Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Amazing story! A player won 800B ISK on Maybe I misquoted the name of the site, but whatever.

RMT (usually combined with botting and account theft) is a plague on every MMO. EVE could limit its effect by using a sanctioned method, the PLEX market. It allows good players to play for free and bad players to get ISK without breaking the EULA. But it does not allow getting real money for playing, so there is still reason to bot, steal and RMT the ISK away.

The main danger in doing RMT is delivering the game money without getting caught. If you just transfer large amount of game money to a total stranger, or rather multiple strangers, it rises flags instantly. After all, EVE players aren't famous for giving their ISK away to strangers, so false positives are pretty rare.

RMT-ers in EVE started to use the fake-gank method where a ship full of expensive items were ganked in a safespot by the buyer. This blended into the baseline because lot of legitimate idiots are ganked. However such methods are often visible to the community via killboards and get publicity. Also, half of the loot destroys, halving the income of the RMT-ers.

SOMER Blink pioneered a new RMT method, using gambling. Gambling is legitimate in EVE and by its nature contains stupid and pointless ISK transfers. Someone sends billions to the site and gets nothing back? He lost! (and totally not a botter who was paid) Someone receives 800B? What a lucky jackpot! (and there is totally not a $8000 transaction to the bank account of the site owner). The reason Blink got caught is that they were obviously open with their policy with those "blink credits for PLEX" and later the "PLEX buyback promotion" that ended their career.

Such obvious method had a positive: it was easy to manage and any random guy could join. The new RMT method is more complicated, but also more lucrative (risk vs reward in its finest): the buyer pays real money and then told to make a bet and then he wins! The non-paying players lose and finance the scheme, along with botters and account thieves who deliver their ISK via large gambling losses.

I think CCP should make an official in-game lottery and ban all other forms of gambling within EVE to prevent this form of RMT transfers. The official lottery could also serve as an ISK sink in the game.

PS: don't forget the Burn Branch bounty! You can catch purple battleships! By the way anyone knowing fitting can tell if he was just dumb for putting a warp disruptor to a ratting boat, or did he really try to PvP in that thing?

PS2: a small error was fixed in the ratting analysis post, tables updated. The difference is too small to be seen on the charts. Also, a new table is inserted, the coalition ratting distribution:

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

No country was ever defeated by asymetric warfare

The title is common argument against my asymmetric warfare campaign against CFC. However there are two problems with that. At first, many armies were defeated in a war with serious guerilla participation, like the nazis in France. The French Resistance liberated Paris before the "real" enemies of the nazis arrived. The CFC isn't without "real" enemies either. The last war ended with these enemies capturing all land they aimed for. It doesn't include CFC land, just the land of the temporary allies of CFC, despite their effort to defend such allies. The difference of strength between the powerblocks can be shifted by asymmetric warfare to the point where N3 can safely invade the starving CFC.

The second problem is more important: CFC isn't a country, it's a video game guild. Countries - until defeated - retain control over their disgruntled members, video game guilds can't. Just because the allies bombed German cities, the people who lost their homes were still under the control of Hitler, they still could be conscripted to his army or sent to work in his military factories. Hitler couldn't care less if they were mad, so made little effort to save them.

On the other hand, a CFC member can easily quit CFC both permanently and temporarily after he lost several ratting and hauling ships and got "lol don't be bad" as support from his "bros" who also donated money to his killers just for comedy. The permanent way is what Hirr choose, who were disgruntled over something and left RAZOR for Northern Coalition. Corps, alliances or even individual members can do the same over PvE losses.

Temporary quit is the player simply not logging in or playing on a non-CFC alt. This decreases his future loyalty. He might logs in for a "titan tackled" ping, but not for bombless bombers or a station camp, directly decreasing the combat power of CFC. You must see the social contract of sov-holder nullsec alliances and their members: the alliances provides access to ratting/mining/PI space while the member provides his presence in boring fleets. Fun fleets don't matter here, since NPC null/WH/lowsec/highsec PvP groups provide that too, the unique selling point of Sovholders is using Sov.

Of course you can claim that CFC members don't care about ISK making ability in nullsec. Some surely don't. But we saw the ratting numbers and claiming that ratters don't care about ISK is stupid. ISK is the only reason for ratting and destroying assets takes this ISK.

If asymmetric warfare reaches the point where ratting is no longer profitable, owning space will no longer be profitable, leaving only those members loyal to CFC who don't care about land or only as bragging right. While such players exist, the ratting numbers say that they aren't the average members in CFC.

PS: keep up the asymmetric warfare against the Evil! Donate! Already 25B collected.
God Bless the awoxing event of the Goons.

Monday, September 15, 2014

The proper handling of official forums

I'd like to give an advice not just to CCP games but to all gaming companies how to properly moderate and handle their official forums in order to both meet their interest of having a positive relationship with customers and also foster constructive discussions for the betterment of their product: shut the damn thing off and leave it that way!

