EVE In Numbers: Solar Systems

It’s been almost a week since my last post. The war in EVE is dragging on and getting a bit tedious. I have spent a lot of time sitting around in stations and reading on the side (but hey, at least I get some reading done for a change).

The Imperium's area is steadly shrinking (click for larger version).

Maps such as this are driven by CCP’s public data interface.

So I need another topic. I’m a computer scientist by trade, and that comes with a certain amount of nerdy affection for numbers. I also found out that CCP gives access to a lot of the basic game data. Actually, I already knew that, because how else would sites like dotlan or the verite maps work? But I stumbled across the official CCP database dumps (though they only contain static information, no sovereignty), and I thought it would be fun to play around with it. Plus, I always wanted to look into programming with Python (I raised myself on Perl), and a refresher in SQL couldn’t hurt either. So I tinkered around with both, and ended up with a bunch of quite meaningless and mildly interesting trivia. Of course, I’m a mean person, and thus, you’ll have to endure this post.

A few rules about how I look at the data set: Unless I say otherwise, all facts will be about public K-space only. No Jove Empire, no wormholes. Sorry holers, but the stuff I’m going to talk about for now just isn’t very interesting or doesn’t make much sense for wormholes.

EVE in Numbers: Solar Systems

How many systems are there in EVE?

There are 5201 systems in EVE. That’s pretty impressive, I hadn’t expected that many. Of those 5201 systems, 1090 are highsec, 817 are lowsec, and 3294 are nullsec. That last number again surprised me: more than 60% of all systems are nullsec, although only 15% of all characters dwell there. That would explain why so many places in Nullsec feel so empty.

What are the longest system names in EVE?

A lot of system names are notoriously hard to pronounce for many people. Uosusuokko, Hofjaldgund, Bherdasopt, or Ethernity (note the h!) have twisted many an FC’s tongue. What, however, are the longest names, and how unpronounceable are they?

  1. Tash-Murkon Prime in Tash-Murkon (duh)
  2. Ardishapur Prime in Domain
  3. Serpentis Prime in Fountain
  4. Kor-Azor Prime in Kor-Azor (did we already say duh?)
  5. Hedaleolfarber in Molden Heath

In the Top 5, the Primes reign supreme. Of course, such compound names are long, but not necessarily hard to pronounce. In fact, most of these spots are quite easy for an English speaker. But in spot 5, we have a good candidate for a new tongue twister: say “Hedaleolfarber” five times really fast, and CCP Karkur might materialize in your room teaching you how to pronounce Icelandic names.

I suck at pronouncing foreign names, so what are the shortest system names in EVE?

This should be a lot easier, because at least the names are short enough so you won’t need a map and a compass to find your way. (Unless you’re Nordic or German, in which case you were born with a natural aptitude to navigate through them.) So let’s have a look at the shortest solar system names in EVE:

  1. Ala in Sinq Laison
  2. Alf in Metropolis
  3. Ami in Kor-Azor
  4. Amo in Metropolis
  5. Ana in Domain
  6. Ane in Essence
  7. ….

OK, you know what? That might not have been the smartest idea. Let’s just say there are a LOT of three-letter names out there. 44, to be exact. So instead, let’s look at how many systems there are for each length:

  1. 0 (we saw that above, it starts at 3)
  2. 0 (seriously, it starts at 3)
  3. 44
  4. 177
  5. 338
  6. 3663 (see below)
  7. 393
  8. 291
  9. 153
  10. 91
  11. 36
  12. 8
  13. 2
  14. 2
  15. 1
  16. 1
  17. 1

You might wonder where that immense bulge at 6 letters is coming from… unless you’re living in Nullsec, in which case you should have a strong hunch. It is indeed because by the time CCP reached Nullsec systems, they seemed to have run out of steam. It was probably a Friday afternoon, and they wanted to finish work fast, so they just gave every Nullsec system a 6-character name, consisting of 5 letters or digits, and one dash somewhere in the middle. So you end up with names like O1Y-ED, B-R5RB, or X6AB-Y.

