Category Archives: EVE Online

We won the war. What now?

[The first part of this post at times slips into a grandiose, over-the-top style following the “big history” lore-spinning that EVE lends itself to. The basic points I’m making are still my opinion, though.]

Goons disappearing from the map. (Click for much better quality)

Goons disappearing from the map. (Click for much better quality)

The day has come. MBC has won the war… at least it has according to my personal definition. Within the almost 2 months that I have been in Pandemic Horde, Goonswarm Federation has been reduced from a big yellow blob to a run-of-the-mill lowsec alliance. OK, I might be exaggerating a bit… They are still the largest alliance in the game, and even if they continued to lose pilots at the rate they are now, they could survive into next year. But I’m happy (and a little smug) that, for once, I was able to (help) achieve a goal in EVE. The “War of sovless aggression” has turned some of the most annoying aggressors in the game into a sovless group, so to speak. Maybe the Mittani can spin that as a “told you so from the beginning, my name was the best” thing. It wouldn’t be less ridiculous than some of his other recent lines. These days, he sounds like a certain information minister more often than not… and that’s by comparison to others, in a game where over-the-top propaganda is a given, and my side wouldn’t exactly win a Pulitzer prize for independent journalism either.

This is a momentous occasion. Goons haven’t been sovless for almost 6 years. The last day Nullsec was as beefree as today was the 25th of July in 2010. The next day, Goonswarm’s conquest of Deklein began (incidentally, with TEST as allies, if I remember correctly… tempora mutantur!), and thus began the Goon reign in the north.

However, we must not be complacent. When the Goons descended onto Deklein, they were by no means an unknown entity. In fact, less than 6 months before, they still had been a powerhouse in the southwest, ruling over all of Querious and Delve, and were only felled by corporate treachery. When on this day we look at a Northwest, freed from Goon influence, we must not forget that our enemy is still dangerous, and only waiting to fight and conquer back. And make no mistake: they are still dangerous enough to defeat most of us, if we do not stand together.

When I look at the current state of the coalition, however, I see entities resetting each other from blue status. I’m not sure whether Horde is hit especially by that, because people don’t like to blue us because of the, admittedly, high spy infiltration rate. But TISHU has reset us, Exodus also attacked some of our sov structures, and Darkness has been constantly switching between blue and gray for the last week or so. The coalition will break apart, there is no question about that. In itself, that is not a big surprise: it was stated by many groups beforehand that banding together would only be a temporary measure. But I’m afraid that MBC will become “everybody against each other” rather than “everybody against each other, but all of us against the Goons”. If push comes to shove, will people that fought each other before and are getting ready to fight each other again bury their differences yet once more? Because if not, we might see a resurgence of Goon sov. Maybe very soon. Maybe only by fall, if they use the typically slower summer months to reorganize. But they will come.

I’m wary that some people have such a fear of stagnancy, of running out of their coveted “gudfite” opportunities, that they might be letting down their guard towards the real enemy way too early.

Which brings me to the second part of the post.

My Personal Future

I mentioned in my last post about Horde that I feel like it is not a place for me to stay long-term. This opinion has not changed much. Don’t get me wrong, there are quite a few people there that I like flying with; they have several very entertaining FCs, that’s for sure. But I still feel out-of-place there more often than I’d like to. To get a better idea of why that might be, I tried to pin down what I enjoyed doing in the game recently, and what I didn’t, and how that aligns with my perception of the “corporate culture” of Horde. As a neat side effect, I can come back to this post at a later point and see how my attitudes might have changed. So this is nice for my personal future reference, too.

