Friday, October 09, 2015

Happy Real Thanksgiving!

No post this Monday, I'll be celebrating Real Thanksgiving!

If you're Canadian, enjoy the holiday! If you're American, be jealous.

Star Map Functionality: Too Freaking Long

When CCP released the Beta Star Map last December I was happy the map was getting love but not impressed:
So, to clarify my position in more than 140 or less characters, yes it is great that they are finally working on the map. As long as they continue to work on it and enhance it to the point where it exists as a viable option for pilots of numerous roles to use instead of Dotlan maps, I will be happy.
But I'm not going to cheer for CCP for the beta maps that (a) do not go far enough and (b) should have been started over 5 years ago. It would be like rewarding my kids for finally picking up a mess of toys after ignoring it for hours since I asked them to clean it up. Everyone knew the map sucked yet it was left to languish to the detriment of many a pilot, both new and old.
Do not mistake my position as not supportive because I am one of CCP's biggest fans. Nor do not tar me with a brush of "whining" or "bitching" because I had the temerity to suggest we hold off our congratulations for the finished map product. I will not give out kudos where they are not deserved until the in game map provides the complete functionality we need.
That is not a bar too high to hold CCP to.
The responses to that reaction were from both sides of the issue, some agreeing with me that its about time CCP get to work on the maps and some that said there was no reason to work on the map due to Dotlan Maps being so functional, and a few saying CCP was just starting (Beta!) and give them some time.

Its been 10 months, and the functionality of the "beta" star map has not insinuated itself into my normal play. Admittedly, I have not tried to make use of it as Dotlan on another monitor continues to satisfy all my needs.

Then I saw this on EVE Updates tentatively scheduled for this Winter:

This makes me insanely happy and extremely frustrated.

This functionality of the directional scanner has been desperately needed for the 9 years I've been playing (admittedly the F11 map had a 2D version that worked half-ass-edly) and to see it finally manifesting itself in game is great, but we need more than this. When I'm not in the map doing tight directional scans I want to see the circle representing my cone on the screen! Is this so hard? Gah.

Making the map awesome in game is taking too freaking long.

Yeah yeah yeah, dotlan maps, other priorities, nice they are getting to it, the usual responses.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

No Winners Here, Just Losers

Last month I posted about the scandal to erupt around Alliance Tournament 13 winners Warlords of the Deep in a post titled "No Winners Here": 
Over on a headline screams "WARLORDS OF THE DEEP PILOT ADMITS FOUL-PLAY IN ALLIANCE TOURNAMENT XIII", which to be fair, is a little misleading as the aforementioned pilot himself is quoted as saying "[a]ll things that I hated because they are underhanded but are / were absolutely legal". The article is basically a re-posting of an EVE Online forum post found here.
Feel free to go read it but basically it boils down to accusations from a pilot of the winning alliance of Alliance Tournament 13, Warlords of the Deep, colluded with second place alliance Camel Empire to fix the results of their matches and share the prize pool.
There are no winners here. DHB WildCat is either a lone whistleblower with a sudden bout of conscience (or vengfulness) or a troll that has alienated former friends, most people will assume the worst about Warlords of the Deep and call their victory tainted at best or CCP will determine that they did violate the spirit of tournament rules and remove their prizes at worst, and no matter what CCP's alliance tournament takes another huge credibility blow while its still suffering from previous controversy like Alliance Tournament 9.

Well, two days ago CCP Logibro posted in the EVE Alliance Tournament Discussion forums a post titled "ATXIII Collusion Investigation results" (post in full): 