All Nullsec systems? No, not all of them. There are a few curious exceptions.

How many properly named Nullsec systems are there?

A perennial EVE meme is the question, “Did you know that Poitot is the only named system in Syndicate?”. It is so popular, it has its own website. (Edit: which seems to be down, so in lieu of that, you may go to Poitot’s YTMND.) I have no idea how that started, though. If anybody know, I’d be happy to learn. And while it indeed is the only named system in Syndicate, it is not the only named nullsec system in EVE. Though those are still rare beasts: Only 12 such systems exist, more than half of them in Curse (all in the Heaven constellation):

  • Atioth in Geminate
  • Doril in Curse
  • Farit in Curse
  • Hemin in Curse
  • Jamunda in Curse
  • Jorund in Curse
  • Litom in Curse
  • Poitot in Syndicate
  • Roua in Geminate
  • Serpentis Prime in Fountain
  • Shintaht in Providence
  • Utopia in Curse

So the meme could just as well have gone “Did you know that Shintaht is the only named system in Providence?”. Maybe it doesn’t roll off the tongue as easily, though.

Finally, of the 230 systems in Jove space, there is one named system: Polaris. It is a system without any star gate connections to other systems in its region, and the region is unreachable from the rest of Jove space, which in turn is separated from the rest of New Eden. Polaris is the unreachable of the unreachables. Far, far away like the Northern Star, it seems.

3 Weeks of War, A Status Update

In a few hours, it will be 3 weeks since I joined Pandemic Horde to take part in World War Bee. Since servers are down (and I found a way to quickly and potentially automatically create sovereignty map animations), it’s a good time to look at my current impressions.

Win conditions

There was a discussion at the Ancient Gaming Noob’s last week about how to figure out who has won and who has lost the war, once it’s over. My personal take is that this is difficult for two reasons. First of all, it might not be clear when the war is over. It might drag on for a long time, but reduced in scope. There will be no official surrenders to mark the dates. Just like big conflicts such as the 30 Years’ War, it might end up being a bunch of somewhat-related smaller conflicts lumped together under a label, with the difference that we most likely won’t have a Peace of Westphalia to mark the end. It will also be difficult to decide who has “won”. It’s not uncommon that wars end with both parties claiming victory. This can be just for propaganda reasons, or it might be legitimately so because the win conditions don’t align.

The Imperium's area is steadly shrinking (click for larger version).

The Imperium’s area is steadily shrinking (click for larger version).

I therefore decided that I’m better off defining my personal win condition: I will consider this war a success, and won for my intents and purposes, if Goonswarm federation loses all its sovereignty. I might accept a situation in which they lose all their northern possessions, but manage to establish a foothold in another area of Nullsec, but I would consider this only a second-class victory. This victory condition aligns well with my personal convictions. I don’t care much about GSF’s “Imperium” buddies, so I focus on GSF sov. And with a background in strategy games such as Civilization or Europa Universalis, I am a map painter at heart. I like to see areas taken and held, and my enemies to lose theirs. And it seems as if that goal is reachable: within the last three weeks, Goon allies have lost almost all their sov, and within the last ten days or so, the Goon heartlands have slowly been occupied by others. A ragtag coalition of Mordus Angels, Darkness., NC., Short Bus Syndicate, The Blood Covenant, Slyce, and my own Pandemic Horde, has eaten up large swathes of land… well, space, but you know what I mean.

Personal Impressions

So my victory condition looks very achievable, and within reach. however, there are still a few things I’m worried about. First of all, the Goons are not nearly defeated yet. That doesn’t come as a big surprise. However, they’re so much not defeated that they managed to attack and even take back sovereignty recently (the sov maps always lag a bit behind, so they don’t reflect this yet):

Still many losses, but also gains again for the first time...

Still many losses, but also gains again for the first time in a long time.

