Yes Again

This is another bonus skill point weekend on now – March 13 through 16.

https://www.eveonline.com/article/q74p4r/bonus-skill-point-weekend

It is reported as “the last one of this Quadrant”, which isn’t that meaningful given the quarter is almost over.

Regardless, worth logging your toons in for.

I continue not to do much in EVE. Once or twice a week I am logging in to haul another load of Minerals or Fuel. The value the EVE client gives to my stockpile suggests – even through coming late to the buying party, I could make a tidy profit if I re-sold now.

Instead of EVE I have been playing more DDO, watching old series of Midsomer Murders, and stocking up for the inevitable Coronavirus (COVID-19) shutdowns and isolation’s.

There has been panic buying of toilet paper here in Australia. I haven’t seen it stocked on the shelves of any of our three local supermarkets for 12 days now. With our own supplies getting low, I was up at 5:30am this morning to get to the 6:00am opening of a nearby Woolworths.

I followed in a large line of people who were waiting for the doors to open. I would estimate within the first 10 minutes more than 100 people went through the store, buying a packet of toilet paper like I did. From the constant line of traffic arriving, I expect the store would have sold out before 6:30am.

I find it all rather fascinating – in a disappointing sort of way. At this point most stores have a 1 packet of toilet paper per transaction limit, which most people were adhering too. Still – a number were carrying arm loads, and a couple had filled trolleys. They ignored the glares of staff and fellow shoppers and did not appear to be stopped from making their purchases.

I’ve remarked before how EVE is an interesting window into how people behave when societal norms are relaxed. Low Sec Pirates have nothing on the demented determination of someone low on 3-ply.

And a little more we get

CCP are re-introducing the Christmas Jump Filaments – but this time making them a permanent part of the game.

https://www.eveonline.com/article/q62c79/new-permanent-needlejack-filaments

The filaments jump a fleet of players directly into a random Nullsec system.  There will be 6 different types of Needlejack Filament, that will be able to move 5, 15 or 25 players. Some will be found in exploration sites ready to go, others will need to be built from BPC, and some will be given out during events.

They will be available in less than a week.

I imagine this could aggravate some who live in Null Sec – they can’t defend against these with choke points, Intel channels or mapping opening wormholes.  On the other side it is random, and the pilots using these can not peep through or retreat back like a wormhole.  Null Sec residents quick to form response gangs might find it a source of extra PVP.

Even I can see a use for these – randomly dropping me in Null Sec to do a bit of ratting or exploration.  I would just be hoping to land in a quiet area of space instead of a populated one.

Though this isn’t a brand new feature, I think it becoming permanent adds something overall positive to the game.  Good stuff CCP.

Can we have some more?

CCP have announced that in late March all Battleships will get a Frigate Escape Bay fitted.

https://www.eveonline.com/article/q6087d/frigate-escape-bay-is-coming

It will hold one fitted Frigate, be that T1, Assault, Electronic Attack or Logistics.

If the Player’s Battleship hull gets destroyed, “instead of being ejected in your capsule and left helpless, you will launch immediately back into combat aboard your Frigate!”

Assuming they get the timing / transition right, I applaud this.  Not because it will likely make a difference to my game, but because I feel this is the sort of change CCP should be focusing on.  A new tool for the sandpit.  One with a myriad of different ways for players to use, abuse, or stuff up with.  One that changes the game and makes it more unpredictable, but probably without tricky balancing needed.

It gives me a glimmer of hope.  Can we have some more please?

Salt

The nerf to Asteroids was larger than I expected. CCP is really going after their target of mineral shortages.

People are complaining, although as most of them are Industrialists, the yelling isn’t quite as loud or as vicious. Ironically Carebear tears seem less salty, although I don’t doubt their resolve is similar to those doing PVP.

People seem to be forgetting that this is just a phase. It will probably take a few months, but CCP does aim to return with a new mineral resource allocation scheme that will become dynamic.

Maybe players should just make the most of the chaos. Squeeze maximum profits out of the stockpiles. Adapt.

