Monday, 28 March 2016

Blog Banter 73 - The Other Eve Game?

“So soon(tm) we will have Eve Online, Valkyrie, Gunjack and the as yet untitled FPS to replace DUST514/Project Legion. Are we missing anything else? Are then any other games CCP should be looking into? Colony building simulators in the style of Sim City or Rimworld. Should it be on a grander scale link Civilisation or Stronghold Kingdoms. How about RTS games ala Command and Conquer. Survival games such as Rust? Planet based combat like World of Tanks? Would you like to see other game types expanding the Eve Universe or should CCP stick to what it knows?

This is the gig I signed up to when I thought Blog Banter would be save me the effort of thinking of something to write about. And then the above crashed through my inbox. What should be the other Eve Game? Eek!

OK, let’s dive in. There a couple of ways we could approach this. One way would be to take the blue sky, anything is possible and the money no object approach. Who know’s, I might even come up with a half decent idea but in all likelihood it would be undeliverable. So perhaps we need to reflect on where CCP is currently before we get ahead if ourselves. A bit if a reality check is needed.


The really interesting aspect about this question is it is probably not the sort of thing you would ask of your typical AAA game company. They will already know what to produce next and that will depend on how their current titles have performed or whatever the opposition are having success or failure with. Alternatively, a small Independent company would have a very firm and passionate idea of the dream they are trying to bring to fruition as CCP did when they started out. CCP is not in either camp now. Often classified as “boutique” it has an organisational maturity of a long established company but has yet achieve an established money drenched hit beyond Eve Online. Until this year of course.

After some painful false starts with World of Darkness and to a lesser extent DUST514, CCP is back in the news again for the right reasons. Gunjack and Valkyrie as games could probably be regarded as a success already and you can sense the confidence returning to CCP. It is good to see. However, their ultimate success will depend on the wider adoption of VR by the public and that is harder to determine beyond the current  hype. It has the potential to be defining moment for CCP but it also has the potential to be a damp squib. 

Although blindingly obvious, the other thing to bear in mind (and it often gets lost in the enthusiasm) is that games cost money to make. Who knew? CCP have received external investment for VR projects. But this money will likely be assigned to the Project Arena (and here) work along with Valkyrie and Gunjack until they are in a position to be profitable in their own right. CCP have also already stated they are working on a PC FPS to build on what they learnt the hard way with DUST514. I believe there will be an announcement in Fanfest in regards to that. The development for this will presumably come from the profits of Eve Online. When you add the ongoing costs of Eve Online itself (TQ and Serenity) then it is likely there won’t be gazillions of dollars lying around to invest in a new game. Depending upon how exposed CCP feel to a slow take up on the VR products, this might be further squeezed pot might be further because they would want to keep something in reserve.

In this context “The Other Eve Game” (OEG) has to be cheap and chips and probably not VR based (at least initially)  in order to hedge bets and keep costs down. Despite these constraints, we are not necessarily left with Eve Tetris being the only option. CCP has a lot of assets that can be reused or can be elaborated on (as they have done with Valkyrie and Gunjack). If the OEG is set in an Sci Fi context, a lot of the creative work has already been done or is available on tap. CCP also has the monetization platforms in place that can be now be extended to any new titles they choose to produce. An alternative possibility is that the OEG could be a part of the development of an existing game or project. A project that has sufficient functionality to be game in its own right but also enriches - or at least shares code with a bigger project.

The Other Eve Game

With the caveats in place, what should the Other Eve Game be? For me it boils down to two things. One is practical, the other is more a personal wish and probably less viable. 

Practical Suggestion - Android/IOS PVP arena (1v1 at the Sun)

Other game developers think this is viable and CCP should really get in before someone steals their thunder. Gunjack has shown that CCP can develop an excellent mobile product. Eve players complain they have to roam for ages to find some PvP. This game would offer existing players instant  gratification plus and more importantly cater for the wider handheld/mobile audience who don’t care about Eve Online but do want to shoot stuff while they are on the bus. This could be linked to Eve Online for those that have a subbed/plexed account and potentially played within Eve too at some point. If CCP don’t do this, they will be kicking themselves in years to come.

Impractical Suggestion

At this point I have to admit to my second most favorite game of all time. A game I would play now if they still made it. It was not a popular game by most standards but it was recognised as a classic and more importantly was the only other game that set my heart racing and made me break out in a cold sweat in the way that Eve can do.

