Friday, 9 December 2016

CCP For Sale

The pieces of the jigsaw are beginning to come together. The pieces being, Eve going free to play, The silence of the routemap at EveVegas, the push for VR and of course the moving of CCP's corporate headquarters to London. The move to London was only ever about one thing. Finance. If it had been about a move to more efficient tax regime in Europe then Ireland would have been a better solution. London is for better or worse the financial heart of Europe. London is also experiencing a mergers and acquisition frenzy in the gaming industry. This is fuelled by money from China. This is in part due to the untended consequences resulting from the current Chinese administration. Money is looking for different homes than the traditional property and American bond markets - particularly post Trump. But also Virtual and Augmented reality is huge in China.

So the news today that CCP are for sale and have some potential buyers cannot be considered surprising. What would be surprising is  if a deal fails to materialise. It is a sellers market right now.

What does this mean for Eve? In the interim I would imagine CCP will not want to rock any boat until the deal is done. More longer term, I can't imagine EVE having any priority over CCP's VR products. However, depending who makes the deal, the pressure for Eve to be the cow that is constantly milked to fund VR development might be reduced. Interesting times. There is a quote about that from someone somewhere.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

All Hallows' EveVegas

"...And keep away from pregnant women and children" the man in a white coat tells me as he puts the needle into my arm. Disturbing though that is there is not much I can do stuck on the gurney. And there was me thinking I was the victim but now I have become a social pariah. How did we get to this sorry state of affairs? Being ganked by a pavement, tripping up and falling arse over tit and landing on my hand since you asked. All this while being completely sober. It turns out that my hand isn't designed for landing, consequently my body is being pumped full of radioactive toxins to allow the bone scanner to take a better selfie. It's not good news. Not only do I now glow in the dark but I have a fractured wrist that is promptly covered in plaster.

That was three weeks ago. Of course, this isn't the worst thing in the world. Many people have to live with much worse but these things are relative. I was kind of familiar with having two hands so being denied the use of one is informative. Who knew I used my left hand to pick my nose or open doors. The novelty soon wears out though as the reality dawns that I have become an Alpha Kong - a pale reflection of the Omega Kong I once was. Everything just takes so much longer, is more complex and results in substandard results. Just try tying shoelaces with one hand. It gets emotional. Wallowing in self pity, I end up watching copious amounts of Netflix. The life of the one arm bandit is not one to aspire to.

Speaking of which, there is only so much binge TV I can watch before my mental state comes into question. So I broke the monotony and took to watching EveVegas on Twitch. Being Halloween and all that I was hoping to see a grisly horror show. CCP did not disappoint.

Proceedings started with "No Plan for Outer Space". In this film, a young Executive Producer of a little known spaceship game takes to the stage to tell the world about the product. Shockingly, she finds she has to call on all her experience and professionalism when she discovers someone has stolen the game route-map. Suspicions soon indicate that evil Eve Valkyrie and her seditious band of bean counters might have had something to do with it. Not to be continued...

I was hooked. I wanted more. And I got it with "The Silence of the Newbies" featuring CCP_Ghost in the main role and virginal Eve players as his victims. CCP_Ghost is clearly not of this world. Don't get grumpy now, you know everyone thinks it and his name gives it away in any case. The main thrust of the plot seemed to be ex-policeman develops an unhealthy desire in examining peoples brains. It turns out this is the only way to make a decent New Player Experience. Obviously.

OK so that one was a bit hard to grasp but a more accessible comedy came on later with "Honey I Shrunk the Player Activity II". I don't want to give out any spoilers but it is a worthy sequel to the much critiqued  "Honey I Shrunk the Player Activity I" where an enthusiastic, polite CCP Dev attempts to make Eve great again. Taking advice from his very close friends he implements a new structure into the game with hilarious results as the players rush for the door. Featuring a cast of thousands, the new film seeks to build on the tried and tested formula.

By now EveVegas was buzzing with expectation, or was it alcohol, for the next film. The Return of the Living Dead. After a dubious ship re-balance, a CCP Dev - let's call him Steve, finds himself locked in the Team Size Matters broom closet by his colleagues. Panicking and desperate to get out he accidentally presses a big red button that has "DO NOT TOUCH!" clearly written on it. The subsequent chain reaction causes the dead to rise again as alpha clones. Determined to fix this disaster, our hero disguises himself as an alpha clone to find out their weaknesses. After welping 35 exploration ships in 3 weeks it turns out that alpha clones are hopeless and only have weaknesses.  They will probably die out anyway. Omega clones can sleep safely. Besides, given Eve's ageing demographics, most of Eve's living dead are probably actually dead. They are unlikely to be residing in the real Eden however as I suspect somewhere warmer calls.