I prefer winning without fighting over fighting without winning.
This might be the biggest point, so let’s get it out of the way immediately.
Exhibit 1: I interrupted writing this post to answer a ping on IRC about a Goon fleet coming into our systems. Within 5 minutes, we had about 60 people in Caracals and Ospreys ready and jumping to greet the Goons. When they realized our numbers and intentions, they turned around and went back to wherever they came from. People seemed to be sad to have missed out of a fight opportunity (though others pointed out they would have been foolish to fight our superior numbers). I, on the other hand, found it a rousing success: we had defended our sov, and we didn’t even need to fight them for that. Our sheer presence made them turn around. How’s that for force projection? Some mentioned how our kitchen-sink standing fleet had been obliterated in our home system earlier that day by White Legion. Others answered “yeah, that went pretty bad, but at least White Legion comes to fight us!”. I was secretly happy I hadn’t been there.
Exhibit 2: My killboard is woefully empty (if you ignore a ton of in-corp kills on the 21st, when we had an event to “liquidate” assets in our old staging system in Querious). That doesn’t mean I haven’t been on fleets. However, almost all of my recent fleets were flown as Entosis ship, sitting on nodes and watching timers go down and percentages up. It’s not a very popular role, because you’re stuck in place and don’t get to shoot other people much. I loved it, though. With every nodes I entosised, we would get closer to prying another system from Goons. Watching the timerboard, I could see the tug-of-war going back and forth (forth, for the most part). It definitely isn’t the most exciting role, but it felt like a very useful one, and that’s what counted to me.

I like caring for the corp, the alliance, and the sov.
There is another reason I liked to fly Entosis: it makes sure our blob stays on the map. It’s one of the few things I feel I can do for Horde. I’d love to help out with logistics (of the transporting and producing kind, not the healing one), but the core of directors seems to have that pretty well organized already. I’ve tried importing and selling some stuff, but it’s a risky business: if you manage to sell, you can do so at a nice premium, but you always run the risk of not finding buyers, or somebody swooping in and undercutting you to the point where you barely break even. I tried to offer my industry slots for producing newbean ships, but again, there doesn’t seem to be much interest in that: the directors are a well-oiled machinery (and they need to be with the number of people in corp, and, granted, they are doing a brilliant job). I think Horde is simply too large for a single person to do appreciable amounts of work for the corp. I’d help importing wares, and while I almost have the skills ready to pilot a jump freighter, and do so effectively, I am nowhere near the point of being able to afford one. Which brings me to the next point:

I really, really need to finally find a way to make decent money.
It’s frankly embarrassing. My character is sitting at close to 100 million skill points by now (that’s another post that will write itself), but my highest liquid ISK amount was slightly above 3 billion ISK, which was in early April. The war hasn’t been kind to my wallet: I’m now sitting at about 1.6 billion ISK. To be fair, not all of that is due to war losses. I was very excited when I read about the WAFFLES 10-year-birthday roam, and lost more than half a billion when that went not quite as planned. RIP Machariel… I would’ve loved to keep you for longer than a day. I also lost more than 100 million when I bought a module in a hurry that should’ve only cost some 100 thousand ISK. On the other hand, I’ve been very frugal: if FCs handed out free Logistics, I’d fly those. I even skipped a few fleets, just recently a Harbinger fleet I was very interested in, to keep spendings low.
Ratting anomalies in Nullsec is, in theory, quite profitable, and I made about 100-150 million ISK that way (income minus cost of the VNI). But since we’re in a war zone, this is in practice either very cumbersome or quite risky: if you stop ratting as soon as enemies are in the system, you barely get to rat at all. If you keep ratting, you run the risk of getting blown up. Once I lingered around because I was curious about what the attacker was flying and only made it out by the skin of my teeth.
There are so many ships I would like to fly, and that I could fly, and actually fly well (skillpoint-wise), but can’t afford to lose, or sometimes even buy in the first place. My poorness is one of the main things holding me back.

Plus, vindicators look sexy.

Plus, Vindicators look sexy.

So I’m currently thinking of dropping out of Horde some time this week and doing incursions. I’ve never done them, but I heard there’s serious money in them. They’re supposed to be a bit like raiding in other games, and I at least used to be pretty decent at raiding, so we’ll see how I’ll fare in EVE. Besides, by sheer coincidence, I have one of the more popular Incursion ships lying around. I won a Vindicator from Somer Blink back when that was still a thing. (And I hadn’t even played with them for at least a year before they went belly-up… yes, the Vindi’s been sitting in Jita for that long). When I got it, those things were worth more than a billion ISK. I learned the hard way that this was the high-water mark. I tried to sell it, and it wouldn’t sell. I refused to cut the price, waiting for it to pick up again. The order timed out. I let it sit in my hangar waiting for the price to pick up again. The price fell and fell. Now it’s worth barely half a billion ISK. At the same time, PLEXes have gone up from about 400 million to 900 million (and more before the whole PLEX wall incident earlier this year). Shows you again how good I am at money-making! But that also means that I only need to invest maybe 300 million ISK in a TVP-certified incursion fit to start out. That sounds manageable, and my hope is that I’ll rake in hundreds of millions of ISK within a week or two. If this works out, I probably should make sure to accumulate a few billion ISK before I look for further opportunities.