The genre of the game - survival horror is likely to put it out of the running straight away. CCP were badly bitten by World of Darkness. But on the other hand, the best way of dealing with falling off a bicycle is to get straight back on it. Anyway, I believe putting my second favourite game in a Sci Fi context like Eve would be extraordinary - and at least I would be able to play it again in some way. The game? Depending on where you are located it has one of two names. In Europe it was know as Project Zero but more widely it was called Fatal Frame. Now, change the setting from a decaying haunted japanese mansion to let’s say, a deserted Blood Raider complex or Jovian outpost or even a ‘haunted’ wing of an NPC station (open the door!)  and use an Empyrean equivalent of the Camera Obscura and I think you are onto something. Marinate it in lashings of lore and it becomes the Other Eve Game. Some thought would be needed on the multiplayer aspect but that could actually enhance the game. While I doubt it would be an AAA blockbuster, it would beat ship spinning and would certainly be boutique. And that is CCP we know.

And by the way...

And by the way, if CCP were to ever consider integrating its portfolio of games together in some way, maybe just maybe Walking in Stations has come of age? Imagine you drop off some loot at a station, go to Captain's Quarters, go through the door and head to a station community area. While looking through the brawling crowd you see some doors. Words like Eve Online, Valkyrie and MindClash are written on them perhaps. But we might be more interested in the activities going on in the room rather than going through the doors. Nah, CCP wouldn’t want to do that. Would they?

Thursday, 24 March 2016

The Farmer needs an Alt

After spending months opening a new account building a wormhole viable Orca pilot I caught myself cancelling the subscription. This isn't quite as dramatic as it sounds and that certainly isn't the intent. In truth the sub doesn't expire until the beginning of August. It is however one consequence of the confounding of Luobote by CCP and their pesky citadel menace. I just don't need the Orca, the cyno alts or the rest of the menagerie required to set up a wormhole operation now. Luobote will work out the rest of his days in Garoun Investment Bank and maybe one day subvert it into a worker's cooperative. He will make an occasional outing I am sure.

However, what to do with the Orca account until August? Despite my lack of enthusiasm about SP trading, for better or worse it is now a major part of the game. It would be dumb not to take advantage of CCP's gift. So while I won't be doing too  much with the Orca pilot, the fact that he does now have 9 million SP means there are other options.  The account also has two unused character slots. I can't quite bring myself to drain the Orca pilots brain just yet so I have set up one of the other characters as an SP farm instead By August it should be clear whether this is as profitable as it appears to be. Setting up the character was fun. I went with the zombie look because after his maiden flight to Jita he is never going to have to do anything again other than just exist and be occasionally milked.

He doesn't say very much so only expect to hear a few grunts on social media.  Alongside of this, I had been taking a more ISK liquid position with my traders because of the other upcoming changes. So I used some of that cash to buy some plex, converted it to Aurum and bought some extractors while they are on offer pretty much as Gevlon described. Once the zombie has accrued enough SP I will start sucking SP and we'll see whether it is sustainable and self Plexing.

To speed the process along I have remapped the zombie to favour two attributes and focussed training skills that use those attributes. The choice of the skills was based on the implants I already had in stock and these give a further boost. 

So now I just sit and wait. In a way it is sad that this approach (if viable) is more rational than fighting alone against the odds in a wormhole but unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately depending on you perspective) I don't make the rules. CCP does. (And the CSM if you choose to be fooled by the hype that is.)

Monday, 21 March 2016

A bit of this and that

In theory, it was going to be a very busy weekend. Busy in real life that is, so I hadn't planned on doing anything much in Eve. But like stacked dominoes, one by one the really important things I was just had to do somehow melted away. Not all at once however, which meant there was always the threat of having to do something useful hanging over me like Damocles sword. So in the end I got to play quite a bit of Eve but with the threat of having to drop it at any moment I ended up doing a lot of bits and pieces.

Let's start with Luobote. I have barely done anything with him over the last month or so. You might remember he was looking for a wormhole to live in. I thought I had found one until it became clear there was a sleeping predator there who had been in the same hole for years. After that I docked him up and with the changes to the game coming up, I am not sure what I will be doing next with him now. That said, he did reach a bit of a milestone and he can now fly a ninja Prospect and huff gas. Whether he will actually ever do that remains to be seen. I have stopped his training for now and will take a view after whatever Fanfest.

