Saturday, October 25, 2014

Weekend minipost: 9 years of EVE

When Burni invited me to a conversation and I checked his employment history, I got excited. I was facing a 9 and a half years old veteran. Someone who seen the heyday of BoB. Someone who've been here before the Goons. His only corporation was the NPC corp, which could mean only two things: he is a master trader, or a front alt covering some old, important fellow.

I couldn't wait to hear his proposal:

Friday, October 24, 2014

Coming soon: dual renting

People making bets about the future of Nullsec after Phoebe agree in one thing: the rental empires will fall. This is most probably true. However they implicitly assume that renting itself will fall and renters have to run. This is completely wrong.

Pirates and other small PvP groups are not the competitors of renters. Renters do PvE, mostly ratting. Pirates don't really want to rat. Chasing away ratters without ratting yourself is just dumb: the income from the rats in your land will be gained by no one. Renters have no loyalty to the landlord as we saw PBLRD members running to B0T or NA for better service. They are ready to pay to anyone who guarantees them the ability to rat in peace. Currently these are the big coalitions.

Currently the strategic and tactical control are the same. If you own Sov, then - using jump bridges and bridging titans - you are able to drop an overwhelming force on anyone who is messing in your land. Pirates live by hit-and-run. Renters don't have to fear them as long as they watch local. The pirates cannot reasonably attack structures because the landlord shows up with a supercap blob or 500 subcaps.

After Phoebe the strategic and tactical control will split. The regional power will still hold the Sov as it can still deploy and grind down everything in a week while stomping on any attempt from the locals to fight. However they will have to deploy to do so, at the cost of not being anywhere else. This means that outside of such deployments, the local pirates are free to plant their towers and siege renters. If the Sov holder scrambles whatever members they have locally, the pirates would likely beat them up. This creates an awkward dual-power situation: both the formal Sov-holder and the local pirates are owning the same land.

If both "owners" are rational, they both ask for a limited rent from the renter. The sum of the two rents should be around the current rent. The renter needs the blessing of both of them to continue operation. Without the blessing of the Sov-holder they can't dock in stations or get system upgrades. Without the blessing of the local pirates, they can't hold towers or stay in space.

In most cases, this will not happen at first. The landlords will be reluctant to acknowledge that they lost tactical control and can no longer demand full rent. The pirates will likely approach with an "I just want the World burn". This can lead to an initial exodus from some regions. An empty land where no one does PvE is good for no one. The Sov-holder will realize that lower rent is better than no rent, while the pirates will realize that having income is better than no income while having blue ratters at least attract random roamers that they can kill, while empty space attracts no one. So after the initial hiccups, the rates of this dual-renting will be accepted and renters will continue ratting as they always did.

PS: YA0 is still a wonderful place for a Goon to fly to.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Content providers vs M&S

The WoW subscription graph shows clearly what I always preached: catering to the M&S is a bad idea. However I couldn't really prove it besides claiming that meritocracy is self-evident. The graph itself is not a proof by itself, as correlation isn't causality.

However the recent experiment with the WoW group finder finally gave me the evidence I always wanted: Game developers must cater to good players because bad players want to play with good players and not with other bad players. All the people who applied to my raid on the group finder tool were asking me to play with them. If I kicked a dozen, I could easily refill the group with new applicants.

I am a very scarce resource in WoW and lot of players compete for the privilege to play with me. While this sounds outrageously narcissistic, this isn't my opinion, this is an observable fact: I create a group ad and people swarm to me. Theoretically they could apply to other groups, but practically they cannot, because there are much more people wanting to join than people wanting to create groups. Why? Because random morons and slackers can't lead a raid. At first they are too lazy to. Secondly, they have no clue, so if they would try, their group would fail. Their personal interest is finding a group that carry them into success and not create one with effort that will fail.

Unless a game is nerfed to the point where M&S can complete it alone, good players are needed at least in key positions. If the game is nerfed to the point where M&S can complete it alone, it will be completed fast and abandoned. So even themepark games need content creators as their contribution provides gameplay opportunity to dozens of lesser players.

With consequent nerfs and welfare rewards, Blizzard alienated the good players. They believed it's irrelevant as their stats shown that it's a few % minority. When they left, the M&S said "this game has no content" and left too. I hope the new tools are a realization to this and a fix that will turn back the years decreasing subscriptions.

