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Monday, September 30, 2013

High-sec POCO Economics

Now that the high-sec Player Owned Customs Office (POCO) is a reality and not just a sound bite from CCP Soundwave during last Fanfest, I've begun to really think about the real New Eden consequences of implementing this change. And I think I might have to back peddle on my opinion. In my Fanfest Keynote blog last April, I said,
"But first, I'll start off the list with something CCP Soundwave said yesterday. He said he'd like to see POCOs in high-sec. Yes, that's right, he wants to see player owned customs offices in high-sec. He mentioned that they would also be vulnerable to player attack. You know, that's not a super new idea as it's been mentioned before but I'm glad to hear that it's not forgotten. I don't know if it'll ever come to be, but it is something I can support."
I'm not so certain now, and it's not necessarily because large player organizations have a better chance of owning high-sec POCOs than single person corporations. There is another issue with this making me worry. I'll be sure to mention it after I fulfill last post's semi-promise of high-sec POCO tax income numbers.

The published tax rate on high-sec customs offices is currently 10%. The questions now is, how much ISK is that on a monthly basis? Fortunately I still have the data my buddy Kao Jai provided for my Why Be a Poor Noob series earlier this year. Just to remind everyone, my friend Kao Jai was attempting to make a half billion ISK a month manufacturing Nanite Repair Paste. Here is his March 2013 expenditure report.
His total planetary tax came out to 113,875,878.25 ISK. That's an average of just under 19 million ISK a planet, a figure I'll use in a bit. So to start this all off, I am going to fix the tax rate at the current 10%. It could go up, it could go down, but for the purposes of this post the rate is largely irrelevant to my point.

Now, that's not a lot of ISK in the grand scheme of things. But, he's not the only one doing PI on these six planets. How many capsuleers are doing PI on these planets? Well, I don't rightly know, so I'm going to have to make an educated guess. I'm going to use the Drake Equation as a model. I'll use an equation of possibilities.

The first variable for this POCO economics question is a known constant. How many planets have PI potential in high-sec? There is a table on Evelopedia that gives all the planets by type for various types of space in New Eden. These are only planets that permit PI, so restricted systems are already excluded from the table. Shattered planets are included, but you can't do PI on them. That's irrelevant for the purposes of this post as there are no shattered planets in hi-sec. The table tells us there are 10,392 planets in high-sec.

Now comes the probability part of the equation. Probabilities are based on assumptions. These assumptions are educated guesses in essence. For instance, the first one is the average tax per planet I calculated above. It assumes the data I got from Kao Jai is representative of all PI industrialists. By itself, it would be hard to make the case it is. However, if you could look at 10,392 independent data points you might just discover it is. Nevertheless, we need to account for fluctuation. I am therefore going to run three columns for tax value of a single planet over the course of a month: 10, 15 and 20 million ISK in taxes per planets.

The next probability I'll need to address is how many capsuleers are doing PI per system, and how many planets they run. At max training, six is the most any single capsuleer can operated. Then there are those with lesser skills, and high-sec is especially full of those capsuleers. The number of capsuleers per planet is the variable that is hardest to predict. Many systems are more appealing than others based on what a capsuleer can produce. That means some systems are inherently more valuable. Hell, some planets are more valuable than others. Who wouldn't pass up a chance to use a plasma planet? Furthermore, who really knows the skills of those capsuleers doing PI?

But we aren't dealing with individual systems here or individual planet gooers. We are dealing with probabilities of usage. There are ways to see a broad range of possible outcomes. What I need is a representation of possibilities. When I ran PI in Aporulie, I estimated there were five other capsuleers using the planets I was using. It's a starting point. I am therefore adding rows to my columns of potential taxation. I'll have rows for one, three, five, seven and ten capsuleers per planet. The equation to calculate cell values in the table is:

Projected POCO Income = ((10,392 planets * projected tax) * # of capsuleers per planet) 

Since my tax estimate is for a month the income will be monthly. That'll give us a fairly representative table I think. Here are the results for 10,392 high-sec planets.
There are six (6) zeros after every number in columns C, D and E. The least amount of tax income shown for high-sec as a whole is almost 104 billion ISK. The largest is over two trillion - per month. That's a big number in anyone's ledger.

But I don't think for one second that one player organization will control, or want to control, all those POCOs. They will be spread out amongst many organizations both large and small. The only prediction I will go out on a limb and make is that single carebear corporations will be left out in the cold. CCP has likely shat tremendously on the lone wolf industrialist ever owning even a solar system's worth of POCOs - thanks a lot. But that's not the end of them. They'll continuing working hard, paying their taxes to whomever, and struggling as they've always struggled. It isn't easy being a lone wolf industrialist, but that's why they do it. I'm not worried about them. Their lives won't actually change no matter who the taxes go to.

What I am worried about is that tremendously large number in the table above. That's only for one month. This was ISK that used to simply leave the economy. Customs Offices in high-sec have always been a means to help keep ISK growth down, and had an anti-inflationary effect. This was one of the reasons CCP instituted taxes in high-sec in the first place. Now that money is simply going from one capsuleer's pocket into another's. It won't be taken out of the economy. What's the long term implications for the New Eden economy in that decision? Won't that start helping inflation rather than hinder it? I'm worried the biggest change likely to be wrought by high-sec POCOs is a general price increase to everything due to inflationary pressures. I sure as hell hope CCP has figured that into their 3-year plan. If they have, I hope their plan doesn't rely on capsuleers blowing more stuff up than they are now. That's no way to run an economy. That's like handing someone a stimulus check and hoping they don't put it in savings.

Watch Out

Friday, September 27, 2013

Alea Iacta Est (The Die is Cast)

At it's peak yesterday, from what I saw, the Twitch T.V. announcement of the next Eve Online expansion, Rubicon, drew 13,000 plus viewers. I got distracted by the broadcast so didn't get the exact number LOL. What I found interesting is we hit that number during prime business hours in North America. I guess I wasn't the only one using their lunch hour for that broadcast.