I also read about wormholes, but those things still scare me, and constantly hitting d-scan over and over and over again doesn’t sound like my idea of fun. Plus, it feels like I would need to invest a lot of money upfront to make similar money to incursions, and I would need to find a good wormhole cooperation. Incursions have the advantage that the barrier to join is quite low. Get a ship, join a channel, get going; at least that’s the way I understand it.

Then, when I feel like I have a comfortable buffer of money (and still feel like playing EVE), I might look around for a corporation in a “proper” sov-holding alliance, one that likes to work its space and defend it when people try to invade it. Carebears with scary teeth and claws, in a way. I doubt a “pvp-only” alliance like Horde could keep my interest long-term. But we’ll see.

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.

An Epic Cycle

I currently would really like to write more regularly, but I have a bit of a writer’s block. I can’t think of topics that would lend themselves to posts, and even the “this is what I’m playing” ones aren’t really coming together as I would like them to. So I went through my backlog of half-finished posts and looked for something I could transform into something vaguely interesting. Thus, I present you: my impressions of the EVE Online epic arcs.

The epic arcs are long chains of storyline missions. Each of the four Empire factions (Amarr, Caldari, Gallente, Minmatar) has one. They are level-4 missions, so they’re what constitutes “single player PvE endgame” in EVE. Their stories add some additional insight into how each faction ticks. You also have one or several branch points in each epic arc, which allow you to steer the story as it develops, and sometimes influence the rewards at the end of each arc. Speaking of which, those are quite nice: typically rare items you can sell on the market or use yourself if you’re so inclined, and, at least as important, lots and lots of faction standing. There is also the introductory arc in EVE by the Sisters of Eve, and two pirate faction arcs, and while I’ve also run two out of those three recently, I want to focus on my impressions on the empire arcs here. You need reasonably high standings with either the corresponding empire or the corporation that starts the arc, and you can only run them every 3 months. Anyway, primarily for future reference, I collected some short remarks on each one.

Amarr Empire: Right to Rule

amarrThis was the first epic arc I did, especially since I vaguely remembered doing it once before without too much trouble. It starts with an agent from the Ministry of Internal Order. Along the arc, you are introduced to the way of Amarrian politics. Them being a techno-feudal society, you learn of powerful and less powerful houses, fiefdoms and political intrigue. Of all faction, The Amarr Empire reminds me most of Frank Herbert’s Dune, which can only be a plus. You initially get hired to investigate the disappearance of another investigator, and quickly learn that one house is fast to hire pirates to prey on other houses. The Ministry not being to hot on pirates roaming around sends you after them, naturally, but at the same time sends you to figure out who might have hired the pirates, while making it look like somebody else did, to discredit whoever they in turn might have siphoned money off.

When you finally catch the pirate commander, you have to make your choice: tell the authorities to “extract” information about his contractors from him, or suggest he be executed immediately. Because, you see, he’s actually a capsuleer, too, so the second the blade cuts off his head (or whatever technique they might use in the Amarr Empire), he’ll wake up at another point of the galaxy in a clone. Definitely better than being exposed to advanced interrogation techniques. I figured that sounded like a nice turn of events (plus I had decided to have a peek at the final rewards for each choice). The pirate commander is quite happy with me, and him being such an expert on clones, he manages to procure one of an Amarrian house leader, which we manage to “install” via a well-timed ambush on him, which he “miraculously” survives due to my “valiant” defense at the last second. The Empire is happy, the Sansha pirates are happy, so who’s to complain?