OK enough. Do you realise how long it took to write this with one hand? The sooner my wrist improves better. Many thanks to CCP for a shocking and scary Halloween.

Update 02/11: This piece was written before the sad loss of  BigCountry was announced. Condolences and thoughts go out to his family. A big character in Eve community. There is nothing I can say that hasn't been bettered by Dirk MacGirk. Fly safe big fella o7.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Eve goes Free to Ship Spin

CCP's decision to add a formal Free to Play (F2P) element to Eve Online cannot really be considered to be a surprise. The move to commoditise Skill Points (SP) last year and the Tech 3 hardware uplift indicate the decision was made 24-18 months ago. It was only a matter of when and not if as I and others predicted.

As the proposal stands, it is not hugely detrimental to the game. However, CCP have never made transparency a high priority on this issue, so don't expect Alpha and Omega clones to be the end of the story. Expect gamma, delta, epsilon, zeta, eta,theta, iota, kappa, lambda, etc, etc, clones in the future would be my speculation. And I have not been wrong so far.

The timing is interesting. We are of course in the post Citadel expansion world. Remember one of the benefits of CCP returning to expansions was that it was supposed to give something more tangible that for CCP's marketing people to promote. But it has been catastrophic. Instead of increasing player engagement, player activity has gone done 25 -30%.

Again this was predictable and predicted. The announcements by CCP at fanfest showed that they had no intention of deviating from what they had done for the previous three years. Namely, pandering to a narrow cultural hegemony to the exclusion of everyone else. Unsurprisingly, the disenfranchised have left and found better things to do.

So now CCP had a choice. Not an easy one but a choice nonetheless. Either attempt to learn and recover from the Citadel fiasco, or go nuclear and press the F2P button they already had in their back pocket. As we know, they have gambled on F2P being the white knight and doubled down on the Citadel release being the correct way forward.

To sweeten the pill, there is a loyalty reward for those with active accounts. This comprises of:

  • The Gnosis exploration battlecruiser
  • The curious Apotheosis shuttle
  • A new SKIN designed for the Gnosis
  • A special edition armor suit and goggles set
Coincidently, the Chinese Serenity Server also has a loyalty reward for active accounts. Not because of it going F2P. That hasn't been announced yet and it may not need to be. It is because it is the Mid Autumn festival. So if you have a Serenity account you get:
  • Scorpion Valkyrie SKIN
  • 1 million plus Skill Points
  • 2 attribute remaps
  • 1 character resculpt
So the CCP Tranquility reward isn't that sweet when it comes down to it. If you were in two minds about keeping your account active, which one of those two rewards would be more persuasive?

I digress. With CCP now committed to F2P being a part of Eve will it improve its fortunes? Certainly there will be more people accessing the game. But if CCP's promotion is anything like the small gesture above it won't be as many as perhaps they would like. They need to sharpen their marketing game. Fundamentally though, they have to make the game worth playing and worth paying for. 

Making Eve F2P doesn't fix the underlying problems that has put the game in its current position where people are making the judgement that it isn't worth paying or playing. It just makes access to those problems easier. Put it this way. Paying for a trip to the dentist for root canal surgery isn't fun. A free trip to the dentist but with less anesthetic doesn't make the experience more fun. So with the absence of any other change in direction in the game development terms, F2P could become an embarrassing flop much like Dailies were where players unequivocally voted to ship spin rather than bother a belt rat. 

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Tinker, Tailor,Soldier, Zombie Skill Point Alt

OK so the rationale of this post is to close off the final in Eve 'project' I started (The Farmer Needs an Alt). It still gets a bit of traffic still  so there is some idle interest out there, but the lack of an outcome would leaves the reader hanging in suspense. Feel free to skip the background, and jump to the outcome if you want to avoid my usual tourettic rants.


So in March this year, CCP decided to poison the well with its Citadel release. While there were many great ways citadels could have been implemented for the benefit for all, CCP decided to play to the in-crowd at the expense of the main percentage of play-styles. Be compliant or be taxed  was the message delivered to the plebs with more of the same to come for the foreseeable future. It was a hard message but just to be sure it was received and understood it was further reinforced when CCP's Skill Point skunk works announced dailies were to become a thing. So log on everyday, bother a belt rat and tickle the in-crowds ego by playing with their citadels like a good little capsuleer or face the consequences. 

