Decline

Our corp has moved, from the deep south, right back to the deep north. Our tenure in the drone regions, though, had enlightened us all to the wonderful logistic possibilities of wormholes. Thus it was that I found myself, on an out of corp alt, in Amarr. With 88 in local. Sorry, what? I thought.

Out of curiosity, I logged my Jita trade alt in. 756 in local. Good grief.

Yes, the decline is real. We had thought as much, most of us. My previous posts outlined the data, but reality painted a picture no more rosy than the bar charts revealed. Then, I read a missive from Sion Kumitomo this morning. It’s a biggie, but the curious may find it here.

Now, one must take that post with a few spoons of salt, due to the obvious jabs being sent in CCP’s direction by those who resent losing an empire. However, I had to agree with a lot of it. The saddest part is the knowledge that, just as I previously posted, CCP has set its heart on VR as the next big thing. One of our members splashed out the spendies for a VR setup recently. He played it for a while, and was pretty impressed with the level of immersion. Then, he got back on Eve with us, to rat and chat.

Could it really be that CCP doesn’t understand the value of its own product? Do they honestly still not see the potential this game has? It’s sad, and that’s the truth. It’s all about the people, the sense of property, the sense of belonging, and the sense of achievement, that made Eve such a hard thing to walk away from.

Still, they couldn’t see the wood for the trees. Thousands upon thousands of written words from people who cared passionately about their universe had no impact at all upon the ten inches of bone that underlies the foreheads of the Vikings. They clung desperately to the darkness that repelled so many. They shoved aside their own statistics that showed 50% trial losses within the first 2 hours. Stolidly they ignored the pleas from the very council they set up to ostensibly listen to.

They wasted millions of dollars on one fruitless side venture after another, only to then wander off towards the seductive call of the VR psirens.

It may well be too late, now. Layoffs, office closures, staff cuts, budget cuts, and a PCU that screams, ‘last one out turn the lights off’. What a senseless waste of such a work of art.

Still, I’ll play until they switch the servers off, as will many others. We’ve ended up back up in Branch, where we were before, right down to the same constellation. Our role sees us looking after indices, manufacturing, and shooting anybody who wanders by. The core group of players who made 30Plus the best 2 years of my Eve life are nearly all there, and the laughter and madness flows freely every day.

Comms is a riot, once again. But, if I’m to be honest, Eve is now just one of a few games we mess around in. There’s always a group in New Eden at any given moment, but I remember a time when we were all there, all the time. No, it’s not what it used to be, not at all. Then again, nowhere in Eve is what it used to be.

It’s emptier, less dangerous. The neuts still wander through, but there’s less of them, and they are much more cautious than they used to be. Sadly, this drops the enthusiasm level somewhat. We moved out of the drone regions because, seriously, there was nobody there. We got camped for a few days once, but he left when we made it plain we didn’t care if he was there or not. Other than that, there was nobody at all. We thought the move to Branch might see more ship related violence, and perhaps even a new war with our old lords and masters. Sadly, it would seem Goonswarm are headed elsewhere, according to some, at least.

So, we are collecting more of the old gang together as the days pass, but I personally wonder whether this is an Eve corp, or a gaming group. It’s certainly an unusual corp, that’s for sure. Trying to explain to our new alliance’s leaders that I was CEO simply because a) somebody had to be, and b) I was the one who hated the idea the least, was interesting, to say the least. No rules, per se, outside of the requirements of the alliance, of course. Common sense, a community held respect for one another and our alliance-mates, and a family-friendly atmosphere; that’s it.

It’s interesting, really. With no requirements to participate, one would expect everyone to do whatever the hell they want, but no. The guys have all consulted the ADM map, and set out to push the military to 5 in every system in our constellation. Once they’ve done that, then industry will get a shove, along with PI and so on. Plus, our first day back in Branch saw us all on a gate and taking part in a little pop the interceptor.