Where I have been active is with my old main. She has more SP than Luobote. After a complex journey, she ended up being my main trader and hauler. However she has half trained quite a lot of other things too. Again because of the forthcoming game changes I had decided to sell of my stock and take a more ISK liquid position. I have kept going with PI though because demand is good presumably due to budding citadel builders stocking up. So a sizable proportion of the weekend was shuttling loads of PI about.

However, that still left me with my spare time, so I decided to try out the Gurista Hunt event. My alt used to do HiSec missions originally in a Caracal. I've always like the Klingon look of the Caracal (or is it Romulan?). Because of this my alt has decent missile skills and shield tanking. I wondered if the Caracal's big cousin, the Cerberus, would be suitable. I was aware that JonnyPew had used a Cerberus for Hisec Combat sites in the past and checking his YouTube sight it turns out a Cerberus does just fine. I've no idea what his fit is but the one I used had no bling in it and used assault missiles.

The event itself was rather disappointing. The last time I shot an NPC was when they were red crosses. That seems the only real change. NPC's sit there pretty much a wait for you kill them. Spawn again and again. Move down an acceleration gate, rinse and repeat with the volume slightly turned up. Kill the boss but don't get a damsel in distress this time. Actually, in hisec all you get is a Bantam Skin (why?), some Gurista clothes, quafe Zero, some Gurista Ammo and a "compact TEBS". The prices of all but the latter have collapsed since the world+dog all have them now. I got seven "compact TEBS" before it got monotonous. Quite what they are for I have no idea.  It should have been eight but early on a Stratios nipped in and snaffled a container after I finished a site which was entertaining. I was pleased with how the Cerberus stood up although most people seemed to be using Gila's. While I don't regret having a go at the event, I am not sure I will use the Cerberus again. I  have enough damsels already.

To wrap things up I started a couple invention runs and collected about 6 months worth of farmed data cores I forgotten about. So on reflection, it looked like a well organised weekend in Eve but it was far from that.

Friday, 18 March 2016

Pretend Eve going mobile

Update 26/3/2016: Seems like the Video clips below have now been made private. So I guess you have to take my word for the striking resemblance the game had to Eve. I can only speculate as to why the videos were made private.

Just a quick one today. This is probably one for CCP's lawyers. Bam Stoker put up post on reddit that caught my attention. Because the post is descending into Reddit oblivion I thought I would give it some exposure. Basically what it shows is a video footage of a proposed game that looks somewhat familiar. Take a look and see if it you spot any resemblances.

Or maybe this one:

and if you a still struggling, try this one:

Not a subtle is it? Digging a bit further I came across the following review from TouchArcade. They seem to have spoken to the 'developers' Blackjack Studio "who are working pretty hard on the idea of bringing something like EVE Online to mobile."  No kidding. The interview was held as part of the coverage of the Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2016 conference in San Francisco on March 14th-18th. This is not a small event. CCP had three speakers there. The fact that Blackjack were there and seeking press attention is significant. One wonders if CCP noticed it.

As to who Blackjack is, it is hard to tell. They have a nominal Facebook presence, The game itself has a Chinese UI but my clumsy Baidu and Youku skills couldn't find anything. There is no mention of them at the Chinese GDC conference either so they may not be from the mainland. (Singapore or Taiwan perhaps?)

The idea of Eve on a mobile is not new of course. We have Gunjack. But it is not Eve Online even though it draws from the Eve universe. Some people have asked for Project Discovery to become available on mobile devices and you could see how that would appeal. The technology in mobile devices now probably means that it is near enough viable. If "Second Galaxy" is anything like legitimate (I would have my doubts) and gains any sort of following, then maybe CCP might want to watch this. Either that or send a cease and desist.    

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

The Butterfly Effect

The story begins with our hero enjoying a quiet night in. Let's call him "SpaceRich". SpaceRich has had a busy day but now he has got the time to sit down to do his favourite activity. A noise erupts from his computer. He is needed urgently to bridge a fleet. "Darn!" he thinks, "There goes my quality time with World of Warships" Reluctantly he logs into Eve. He logs into a character he barely uses now and his ship comes to life. But something is wrong. The system should be emtpty but someone has already latched onto him. How? Bugger, the POS shield is down. Someone hadn't fueled it. He urgently pings his corp mates. They are busy ratting and the fleet he was meant to bridge has stood down as the op was cancelled. Its just him and the hunters and the hunters will win. "Titan down in XXX" will be the news and its all because of the watchlist he concludes. The hunters will have watching him for days, waiting for a chance to shaft him and have a Titan on their kill mail. The hunters savour the moment and post dank memes.

