Monday, September 22, 2014

Guest Post: Your Hypothesis Is Not Correct

Originally a comment by Axloth Okiah on my Hypothesis on Wormholes post.

As a "professional wormholer" pretty much on top of the whole foodchain (ie. diplo and leadership of one of top alliances), please allow me to correct some of your inaccurate assumptions.

The biggest one is that there is some preferential space one needs to "break ïnto" in order live in wspace. Your text suggests that we somehow block off entry to these systems - in a similar manner to sov-holding alliances in null which prevent newcomers from taking root. By this you probably mean C5 and C6 systems where capital escalations are possible.

But in reality, there are dozens of free and unoccupied systems like this and even bigger number of semi-inactive and poorly defended ones. The infamous "fortress systems" with 10+ POSes and tons of capitals are at most 10% of the total. In this respect, situation got even better for "newcomers" with Hyperion and number of good systems went up because of the wh-effects and C4 static rebalance (Black Holes for example used to be basically uninhabitable, now they are actually good and desirable).

There is simply no way and, perhaps more importantly, no incentive for us to prevent others from settling in. There isnt any competition for resources going on because escalations are same everywhere and most of publicized evicitons happen because of grudges and enmity. Coming into wspace is in practice extremely easy. What is hard is actually living here longterm which is a result of shit POS design and shit corp role management that make growing, recruitment and ship security a total nightmare. Start-up groups often dwindle and die because they cannot sustain any growth as result of pressure from the environment and game itself, not because of other wormholers trying to remove them.

The income is not that stellar either. Prices of salvage have been dropping for a long time, which unfortunately disproptionately affects lower-class wormholers. On top of that, all of the income must be divided among the membership, so bigger groups earn less. While 3-men farming groups earn a ton of isk, average membership of professional wormholers earn less then hisec incursioners while facing significantly higher risk (regardless of Hyperion release).

In the end, the current slumber is nothing new and is a result of overall eve slowdown and less players logging in - it will hopefully pick as the summer ended. Similar concerns about wspace dying and groups being too big, evil and entrenched crop up every couple months, regardless of whats really going on. But its been the same and roughly cyclical in nature for several years now as strong alliances form and then disintegrate into smaller ones.

So... I think your hypothesis is not correct and hopefully I managed to explain why ;)

Friday, September 19, 2014

Hypothesis On Wormholes

I've been listening to the excellent Down the Pipe podcast ever since it started in November 2012 so it provides an excellent perspective on the state of Wormhole space from pilots living there for the past two years.

Things have changed, and I don't mean just recently. There has been a malaise sneaking into wormholes for the past year and the recent changes in Hyperion release have exacerbated the issue into stark contrast from two years ago.

From an outsider's perspective of both wormhole space and null sec space, I'm going to put forth a hypothesis that I've been thinking on for a week or so that might be completely wrong... or might not. Here we go.

Hypothesis: What is happening in wormhole space right now is a microcosm version in both scale and time of what has been occurring in null sec for years, and can be predictive of what is coming in the next year in null sec.

Now to support my position.

About two years ago wormholes appearing to be booming with large corps and alliances battling it out constantly for resources (i.e. good systems and the sites in them) or for fun and profit. Then about a year ago I noticed a change in the winds that perhaps might have been there for a while but was definitely becoming apparent through blog posts and podcasts like Down the Pipe. Wormhole space was becoming less vibrant and started to, dare I say it, stagnate. The entrenched forces in the C5 and C6 class wormholes became larger and richer and the barrier to entry to these lucrative systems became higher.

Let's be clear, wormholes with their different rules and systems with special effects and no local or stations already have a large barrier to entry for the common pilot, add on to that large numbers of professional wormhole pilots guarding the entrance way to the best space with fleets of capitals and T3s and hundreds of pilots at the disposal, and new groups are dissuaded from attempting to break in.

This creates a cycle wherein to access the riches available to these powerful entities a pilot or group of pilots must join the existing organization. These powerful and growing alliances start to strangle out smaller groups that cannot compete financially and the overall population begins to drop and activity starts to dwindle.

Then along comes CCP with changes.

