Tuesday, September 30, 2014

90% of Nullsec leaders want to rat safely in Nyxes

In an unprecedented event, the leaders of the Sov-holder alliances made a declaration how they want to change Sov mechanics.

These suggestions aim at one thing: to forever stabilize their situation and allow them to earn real money from playing EVE (by selling third-party content and as PLEX-affiliates and totally not by illicit RMT) without the risk of either a new empire ending their income or infighting between each other "because of a Falcon".

I urge CCP to realize that the signatories are personally depending on Nullsec being stagnant and would go great length to prevent any conflict. The best event that ever happened in EVE - B-R - which brought unprecedented player influx to EVE is their worst nightmare. Where we see a spectacular battle, they see $300000 lost income! The ISK they have to give to their pilots to reimburse the losses is an ISK they can't keep for themselves for "purposes". Remember when Montolio lost his coalition overnight for trying to play EVE instead of Jabber or when Nulli was reseted for trying to remove Providence that serves as a distraction for all to prevent a N3-CFC conflict.

The crucial point is "We believe that vast swathes of conquerable nullsec are essentially worthless to our line members and can only support the activity of a handful of players in each system. We would like to see the value of individual systems increased to support a dense ecosystem of players undocked and interacting within single system." In short: "we need solar systems to allow more ratters". This is numerically provable lie. Let's look at the Dotlan toplist of August. Best ratting system: RQNF-9 with 578665 rat kills. So you can surely kill at least this amount of rats in a single system. If we assume that it's the theoretical maximum (it's not), than in all 3295 nullsec systems people could kill 1900 million rats in a month. Number of rats killed in August in Nullsec: 97M. Yes, that's about 5% utilization and these shameless liars claim that nullsec is full and ratting should be made easier.

Why do they do it? Let me translate "a dense ecosystem of players undocked and interacting within single system": "50+ Nyxes ratting in the same system in fleet under cynojam." Each is farming in its own anom, if one is tackled, the rest warp to it and no small gang can break the spider tank of 50+ Nyxes! Currently such farm is impossible as a system can't support more than 4-6 Nyxes, that is too small number to tank BL, Snuff Box, MoA, Tri or Hard Knocks (they didn't sign, surprise!).

In the proposed Nullsec, most of the current ratters would be in a few systems, leaving the rest of the space available for bad players to form buffer zones where the big players and third-party pirates could satisfy their bloodlust. Please note that "creating conflict" and "allowing small alliances in" are mutually exclusive. Why would the big ones attack each other while a single small one is alive?! Protected by these buffer zones and wanting nothing that the other have, the signatories can sell their titans and keep the ISK. Hell, they don't need the 1000 Megas either, so they can keep the SRP fund too, the members won't need it anyway. If their suggestions comes true, there won't be a single strategic battle ever again in Nullsec!

What should CCP do instead? What they did with ice belts! Anoms spawn and if you rat them out, they won't respawn in X hours, you must move to another system. Make the spawn rate so high that perfect ratting would allow a bit less than what's killed today. This would make the space used, as ratters would need to move around. It would also force PvP as safeing up and waiting for local to clear would mean that others kill the limited anoms.

Their "occupancy-based sovereignty" suggestion just underlines their aim to avoid any conflict. They don't want to put titans or even 1000 Megas to risk. They literally want to capture land by ratting. The systems where their supers are ratting would be on max index, the rest be damned.

What CCP needs is making space a scarce resource, something worth fighting for, something that everyone wishes and only the best can own. The signatories want the very opposite: space being abundant and so worthless that literally anyone can own some. Please understand that there are two limiting factors over making ISK: resources and your time. If a resource is limited, people will have free time that they'll use it fighting for the resource or just for fun. If the resource is unlimited, there is no need to fight and all your time is consumed by making ISK anyway.

Of course there is no need for doomsaying. With the FW-farm-disaster CCP shown that while they are prone to ruin the economy with totally unbalanced features, they also shown that they aren't shy to fix them overnight. If this abomination would be implemented, they would see the runaway ISK influx from Nyx-farms and would stop further damage. But still, it would be much better if this wouldn't be implemented.