An unmoderated forum is obviously unbearable experience to anyone with braincells and serves absolutely no purpose. However moderation isn't a trivial issue for any site operator, even if he has no financial interest in the issue. Before addressing the issues of subjectivity, we must address a problem arising from the "4 fun ppl" theory. Even a bot could moderated useless comments as "i lolled" or "waddafukk iz thiz" or "ground floor". But such commenters are people and their comments are genuine expression of their inner self. Yes, their inner self is a bit shallow, but they are classified as "4 fun ppl" for a reason. The problem is that cruel rejection of the expression of their hearts in the form of moderation will make them mad. They are unable to understand that their contribution is worthless (otherwise they wouldn't make them) and see their moderation as an act of injustice and oppression.

While a blogger or fansite operator has absolutely no reason to care if a "4 fun peep" is mad at him, a profit-oriented gaming company cannot permaban them without cutting deep into their bottom line. So the hide-and-seek game of moderators and trolls takes place where the topic is filled by 10 pages of crap, then it get deleted with inhuman moderator effort and then refilled by the very same "trolls". Having no official forum solves this problem: the "4 fun ppl" are banned by evil bloggers and not by the developer.

Even if a game company would be ready to make the financial sacrifice to alienate those who can't form a coherent opinion and have moderators who respect differing opinions, they still face the problem of out-of-the box criticism. The "in-box critic" accepts your general context and argues over a technicality. For example you outline a plan of limiting force projection in EVE and someone claims it won't help, you need mechanics to break up large alliances. While you disagree, you both seek solutions of the same problem (blue doughnut) in the same way (mechanics change). Now some guy arrives and claims that the superpowers of the blue doughnut are weak, their apex force is irrelevant and EVE PvP is dominated by small-gang engagements. Both parties of the previous argument would agree that this third guy is either a pants on head retard or a purposeful troll and his opinion brings no value to the discussion so they'd agree to ban him and then continue to respectfully argue over the proper mechanics changes. Well, the problem is that the third guy is me and I'm right: CFC suffers most of its losses from "irrelevant NPC trash" and in small-gang engagements. Of course I have proper statistics to prove it and no one even attempted to argue their valitity. But I didn't start with them. I started with stupid titan fits. If the "reasonable people with experience on the field" could silence me then, the CFC loss graphs couldn't be created or published.

The problem is obviously that you can't determine if an out-of-the-box idea is genius or just retarded until it has enough evidence, which is never the case when it first appears. To not silence the rare gems, you must not silence all the dumb ideas, returning to the "unmoderated crap" problem. Damned if you moderate, damned if you don't. What is the solution?

The solution is that the internet is big. I kept on posting my ideas on my blog, despite receiving barely any links, references or any form of support from the EVE community (there is no EVE site in my top 10 referrers. Only Sugar in the top 20). If you just read lot of EVE-related sites, you'd never figure out that I exist. Yet my blog continued to have 4-5000 visitors per day, thanks to search engines that lead people to my ISK making posts and mostly to this page. My EVE audience was formed either from people who followed me from my WoW and WoT times, from people looking for ISK tips and from people who got my link from a friend. Despite the "boycott" of the EVE community, by creating interesting content, I lived on and could survive until I understood the game enough to know what kind of data to analyze.

The solution that you can't moderate someone out of the internet if he is creating interesting things, but you can completely ignore anyone. If l33townzor has a blog where he posts random idiocy, it doesn't hurt you, as no one (or just fellow morons) read it. On the other hand people with valuable opinions will create sites with large audience. These content creators can be considered a focus group, like the CSM, with their viewer count being their voters. Whenever the developer needs input, he doesn't have to look further than these third-party sites. He can participate in the discussion without revealing his developer status, avoiding people trying to manipulate him.

The countless sites doesn't solve, but circumvent the "out of the box criticism" problem. I'm not some oracle who was right all the way. I surely banned lot of people from my blog who were right (not Lucas Kell, he is always wrong). But it did nothing to them, as I only banned them from my blog and not from the internet. If their ideas were worthy, they could form their own audience.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Weekend minipost: first week of donations

The Mordus Angels donation board is up for less then a week. It already collected 23B ISK. Most donations came from a few rich highsec trader like myself (#1 with 6B), some came from other alliances and lot from MoA members who support their own alliance. Much better use of money than spending it on bling and losing it to Goons. For some weird reason Goons find it funny to send small donations in large numbers. I hope this strange meme keeps on and they keep financing the massacre of their own coalition.

Remember that you can donate too for the noble cause of getting rid of Goons.

PS: You must see this kill. You must.
This Goon house slave surely put up hell of a fight before going down.
Noobship down.
Weird choice for a transport ship.
Empty slots can kill.
I really should write a covops hauler guide.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The 70B I made when I was 2 months old

A recent Sugar post reminded me of standings and what I wrote about them more than a year ago. The reason I remembered it is that I calculated how much ISK I saved by this feature: about 70 billion ISK. That's a big number, even by my standards.