Before we can talk about the effect of these changes, let's talk about the paradigm of wormhole space which is that the risk is a lot greater (i.e. no stations, dangerous rats, no local to warm you of other pilots, no easy entry and exit, etc) but is compensated by high rewards. This dynamic was fine early on in the wormhole timeline since Apocrypha but over time the rewards remaining mostly constant while the risk decreased as pilot proficiency for the ins and outs of the region improved. Eventually groups mastered wormhole space and became experts at controlling the holes into and out of their systems to the point where sites could be run in rather extreme  safety by the professional wormholers for the same rewards. And let's be clear, these are some of the best rewards in all of New Eden at the end of the day. Listen to Down The Pipe episode 39 and sit agog when they talk about what ships they use to run their PvE content.

So, back to CCP's changes. Its obvious that the thrust of the changes were to decrease some of the control the of holes that the professionals had acquired in order to break down some of the walls that the professionals had erected around themselves. As wormholers themselves will state, the risk was subsequently increased as it was harder to close holes, and harder to close them safely, AND there are more of them, while the rewards had not changed at all. The fact that compared to most of all other space the rewards in the best wormholes are still miles above is lost on these professionals who only see their comfortable and known situation being disrupted. I don't blame them too much as any of us would balk at similar types of changes in our preferred area of space. Personally, I don't think CCP communicated the intent behind the changes well enough.

Regardless, the impact of those changes will require months to play out. Will there be an exodus of players from wormhole space as the changes to higher risk and less hole control and stagnation caused by the invested professional organizations drive them away? Or will these changes plus future changes trigger a wormhole renaissance where new players/returning players adjust to the new tactics and rules? We should know over the next year.

* * * * *

In null we are at the part prior halfway in the changes to space phase. On the horizon is the promised sovereignty mechanics changes and the "new space / building stargates" promise. Once these changes are done, null sec will face the same question that faces wormhole space right now: Is it the beginning of a new age, or the final long decline of the old one?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Seven to Go

So eight years in EVE this month and I'm approaching another milestone: only 7 more killmails until I hit 1000 on zKillboard.


I know that is not a lot compared to a lot of old veteran PvPers like the awesome Rixx Javix but I'm happy with it nonetheless given my extreme time constraints per week. I took a moment to graph out the kills into a little chart (sorry it runs right to left, I'm too lazy to switch it around).


I highlighted a few milestones. You can see the first two Bring Me the Head of Kirith Kodachi live events in 2010 quite easily, and you can see why I fondly recall my time in Paxton Federation in the original ProviBloc back in 2009, but the most striking change in the chart starts when I joined the Gallente Militia in June of 2012. Even in a small insignificant corporation practically by myself, with the same limited playing time, my PvP activity started to climb dramatically.

This is why I sing the praises of faction warfare and Aideron Robotics; it has allowed me to turn a limited weekly game time budget into a modestly successful PvP and Fleet Commander life.

This Sunday, time to get 7 more.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Gamification

On a recent Declarations of War podcast (sorry, can't remember which one) Faction Warfare was discussed and the issue of null sec sov mechanics was tangentially mentioned. Using a version of FW mechanics for capturing systems was dismissed as "too gamey" to work in null sec.

While I can see what they are driving at as the mechanics in FW have elements that are obviously designed for a space PvP game and not based in any sort of reality whatsoever (i.e. "orbit this beacon for 20 minutes, do that a hundred times in the system, and then shoot this McGuffin, and we win the system!"), I take minor issue that any part of the existing null sec warfare mechanics, or for that issue any future mechanics, have any less claim to fame in terms of being not "gamey".

Think about current mechanics as modeled by this flowchart from TheMittani.com:

How is this model any less of a game mechanic as opposed to reality? To call FW mechanics as more gamey than the null sec sov mechanics is a pot calling the kettle black. Both systems are artifices of EVE being a game looking for balance between attack and defense in terms of system control.

Consider what a real war set in EVE's universe would be like...

"We want that system."

"OK, we'll blockade the gates with the fleet and negotiate the station's surrender."

"They refuse to surrender the station sir."