This post is yet another "here's what I think of Rubicon" post. It's probably not much different than the one's I've already seen hit the blogosphere, though I've not read any of those. Yesterday was, overall, one of those days I just wanted to pour myself a stiff drink after and forget. The only two bright spots in it were the broadcast and the Full Sail Brewery Imperial Stout Bourbon Barrel Aged "malt beverage" sitting on my desk when I got home. Have I mentioned how wonderful my girl friend is? This beer is so strong they can't label it as beer. It's just what the psychiatrist ordered.

But today is a new day and you probably want to read something about Rubicon. Okay, here you go. It sounds cool. How's that? Not very exciting is it? Well, to be honest I'm not all that excited about it. I'm more excited about Eve Vegas coming up in a little less than a month. Rubicon is about what I expected. CCP is in a building season and that's what this expansion is about. I'm cool with that. It means awesomeness is waiting in the wings right? Maybe.

So how's that awesomeness going to look? In my opinion, it will look a lot like null-sec today in some ways. Here's what I'm on about. This is the beginning of the end of NPC space. Oh, it'll still exist as a place where new bros get their feet wet and where neutral alts can haul goods without fear of war declarations. But the days of it being a relatively safe haven for ISK earning are gone. Already if you look at the New Eden map, there is far more activity going on in NPC space than in null-sec. Last night I went looking for other capsuleers in Stain. Other than my own alliance mates, there was no one in local for five jumps - no one. It wasn't until I was ready to log for the evening that neutrals showed up.

From what I've seen in a week of actually living in NPC null-sec, it's just a resource gathering and ISK making farm. Remember when Jester wrote about Rote Kapelle getting upset because they couldn't get a GF out of the carebears that'd taken over their region? Yeah, like that. I know that's not really all null-sec is about. Hell, we just saw a huge war waged in null-sec - for moon resources albeit - but huge nonetheless. Now we're back to people going about their daily grind while most ship vs ship action actually happens in Empire space. My alliance has lost more ISK in ships to high-sec war decs in the past month than any other sort of action. That is currently the nature of Eve Online.

CCP of course wants that to continue. That's part of the point of allowing POCOs in high-sec. BTW, I said something in August about winter being long. I stand by that prediction. There are a lot of planets in high-sec and the group that makes the largest effort to replace the orbiting stations around them and get that income wins. We know the one group that has consistently proven they can pull off that sort of planning. I'm certain they will not let this opportunity for more passive income pass them by. It may turn out to be nothing more than a glorious structure bash. But if anyone in high-sec opposes the move, there will be more than a little trouble in high-sec. The driver for the conflict will be the billions in taxes that are on the table. I'll try and put some numbers together later. For now let's get back to Rubicon as a whole.

CCP also wants to see more than just mega wars in player null-sec. That's the point of the new structures: Siphons, Depots, Mobile Cyno Jammers and Automatic Tractor Platforms. What was that comment that made me laugh out loud? Oh yeah, "Poke you in the eye things." At least that's an accurate paraphrase. I was chuckling too hard to get it written down verbatim. But if you really think about it, these structures will have a far larger effect on regions that aren't player null-sec than they will affect player null-sec. Aren't most player null-sec systems already protected from cynos? And judging by the quick response we got to setting up a silo on a Stain moon, I doubt any alliance worth their salt will allow a siphon in system for more than an hour, if that long. Depots are fascinating, but they'll have a far larger impact on wormhole play I think than player null.

Another play style that might return with the Depot is the low-sec mobile pirate. There was a time when pirates could effectively live out of an Orca and some did. That playstyle was nerfed out of existence when they changed how ship holds on Orcas worked. Now it may just have a chance to return. It might also enable the Ninja miner to become a reality. We'll need more details on mechanics though before we know for certain. One thing I'll be interested find out is if this will be the replacement for current POS mechanics players have clamoured for years to get. There was a comment made about that possibility during the broadcast and my interest is piqued.

As for the other things mentioned in the broadcast, the new ships (A W E S O M E  BTW, but hey, don't they look just a little bit Vulcan?) and the further balancing, they are all part of the realignment that's been ongoing for years. They are most welcome, and the fixing of the warp mechanic is stupendous beyond my ability to relate in words. And even new bros got some love in the revamped certificate system. It looks like it'll be more helpful to them choosing what they should train. But all in all the remaining changes are not revolutionary. So IMO Rubicon will be an improvement to Eve Online, but it's an infield double - not a home run. Still, it shows more about how Eve Online is going to evolve over the next three years (that's the rolling plan time frame, right?) than any expansion we've had since Incarna, with the possible exception of Crucible. I think that's significant. The die is most certainly cast. There is no going back.

Watch Out

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Meeting the Neighbors

Last Saturday I mentioned my first adventure in null-sec started out with a bang. Well, actually it started out with three bangs to be exact. One of the things we can now do in Stain that we could not do in Anoikis is mine moons. So the alliance has a few moon goo operations going.

We knew these operations would not go uncontested. Saturday morning was when the first reinforce timer expired on one of our contested moons. There was a small CTA called that I responded too as I had the proper ship type.

As we're the new kids on the block, we needed to see how the other kids played. So we put together a small bomber fleet to see what happened when the timer expired. I was sitting cloaked 300 kilometers off the small tower we had when the timer went to zero. Not long after that local began to spike.

What landed on grid was a Dominix fleet with Navy Vexor support, an Armageddon (neut?) and Oneiros logistics along with some other ancillary ships. All told there were 20 or 30 ships in the opposing fleet - I didn't bother to count. It was more than we had and that's all I needed to know. We didn't have any delusions that our 7 bomber fleet was going to really do anything, but we were certainly willing to give it a try.