While you can only admire CCP's belief that they could pull that off (and maybe in financial terms they have), but the reality dawning on them is there are more engaging experiences than being virtually waterboarded to subsidise the entertainment of a few. This is of course a completely personal view and others who have expressed a view have said Eve has never been better. I don't doubt that is their experience, but player activity is down and this is following longer term trend (see below). No Incarna pitchforks here, just the silence of the lambs as players vote with their feet. 

Bye bye
As a side note it appears Sion is agitating for a player revolt. This coming from the podcast he participated in that was discussing his article on his (and the Imperium's) website. Yeah a bit circular isn't it. However the article is not the worst thing ever penned and there are some interesting details. The underlying meat of  the story about CCP using Eve as cash cow is neither surprising or exceptional though. While there may have been player sensitivities in the past about it, CCP have ensured the very same vocal activist set of players have had their mouths filled with gold over preceding years or they have just moved on as life dictates. So there will be no Incarna style riot. More an individual and continual flight to the suburbs than a collective torching of the city neighbourhood.

Anyway, March 24th was the day I called it a day. It was also the day in 1765 that Great Britain passed the Quartering Act on the American colonies - one of the tools of oppression associated with the American revolution. It felt appropriate. However, the drop the mic moment was somewhat undermined by the fact I inexplicably had a six month sub that would expire on the 3rd of August. What to do with 133 days?


Meet Lab Otomy.

Mr L Otomy

Lab Otomy is known as just 'it' to the friends it doesn't have (why do capsuleers have to have a gender?). It is my zombie SP alt. It too was created on March 24th and has been accruing SP ever since. As I write 125 days later, it has got 7.5 million SP - or rather it would have if I hadn't drained its brains of 1 million SP. I sold the SP for over 1.2 billion ISK. I then bought a PLEX for just over 900 million and have enough left to buy an extractor for around 200 million. 

I haven't been hugely optimal about this but it is looking like I will get around 3 extractions a month. I have maxed two attributes (Perception and Willpower). I selected those because I happened to have a couple of implants lying around that would further boost those particular attributes. I know I could get better prices if I could be bothered to shop around and not go for the quick sale/buy. I could have also focused on some trading skills to eek out the margins too. Set up costs were largely covered by using skill books I already had spare on my other characters, and since no ship is needed, you only have to sub the zombie long enough for it to hit the 6 million SP mark when you can cash in enough SP to get a Plex. From that point on it should be sustainable.

The dependency you will have will be the price of PLEX. If it rises and the cost of SP stays the same then you will not earn enough to buy a PLEX. However , I suspect there may be an element of self correction however. The people who buy SP are the ones who want to be able to do something right now. It is therefore likely they are funding the purchase of SP by selling PLEX. If I and other zombie SP farmers can't afford PLEX then obviously we won't buy them bring a downward pressure on the price of PLEX. Similarly we won't be producing SP which in turn puts an upward pressure on price of SP. So it should balance out. That's the theory, but time will tell.

The other thing to note is that the profit margin is small but it will scale up reasonably quickly and be cross financing. An army of zombie SP alts will bring economies of scale and clearly some people are already doing this. I am quite content with the one. It proves the principle and if I choose to continue with it, it only takes about 20 minutes of my spare time a month for no other cost. 


With the sensible bit over, you will probably want to avoid this bit too if you are rant (dressed up as a profound insight) averse... 

The introduction of PLEX and the commodification of SP both represent business design decisions by CCP rather than pure game design decisions. Whatever you may feel about them, they along with other business decisions have been been successful as CCP are making more money per player than has historically been the case and the Eve markets for both SP and Plex have been vibrant. 

So the business brains at CCP have delivered and one way or another their changes have embraced the entire player base directly or indirectly. Kudos to them, they have earnt their wages and you can't blame CCP for wanting to make money. 

Sadly, you cannot say the same about the purely game design decisions CCP Devs have been making. While they may have pleased some, they have patently failed to deliver as player activity continues to dwindle. To the extent to which I care, I would imagine there is not a little tension between the business and game design cliques within CCP at the moment. The appalling tacky SP dallies experiment that made a thousand and one Facebook games look good might possibly be an expression of that tension as it would likely have to have been a joint enterprise between the two perspectives. 

If I were a CCP business bod, I would be spitting feathers when you consider how Tiancity have managed actually increase player activity this year by using innovative SP promotions  alongside their other marketing activities on Serenity - the Chinese instance of Eve. Admittedly the Chinese haven't been hit over the head with the full consequences of the Citadel release yet so that might change.

