Wednesday, September 19, 2018

A Five Keepstar Day

While I was at work the Keepstars I highlighted earlier in the week were destroyed.  The EU time zone team got some shiny kills.

The Keepstar lineup on zKillboard

While I only mentioned four in my post it turns out that there was a fifth ready to be knocked off down in Tenerifis which TEST took care of.  The five kill mails:

All told that is at least a trillion ISK in losses inflicted in a single day without much in the way of resistance.

The question is now what happens next in the war?

 

Quadratic Foundry Character Name Generator

In the grand tradition of the old WoW Guild Name Generator from Nick Yee, his organization, Quadratic Foundry, has created a Character Name Generator.

Rather than being completely random, the generator lets you specify a starting letter, an ending letter, or a string of letters you would like the name to contain.

Starts with ‘W’ and ends with ‘M’ gets you…

And it even gives you variants on the name with special characters if you simply must have a specific name but find that it has already been taken.

As with the WoW Guild Name Generator, the core of this was based on previous research done on World of Warcraft and the names harvested as part of that.

Anyway, if you’re stuck for a name you now have a new place to try.

Fall Movie League – Blogger Win

We’re now past week two of our Fall Fantasy Movie League, which means I have to start doing season scores as well as weekly.  One week of relative ease.

Week two saw a host of new films, five in all or a full third of the lineup, opening up a range of choices.  The list looked like:

The Predator         $408
The Nun              $338
A Simple Favor       $257
White Boy Rick       $137
Crazy Rich Asians    $131
Peppermint           $86
The Meg              $43
Unbroken 2           $40
Searching            $40
Christopher Robin    $31
Mission: Impossible  $28
BlacKkKlansman       $22
Operation Finale 2   $21
Alpha                $18
The Wife             $18

With five anchor options it was tough to nail down just how to start a lineup.  For the Monday Hot Takes league I decided that Anna Kendrick as a crime solving blogger was too much of a hint to pass on, so went with 3x A Simple Favor and 5x Searching.

And if I had copied that to all my leagues and just walked away, I’d have been better off.  Well, I would have beaten Corr and ended up in ninth place rather than tenth.

Instead I did research, and the research options for week two were all over the map.  Box Office Pro and Deadline have both given up on making predictions for the top ten, concentrating mostly on new releases or, when feeling generous, the top five, leaving me with at least ten price points to simply guess at.  Other sites are rather notoriously extreme in their picks, wishcasting as opposed to forecasting.  Then there was the hurricane battering the east coast, sure to diminish the box office.  No power and rising water do not a movie night make.

So I ended up with a bunch of options.  I can say that, at one point, I did have the perfect pick as one of my lineups.  But, in the end, I went with 1x The Nun, 1x CRA, and 6x Peppermint, the latter seeming like it might have a shot at best performer.

Instead the pick to go for was 3x A Simple Favor and 5x The Meg, which was the perfect pick for the week.

That left the week’s scores looking like this:

  1. Goat Water Picture Palace – $82,349,322
  2. Too Orangey For Crows – $68,053,892
  3. Joanie’s Joint – $65,202,555
  4. I HAS BAD TASTE – $65,202,555
  5. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex – $64,580,993
  6. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – $64,507,781
  7. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – $64,261,740
  8. Ben’s X-Wing Express – $64,261,740
  9. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex – $62,975,918
  10. Wilhelm’s Kul Tiras Kino – $62,951,994

Goat got the perfect pick which put them way ahead of the pack, while Bhagpuss secured a solid second anchoring on Predator and A Simple Favor.  7x White Boy Rick as an anchor claimed four spots out of the top ten, the dividing point being what went into that eighth screen.  And then there was Corr who slipped ahead of me by just about $24,000.

All of that left the season top ten looking like this:

  1. Goat Water Picture Palace – $166,930,575
  2. Too Orangey For Crows – $149,878,965
  3. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex – $147,557,171
  4. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – $145,107,210
  5. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – $144,750,058
  6. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex – $142,709,003
  7. Wilhelm’s Kul Tiras Kino – $140,020,941
  8. Ben’s X-Wing Express – $139,324,840
  9. Miniature Giant Space Hamsterplex – $138,593,155
  10. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – $127,690,233

Goat, in a three way tie for first last week and all alone in first this week starts to open up a lead for the season.

Meanwhile, the alternative seasonal scoring looks like this at the end of week two.