The other fleet seemed ready for bombers. They had taken up scattered positions around the force field maintaining a very healthy distance between ships. We would not get more than two or three ships in our detonation radius in any given run so our FC decided to detonate on individual ships. Our FC picked his target and we all got our bombing angles.

On command, we went to full throttle, de-cloaked, launched and warped off. It was a classic multi-directional assault and all bombs seemed to land on target within a second of each other. At least the three I saw go off before I warped did. Yeah, it's a bit dangerous to pick a side angle warp out point rather than one straight ahead, but I like the second or two of extra time to enjoy the handy work. I know it'll get me caught one day but what the hell, it's a cheap bomber. ;-)

My first bomb (we carried Shrapnel bombs) did 3200 damage to Bensen Estler [BK-B.] He was one of the Dominix pilots. We regrouped and returned to a different vantage point. Our FC again picked the target and we started our run. This time I scored a 822 point hit on Hawksmor [-BXN-] in a Vexor Navy Issue. However, it was obvious that their logistics pilots were on the ball as the damage we did immediately repped. With bombs having such a relatively long flight time, they no doubt started actively repping ships in the danger zone before the bombs even detonated.

We regrouped once again. We'd lost a bomber or two by that point, I again didn't bother to count. I was already headed back to a new position for a third run. We did a rinse, lather, repeat. This time we targetted the logistics to see what happened. I managed to catch two of their ships in my radius. I did 273 damage to Urybcn [-BXN-] in an Oneiros and also managed to catch ady071 [R.U.B] in another Oneiros (primary) for over 600.

In the end we just didn't have enough bombers to do much more than harass them. They took the small tower out in short order and the Domis went home. The cruisers hung around for a bit, but we had other things to attend to. GFs were issued in local and we all went about our other business. I'd survived three bomb runs on a prepared fleet. I'm not cocky about it. It was mostly luck of the draw, and having a name in the upper half of the alphabet (ship too!) doesn't hurt. But I am satisfied with my first null-sec fight and I'm fairly certain this will happen again. I brought plenty of bombers... but that's not the only trick up our sleeves.

Watch Out

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Hard Way - as Usual

I'm here! I made it! Or, to be more precise about how I feel...



So, in the end I flew out to my new null-sec home. I was waiting around for a Rorqual lift when an alliance mate accused me of bitching about having to wait. He said I should just get my ass moving because it would only take an hour. That's a paraphrase, except for the hour part. That was a challenge. It was something I felt I had to disapprove. Now that's motivation!

You see, my new home is 56 jumps from Amarr. Now, it may be possible to make 56 jumps in an hour, but you could only spend 64.28571429 seconds in each system. That's not a lot of time, especially if you are being even a little cautious. So I had to prove my alliance mate wrong. I set my destination and I checked kills in the last hour along the route. Only one system had more than one kill, and only a half dozen or so had any kills. The time was at hand. At 03:35:21 Eve Time, I departed for null-sec in my trusty Nemesis.

My first dozen jumps through Empire space were as uneventful as you'd imagine. Then I headed into low-sec. It too, was uneventful. It was late and I saw few capsuleers in local. Most just went on with their business. The only encounter I had was a friendly one. Thanks Immundra! It's started out great!

My route into player null-sec was through infamous 1-SMEB. Yeah, that's why I wasn't really wanting to fly to my new home. The route goes right through the heart of Delve and Querious and nips an edge of Period Basis. And as far as I'm concerned, the war-dec Goonswarm made against me last year hasn't expired in reality and the last thing I want to do is give them something to chortle about like my frozen corpse. Who knows what manner of depravity they'd visit upon it. Not to mention the ribbing I'd get from my own alliance mates.

Have all you null-seccers reading this, both of you, figured out where I am yet? *LOL* The cross-over into CONDI space was completely uneventful. It wasn't until the next system that I ran into my first real hurdle. I'd forgotten the first rule of null-sec: don't warp directly from gate to gate - especially when local isn't empty. I landed in a small warp bubble. I reversed course and proceeded to extract my still cloaked bomber from the bubble. There were, of course, de-cloaking cans strewn about and I got too close to one. But by that time I was out of the bubble and a quick burn got me far enough away to cloak and get away safely.

I bounced a few times and re-positioned where I could watch the gate from warp to distance. The bubble was an equal distance from me as the gate. While I watched, another Nemesis de-cloaked and jumped. Then an Anathema. And after a couple more minutes, an off grid Myrmidon arrived and jumped through. I figured they were waiting for me to jump through as well. Well, I wasn't in that much of a hurry. I waited five minutes and finally got too anxious to wait any longer. I'd already spent 600 seconds in this one system! Yeah, an hour to fly there my ass Cherry.

I landed on the gate and jumped on contact. The other side was clear; local was empty. I guess a lone bomber wasn't enough to keep them up any longer. I continued on my way to my new home. Most of the remaining systems were empty except for me. I was even tempted once to do a little sight seeing! But I had a challenge to disprove. Those remaining systems that weren't empty, I made certain to bounce off something before warping to distance from the exit gate. I only had to do that a few times so made pretty decent time overall from there on. It was a really good time of day to make the trek and it wasn't nearly so difficult as I'd imagined. Take note of that my fellow care-badgers.

At 05:02:12 my new cloning station accepted my request to dock. I had made it safely to my new null-sec home in one hour, 26 minutes and 51 seconds. Cherry was a bit optimistic wasn't he? Still, it really didn't take that long. I've sat in fleet waiting for the action to start for longer periods; and it wasn't like it was totally boring...

So where is my new home a few of you new bros may still be wondering? Well, as I said on Wednesday, the alliance had decided to set up some offices in NPC null-sec. There is really only one NPC null-sec region you have to go through all those jumps to get to: Stain. Hello Sansha Kuvakei, I'm home! And my new adventure started out with a bang, but more on that next time.

