The Mittani, in an admitted piece of propoganda published on TMC, sent the world this message...
"It's CSM season again, and voting has opened. Thankfully CCP has made it very easy to vote with multiple accounts; once you enter your roster of 14 aspiring spaceship politicians the first time, for each account you log in those same selections remain. Vote early, vote often - and vote the appropriate ballot which we have carefully selected for you.

"We've got a very strong roster this year including a number of independent candidates, as well as GSF heavyweights Sion Kumitomo and Mynnna, not to mention favored ALOD-writer Angry Mustache. Given how poor a job CCP did with getting the CSM8 minutes out the door, my personal take on this election is that turnout will be at an all-time low. If I'm right, that's hilarious news for the CFC, because there's nothing this coalition does quite like marching and voting in lockstep. In a low turnout situation, the impact of organization, unity and force is magnified. Even if you don't care about the CSM, vote the way we tell you to, simply because it'll make a gaggle of shitlords who hate us very, very angry should we succeed."
I should add that word is spreading that Brave Newbies is voting en masse for Awoxing Pizza-Spymaster McBlushooter in addition to their official candidate, which means in a low turnout election that this apparent joke candidate, thanks to the single transferable vote system used for the CSM elections, has a real shot at earning a seat on the player-run council. 

For as long as I can remember Dierdra Vaal has run a site decided to matching players to candidates and this year is no different.  Eve Vote Match is now up and running for those looking for another way to find candidates to vote for.

This week, in addition to the latest podcast efforts that came out during the last week, I have added a section full of endorsements for those still deciding for who to vote.


Cap Stable Podcast Interviews

Declarations of War CSM 9 Panels

Legacy of a Capsuleer Interviews

CCP Dolan Interviews

EVE Vote Match


Endorsements






Thursday, April 10, 2014

CCP's War On Bots And Illicit RMT: First Impressions

Since CCP Stillman left CCP for an information security think-tank in Reykjavik at the end of 2013, I've wondered about the organization of Team Security.  Who was left?  We found out yesterday with the release of the latest Security dev blog.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Low Turnout Means Bad Candidates Win

When I'm not tired and sore from having to make an unscheduled stop at the orthodontist to have some work done, I'm often amused by people like Dinsdale who think that null sec domination of the CSM is bad, but then go around the EVE community stating there is no one to vote for and basically drive down voter turnout.  If someone truly cannot find a candidate to vote for and doesn't vote, I fully understand.  I only voted for 5 people for that same reason.  But if you are a "Grr Goons" type of person, the only way to vote against the null sec voting line is to vote for other candidates.

The lower the turnout, the greater the power of the voting organizations like the CFC election machine.  That's not an EVE thing, by the way.  In the U.S., we see the same thing in our off-year Congressional elections.  The activists in both parties have greater sway than when the general public comes out to vote for president in years divisible by 4.

If you don't believe me, then would you believe The Mittani?  Here's what he recently told Goonswarm in a CEO update:
"It's CSM season again, and voting has opened. Thankfully CCP has made it very easy to vote with multiple accounts; once you enter your roster of 14 aspiring spaceship politicians the first time, for each account you log in those same selections remain. Vote early, vote often - and vote the appropriate ballot which we have carefully selected for you.

"We've got a very strong roster this year including a number of independent candidates, as well as GSF heavyweights Sion Kumitomo and Mynnna, not to mention favored ALOD-writer Angry Mustache. Given how poor a job CCP did with getting the CSM8 minutes out the door, my personal take on this election is that turnout will be at an all-time low. If I'm right, that's hilarious news for the CFC, because there's nothing this coalition does quite like marching and voting in lockstep. In a low turnout situation, the impact of organization, unity and force is magnified. Even if you don't care about the CSM, vote the way we tell you to, simply because it'll make a gaggle of shitlords who hate us very, very angry should we succeed."
In a low turnout election, I see two bloc candidates who should not win possibly get seats.  The first is Angry Mustache.  He makes me ... angry.  From what I can tell, between ratting and his writing for TheMittani.com, rivals the ISK Sugar Kyle makes in profits from The Cougar Store.  Yet, he claims space poverty and even claims that null sec is the worst place for a pilot to earn ISK.  That's why one of the reasons that Angry Mustache is running is to get the free year subscription that all CSM members get.  Given how many AFK Ishtars Xander Phoena manages to lose and still come out ahead, I find that claim hard to believe.  Of course, Angry Mustache, at least to me, sounds pretty clueless about a lot of things related to EVE.  Judging by the reactions of other members on the Declarations of War panel on Sov, Power Projection, and PvP Balance, particularly Psianh Auvyander, I'm not the only one.

The other bloc candidate who I feel is a bad candidate who could win a seat due to low turnout is RvB's Azami Nevinyrall.  The reason he is running is that he made a $50 bet with a real life friend that he could win a seat on the CSM.  With that type of motivation, the odds of him winning a seat and then disappearing are high.  I also didn't like the pandering I saw when I actually paid attention to him at the start of the race.  I could tell he was just taking positions to make people happy so he can win his bet.  In his Cap Stable interview, I think he was a little surprised that people took a negative view of his bet.  Well, as one of those people, I hope he loses.  With the price of PLEX today, Azami made a 2 billion ISK bet.  Who doesn't like making someone lose 2 billion ISK?  But a low turnout gives Azami a better chance to win.