Our hero is obviously annoyed. He will never get back to World of Warships now. Buying a new Titan is complicated. He can afford the ISK but the time is a pain. And then there are all the embarrassing comms to deal with and the fact that the character is clearly compromised. At least a new character can now be brain filled quickly so anonymity can be restored. But it all takes time. World of Warships time. Something needs to be done. Eve is obviously broken so he talks to his frenemies. "Our titans are at risk!" They agree. The watchlist must be nerfed. 

Posts are made and back channel conversations are had. There are some dissenting voices but the mob has an angle. "Nothing should be free!" and certainly not intel. And as we know nothing should take less than a month to do in Eve. CCP lap this up because Eve can remain pure and compliant to the design ideology. Hurray! The CSM lap it up because nobody likes watch lists and people might like them again. They don't even need to ask anyone. It's obvious so they take the decision - well at least the ones that turn up - just do eeet! The smell of burning rubber is overwhelming as they frantically stamp the proposal. Job done, our hero returns to World of Warships until the next ping.

Meanwhile, in the shadows lurks villain of the peace. Lets call him SpaceMercenary. SpaceMercenary really liked watchlists. He misses them. It helped him do his job efficiently and effectively for he is , well, a mercenary. Mercenaries are the uncomfortable byproduct of the wardec system which they use with demotic zeal. Typically they are regarded with scorn and for being the lowest of the low. But the same critics probably pay them to do their dirty work with discretion. But no one listens to them because mercenaries are the untermensch. And this is a shame because although SpaceMercenary now has a watchlist problem, he also has a wardec solution. He still needs the kills and still needs to carry out the contracts. If you can't track you target in space then full time hub hugging and blanket wardecs of everyone in Highsec are a suitable and viable alternative. He issues the command and heads to Hek. One by one the corps of Hisec receive and email.

"SpaceVermin", a month old miner, is happily bothering asteroids in Highsec with his friends. The friend who introduced them has set up a corp although he is still trying to figure out the interface. He has been away for a couple of days but that doesn't matter because SpaceVermin is getting the hang of it. His skills are up, the yields are improving, and soon it will be time to move up from his Venture. He's played a number of different games with his friends but they think they might be onto something with Eve. With their cargo bays full they head to Hek towards offload their booty and cash in. They never make it. One by one they are picked off by SpaceMercenary's henchmen. Spacevermin and his friends are confused and sad. Why are these mean people shooting newbros and isn't Hisec supposed to be safe? Eventually some kind soul explains the reality. But the good news is if they are lucky they will be safe after waiting a week if they are not wardecced again. They decide to play World of Warships instead.

And thus we have the butterfly effect. The simple wish of a Titan pilot could have the unintended benefit of ridding Eve of a plague of SpaceVermin as well as keeping our Titans safe. Amazing isn't it?

Saturday, 12 March 2016

In search of a carrot

The Citadel guru, CCP Yitterburn has listened, juggled the figures, and re-presented the player logon taxes. OK that might be a little harsh and they are definitely more mellow. But CCP Yitterburn has reserved the possibility of reinstating the original proposal at some point in the future. So the principle remains. The "choice" CCP present is to either be taxed heavily by NPC stations or submit to the gameplay of the large ingame groups. 

Consequently, if you wish to remain independent then it is likely if not certain that you will be paying more ISK for the privilege . It then follows that to make up for the additional costs incurred, you will have to spend more time on revenue earning activities rather than purely fun activities. There are no new benefits being introduced to offset this. So in effect it is a new activity tax. Perhaps my imagination is running a little hot but it feels like being forced to pay and undergo dental surgery before going out to have a meal with friends. The risk is that unless you are one of those weird people that actually enjoy dental surgery, there comes a point when pavlovian conditioning kicks in and you just stop going out for a meal.

Now I don't want to believe this is CCP's intention, but I am struggling to see how it isn't. I was a Citadel enthusiast but where is the carrot? To my mind it just feels like CCP are a little to desperate to force citadels on people. If a citadel was a new ship - which it basically is, plus services and minus movement, then CCP wouldn't nerf every other ship in the game to make it a win button and then limit who is allowed to own it and benefit from it to a select few. Imagine the outcry if they did. But this is what Highsec Citadels appear to be. In the end, everything in Eve fundamentally boils down to the Highsec markets. Citadel/NPC station activity taxes will effect everyone but only a few will benefit. (to the extent they conquer Eve if Gevlon's maths works out.)