This is the way I remember it, too. People joined in on the home defense simply because everyone else was doing it. No need to push anyone at all. All in all, it should be a fun time ahead.

Unless the Vikings stuff the game completely, that is.

Advertisements

A Disturbing Question Arises

Our TS3 channel is not the sanest of places at any time. Topics range from one end of the spectrum to the other, most of it inane, but also hilarious.

However, yesterday one of our most esteemed members asked a question which brought our usual light-hearted banter to a resounding stop. The question was this:

“So, what MMO are we going to when this one finishes?”

Now, ordinarily we laugh at anyone rolling out the ‘Eve is dying’ mantra, which is as old as the game itself. The problem was, this member is no idiot, and he was serious. Two statistics had caught this persons attention, which, in his experience as a businessman of no small standing, spell unavoidable collapse for CCP.

The first was the number of people logging in, which, if you go here and select the 5 year chart, does show a wee bit of a downward trend. However, figures can be made to show all sorts of things, and that wasn’t the point that really got us thinking. The second thing was that peak logged in players have dropped from 60k to 30k over the last 2 years. His opinion was that, if a business he was dealing with showed a 50% drop in customer interest in 2 years, it was time to put a new resume together.

It’s one of the oldest mantras in business; grow or die. Added to this are the rate at which new characters are being created (new business) and player retention rates (repeat customers). New character creation (down the page on Eve Offline) shows a corresponding downward trend. Then there’s the figures that CCP released a couple of years ago, which showed player retention rates. I can’t find the chart, but the figures are etched into my memory; within (I think) six months, 50% of new players leave, 40% stay in high-sec, and 10% go to wormholes/low-sec/null-sec.

None of the above is good, is it? The bright side for us, as I pointed out to our worried member, is that MMOs tend to wither on the vine very slowly, so we may have many years left before the servers go dark for good.

It’s worth a ponder though, as to how a product so unique, so unusually hard to put down, and so open-ended, could possibly be so small a niche game after all this time. How do CCP management still consider themselves as even competent enough to shine shoes for a living?

When you consider their stock reaction to any form of criticism – ‘go to the forums and post your complaint, you’ll find plenty of other players eager to work this out with you’ (no, that’s not a quote, so you can’t ban me, I’ve never petitioned CCP’s innate retardation-level management policies myself, I have a blog, so bite me) – it’s easy to see the crux of the problem.

CCP themselves are completely, and blissfully, unaware of the reality of their situation. To ask complainants to visit the forums is nothing short of a troll, as they know damn well anyone complaining about anything on that turgid sewer of inanity is going to be on the receiving end of a trolling that is quite likely to see them leave the game. Hardly the course of wisdom when you’re already bleeding customers at an impressively hemorrhagic rate.

One has to conclude that they simply don’t care. Why not? Betting on VR? Risky business, that. For a small company to bet on a percentage of the next big thing, they either need a mind-blowing product (nope), or a backbone product to supply the cash they need until the big bet pays out. And that backbone product would be Eve, which makes the logic a wee bit circular, doesn’t it? I do hope any financier looking to help CCP’s push into VR has a good, hard look at the performance figures for Eve. With their glasses on. And preferably while they’re sober.

In fact, one only has to return to Occam’s razor to discern the reality of the situation. CCP are, collectively, dumbasses. That’s it, in my humble opinion.

I mean, think about it. Here is a company who openly encourages people to remove others from their customer base. They have mechanics which put the griefer in a win-win situation in almost every aspect of their universe. Then, when victims complain to them, they actually send them to the forums for their resident trolls to finish the job.

The problem is, most of those complainants are not unreasonable in their griping. High-sec war-dec mechanics are so broken it’s hilarious, bumping mechanics ditto, laughable bounty and aggression mechanics, undock camping, cloaky camping, gate guns in low-sec, nullified and armed interceptors, OP T3 destroyers, botting-friendly PVE ships, giggle-worthy sovereignty mechanics, and I forget how many other problems that are so stupid its breathtaking.