  1. Goat Water Picture Palace – 18
  2. Too Orangey For Crows – 16
  3. Corr’s Carefully Curated Cineplex – 12
  4. Cyanbane’s Neuticles Viewing Party – 10
  5. Po Huit’s Sweet Movie Suite – 9
  6. Joanie’s Joint – 8
  7. I HAS BAD TASTE – 7
  8. Vigo Grimborne’s Medieval Screening Complex – 6
  9. Darren’s Unwatched Cineplex – 6
  10. Wilhelm’s Kul Tiras Kino – 5
  11. Ben’s X-Wing Express – 5
  12. SynCaine’s Dark Room of Delights – 5

I ended up listing out a dozen this week as there was a three-way tie for tenth place.  One thing missing from my plan is a tie-breaker, though if it turns out we need one at the end of the season I suppose the seaon box office total for each player will work.

As with the end of last season, the top three scores are the same people, but after that the group gets shuffled a bit.

But another week looms, with the choices being:

The House with a Clock   $476
The Predator             $216
A Simple Favor           $202
The Nun                  $173
Life Itself              $143
Crazy Rich Asians        $127
Fahrenheit 11/9          $115
White Boy Rick           $98
Peppermint               $75
Assassination Nation     $69
The Meg                  $49
Searching                $41
Christopher Robin        $25
Mission: Impossible      $25
Unbroken 2               $24

Week three sees four titles dropped from the list, BlacKkKlansman, Operation Finale, Alpha, and The Wife.

Replacing them are The House with a Clock in its Walls, Life Itself, Fahrenheit 11/9, and Assassination Nation.

The House with a Clock, because, like your local theater, I am dropping the last three words off the marquee, is a fantasy about a boy going to live with a loony relative who happens to be a warlock, so magical adventures ensue.  I have to assume some comedic nature to the film as it stars Jack Black.  Long range tracking has it good for about $22 million and if you go see it IMax you also get to see a 3D version of the Michael Jackson Thriller music video.

Life Itself is a tale of couples across generations tied together by a single event, though that event is left out of the description.  Sort of a couples Cloud Atlas maybe?  It is getting horrible reviews and nobody has bothered to cover it for long range tracking, so I am going to assume it is over-prices at $143.

Fahrenheit 11/9 is the one new film this week that I had some inkling of before I started writing this post.  I haven’t liked Michael Moore since Roger & Me, but he has a following and he plays to it once again, this time with Donald Trump and his election as the target.  And while that is a worthwhile target, I am not sure what he’ll deliver that hasn’t been beaten half to death or that I’m not getting from Last Week Tonight.  Long range tracking has it at $5 million.  Will play okay on the coasts, not so well in the heartland.

Finally there is Assassination Nation.  Described as a dark comedy, it is also a dark horse in the running this week with mediocre reviews and not much in the way of name recognition.  There isn’t even a theater count estimate for it yet.  I suppose it does have one of the SkarsgĂ„rd clan in it, if one of the lesser members.  I’m not sure if that is enough to hang your hat on.

Overall, sitting at this end of the week, I don’t have a strong feeling as to which way things will go.  There are a lot of variable.  If Fahrenheit 11/9 does $7 million then seven screens of that with The Nun would be a winner.  It is, as of this writing, the least picked film of the week, so that would be a real outsider bet.   If The Nun or CRA manage another low drop week, then you might consider those as anchors.  I tried that last week and, while they did land softly, it wasn’t enough.  And maybe Jack Black is a big enough draw to make The House with a Clock a worthwhile choice.  However, his work tends to require a strong cast for him to play off of.

There is a temptation to run with a rework of last week’s perfect pick and go with 4x A Simple Favor, 3x The Meg, and 1x Searching, but the first two need to really hold on for that to be a winner and FML tends to punish best performers the week after.

In the end, my Monday Hot Takes league pick was 5x The Nun, 1x Peppermint, 2x Mission: Impossible.  We’ll see how I feel about that as the week goes on.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Can We Trust a Torchlight MMO?

…because of WoW, and all the dumb money and all the publisher pressure, there’ll be lots of games that shouldn’t have been MMOs but would have been great boxed products. Lots of publishers are pushing for that subscription pie, but they’ll fail.

-Rob Pardo, MMOs Past, Present, and Future Panel at GDC 2007

We’ll get to that quote in a bit, but first we must go back to 2012, back to the war to see who would be crowned the REAL successor to that most beloved ARPG Diablo II.

The claimants were Diablo III, which had the name and Blizzard’s might behind it, Torchlight II, which had some of the original Diablo development team on board, and Path of Exile, which was the dark horse indie candidate in the race.