At this point, I should be coming up with a startling alternative whizzy way that would fix everything Citadel. That is the constructive thing to do. But even if I could, it just seems CCP are progressing on the basis that they are incontrovertibly correct. Maybe they are, but I don't see their vision or how I get additional joy instead of additional trips to the dentist. I genuinely want to understand this. I suppose it is possible my playstyle is just incompatible with the way Eve is envisaged by CCP in the future. It would be disappointing obviously but helpful to know nonetheless.

More widely, I wonder how many people are actually aware of what is coming. The highsec natives are notable for their lack of participation in the various Eve forums. There are many reasons for this, be it language, casual playstyle or whatever. They are the sort of people who don't vote for the CSM because they have never been aware of its existence. I worry many people are going to be in for a rude awakening when Citadels land. Quite how that pans out ought to be a worry to CCP because their subs could well outweigh those of the Hisec market Citadel owners.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

An Anarcho Syndicalist in #tweetfleet

So it has been an interesting couple of days . For those of you afflicted by my tweets in #tweetfleet you can now relax as normal service is now resumed. However the whole story behind what motivated me to do that, and the things I learnt from doing might be interesting to some of you. It certainly surprised me.

I'll try and get the motivation for doing this out the way quite quickly because that is straight forward. I have come to loathe the CSM and haven't been shy about saying it. It should be torched for the reasons I laid out in Crossing Zebras back in January. It is only my opinion and I hadn't told people to vote or not vote or indeed shove a list of endorsements down anyone's throat for them to blindly follow. If turkeys want to vote for Christmas that is entirely their choice and one I respect. I'll just enjoy the "I told you so" meal later was my thinking. However it didn't work out that way.

Of all the Eve fora, Twitter is probably the most light hearted as well as being informative. It is the one I engage in most. When the CSM election started, there was naturally a lot of noise and even some excitement about it. But the tone quickly changed to one of calling people dumb and negative for not voting. Even CCP got in on the act. To be fair, much of it was tongue in cheek but the case for not voting is genuine and most people won't vote. Calling the majority of the playerbase dumb, is well just dumb. It was a voice that needed to be heard and I arrogantly decided to try and convey it.

Many will know I am an ingame carebear. Some might know I role play a closet anarcho-syndicalist . I won't bore you with why but if  someone accuses me of being pro or anti some group or other they are rather missing the point. I am anti ALL groups. Happy to work with people but never to work for people. While we are both refuseniks in our own way, when someone compares me with Gevlon, as has happened on a couple of times, we really are on opposite sides of the spectrum. Anyway, I mention this because this became the basis behind my anti CSM tweetrage. For those that missed them I give you a selection below:

You get the picture. Not exactly Marx's dialectic but he didn't have to contend with a limit of 142 characters. What then happened was interesting. What started as a grumpy guy sperging turned into more of a social observation. Most people ignored me initially for it was the utterings of a madman and hoping I would go away eventually. I expected this and I also expected to lose followers. But the opposite happened and I gained some. Nothing spectacular but more people were switched on than were switched off.

As I ploughed on people started to challenge me both seriously and in fun.  But they were almost entirely from a very select group - CSM candidates and non aligned ones at that. Now they obviously have a vested interest. They are struggling to pick up scraps of non block votes. But the only counter argument they could put of any merit was that a non vote was vote for the blocks. But STV guarantees the Imperium and PL are going to get seats regardless so point is moot. But interestingly it was a popular view yet no one is campaigning in the manner I briefly did to appeal to the anti block vote. In fact most of the candidates seem to be talking to each other in the #CSM slack channel rather than campaigning to the electorate. I am really not sure where this complacency comes from. At no point did anyone defend the CSM as an institution or address the contrived points I was making. So most people just don't care (and will likely not vote) or they agree (and will likely not vote). No one is selling the CSM.

Step in CCP...
Hmm.. so why didn't they do that this year? CCP Guard comes to the rescue!

Not an overwhelming response and unfortunately it turns out people are more interested in a pencils and pens than the CSM!

Then things really got weird... or should it be desperate?

