EVE: World domination, one BPO at a time

October 31, 2011

Over the weekend I picked up an Antimatter L blueprint original (BPO) that has 30 material efficiency and 20 production efficiency for 10 million ISK. The plan is to not only make my own ammo for my Rohk, but to also sell the ammo at various mission hubs around my area, hopefully leading to some steady income for my Industry/Mining pilot.

Long-time reads here know that EVE pretty much has my ideal crafting system. I love that the actual act of crafting is nothing more than a few clicks, rather than some poor version of Tetris or whatever mini-game people are always hoping for. If I wanted mini-games, I’d fire up the Wii. No, the crafting in EVE is all about a long series of interesting decisions, backed by a little research, and topped off with some time/effort put in. And of course it’s PvP, which keeps it interesting.

The contract for the BPO was 17 jumps away, and while flying to get it I was monitoring ammo prices in the various regions. The price per unit ranged from 70 ISK to 115 ISK, and the volume also greatly varied, showing me that there is indeed room to jump in and make ISK if done correctly.

The first thing I did was calculate base production cost, using local mineral prices and also the averages pulled into EVEMon, factoring material waste and adding in station taxes/costs. I also had to consider station taxes for listing the ammo for sale. This was literally done on paper at my desk, using the iPhone calculator for assistance. Excel Offline, yo! Once all of this was complete, I knew that if I sold the ammo above 100 ISK a shot, I’d be in the green, but to really make the whole thing worthwhile the price had to stay around 110 ISK.

I wanted to start with ammo for a few reasons. First the minerals to produce it are basic, reducing the likelihood of price fluctuation. I’m also able to mine what I need myself, which is a nice side-bonus if I have the time (One thing I like to do is take the Hulk out to a belt, and while mining set-up market listings for mission-drop stuff). As mentioned, its ammo I use myself, so that was a factor as well. Finally, it’s fairly quick to produce, easy to move around, and an item that gets consumed frequently, meaning volume is relatively high.

I certainly don’t expect to make instant billions off the BPO, but it should be a nice steady income stream going forward, and a relatively safe way to get into the production/marketing aspect of the game. Once I get some experience with the basics, I’ll likely expand into higher risk, higher reward ventures.


EVE retro server

October 31, 2011

You know what an EVE retro server would look like? It would look like the game today, minus seven years of layers added to it. Sounds awesome right? Yea not so much.

I point this out in jest because it highlights a point I’ve often made about MMOs; that they should expand over the years more so than evolve (though some evolution is also required). Replacing older content with newer is not only less sustainable, it often runs the risk of upsetting those who enjoyed the older content, and unless you ALWAYS get more people enjoying the newer content, you run into problems.

It’s this core design flaw that, IMO, keeps themeparks from fully achieving the major goals of an MMO. In many ways themepark expansions are more sequels than additions, as the new content replaces the old, much like a single-player sequel moves you fully from the original game into something new, only connected by key characters or a basic setting/theme. This is not ‘bad’, but it’s not really an expansion to what you currently play, and the more you try to “mix it up” in the sequel/expansion, the higher the player turnover is likely to be.

True expansion however is not the easiest thing to design. For instance, if you expand by adding new races/classes, you have to ensure that they don’t replace existing options. The more combinations, the harder the balancing act to keep everyone viable becomes. Same goes for content; if the new content you add is superior to older content (be it better drops, a higher reward/effort ratio, or simply being more fun to play), you run the risk of changing the options for your players rather than increasing them.

It’s a true reflection of solid design that I’m not only still entertained by running missions in EVE, but that four years later they are still very viable in terms of profit, group content, and overall progression. That my ship from four years ago is also viable (not only in missions, but with minor changes also for incursion (raids)) also reflects this. Hell, the fact that my character is still considered decently advanced (25m SP), rather than completely outdated, says a lot.

At the same time new options are available to him since I last played. Incursions sound very interesting, planetary interaction is out there, I need to learn about worm holes, invention, T3, exploration, and… well I’m sure I’m missing a few others. And that’s just PvE. I have no doubts PvP tactics have changed dramatically as well.

The ultimate bonus here is that all of it will come to me at the pace I set. The server has not “moved on” from missions and the basics I’m doing now, so I’m not alone rushing to catch back up to “the real game” like I would in most other MMOs. I know I’ll get to incursions, but if it’s not this week, or the next, the crowd won’t be on “tier two” incursions, nor will CCP release “tier one” incursion catch-up gear, or reduce current incursions to ‘solo-friendly’ status.