The competition was a big enough deal that I made categories on the blog for all three of them.

In the end I think Path of Exile felt the most like Diablo II when it came to style and atmosphere.

Diablo III, after a bad start, eventually got fixed when Blizz removed the auction house and got the itemization lined up  correctly and went on to be the big money maker of the three.  It sold more that 30 million copies, got an expansion, and continues to get attention and updates from the company that we could only dream of during the Diablo II era.  A version was just announced for the Nintendo Switch even.  Still going!

And then there was Torchlight II.  It was good.  Cute.  Colorful.

But where Diablo III had story and Path of Exile had atmosphere, I am not sure what Torchlight II really had.

Not that it did poorly or anything.  According to that Steam leak thing I wrote about a few weeks ago it was in 57th place on the list with close to five million copies in play on the platform.  The is an impressive haul, well ahead of Civilization VI.  Nobody can fault you if you beat Sid Meier.

Granted, it took them a few years to get the promised Mac OS version out the door and at that point it sounded like those working on the game were done with Torchlight.  That seemed to be the end of plans for a Torchlight MMO, something that had been talked about since the original Torchlight came out.  The original talk was of going from single player to multiplayer and then to an MMO.

And then there were some of the founders leaving the studio along with the fact that Perfect World Entertainment bought them out, and it seemed like the Torchlight saga was done.

Again, not that it had gone badly, but maybe Torchlight II was enough.  I mean they never did any addon expansions or DLC or any of the usual things you do to keep something you want to remain a franchise in the public eye.  Sometimes you just reach the natural end of things, which was what seemed to have happened here.

So I was a bit taken aback when a couple weeks back there was an announcement that Perfect World was planning a Torchlight MMO.  What is the vision for Torchlight Frontiers here?

Torchlight Frontiers

Not to rain on anybody’s parade, but I couldn’t see the real point, at least not in MMO form.

And no, I am not going the Gevlon route about “productive MMOs.”  That is nothing but the usual gamer hubris where we project our own likes on the world and pretend that everybody thinks the same way or that it has some actual logic to it.  Wrapping your personal bias in a tissue thin layer of faux objectivity doesn’t change what it really is in the slightest.

My objection tries to get closer to objective reality, or so I would hope.

MMOs are not easy to make and they certainly are not cheap to make.  Also, the market is already crowded with competitors.  Meanwhile Perfect World has traditionally been a purveyor of Asian style MMOs that don’t really do all that well in the West along with titles that couldn’t keep their original studios alive and were no doubt scooped up at bargain basement prices to be milked via cash shops and lockboxes for every last farthing they can provide.

In that scenario it is difficult for me to see much in the way of hope for anything worthwhile coming out of this idea.  Instead of an attempt to meet some real world demand or cater to a specific demographic, this all smacks of the quote at the top of the post, except in 2018 we have to substitute in “pushing for that cash shop pie” in place of “pushing for that subscription pie.”

Yes, there is talk of there being some Diablo and Torchlight devs involved, but when they say it won’t be a generic MMO but a Torchlight MMO through and through it sounds almost like a contradiction, because if I were to fault Torchlight II on anything, it would be on its mild blandness.  There was nothing wrong with it, but despite playing through the game I barely remember any of it.  I am sure there must have been a story to it, but I cannot remember any of it.

I actually reinstalled it via Steam last week just to revisit it for a while to see if my memories of the game had just faded over time.  After a couple of hours of play my hazy impressions were pretty much reaffirmed.  It is a decent game, if a bit bland, with a story that never really gets much traction in my brain.  It feels more incidental than anything.  There are just several other ARPGs that I find more engaging, such as Grim Dawn, Diablo III, Path of Exile, or even the remastered version of Titan Quest.  So I am not really seeing this as a property that screams to be made into an MMO.  Of course, I could say the same for the other four titles I listed out.

I know, I know, you can say you’re going to make any sort of MMO and you’ll always get some people excited about it.  In spite of our constant and repeated experiences over the last decade the acronym “MMO” still retains some magical properties.  People still long for a shared, persistent world to travel.  People will project their memories and ideas on it and get all excited about an imaginary game that as like as not will bear no resemblance to reality.  That path leads to inevitable disappointment.

So given all of that I cannot help but draw back from this and ask if it is really a good idea.  Given the state of the market, the limits of the franchise, and the reputation of the publisher is this something to get emotionally invested in yet?

And that leaves aside the basic game play questions.  For example, is playing Torchlight II with more than the full party you can play with now really a worthwhile goal?  Are dozens or even hundreds of other people around in this click-fest really a benefit?