Serenity says Ni Hao

Anyhow, I have now staggered into unsubstantiated speculation so lets draw a line there. But what I do know now is what my relationship to Eve is now. I no longer play Eve: The Game. No spaceships or planets cross my path or any other Sci Fi concepts for that matter. What I do play now is Eve: The Business. For juggling with Skill Points and PLEX is the extent of my engagement and these are just business concepts pretty much independent of any spaceship context - but for only 20 minutes a month at zero cost if I remember to log on.

Sod it, one more piece of speculation and then I am done. It is the nature of game devs to want nerf vaguely (in game) rewarding activities - especially ones suited to solo casual players. Ore refining, datacore farming etc etc are a couple of indicative examples. "Balance!" or "It should be more engaging" are the reasons usually cited. It is nonsense of course. The real intent is to coerce players into nullsec and join the sexy alliances. It doesn't generally work but inadvertently has kept the game fresh I suppose. When it comes to SP farming however the discussion might be a little different. It will be the underperforming Game Devs verses smug Business Bods facing each other across the table. When it comes to delivery, who might you imagine would have the upper hand? I would love to be a fly on the wall watching that internal meta game but then again there are genuinely more rewarding and better things to do.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Blog Banter 77: If Eve was a Horse...

Blog Banter 77 - The Malaise

Is there a malaise affecting Eve currently? Blogs and podcasts are going dark and space just feels that little bit emptier. One suggestion is that there may be a general problem with the vets, especially those pre-Incarna and older, leaving and being replaced by newer players who are not as invested in the game. The colonists versus immigrants? Is this a problem? Are there others? Or is everything just fine and it's just another bout of summer "ZOMG EVE IZ DYING!"

Banter on.....

Its summer. Player activity dips so let's cue the "Eve is dying!" mantra along with similar tidings of doom. Situation normal then. Every year is the same. Except it isn't. CCP is approaching a fourth year of refreshing selected parts of Eve. The result? Active player count is the same or less than this time last year. Oh and last year was bad. Whoops. Neville Smit provides a decent analysis on his blog using the data from Eve Offline (see below).

The first thing to take away from this is that wars do not have a long term impact on player activity. The heightened activity caused by World War Bee has now vanished. They came, they pressed F1 and they left. We can now confidently say that the myth that Eve needs big wars to attract players is busted. While big wars don't harm the stats, those players will bugger off as soon as they have had their adrenaline fix or got over their mid life crisis.

And that is a bit awkward, because for the last three years CCP have focused their development almost exclusively on these players and there is at least another year of this to come. A year that will be wasted in my opinion. It is not as if industrial structures are going more defensible than citadels. Great for the wrecking machine posse but why ever build one in the first place? Then there is null. Null is as empty as it ever was despite the introduction of magic wands and rejigged super capitals. Even World War Bee was largely based from lowsec. The changes have failed.

So remove the War boom and what are you left with? A continuing underlying decline in player activity.

And this takes us into the realm of unintended consequences. While the game changes have been targeted to (unsuccessfully) benefit a few, their wider impact has been make the neglected state of the rest of the game worse. The ramifications of the citadel markets are a case in point. The markets are now a shambles and trade is down 40% on last month. Crest endpoints are broken and have rendered sites like Eve Central as largely useless. Player attempts to mitigate the regressive tax that purposely punishes the financially weakest players most has lead to offshoring and ghost orders (until recently) which has in turn turned Jita into a husk filled largely with remote orders. It is dev sponsored vandalism without doubt, but it benefits nobody apart from a very few Fortizar owners.

The effects go beyond Jita. I logged into Hek a couple of times last week. There were between 60 to 80 people in the system. In the recent past you would have expected double or even triple that. From what remains of the market it is clear its days as a viable trading hub are numbered. Even the scammers seem to have given up and rats do know when to leave a sinking ship. I've heard its the same for Rens too. It follows that the networks and activities that have built up around these hubs will join the fall into irrelevance as a result of the new economic order. 

All this is to satisfy CCP's myopic neoliberal design dogma that insists High Sec must be outsourced to a few absentee landlords. The alternative being punitively taxed if failing to comply with the ideology. It is a strategy that has failed in the real world and it is a strategy that is failing in Eve. The big irony being that Iceland was one of the first countries to realise it after they got badly burnt. This is just the Citadel fiasco. 

There are plenty of other examples to choose from but lets move on because I am sure you don't want me droning on about Skill Points, the CSM, Null Sec statics, etc, etc ad infinitum. 

