At least there is plenty to blog about

More bits and bobs from my blogging scrapbook.

. A while back I tried to purchase a small stockpile of structure fighters. I found very few on the market, and most of those remaining were at substantial mark ups. I had the same issue with some of the Structure fittings. Throughout this year I keep coming across items in much lower supply than I would have expected, and so at much higher prices. Today I noticed Orca hulls were selling for over 900M in Jita. Something doesn’t feel quite right about the situation.

. I have started to listen to the Hellmar/ Falcon / Goodfella interview. Their tone hasn’t been as gun-ho as I had feared. Wilhelm Arcturus said it well in his post on the podcast:

“.. This could be a watershed moment for the game .. Or it might have been the online equivalent of a late night drunken dorm room discussion in college, a metaphorical circle jerk of “wouldn’t it be great..” .. How seriously should we take this interview?”

https://tagn.wordpress.com/2019/07/28/hilmar-and-the-chaos-era-of-eve-online/

. The thread for feedback on the Blackout changes broke the Forum. It hit a hard limit of 10,000 responses and a second thread had to be opened. CCP Falcon said the feedback was polarising – it was either loved or hated. Doesn’t that make them a little nervous? It does me.

. Speaking of me – the vibe I got from some of the earlier podcast answers was disquieting. There was the touch dismissive “we will see who survives and who doesn’t” response, mixed in with “we get lots of newer players trying the game”. The impression was if they could just work out how to get the newer players to stay, it wouldn’t matter if unhappy veterans go.

. One aspect I have not liked from the feedback is the suggestion that they would like to push the blackout to Low Sec as well. Why would you go to Low Sec then? You might as well be in Wormholes or Null Sec. I would much prefer a clear differentiation between each area of space. Something like Hi-Sec with Concord and Local, Low-Sec with Local and security loss, NPC Null Sec with Local, Null Sec with no-local unless installed by residents, WH space with no local.  Of course that might just be my risk averse side speaking.  I wouldn’t bother entering a Low Sec with no Local.

. Speaking of risk averse, they were asked if they plan on catering a bit for those so included in this chaos approach. The awkward response suggested that they thought the players would actually be more adaptive than what people suspect and would just keep playing.  Again the feeling I got was if they did not adapt, oh well, the new version of the game might attract a better type of player.

. The Nosy Gamer did another interesting post regards average user numbers and NPC kills since the blackout. Well worth a read. We need to see the impact over a longer period of time, but the initial change seems massive:

https://nosygamer.blogspot.com/2019/07/i-have-to-admit-talking-in-stations.html

. I’ve been logging in 6 or 7 pilots a day in High Sec. I undock each pilot, go kill exactly the number of NPC’s required to get their free SP, then dock and log off. I suspect this is proving to CCP the success of their blackout.

. It is very early days on this year or two of chaos. At the moment it all feels like a gamble. The game has stagnated. CCP are going to make the game great again, or break it trying. I don’t want them to fail – but I fear the outcome.  Is this chaos extremely well thought out, considered and planned?  If CCP stuff this up, I don’t think any backpedalling will heal the fatal wounds they could inflict.  I sure hope they get it right.

Swinging sticks

The latest Dev-Blog is out – detailing large increases to in-game sales taxes and broker fees.

https://www.eveonline.com/article/pvewgz/updates-to-sales-taxes-and-brokers-fees

The maximum taxation you will pay in NPC Stations with no standings or trading skills has increased from 5 to 10 percentage points. That is not a subtle difference.

The degree this will impact you will of course vary. Your trade skill effectiveness will increase (by almost 19%), but overall at a minimum you will pay an extra 2.25 percentage points taxation in NPC structures (from 3 to 5.25, up 75%) and an extra 1.25 percentage points taxation in player owned structures (from 1 to 2.25, up 125%).

The feedback thread on this is interesting.

https://forums.eveonline.com/t/devblog-updates-to-sales-taxes-brokers-fees/178876

Just what is CCP trying to achieve?

Some point out that the biggest percentage point impact will be on alpha and low skill characters, however I don’t really buy that argument. Technically it is correct – but what is a couple percentage points on the price of a standard T1 frigate?

It will impact traders. It will impact players when they buy and sell items worth hundreds of millions. It will impact those buying and selling PLEX in volume.