Hello Players
After assessing all evidence available to us, we have determined that Warlords of the Deep and The Camel Empire colluded to fix the result of Series 117b (the second match of the BO3 Quarter Finals between the two teams). As such, all Prize ships, medals (both inventory items and character sheet) as well as the Alliance Tournament Cup will be confiscated from both teams. PLEX rewards will remain as they achieved a position in the top 16 before the match they colluded in.
Additionally, the team captain for Warlords of the Deep (Kadesh Priestess) is permanently banned from participating all CCP Tournaments (including the upcoming Amarr Championship), while the captain of The Camel Empire (Bob Shaftoes) is banned for a period of one year from the conclusion of the tournament (until 2016-08-30). This includes any character they control, or any alliance they may be executor or captain for even if they do not wish to fly in the tournament.
A number of players from outside the teams purchased prize ships. The ISK from these purchases was previously placed in escrow, and will now be returned in full. Anyone that this affects will have previously received information regarding this matter when the ships were originally frozen.
The two alliances themselves and all other players on those teams will have no further actions taken against them as we do not have specific evidence that they were involved. However, the two teams will need to select new captains or executors as per above if they wish to compete again.
All remaining teams will be move up two positions in rankings and prizes (other than PLEX) will be redistributed on this basis. While we can’t know for sure that the tournament would have resulted in the same way if the two teams had not been competing, we believe this is the fairest way to handle the situation after the conclusion of the tournament.
As such, the new top 4 are as follows:
1. Pandemic Legion
2. Exodus.
3. The Tuskers Co. & Nulli Secunda

Note that as there is no clean way to determine which of the two teams would be placed 3rd or 4th, we have decided to instead split the prizes of the two positions evenly between each team (5 ships each). However, both teams will receive 12 inventory medals each.
Finally, we are looking to make the rules more stringent in the future with regards to working with other teams. Details of these will be announced in the future, but in many cases, if we think it seems suspicious, we’ll be inclined to remove your team from the tournament.

If any players have further questions, please feel free to ask.
Well, colour me surprised! I honestly didn't think anything was going to come of the allegations from September as I assumed it would be hard for CCP to verify any of them, but apparently the logs do show something and the retaliation hammer came down hard and swift.  Not only do Warlords and Camel Empire lose their prize tournament ships, they don't get to partake in any of the ISK rewards for performing well in the tournament. Its as if they didn't win a single match.

Of course this decision by CCP has some people in uproar about how they disagree with CCP applying rules too strictly or such things as well as about favouritism towards Pandemic Legion since, as W0lf Crendraven posts:
I also want to say that i disagree with the final placings, while nulli indeed lost to pl neither the tuskers nor exodus did. They simply got seeded in a different spot and had to to meet hydramel twice before pl had to, which - just as pl, knocked them out.

In that persective, 3 of the top 4 went unbeated by any legit tournament team, crowing any one of them as the number 1 is wrong and unfair.

Simply not crowning a victor and destributing the prices in a even matter amongst the top 4 would be by far the better ruling.
 Lovey Dovey responds:
That's how tournament brackets work at all. Warlords/Camel were disqualified due to Match 117b being fixed, which is after the match that knocked Exodus into the Losers Bracket. Tuskers were in the Losers Bracket already at that point as well, while simultaneously PL were advancing higher in the Winners Bracket which put them at a higher seed.
That's how the double elimination bracket works, people in the Winners Bracket are seeded higher as they progress. PL eventually ended in the Winners Bracket finals (Match 123a), which again placed them under the double elimination bracket system at a higher seed than Tuskers & Exodus. This is how that sort of system works and determines who is in what position.
Instead of demanding CCP give teams that didn't get seeded higher in terms of the bracket ships they didn't earn, it'd be a far more logical step to argue that the double elimination bracket system is faulty and needs contingencies to account for these sort of things if not have the AT use a wholly different system.
In other words, there are no real winners here, just losers.

I really think its time for CCP to retire the alliance tournament format for something that has less opportunity for collusion and gaming the rules. This latest episode has left me with the feeling that the whole institution for the top teams is just another mechanic to be abused and pushed to the line of exploit without going over the literal interpretation of the rules by the top teams. The spirit of the tournament is lost now as greed has taken over.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Warship Wednesday: Sea Maps

Last week I promised to talk about all the maps in World of Warships so since I have not got a new ship yet (unlocked the Shokaku but still a few battles from the Amagi) I guess I'll do what I said I would do.

Only seen in tier 1 to 3 matches, this map is small but very interesting with three domination points running down the middle from north to south. For the early battleships, this map is nice as it provides lots of cover to advance (slowly) behind and then open up on the overconfident cruisers.

Some people hate this map because of its lack of terrain but I personally love it. Its all about positioning and reacting properly to enemy movements, as opposed to utilizing terrain to your advantage. I wouldn't want to play it all the time but its a nice change.

Destroyers and cruisers tend to have the hardest time on this map where aircraft can see for miles and battleship range comes into play. Try not to get too far from friendlies or you will simply get pounded into dust.