One personal comment: such amount of nerf-begging and demanding the devs to give them freebies would make Arthasdklól of WoW ashamed.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Mining missions: Thukker LPageddon

The graph shows the value and volume of Thukker Tribe Loyalty Points, calculated from the Jita market history on Mid-grade Nomad Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon and Omega implants, weighted by their costs. The other items in Thukker store are either normal Empire faction items or have no volume. As you can see, it's been decreasing in the last 4-5 months, crossing 2000 ISK/LP for the first time ever.

Considering that the traded volume doesn't show anything extraordinary, this isn't trading or manipulation related. The reason for the continuous price decrease is my mining mission farm post. For proof, we have the dotlan ratting data (example):
The ratting in Hodrold grew by 400% in the last 8 months. Hodrold is a back-end highsec-island system with not many PvE options. It has no security agent, nor a fixed complex. The places where you can kill rats are mining belts (including an ice belt), random anomalies and scannable sites. Why would anyone go to the end of the World for doing what he could do literally anywhere in continuous highsec (except for the ice belt)? There is no reason, and you can see that the neighboring Hroduko did not get any attention. But Hodrold has the only highsec lvl4 Thukker Tribe mining mission agent. Mining missions spawn rats that your drones must kill, or they take out your barge.

The good news is that people respond to published moneymaking opportunities. Hodrold was practically empty when I started mining there. Now it has 40-50 on local and dscan is full of Retrievers and Ventures. For some reason CODE. never shown up, only a Goonwaffe member contributes to the discussion on local.

The first bad news is that you've missed the party. The total Nomad implant volume is around 2M LP a day, which can be collected in about 160 hours of running missions. With 40 pilots on local, it's that's just 4 hours, mostly AFK. So Thukker LP is going down to 1000 ISK/LP, the standard Highsec LP cost. There will probably be a plateu on the graph around 1500 when the security mission runners quit for SoE, decreasing the production volume, but eventually the mining mission runners will grow to the point where it'll be more profitable to buy standard Empire implants than Nomads. If you bought Nomad implants for speculation, you are going down. These are the expected prices for Mid-grade Nomad implants:
  • Alpha: 50M
  • Beta: 67M
  • Delta: 162M
  • Epsilon: 285M
  • Gamma: 99M
  • Omega: 554M

The really bad news is how immature the game economy is, considering its age. This opportunity was here since Venture was introduced and no one jumped on it. The Thukker L4 security missions were here since ever and yet people underused them so much that they had 2-3x higher LP/ISK ratio than random empire factions. Why does anyone run missions for standard empire corps when Sisters of Eve is all over the news? The solution is that dumb players are just as common in EVE as in WoW, despite they are so full of themselves, believing to be the pinnacle of MMO players.


PS: If you are a pirate with the genius idea to camp Frulegur to catch the ships full of Nomad implants, you're up for a disappointment, everyone with a brain flies to a Thukker station in continuous highsec with an empty ship and buys the implants there.

PS2: a bonus ISK making idea from Phil Alexander available even for genuine newbies (1 day old players)

PS3: New doctrine in the CFC! Solo, spider-tanking, blinged slowcat.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Weekend minipost: MoA ISK and CFC ISK losses

The MoA donation board collected more than 35B ISK in less than a month! This will allow them to continue killing the minions of Evil. Especially if you donate too! Note: the "last donated" field is still bugged.

Please count the stupid on this. Hint: ship, fitting, place, cargo. And once again. And again!
Mercy killing.
PBLRD forces lost 6.5B in the battle of Uedama.
He got out of Branch alive!
Don't do highsec exploration in your learning clone with the mark of Evil on your ship!

PS: I often got letters asking for advice. I sometimes doubt if I should answer them helpfully or put them here for laughter. I guess I can do both:

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Weekend minipost: bad complexity

The dev blog is out with the rebalancing of modules. Meta 1-4 modules used to be useless except for one, now each are given a role or merged into others. This is good. Faction and deadspace modules are changed too. This is good for some and bad for others. But there is something that I see no upside: several modules left redundant or made redundant. Below you can see the tables from the dev blog. The ones with the same background color are identical in stats, yet they are different items, so you must search all of them in the market for buying the cheapest one. This is bad complexity, adds nothing to the game. The identical modules should be merged. Having only one would also bring better price stability due to higher volume.