However, the general attitude to that is “well, at least they undock again so we have something to fight”. And I think that gets me to the fundamental disconnect I have with Pandemic Horde, and many other EVE players: they play to fly ships and fight others, and the results of that are secondary. That also explains why, even in a war situation, some FCs and many players are happy to just go out in small fleets and whelp them against much more powerful fleets, where the outcome is already a foregone conclusions. They prefer to have “good fights” (though I’d argue such a lopsided battle is hardly a good fight) to not fighting and coming back another day. I find that behavior a bit too frivolous for my taste, at least if it ends up in fleet whelps against the war enemy.

I, on the other hand, generally don’t care much about the fights themselves. For me, fights are almost always a vehicle. I go on the occasional roams just for roaming’s sake, but those are rare. I only see sense in fighting if it furthers my goals, such as gaining or defending sovereignty, or demoralizing an enemy by crushing them with superior numbers. I actually like entosis fleets that take two or three hours and never see a single fight. As I said, I’m a map painter. Thus, it annoys me that most people don’t seem to care that we lost four systems in the last two days, and might lose a couple more in the near future if people don’t go out to defend them.

In the end, this is probably more a mismatch thing between me and my corp. Pandemic Horde, after all, is the baby wing of Waffles and Pandemic Legion, who both don’t seem to care much about holding system sov. This is fine: I half expected that, and the only reason I ended up in Horde is that it was the easiest and fastest way to get into the war against Goons. I probably will drop out after (or if?) my personal victory condition is reached. I just have to think again about what I actually want to do after that.

Or maybe somebody from Horde leadership will publish an announcement pushing for a more coordinated sov defense soon, and will make me look like an idiot. Who knows?

A Tale of Two Tales

With SMA, the second alliance has dropped out of the Imperium, the Goons-led erstwhile clusterfuck coalition (CFC).

Wilhelm, who I admire as a blogger, is in the unenviable position of being a member of TNT, an alliance that has been part of that coalition for years, and whose homelands have just gone down in a torrent of blood hunger (with little help coming from their powerful Goon allies, it seems). It seems as if half of New Eden is up in arms to tear down Goons and their allies. To the repeated questions why he decides to throw in his lot with the Goons (he’s been getting those for years, but only very occasionally; now there’s a veritable flood of them), he points out that he’s been flying with TNT for so long that he feels loyal to them, even if that might mean that TNT is disbanded and absorbed by the Goons. I suggest you go over and read his post, because the rest of this text is a reply to it that got a bit unwieldy.

Back? Good.

So you might have had a look and seen my reply. I thought I had made it sufficiently Godwin-proof by pointing out that is in an extreme example that just is intended to show the reasoning, not that Goons are Nazis or something similarly ridiculous. My point was that Wilhelm’s exasperated question why some people just can’t understand his loyalty to the Goons has a simple answer: some people hate Goons so much (really, that’s not hard, I can’t think of any other current group in the game that is similarly despised) that loyalty to them is not considered an endearing treat.

I really think a lot of this fighting comes from a disconnect due to wildly different narratives.

Of course Wilhelm likes it in Goons… well, CFC… Imperium… whatever. And I’d like it there too if I were him, for exactly the same reasons. I’d like the degree of organization, the fact that you can fly whatever is needed without having to invest much work, and even getting reimbursed for losses. It’s almost like paradise! I’d love to be his in your position! Sure, I would (and he probably does) cringe at some of the people you fly with, and the guy at the top is a nutjob, but the middle management is nice guys, and the benefits are great, so who cares.

That’s the one side.

The other side sees a blob of assholes whose advertised core idea is scamming the weakest, and “ruining everyone else’s game”. They don’t see the decent middle managers in Goonswarm, they see the figurehead and the loudest and most despicable of the line members they had contact with. They feel Goonswarm crosses a line from “it’s all fun and games” into “you literally ruined my game experience”. And being loyal to such assholes obviously gets you, at best, restrained applause for putting your sense of duty over your moral compass, and at worst attacked as a bad person.