Mechanics-wise, the arc wasn’t very special. Most missions were comparable to standard level 4 missions. The only special part came at the end, when the Sansha pirate choice led me to low-sec. Since it didn’t seem very prudent to go to lowsec in a slow battleship, and since I had a Taranis in a system close to that lowsec pocket, I decided to use that one. That, in retrospect, wasn’t the brightest idea, because it took me a long time to kill the ship in the final lowsec mission, mostly because the guy liked to neut me. So I ended up pulsing my guns whenever I had capacitor; I had to overload them in the end to break his tank. Next time I will bring an assault frigate instead.

Gallente Federation: Syndication

gallenteIf the Amarr Empire is basically Frank Herbert’s Dune, then the Gallente Federation is western dystopia. Over the course of this arc, you will meet actors who got their first set of plastic surgeries at 14 to better appeal to the pre-teen girl audience, child sweatshops and brothels (and at least hints at child brothels) which recruit their workforce from Amarrian slave traders or impoverished parents, and a lot of “Freedom!”-thumping over mass media to gloss over that. You get recruited for a holoreel (EVE’s version of 3D movies, I presume) company to escort their teen star (the aforementioned “improved” one), which promptly goes sour and ends in an abduction. Your job is to find out who captured the boy. Preferably also why, but in the end, like in a film noir, it often turns out it’s better not to know, or at least not to say.

I liked this epic arc because of all factions, the Gallente Federation is often portrayed as maybe the most relatable to us. The epic arc spotlights the extreme sides of their world view, and the ugly, dark corners that come with it. It was also relatively easy for me to follow the story, a point that will come up again in a bit.

This arc is definitely the most brutal in pure damage output (fitting for the Gallente, who seem to have the nastiest weapons of all factions… if you manage to apply their on-paper damage…). There were two missions in which I had to warp out because my Raven could not tank the damage. And while part of that might be because my DPS is somewhat anemic, the tank comprised several Pith C-Type shield hardeners and a shield booster of the same quality. The last mission was bad enough that, even with a micro jump drive, I was barely able to kill one of the extremely nasty Veteran Battleships each time before I had to warp out again to recover; the first round, with everything alive, naturally was the most brutal, and got me low into armor and almost into structure while I waited for the warp alignment to finally finish. Tense seconds.

Minmatar Republic: Wildfire

minmatarThe Minmatar Republic has always been the odd one out for me. I don’t like their preferred weapon system’s concept (projectile weapons? How quaint in a universe that has lasers!), and most of their ships look like garbage. Besides, they have this weird tribal thing going, which reminds me of Mad Max. Or at least of what I think Mad Max is about, I never actually watched it… born a few years too late for that.

What is cool about the arc is the focus on Archaelogy. Not so much the in-game skill (though there is a bit of that, too), but in the story. You are sent to recover artifacts, ambushed, sent around to recover them again, find out they were broken up and need to be reunited (yay gaming tropes!), and generally try to figure out who is interested in these old items for what reasons. It seems to have something to do with the fact that the Minmatar only broke away from the Amarr empire relatively recently, and now try to find historic proof of their history and culture before their time of enslavement. Well, in the end, it turns out that these specific historic artifacts show that there were Minmatar groups that were pretty happy with the state of affairs under Amarr rule. Whether that was because their feudal ruler was benevolent, or whether they had a bit of Uncle-Tom-ism going… who knows.

Mechanics-wise, this was my least favorite arc. It was probably the easiest of the four, even easier than the Amarr one. All missions are exclusively highsec, and most felt somewhat repetitive. On top of that, you have to be very carefuly not to collect ugly standing hits with the Amarr while doing this arc. I resorted to eve-survival to check whether there were specific ships that I could skip killing in the missions to keep the standing loss manageable. The arc’s only saving grace is that the choice in the final mission felt “more right” than any other one in all the arcs. The artifacts belong in a museum, after all!

Caldari State: Penumbra

caldariThis was the last arc I completed, and for some time, I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to do it at all. I had cheated and looked up some information about it, and it seemed like it could be very annoying. I’m glad I decided to do it: it was worth it.