Watch Out

Friday, September 20, 2013

Does the 'M' in M-Theory Stand for Mabrick?

Well, no, it doesn't but the title is just a hook.This is not a post about Internet spaceships, but it is a post about the Internet and space. This video is absolutely brilliant! Enjoy!


Watch Out

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Null-sec Preparations

Since I did two posts last Friday, I took Monday off. Actually, it was such a hectic week that I didn't have a chance to write. And since I moved my BB49 post to Friday... not buying the excuses, eh? Okay, I skipped Monday because I could. Deal with it.

I used that time to get all my ships out of Anoikis and into a nice, quiet low-sec system. I never saw more than five other capsuleers in local, and four of them were always the same. I then contracted with Black Frog Logistics to haul my stuff to Amarr. I'd never used them before, but I read lots of great testimonials. My stuff was in Amarr before I was, but more on that in a bit. I then flew myself to Amarr and set up a new residence; transferring my clone and everything. After more than a year in Anoikis it was a bit weird, but I forced myself to stop checking d-scan every five seconds... mostly.

Then I did something I've never done as a capsuleer except to pay off my current alliance when they camped HBHI's old C3. I plexed. Why? Because I am moving to null and I'm not taking 2 billion ISK worth of Strategic Cruisers and Heavy Interdictors. I also wasn't going to dip into my existing funds to pay for this little null-sec experiment. I'm not going there to earn a profit. I'm not going there to learn what it's like to be a null-bear. If my goal is to learn what life is like in null-sec, then I'm going to do what null-sec dwellers do - PvP. Right? Yeah, I hear you but let's just go with the assumptions here okay? So I bought 8 PvP ships to try out. No, I'm not going to give the details on the ships I bought. At least not until they are vaporized. Sorry, but you'll need to get your intelligence elsewhere. ;-)

I will tell you that I've already sent over a half billion ISK worth of ships to my future null-sec home. As it turned out, the alliance is taking up primary residence in NPC null-sec. There will be no sov game BS for us. We're not going to be renters either. The plan is to harass renters. :-p It was easy to contract with Black Frog Logistics again to haul all my stuff out there. We've several conveniently located NPC stations.

Now is that "in a bit" part I wrote about earlier. If you have never used Black Frog Logistics, as was my case before making my null-sec decision, I can now tell you with extreme admiration that they are fast, relatively inexpensive and incredibly easy to use. When they say most contracts are completed in 24 hours, they aren't blowing smoke. And with up to a billion ISK in collateral accepted, you've really nothing to lose. It cost me 125 million ISK to ship 600 million ISK worth of ships to null-sec, and I could have sent more. I came nowhere close to their cubic meter limit. I can certainly recommend them for those with the ISK but not the time. I don't think anything has been so easy in my New Eden career.

That all done, now all I've got to do is get myself to my future null-sec home. That's either going to be very difficult, or easy-peasy. I should know in a few days. I'll be sure to post an update when I arrive. Until then, I'll just kick back and relax in Amarr while neural implants harden my mind to use jump clones more frequently. The only downside is I might have to smuggle in some decent liquor. These Amarran zealots aren't exactly into that sort of lifestyle evidently.

Watch Out

Friday, September 13, 2013

BB49: In New Eden, You're as Rich as You Allow Yourself to Be

This month's topic comes from a few sources and focuses on that most important of measurements of an EVE Online Pilot: how much money do you have?
What is "rich" in EVE? Is it simply having more ISK than most everyone else, is it measured in raw numbers of some other ethereal quality? Can you actually be poor? Have you ever lost nearly everything and had to claw your way back? If you are rich, how do you know and how did you get rich?
***

Compared to many PvP pilots, I am rich. I was once in an incursion fleet and had the fattest wallet by far when the question was asked. That was when they were first getting started; before the bling thing took over. Compared to many carebears, I am not rich. Gevlon is far richer in ISK than I am, and always will be. That's because rich is a relative term in actuality.

I could be as rich as Gevlon. I wouldn't even have to work very hard at it - in New Eden that is. I'm one of those fortunate players who could plex themselves into fat wallets and never have to worry about making ISK the old fashioned way. I know there are many who cannot do that. Perhaps all that means is the "rich" moves from their wallet into mine; and it's not such a bad thing to sell plex to get rich. It just seems like a bit of a cheat.

But there are more ways to measure rich than by ISK alone. Do you have stellar (no pun intended) corp mates who are fun to play with and always seem to have time for you? Then you are rich. Do you have a spouse who not only tolerates your Eve Online habit, but encourages it? Then you are rich. Do people seek you out for your advice because you have a depth of experience they respect? Then you are rich. Have you ever seen a capsuleer do the stupidest thing you can imagine and laugh about it so hard your eyes leaked? Then you are rich.

There are two definitions of rich. One involves money. However, the other only involves having a plentiful and abundant amount of things that please you. You can be rich in friends, rich in love, rich in humor, rich in physical skill. Having a fulfilling and successful experience is all that is needed to feel rich - and sometimes that is making a freighter full of ISK, but many times it is not.

I think most players have had at least one horrendous setback in their Eve career. The one that sets you on your arse and makes you wonder why you even started playing this stupid game. I know I have. At that point, I could have rage quit, but I didn't. I went back to square one and I started over. I learned the lesson and I never made that mistake again. If you are reading this, have had a similar experience, and are still playing, then you are as rich a capsuleer as any pod jockey out there. You are self aggrandizing, and there is probably nothing you can't accomplish in New Eden if you set your mind to it.