PS: The Evil One wrote his Phoebe plans. Let me TLDR it for you:
  1. We had no idea what to do for weeks and stare at the wall desperately.
  2. We abandon 3 regions before PASTA makes us abandon them
  3. BLINK RMT is good RMT, we started our own clone
  4. We got drunk in Vegas from the money you pay us by clicking our links
  5. Join squads and serve!
  6. Buy more supers, they will be more important locally (this is actually a good advice).

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Open letter to the US government

It's a one-time occasion to talk about politics on this blog. I know this letter will never reach the address, but the point of open letters is to link them back a few years later and tell "you see, I was right!" and be smug. From the Russian block or emigration I'll probably need the fun of being smug. If you read political news, you know that the US diplomacy went on an offensive against Hungary (the country I live in), which is unprecedented against a NATO member. So here is the letter:

Dear Mr President and officials,

You see that the liberal democracy is in danger in Hungary and you act accordingly. Which should be good news for someone like me who openly preach free market ideas. But these ideas force me to look at results instead of intentions, so I have to notice something: you intervened in dozens of countries in the last decades to bring freedom and democracy. Your success rate is 0.0%. Not a single one of these countries became a free place.

Actually, they went from bad to worse. From functioning, secular dictatorships, they turned into failed states or more horrible dictatorships. Places where one couldn't speak freely on the streets turned into places where one is killed on the streets.

This spectacular 0.0% success rate is because of a fundamental error of the US politics: you believe that the people of the not free countries are "oppressed Americans", people who think like Americans, talk like Americans in private, wish to live as Americans and stopped from these by some big, bad dictator. You believe that if you remove this dictator, the people come out to the light, waving the flag of a liberal movement and give the nearest American a hug.

In reality, they wave the black flag of the Islamic State, catch the nearest American and cut his head off.

You have to realize the truth: the leading elite of these countries is the most enlightened and American-like people. The rest are much worse. This elite is not democratic, because only by force or manipulation can the common people be contained from religious fanaticism, racism or communism. Remove these elites and you face the true nature of the common people. It usually contains improvised explosives.

Hungary is a post-communist state where communism deeply ingrained into the people. There are parties that you consider liberal, but they won elections using a communist program: increased welfare, increased pensions, increased minimal wage. They provided some of these at the cost of a runaway national debt, the rest of their promises were blatant lies. When the economic crisis stopped them from getting more loans and their admission of lying got leaked, these parties collapsed. The people voted for communism, not for democracy when they voted for them. The political support of openly liberal parties were always miniscule.

Among the currently popular parties, the illiberal democracy plan of the current government is the most American-like. Everything else is much worse. The repeated US diplomatic attacks will reach their goal and break this government. But - just like in all of the previous cases - you won't be happy with the successor. It will be a right-wing extremist one and they will immediately leave the NATO and the EU and join the Russian block as they worship the power and nationalism of president Putin.

I'll be sitting in the Russian block or in emigration while you'll still have 0.0% success rate and be busy thinking where to place anti-missiles since the Russian ICBMs planted in Hungary can completely evade the current ones.

I know it hurts, but if you want freedom and democracy in some country, your best option is not touching it because if you do, it will change the opposite way.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The new WoW group finder tool

While I mostly play EVE, I wanted a game that you can actually play inside the client. While I left WoW as being a hopeless hive of "every AFK-er is entitled for every reward" game, the project ran by my girlfriend shown that it might not be the case. You see, the problem was that everything short of finding a closed, fix group of players (which needs 20+ scheduled hours/week) forces you to play with morons and slackers with no way to not carry them in the process.

The project used an out-of-game tool to find an ad-hoc group of players - just like the random group finder in the game - but with the ability to handpick them. For some weird reason, Blizzard implemented this into the game, allowing you to form teams in-game, even from different servers. So I resubscribed, she used the instant-max-level promotion to get a new tank avatar, and we tested the tool.

If you are raid leader or assistant, there is an extremely intrusive button next to the minimap, you can click it and it gives a pretty simple interface:

The list of applicants is filling very fast. Despite it's the end of the current content and gear is next to worthless, dozens of applicants arrive in minutes. Due to their numbers, I've found that it's better to not pre-filter them besides for role and obvious signs of uselessness:

After every kill or wipe, just open the damage and healing meter and check for people below the tank and kick them all:

It helps a lot if you are a healer, so you can tell who died early without his own mistake. Being a tank helps because you see if the other tank is good or if the boss was mis-positioned (no damage dealer in the history of WoW ever admitted that his low performance was because of himself and not the tank or the healer). As we are a tank+healer, we can filter M&S very fast. Also keep in mind to be in a role that sees the raid to gather data and remember those who are not with you, but in the tower of Galakras or something. Their performance won't be visible on the addon.