First the by now obligatory background: the Caldari State is for the most part run by a number of powerful megacorps which form uneasy alliances against each other. There’s lots of scheming, intrigue, and infighting. Cyberpunk in space, basically. Story-wise, this arc is probably the deepest, or the most convoluted, whichever way you want to look at it. You have several chances to betray you employer and switch allegiances, and the way through the arc and the missions you get offered depend on these choices. I wish I could say more about the story, but I’ll admit that I got lost halfway through. There was at least one too many ruptures in the storytelling; add to that the fact that EVE often isn’t doing a very good job of telling stories through their missions. I often feel like half the story is missing, and wonder whether there is some secret extra mission text that I don’t know about that makes everything clearer.

Anyway, you are a mercenary for… some corp, doing… something. Or maybe the other thing. Well, it involves blowing up spaceships, which I’m all for, as long as it isn’t mine. And thankfully it wasn’t.

Where the Caldari arc really shines is when it comes to its mission. No other arc has such a large number of different mission types. Sure, it has its fair share of typical level-4 missions: lots of battleships and smaller coming at you. Whip out your battleship and kill them all in a slow, drawn-out battle. But there are also hauling missions (transport bulk cargo from A to B), courier missions (get a small item from A to B, where either A or B is typically in dangerous space), exploration missions (scan down an anomaly and hack into the found structure), and the infamous final mission, “Across the Line”. You can have detours into low-sec and even null-sec, if you’re inclined to.  I think I used about half a dozen different ships and fits (not counting the standard “adapt your tanking modules to the expected damage” shuffling) on this arc. I really loved that, because it meant the arc had some well-deserved variety, especially if you compare it to the other arcs. I ended up using interceptors, industrial haulers, and covert ops frigates in addition to my trusty Raven.

One more thing…

One more word about “Across the Line”. The mission is known to have the strongest jamming you’ll see in any mission. Ridiculously high, at that. High enough that typically, you cannot target anything at all, and will just throw your hands up in disgust.You’ll have worked through the long, long epic arc, only to be kept from your juicy rewards by the final mission. Probably some of the pathological ECM haters (“nerf ECM in PvP! Nerf it TO THE GROUND BABY!”, to borrow a phrase from WoW) were born in this mission.

Now here’s the thing: I like ECM. I really enjoyed flying blackbirds back in the day as Uni newbie. It’s a terrific force multiplier. So I decided I wanted to show all those whiners that there’s nothing bad about it if you prepare well:

[Raven, caldari epic anti-jam]

Ballistic Control System II
Ballistic Control System II
Ballistic Control System II
Drone Damage Amplifier II
Gravimetric Backup Array II

ECCM – Gravimetric II
ECCM – Gravimetric II
ECCM – Gravimetric II
Pith C-Type Kinetic Deflection Field
Pith C-Type Thermic Dissipation Field
Sensor Booster II, Targeting Range Script
Large Micro Jump Drive

‘Arbalest’ Cruise Launcher I, Scourge Cruise Missile
‘Arbalest’ Cruise Launcher I, Scourge Cruise Missile
‘Arbalest’ Cruise Launcher I, Scourge Cruise Missile
‘Arbalest’ Cruise Launcher I, Scourge Cruise Missile
‘Arbalest’ Cruise Launcher I, Scourge Cruise Missile
‘Arbalest’ Cruise Launcher I, Scourge Cruise Missile
Drone Link Augmentor II

Large Warhead Rigor Catalyst I
Large Warhead Rigor Catalyst I
Large Warhead Flare Catalyst I

Yes, ladies and gents, that is a very non-blingy raven with the ridiculous sensor strength of 167. To put that into relation, without those ECCMs and Backup Arrays, the Raven’s sensor strength is 26.4. And since, generally speaking, those sensor strength modules are utter crap, you can get them on the market for practically nothing (less than 1 million ISK per pop).

Now, the thing is… people weren’t joking about the ridiculous jamming power of those Nugoeihuvu Elite Cruisers. I still got jammed. Which really surprised me, because, seriously? But they only managed to successfully jam me twice. Which gave me more than enough time to target those jamming monsters between jam cycles and rip them to shreds. After which I went back to the station, replaced the ECCMs with something more sensible, and went medieval on those battleships. Done. If you ever think of running the Caldari Epic arc, don’t be afraid of choosing the Hyasyoda path. Gimmick-fit your ship, be happy, and never whine about ECM again.