Before you'd say "lore", there is nothing against putting a flavor text to the merged item like the "Navy Co-Processor" could say "This advanced co-processor was independently developed and used by Caldari, Federation and Khanid navies. Shadow Serpentis and Dread Gurista pilots often use them if they can get their hands on them."


Friday, September 26, 2014

Back in the old days when games were better (and new bonus room bans)

On lot of gaming blogs and forums you can read how "games went bad" since the "good old days". People tend to dismiss it as nostalgia, a false remembering of the old times, focusing on the good, ignoring the bad.  Since I'm a blogger, I have a diary of my old statements. I can show how I condemned changes when they happened and not in retrospect. I can prove that I didn't wake up one day and said "WoW was better in BC". Here is one of my oldest post, cursing moron friendly changes. Once they literally patched WoW to disable kicking bad players from Wintergrasp battles after I found that you can chain-win if you kick them. So I'm not looking through the fog of memories and say "WoW PvP was more fun back then" but can point at the exact moment when it stopped being fun: when Blizzard told "you must carry AFK-ers, bots and totally clueless morons".

However if its true, can we objectively say that games got worse over the years?

No. We can just say that we blamed the wrong bias for "back in the old days when games were better". It's not nostalgia. It's survivorship bias. Those who liked the games back then remained gamers and saw the changes in gaming industry bad. Those who didn't like the games back then quit, so their opinion is lost. You can't find people saying "I hated Burning Crusade and loved when they changed it" because those who didn't like BC quit it instead of keep playing and hating it. They say "I tried BC once, didn't like it, tried WoW now and like it".

So it's rather natural that those who kept playing in the old times liked those games. Mainstream games were better for us and now we have to settle with niche games like EVE. We aren't mad or nostalgic for thinking that. But there were lot of people who didn't play back then and play now. Their $15 is just as good as ours. Just like ours is as good as theirs and can give it to EVE and developers of similar games.


PS: James 315 posted a looong defense for the new bonus room participants who received their well-deserved bans. He compares them to the other events when embarrassing recordings of people like Makalu were released and doesn't see the difference. I can gladly point him to the right direction: no one provoked Makalu to be mad. He just got mad over a video game and made fool of himself. The guy who got himself into hospital by performing a stunt, but no one told him to do a dangerous stunt. You still don't see the difference? Then let me help:
  • Guy getting high and climbs into the tiger cage on his own? Literally Darwin Award!
  • Tricking someone to consume cannabis and encouraging him to climb in a tiger cage? That's 10+ years in prison for you!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

PuG raiding possibilities

Some of you, who followed me back in my WoW days remember the PuG-project, a raiding guild back in Cataclysm with the goal of raiding without a fixed group and overall socialization. It was moderately successful as it climbed around the 25000th position (means about 500K players out of 8M) but its "not fixed group" was severely impaired by not having enough members. It was a kind of chimera project, as players must have joined a guild to act like they are not in a guild.

While I abandoned WoW, my girlfriend didn't and kept raiding with various casual (but still hard-mode doing) guilds. They are currently at 8/14 HC in 10-man, which is West 10-11K position (200K out of 5M).

In the meantime Blizzard allowed cross-realm raiding and finding "friends" without giving out your real name. She found openraid.eu, a site that is practically providing a chat using these features for finding raid partners. Perfectly a-social raiding as you never met your raid partners before and probably won't after. She had a max level alt that did no raiding before, Amaanda the resto shaman, who is in a not really raiding guild.

Despite starting the project in May, she managed to kill 3 heroic bosses. Guilds with 3 HC kills are around West 16K position, so about 7% (320K out of 5M) of the total players reached this far. Please remember that the lvl 90 content was out for 2 years and the Siege of Orgrimmar raid was released a year ago, so she was really behind schedule. Her main had 3 heroic kills before she even started this project! Raiding in general is also winding down as the content is over, the new expansion is announced, she couldn't raid this week due to no groups to be found. Considering these, she got pretty far. Obviously the project will be repeated in the next expansion with great expectations.

This result (and the overall popularity of openraid) shows that raiding without knowing your raid partners is possible in the highest difficulty. You don't need a guild, full of socializing "friends" to get way ahead of others.