I think the more important question to ask is, "do you have a fulfilling and successful experience when you play?" If you can answer yes to that question, then you are rich. If you answered no, then you are indeed poor. But that poverty is of your own making. There is no reason to be poor in a game like Eve Online. If you do not have a fulfilling and successful experience when you log in, then you need to figure out why and change things. If you don't like your corp mates, find new ones. If what you are doing bores you to tears, do something else. If you dread just logging on, then for all that is great play another game! It's completely within your control. You are as rich as you allow yourself to be.

Watch Out

Changes to Article 8: It's About the Future

or What's in a Name?


Time to wade into this one. Here's what the current meta-game hubbub is all about:
"you can also be banned for impersonating or falsely representing another player, group of players, character, or NPC entity."
Is this a response to meta-game activities going on inside New Eden? I doubt it. In fact, it really doesn't have much to do with every day Eve Online play at all is my guess. This is being done to protect a completely different aspect of CCP's business; an aspect that's not even fully realized yet.

Let me throw a few names at you. Can you figure out how they're connected?
  • Mvp
  • Dyrus
  • Dendi
  • Fatal1ty
  • Flash
  • Ace
If you guessed they were Eve Online players, you are only partially correct. These are some of the best (and highest paid) professional video gamers in the world. In the quickly emerging eSport industry, these names rank up there with more traditional sports competitors with names like Stauback, Earnhardt and Ryan. The only difference is those last three names are legal names; not pseudonyms.

And therein lies the problem. How can you build an industry and market on something that has no legal standing? What does it take for a pseudonym to have legal standing? Well, according to the U.S. Copyright Office, you just have to check the appropriate box on the copyright request form. But that only applies to the individual, not any company or team looking to leverage that fame for other purposes. What must they do to protect, grow and profit from competitors known more for their in-game name than their real name?

Well, I don't know. I'm not a lawyer. But I do have a goodly knowledge of the writing trade and that experience tells me the issue is fraught with mines.

Let's look at the case of Robert Galbraith. Robert Galbraith wrote a crime novel called, "The Cuckoo's Calling." It sold 8500 copies, had a sequel already lined up and two movie offers. It was a smash success, but that's not why it's in this blog post. Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym for a much more famous author. He is actually J.K. Rowling. Now, J.K. Rowling did this for other reasons than to get a lot of sales. She did it to prove she was more than a one trick pony. With critics already doubting her writing chops, she felt she had no choice but to go with a pseudonym. If she had called an editor's office and said, "Hi. I'm J.K. Rowling. Would you publish my book?" you bet they'd have published the book - regardless of how good it was. That's my point. Name recognition alone would have got her the nod and merit be damned.

Read further down in that LA Times article if you haven't already. See the author Jane Somers? Her book was rejected. It wasn't good enough. Afterwards, the agent who rejected it found out Jane Somers is a pseudonym for Nobel Laureate Doris Lessing - who is well published by the same agency. Had the reviewer known, he would not have rejected the book - by his own admission. See, a famous name can get you through the door and will bring you benefits just because the name is famous - even if the book itself doesn't make muster. 

In televised media a pseudonym is not so problematic, as everyone will recognize the star on sight. But what if you couldn't actually see the star? What if I pretended to be one of these stars in social media, or by phone, or in another online game? What if I then solicited endorsement contracts? Wouldn't the company I approached be more inclined to say yes if my name was famous? The examples above say yes. That is what identity thieves count on. That's why it works in game. That's also why it works in real life, and real life is what this change is actually about. 

How do you combat identity theft? In real life, you have a legal right to your name. Identity theft is illegal. The jury hasn't even convened on the issue of online gaming pseudonyms. Until such a judicial precedent is set, you have to actively protect the pseudonym system. You have to extend some form of legal protection to them. These new changes do just that. It also shows CCP is setting itself up to be an actor in the greater industry of eSports that is beginning to emerge. It is, to me, obviously part of their overall plans to expand the Eve Online universe - and I welcome it.

Watch Out


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Challenge Accepted

Back when I was doing my reddit research, I linked my post It Will Be a Long Winter (yeah, yeah, no self-promotion - meh.) The first comment on it was this one.
"[–]ibuprofanity 8 points 25 days ago
i still don't know whether you are a troll or actually serious about the things you write.
if the latter, maybe you should try nullsec before pretending to know anything about it. just want to help you out bro."
Okay, have it your way mister I-don't-know-what-the-caps-lock-key-is-for ibuprofanity. No bullshit. No propaganda. No more carebearish paranoia. No 'Goonswarm is evil' mongering. I'm moving to null-sec just to give it a try.

That's right, I 'M MOVING TO NULL-SEC. Should I say it louder? Nevermind and whatever. I've been a little busy with the move tonight after a 13 hour work day and am too tired to pontificate. There will of course be more details later. Phase three began tonight; it should be an interesting ride.

Watch Out

Friday, September 6, 2013

Sovereignty: Attack the Castle, Not the Barn

Sovereignty: you only have to say the word to make most null-sec capsuleer sick to their stomach.

Sovereignty, sovereignty, sovereignty...

Well, I feel better at least. This is a topic that has long simmered in the hearts of capsuleers - or the pit of their stomachs as the case may be. I (barely) remember the disgust exhibited for the original sovereignty system in Eve Online. When the new system came to be, it was greeted with trumpets and hallelujahs.

How things have changed in just a few short years. But to be fair, the scale of null-sec has changed as well. New null-sec dynamics have been introduced and/or changed, but Sovereignty has remained stubbornly fixed in time. I agree with all those who've blogged that a change is called for, if only for change's sake.

The only question remaining then is how to do it. Nalestom over on World Wide Webifier had a decent idea. I'm going to borrow the hell out of his metaphor. Poetic Stanziel unsurprisingly weighed in on the subject. Twice. There are others. People have been booting this sovereignty mechanic topic around for as long as I've been playing. There really is no such thing as a new idea concerning this topic.