As excited as I am about CCP returning its focus to Flying-in-Space, I’m just as excited that current FiS will still be perfectly viable until I decide to move on.


More wipes please!

October 28, 2011

I’m pretty sure our guild back in 2005/6 wiped more than 400 times in AQ40. Had BC not been announced, I know damn well we would have wiped a lot more in Nax40. We wiped on Onyxia, we wiped in MC, we wiped in BWL. And the more attempts it took for us to finally get a fight right, the more rewarding it felt to finally get him/her/it. And it also kept us subscribed and logging in. It kept our guild going, it made me some internet friends I still talk to today, and most importantly, it was a lot of fun.

And yes, at one point, between managing the guild, running raids, carrying ‘bads’, and main-tanking, it got a little much. But in all honesty, that was my fault. I let things get out of control, and that was on me. Blaming the game is about as credible as blaming alcohol for being addictive; somehow plenty of people can handle it (which is different than, say, heroin, which has a pretty definitive rate of “who can handle it”).

If you argue that it would be better to only wipe 50 (pick a number) times per boss before making progress, you need to offer up a solution to the problem of content burn. If I’m wiping 350-ish times less per boss, but playing the same amount, are you going to magically increase content creation by that same amount? No? Well now we have a real problem.

And if wiping 400 times truly was a major issue, the players would communicate that to you; they would stop playing and quit the game. The reverse happened when raiding (and the rest of the game, by comparison) was ‘hard’ in the early days, and that’s the exactly what happened when raiding (and the rest of the game) got easy in WotLK/Cata. Even if you feel like you would rather wipe 50 instead of 400, ask yourself what happens after you clear that 50-wipes instance? Or what happens to your guild? If the answer is something close to “we go inactive”, is that really a positive result? I’m pretty sure I play MMOs to play them, and the more stable the community, the better my experience tends to be.

On a higher level, doing the same thing over and over is pretty normal. You don’t mix up the chess pieces after 50 games, do you? You don’t ask the casino to switch up the Hold-em Poker rules after 50 hands, right? And with around 1000 games of LoL under my belt, I’m not looking for Summoner’s Rift to get revamped.

If the ‘content’ is solid, and if the design is good enough to stay interesting after X times, the actual number of ‘attempts’ shouldn’t matter. If anything, you SHOULD be looking forward to finding that encounter that is going to cause 400+ wipes and keep you coming back. That’s solid content.


Time to be a coward

October 27, 2011

What happens when you trip over yourself one too many times? Get the ban stick out!

It’s funny that Tobold denies deleting my comment in that thread, yet despite seeing the follow-up comment I made here (not deleted yet), he stayed quiet. Strange huh? Not like this is the same guy who disabled comments because of his thin skin in the past, or has gone on crazy censorship sprees when the mood strikes. Nope, totally different guy.

Good times. Off to pick up that 8,000,000 vanity item for my spreadsheet sim.


Picking up what the Panda-man is selling

October 27, 2011

First let me explain to anyone who did not play Warcraft 3, or has simply forgotten, where exactly the Pandarian character made an appearance: in bonus/side/secret missions. Missions that were not part of the lore for that game. The space marine also has a model in WC3, is he part of WC lore? (Answer: Not yet!) At the time, the character was an inside joke brought to life by Blizzard. That they now claim that the Kung Fu Pandas are ‘serious’ is PR spin. That or the interns working on WoW today were too young to remember/play WC3.

Next, the Warcraft lore was the Warhammer IP. Feel free to Google up that whole tale, but its fact not opinion. Consider what WoW is today and you will see just how true to the lore Blizzard has been over the years.

Blizzard games have always included bits of humor. Everyone knows this. It’s why /dance in 2004 was as silly as it is today. But much like the Panda in WC3, /dance in 2004 was not really part of the game’s lore. It was a known side joke. Again, something that Blizzard has always done. Diablo has pretty serious lore, yet also contains such jokes. Would the Panda fit into Diablo 3? (answer: Not yet!)