Not only this, but CCP has been told about all of these issues for years.

So, even the most loyal of customers, still in love with the Eve universe, are slowly driven away by the company’s obvious disdain for any part of their customer base bar griefers.Where will this lead?

I shall close with a quote from a very ancient source:

YOU REAP WHAT YOU SOW.

The Wrong Question

So, CCP are set to remove the daily opportunity system with the next patch. While the system worked in one way; more PVP kills generated, it failed in its main purpose. This was to entice more players to log in.

The whole debacle is centered around a question; how do we force them to log in? That, CCP, is the wrong question. In fact, it is so hilariously stupid a question, one wonders just how brainless this company really is.

Let’s just take a step back, and have a quick reality check. First, what is the definition of a game? According to the Oxford dictionary, after the first definition which covers competitive sport, the definition is, and I quote, “An activity that one engages in for amusement: a computer game“. There you go, CCP; that wasn’t too hard, was it? Amusement. That’s why nearly all your customers play your game; to enjoy their leisure time in a way that suits THEM.

So, to follow a simple logic chain: Eve is a game, which, therefore needs to offer amusement to prospective customers. Said amusement must appeal to those you wish to log in. For years, PVE players have been enticed by the ability to do what amuses them, even though Eve’s PVE is, for want of a better word, terrible. PVP players have been enticed by the opportunity to gank said PVE players. It is to defy those few that entire communities grew up around a raised middle finger.

Now, a quick refocus here. Most Eve PVP players will tell you its all about the good fights, and for some, mostly those in low sec, that is true. But, by far the majority of the minority who PVP in Eve, its all about being a jerk to someone else, and ruining their day by killing them with overwhelming force, under conditions that mean the target has no chance to fight back.

Naturally, this environment requires that the targets, the PVE players, are, you know, logged in. Here is where the problems really begin. CCP’s stubborn refusal to acknowledge the needs of their PVE customer base has led to a steadily increasing exodus of potential targets for those who would be dicks; the minority who are the focus of CCP’s myopic vision. FozzieSov removed any stable space available to industrialists, and the skill injectors saw a sharp rise in cloaky camping, with campers now able to field 30 or 40 alts.

But Blastie, some will say, null-sec isn’t supposed to be safe. I agree, and it never was, in my experience. However, even though the gankers were protected by game mechanics every step of the way, this was overcome by player organizations, intel channels, HD fleets and so on. Now, null-sec is set to become a new low-sec with bubbles. This, it would appear, is what CCP want.

Words fail me. Let’s just pull back a bit, and see the bigger picture. Eve is a unique game. A single-shard universe of infinite possibility. No other game comes close in its ability to get adrenaline pumping, create addiction to the levels of serious mental health issues, and even see real-life relationships both created and destroyed over it. It should have a player base in the millions. Yet, it remains a “Niche” game, double talk for something that appeals to a stupidly small amount of people. A game that staggers along with a declining player-base, loss of long-term player interest, and now with ever-more desperate but incredibly misguided attempts to bring in new customers.

Idiocy. That’s what this is down to. All the qualities which are the hallmarks of an incredibly stupid person are manifest with this product. Stubborn refusal to accept the blindingly obvious needs of the majority of customers, arrogance and nepotism at insane levels, and the allowance of RMT activities that see a game become a job to those foolish enough to drink the Kool-Aid.

Well, I can only say this; what goes around comes around. The problem CCP now faces is the increasing amount of competitors products that, while not replacing Eve in its niche role, offer amusement satisfying enough to see many players doing what I and my entire group are doing; playing other games.

We continue to rent 2 systems in null-sec, but only a handful of us actually use them anymore. Nearly all of us are playing a dedicated server of Ark Survival Evolved. It offers much better PVE, awesome graphics and industry content, and, most of all, nobody trying to just be a dick. I have no need to unsub from Eve, though. Plenty of ISK to keep the skills training for a year or so, until it runs out and I make the final decision. But, I’m not logged in. Neither are my friends, who were the only reason I kept logging in. No content for the gankers, sorry.