Out with the Tuskers

Seems like I fell of the blog train again. After my last post, I played TSW for some more time, doing the Nightmare grind without feeling too ground out. It was fun, and I plan to get back to it eventually.

But  I got distracted around the time the EVE Alliance tournament started. (Which I wanted to cover in a blog post, but alas…) So for the time being, I’m back into EVE. My pet project at the moment is doing all the epic faction arcs for standing, and because I’ve never done them. But for the second time, I’ve now been on a roam with the Tuskers.

I ended up with the idea because I watched the tournament and felt the EVE itch come back. When I logged back into the game, I was lucky enough that I still had a semi-private chat channel open that a bunch of people formed when they left the uni (EVE university). Among those people were several who flew in the tournament. That was really nice, because a few of them discussed their fights in there. Great way to get back into a game that otherwise probably would’ve bored me to death again. Anyway, one of those people was Malfyrion, now a member of the Tuskers, who had already graduated from the uni by the time I joined, and mostly played cat and mouse with unistas from a small pirate corp. He probably remembered me a lot less than I remembered him. Talking to him made me look up the Tuskers’ public channel, and I realized they did public roams every now and then. I was intrigued, though due to the tournament, public roams had been suspended for the time being.

Two weeks ago, the first public roam was scheduled after the summer break. Since I couldn’t fly HICs, I brought a Raptor, for a long time a much-derided ship that back in the day, I bought a stack of to try intercepting with (something another ex-Unista I am proud to have flown with, Guillome Renard, encouraged me to try out). With the last patch’s changes, the Raptor isn’t actually such a bad ship any more. What I had totally forgotten was that inties are not only supposed to tackle, but also to scout ahead. Oops. So I got an assignment to go to a system, and promptly went the wrong way because my autopilot settings were not set to “prefer less secure space”. Oops again. Thankfully, I could hide that embarrassing fact from our FC, or maybe he was just nice enough to overlook my blunder. When I finally arrived at the designated system, I indeed found an appropriate group of frigates on d-scan. Now to figure out where in space they were… That again took ages, or at least it felt like it to me. Then I was happy to announce “four Kestrels, a Keres, …” until it was quickly pointed out that this wasn’t very helpful and I should paste the results into Dingo. Oops the third… At least I had figured out their composition and that they were in a small FW plex. The group looked nice, and the rest of the fleet came in. (Yay, I had been useful!) The following fight didn’t go as planned though, and there were many sad faces around.

The ISK loss tells the story...

The ISK loss tells the story…

The roam was called shortly thereafter after some unlucky encounter of another gang. Well, you win some, you lose some. Or in my case, you lose some, and you haven’t won any yet. Plus, I felt a bit self-conscious about my scouting.

But one thing that I learned in EVE is that you should never stop when you are discouraged, because that will poison your outlook on the game. So I started doing the epic arcs (see above) as PvE while waiting for the next public roam.

This happened this last weekend,and this time, I decided to got about it in a different way. I couldn’t fly the advertised DPS ship (Sacrilege), and while I was able to fly the potential replacements (Ishtar, Deimos), I realized that the Celestis was on the list. Since my sensor damp skills are actually quite nice, I thought that this would be a good choice. No flying on your own doing scouting. Stay with the group, stay at range, stay safe, let your decisions be made by someone else. This worked very well, and I enjoyed myself quite a bit. It probably helped the the results were much better than last time, too. SCUM. gave us a good fight (it looks very lopsided in the battle report because they didn’t manage to kill any of our ships, so their ships that escaped do not show up at all.)



I managed to damp their logistics, use one of my damps to whore some more killmails, smartbomb some drones that were put on me, and stay alive thanks to our great logistics. My fear that support ships would be the prime target and early to die didn’t turn out to be true. Well, at least not the die part… I brought the ship back in one piece at the end of the roam. We tried to find some more targets, but most of what we saw was unengageable for us (I heard Tuskers like to take fights against superior numbers, but there’s a line between brave and foolhardy.) We managed to evade a blackops gang, and found an EVE uni group which evaded us. Except for three stragglers, who managed to warp right into us at a gate, one by one. That’s how they learn!