Of course it's not perfect. Due to the lack of credible performance metrics, finding competent raid members must rely on gear level, which is a pretty bad predictor of performance. It was especially a curse at the start of the project when older - but totally incompetent - players had higher ilvl due to grinding lots of trivial content to get good gear. Ordos and the Celestials, two literally AFK-able bosses give ilvl 553 gear, equal to Normal difficulty rewards. A long but not at all hard questline gives the best item of the content, an ilvl 600 legendary cloak. Also, you can upgrade every item by 16 levels by using 1000 valor points. You earn 1000 valor a week and there are 12 slots, so you need to do trivial things for 12 weeks to be able to fully upgrade your gear.

Compare these "welfare epics" to the ilvl 540 rewards of the second difficulty level "Flexible". Usual Flex groups demanded 550+ gear, better than the rewards of the aimed content. Combined with bad luck with Ordos/Celestial groups Amaanda could gather enough gear to enter a Normal (third difficulty) raid only 10 weeks ago. In retrospect, it would have been easier to raid in a mediocre guild until ilvl 555 before starting raiding on her own. This won't be a problem in the next expansion where she'll go with the first wave.

I'm not sure if this result, and the support Blizzard gives to random raiding by the cross-server raids are a new hope for WoW and similar MMOs or the last nail in their coffin. On the one hand it fixes the main problem of players with limited time: if you don't have 3-5x4 uninterrupted hours a week to raid, you can't get into a serious guild. In mediocre guilds you are surrounded by bad players, so you can't progress. If you can raid 1x4 hours a week, you won't progress 1/4 as fast. You won't progress at all, you'll be stuck with morons and slackers who do half your DPS in equal gear. With random raiding, whenever you want to raid, you can find a group at similar (gear) level and you can raid. Obviously if you raid less, you progress slower, but you won't be locked out of the company of good players. So random raiding can keep good players without hardcore schedule in raiding.

On the other hand the key success feature of WoW is boosting. Morons and slackers complete non-trivial content carried by the mentioned competent casuals. If you allow a way out for them, they will take it. Without these competent casuals, the lolguilds will not be able to do anything besides the most trivial content and will experience a setback from their previous progression. Unless Blizzard can pull some rabbit out of the hat, they will either quit or demand so big nerfs that will make the content completable in days by competent players.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

EVE skill system and M&S

People always whine how the EVE skill system is punishing newbies and this or that skill should be removed or made baseline or whatever. Reading Tobold about "progression" made me realize that these whiners aren't just randomly wrong, they are as wrong as they could be. The EVE skill system is the best possible in the gaming industry.

At first we have to realize the importance of "character progression" in games. You see, they aren't needed by default. You don't progress in a Starcraft battle or an FPS game. You definitely don't have stronger pawns or smaller goalposts because you played lot of chess or Football.

The "character progression" was created to simulate the non-existent player progression for bad players. When you first play a game, you suck horribly. Then as you learn the game, you get better. Your increasing scores reflect that progression. But this is only true if you aren't a moron or a slacker. Mining or friglolling for years won't make you any more powerful. So rather sooner or later the M&S would realize that he isn't going anywhere, would blame the game and quit. But the built-in character progression allows him to see better scores without being any better. You killed 10 wolves? Here is a sword and your DPS increased. You killed 10 more wolves? Here is a new level with more DPS. The increased DPS shows you became so much better in the game and now you are now capable of ... killing 10 wolves! Here is a new magic ring providing more DPS!

The problem with this standard, WoW-like character progression is that it rewards no-life grinding, which both burns out some of the players (who quit in disgust), while those who have enough time to kill all the wolves will complete their character and leave the game because "it has no content". This cannot happen in EVE. Your character gets more powerful every day without any grinding and you'll never run out of "content". You spent the whole year with doing nothing besides lolling in frigs? You can now fly Amarr battleships with T2 guns and all support skills!

Take this away and all the M&S would notice that he isn't shaping the narrative, he isn't a butterfly that makes a storm, he is just another scrub and it won't change.


PS: this Goon minion lost his bling only because he didn't have High Speed Maneuvering 5. When he'll have it, he'll be unstoppable!

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