"Well, we can't wait for months for them to run out of food, so prepare the boarding ships, we'll send in the marines."

"Why not assault the station with our capital ships, sir"

"Are you mad? We want the station intact, not in pieces!"


Friday, September 12, 2014

End of an Era

This post is non-Eve related so move on if you don't care.

* * * * *

Yesterday, I sold the last of my warhammer 40K models.

I started selling them this summer and I have made back about $1800 on thousands of dollars worth of models collected over 25 years of my life. I've sold my Eldar, my Epic Chaos, my Battlefleet Gothic Chaos, and finally the last of my 40K Chaos. I poured thousands of hours into playing and painting and modeling and its all gone. My terrain for hosting games, my posters I saved for years for the warhammer room I will never have, future modelling projects that will never be, everything(1).

Even though its been six and half years since I last played a game or even had the models out of the crawlspace, the waves of nostalgia tore through me with each sale. Each item handed over for soulless cash, each package dropped in the mail for electrons on Paypal.

Its the end of an era in my life.

1 - Well, almost everything, I kept two models to keep me company on my desk at work.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Aideron Open Fleet This Sunday

Aideron Robotics is having an open fleet this Sunday with Yours Truly as Fleet Commander where anyone curious about Aideron or Faction Warfare or even PvP in low sec can join us.

We'll be flying an armour doctrine and have ships available for your purchase, including super cheap Atrons we can give away (limited quantities). Please feel free to join us in any ship you want, just be prepared to lose it!

Rally point is Fliet FDU station in Essence and fleet assembles at 0015 EVE Time. Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

8 Years

On October 3rd 2006 I had a post that included my first ramblings about EVE:

3) EvE. I admit it, I'm right damn hooked. So hooked that this blog is now going to see some EvE blogging along with the warhammer stuff. Its my gaming blog after all, its just been that warhammer was my main fix.

Sigh. I decided to start posting my EvE ramblings here because I noticed today that on a corp forum board I am part of I amassed 48 posts in less than a month, putting me in fourth place of the most posts. First has only 99 and he's been on since June 16th. I am sick, sick, sick.

I started EvE after many weeks of waffling and browsing the web for info on it. What finally convinced me to join was the method of increasing your "level" by learning skill points. Basically, you set a skill to train and it takes a set amount of time based on your attributes and the skill in question. This training even occurs when you are offline so I can get a more powerful character without playing constantly. The lower time commitment required to get into the game sold me and I love it.

I started on Sept 9 and followed the tutorial over a couple sessions. It took about 2 hours to complete everything the tutorial had to show but it was so worth it. By the time the tutorial was finished I was comfortable enough to set out on my own. Being a Caldari pilot my first non-newb ship was a Heron which I later realized was a mistake. The Heron is more for electronic warfare and not straight up fighting, but I didn't know that. I died after a few missions in it. I upgraded to a Merlin frigate which is much better suited to fighting and I had some success in it. After about 10 days, I was ready to join some friends like Adam out in the low security (low sec) space, home of pirates and outlaws. Woot.

Adam flew out to meet me on the edge of high sec space and I packed up my meager belonging and entered the unknown. Many jumps later, I was secure in the headquarters of the Interstellar Privateers of Res Communis, aka IPoRC. The gents there helped me outfit my Merlin for real combat and my training began.

Over the next week I developed my skills and ratted ("to rat" means to hunt NPC pirates) while building up the skills to fly a cruiser. Meanwhile our corporation (aka a clan) got involved into a war and moved our headquarters into the warzone. This past Sunday night was the last convoy that got my stuff safely installed in the new HQ in Murethand system. After that I took off to our second base in a system called 9GYL so I could build up some capital by ratting in my brand new Caracal cruiser, outfitted with Heavy Missiles and an awesome shield.

That's where I am now and its going well. This morning I was on for 30 minutes and got to kill some rats (NPC Pirates) with two allies from other corps and earned about 2 million ISK (ISK = EvE money). Nice! I was able to pay off my debt to the corp for the two Caracals they provided me with.
Eight years ago today, Sept 9, 2006, I started EVE Online. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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