Big Race
Only seen in lower tiers, I really don't like this map. A quarter of the map is the large island in the south west which makes it only playable by aircraft carrier planes. The alley right beside that island is death for anyone but destroyers and lucky cruisers, and even if a battleship wanted to go that way, it effectively removes him from the rest of the battle due to tight sight lines. So a lot of fighting of big ships happens up in the north east corner. Occasionally the middle sees action but unless a majority of your team goes with you, its a deathtrap. Most of the time the battle boils down to who wins the north east as the dessies in the south west usually cancel each other out. Just yuck.

New Dawn
A nice big map for lower-mid level tiers, I like this map a lot. Lots of options for all the ship classes to try out, battles can play out very differently, long sight lines for battleships to reach out and participate but still lots of islands for destroyers and cruisers to duck behind. Always fun. Could use an encounter mode to go with domination and standard modes.

Fault Line
You're going to see this map a lot. Used in low mid and high mid tier games, typically in 3-point domination or standard-domination (where the standard flags are replaced by domination points) this is a nice map overall with lots of variation, but long range battleship fire is tough to pull off and destroyers love all the little islands with tight straits to fill with torpedoes. Beware the C point on the east side, it can be a death trap to the unwary. I usually avoid it.

I like to think of this map as Fault Line's big brother as they share a similar DNA. Typically uses 4-point domination mode, but IIRC sometimes standard-domination mode, its a map where once you commit to either extreme you have given up on influencing the other extreme and leave it to your teammates to handle. Battleships typcially like going to A point in the west because its wide open and harder for destroyers to be evil, while in turn dessies love B and C for their ambush points on both sides. D is other spot that in some games no one goes for at all because committing to it means you will never see A or B and its hard to support C without going through an extremely dangerous strait.

Bees to Honey, AKA Hotspot
The wiki claims its called Bees to Honey but I never have see it called anything put Hotspot. In closed Beta this map was the devil because it splits the teams up, half in one corner and half in the other corner, and spread 5 domination points around (or one encounter flag in the middle). Since going live, it still does the evil split but does a 3-point or 5 point domination which seems to encourage less ganging up on a single enemy flank. Not sure why. For carriers, this map sucks because there is no place to hide or run away too. Battleships have some lines of sight but there is also a lot of islands for smaller ships to take cover. Not my favourite map but I don't hate it either.

Islands of Ice
Only seen in the highest tier matches, this massive map is a lot of fun and a lot of frustration. Either played in four point domination (with point A in the north west and down to point D in the south east in a diagonal line) or encounter with flag in middle, this map has two large open areas for the biggest of the big ships to duel it out, yet still plenty of icebergs and islands to sneak about. Can be tough on lower tier ships pulled into these matches, especially low tier carriers with slower planes that can have large distances to travel. One of my favourite maps in a battleship though.

Two Brothers
I love this map because its so different. Instead of having a sparse middle like all the other maps, this one has two huge islands in the middle with a small pass between them (which someone almost always tries to run for the surprise factor to the point where someone always sits and waits for the fool to appear). The end result is both teams usually splitting into two forces and each trying to win, although sometimes you will get one team giving up a flank and going all in on the other side. Both approaches have pros and cons and I like the chances either way.

Newest maps not on wiki:

Solomon Islands
I'm still forming an opinion on this map. See it a lot on low to mid tiers, runs standard or three point domination modes, the large open areas are good for cruisers and battleships, not so friendly to destroyers. The C point in the north east seems to be pivotal, more so than the A point in the south west.

The Strait
I hate hate HATE this map. Like Hotspot, it splits the fleet so that one side has a part of the fleet in the north west corner and part in the south west corner, and the enemy has their fleet split into the east corners. Except the fleet is divided unevenly and your smaller split is facing against the enemy larger split. Gah. So it boils down to who's stronger force can win against the weaker force faster for the most part. Not much fun, not much variation, and not interesting. I wish they would rework this map to be very different, perhaps have the dominaiton points running diagonally and have the fleets start in opposite corners.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015


There is a lot of excitement for EVE Online right now and rightly so. The road map on EVE Updates website has a lot of interesting features promised. A lot of old dusty game mechanics have been revised and a lot of new features and functionality have been added over the past year. The lore has gone from static and boring politics to dynamic and alien (for all intents and purposes) invasions!