In all my reading of all those suggestions though, the one I've truly liked comes from CSM8 member Jester. Back in November of last year, he proposed an idea he called "Tug of war sovereignty." But it is, as Poetic would no doubt point out, a "use space to keep space" system. And it relies on too many PvE elements IMO. But it does make more sense than the current system. It also showed me there is a way.

I want to point out one important thing I believe everyone should focus on in this discussion. The issue isn't how sovereignty is obtained and retained, but how it is taken away. Even after the CFC took fountain, they had a hella long wait to actually possess those systems. That's no good. When the castle falls, the right to rule all the land and the peasants who till it should immediately transfer to the victor. No medieval noble destroyed the real assets of the other noble - his wealth of land and serf.  Possession of those assets, in their developed state, is what the attacking noble went to war to obtain in the first place. Destroy the castle but keep all the peasants and their farms! That's the point. What is really needed is a sovereignty mechanism for doing that.

And I believe an example of how such a system might look exists in the current game. Look at how Incursions work. Aren't they, at their very foundation, a challenge to Empire sovereignty by Sansha Kuvakei? If you want to translate that into player mechanics, just replace the forces of Sansha Kuvakei with an invading alliance. Here is that unfolds in my estimation:
  • An alliance declares an intent to invade a specific constellation - pick five connected systems (referred to as just constellation from her on.) This would leverage current war dec mechanics to implement. 
  • Only an alliance can do it. Corporations cannot invade by themselves. Advanced warning to the defender is not required, and I personally think the declaration should remain secret until D-day. Let's make all the spais do their jobs!.
  • The invader would actually have to invade the entire constellation (remember, that's just the five chosen systems now) on D-day, i.e. send in ships and possibly certain other equipment as outlined below. 
  • They can't wrest control of just one key system from the current owner to win, even if this means they go to war against more than one alliance. They have to attack the constellations, but they get the entire thing if they win.
  • Once the invasion begins, others could join either side if that side allows the option - sort of like requesting help if you are war decced now.
  • Tug-of-war mechanics similar to what Jester outlined come into play at this point.
When this invasion happens, a graphical appraisal of sovereignty would appear on the Heads Up Display of anyone who enters the constellation, just like it currently does with Incursions and in Factional War systems.

To get defensive bonuses, the defender would have to anchor certain equipment in the constellation. This equipment would replicate the effects the Sansha get as their influence grows during an Incursion or what Factional Warfare militias get from upgrading systems. The effects would apply to the constellation so long as every system was so equipped. If you like, you could envision constellations as having fitting slots for these things.

A heavily reinforced constellation would be very hard to take, but not impossible. The attacker could counter defender deployed equipment by using their own countermeasure equipment. These are space anchored modules just like the defense systems deployed by the defender. However, they don't give attack bonuses, just reduce defender bonuses. Together, I like to think of these devices as "siege engines."

"Siege engines" do not shoot back or have any real defenses. They must be defended by ships. They cannot function inside force fields. They must be anchored well away from celestial interference. They function only in open space in essence. They will show on d-scan, but only scanning will pinpoint the location of these "siege engines." The end result must be that capsuleers have to fight capsuleers - not structures - in order to keep or take any constellation.

This may seem a bit like the current Factional Warfare mechanism to some. However, these are NOT plexes. These modules can go almost anywhere and can even be moved at some loss of defense/offensive capability for a short time. They are destructible. All of these modules are defenseless except for the pilots who will defend them. The defense of them must be active, not passive. Armor and shields on structures are NOT conducive to a good war experience. The "siege engines" should be as defenseless as a cyno ship once the beacon is lit - and they stay that way until offlined for movement. It is the "siege engines" that should be the focal point of the fighting - not the sovereignty structures as they now exist or Player Owned Stations.

In fact, it should be possible for an attacker to take sovereignty and not bash a single POS. When a constellation is taken, the forcefields stay up until their fuel runs out. If the owner can refuel it, well, the new sovereignty owner should either bash it or try harder to catch the refueler. But the POS is an after the fact issue, not a determining issue of who "owns" the system. However, when sovereignty flips, any outpost does immediately go to the new owner with all the goodies still inside it and available to the victor. To the victor goes the spoils!

But back to how that victory is obtained. Destroying the "siege engines" is not what determines the victory. More "siege engines" can always be deployed - hundreds in fact, or even thousands. Deployment is not difficult and is something Covert Ops could accomplish. The victory should be killmail driven - ships, pods implants and "siege engines" included. If the attacker really wants to POS bash, that will count too. But so will any losses they take doing it and it might just give the defender a chance to bring in more "siege engines." The side that destroys "the most" ships/structures theoretically wins. 

Now, this isn't just some raw number sort of simple victory equation. Losing fifty Talwars does not equate to losing fifty Megathrons. Just throwing ship after ship at an opponent won't necessarily do it either. It's an influence measure; a give and take similar to how Jester described sovereignty percentages in his post. This is where the uber smart folks at CCP come up with a beautiful equation to determine influence. This is an equation that is imminently tweakable. It is a balancing sort of equation. Those dev teams most cognizant of the challenges of ship balancing know the value of ship versus ship very well. I am certain they could come up with a fair and balanced equation that really equates losses well, and gives a measure for who is winning and who is losing based on what they've lost compared to what they've destroyed. That would determine influence.

Victory is attained if the attacker pushes the defender to zero influence. This would only happen of the attacker was killing significantly more ships and siege engines compared to what they were losing. It's up to the attacker on how long they want to attack. If the defender seems to have a better position to start with, good! That is in accordance to RL isn't it? I've no problem with that. The cardinal rule of any offensive is to attack with at least three to one odds. Eve should be no different.