That’s the other side.

OK, I maybe went a bit overboard with painting the picture, but that’s where some people are coming from. It also doesn’t help that the map tells a story (true or not) of a powerful alliance who can’t be bothered to go and defend their longtime coalition allies’ lands. Or maybe they literally can’t. I guess we’ll figure that out in the next few weeks.

I personally would like to see Goons disappear from the map, but not because I hate them: I don’t, to be honest, that would be too strong a word. I, however, dislike them for the image they project. I feel a bit dirty around them, because of how appealing I find their “we’ll provide content, you can relax most of the time” system, even though I consider parts of their behavior immoral and over the line, especially since that kind of behavior is officially sanctioned and encouraged by their leadership. That’s reason one why I’d prefer to see them out: I don’t like their presence and the negative influence they have on the game in that respect.

Reason two is that I’d love to see the moment at which Goons are destroyed and the anti-goon coalition will break up sooner than you can say antidisestablishmentarianism. (Yes, that is actually a pretty long word; I’ll play it safe and account for some delay in the outbreak of hostilities.)

Me, personally? After I’m done fighting Goons in this war, I might go back to PvE. Or look for a more long-term null-sec corp solution. Time will tell.

EVE at its finest

The invite (see last post) didn’t take too long to appear. I used the meantime to check reddit, which suggested putting some jump clones in strategic places before accepting the invite, because, high-sec wardecs and all that. It only took me about 150 jumps back and forth, and back again, and running out of jump clone, and clone jumping to a different clones, and flying back 30 systems again to my almost-impossible-to-tackle interceptor… where was I again? Oh yes.

Then I had to set up forum logins, and mumble logins, and IRC logins… really, IRC? I feel like I’m young again! All the while I got a deadline ticking for a fleet that I wanted to join. So I rushed to the staging system in Okagaiken while still haphazardly setting up my overview and all the other small things you’re expected to walk through. It almost felt like the good old days.

I arrived at the staging system about 5 minutes late, which, as everybody who plays EVE knows, is plenty early, because such a big operation (it was too big for a single 250-people fleet) takes at least half an hour to get going. There was just a small problem: I had come with my travel inty, and had no ship at all in the staging system. And because I’m not very good with the EVE interface (which, in my defense, can be a bit… confusing), I didn’t realize there were Feroxen on the market as corporation-only sale contracts. Yes, I decided to run with Feroxen as a plural Ferox for now, because I like the sound of the that. It sounds old-fashioned and endearing, like oxen or VAXen, just the right thing for a ship that was the laughing stock of everybody for the longest time, but suddenly seems to not suck any more. Seriously, you walk away from a game for a year or two, and thing change! The audacity.

Thankfully, all I needed to do was wait for the call for logistics. There never seem to be enough logistics in fleets, and so they handed out Ospreys to people able and willing to fly them. They even came with a set of combat drones, so I could assign them to a random person and maybe cheat my way into some kill mails! They also had a call for entosis pilots, but since I have no idea how that system works, I stayed with Logistics. At least I’ve flown space priests before.

The fleet got going about 30 minutes late, which is not bad considering a 300+ people fleet with lots of new pilots who have never done a fleet, and many, like me, who may have never gone out on one with Pandemic Horde. Someone mentioned that in the last week, over 500 players had joined. Finally, the “undock-undock-undock” command came, and we promptly went down to 80% TiDi. That would be interesting.

The first few jumps, we logis practiced our cap chains, which worked perfectly almost immediately, which I found pretty good going for a mostly ragtag band of people. (Then again, maybe the logi pilots are on average older players and already know a bit more of how this stuff should work, at least in theory.)

Pretty cap chains

Pretty cap chains

We jumped a few systems into Fade and then waited. And waited. And waited. Then we got the information that the fleet we were heading out for to fight decided not to face us, and that there probably would not be any fighting. That’s the way of EVE I guess.