Space is a harsh mistress.

Space is a harsh mistress.

I will probably have an eye on those public roams from now on. They’re great fun, and only happen every now and then, so I can easily accommodate for them between other important things… like getting my security status up again. Low-sec PVP is bad for that…

Only Paying Bodies Count

This post started as a reply to a post by Azuriel, but got out of hand quickly. So I made a blog post out of it. Since it’s a reply though, you won’t be able to understand much unless you go and read Azuriel’s post, which is a followup on Wilhelm’s post, which in turn looked at a report by SuperData Research. Go and read the two blog posts (they’re worth it) if you haven’t already done so, I’ll wait.

Now, I think Azuriel makes one mistake. The report mentions a data set of  36.9 million users, but it doesn’t say anywhere that all these users actually played a subscription MMO, let alone pay for any subscription in that time. I don’t think there is a direct relation between market share and those user numbers. What counts is the money. Look at the revenues, and you can try and “guess backwards” to figure out the number of users.

Now, I have to warn you: there is very little data available on exact subscription numbers and how they contribute to revenue. So at many points, I had to try and guess what I considered reasonable. It’s not quite as bad as a Fermi estimation, but the numbers have to be taken with a grain of salt.


An example: what is the average monthly spending for a WoW user? Last I checked, the US subscription rate was $15. Some players will pay more, some will pay less. That’s due to currency conversion rates, long-term subscriptions, or buying a sparkle pony. (The fine print seems to say that item shop revenue is included.)

If you now take WoW’s $1.041 billion, and divide that by $15, you end up with 5.78 million users on average over the year. That’s too low on users. Conversely, if you take the 7.6 million users that Azuriel mentions, you end up at an average of $11.41 per user per month. That’s too low on per-user revenue.

Or maybe it isn’t. There was probably a bunch of people on the Diablo III annual pass for a good chunk of the year, which they had paid for in 2012. I have no numbers on how many of those passes were sold, but I remember huge invite waves for the Mist of Pandaria beta (which was part of the annual pass package). So let’s just say 1 million users did not pay at all for their WoW subscription in 2013. That’s handwavey, because probably, most users who were interested into the annual pass probably bought it early on, and the annual pass was released in October 2012 (if I remember correctly). But that means even those people didn’t pay for subscriptions for 10 months during that year, so close enough.

That leaves 6.6 million paying customers. Which means $13.14 per user per month. Now we’re getting close. A 3-month subscription is $13.99 per month. Some will have 1-month subscriptions and pay more, some will have 6-month subscriptions and pay less. There will be some revenue from the item shop, but I can’t imagine that the big revenue generator for WoW. So this sounds reasonable.

edit: I was an idiot and off by a year on the annual pass thing. MoP was released in 2012, so handing out an annual pass in late 2012 with the prospect of a beta invite isn’t such a good deal if the expansion is already released… let’s look at the Chinese/Western split instead.

Or maybe it isn’t. WoW, more so than many other Western games, has a strong foothold in China. Or at least it used to have. The number thrown around is typically 50% of the players being in China. I tried to find numbers for that, but I couldn’t really, which is a bit disappointing. What we do know is that the Chinese market has fared considerably worse than the Western recently. There are two articles in Forbes from 2013 that Chinese players have been leaving in droves to other games. That’s good news for Blizzard, because the market isn’t nearly as profitable. Let’s just assume that, of the 7.6 million players, 5 million at this point are from the West and pay the monthly subscription. At an average price of $14/month, that provides a revenue of $840 million. Still $200 million short.