Is this a perfect idea? Hell no. It's full of holes and issues that would have to be ironed out. What I most want to get across is the idea, not the details, of what I've said. I want to get everyone thinking differently.The real important idea is sovereignty should be a pure PvP proposition - not a PvE one. Isn't that the professed nature of Eve Online? Sovereignty should be won or lost through combat, not through a process of destroying the farms. Attack the castle, not the barn.

Watch Out

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Familiar Malaise in Anoikis

This is not a recrimination. This is an observation. I want that noted before I even start the topic du jour. Some people may feel this is aimed at them and nothing could be further from the truth. Just read to the bottom is all I ask.

What I will describe has happened many times, involving many different people. It is a relatively small problem for our alliance, but it highlights a larger issue with Anoikis. The story goes like this:
Alliance Member #1: s'up?
Alliance Member #2: nada
Alliance Member #1: got a k-space?
Alliance Member #2: no
Alliance Member #1: Should I scan?
Alliance Member #2: no, we're rolling for PvP later
Alliance Member #1: I really need to get some POS fuel
Alliance Member #2: get it after
Alliance Member #1: I got work tomorrow!
Alliance Member #2: Then scan, but don't cry if you get shut out
This is not a real conversation, though I could easily go back through my logs and find several almost identical. It illustrates one of the really big problems with wormhole systems. You typically only have one entrance/exit you can count on and there are many different playstyles vying for control of that connection.

PvPers want to find juicy targets. Care-badgers want to find lucrative gas deposits. Goopers want to make trade hub runs to sell their goop. PvE players want the static collapsed and left that way so they can run sites. On any given night all of these playstyles can conflict, leaving hard feelings all around when people don't get to have fun in their favorite playstyle. It's tough to get past that at times. I'll cop to that feeling.

And it got me thinking. Yeah, I know: dangerous ground. But since joining SYJ, almost all the other high level wormhole alliances have disappeared. Our static rolls day after day, sometimes many times a day, and we see empty C6 after empty C6. The last 3 hour session I had, our static lead to a fairly heavily occupied system. Was there anyone online? Nope. It was a RAZOR farming hole. They weren't interested in PvP even though it was a Euro zone corporation and it was Euro prime time. They weren't interested in anything other than making ISK in their hole I figure, because I made three Itty V runs through their hole and nothing ever appeared on d-scan. Our care-badgers got to work and at least denied them a little bit of that ISK, but there was no PvP to be had.

So why is high level Anoikis so empty? It's been said SYJ can be blamed for that. There's a lot of SYJ hate out there these days. We've been hired to blow up a lot of ships and POSes in wormhole space. We've had a lot of ships destroyed ourselves. But how can that cause an entire area of space to become the ghost town equivalent of New Eden?

I think it's because PvP wasn't what the other alliances were in Anoikis to do. Like the various playstyles in SYJ, there are different dominant playstyles in Anoikis alliances. SYJ is a PvP playstyle. I've had to come to terms with that. I do not think that is true for most wormhole alliances. I've come to suspect their dominant playstyle is like that of the RAZOR corporation whose hole we connected to the other day. They're in it for the ISK - not the PvP. When confronted with adversity to that end, they seem to have just quit.

I see that as a major problem for wormhole living period. I know CCP never envisioned capsuleers actually living in wormholes. Perhaps CCP really did envision them like null-sec moons, something with which to make ISK, but I doubt it. I've no problem with making ISK. I like making ISK. But it's gone well beyond that in Anoikis. The systems are farmed like the Nile Valley in ancient Egypt. Wormhole dwellers would now rather collapse a contested connection than embrace it. Contestation is bad for business. I'll also cop to having viewing wormholes somewhat in this vein at first.

That viewpoint may be valid for k-space, but it's poison to Anoikis. Over the past year I've come to understand that. It is not what wormholes should be about. Wormholes should be about finding out what's beyond the next event horizon. Exploration and ambushes should be what wormholes are about. And though rewards should be used to make it worthwhile, life in Anoikis shouldn't be about farming. That's too much like null-sec these days, with their moon goo wars and renter empires. If CCP really wants to rebalance something, maybe they should have a look at this issue. In my opinion, it's turning wormholes into the next null-sec - and ruining them for everyone.

Watch Out



Monday, September 2, 2013

New Bro PI Questions - From a Real New Bro

One of the real pleasures of having a blog is being contacted through New Eden email by capsuleers who have read my mumblings. It's a bonus when they want advice! This weekend I've had just such a correspondence. With permission, I've posted it here for all to read. There were some very good PI questions asked, and I am certain that many New Bros have these questions. Hopefully they will find these answers.
2013.09.01 01:24
New Bro PI
From: [redacted]
To: Mabrick

