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Friday, December 30, 2011

What will 2012 bring?

It's the last day of 2011 and that means everyone is doing their end-of-year wrap-ups. One tradition is to prognosticate on what's going to happen over the next year. I don't claim to have any special insight or anything like that. All I've got is decades of gaming experience both with and without computers. Based on that, here is my take on how 2012 is going to go for CCP and for EVE Online (in no particular order.)
  1. There will be (has been?) a brief uptick in subscriptions, but the trend throughout the year will be flat. That means CCP will not get a revenue boost from EVE Online. I say this because there will be nothing done to actually pull new players into the game. The same old game play will rule and the same type of person will want to play. But frankly, EVE Online already has about every person that wants to and can  play Internet Space-wars subscribed and birth rates are declining. The game play just doesn't appeal to most gamers. People do not want to log in and not have fun. For all those that say the undock button is a PVP authorization, think about that last bit good and long. You are correct, EVE as it stands today is a PVP permissive environment. I like that. You like that. But buddy, let me tell you, most people who pay good money to relax playing a game after a hard day at work/school don't. They'll take their $15 a month elsewhere thank you very much (and evidently do.)
  2. Dust514 will debut to lackluster sales and anemic subscription rates. Do a search for most anticipated games of 2012. Dust514 barely even gets mentioned if at all. Add to this that Xbox 360 will dominate in 2012 and you've got a pretty good recipe for disaster. What, you say "no way" to Xbox domination? Think again. Xbox isn't just about games anymore. It does movies now. It does music now. It integrates with your T.V. subscription now. It does On Demand now. It does Facebook now. Oh, and it plays games. This is Microsoft's best kept non-secret. Forget Windows 8. The Xbox with voice controlled software and Kinects is the box of the immediate future. When people have to decide what to spend their one splurge on, the Xbox or PS-whatever, the Xbox will win - especially first time buyers of a console system. CCP will be hard pressed to staunch the blood flow from Dust514 AND reinvigorate EVE Online.
  3. Sovereignty mechanics will continue to suck. No, I have no experience in it.  However, since I began playing EVE Online almost 4 years ago, everything I've ever read from those that have lots of experience in it has said sovereignty mechanics suck. I don't think it's fixable. Even if CCP manages to pull of a drastic change, it will still suck. Almost no one will be happy with it. That's just what nearly-bitter-vets are like. They won't like it. They're like grumpy old men - nothing satisfies them. I'm just saying...
  4. CCP will implement some form of Walking in Stations. Whether you are for or against, walking in stations is necessary for Dust514 to work. Without it, there is no uniqueness to that first person shooter and #2 will be even more dismal than I've predicted. Get ready for it, I think the work's already been done. Full body avatar is just the beginning. All they have to do now is pull the trigger - and they must for Dust514's sake.
  5. Micro-transactions are still coming (and you will like them.) All the work CCP has put in to V3 is for the Noble Exchange - not ship beautification. Logos and custom skins on ships are not possible without it and those are the most desired micro-transaction among the current player base. CCP will need the revenue stream (see #1 and #2)  so they will want to bring this out sooner than later. Once they do, there will be a rush to buy. That will help CCP hold the line until they figure out how to attract a new type of player to EVE Online.
And that's what I see for 2012. You may agree or disagree, but regardless, this will be a make or break year for CCP and for EVE Online. It will be an interesting year. I just hope it doesn't turn into that old curse about living in interesting times. However, though I'm a cynical optimist, I'm an optimist nonetheless. By this time in 2012 I believe things will be no worse than they are now, and CCP will have an entire year to make 2013 the most exciting year yet in the story that is EVE Online! I'll still be here and I hope you are too, all of you. Have a safe and very Happy New Year!

Fly careful.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

You are killing the thing you love one noob at a time.

I just read My Loot, Your Tears about a noob gank. At the end the ganker crows, "My new friend rage quits. That is the cherry on top." Cherry on top? You "valiantly" nuked his Domi with a Tengu. What did you expect to happen, the noob say, "please sir, I want some more?"

And people lament over the fact player growth is flat. They all blame CCP for their inept handling of Incarna. They think more Crucibles will solve the problem.

They are wrong.

Play-ability will solve the problem and I mean specifically for noobs. Your play style AKeeFa is part of the problem, not the solution you noodle-brain. EVE will never start growing again so long as new players, barely able to fly the easiest T1 battleship to get into, are squashed by Tengus... TENGUS for cripes sake. Your strategic cruiser cost how much more than everything that noob had? You needed that faction armor repper how badly? Pffft.

There is no amount of EVE improvement that will make a griefed noob want to continue playing a game where s/he are is humiliated at every turn of the ship. When any player can engage a Domi flown by a noob with a Tengu and face no repercussions for such an anti-social act, there's a problem. Then there's the fact the encounter was in a .9 system. What the hell are you hanging around there for AKeeFa? Aren't you supposed to be playing in null with the big boys instead of hanging around .9 systems for "excitement" in the form of griefing players who don't even come close to your SP?

That sort of behavior hurts us all by hindering the revenue stream CCP so badly needs to continue producing Internet space ships. No more Crucibles will come to fruition without money. You are killing the thing you claim to love one noob at a time.