But while we were out here, we at least could get our entosis wing to work, so we headed over to YKSC-A (seriously, these names are horrible. They’re literally random characters mashed together. I have to look them up every time. I guess nullsec players eventually learn to cope with them? ) and installed an Infrastructure Hub in SMA’s space. I’m not really sure what that means, especially since there was still a TCU (territorial control unit) by SMA in that system, but I guess it means a tactical victory, so go us?

Fozzie lasers at work. At that point, I had reduced the rendering quality in anticipation of a big fight that never happened.

Fozzie lasers at work. At that point, I had reduced the rendering quality in anticipation of a big fight that never happened.

And that was that. Well, almost. The most hilarious moment still was about to come. On our way out, another alliance allowed us to use one of their titans to bridge us home, cutting back on the travel time. However, I guess partly due to the speed at which this “all against Goons” coalition has come together, we weren’t set blue to each other. So as soon as we landed on the starbase that contained the titan, the base’s guns started picking apart our fleet. That made for a slightly panicked and very hilarious moment.

At least the bridge worked, and we made it out… most of us. Expect for those that had already been killed, or those scrammed by the base’s scrammers, unable to jump out, and being killed over the next minute while we were many systems away.

Thus ended my first EVE fleet in years. It seems to have had anything a typical EVE fleet has: long formup times, flying around in space while not finding any fights, waiting for entosis timers to count down, and a funny occurrence at some point through to talk about after the fleet.

In all objective measures, this fleet was a bummer. But as a first fleet in ages, it worked out alright for me. I had time to get reacquainted with fleet mechanics without too much stress, and there’s always another day.

I do hope I get to shoot something tomorrow, though.


Which Way to the Warzone, Please?

So EVE is having another big war. I’m sure you must have heard of it by now, because you have Internet, and under a rock you generally don’t, which is where you’d have to live to not have heard about it. This is because whenever something big happens ins EVE, every gaming website seems to talk about it, and occasionally even highbrow newspapers will, because it’s the game everybody likes to read about (but fewer people actually want to play).

The weirdest part about this, people seem to agree, is that it’s been almost 2 years long since they’ve had one. I, on the other hand, mostly played the non-interactive “Skill Point Online”, so I hadn’t followed any news recently, and now have a character with more than 90 million skill points, more than 250 skills, but no skill at flying, so to speak. Wilhelm would agree we’re in the same category.

Speaking of which (who?), the other day I moaned in this comments about how I never get anything done in EVE. He pointed out the obvious: that I should join a corporation that is active in the current war. The main problem I had with that is that I remember corporation join processes from the days of yore, where they wanted a cover letter in triplicate, and API key to look at all your assets and skills, and a CV to talk about why you joined which corporation in the past, and a physical preferably including a blood test and a colonoscopy. Alright, I might have exaggerated a bit… they generally didn’t care about the blood test.

These days, however, things seem a bit easier. You click an “apply” button in-game, send in some minimal information about yourself, and you can join and leave whenever you want. No hard feelings, no “why did you join our current enemies 3 years ago? SPY!” bullshit. That sounded easy. The hardest decision maybe was which side to join. I like to fight for underdogs, and, as unlikely and insane as that sounds, the Goons seem to be the underdog in that fight. They also have a nice ship replacement program, which is great for someone like me with limited funds and flying skill. In the end, however, I decided to go with Pandemic Horde. I know a few people in PL, definitely more than in the Goons, and… well, they made it even easier to join. Literally the only requirement to join up was to be able to click a button, then wait and eventually click another button:


I’ve already clicked the first button, but am still waiting for the second button to appear, which will happen as soon as somebody on the other side will press their button to make my button appear. The text below is what I put in the application text box, to show them how seriously I take the whole process.

They don’t even want an API key from you. Which is great, because it means I don’t have to navigate the confusing EVE Online web site again to create one. Let’s just hope that the old adage “you get what pay for” doesn’t apply here, too, in the form of “what can you expect for that a low barrier to entry”. But, hey, if I don’t like them, I can leave again whenever I want, and nobody will care!