More worryingly for me was this little remark on Dunk Dinkle’s short summary of the Feb 7th CSM Update.

http://dunkdinkle.com/csm-update-week-33/

“Extended discussion around the EVE ecosystem and ways to change player behavior”

That is where I feel CCP is truly at risk of destroying their own game. EVE is meant to be a sandpit.  CCP should be focused on providing a wide range of well balanced tools for the players to work out how to use as they see fit.  Their incessant attempts to manipulate their players is annoying and alienating, and is eroding what made EVE special.

Meanwhile I am busy warping all over 5 different regions, picking up all the minerals I purchased.

When tweaks make an impact

I have never been that impressed with CCP’s tendency to call tweaks and game balance changes new content.  They can require you to adapt, but that is not the same as new in my eyes.

CCP has released a DEV Blog giving an overview of what they are looking to do with mineral distribution in EVE.

https://www.eveonline.com/article/q5jp49/moon-mineral-distribution

First they are looking to introduce shortages, then re-distribute minerals, then introduce a dynamic distribution.

That last phase will be new game mechanics.  The first two stages are tweaks.  The tweaks however require such a level of adaptation that they could move them into the new content area.

The latest Patch held these changes:

https://www.eveonline.com/article/q5jak4/patch-notes-for-february-2020-release

 

High Sec Asteroids:
Pyroxeres, Omber & Kernite quantities reduced.

Low Sec Asteroids:
Veldspar, Scordite, Pyroxeres, Plagioclase, Jaspet, Hemorphite & Hedbergite quantities reduced.

Null Sec Asteroids:
Scordite, Omber, Kernite, Jaspet, Hemorphite, Hedbergite, Gneiss, Dark Ochre, Crokite & Arkonor quantities reduced.
Bistot quantity increased.

Ore Anomalies spawned from Sovereignty Industry Index upgrades:
Level 1, 2 & 3 respawn times adjusted.
All variations of Crokite in all levels replaced with the equivalent yield variation of Kernite.
Gneiss, Dark Ochre & Spodumain quantities reduced.

 

The next step in a month is changing how minerals are distributed on moons.  The plan is to remove all basic ore types from moons and adjust the volume and yields.

The shortage stage is to allow CCP to gather data.  The problem I see is that there are huge stockpiles of minerals, mostly in the hands of those already rich.  This will just make them richer.

I checked my own mineral stockpiles and they were lower than I normally keep them.  Always the way.  I like having up to a billion ISK in minerals laying around so that I can cover the build of most items I might suddenly need without too much thought or running around.  Knowing I had already missed the boat, I checked the markets to find almost all reasonably priced minerals in volume had already been brought up.  I’ve covered 3 regions so far and still can’t find Isogen or Nocxium.

I suspected these changes were afoot – but had not got off my backside to prepare.  Oh well, at least I have a reason to undock for a week or so.

Chaos, but not the type I will complain about.

The Elephant in the Room

As anyone who plays EVE would know, Tranquility has been under regular Distributed Denial of Service attack (DDoS) for the last couple of weeks. This is where the game’s internet facing services have been flooded with traffic to try and overwhelm them.

This traffic generally comes from networks of compromised devices connected to the Internet. Each of those devices will have had hidden software loaded through security holes or virus payloads, that can be remotely directed to perform actions such as sending traffic to targeted addresses. Large numbers of these devices that are grouped together are called Botnet’s. While the traffic each individual device can send is inconsequential, the sum of all the traffic from all the devices can be overwhelming.

The owners of these devices are generally unaware of what they are quietly doing in the background. Even if you do the right thing and keep your PC or laptop updated with the latest security software, you could have a modem, or router, or TV, or gaming console, or Fridge, or Smart Home system compromised, particularly if they are a little older and no longer get firmware updates.