After 9 years of play I can honestly say that EVE the game is in the best place its ever been.

But EVE is dying.

I don't mean "hemorrhaging blood from a gaping wound on the floor" dying. EVE's death is not imminent barring a sudden unexpected disaster in Iceland. I mean "we're over the hill and entering the golden years" dying. EVE's most vibrant and alive time is in the past and I don't think its coming back. We are fully in EVE's twilight.

I don't know when exactly we entered this phase of EVE's life. Was it way back when the Summer of Incarnage raged and video cards overheated in a flame or hubris? Or was it recently when the sovereignty changes came and the null sec overlords discovered that getting what they asked for gave them something they did not want? Or somewhere in between? If that "18 months" had not happened and EVE in space had been given all the attention, or if that time period had delivered compelling avatar game play, would EVE's twilight still have come now? I don't know, but regardless here it is.

This period could last another decade or more. There are online games out there still alive long after entering their twilight ages. As long as people enjoy the game and the owners keep the lights on, there is no reason EVE couldn't still be a game I'm playing in another 9 years. It will never have that vibrancy and optimism of 5 years ago when subscription numbers were announced at higher and higher levels every fanfest and we watched with fascination as the concurrent player count edged closer and closer to 40K, 50K, 60K... but the game can exist quite happily at lower levels of participation.

We are already seeing the necessary contraction of players to certain areas, and these migrations will continue. There will still be new players coming in and there will still be veterans leading corporations and alliances, but the numbers of both will dwindle over time. There will still be awesome fights and newsworthy clashes, but we will never have the wave of new players that join up en masse and make a splash.

Couldn't EVE regain the glory days and subscription growth? I don't know, the world has changed a lot in the past decade and the potential pool of players has different expectations and that critical mass of players that grew like a black hole in a dust cloud has shed enough bitter veterans to poison the well just enough to break the feedback look. I think we still have enough to stave off immediate collapse, CCPs actions for the past two years have assured that, but we are never going to grow significantly again.

My biggest hope is that CCP has prepared for this eventuality. That CCP has accept that EVE's best before date has expired and that they plan financially for a long twilight and not betting heavily on a resurgence that I feel is not coming. If the former, we've got a long time to enjoy this game and the ongoing development roadmap and Drifter storyline for years to come. If the latter, then the catastrophic end of our beloved game could be closer than anyone wants.

Some people might read this as a pessimistic doom-saying post and I want to assure you that its not. I'm very optimistic that I'm going to have fun playing EVE for the foreseeable future. What this post is is a statement trying to set expectations for you who is reading this. Consider it counter-programming perhaps.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Return of the Battlecruiser

This weekend Aideron Robotics took out two Kitchen Sink Battlecruiser fleets to celebrate and test out the changes that came in Vanguard to the Combat Battlecruisers.

I decided to show off and took my Sleipnir Command Ship instead of one of my three Combat Battlecruisers and our fleet at max size had about 7 other battlecruisers along with me. We got some good kills (including this juicy Prophecy) and avoided any serious losses.
Image From
Overall the mobility issues that are a problem in ship classes above cruiser sized did not plague us as we had some good tackle and the tanks meant if anyone got into trouble we had time to react and recover. The damage application of the fleet was scary and destroyers especially were chewable dog toys when they engaged us. The only thing we ran from all night was when Brave Squids undocked a 17 Caracal fleet backed by 8 Scythe logi.

Only one of us was on the ball enough to fit a Micro Jump Drive. Next time we'll have to get everyone to fit that to try out how it affects the class' mobility.

I think I'm definitely going to add battlecruiser roams to my fleet choice rotation now, at any rate.

* * * * *

Slightly on topic, I'm not going to waste a lot of digital ink on the amazing Eve Updates page that CCP Seagull unveiled on Friday, as others have done so already and done a good job of it, but one thing that stood out was the New Tech II destroyers they announced as coming this winter.
Four new Tech II Destroyers that favor defense and speed and can fit the powerful and versatile area-of-affect Micro Jump Field Generators, which microjump you and any ships nearby far from your current location.