Are they trying to push more of us to use Citadels instead of NPC stations for our market sales and purchases? How did that work out last time? If it did work this time, wouldn’t that risk giving more money to the Perimeter cartels?

Personally, I never sell out of a Citadel, and I never buy unless I am docked there. This won’t change my mind.  In fact, the cries to change or remove the asset safety mechanism see me even less inclined to do so.

Is this just an effort to take more ISK out of the game?

Do we have our next weekly “Ooo Chaos” change?

Who knows?  CCP didn’t think it important enough to provide context.

Elgato Stream Deck – Initial Impression

I have long been a fan of customisable macro keys – for my gaming and productivity.

I currently use Corsair’s (now no longer produced) K95 keyboard with 18 programmable keys. I also have an old Nostromo Gamepad (the newer models of which are the Razer Orbweaver and Tartarus product lines.)

I’ve generally found keyboard shortcuts to be useful while playing EVE. This may be in part because mouse travel time can become an issue when running multiple clients at 3000×1800. One of my favourite uses of Macro keys is for salvaging. I like to set up 4 keys to activate Tractor Beams on F1, F2, F3 and F4, and a second row of 4 keys to activate Salvagers on Alt F1, Alt F2, Alt F3, Alt F4. It is simple but speeds up the workflow and saves a bit of finger contortion.

One downside of having so many macro keys is that you can’t see what each one has been programmed to do. This becomes more of an issue if you run different profiles for different games and applications.

Elgato ( https://www.elgato.com/ ) – a company with a background in AV tuner and capture cards and now owned by Corsair, produce a number of programmable control pads with LCD keys. Their initial focus was on streamers and media content creators, but the devices can be configured to run hotkeys.

For the interest of it, I recently purchased the Elgato Stream Deck to play with.

https://www.elgato.com/en/gaming/stream-deck

This has 15 (5×3) LCD Keys.

 

The keypad has a fixed USB2 cord which was acceptably long and was able to reach my PC case sitting behind my screens.

The keypad feels solid. It comes with a stand which is a touch fiddly but allows the pad to sit at multiple different angles. The whole thing did not subsequently move when placed on my XL mouse mat.

You download and use Stream Deck Software to configure the device. It has some quirks – as all such keyboard / mouse configuration software seems to have, but I found it easy to work out.

While the colour and resolution of the LCD keys is fine for what it is, the contoured plastic covering over the keys distorts the edge of the image. If you are not looking straight down on the keys, the edge of writing and icons can be obscured. That makes the viewing angle extra important.

I am not a big fan of how the buttons feel to press. It is non-mechanical and each a mini screen, so I wasn’t expecting much. I find you need to be a little more deliberate / firm in pressing the keys than I would have expected, else it occasionally doesn’t register.

There are some quirks too.  The keystrokes don’t seem to be sent or registered by windows as quickly as my normal keyboard. There can be a perceivable gab between pressing a key and a resulting action, just long enough that you sometimes double press thinking maybe the first time wasn’t picked up. There were also some keystrokes that would work on my keyboard but did something else through the Stream Deck. For example, moving forward and backwards through locked targets in EVE worked fine on my keyboard, but the same keystrokes via the Stream Deck cycled through three different and odd actions.

Last of all it took a fair effort to find suitable icons to set up the device cohesively. In the old days you could find plenty of large free icon repositories online. Now most “free” sites give you a limited sample then ask you to subscribe or pay. It took a bit of trial and error to find icons that looked good (often needing to be a little smaller so they sat back from the edge) and had enough range to cover all the commands you wanted to use them with. In the end I grabbed most from:

https://icons8.com/icons

It probably sounds like I am not happy with the stream deck – but that is not the case.

I still have plenty of trial and error to go, but the Stream Deck does really help with workflow. I also very much like being able to graphically label the keys, which makes it more useful than the standard G# macro keys.

Currently I am using two folders of 14 keys for EVE.

The first is while generally navigating. I can trigger a D-Scan, jump focus to the Overview Window and move forward or backwards through the tabs, set my speed to 0 or 100%, recall my drones, open the system map and do a probe scan, open my cargo hold, open the save location dialog, or open the fitting, market or people and places windows.

The second is setup for mining or salvaging. I have the F1 through F4 and Alt F1 through Alt F4 keys, I can trigger a D-Scan, stop my ship, recall my drones, or run a 30, 60 or 90 second count down when I want to halt a strip miner cycle early.

