Friday, 22 April 2016

Keynotes, addiction and gone(again)

Well I didn't think it was going to be easy. But I didn't think it would be this hard. Just one more tweet, one more Twitch stream and err... one more blog post. Bloody hell leaving Eve is hard. But we must persist because this is just the detritus of addiction. Tell you what, why don't I just lie on the virtual couch and you can be my virtual therapist pretending to take notes. Be gentle with me.

So Fanfest. Actually no, before that Iceland. Iceland is a very curious place. If you peel away all the good manners, sense of humour, disastrous fish recipes, the weather and the appealing Nordic vibe, you left with a banana republic. A country that so heavily gamed the neoliberal doctrine that the Dutch and British were forced to use anti terrorist legislation to stop their banks running off with the money when the inevitable crash came. The banks had become too big to fail for an island with a population smaller than your average chinese town and the cost has been heavy. Well heavy for some. As the Panama Papers are showing, a disproportionate  number of Icelandic citizens managed to squirrel away their money into offshore accounts since the crash. CCP didn't escape the tsunami either as the Icelandic currency (ISK) crashed, which combined with the Incarna madness led to layoffs and closed offices.

I mention this because CCP Hilmar raised this in the opening ceremony at Fanfest because the Panama Papers have resulted in protests that have involved up to 10% of Iceland's population and are still going on. Since April 2015, the Icelandic Pirate Party have consistently polled above 30%, This is more than the other two largest parties combined. Neoliberalism may be broken but the revolution isn't finished yet. If there is a lesson here it is to never go full neoliberal. I found it an interesting counterpoint to what was to follow in the Keynote speech.

CCP Seagull gave what was probably her most polished performance to date. The triumphs of the last year are genuine and deserve to be celebrated. But it all predictably became rather unconvincing once we hit the CSM. CSM10 was wonderful but it wasn't apparently. But nevermind because it will fine next time. Except oh..

About a 40% reduction in the vote overall. This is people who had voted in previous years but are now choosing not to. So a fantastic result from my perspective. The Icelandic Pirate Party would be pleased with that too I would suspect. Ignore at your peril CCP. CCP Seagull put on a brave face. While voter turnout was rather low it is "still strong enough to give us a council". Enter the council...

LOL. So basically with a couple of exceptions including some ex Imperium refugees we've got a bunch of Lowsec ship spinners and blobbers who like to opine about Null a lot but don't like using supercaps or living there. Good luck with that CCP. 

Seagull moves swiftly on and announces a capsuleer day on May 6th. Free podskins fireworks and launchers to help anesthetise our minds from what we have just heard. It sort of works but of it seems a missed opportunity too. Shouldn't this be more player driven? No big deal though because free stuff I guess. "It will only get more exciting from here!" she says. And it does. If libraries get your juices running there is a new book. OK maybe not but it does look a good book. But books don't melt trit beams and the momentum is going in the same direction as the CSM vote. And this is a shame because next we get told about a mobile Eve app. Cool. This is good. RIP Eve Droid though. 

Then we get to the roadmap. This was odd. It reminded me of the old Microsoft help joke. The one where you are flying around in the fog in a plane trying to find out where you are. You see a Microsoft building and shout for help. They respond by telling you that you are in a plane. It was that odd. She told us where we are and no more. So there is no roadmap. What she did do is launch into the neoliberal vision that has underpinned the game design for a few years now. Player owned this and that. Less CCP state intervention. Outsourcing (aka putting in the hands of players) and so on and so forth. Now as we know and as Iceland is demonstrating replacing design with doctrine is not sustainable. Bubbles form and they burst and you can already see the symptoms in Eve with the markets and where the wealth now sits. The Imperium or what is left of them are acutely aware of that right now. But it won't be the (in game) monied that will suffer. Eventually they will become too big to fail and CCP will have to intervene when things go titsup. It won't be pretty. 