That leaves us with 2.6 million players from China. In China, players pay by the hour in the form of prepurchased game time cards. By poking around on the Chinese website, I found out that the often-quoted price of ¥0.45 per hour is still the current rate. Taking the average conversion rate for 2013, that translates to about $0.073. To produce a revenue of $200 million from 2.6 million players, they would therefore have to have played a total of 2.7 billion hours, or just shy of 3 hours per player per day. That lines up almost perfectly with the values from Nick Yee’s study. However, we have to be careful here, because those numbers are from a different point in time, on a different audience (Western vs. Chinese), and may suffer from selection bias. If I had to guess, I feel like 3 hours/day is a bit on the high side. Then again, there are revenue paths that I didn’t touch (server transfer fees, sparkle pony sales), which might make up for the difference.

EVE Online

A second example. Let’s look at EVE, whose user numbers looked way off by Azuriel’s estimation method. Their subscription is similarly priced, with longer subscriptions being cheaper than WoW’s. Then again, EVE gouges European customers more so than WoW does; in 2013, a Euro was valued, on average, at about $1.30; so EVE cost a whopping $19.50 per month on a 1-month recurring subscription, and still $14.30 at the yearly rate.

In addition, EVE’s subscriptions are supposedly funded indirectly for a significant part of the user base: older and richer characters with lots of income prefer to buy PLEX, which newer and poorer users buy sell for in-game money. However, PLEX comes at a premium: two month subscription worth of PLEX come at between $35 and $46 (=35€), so that’s between $17.50 and $23 per month.

Let’s make a really rough guess and assume that, on average, a direct subscription earns CCP $16 a month, while a PLEX subscription adds $20 to their coffers. For the next step, we’d need to know what fraction of accounts are paid by either option. I don’t think there’s any such information available. Sure, you can look at the amount of PLEX traded each day in Jita, but there are probably rich players playing the PLEX market, so not each sale will end up in 30 days of game time. Probably not by far. Besides, I don’t have historic trading volume values for 2013. However, these days, about 2500–3000 PLEX are traded in JITA each day, sometimes more. So that gives us something of an upper limit. (Station traders inflate the volume; however, back then it wasn’t unheard of to buy PLEX to fund your own subscription, because you could get in-game kickbacks from licensed PLEX-selling sites; those PLEX never showed up in the trading statistics.) Let’s say 60 000 accounts are paid by PLEX every month. That means about $15 million in revenue through PLEX.

That’s still not even close to the $93 million, of course. I was surprised myself how little of the market seems to be covered by PLEX. It certainly ties in with the claim of the “silent majority” that just flies in space for some missions and doesn’t have time or interest in making enough money to fund their game via PLEX. To cover the remaining $78 million, you’d need another 400 000 users by that calculation.

That gives us a total of 460 000 accounts, and that’s actually pretty close: in February 2013, CCP announced that they broke the 500 000-subscriber barrier. Who knows for how long they kept above the watermark; if the number of concurrent users is any sign, then probably not for long. (You can check those at Chribba’s EVE Offline.) But they probably didn’t plummet completely, either.

[EVE] Unintended Consequences and Unfortunate Timing

So, CCP rolled out Rubicon 1.3 for EVE Online this week. In totally unrelated news, the New Eden Open tournament is two weekends in. The finals will be this weekend. How do these two relate after all? Let me quote CCP Fozzie:

Currently there is a defect that causes the Crucifier to apply a 10% bonus per level to Tracking Disruptor optimal range and falloff disruption, rather than the correct 7.5% per level. This only affects the range disruption effects, not the tracking disruption.

There is also a defect that causes tracking disruptor scripts to not affect the falloff disruption values of Tracking Disruptor modules. This means that a Tracking Disruptor will always reduce target falloff by the same amount no matter what script is loaded.

The fix for these bugs will not be ready to apply to TQ until Monday […].

I’m not deep enough in the know to judge whether that’s a big thing or not, but it sounds like one. For a highly-trained character (and I assume that’s what all tournament pilots are), the Crucifier temporarily boasts a 50% bonus instead of 37.5%, or 6km additional optimal range, and 3km falloff. That sounds like quite a bit, and can potentially change the power of certain group compositions that the finalists might have planned to bring.

I know CCP likes to handwave problems as “unintended consequences”, to the point where by now that phrase has become their version of Blizzard’s “working as intended”. But instead of dropping a major upgrade in the middle of tournament that thousands of people follow on live-streaming, wouldn’t it have made sense to delay it for a couple of days?