If anyone in the CSM reads this, I'd like you to ask CCP one question. How hard would it be to take the entire insurance payout of a noob's ship from the wallet of a griefer like AKeeFa? The parameters would be simple. The popped player would have to be less than 6 months old. The kill would have to be in high-sec. That's all. If CCP really wanted to make a point though, they could make all noob ships automatically max insured at no cost to the noob. Pop a noob, take an ISK torpedo!

Wouldn't that make the griefers think twice? Then wouldn't the tears flow backwards? And it just might help to save EVE.

Fly careful.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

"The first theme is going to be War..."

There's a big change as outlined here. This will no doubt be analyzed to death so I'll spare everyone. The one thing I would like to say is,

Smells like profit!
Eh, eh, eh. Looks like I need to double down on the arms market. So be it!

Fly careful.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I'd like to introduce to you...

...the newest member of Mabrick Mining and Manufacturing (MABMM.)

The SGT York
Would anyone like to guess how he's fitted? I'll give you a hint. It's all about the name. Good luck!

Fly careful.

PS: Damn, he's a beauty to fly. Turns like a ballerina and burns like Chicago!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Now isn't that nice.

Logged in this evening and found that all my UI settings were gone. Frack!

Fly careful.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Not much going on, even in the war next door.

It seems that things have quieted a lot around the old home system. Besides taking care of business, not much has been going on. There are lots of rookies flying around. I count that a good thing.

A couple weeks ago I got a warning from a friend that Important Internet Spaceship League [BDEAL] was declaring war on General Tso's Alliance [3XXXD]. The main corp in General Tso's is Sardaukar Merc Guild [SMERG]. I've had a few run ins with them and I can't say it made be sad to hear they'd pissed off BDEAL.

Actually, I was hoping for some nice fireworks. SMERG lives in Seyllin, one short jump from my home. I've been over there several times since the war started and I've seen on Harbinger wreck on the gate and it belonged to BDEAL. In Seyllin itself, nothing untoward seemed to be going on.

After doing some investigation into the alliances database, I did see a possible effect of the war dec. 3XXXD membership dropped in half right after the war dec. It seems that Universal Discovery [UN.DC] saw this as a good time to un-join 3XXXD even though they'd just joined the alliance. It seems it took three kills at the hands of BDEAL to convince them to leave. I can't say as I blame them. Still, I think I would have preferred to see scorched wrecks strewn all around the Seyllin in-gate.

Ane has seen some BDEAL action. There was a POS bash there on the 5th. But I've no reason to go to Ane these days. It's been a long time since I've had to run courier missions.

The new tax structure of Planetary Industry is bearable. It helps that prices for Wetware Mainframes have stayed elevated. They are still selling for double what I could get for them this past summer. I hope that holds. It'll still be several more weeks before I'm ready to make another Jita run. Of course, I know exactly how long until I make that run. But after all the nice things I said about SMERG, I'd rather not be too specific.

Sorta on the SMERG topic, Hulkageddon time is fast approaching. I won't be in my Hulk for that. I haven't been in my Hulk for many, many months. However, I'll be flying cover for any rookies in my home system. If you find yourself in Aporulie and see me in local, let me know. I'll cover your 6. However, last year SMERG was flying very cheap Catalysts and insta-popping Hulks. I saw it with my own eyes. They weren't leaving much time to lock them up and stop them. I encourage all Industrialists to tank up and remember, buffer is FAR more important than cargo space when you're being hunted.

Fly Careful

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Polaris message deciphered!

There's a lively discussion going on over on the Eve General Discussions forum Authorities have revealed they've intercepted a strange transmission from Polaris. The coded transmission was partially deciphered. Here is what it contained: cc.sup.lye.avan.

Many capsuleers are trying to figure out what it means. It has become a public debate. So far just about everyone agrees the first part translates to "CCP Supply" but there is much disagreement over the last part. It reads "e.avan." where the periods are missing characters. Not everyone agrees the final period is an actual missing character. It could simply be a period. It doesn't matter though.

As I was looking at this I realized that there was only 2 to the 26 possible combinations for the missing characters. Aura quickly helped me construct a possibilities matrix.

Looking through all the possible combinations, most quickly fall away as unlikely. However, that doesn't mean impossible. Those that remain may be a single "word" or multiple words - there were no spaces in agreed first part meaning. The best we can really do is identify those that seem most likely to contain pertinent meaning.

My favorite second character is "T". This makes for a nice 3-letter acronym: ETA. That just seems to resonate with the "CCP Supply" portion of the message. Now, the "CCP Supply ETA" is what? That's the 64 billion ISK question isn't it. Here are the choices.

eta vana - eta vanb - eta vanc - eta vand - eta vane - eta vanf - eta vang - eta vanh - eta vani -
eta vanj - eta vank - eta vanl - eta vanm - eta vann - eta vano - eta vanp - eta vanq - eta vanr -
eta vans - eta vant - eta vanu - eta vanv - eta vanw - eta vanx - eta vany - eta vanz

None of those seem very promising to me. However, if the final character IS a period, one stands out bold and clear - Van, a 0.3 security system in the Aridia region of the Amarr Empire.