Of course, it's strongly related what kind of trading you do. The taxes are 1.5%, which can be decreased to 0.75% by Accounting 5 (0.9 by Accounting 4 which is easy to reach). Broker fees are 1% which can be decreased to 0.75% by Broker relations 5 (0.8% by 4) and down to 0.2% by having perfect standings too. If you just sell items you farm, then having only Accounting 4, Broker Relations 4 and no standings will cost you 1.7% of your income. That won't break anyone. If you are trading with 100% margin (fishing for idiots), than your taxes/fees will eat 4% of your profit (don't forget that you pay broker fee for buying the item at half price). If you are trading with 10% margin (buying in Jita, selling in other hubs) then 27%!!! of your profit will be eaten by taxes and fees. By learning the skills to maximum and getting enough standing for 0.25% broker fee, you decrease this tax loss to 13%.

I mostly trade with low margin, I moved 11T worth of items to earn 700B after-tax income. During my trading life, I paid more than 100B taxes and broker fees. If I'd ignore standings - like Sugar does - that would be another 70B paid to the station NPCs, so reaching 0.2% broker fee in Jita and 0.24-0.28 in other hubs paid well.

The interesting thing is that I made this saving possible when I was an 1-2 months old newbie, while earning my seed money, running distribution missions. That was in 2012 March, more than two years ago. Actually my very first EVE picture shows a Badger II industrial ship doing basic trading and distribution missions. The actions I did when I was a newbie had such effect on my later career.

No other game has this persistence. I don't remember my exact /played value before I stopped playing WoW, but I guess it was around 4000 hours. That's a lot. I've also spent over $1000 on subscription. If I'd resubscribe now, my character would be no stronger than a total newbie who subscribes now, pays $60 for instant top level and farms 10 hours on the island of dailies. Sure, I liked playing WoW. Hell, I might even play again. I got value for my money and time. But everything I've reached in WoW is reseted by the subsequent patches. In EVE, what you earn once is yours until you lose it by bad choices. The game doesn't take power from you by gear resets and level upgrades. This is a design choice that only EVE developers picked and a choice I value.

PS: you might heard that griefers were mass-banned. Of course they are out in the forums posting how they are innocent and victims of the evil conspiracy of Ripard Teg. The best reply: "50% of their harvested tears dropped!"

PS2: confirming that MoA is hellcamped and can't play. Please donate!
Epic fit, epic solar system, epic alliance. I'm stabbed, so I'm safe.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

GRR Goons summary page

I've completely remade the GRR Project permanent page and made pages more visible on the blog.

Until August the project in numbers:
  • The Marmite Collective highsec wars caused 1428B ISK damage to CFC. Highsec wars clearly do nothing.
  • Darwins Lemmings caused 402B ISK damage to CFC in their brief life.
  • Mordus Angels caused 361B damage to CFC since I'm supporting them. Obviously they would have done damage without support, so my exact contribution can only be guessed.
  • I spent 289B ISK on the project.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The end of "gamers"

The "Gamers are dead" is a hot topic recently. If you'd miss it, the idea is that those who are good in a game are a small and irrelevant minority, financially successful games must aim for a broader audience dubbed as "anybody". "Gamers" are a small and exclusive group who have loud noise but small wallets, so can be ignored.

I find very hard to believe it. Even the most "nolifer" gamer is nowhere in commitment from a professional athlete. The ratio of "serious players" and "observers/casuals" is much worse in Football or Basketball than in video games. Yet no one want to make these sports "more casual", nor they show signs of financial failure. People actually pay to not play, just watch good players play.

Maybe the video games are different from sports in this respect: everyone wants to play and no one wants to watch other people play, even if they are good. Well, Google and Amazon bet one billion dollars on the opposite when they battled for, which is good for practically one thing: letting other people watch you play.

On the other hand, Wildstar, directly designed for these "real gamers" is dying, forced to merge all servers. EVE Online is stable with a very low (400K) subscriber number. Where are the "real gamers" and their fans to support these games?

The solution is that these self-announced "real gamers" aren't really good. They are above average of course, but the high school basketball team is also above the average student, despite not being any good and having no career in basketball after high school. The "real gamers" are far from being competitive in the leagues that attract visitors. Yet they are full of themselves and demand recognition for their upper-mediocre performance. They avoid competitive games and stay in casual games like WoW while spouting hate on it for not being hard enough.

Wildstar failed because it was a hard game and these "gamers" either tried and ran away or didn't even try. EVE is stable because it's a sandbox: in absence of official toplist, anyone can explain why he is a God and everyone else is crap. Most obviously: his kills are "real PvP kills", while the kills of others (especially against him) are "ganks", "blobs" and "ECM". CCP would kill EVE in a year by creating an official, zero sum killboard (meaning: when someone loses a 100M ship, 100M kill generated for all the killers and not for each of them), as the "real gamers" would quit in the moment they face their 30-40% ISK ratio.

Games aiming for competitive players, like League of Legends are very much coming up. The market for chest-beating self-announced "l33t" is collapsing.

PS: my chart has a life of its own.
Don't forget to donate to Mordus Angels against the evil Goons and their minions!
Too many people demand response on the recent MoA Aeon loss, despite I wrote that response 2 months ago.

PS2: FCON propagandists created this poster in response to "Burn Branch":

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