All in all, this has the chance to be the Jesus-feature that saves WoW from its ever-shrinking subscriber numbers. You want to raid at 2 AM? You can find handpicked teammates! I'm only afraid that the cries of the kicked M&S will break the will of Blizzard - again - and they cripple the feature, like you can't kick more than 3 people from a raid, making it unusable (you need to kick more than 3 just because they are offline/AFK).

PS: other features of WoW are still horrible. On the picture you can see that victory points (how much the player contributed to the win) and honor gains (rewards) are strongly negatively correlated:

Monday, October 20, 2014

In-game conflict and game-monetizing

The writers participating in the "save the blue doughnut" campaign on the Goon propaganda site often cite that finding fights will be harder. This isn't true, fights will happen more often. Actually currently the most fights in EVE happen in highsec between gankers and miners/haulers. Fight needs a conflict when the goals of two people are mutually exclusive. The miner wants to mine without caring for anything but his yield. The ganker wants to fill his killboard. Only one can succeed.

LolPvP is when bored players play with the combat system of the game for enjoyment. Duels front of Orgrimmar and frigroams come to mind. There is no other goal than wasting time and "winning" can't be defined. It doesn't matter who won the duel, both participants had fun and the one who lost his ship can't care less.

As I wrote many times, lolPvP is included into practically all games, usually matched with better PvE and support than EVE. Participating in EVE lolPvP will never be as fun as a WoW battleground. EVE has the unique selling point of offering conflict. Other games tone conflict down as much as they can. Sure, just one team can win in a World of Tanks battle and winning is preferred over losing due to higher rewards, but the matchmaker makes sure that your winrate is around 50%, so a loss is merely a ticket for a win. EVE on the other hand allows full conflict, where the loser suffers heavy losses while the winner claims huge reward (a good suicide gank loot can make even traders envious).

Conflict is the unique selling point in EVE: I can't perform whatever I wish, as other players have conflicting interest and I need to defeat them first. This is the dark universe CCP promised (as social people consider selfishness dark and evil).

To understand the position of those who have out-of-game interests (PLEX-affiliate money, ad-clicks, RMT) we have to make something clear: if you get ISK from RMT or PLEX buy, you are bad in EVE. Hell, if you pay a dime to CCP instead of just PLEX-ing your account, you are bad in EVE. If you don't have an adblocker and scriptblocker installed, you are bad in Internet. In case of real conflict, these "being bad" people would be beaten back to highsec or out of the game, replaced by competitive players coming from other games. This case the only ISK buyers would be random casuals in highsec, who - due to their isolation from the community - would buy ISK by PLEX purchases from CCP or Amazon or other main seller and not from affiliates or RMT-ers.

So to have people who keep viewing their ads, clicking their PLEX-links and use their RMT-ers, they need a community of bad players in nullsec. The monetizers need to protect them from being beaten back to highsec, which can only be done by removing conflict and replacing it with lolPvP. The blue doughnut served that well. The RMT-ers of the East and the affiliate+ad link owners of the West agreed to not attack each other, letting bots and M&S both stay in nullsec.

The real players (whose in-game actions weren't driven by out-of-game reasons) were simply pushed out of Sov-null by the combined might of the game monetizers. They stayed top damage dealers, which isn't that hard if you consider that they are the only ones who intend to deal damage instead of just blow up frigs. Why did they lose to the monetizers? Because the monetizers have no trust issues as they are bound by real money. No spy can get among them and they can trust on the greed of the other one. While the real players are the majority, they cannot build large organizations due to trust issues. Combined they are much stronger than the monetizers, but they are never combined, but small independents who shoot each other too.

The jump changes make it impossible for the game monetizers to be everywhere at the same time, therefore making them unable to crush down multiple independent small groups, effectively ending their reign. The renter-farms of the east will fall (I'll write a post how, renters have no need to worry) along with the M&S hives of the West.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Weekend minipost: breaking news morons

YA0 is safe for Goons.

However the really big one managed to get his titan out of tackle with little HP left and warped it to a tower.

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