Anyway, moving on...Seagull decides to go on the offensive and launches her Titans Larrikin and Fozzie to explain the roadmap that isn't a roadmap. We get a beautiful citadel video to throw us off the scent. But it is still awkward. So much has been done for so few people because with the exception of the market handicapped medium citadels and subtypes this is eye candy is only for the monied players. And they will probably blow the medium citadels off the map anyway. Larrikin concludes by saying he has no idea what the players are going to do. Clearly he's not been to central Reykjavik lately. But he declares CCP will be ready in manner similar to that of Lehmans Brothers when said they only had a minor problem with subprime mortgages. So that's ok then...

Having dealt with Citadels, CCP's leading economists turned their attention to the Rorqual. Most people can't remember what the Rorqual was for. They could have just deleted it. But apparently we need it now. Except most people don't, but it was a good excuse to make a cool ORE video so we will take that. Struggling the economists play their final card. MOAR TITANS. Again cool but again another thing that most players will never fly. 

So the roadmap Seagull outsourced to the economists turns out to be merely bling and win buttons for rich kids for the foreseeable future. Yes there was a good section on NPE. Yes the expansion trailer was almost good. Terrible music though. Just cringing. Awful. I really could have done better myself.

And that was it. Nothing mentioned about SP so clearly there is going to be much more of that coming into the game because it wasn't mentioned at last fanfest or Eve Vegas either.

So absolutely no reason for me to continue and actually not a lot for most people as it turns out. It doesn't make Eve a bad game overnight and for a select few it will be a great game for a while. And now I really am leaving. Twitter, Discord, Slack accounts deactivated. Email soon to follow. I'll keep the blog up until the traffic dies off so strip the articles that you need - that includes those dudes in Iceland who seem to follow my Serenity posts with interest. Guys it's Tiancity. Your partners. Just bloody talk to them. Same goes for Soundcloud. Download what you need. It's free to use and I am not precious about it. 

Take care and Fly safe (again)

Luobote Kong


Friday, 15 April 2016

Final approach

Post #100 and this seems an appropriate time to wind up proceedings. I have been blogging for just about a year and fanfest is just around the corner.

Over the course of the year I have got to know so many wonderful people. It has been a privilege. Eve was and is an amazing game. Infact it is going through a bit of an Indian summer with the war going on and CCP taking it to new places and that is great to see. Recent financial returns suggest CCP are in a good place and the troubled times are firmly a part of history. Eve Valkyrie and Gunjack look like success stories and there are other games being developed. Exciting times.

However, being ever the contrarian, fanfest will likely mark my departure from Eve. The three possibilities that could avert that would be:
  1. NPC tax stick to be removed or
  2. Medium citadels are allowed to have markets
  3. Some other yet to be announced change that favourably impacts 1 and 2 above.
The choice of either bending the knee and use the company store or be taxed regressively is not one I am going to entertain as an independent player. Now I am pretty sure CCP have bigger fish to fry and keeping Kong a happy bunny is not on their priority list. So I have no expectation that these changes will be made.

The broader context to my decision are the other changes that have happened this year. SP extraction was a point of inflexion for me. Eve was about the journey. Now the journey has become irrelevant - you can just buy your way there, but the implication was that CCP were going in a direction that in terms of my game would be pretty much make Eve just like any other game out there. The proposed dailies although being "experimental" confirm this but Serenity suggests this is just the tip of the iceberg. With no journey, no unique gameplay and the sandbox option restricted to the alliances and oligarchs, the engagement for me has gone and it is time to move on.

Although Eve has drifted away from me that doesn't make it a bad game. It is a great game and has a fantastic community. But it isn't a game for me at this point. As I've mentioned before, I dumbly bought a 6 month sub so that account stays live until August. It is a zombie SP farm so there is no gameplay going on. So between now and then there won't be much to write about. Thus we have probably come to an end  because I feel it would be a bit hypocritical to write about a game I have effectively stopped playing.

Fly safe o7  

Saturday, 9 April 2016

So about that war

There is a war on you know and it is glorious. I don't have a particular interest in who wins despite the Imperium declaring war on me (and everyone) when they embarked on their intriguing "Clever Girls" tour. But Eve in war time is a wonderful place to behold.