I think that the best possible outcome might be a setup like the original Guild Wars, where there were certain shared areas like towns but that the actual content was limited to you and your party.  That sounds a bit like what they are aiming for, though I think having the overworld all shared and only dungeons instanced out for parties might be too much shared space unless they plan on a lot of dungeons.

As for the worst outcome… the mind boggles at the possibilities.  I would not bet against something like a revival of the failed Diablo III real money auction house for starters.  But we know from history that you don’t even need a cash shop to get RMT in motion in an MMO.

Diablo II RMT site ad from back in the day

I mean, Path of Exile is there as an example of how not to get mired in RMT, but I suspect that that Perfect World would see that as limiting their revenue potential.

Meanwhile, the fact that it is targeted for next year (developer optimism is evergreen) and is planned for Windows, PlayStation 4, and XBox One makes me wonder if Torchlight Frontiers will in anyway resemble what made Torchlight and Torchlight II as popular as they were.

That is the problem with experience; it inevitably makes a skeptic out of you.

Anyway, we’ll see what comes of this.  Maybe we’ll even see it next year.

Others who have chimed in on the topic:

Monday, September 17, 2018

Another Studio Acquisition Story

Or a few stories really.

Acquisitions are much on my mind still and since Massively OP is still going on about the concept I’ll carry on as well.  Previously I meandered on about reasons for them and often how things can go bad.

Getting acquired can suck.

There can be a loss of prestige in not being able to make it on your own.  And, of course, there is always some loss of freedom and autonomy as you have to answer to the new owners.  Plus the company doing the buying doesn’t always know how to treat their acquisition.  Culture clash can be an issue and can lead to key developers heading for the exit.

But sometimes things do work out for the better.

For example, there was a company called Silicon & Synapse, Inc.  Founded in 1991, it did some platform ports to start off with, then moved on to a couple of original games that were published by Interplay.

A brain was their mascot, of course

The name of the company wasn’t as brilliant as the founders thought and they changed it to Chaos Studios, Inc.  However they were soon acquired by Davidson & Associates and ended up having to change their name again because somebody else held the rights to the name and they couldn’t afford to purchase them.  There was even a little story in the Technology section of the LA Times by one of the staff writers who probably drew the short end of the stick on that one.  It is short enough to quote in full. (Hopefully the LA Times won’t come after me for that.)

May 24, 1994|Times staff writer Dean Takahashi

From Chaos to Blizzard: Chaos Studios, a developer of video and computer games in Costa Mesa, has changed its name to Blizzard Entertainment.

Part of the reason is to reflect its new ownership. Davidson & Associates in Torrance, an education software company, bought Chaos Studios earlier this year in a $6.75-million stock deal.

The Costa Mesa game company, which formerly developed games for other publishers, will publish its own games as a result of an infusion of money from Davidson.

Another reason is that the rights to the Chaos name were owned by a small holding company in New York, Chaos Technologies, which also owns a video game company.

Allen Adham, president of Blizzard, said Chaos Studios couldn’t afford to pay for those rights, so the name was changed to Blizzard, which had a nice ring to it.

“We’re still the same lovable company,” he said.

We’re still the same lovable company!  That has to be one of the most low-key “before they were famous” news stories.

But look how things worked out.  Despite having been acquired just three years into their existence… and before they even had their name fully settled… Blizzard went on to be a powerhouse.  Blizzard has essentially never been a stand-alone company, not under that name.  Its success came after it was acquired.

Success grants you some power and Blizzard itself, having done well with Warcraft, was able to acquire Condor Games, renamed Blizzard North, which turned out Diablo and Diablo II.

While that turned out well initially, problems with then Blizzard owner Vivendi led key members of the Blizzard North team to leave and found Flagship Studios.  The studio was dissolved after  Hellgate: London failed to take off and some of the people from that venture ended up at Runic Games, the makers of Torchlight and Torchlight II, while key team member Bill Roper landed at Cryptic Studios.  Both Runic and Cryptic were later acquired by Perfect World Entertainment.

Some key people from Runic left PWE to form Double Damage games, and the whole dance continues on.  A few things succeed, others don’t pan out or make just enough to be of interest to another company.