I have long said that Eve is a game made by griefers for griefers. I have never seen the need to change that view. CCP’s refusal to rein in said griefing has seen an exodus of players to other games. Their pandering to the minority of PVP players is repellent to those who would be their targets. The only good space for the majority outside of high-sec has been destroyed by FozzieSov. I don’t expect to see a change of course at all. CCP are spectacularly stubborn, or just plain stupid, depending on your viewpoint.

Well CCP, you have what you wanted. You continue to foster the minority of mentally unwell people who wish to take their disturbed frustrations out on fellow players and harvest tears.

Oh, yes. What was the right question? The one you never asked? It’s not how do we make them log in. It’s WHY ARE THEY NOT LOGGING IN. You idiots.

Well, what you now have is what you deserve. Best of luck to you.

o7.

Sympathy For The Ignorant

It’s an amazing phenomena, ignorance. And, of all the various facets of this fault, the inability of some to see that others have likes and dislikes, motivations, goals, aspirations and ideas different to their own is the one that captures my fascination the most.

Football fans are mystified when they’re told that someone else doesn’t share their fascination with grown men running up and down a field, trying to get a leather bladder full of air across a white line for some vague reason. Golfers can’t appreciate why some have no desire to wear silly clothes while they try to put a little white ball in a hole in the ground with a metal stick. Car and motorcycle racing fans decry any who aren’t interested in the results of a group of machines going round and round a track, only to be the first person to return to where they started from in the first place.

But it’s not just sports, goodness me no. Foodies gush and enthuse about a small piece of meat that cost $170.00, when it will end up going down the toilet as a turd tomorrow, no matter who cooked it. House renovators, weight reduction and fitness fanatics, music, art, and literature buffs, the list is endless.

And they all share one thing in common; the assumption that everyone would enjoy what they enjoy. Because, hell, who wouldn’t, right?

So, what has this got to do with Eve? Our beloved game is no different. PVP’ers think everyone would love PVP, if they just tried it. I’ve tried it, and I find it mildly entertaining, in very small doses. Most Eve players, though (about 80% roughly), simply have no desire to ruin the day for someone else. They would rather do what amuses them without being a jerk to someone else. Many argue that it’s the thrill of the risk of the loss of their ship, but most of the ones I know get a thrill from inflicting that loss on someone else, in truth.

I have read many times that Eve PVE is boring, and none more so than ratting. But, our guys prefer to rat and chat above all else. Except for the industrialists and miners who prefer those activities. The enjoyment of Eve PVE is, for the reason of ignorance, decried as something no sane person would engage in, so those who do, must do it for the ISK.

Now, I am going to shoot this particular piece of ignorance so full of holes it will resemble one of The Mittani’s fireside chats, by the time I’m finished. Because, dear reader, the members of our corp may not be the sanest people in the world, but none are locked away in the funny farm (yet).

We rent two systems in deep null-sec, but the reason is not to make ISK. For starters, most of us are space-rich enough that we need never rat again, me included. For myself, it was the timely purchase of some alts a few months before skill injectors were introduced. Said alts were subsequently stripped of their SP, and a 15 billion ISK character reaped about 60 billion ISK a few weeks after skill injectors went live. Yoink! Thank you, CCP.

Others in our corp are industrialists, with BPO collections years in the making, while some are just compulsive ratters. A few are even well-off in real life.

Naturally, as we live in null-sec, some losses have occured. That is part of the game, and nobody minds. Really, Eve would be very boring without that ganker minority to keep the danger ever-present. What is most fascinating to me is the impact of those losses, from the viewpoint of those who killed them, as opposed to the viewpoint of those who lost them.