Hey, man. I'm a new bro who read your article about making lots and lots of ISK in highsec with PI. So I decided that I didn't want to be a poor noob and trained up my skills the way you said and when I was all done, I went to work on 3 lava and 3 barren planets in lowsec (Hey, if I can get rich in highsec, I gotta be able to get richer in lowsec), and started making robotics. But after a few days, my estimates of gross profit do not look good at all (just over 100 million).  
To reiterate, I've got the skills maxed exactly the way you said (5 consolidation, 5 CC upgrades). I am wondering if the culprit is the way I've set up the system - I've got every planet doing some extracting AND processing. Is this advisable? Is it better to have some planets extract and some process? If you were to shoot some advice over to a fellow care-badger that would be absolutely wonderful. 
Cheers!
Here is my response.
2013.09.01 18:37
Re: New Bro PI
From: Mabrick
To: [redacted] 
Welcome new bro! 
What is the time frame for making the 100 mISK: week or month? If it's weekly, that's not bad. If it's monthly it is bad. I'll address your question first. IMO it's best as a single gooer (slang for one who does PI) to have planets extracting and making at the same time up until you have to make a P4 product (like Wetware Mainframes.) Since you are only going to a P3 product, mixing is called for so you're right there. 
Lets look at your facilities first. They should be clustered around your starport. They all don't have to practically touch it, only the first facility in the chain, but all the others should be as close to another facility as possible to reduce link cost. That's overhead you should do everything possible to minimize. 
Next, have a look at your planetary diameters. Some planets, like Gas planets, are huge. That makes all links that much more expensive. Even the shortest links possible will cost five to ten times more than a rocky planet. When I ran pure robotics earlier this year it was with 3 barren and 3 lava. Gas planets can really kill your profit margin. Have a look at http://eveplanets.com/. On the line that says planets, pick Barren and Lava only and click the Push tab at the bottom of the planet section. It'll tell you what you can produce. 
[EDIT:  What I neglected to tell this New Bro was that there is a system search at the bottom of the web page. If you put the system name in, it will tell you all the planets in that system, their type, their diameter and what you can make with the planet mix in that system. Very helpful.
So, if you have three Barren and three Lava, you run Mechanical parts on the Barrens and Consumer Electronics and Robotics on the Lava. The facility setup is really simple. Setup equal numbers of P1 facilities and P2 facilities. Like 3 Chiral Structures, 3 Toxic Metals and 3 Consumer Electronics. For P1 and P2 setups, they are always matched like that - always. For the Barren setup it would be 3 Reactive Metals, 3 Precious Metals and 3 Mechanical parts. Your Robotics facilities can go on either planet type, whichever ones have the grid to support it. If your planets are too constrained, you can actually just switch your Consumer Electronics or Mechanical Parts to Robotics to do your P3 production. That's the cool thing with Advanced facilities, they do both P2 and P3 and can be switched on the fly. 
That leaves your extractors. Setup those with direct links on the small planets. If the planet is too large you may need a second Space Port, but that'll eat into your profits. At this point, you'll have to balance your facilities and your extraction rate. If your extractors can only do 288,000 a 23/24 hour period, you can only support a 2x setup. If you can pull 432,000 in a 23/24 hour period you can support a 3x setup. Each 144k extracted in a 23/24 hour period supports one facility chain (P1+P1-->P2). Hope that makes sense. 
Lastly, since this email is longish, what is your POCO tax rate? If you are using Interbus stations, your tax rate is an unbelieveable 18% (EDIT: I had it wrong. See below for correct rate.] I doubt you can make a good profit with that high a rate. If the stations are true POCOs, the tax rate could be anything. Whoever controls the POCO sets the tax rate. In our C6, the alliance owns the POCOs and the tax rate is zero. If you are that lucky in low-sec I'll be surprised. That's the one thing about low-sec PI that makes it problematic. Pirates don't just blow up your ships. They charge outrageous taxes and stick it to gooers who might not check. 
Anyway, my last Robotics production made 300 units a day in a wormhole system. At current Jita median price, that should come out to 16.5 mISK gross a day for as little as 30 minutes time - an hour if you're avoiding pirates. That's a little over 100 mISK a week. If your 100 mISK figure is per week and not per month, I'd say you're on the money. 
Lastly, if I turned this into a blog post would you mind, even if I masked your identity? I think other's might like to read all this. 
Mabrick
And here's my last email from this New Bro (with the corrected tax rate! *LOL*)
2013.09.02 00:39
Re: Re: New Bro PI
From: [redacted]
To: Mabrick

Wow, thanks for the long reply! 
So I've made a bunch of noob mistakes, but I just went around fixing them up and maxing my power grid on all my facilities. What was happening was that I was way under max power and running too many factories for the number of extractors I have, but I pumped up the extractor heads so it is more or less even now. However, before taxes, I'm still only making around 237 million a month, assuming I sell them for 55,000 a pop. That means I'm making about 480 units of consumer electronics / mechanical parts each day across my planets and processing all of them in my three dedicated robotics factories. 
In terms of taxes, 5 of my planets have Interbus COs, with the accompanying 17% tax rate. However, one of my robotics-producing Barren worlds has a pirate POCO with a paltry 5% rate, so yay me. 
I now know I'm not going to be making your 500 million mark because I'm not in a WH, and all the WH planets I've seen in gooper videos have had way more resources than the planets in this system. Your article says lots about noobs making it big in highsec, so I got my hopes up a little high. Still, 250 million a month before taxes is more than enough to support my PvP habit, and as soon as this character hits 10 million skillpoints she can move into a sov-holding null corp and watch profits skyrocket. 
I'm fine with being featured in the article, you can keep my identity secret if you want, it doesn't matter to me. I can send you some screenshots of my more attractive setups if that's something you'd be interested in printing.
I especially like that this care-badger will be expanding his horizons as he trains and develops as a capsuleer. If you'd like to see his setup, please let me know in the comments and I'll obtain the images. I'd like to keep the New Bro anonymous so as to not "endanger" any possible future affiliations he might desire to pursue. Sometimes associating with an opinionated blogger like me with "enemies" makes you a target as well. Who knew? *LOL*

And about making it rich - that's a relative term it turns out. When I was a high-sec only carebear, making 300-500m ISK a month was a lot of ISK. Now that I've broadened my horizons some, I see how this game supports making that amount of ISK in an hour. However, the risks do go up - supposedly, but not really. I can say that PvE in a C6, when done properly, is risk free. PI can even be risk free if you can get the rest of the alliance to go along with closing the hole up. I also know from my buddy in FA that care-badgering in their systems is also practically risk free. It seems that carebears in high-sec might have a higher chance of being ganked than many who make billions have of losing a ship and its contents. When I take sleeper loot into a hub, I am more worried about that last high-sec system than I am of traversing the pipe. The mantra of more gain for more risk is frankly pretty hollow in this game as it stands today. Perhaps CCP and the CSM can take a hard look at that, and make the dangerous places in New Eden truly more dangerous than running cargo into Jita.

Watch Out