So while I understand people not wanting to vote because they have no one to vote "for", I don't understand those who don't vote who are "against" someone, especially a bloc candidate.  The average player voting (assuming for non-bloc candidates) dilutes the power of the organized blocs.  If enough high sec players vote for non-bloc candidates, the blocs won't have as great of representation on the CSM.  Too bad the complainers don't understand that.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Digital Dozen: 8 April 2014

The rankings of the top twelve MMORPGs as determined by the players of the Xfire community from play on Sunday, 6 April 2014.  For more details about the methodology, click here.  Historical data can be found here.

Rank Prev Week Game ScoreHours Played +/- %
11World of Warcraft 38.4 7,865-3.0
22Guild Wars 216.03,282+6.8
33Star Wars: The Old Republic9.01,851-0.5
44Elder Scrolls Online8.71,781+1.7
55Final Fantasy XIV6.81,394-8.5
66EVE Online4.4902-1.0
78Aion4.1847+18.8
87Tera3.6734-5.0
99Runescape2.5512+8.2
1010Neverwinter2.4494+5.3
11--RIFT2.1432+5.1
1211Planetside 21.9389-16.0
 
Total Digital Dozen Hours: 20,483

The decline in the interest in MMORPGs (or at least the membership) of the Xfire community slowed to a crawl on Sunday.  The 0.2% decline in the time spent playing the most popular games was led by World of Warcraft, which witnessed a decline of 243 hours.  Almost offsetting the loss was the gain in playtime seen in Guild Wars 2 (+208 hours).  APB: Reloaded fell off the list this week, replaced by RIFT after a one-week absence.

Not Enough - Blizzard always seems to drop some type of news or launch event whenever a competitor launches a game, and last Thursday was no different.  On the day that Elder Scrolls Online conducted its full launch, Blizzard announced that alpha testing of Warlords of Draenor began.  But that didn't seem to help with Xfire members too much since players are not invited to this phase of testing.  Perhaps when beta testing begins Blizzard will see more interest.  Speculation is that beta testing will begin sometime around 3 June.

Big Sale - Guild Wars 2 saw a big increase in playtime on Sunday as ArenaNet launched its biggest sale of the game yet.  From 4-13 April the Digital Heroic and Digital Deluxe editions are both 50% off.  This is a smart marketing move as season 2 of the Living Story should launch soon.  Hmmm.  The sale began on the same day that Elder Scrolls Online launched.  Is there a trend?

Counter-programming Done Right - NCSoft's Aion racked up the biggest percentage gain in the number of hours played by Xfire members on Sunday.  The Brave the Dredgion Event began on 2 April and will run through 16 April.  The event, which is available for those level 46 and above, offers a new PvPvE instance to combat the NPC faction and even each other.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Nosy Gamer's CSM 9 Election Endorsements

Tomorrow is the beginning of the two-week period for the elections for the Council of Stellar Management.  So far I've listened to 32 podcast interviews and 6 CSM-related podcasts, including 3 Declarations of War CSM issue panels, as well as numerous EVE Radio shows focusing on the CSM elections.  I've also read numerous forum posts, blog posts and watched video blogs.  So while I haven't covered the election beyond listing player-created content over the past few weeks, I do know a lot about the candidates.

Since some people think I should put in my .02 ISK, I'll go ahead and put out my list of who I plan to vote for.

Friday, April 4, 2014

CSM Election Information: 28 March - 3 April 2014

The elections for EVE Online's 9th Council of Stellar Management are scheduled to begin on Tuesday, 8 April.  I say scheduled, because a dev blog was supposed to come out on Thursday with the official list of candidates and a lot more information about the election mechanics.  That information was not released kind of screws up this week's post, because I wanted to go through and point out some of the highlights for people while they are hopefully making some decisions.  Now, we don't even know who's running and who didn't have valid passports.

Since CCP has not put out the official information, I can just point out a couple of things to look forward to.  First, expect a massive amount of blog posts endorsing candidates on Monday.  Since Dinsdale called me out in the comments last week, I'll publish my list Monday also. 

Next, expect candidates to start publishing their lists of other candidates they think you should vote for in addition to themselves.  Based on last year's election, a lot of candidates are making deals trying to take full advantage of the single transferable vote process.  Also, expect the null sec blocks to send out voting lists to their alliance members.  While the null sec blocs have the organizational advantage, they are only so big.  A small turnout benefits them greatly.  A large turnout should result in less bloc candidates winning if the voters in Empire (high and low sec) turn out and vote for non-bloc candidates.  Of course, any further delay may hinder the campaigns as well.

If the candidate list comes out tomorrow, I don't expect a delay in the election.  If the list doesn't come out until Monday, I don't see how the election starts Tuesday.  CCP does have a few days leeway, but any delay is really pushing the success of the process.  I don't know how much time is required to tally the votes.  The STV system does require more time to tally, but I don't know how much more.  We may actually see the election period to shrink to under two weeks.

For this week, I will just list the latest podcasts that came out over the past week.  Sorry to all of the bloggers and YouTubers who came out with content.  For everyone wanting a list of blogs, podcasts, YouTube channels and Google Hangout sites for each of the candidates, I have the full list on the blog here.  If the list appears today, I'll update the page when I get home and remove all of the candidates who have dropped out of the race.

Cap Stable Podcast Interviews

Declarations of War
 Legacy of a Capsuleer Interviews
Radio VFK