And, just to bring this back to yet another small world story, Dean Takahashi, who wrote that little piece in the LA Times so long ago, is currently the lead writer for the Games Beat section of Venture Beat and was the author of three posts over there last week, one about CCP being acquired by Pearl Abyss as well as two key interviews interviews, one with Pearl Abyss CEO Robin Jung and the other with CCP CEO Hilmar Petursson.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Four Keepstar Targets in Fade and Pure Blind

Ops have already run in order to reinforce the remaining four northern Keepstar in Fade and Pure Blind.  The are scattered across two zones, so I ended up using the multi-region map for the area that is available at DOTLAN.

And then I flew out to take a peek at each of them just to see where the timers stood.  I have a general idea as ops area already on the calendar, but sometimes you just want to know the exact time.  So off I flew, first to C4C-Z4 and the first Circle of Two Keepstar.

Circle of Two Keepstar in Fade

From there I zipped over to DO6H-Q and the NCDot Keepstar.

NCDot Keepstar in Fade

Then I headed down into Pure Blind to 3V8-LJ to find the second CO2 Keepstar.

The CO2 Keepstar in Pure Blind

Then I made the last leg of the trip over to 7X-VKB to see the Darkness Keepstar.

All four are set to go this coming Wednesday, September 19th, at various early hours of the day.  At least early for me, sitting here on the West coast of the US.

Map of Fade, Pure Blind, and Cloud Ring – Times are in UTC

I doubt I will make it onto any of those kill mails.  But their destruction seems inevitable as northern forces draw back deeper into their own territory.  The question is whether or not there is a war once these are destroyed.  I am sure there will be some lesser structures to clean out of the area.  But once cleansed, the Imperium isn’t planning on moving in and they will stick around if CO2 comes back.  So who will end up in Fade?

Saturday, September 15, 2018

EverQuest II Chaos Descending Expansion Announced

Daybreak started off being a bit coy by announcing on Thursday that pre-expansion events had started and calling on adventurers to fight an onslaught of raging elementals without ever mentioning the actual expansion.

However, they could only stay mum for a day it seems, as yesterday they followed up with a short Producer’s Letter announcing the upcoming expansion Chaos Descending.

Featuring E’ci

Details about the expansion are pretty scarce.  We know the name, that it will carry on from last year’s Planes of Prophecy expansion in exploring the planar realms of Norrath, that you’ll encounter E’ci the Wintery guardian (because half of the names in original EverQuest were just something spelled backwards), and that it will launch in November.

Beyond that… well… I suppose we can guess about zones and raids and such.  There will certainly be three flavors of the expansion, normal, collector’s, and premium, if the past is any guide.  But we do not know if they will raise the level cap or not.  There is some mystery in that I guess.

the Producer’s Letter has a few other items to follow on the expansion announcement.

Last year’s Planes of Prophecy expansion is currently half price and will remain so until October 1, 2018 if you want to catch up.

The Days of Summer event is still going, having a good four weeks left to run, which will put it into autumn for all practical definitions of the season in the northern hemisphere.

Finally, there will be a “gear up, level up” event starting on September 24th to help you get ready for the upcoming expansion.

Not to be down on this, but it sounds like the usual expansion plans complete with the unpredictable announcement cycle.  I expect we should be hearing something soon for EverQuest as well.  Still, any game still getting expansions after fourteen years (or nineteen in the case of EQ) can’t be doing that bad.

We’ll see if the rumors from May end up coming true.  A couple have already (Just Survive is down and PlanetSide 2 is getting a new map) but I haven’t seen anything indicating that these are the last expansions for the current Norrath franchise yet.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Circle of Two Loses Another Keepstar

As I posted on Monday, the sights of the Imperium were set on the CO2 Keepstar in DW-T2I.  The destruction of this Keepstar has been an operational plan since July, when the first opportunity was thwarted by ignorance about cynojammers.

Lots of work since then led to the situation on Wednesday evening when the Keepstar, no longer under the protective umbrella of a cynojammer, came out of its final timer.

The question was whether or not there would be a fight.

Given that there was no defense of the previous timer and that the Imperium had picked off a number of jump freighters hauling cargo that smacked of an evacuation, it seemed likely that no defense would be offered.

But spies were also reporting that the north was trying to rally together a defense, with various organizations sending out pings looking for a maximum effort.  However, the north is not like the Imperium.  It does not have a unified communications and command structure.  So not every entity is on board with every plan.  And rumor had it that CO2 was not planning to defend the Keepstar.  Whether they saw it as a futile effort or because The GigX, the rumored return of the perma-banned GigX, was himself (or herself if you’re into the “Mrs. GigX” story) banned shortly before the CSM summit, it appeared that they were not going to show up.  And it is understandably hard to get motivated about defending something when the owners have given up.