So there’s that. Oh, and shooting spaceships. I’m so looking forward to shooting spaceships. And probably dying in horrible fires many times while I learn what and what not to do.


Finally! As of one hour ago, I now have Internet at my place. Not slow, limited, cellphone net any more, but actual DSL with decent speed. (Also, my furniture got moved into my new apartment today, but… priorities!)

Limitless joy! I can now do and play whatever I want, without worrying about bandwidth and monthly volume! I can… I can…



… right.

But tomorrow!


The Joys of Limitation

We live in times of endless choices. I just noticed again very acutely when I went shopping for some new furniture. For example, I want to get a new wardrobe, because my current one had never been all that great since I got it: It was a second-hand one that had been stored in a garage for too long during humid weather, and never fit together 100%. But I was fresh out of university, and it still looked good and I got it for free, so I didn’t care too much about the state of equine’s molars. Now that I move again, though, I decided I’ll leave it behind and get a new one.

IKEA has a nice and highly modular wardrobe system called Pax. The opportunities! But now I had to decide: Do I want a longer clothes rail and fewer shelves, or the other way round? Oh look, I can split just the lower part of the rail area: full length for coats, half-length (with some drawers below) for shirts. And they have shoe storage too? And 4 kinds of drawers and about 27 combinations frames and doors? But which should I take?!

The bottom line is, I’m still without a wardrobe. (I haven’t yet made my peace with it, to not leave the obvious pun unsaid.) The last couple of months made me make lots of, sometimes quite far-reaching, decisions. I feel like I’m thoroughly exhausted on decision-making for the time being. I just want a nice wardrobe, but not spend days on designing it. On the other hand, now that I know that there’s so much choice, I can’t just take a predesigned one, because I know I have the possibility to improve on that. So I’m stuck in decision limbo.

Choice is not always good.

For the same reason, it took me almost 3 weeks to decide which Internet provider to take. I tried asking around at the workplace for experience with providers in this area, and as a result, I’m still waiting on “real” Internet and currently use a mobile connection for my Internet needs. Which works… ok, I guess. Better than I had feared, but it comes with limitations. Which means there’s less choice in what I can do. For example, I’d rather not stream videos, because of the monthly volume limit. For the same reasons, I don’t dare to update too many online games.

This has an unexpected beneficial side effect. When I first realized that I had leisure time again, I was a bit out of practice and couldn’t come up with something to do with all that free time. The worst part was that I had to decide which of the many games available I should play. I have a large Steam library, and about a dozen MMOs I could choose from. But having a somewhat strict monthly limit, I realized I couldn’t really afford to update lots of games, let alone download new ones. So I had a look at which games needed no updating, and picked one of those.

Minstrel back in action!

Minstrel back in action!

Which is just a very roundabout way of saying that I spent some time in LotRO again for the first time in… maybe a year or two? I dusted off my Minstrel, and got going.

I’m actually surprised how little data MMOs (or at least LotRO) exchange with their servers. It seems as if the other background traffic of a mail program, browsers, etc. uses more volume than the game does, to the point where I can easily stay below 200-300MB a night.

LotRO is nice for some other reasons. It is a very relaxed game. At least the way I play it, I spend a lot of time just traveling through the world (which is still one of the best in any MMO I’ve seen), with some laid-back tab-target fighting without any strict timing requirements (which is important, because I often have about 300ms lag). It’s great! It’s almost like a meditation exercise. Except that this meditation exercise got me upwards of 30 levels, from before Moria into early Rohan. Who can say that about their yoga exercises? All you get from those are slipped discs.

There is one more reason that LotRO works well over the mobile connection. At some point, I did have to update the game because a small content patch had come out. If you ever played the game, you know that their updater is one of the worst in the business, because it’s excruciatingly slow. I’ve now proven by demonstration what I always suspected, that your line speed indeed has little influence on the time it takes to update: it works almost as fast over a somewhat slow mobile connection as it worked over my 3MB/s+ DSL. So relatively speaking, it’s going faster! (Well, in Bizarro world, which I like to visit every now and then when I come up with weird comparisons, thanks for asking!)