First off, let’s get some perspective. Very few of our members (with the exception of yours truly) PLEX their accounts. I personally guarantee one of our members would take a year off my life if I ever had to guide him through how to use a PLEX to pay for his account. So, what is, let’s say, a 3 billion ISK Golem loss going to cost one of our guys in real terms? Remember, ISK is meaningless. Well, 3 billion ISK equals 3.5 PLEX, which equals $52.50 AUD.

That’s the cost of a decent lunch, for those who use RL dollars. I would never pay $52.50 for a lunch, but most of our guys fly at a different RL altitude to their CEO. Hell, a couple of them are RL CEOs. For those who are wealthy in-game, 3 billion ISK is probably a couple of weeks worth of casual ratting, which they would do anyway, because they enjoy it.

Let’s counterpoint that view with the obvious perspective of those who kill the ships. They crow in local, link the kill-mail, try to troll a reaction, and, occasionally (usually due to the victim’s level of inebriation at the time) get an angry retort. However, I think these guys may not comprehend the difference in viewpoint. Whenever one of our guys loses a ship, the first question asked is whether they need a replacement. Most of our guys who lose ships on anything that resembles a regular basis already have a spare already fitted in the hangar. It never occurs to anyone, it would seem, that the claim of  ‘It’s already replaced’ might actually be true. Because they would never have a spare, nobody else would either, right?

Those who live on ISK are more circumspect, myself included. Though, to be honest, my caution is out of ingrained habit, not necessity. I actually enjoy denying others the PVP. For some reason, it really upsets them to see my kill-board totally bereft of ratting ship losses. What can I say? I’m paranoid.

There’s another angle to this, too. That is the campers. Due to the same skill injector system which burst my wallet at the seams, campers now run literal armies of alts. Naturally, rental areas are prime targets. However, their motivation misfires on us. They like to think we need to rat to pay rent, and that is a huge faux pas on their part. They also think we rent systems to make ISK, but, again, uh-uh. We rent our systems to rat and chat in. If we’re camped, we rat in groups, which we often do, anyway. Some just play something else, like WoT, or WoWS, or Fallout4, or Minecraft, or whatever. The group ratting pays the rent, anyway, because we put the tax to 100% when we do it. Thus, military stays at 5, ADMs remain high, and we sit in TS3 and act the goat regardless.

One recent incident highlighted the difference of viewpoint beautifully. A camper dropped and killed an Eos. He sperged in local, having a good gloat. Two of our Kiwi members got stuck into a verbal ding-dong with this guy, and doubtless gratified his need for tears. However, at the time our two sheep-oriented friends were raging at this guy, they were sitting on a beautiful timber yacht which one of them owns, in the Bay of Islands on the North Island of New Zealand, drinking beers while playing on laptops and watching pods of dolphins swim around them. They’d caught a nice snapper that was on the cook for dinner, which they gloated about (cheeky buggers). They showed us some video of the dolphins, just awesome, there were dozens of the damned things.

For the rest of us, it was amusing as all get out. The poor sod of a camper probably thought he’d ruined the day for these guys, but really, how the hell could he?

Yes, ours is an unusual situation, I agree. But, that’s just us; we’re different. Anyone who can’t appreciate that, or thinks I’m lying, is just ignorant. Which is a pity. The world needs less ignorant people, really.

P.S. I don’t like Snapper anyway, so there Mal, you lucky sod.

The New Ratting Meta

Quick note – New book out, as you can see to your right. Some may enjoy the ride. Once again, HONEST reviews will be greatly appreciated.

Yes, the company that brought you the AFKtar has done it again. In true CCP “Whoops we didn’t mean for that to happen, but it’s PVE and Eve is a PVP game, so we’ll let it ride” fashion, those crazy Vikings have unleashed a new ISK printing machine upon null-sec. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the 58 million ISK bounty tick, 174 million ISK per hour per character ratting machine:

Thanny

The Thanatos

That’s right, those Stratios’ just ain’t gonna cut it anymore, I’m afraid. You want to gank ratters, you gonna need some friends. That’s given most of the current ratting ship gankers a problem, hasn’t it? Ah well, social skills can’t be that hard. Some of their school friends have got some.