We however were planning to show up in force.  In part that was to ensure if any defense operation managed to coalesced that it could be dealt with, but also because everybody wanted to get on the kill mail for the Keepstar.

There was actually a list of CO2 structures to destroy on Wednesday, with the Keepstar as the final course.  Operations opened with a pair of Baltec fleets forming up to run bridge out and take care of a pair of CO2 Fortizars.

Baltecs Bridging Out for the First Shoot

I managed to get online and into Apple Pear’s fleet in my Oneiros to go along for the ride, combat drones loaded to be sure I had a chance to get on the kill mails myself.

The initial ops were unopposed.  The Fortizars were empty and the shoots were quiet enough that one could focus on other thing in the long silences between Apple Pear’s instructions.  We were close enough that people packing drones were able to join in on the shoot.

Drone Dyson Sphere around the Fortizar

We hit both without incident or interference.

After the two of those down we went back to 6RCQ-V to stand down for a bit.

Aligned out as a Fortizar explodes

Not too long after that it was time to form up for the main op.  This saw over a thousand people logged into our staging before we started to head out.  Again I managed to find a spot in Apple Pear’s Baltec fleet with my Oneiros.  The fleet filled up and was sorted out in very short order at which point we were undocked and on our way.

We took a gate to meet up with our titan and were then bridged directly to the Fortizar on grid with the Keepstar in DW-T2I.

The Keepstar in the distance

The Keepstar still had more than an hour on its timer, but there were other activities planned for us.  There were three other structures coming out of their final timers in quick succession before the grand finale.

The first was an Azbel.

On the Azbel

Once that was down we moved on to wreck a Tatara mining platform that was already being hit.

Tatara wreck before being quickly salvaged

There was a pause after that to wait for the next target, a Sotiyo whose timer had a ways to go.

Circle of Two Sotiyo

Once that timer hit we warped over to it… all of these structures were on the same grid, so you could see them from our Fortizar perch… and commenced to bash that.

The Sotiyo was like some sort of pinata.  When it died almost 40 empty Magnate frigates spilled out or were destroyed… or both… as my kill board got credit for them.  40 more frigate kills for me and everybody else who was shooting the Sotiyo I guess.

The Sotiyo wreck

With the Sotiyo down the preliminaries were over and only the main even awaited us.  We perched back up, tethered on the Fortizar and watched the super carriers get themselves situated.

Fleets tethered up on the Fortizar

The plan was the same as it was the previous Saturday, with the super carriers launching fighters and sending them over to a command destroyer which formed the first of a chain of such ships that would AOE micro jump drive the ball of fighters to the Keepstar in 100km leaps.

This involved a lot of cajoling as controlling fighters isn’t completely intuitive and there is always somebody whose Nyx starts slowly trundling towards the target or whose fighters are headed off into space or end up inadvertently attacking somebody.  I feel for them.  I did the capital ops class on using fighters then forgot half of it within a day.  It is something you need to do a bunch for it to become second nature.

Still a lot of fighters ended up on the command destroyer.

Fighters swarming – Picture source unknown

That screen shot was linked in a ping.  I don’t know who took it, but it shows lots of fighters orbiting, ready for an MJD to take them closer to the Keepstar.

Fighters were in place when the Keepstar timer finally ran down.  The attack on the structure began as we all sat and watched.

The plan was to keep as many people away from the action until the last minute when everybody would jump in or warp to the Keepstar to get in their hit before it died.  So we just sat and watched, TiDi free, as the fighters chewed up the structure.  There were about a thousand people in local.

Then, as the Keepstar got down to 10% the word went out.  Cynos were lit.  We aligned to the target.  And about a thousand more ships landed in the system looking to get in their hit.  A host of titans jumped into our path as we slowly warped to the Keepstar, the tidi slamming down on the node, bringing us to 10% speed.

Titans blocking the view of the Keepstar

We flew on through the titans, and I spotted a Molok as we passed.  Things were slow enough for me to notice that.

That is a Molok, look at the paint job

We landed just 30km off the Keepstar.  I had prepared for this, loading up a sentry drone in my drone bay.  As I came to a stop I dropped the sentry drone, targeted the Keepstar, and engaged.  I saw a few hits recorded… and then my client crashed.  I hadn’t turned down my graphic settings and I am sure the client went beyond the 32-bit RAM allocation limit and terminated.  I was on grid and close proximity with a lot of ships.

All those ships, all visible

Fortunately this wasn’t as bad as some of the big fights.  I was able to log right back in and re-join the fleet.  I had not even warped off as I was still being warp scrambled by the Keepstar, something it does for 30 seconds when you start shooting it.