So this is the malaise. Eve has a long term dedicated player-base that CCP largely ignores. It also has a short term fly by night vocal player base that CCP are keen to overindulge regardless of the impact on the rest. Consequently the long term player base continues to haemorrhage away and new players find it hard to gain a strong enough foothold to cut through the cliquishness. Try forming a corp in highsec as a new player. 

This isn't news. It is how any number of generic games have died and will die in the future. CCP seem determined to follow that script, or more likely as the vacuous Fanfest Keynote demonstrated, they no longer have the gumption when it comes to either the vision, awareness, capability or capacity needed to do anything about it. So Eve is dying. The debate is really about whether it will be a gentle descent or if numbers will fall off the side of a cliff at some point. CCP's future decisions or lack of them will determine the rate of decline. So if Eve was a horse... well go figure. 

Sunday, 5 June 2016

First World Problems: Choosing my next mobile phone.

Yeah this really doesn't justify a post. But it matters. Life now revolves around these blasted things. On my personal Holmes and Raha Stress Scale it is up there between "Change in responsibilities at work", "Child leaving home" and "Trouble with in-laws" on 29 Life Change Units, and "Foreclosure of mortgage or loan" on 30 Life Change Units. For some perspective, the most stressful event - "Death of a spouse" equates to 100 Life Change Units so the issue is not a full on Life Event but nonetheless I rate it more highly than:
  • Outstanding personal achievement  28
  • Spouse starts or stops work 26
  • Beginning or end school         26
  • Change in living conditions 25
  • Revision of personal habits 24
  • Trouble with boss                 23
  • Change in working hours or conditions 20
  • Change in residence          20
  • Change in schools                  20
  • Change in recreation          19
  • Change in church activities 19
  • Change in social activities 18
  • Minor mortgage or loan         17
  • Change in sleeping habits 16
  • Change in number of family reunions 15
  • Change in eating habits        15
  • Vacation                                13
  • Major Holiday                        12
  • Minor violation of law        11
So it does matter but how did it come to this? My current phone is limping along with a cracked screen. I talk a lot using my arms. Talking is a very form physical expression for me. Unfortunately it is for Mrs Kong too. As in Ghostbusters where you should never cross streams, the tigress and I should never clash arms when in full conversation. But it happened and my phone spun out of my hand and tumbled to the floor.

It is not as if I can just fix the screen either. Well I could but that would involve a journey of 5500 miles back to where I originally bought it. It is/was a Xiaomi Mi 3. My history with mobile phones mirrors my life. I prefer quirky rather than mainstream. I got Ericsson when everyone else got Nokia but then Sony took it over.

I have never liked Apple so my first true touchscreen smartphone was an HTC HD2 (aka Leo). I got it as a second hand emergency purchase because at the time nobody wanted them so it was cheap and some fool had just stolen my brand new but terrible Nokia N97. The HD2 ran the Windows Mobile 6.5 operating system. Or at least it was supposed to. I still have it but it now runs Android. People have got pretty much everything from Ubuntu to WinPhone 7 to run on it. It was a great phone but hardware limitations and batterylife have caught up with it.

While I still had the HD2 I needed something better that was cheap but powerful. I was familiar with Xiaomi from their MIUI HD2 ROMS so when they announced their first phone - the Mi One I got one from china and was one of the first people in Europe to have the device. I have subsequently had a Mi 2 and a Mi 3 but with Xiaomi recently announcing a deal with Microsoft it is time to move on. They a no longer the quirky enthusiast outfit they once were and are now promoting walled gardens in much the same way as Apple and Google do. 

So this is my dilemma. What phone to get next. It has got to be quirky and not stupidly expensive. Current candidates include the OnePlus 2 and the British (so therefore definitely quirky) WileyFox Storm. I'm not sure if they quite fit the bill and neither look particularly Mrs Kong proof. First world problems...

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Horror Vacui

Or in other words nature abhors a vacuum. So in my post EvE reality, other things have been sucked into my life with the sort of sound you would associate with a deflating balloon. Should I write about them here? Not sure yet. Tell me to piss off if you think not. 

In the meantime, I came across an astonishing story of dedication. An abandoned ship containing 50 plus arcade games was discovered  dating from the 1980's. The story behind their rescue can be found HERE. I spent a fortune on those games. Arcade game archeology is clearly becoming a tangible occupation - there was the rediscovery and recovery of the infamously bad Atari ET game in a rubbish tip recently. There must be more hidden caches of these things around you would think. Maybe another activity to fill the vacuum.

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 

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.