So much for putting the case for the CSM as an institution then. There was nothing for it then but to do CCP's and the CSM candidates job for them. I went for the jugular.
You will notice that CCP Fozzie deleted the message I retweeted. That particular tweet had been an extremely provocative message that directly undermined the role, work and purpose of the current CSM. The CSM complained bitterly about it yet it remained. Up until yesterday that is, when my stupid little campaign allowed him the opportunity him to reflect and delete it to replace it with this:
At little victory and my work is now done. The CSM has hope if attitudes change. But the onus is on you candidates. If I can achieve something - (a little something but something the CSM never achieved) with just 4 days ranting why can't you? Stop talking to each other get out the and make a fuss. Fight for your game and win the respect of your peers.

Finally, a shoutout to Nosy Gamer who was almost the only person to tackle me full on and do it with humour. Vive La Revolution!

Sunday, 6 March 2016

CCP HQ to move to London? Gunjack bundled free on S7?

I'm surprised no one has picked this up yet so I thought I might as well run with it According to an interview done by the Icelandic VISIR magazine with CCP CEO Hilmar Veigar P├ętursson (CCP Hilmar) on the 26th of February, CCP are about to open an office in London 'next' summer. I am not sure if that means this summer (as in the next one coming) 2016, or next year's summer in 2017. My instinct is it is this year because of the current Senior Producer job CCP are advertising and the fact that CCP Denebola, CCP's Chief Customer Officer is already based there.

Hillmar says (via google translate), "This is primarily designed as a marketing offices. So we have a small development team there. We are a development company and wish that all our offices are with DNA, too, " So marketing offices in London with a sprinkling of developers. But he then goes on to say that he will move to London and run CCP from there and a new director will be hired to cover Iceland to run projects that nominally he had covered. So maybe that explains the General Manager role being advertised in Iceland. He continues by saying this is a consolidation of CCP's world activities closer to Iceland, which is a nice spin considering the audience of this piece and that the Iceland operation will be strengthened by having its own director.

On top of this we can add the new directors that came with the $30 million dollar VR investment who probably don't wish to leg it to Iceland. So it is all gravitating towards CCP setting up a global corporate HQ in London alongside CCP Denebola's new marketing department. What this means for some of the other locations in CCP's world empire I am not sure. You would think there might be some consolidation of jobs but as I have highlighted in my Serenity posts, CCP's marketing has been virtually non existent in comparison to its Chinese partner Tiancity. So there may not be many marketing posts to consolidate in reality. Certainly there was a bit of a purge with the closure of the San Francisco office back in 2014 and the departure of the then chief marketing officer David Reid.

I'm not sure how much many of San Francisco's former responsibilities were taken on by Atlanta if any. Now CCP are back to making a profit and with Eve Valkyrie and potentially NotLegion to consider, perhaps they can turn their back on those dark days. And it has to be a good thing if CCP have decided to take marketing seriously, not just for Eve but for the other games it has.

Finally, another piece of news that also seems to have been missed - Gunjack is to be bundled free with pre orders of the Samsung S7 and S7 edge. This is pretty big. The S7 will have a far greater public reach than Valkyrie on the Rift. I don't know what deals have been cut but it must surely be regarded as another success story for CCP. More longer term, Samsung, like Apple and HTC and Nokia before that are becoming yesterday's men in Asia. CCP needs to talk to Huawei and Xiaomi about their VR plans. Xiaomi (disclosure: my last 3 phones have been Xiaomi) have already announced they have VR plans.

So you see this is why the CSM should be torched. Idiots like me end up covering the news because everyone else is besotted with the nonsense. 

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Updated: More Serenity Merchandise..with a twist

Merchandise and Eve are not two words you are likely to see together. Getting a merchandising deal together has so far proved to be beyond the wit of CCP. We were promised something at Eve Vegas which wasn't very overwhelming but that seems so have fallen through. We were then told the New Year would herald a new beginning and now presumably we are into fanfest territory for any sort of announcement. So maybe by Eve Vegas this year you might be able to buy a Amarr keyring. But then again, maybe not. 

Meanwhile in China, Eve's partners Tiancity don't mess about and you can actually buy official merchandise there. I bought a Laptop Backpack late last year for example. In fact, their whole approach to marketing has been innovative. Now the Chinese New Year is finally over a new promotion has just been announced. This one like the last one is a something that the CCP Iceland crew fully know about if only because it needed Dev time. I'll come to that bit later, but first let's look at the latest product that is being offered.