DDoS attacks could be triggered for a laugh, boredom, to cause inconvenience, for revenge, to inflict reputational or financial damage, to extort, to spread a message, and so on. These Botnets can be used by Military, Political and Criminal groups. They can also be rented out by individuals for very little money. Forgo buying lunch for a day and you could cover the cost a DDoS attack on some random organisation you are grumpy at. Paying for a two week long, somewhat sustained attack on Tranquility would be more costly, but likely surprisingly affordable.

EVE Players have been experiencing login issues to the game, forums and chat channels, lag and disconnections. For many the game is unplayable.

CCP will be using internal resources and engaging one or more external partners to try and mitigate these attacks. After this amount of time, they will probably have also involved law enforcement. Simplistically CCP will be trying to upscale the resources available to handle all the incoming traffic, and as precisely as possible, disregard all the traffic that is invalid. In the longer term they may also be looking at ways to change their system design to make it more robust or to more easily identify valid traffic.

The precision of some of their attack mitigation efforts is not perfect, and it is apparent valid players are at times being negatively impacted by them.

There is a “Mega” Forum thread about it here.

https://forums.eveonline.com/t/tranquility-connectivity-issues-megathread/216227

It is also being discussed just about everywhere EVE is talked about.

There are a lot of people very angry at CCP and demanding to know what compensation they will get. They are paying money to access a game that they cannot play properly.

I don’t personally have that view. I am sure CCP are spending a lot of time and money on trying to get on top of the situation. If I thought it was plausible, I would want crime compensation from the perpetrator/s, not the victim.

Trying to play EVE earlier today

Having said that – my care factor is pretty low. I am currently in a rut with EVE. There is nothing on my To Do List, nothing I am particularly keen to investigate, and nothing in the pipeline I am looking forward too (what pipeline?  I’m looking at you https://updates.eveonline.com/). Not being able to play EVE for the last fortnight hasn’t been much of a bother.

The whole thing does however concern me.  Ignoring the immediate costs to CCP, it will be impacting new players trying to join the game, it will be angering lots of already unhappy players, it will be training bitter vets not to log in, and it will be distracting CCP from working on the game.  I would not underestimate how much damage is being done to EVE each day that the attack manages to remain impactful.

Not again

This weekend CCP had yet another one of those Log in for Skill Point Giveaways. It went for just 3 days, but Alpha Pilots could earn 75,000 skill points, and Omega Pilots 250,000. These giveaways have been so frequent that they have lost their allure. I think I heard there is another Undock for Skill Point event soon.

I last used all my Unallocated Skill Points on my Main Pilot Elmis back in August last year. In the 5 months since that pool has returned to 2.3M Skill Points. All those points were given to me by CCP for minimal effort on my behalf. I could have gained even more Points, but I lost interest and did not maximise the rewards for the Undock events.

Elmis gains 150,000 skill points for each Large Skill Injector he uses. It would take the ingestion of 15+ injectors to gain the equivalent Skill Points that CCP has gifted. That would have cost 12+B ISK.

My main Alt has 3.2M Unallocated Skill Points. These would have accumulated through CCP Gifts since January last year – 12 months. He gains 300,000 skill points per Large Injector. His Pool is worth 10+ injectors, a value of 8+B ISK.

My Alpha Alt Pilot has 800K Unallocated Skill Points. I did not bother logging her in every day and rarely undocked. She also purchased a number of Skill ranks using the Pool. That meant with a little more effort she could have had well over 1M Unallocated Skill Points over the last year. She gains 400,000 skill points per Large Injector. The remaining unallocated points are worth 2 injectors, or 1.6B ISK in value.

If you add the various training accelerators also gifted by CCP in the last year, you are talking about 10’s of Billions of ISK in skill point value given across my three accounts.

Reading back on my related posts over the last year, I can see from my tone that I don’t want to be complaining about getting free stuff, but these giveaways have me worried. They cheapened one of the more important aspects of EVE, skill point progression, and makes CCP seem desperate and lacking in new ideas.

I purchased some PLEX on the weekend and donated them to the PLEX FOR GOOD charity drive. This time the donations are headed towards Australia to help with the Bushfire recovery. That was the first proper direct donation I’ve made for that cause. Up until now its been coin and tip donations and buying at sausage sizzles and what not.