With a blingy fit that will set you back a cool 3 billion ISK, this thing will pay for itself after 17 hours use. When I bought mine, I knew something was up as soon as I looked at the hull price.

“1.5 billion ISK?” I asked on comms. “What’s up with the price of Thanatos’ these days?” I think you could hear my bum slam shut from America.

This question netted me the above figures from one of our guys who had just started tinkering with his carrier, as you do. Now, this weapon is no AFK ship, that’s for sure. But, seeing as how one of these can bring in what an AFKtar does in 30% of the time, it’s not a bad trade-off. Add to that the fact that a Thanatos can melt a well-tanked PVP battleship very quickly, can web and point with support fighters and blap frigates, and a Stratios? Hehehe…just no.

It can carry 87 fighters in it’s bay, and fighters don’t exactly melt like normal drones. I have absolutely no idea what these things are like in PVP, but I’d hazard a guess that, with Fax machine support, they’d be fairly nasty.

Why just the Thanatos? Well, because of the 5% per skill level bonus to fighter damage one gets from the Gallente carrier skill. It also has a 2.5% bonus per level to fighter hit-points. The Nidhoggur gets the same fighter damage bonus, plus a 2.5% bonus to fighter velocity, but it has 2 less low slots, which is where the 4 DDAs go. So that means a shield tank, which mid-slots are needed for drone tracking and speed mods. All those Chimeras the Goons used to use? Not so much. The Archon’s a nope as well.

The Thanny, though, can give the 4,000 DPS threshold a nudge. Plus, you can still fit a reasonable tank, not that anyone can stay on the field with this for very long anyhow. And that’s the big difference, you see. Carriers used to be fairly defenseless against most things, but the new fighter mechanics have shaken that up. Add in the ability to use drone damage mods to boost fighter stats, and a carrier becomes a head-scratch for any small gang to kill.

What does this mean for the future? It’s hard to say. I guess roaming gangs will get bigger, loss-mails will become funnier (let’s face it, Thannys are going to die in good numbers once everyone gets on the bandwagon but has no clue how to use them), and cloaky campers will get to watch more YouTube while they wait for something they CAN kill.

I guess the big question is, will CCP do anything to alter this situation? Well, the AFKtar still works as intended, although the odd capital NPC sure does make a mess of one. That means that for all the years the AFKtar has been king of the ratting hill, CCP has done nothing to stop it. Only as a side effect of fixing their dominance of the PVP arena. If this holds true of the Thanatos, maybe the nerf they get to their PVP ability will have a side effect on this beast as well. If they are OP for PVP, that is. Maybe someone could advise of that situation in the comments below.

The citadel expansion was a big one, and they have plenty more changes in the pipeline, so maybe this will get overlooked in the avalanche of nerfs that are going to be needed PVP wise.

In the meantime, I know there are some guys running six of these things at once. Now that’s what I call a click-fest. However, that’s just over 1 billion ISK per hour, so I can see why they do it. That, and the fact that 6 of these things could really ruin a gang’s roam for the night, couldn’t they?

Maybe there’s an answer out there. Perhaps bomber gangs will see a rise in popularity? To be honest, I’m not the one to ask about PVP. The only thing about Eve PVP I find interesting is the denial of it to others. But, I’ll sure be keeping an eye on the kill-boards, to see how these things get killed.

On another note, those rumors still abound about the death of cloaky camping on the horizon. Something to do with a new structure, apparently. I was disappointed that CCP didn’t run with the idea of being able to scan a cloaky ship, but only with a hour or so of work to accomplish it. I would’ve done little else; I love scanning. Still, I’m sure the campers will find another way to get their thrills. Perhaps in space less well defended? I had heard the new surveillance system might need good indices in a whole constellation to be effective. I believe it tied into the availability of local, too. That might prove interesting, don’t you think?