So even though Sid Meier supposedly said that good games are a series of interesting decisions, sometimes a game can be good even if (or maybe because) its decisions are very low-key and, at face value uninteresting.

Maybe in another 10 levels, I’ll have recovered from my decision paralysis enough to order that wardrobe, after all.

I got a Hat

We gamers are all obsessed with hats, aren’t we? Maybe most of them, the TF2 people. But still, even in MMOs, hats reign supreme in the cosmetic category. Wilhelm loves them. Bhagpuss loves them. And those who went through the horrible grind to get the coveted Bloodsail Admiral’s hat wore it proudly (while they were busy grinding even more afterwards to repair their standing with Booty Bay).

I did some grinding for a very special hat, too. A hat like no other. Bespoke crafting, a one-of-a-kind. Behold.


For those not familiar with the tradition: around here, when someone finishes their PhD, their coworkers build them a hat roughly resembling a mortarboard that is decorated with bits and pieces that lampoon (in good humor) noteworthy events or personality quirks. Sadly, all pictures from the event itself with me and the hat have coworkers and friends on it that are not easily croppable, and I don’t want to put those online without their knowledge. So you get the hat sans me.

Some grinding it was. The last months were a bit intense. In summer, I got a job offer I couldn’t (or didn’t want to) refuse. But they wanted me fast, so I started working there earlier than I had planned. (My plan had been to just slowly start looking around for jobs, then one of the first applications already turned out to be this apparently great fit.) Too early to defend beforehand, which made for some packed months. Get up, go to work, get back, study, go to bed. On the weekends, drive back to the old place, 3 hours each direction, to finish the preparations for the event.

Now I just need to print the final versions and send them to the respective libraries. Oh right, and move out of this company-arranged temporary one-room apartment and get my stuff from my old place into a new, real one. Lots of packing and unpacking in the near future. But around Christmas, I might actually have time to play games again. And maybe I’ll even have Internet in the new place by then… if I’m lucky.

Maybe then I’ll even find time to write again, and have ideas what to write about. To be honest, my writing here has been extremely spotty the last… 18 months or so. So I’m not holding my breath. But I’m also not willing to give up quite yet.


I may start with trying to fix the fancy live-updating blogroll to the right, which seems to have broken some time ago…

Another Summer (Sale) Gone

You know, it doesn’t really feel like summer yet around here. I think we had fewer days at above 30°C here than below 15 in the last month… and a lot of clouds. Seriously, summer is only about to start, anyway.

Nevertheless, every year around this time, Steam has its summer sale. I never fully understood why they named it that. I guess the idea is that people buy games for cheap to tide them over the summer when it’s warm outside, and sunny, and you could sit on the porch or balcony reading, or drinking beer and having a barbecue, or going swimming, or any other of these horribly disgusting things. In short: to give them reasons to not leave the house when weather isn’t enough of a reason not to.


When I first got Steam, I spent a lot of money on my first few sales. But after a year or so, I petered out, and I don’t think I purchased anything at all last season. My backlog had increased to the point where it seemed silly to pile more games on top, and I felt like I had genuinely gotten everything on Steam that I wanted. My wishlist ended up containing the same few games that I apparently didn’t want that much, after all: even during sales, I wouldn’t pick them up.

Of course, things would not stay this way forever. New games get released all the time, and eventually, there would be new interesting sales. And the time was this summer, apparently. I held steadfast for the first couple of days. But then, the first game I wanted went on sale.

June 14: Grim Fandango Remastered + Soundtrack, €9.99 @ 50%

Grim Fandango and I have a history. It is one of my all time favorite games, but I lost access to it. I’m certain I owned the CDs at some point, but they got lost, probably during a move. Moves are the worst, there’s always some stuff that gets lost. When I heard that they would release a remastered version, I went back and forth on whether to get that one or find the original version. That topic (original vs. remastered re-release) is probably a blog post in itself… But when it was available at 50% discount, quite shortly after (re-)release, I had my first impulse buy of the summer season.