However, my Bouncer sentry drone was still in my drone bay, so something had gone out of sequence.  I dropped it again, locked up the Keepstar, and started shooting it again.

I also zoomed out my camera to maximum distance and turned it away from the fight in hopes of fending off another client crash before the Keepstar died.

I also did the control-shift-alt-M command to bring up the client monitor to see how my memory usage was doing.  I was riding on the edge there.

My memory numbers after logging back in

We had the order from Apple Pear to align back to the Fortizar, so I pulled the Bouncer.  However, I wasn’t sure if I had hit the Keepstar again after the re-log, so I launcher a Warrior II and sent it after it, willing to sacrifice a light drone in order to get on the kill mail.  Then I aligned and waited for things to go “Boom!”

The Keepstar was done very shortly thereafter.  I was even able to recover my Warrior II.  The Kill mail shows me… and a lot of people… having done zero damage.  But we got counted, which was what mattered.

And then began the unwind, the return to the Fortizar, the recovering of fighters, the capitals jumping out, and then finally the subcaps being bridged out.  Some impatient people decided to gate home and got caught by gate camps.  It was better to be patient.

So I managed to get on six structure kills in my Oneiros and never had to rep anybody.

Most Valuable Recent Kills

The Tatara was apparently significantly under valued.  A ping went out from Tuzy about the Tatara that explained how much the tech II rigs on it were actually worth:

I was just looking over the battle report today from all the structures we killed and I wanted to call this out to everyone. Take a look at this Tatara kill. https://zkillboard.com/kill/72384288/ I noticed it’s value was ~ 10b isk so I immediately looked at the rigs. Aha! But what did I discover? This was a 92 billion isk structure. Take a look at the rigs….both are T2. Zkillboard drastically undervalues them because these rigs are simply NOT sold anywhere in game. Anyone who needs these specific rigs are large, rich alliances – all of whom build them themselves. Go to https://eve-industry.org/calc/ and type in those rig names. That Reproc rig is 66 billion isk. That reactions rig is 15.9b isk. So you can add another 82 billion isk to this killmail to our tally for the day.

So we can add that to the value.

Through all of this, no defenders stood to.  There was a fleet of NCDot and other locals in interceptors hanging around, but they seemed as interested in getting on the kill mails as anything.

And now with that accomplished, with the Keepstar in CO2’s capital system destroyed, we get to ask, “What next?”  CO2 has other citadels in Fade.  Even another Keepstar.

We passed this while killing the Fortizars

But from what I am hearing CO2 is trying to pack up their citadels and it is now a race to see if we can blow them up before they get carried off.  Then there is the NCDot Keepstar in DO6H-Q.  The ihub has been cleared there, so that might be on the list of targets as well.

After that… well… Mittens says that we don’t want Fade, so we’re not going to take the sovereignty.  And we don’t have anybody lined up who wants to take it.  But we also don’t want CO2 to have it, so I suspect that we will stay deployed in 6RCQ-V until we’re sure that CO2 has moved elsewhere.

The destruction of this Keepstar took place on the anniversary of the last year’s betrayal of CO2 by The Judge which ended up with the Imperium buying the CO2 Keepstar in 68FT-6 from him, then turning around and selling it to TEST.

This is on top of the events of late 2016 when CO2 lost a Keepstar at M-OEE8 when NCDot and Pandemic Legion decided to take Tribute after the Casino War had ended.

As an alliance, they have not had great luck with Keepstars.  But their leadership made their bed, so they get to sleep in it.

Other coverage:

Thursday, September 13, 2018

MER – War Boosts Mineral Prices

CCP released the Monthly Economic Report for August earlier this week.  As with last month the effects of the current war is probably the most interesting thing to examine in the numbers.  June was the last month of relative peace (as in the real world, New Eden is never all at rest) so the numbers for July and August show some of the impact of the war.

As with last month, we might as well jump straight into mining.

August 2018 – Mining Value by Region

By the numbers mining saw a rebound in Delve, home of the Imperium, and the most heavily mined region in New Eden.  The value of ore mined went from 8 trillion to 11 trillion ISK.  That brings it closer to the 14 trillion ISK worth of ore that was mined in June.

However, the value of ore is based in part on the market.  If the price goes up the value mined in a region will go up as well, all other factors being equal, and we did indeed see a jump in ore prices in August.