As a generic landfill Eve blogger I think I am supposed to write about it. But the truth is there are just too many intelligent articles to read and I have been busy elsewhere when not watching it. Consequently, I have stepped back a bit and just watched the drama unfold.  The consensus seems to be that this will be seen as a landmark war. What follows after it reaches its conclusion, whenever that might be, will be different from what went before. Perhaps.

What fascinates me is how you attempt to frame what the war is about - (and therefore what its end conditions will be). Yes there is a long history of grievance, and we can talk about various historical outrages that have fueled this fire.  However, the long stagnation after Battle of B-R shows that they weren't in themselves enough to be the spark. But there are two other notable things about this war that will in my mind determine the outcome. I have already hinted at one but that is for another day. The other one can be quite clearly identified.

It is no secret that this war is funded by at least one party - the EVE gambling website IwantISK (IWI). It is not by accident that the loose collective fighting the Imperium are called the Money Badger Coalition (MBC). While this started as a local dispute with Small Monkeys Alliance (part of the Imperium currently), it has been inflamed through cocktail of  conspiracy, miscalculation, opportunism, pure chance and personal animosities to the extent that the Imperium is now embroiled in a battle with a significant portion of NullSec. 

The Imperium are of course represented by (TMC) - a gaming website. The close coupling between TMC and the Imperium present some awkward pressures. If the Imperium loses significantly then TMC also potentially loses income if their community contracts. There are a lot of 'ifs' in that statement but there is real skin in the game. The leader of the Imperium gave up his day job to be employed by TMC so the outcome of the war matters. In essence, what we have ended up with is a war between two websites fought by proxy in a pixel universe with messy real life consequences. IWI will also be making advertising revenue remember.

As a business proposition, this war probably isn't in the long term interests of either party. It isn't sustainable. So what happens when the money/ISK runs out for one or both of the parties? Will some face saving deal or even a merger be considered? This is business after all so shouldn't be ruled out. But then even if a deal could be reached, would that be enough to counter the current momentum of the in-game war? That in part will probably be determined by the other notable aspect of the war that I haven't discussed here. But it is fascinating to see how this pans out and what a glorious war it is.

Disclosure: I also write for Crossing Zebra's - a site sponsored by EveBet 

Friday, 8 April 2016

SP intentions becoming more clear

So I have been banging on about how CCP's intentions on the use of Skill Points has been less than transparent for quite some time now. This was because it was clear there just had to more to decoupling Skill Points from subscriptions to justify the Dev time and from what has been tried on Serenity in China. 

If you recall, I said quite early on when skill injectors/extractors were first announced that SP would be used as a prize at some point. Using a key resource such as SP that is harder to obtain is a common ploy in many games as a means of boosting player participation, particularly in Free to Play (F2P) games. More commonly such resources are awarded in special PVE events, however on Eve in China it has been used as a daily payment for simply logging on in recent months.  

Team Size Matters were the team that were responsible for the original SP project and it was pretty apparent from the complete absence of anything from the CSM winter minutes that they were still working on it. I raised it with a couple of CSM reps but they feigned deafness.

Well finally, CCP have come out into the open and made the following announcement
I'm here to give you guys a heads up that sometime early next week a small daily activity reward feature will be hitting Singularity and will hopefully be making its way to TQ sometime just after Citadel.
As you guys surely know, having people in game and in space is great and we want to start promoting and rewarding activity a little more directly. The version of the feature we are planning to deploy first will be a simple 10,000 skill point reward that a character will receive the first time they kill an NPC ship every 22 hours. The skillpoints will go into your unallocated pool to be used however you like.
You will find the status of your daily skill boost in the Opportunities info panel and you will also receive notifications to let you know when it becomes available.
That's it for now. If this goes well we hope to expand in several ways, but more on that later!
Feedback appreciate as always,
CCP Rise for Team Size Matters
So basically login, shoot an NPC rat, dock up and you get 10,000 SP. It's not the worst thing and you still have the choice not to do it. But in my current state of mind around citadels it is just another piece of coercion so I find it hard to be enthusiastic about. That said, if it brings more players into the game and encourages them to participate more then that is probably a good thing overall. The other observation I would make is that although Eve might not go F2P, everything you would need to make it F2P is still gradually being put in place