The bushfire related donations have been a bit of a quandary for me.

Some have been sent to the services, often made up by large numbers of volunteers, who are fighting the fires. This has been for equipment and supplies. That is admirable, but part of the reason they have equipment issues is that the Governments had cut funding over the years. Maybe more effort should have been focused on ensuring the Governments funded them appropriately in the first place and will do so moving forward. We shouldn’t have a need to crowdfund our country fire-fighting capacity in the middle of fighting bushfires.

Lots of money have gone to Wildlife related services. Also, admirable – except many of these organisations are or directly support very militant left-wing ideology, activists and politicians. I know a couple whose stated goals is for everyone to become vegan and for all animals to have the same rights as humans. One wants Farmers charged with murder if they killed a cow for example. I am being completely serious. There are plenty of on the ground wildlife sanctuaries and hospitals burnt out or struggling to cope, doing a great job, whose city-based head offices have provided very little support from the millions in donations they are receiving.

Similarly, there are well known large charitable organisations reaping in Millions in donations who point towards the fine print on their web pages about how much they keep for administrative purposes, and how they were thinking of keeping some of the funding in their bank accounts for future needs.

Next you have some victims of the fires complaining that they are not getting the money they feel they are entitled too. There were a series of people reported on in the media who lost everything saying this. They lived in bush fire prone areas but had no insurance. They were angry they would probably not get enough money to rebuild and refurnish. Maybe I am just too harsh of mind, as lots of people subsequently donated money and services directly to these people.

I try to focus on how lovely humanity can be in helping, and that most of the people being supported are deserving, but I am reminded daily in the news that there are lots of people and organisations in effect profiting from this catastrophe.

I am personally fine, as is my family. I could technically be impacted by Bushfire Ember attacks where I live, but the risk is very low. I have however lived in, gone to school around, and especially fished, hunted and holidayed in many of the areas impacted by fires.  I recognise small communities and townships in most of the emergency alerts sent out.  Plus of course there is no getting away from the at times horrendous smoke pollution. My Father, with asbestos damaged lungs and other health issues, has been confined indoors for much of the last couple months. It is a mind blogging area of bush and forest that has been burnt out, and it is still on going.

Those Value Pack’s CCP have been offering for years are about to be replaced, including that $5 for 1M Skill point thing. I wonder what the new ones will be like.  I expect more skins to be included.

https://www.eveonline.com/article/q4mrom/last-call-for-current-value-pack-offers

CCP have offered those packs on sale once or twice a year, which can make them very good value.

Last of all on this unexpectedly long post – I replaced my gaming laptop yesterday. The MSI laptop I had was still able to run everything I needed it to comfortably, but it had a few issues.

One issue was that MSI has been very poor in providing any updated software, drivers or firmware. Basically, next to nothing was made available from a month or so after the laptop was released. I don’t know if that was just worse for my laptop, or if it is a common thing with MSI. In recent months this has meant I was not able to apply various important Window updates because of hardware incompatibility issues.

Another problem was an introduced hardware fault. Last year I was at a friend’s place for a Roleplaying night (a Shadowrun campaign). He unplugged my Laptop charger without asking and moved it to a new socket on a power board to make room for his oddly shaped tablet charger. He careless and with little attention managed to awkwardly wriggle my lead in a half connected / half not state, causing an electrical buzzing noise, a pop, and smoke to come out of my laptop. It turned out he had fried the soldered connection between the charging port and battery, meaning I have only been able to run off power since. He has been a friend for a couple decades and is a reasonable bloke – but he just shrugged and didn’t give the slightest shit. It was my problem. Just the sort of mindset I find more and more common.

It can be fixed but came with risk and a price. It wasn’t something I had the skill to do, so it ended up being better living with a working laptop plugged in, than one that might never start again. Through no fault of its own, the laptop has since irritated me.

The new laptop is one of the ASUS Republic of Gamer models. We will see how that goes.