August 2018 – Economic Indices

As you can see from the above chart, mineral prices, while still down from the most recent peak, did rise sharply.  Other regions saw similar upticks, including Querious, one of the subsidiary regions of the Imperium.

Driving this is likely the need to replace ships being destroyed in the war.

August 2018 – Destroyed Value by Region

The July numbers saw almost 4 trillion ISK destroyed in Tenerifis in the battles around the TEST Keepstars in the south.

In August the main front of the war moved north, to Pure Blind.  The battles around the armor timer and the final timer of the Keepstar in X47L-Q helped drive the level of destruction in the region past 10 trillion ISK.  While both sides have ISK in adequate supply to replace these losses, but ISK doesn’t build ships.  For that you need ore, and with a lot more ISK chasing the mining output of New Eden, prices have been on the rise.

That level of loss made the usual high level of destruction around Jita, where ganks and interdiction campaigns congregate, fade into the background.

On the ISK front things were more stable.

August 2018 – NPC Bounties by Region

Delve remains at the front of the pack, though NPC bounty payouts fell by half a trillion ISK compared to July (and by more than 4 trillion ISK compared to June) as Imperium pilots find themselves deployed to the north.

The big gain in was in the Branch region, where Guardians of the Galaxy goes to krab.  There bounty payments rose from 4.2 trillion ISK in July to 5.1 trillion ISK in August.  Most other areas were flat in output, though the Tenal region in the north did see a half a trillion ISK drop.

NPC bounty payments swung a bit further into the favor of null sec.

August 2018 – NPC Bounties by Sec Status

High sec was at 6.8% in July, but dropped to 6% for August.  Given the general flat output of null sec for the month I wonder if the Secrets of the Abyss event that landed with last month’s update drew high sec pilots to that as opposed to missions.

Overall, ratting ebbed and flowed as battles drew people away from anomalies over the course of the month.

August 2018 – Top 8 ISK Sinks and Faucets

In supporting a war there ought to be signs of the supply chain in action in the trade value numbers.

August 2018 – Trade Value by Region

However, trade value in The Forge, home of Jita, the economic hub of New Eden, was down in August, dropping 42 trillion ISK compared to the July numbers.  That puts it on par with the pre-war June numbers.

Other regions saw some changes, Delve was down as people deployed northward, but Cloud Ring was up, where the Imperium staging base is located.

August 2018 – Trade Value by Region – Bar Graph

Jita remains so dominant that they have to make a bar graph excluding it to show the rest of New Eden.

August 2018 – Trade Value by Region – Bar Graph, Forge Excluded

Domain, home of Amarr and the second largest trading hub, was also down for August.

August 2018 – Contracts Trade Value by Region – Bar Chart

The value of trade via contracts, the primary way alliances sell doctrine fit ships, was also down a bit when compared to August.  The one region seeing a boost being Cloud Ring where Imperium doctrine ship sales and fuel contracts likely caused the change.

And then there is production.

August 2018 – Production Values by Region

Production was likewise flat in most regions, with Delve ringing in 29 trillion ISK in that department in August.  That number, which makes it the leading region in New Eden, was ever so slightly down from July.

Where production was up was in The Forge, The Citadel, and Lonetrek, regions that feed the Jita market.  While the number was up 6 trillion ISK in The Forge alone over July, it remains fairly close to the 33 trillion in ISK value that the region produced in June.

Overall there are some mixed signals about the war.  Ore prices are up, but my assumption that this has been driven by a need to produce replacements for war losses doesn’t have much of a foundation.  It could be simply from the drop in actual mining in key regions causing the price rise, or a combination of the two.  After all, the ore value mined in Delve was 14 trillion ISK at a time when prices were at low ebb.

Finally, the last chart I like to look at every month is the compared regional stats.

August 2018 – Regional Stats

That gives an easy comparison between certain key regions.

In the north the war carries on.  I expect that the peak destruction will move from Pure Blind to Fade when the September numbers are published.  It will also be interesting to see how the other numbers change.  Are things that would show replacements for losses, like production and trade value, lagging behind or are these things just not happening?

And while there will be a lot of destruction in Fade this month, it looks like the numbers will not reach the heights seen in August.  The northern forces do not seem as keen to test their resolve or the server’s capacity by defending the two Keepstars in Fade with their supers.  The armor timer for CO2’s Keepstar in DW-T2I saw no real defense, nor did the final timer that blew it up.  We shall see how it goes with the likely timers for the Keepstar in DO6H-Q.

As usual, you can find all these charts and more, along with the raw data used to generate them, in the dev blog for the August Monthly Economic Report.