I assume the hulls used will be the latest dessie hulls (Algos, Talwar, Corax, and Dragoon) but what I really want to know is what limitations this group jump drive will have. I assume it will only work on other Destroyers and Frigates but if it works on cruisers I can see this being a Must-have for a lot of fleets. Can't wait to see it.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Accurate Graph

From the Random Posts From Auga blog, one finds this graph, the most accurate I've seen describing EVE player retention via experience and time.

Click for full size.

I"m currently up there in the Eve Bliss zone these days, hanging around with the PVP is cool crowd, but I've spent some time in the Eve Hell zone prior to getting into m3 Corp back in the day and making it to the island. 

FAKE EDIT: While looking at the graph, I saw another blog address near the top, called Dark's Eve Online Blog. Here's the original post.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Valuable Feedback

In what was supposed to be a little throw-away philosophical post, What is the Value? turned out to be one of my most commented posts in quite a while, including some community heavyweights like Gevlon and Jester.

I think there was some real value (pun intended!) in some of the comments so I figured I'd repost them here and add my replies or comments.

First off we have Vince Snetterton:
Anyone who gets into cap manufacturing and sells their product to market prices once the ship is completed is a mineral speculator. It is all well and good when prices of minerals are climbing, but not so much fun when prices are dropping.
I don't think I necessarily agree with that. I think he's saying that since the changing price of minerals raises the prices of everything on market (for the most part), if you buy minerals at a high price and sell when they are dropping the lower ship price as the market depresses kill profits. Most of the time, capital ship prices react so much slower to market pressures, and demand/supply is has more influence on prices than base mineral cost, I think it insulates the capital market except when their is a massive price correction and demand crash like last summer.

Jester confidently (no one ever accused Ripard Teg of being timid) states:
Easiest question ever: calculate based on the market value of materials plus actual expenses at the time of sale. This applies even if the eventual calculation says you lose money.
If you disagree, sell me the rarest item in your house for the price you bought it for.
This broke my brain. Give me a minute. I'm having a hard time correlating the first two sentences with the last sentence because it feels like a false equivalency. Rare items are not necessarily more valuable but I think Jester is implying it is, like a first edition comic book for example, so assuming that interpretation I still have trouble correlating because the paper to make the comic book still costs pretty low, the value of the rare item comes from demand and supply, not material cost.

Regardless of my mangling of his example, his directive is one I've considered doing because it feels like a more accurate appraisal of profit.

Adam then replies:
As an accountant, you take the price that you paid as cost. The price of the paperweight would go up to 7 or 8 to cover the higher costs. If not, just buy all of the paperweights to reprocess them until the prices equalize again. This is why many manufacturers hedge their materials purchases (probably a bit harder in EVE)

Jester - Just because you use the price that you paid for profit calculations doesn't mean that you use it to determine your selling price.
To which famous Dirk Macgirk adds:
Yep. If building a single item it's fine to use actual costs incurred. But if running a longer-term operation, you start getting into purchases made over time. Oh God, shall we introduce him to FIFO, LIFO and average cost? And let's not forget about amortizing the cost of blueprints, which according to Universal Accounting Standards must be done over no more than 1 year.
This is kind of what I'm feeling in my gut, that if I expand my operations any more it will be more accurate and efficient to run fiscal periods with expenses and assets and calculate profit that way per period. That's kind of scary real economics and I'm 20 years past my first and only economics course in university. This is where EVE moves from game to simulator for me.

Talvorian Dex says:
In economics, the value, profit, and revenue are all real values, calculated from actualized results. What you're describing is opportunity cost. Because you used the resources to achieve these actual results, what was the value of the best alternative option you could have pursued?
But that's a theoretical calculation to talk about efficiency, given perfect prescience.
This is when I realized I was way over my head.

Finally Gevlon drops in:
Always use actual prices. If you stockpiled trit to build a dread and trit prices go up (without dread prices), then don't build a dread but sell the trit. More money, less work.

You seem to start to realize that trading (buying low, selling high) is much more profitable than actually doing something.
Truthfully, a few years back I made my second fortune doing day trading in large expensive items in Amarr and while I found it profitable it did not satisfy the "want to make something" itch. PLus I found it took too much of my meager time to manage properly, whereas cap manufacturing  is a lot more offline.

Thanks to everyone for the amazing comments! Definitely gave me a lot to think about.

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