June 16: Baldur’s Gate 2 Enhanced Edition, €6.79 @ 66%
June 16: Deus Ex, Game of the Year Edition, €1.39 @ 80%

It looks obvious: After I got the first remastered edition of a classic game, I fell prey and got another one right away. The truth is more complicated. Again, I went back and forth. I’ve actually never played Baldur’s Gate, neither of the two. Shocking, I admit. The reason I bought this one is that it was actually cheaper than the original version on GoG. Now I can play Baldur’s Gate… maybe… eventually. This probably wasn’t the best spent money. Though The Deus Ex impulse buy was probably worse: to be honest, I only got it because it was so cheap, which I know is a horrible reason, but I’ll invoke “I’m not good with money” as an excuse. At least I’m not good with money when it’s about wasting small amounts.

June 18: Broken Sword 5: the Serpent’s Curse, €4.59 @ 80%
June 18: Shadowrun: Dragonfall (Director’s Cut), €4.49 @ 70%

Two more games on the pile of “playing vicariously”. Broken Sword is a game series I heard good things about, and I intend to play that one… eventually. Shadowrun is a bit of an embarrassing story. I actually backed the original Shadowrun Returns kickstarter (though just with the minimal amount you needed to get the game). They even delivered, and I played the resulting game… not at all. This makes buying Dragonfall really silly. But I feel like I would like to play the game, I just never get around to it. I think this is precisely how Steam makes money.

June 19: Pillars of Eternity, Champion Edition, €36.84 @ 33%

Now we’re getting into the whaling area. This is by far the most I have spent on a game this year. I heard really, really good things about it. I absolutely intend to play it. I just hope I actually get around to it. Which, by the way, will mean that Baldur’s Gate, a 3-days-old purchase at that point, will definitely have to wait much longer.

June 19: Icewind Dale, Enhanced Edition €6.79 @ 66%

As will Icewind Dale. To be honest, that buy doesn’t make any sense at all. I’m just great with my buying decisions!

June 20: Europa Universalis IV, El Dorado Content Pack, €1.49 @ 75%
June 20: For The Glory, €1.99 @ 80%

June 20: XCOM: Enemy Unknown + The Bureau: XCOM Declassified €6.79 @ 83%

Those first two buys make sense, actually. I love Europa Universalis and have some trust in Paradox Studio. Though I’m not hugely interested in their content packs (which are generally just new models for armies and things like that), I generally put them on my wishlist and buy them when they go on large discount. My reasoning is that I’m not willing to pay the full price, but I am willing to pay a little bit, basically as funding for a company that so far hasn’t disappointed me much. For the Glory follows the same reasoning: it’s an older Paradox game, and it means supporting them with a small amount of money, plus rounding off my Paradox collection, satisfying my collector and completionist drive. The last one though? I have no idea. I would love to be able to claim I was drunk, but all I was drunk on probably was spending and discounts. I liked the XCOM games when they came out in the 90ies, but that’s about all I know about those two new games, which is, let’s face it, as bad as nothing or even worse.

All right, let’s tally up.

Money spent: €81.15
Average discount: 62% (down from €215.89)

Overall, a mixed bag, but I don’t feel like Steam stole my money. That would be a silly notion, anyway, because they didn’t make me spend the money, after all. 3 of 8 (or €48.32 of 81.15) I would’ve definitely gotten sooner or later. A few more were on my shortlist of stuff to pick up at a discount. I stuck to my unofficial rule of “never buy anything on Steam at less than 50% discount”, except for Pillars of Eternity, which I actually really want to try, and which is still quite new, so I figured even a 33% discount was a tolerable option.

Will I play all those games I bought this sale season? Certainly not! But I have hope that at least some of them, I will, potentially even before winter. And in that respect, I can live with that outcome.