CCP Supply ETA Van - could it be? We'll need another intercept to find out.

Fly careful.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The true expense of the new PI tax rates.

I did a comparison between last Monday night and tonight's PI maintenance. The only thing different between the two is I decommissioned 2 Spaceports and connected the Extractor Control Units directly to the main complex Spaceport on one planet and moved an Extractor Control Unit on another.

Here is what it cost me tonight to complete my PI maintenance, which yielded 6 Wetware Mainframes and and some thousands of extra Reactive Metals and Water.
Post-Crucible PI Maintenance
And this is the PI maintenance from the last night prior to Crucible's launch.
Pre-Crucible PI Maintenance
The difference between the two is an extra 2,365,309.55 ISK or approximately a 258% increase over pre-Crucible taxes. If I drop the construction fees from both side (which I include as part of the maintenance overhead) the increase is even more: 673%. Either way, representing it as a doubling was misleading the player base - at best. Communications still seems to be a problem. It seems the crucible wasn't that purifying after all. Schade.

Fly careful.

PI tax rates have nothing to do with smelly-fish explanations.

So yeah, I noticed the PI tax rates were far higher than CCP lead us to initially believe they would be. Jester has a fine rundown on it here. It cost me 4 million ISK last night to do my PI with my projected revenue at 11 million ISK (6 wetware mainframes produced x 1.8 million ISK each.) I did not file a petition about it. I'm not a whiner.

Evidently many did. Here is CCP Guard's response. The part in this that really got my attention was this:
"By repairing the taxes to be... a) Based on market value"

Look CCP, I really don't mind you killing off the 99% profit margin. I felt like I was getting away with robbery anyway - not that I was complaining. But you base taxes on TODAY'S market rate? That doesn't work. We don't sell our PI goods every day. Hell, I don't sell them every week even. Here is the problem. What if the price drops before I bring my goods to market? My effective tax rate will be even higher than you state. Yes, it is true that if prices go up after I manufacture something I'll make a better margin. So I should wait, right?

Fine, I'll wait. That creates a whole new problem: artificial lack of supply. If I wait, everyone will wait. The markets will dry up. That should make prices rise no doubt. It will also mess with a whole lot of other game features making them unfeasible. If Wetware Mainframes aren't on the market, who's going to build all those Customs Offices your so keen on? Did you think of that? What about all those other things that need Wetware Mainframes? You're jerking the market around badly and for what? So some Empire Carebears like me can't make 99% profit? Hey, I wasn't making that much profit to begin with but I'll cover that in more depth below.

I can't believe you ran this past an economist. You can base a sales tax on current prices because it is assessed when the item is sold. You cannot charge a lift service fee based on current prices for goods that might not go to market for weeks. That's a completely unfair tax!

One other thing, how do you calculate the current market price? We all know that the Eve market is gamed to death. Buy prices are always set way low by people trying to scam other people. Sell prices are often inflated. Median, mean and average barely mean anything on Eve's markets. I see a lot of problems with this if your calculation doesn't weed out the out-layers. Does it? I think you owe us a more in depth explanation. I want the details if I'm going to have to live with this arbitrary and capricious tax.

Now I'll take issue with this part of the post:
"With the old tax levels it would be nearly unfeasible to operate a Customs Office and most of our goals with the feature were at risk of being missed."
I think what you really mean is:
"We needed a mechanism to force players into destroying NPC Customs Offices and replacing them with player built Customs Offices. Therefore, we set an unbearable tax rate to encourage that behavior."
Did I miss the mark by much? You know, if you'd just come out and be honest about it I'd probably respect that line of reasoning. I am, after all, a realist. Why does CCP still feel like they have to lie to us about their motives?

Now, let's talk about that bit above concerning not making all that much ISK to begin with. I find it hard to believe that CCP was all that concerned with high-sec carebears making tons of ISK from PI. Are you serious? My PI chain makes 6 Wetware Mainframes a day. That was less than 6 million ISK a day before the Crucible speculation started. That's all my planets can handle. They don't produce enough level 1 resources for more than that. THAT was our penalty for taking no risks.We got far less ISK for the same amount of work. I've scanned wormhole and low-sec planets. Wormhole worlds produce so many more resources than that it isn't even funny. They gush with ISK potential but there is also great risk.

How can you tell me with a straight face that you were really all that concerned with high-sec carebears making low risk ISK? Get real, you'd already clamped down on that ISK faucet by giving us resource poor planets. BTW, I can make 6 million ISK a day mining in Empire, with little risk, and at a 99% profit margin. BTW, I can run missions in Empire, with little risk, and at a 99% profit margin. BTW, I made 100 milion ISK from Datacores last night, with little risk, and 99% profit. Your rationale stinks of rotten fish.

No, this tax thing has nothing to do with high-sec carebear profits. It has to do with making low-sec more valuable and re-configuring null-sec sovereignty mechanics. Those are the squeaky wheels these days. They have been for a very long time. That is what these changes are really about but for some reason you won't admit it CCP. You expect us carebears to just go about our business. We don't squeak. Evidently, we just take it.

Fly careful.