It is positioned on my desk in a way that makes it fairly natural and easy to move too and from. All told so far, I suspect I will end up using it all the time.

Next I need to add folders for Dungeon and Dragons Online and World of Warships, and to try and ignore the ads for the 32 button Stream Deck XL which is being released in Australia in a couple of weeks…

Mindset

There is a two hour interview with..

CCP Hellmar – CEO
CCP Falcon – EVE Community Manager
CCP Goodfella – EVE Brand Manager

.. on Talking Stations.

https://www.talkinginstations.com/2019/07/ccp-blackout-interview/

 

I have not listen to it yet (and may not bother), but there is a summary of what was said on Reddit:

https://www.reddit.com/r/Eve/comments/ci6efy/ccp_hilmar_ccp_falcon_and_ccp_goodfella_reveal/

 

This is a lazy blog post, but here is a summary (or more of a vibe) of the summary..

There have been a record number of log-ins since Blackout (I really hope CCP are not so stupid as to be including all those 60 second logins to collect skill points); people who said they would unsub have not; they are aiming to do weekly chaos changes to the game for the next 18 months to really shake things up / change culture; some changes will be liked, some with be hated; resource depletion, asset safety, asset storage volumes, asset upkeep all being considered; get back to Empire if you can’t handle it.

(I wonder if now it is someone else’s company, Hilmar Pétursson feels more courageous (and / or reckless)?)

Brave.  Stupid.  I’m not sure which.

I wonder if it will give the solo casual player more or less options in the long run?  I will sit back in Empire and wait and see what happens..

What’s in a name

I am pretty sure I have written about this before – but I found a mostly finished post in my blog drafts, so you get to see it (possibly again).

When I created my new Alts a little while ago, I had to go through the process of finding new names in a game that has been operating for some 16 years. I try to put a little effort into doing this – but from the myriad of crap pilot names I see in local, not everyone bothers.

I try to find something somewhat easy to say that doesn’t sound too stupid. I also generally use male characters for those that are combat orientated, and female characters for those in Industry and Trade. The exception are scouts and explorers, who can be either.

I guess that makes me sound sexist. The men go out and kill things, the women stay at home in support.

The actual reason for this is a little more nuanced. First, I am disinclined to misrepresent myself. I am male, so the pilots I am more likely to use when fleeting with others are also male. Second, I was conditioned from my earliest tabletop role-playing groups decades ago not to play female characters. This was because they inevitably were used in undesirable plot hooks.

The source of many of my EVE Pilot names come from my old Tabletop RPG characters. I pull out all my old character sheets and books to look for inspiration. I had a pilot called Tombrack, who was also a Hobbit Rogue I played in High School. My newer alt Ardaven is a variation of the name used by one of my NPCs in a Rolemaster campaign I ran back during Uni.

Sometimes the names relate to people I know. For example, I’ve used or slightly varied the names of both of my children.

The name Elmis was the merging of a password I used at the time with the word remiss (lax, careless, inattentive). It was simple, meaningless, inoffensive and (at the time) unique. Since then there have been a couple commercial entities with that name, and several other EVE players now use it as a first name.

Some names are more detailed. Looking at my main Industry Alt – Ilesha Rose.

Ilesha was an Office Manager I worked with 15 or more years ago. She was a young, fit and attractive woman, proud of her rough bogan edges.

( https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=bogan%20aussie )

She was adamant she would never be in a committed relationship or have kids – and maintained or rotated through several FBs at a time.

( https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Fuck-buddy )

We always got on well – probably as I was one of the few males in the office who never tried to hit on her. I suspected there was a sad story behind why she controlled her relationships like she did. When she moved on, she went to work for a company that built huge industrial vehicles. When I was creating the Industrial Alt – I thought of her.

The surname was a homage to the fictitious Flower-class Corvette HMS Compass Rose. When I was in my early Teenage years my father gave me a small collection of books he had kept from when he was my age. Included was the classic World War II based Novel “The Cruel Sea”, by Nicholas Monsarrat, which followed in part the story of the HMS Compass Rose. I’d always been interested in ships since then – both those on water and in space.