First thing to say it that "Terrans Force" is a brand name of a Taiwanese Laptop manufacturer well known in Asia - sort of an Alienware tribute band but probably more powerful and cheaper. They are sponsoring and selling this Eve product. But what is it?

Its a limited edition commemorative stamp album. Actually a bit more than stamps..metal stamps

and 3D postcards

and envelopes

and there are some medals too.

Clearly a lot of work has gone into creating this. It costs about $90 or £60. BUT THAT IS NOT ALL. I mentioned the Iceland dev link. Well in some way this promotion appears to be  integrated into Eve Online itself. I am indebted to @darkblad for pointing out an asset he found on Schildwall Playground. What he found was this:

The rough translation I could do isn't that reliable, but talks about "Terrans force(future humanity) have been given official rights", and then "momentoes for future humans", that "witnesses every captain's emotional journey through the infinite universe filled with stars" and "There's never been a memento like this before and it's of great value to collectors" The button in German says "Show Market Details". I had a look on SISI last night but could see this but there have been several builds since this first appeared so it may have been removed now that it is on Serenity.

So this poses an interesting tinfoil question. Is it or will it be possible to buy a virtual object in the game market that can then somehow be turned into a real and tangible object - like a medal lets say - that then gets sent to you for you collection? Possibly they are dual promotions and have no hard connection whatsoever. Either way, the Eve players in China are continuing to get a much better set of goodies than we are.

Darkblad has kindly provided more information about this and the skins I talked about in SP Serenity gifts in comments resulting from his probing. Top guy! 

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Planned changes to NPC / Citadel taxes and services

So as the heading says the planned changes are out and CCP are seeking feedback. Take time to read them because they will impact everyone. I sort of covered this in my CZ article back in November
It seems I wasn't wrong. While the figures might change a bit following this consultation, the thrust is the same as it was in November. CCP have decided to press the nuclear button and force players out of NPC stations. The crowbar CCP are choosing to use is to make NPC stations stupidly expensive. CCP has thus thrown down the gauntlet. I am not a fan. After all the player interaction it basically boils down to financial bullying. Play Citadels or else. 

The headline lunatic proposal you will hear is it will cost of 5 million ISK to operate a jump clone from an NPC station. The justification is this is the cost of the service the citadel owner will face so in order to force you to use player owned citadels. This is so dumb it must surely change. But there are other planned changes that continue in the same vein. 

Offices: Unlike NPC's, there will be no office limit in Citadels so this contrivance allows NPC's to be undercut. 

Medical Clones: Remarkably stay the same for NPC's and Citadels

Jump Clones: To be 5m ISK in NPC stations to enable them to be undercut by Citadels. 

Reprocessing: NPC taxes are being revised and Citadel owners can undercut them. 

Compression: CCP are planning to merge this service with the reprocessing service module.

Market: The line goes: "To create an environment more competitive for Citadels, we plan on increasing the transaction tax to 2.5% and the broker's fee to 5-6%. Players trading in citadels will still receive the transaction tax, but the broker's fee will be at the complete discretion of the owner." So another contrivance to make citadels look good. And of course, only groups that can afford L or XL citadels will be allowed to run a market.

So the carrot is firmly aimed the large groups because only they can afford the L and XL Citadels. They rightfully will also dictate who can and can't have access to their services. There will be only a tiny proportion of players that actually get the full benefit of this - namely, the small population of citadel owners. The stick? Well, the only way a  'normal' player can compete is to 'play' with (by joining an established alliance) or get permission from the Citadel bosses. Solo players or small emerging groups (who will now remain small) are being left to hang.

I personally would hate the scenario where I am coerced into a situation where other players can effectively dictate how I play Eve. CCP are asking for feedback so things might change. Let's hope they do. But so far, the whole top down approach to this design process completely fails to acknowledge the little guys. The Spring Citadel release is increasingly  playing to a very small gallery and there are some rather awkward consequences coming CCP's way if they fail to wake up to that.

Final thought: While I might be unimpressed with the direction Citadels are going in, this is just a small aspect of Eve. People make Eve what it is today. Devs certainly play a role, but players and the communities they participate in give it life. When times get hard we have been known to rally round and help each other out. In that context, you might be aware that Rixx Javix is in a hard place right now. He has certainly given more to Eve than most. If you feel you would like to understand more and help him out then check out his blog.