Other ship and Alt names have been drawn from other authors from that little collection of books – Douglas Reeman, Douglas Badder, or the classic W.E Johns series about the fictional pilot James Bigglesworth. They all gave input into names that had a little more meaning than pilot asdf_005.

Kill for Skills

The next phase of the great EVE Skill Point giveaway has started.

https://www.eveonline.com/article/pv5i6i/join-the-skilling-spree-earn-extra-skill-points

It is not in the agency window as I had assumed it would be. Instead it is just on your UI.

You log in, undock, kill a NPC and get skill points.

The challenge refreshes / resets after each daily downtime until August 21st.

(Maybe it gets more complicated later?)

You can run it on every pilot on each account you have, so can triple up on the rewards.

Apparently, the number of Skill Points you get is random between 10, 25 and 50K. I only saw 10K on all my pilots.

The feedback thread is here:

https://forums.eveonline.com/t/skilling-spree-event-feedback/177732

In summary:

It is not fair older players get the same points.
It is not fair everyone won’t get the same number of points.
It is not fair it is a random number of points.
It is not fair it is so easy.
It is not fair.
CCP is so desperate.
Sack the person who came up with this idea.
Dumbest event ever.
Thank you CCP (occasionally)
You are all a bunch of whiners (occasionally)
If you have 20 to 200 accounts, you will make a huge killing on this.

 

As with most situations where I feel too many EVE players complain too much, I am now compelled to support the initiative. I am having to log in my 7 pilots and run the kills of skills challenge on each of them.

This has highlighted the fact some of my Alts have no PVE ships (or skills). I’ve been kept busy yesterday and today in Pyfa, running around in space collecting cheap T1 frigates and burning through small amounts of unallocated SP so that each pilot can participate.

(To be frank I might skip one or two of the pilots.  Sanity and all.)

44 to 19 and other bits and bobs

. I’ve collected the week of free Skill Points and Boosters. When it started I had 44 days of training to achieve Fighters V. At this point I should have had around 38 days left, but after applying the free points and using the boosters my training time is down to 19 days. A worthwhile “Freebie”.

. CCP is having a small “Share your EVE Battlestation” contest on its Social Media Platforms.

https://twitter.com/EveOnline/status/1153062601502404614

I entered a current photo of my home setup.  There were some extra impressive entries so this won’t win – but it keeps me amused anyway.

I think since I’ve last posted a photo I’ve..

  • Added a Steelseries XL RGB QcK Prism mouse mat.  A bit gimmicky, but it is of a nice thickness and texture, works well having both keyboard and mouse together, and I like being able to colour match everything
  • Went through an expensive process to replace my mouse.  Tried a Corsair Scimitar Pro but did not like how the side keys felt under hand.  Then tried a Steelseries Rival 500, but kept mistakenly pressing some of the side keys.  In the end settled on a Steelseries Rival 310, which I am happy with
  • Installed a Boss-tab Flex Arm Twist Tablet Holder.  The idea was to get my iPad out from under piles of paper and magazines and into a position I would be reminded to use it.  That has worked out really well.
  • Removed the last mechanical hard drives from my PC.  I had a couple 4TB Western Digital Black Mechanical Hard Drives, but the drive cradles in my Corsair case were a bit flimsy and they would start annoyingly vibrating after a while.  I am now using only M.2 and SATA SSDs.

 

. There have been a number of long but interesting articles about why the Blackout won’t fix Null Sec stagnation.  They mostly focus on changes needed to Capitals and their Super variants.  Worth a read:

https://imperium.news/why-the-nullsec-blackout-wont-fix-eve/

https://suitonia.wordpress.com/2019/07/22/armchair-game-design-capitals-are-no-longer-the-centre-piece-of-fleets/

https://imperium.news/jintalks-the-obsolescence-of-subcapitals/

 

. While most people happy about the Null Sec Blackouts seem to be focused on fights being easier to find, I wonder if part of the goal is to reduce the ISK being generated in Null Sec?  NoizyGamer had a very interesting look at the NPC kill volume the weekend before the Null Sec blackout, and the weekend after.

https://nosygamer.blogspot.com/2019/07/the-first-weekend-of-blackout-npc-kill.html

 

. Senior Community Manager CCP Falcon seems to be a particularly strong supporter of removing Local.  He has rallied an echo chamber of supporters every time he has spoken on the topic – while quietly alienating other parts of the community he is meant to be managing.