All of that said, lore has never been a strength of WoW, in part because even in 2004 they had already strayed too far away from the source material. And really MoP is not about what jokes the Pandas will say or just how silly their /dance will be. We all know, today, without actually seeing it, that it will all be over-the-top childish and cute. We can all see the audience Blizzard is, and has been, shifting WoW to. That’s been covered. The panda is just the salesman pitching the gameplay, and the gameplay he is selling is not the same gameplay you bought in 2004, no matter how ‘serious’ you intend to play.

MoP clearly has gameplay aimed at children, and if child-like games are your thing, you should be excited for the expansion. If you were hoping for content and gameplay closer to what WoW once was, be that time period vanilla, BC, WotLK, or (god help you) Cata, you are not the audience Blizzard is looking for with WoW now.


Fake life online

October 25, 2011

I want to talk about the difference between PvP players who want to win, versus people online who are trolls or whatever meme is current this week to call idiots out as idiots, because I think people sometimes lump the two together. This is somewhat inspired by Syp’s post about LoL, although I want to be clear that I’m not targeting him or anything (it’s not Friday and all that). Rather his post about avoiding the crowd and playing bots just kinda got me thinking. (Although to echo what I said on his site, how he enjoys playing against bots in LoL is indeed beyond me)

I don’t troll when I’m playing a ranked game of LoL, but I’m also not that “hey team, let’s all have fun! We are all here to have a good time, win or lose!”  guy either. Actually I hate people like that. If you don’t care about winning, why are you playing ranked? If your skin is so thin that being called out by your team for playing poorly, most likely not in a PC way, is going to ruin the game for you, don’t play. This expectation that everyone should play nice all the time, no matter how horrible you are as a player, makes no sense to me.

There is a massive difference between someone intentionally feeding (trolling), and someone feeding so hard it looks like its intentional. The troll thing is going to happen, it’s the internet and you can’t punch idiots in the face when they act up, so they get away with it. But if your play is so bad that it looks like you are intentionally feeding, you should EXPECT to get called out on it. You just ruined a game for four other people. 20 minutes or more of my life I can’t get back because you screwed up, repeatedly.

Which is not to say I’ve never had such a game. I have. But when I do, and when the team chat gets ugly, I don’t cry myself to sleep asking why the world is so cruel. When you fuck up you should expect, and honestly, hope, that someone is going to care enough to point it out. It’s asking too much of the internet to also show you how NOT to keep fucking up, or to point it out kindly, but it’s not like you don’t have ample resources available to you to figure it out.

People that “don’t mind” losing drive me nuts. Who the hell takes pride in a “good effort champ” trophy? To steal a phrase, it’s completely fake life. In real life, ‘trying’ means nothing if ultimately trying resulting in failing. The result matters, not the approach. You don’t get points on your year-end review at work for trying on that project you totally botched. You don’t get a break because you put a lot of effort in your research when your stock portfolio tanks. Yet somehow in fake life land, we should accept failure and not react to it? What?

And ultimately, the ‘why’ behind being flamed is far more important than the ‘what’. Whether someone just calls you stupid, or writes out a detailed essay about how you should die for being a bleep bleep, the end-game is the same; don’t do that. And if you accept the ‘why’, and next time you don’t feed or wipe the raid or whatever, suddenly the internet is a fun place full of rainbows and GGs. But you are never going to reach rainbow land if you stay in “never care/try” world. Your choice of course, but IMO you are missing out. Rainbows are pretty sweet.


EVE: Picking up right where I left off

October 25, 2011

Returning to EVE has reminded me of some of the basic design differences between the game and most others in its genre. I think these points are taken for granted by EVE players, and are somewhat unknown aspects to non-EVE players.

My combat pilot was created in 2007 and has just under 25m skill points. He was last heavily played in 2008-9, and his former Corporation has since gone inactive. My mining/industry alt (2nd account) has somewhere around 22m SP, and has not been in a player-run Corp since 2008. Both pilots are in Amarr space, based out of Taru. My combat pilot joined up with a newly formed Corp (DiS), led by some 0.0 veterans who want to teach new players about PvE and PvP.

Last night I was able to jump into my Rohk battleship, the same one I used in 2008, and run some level four missions with some DiS pilots out of Taru. Name an MMO where you can return after almost four years and not only pick right back up, but still have that very same content ‘viable’ in terms of rewards and player interest? Hell, name an MMO where you can use ANYTHING, let alone an entire ship with fits (character level + full gear set would be the themepark equivalent) from four years ago and have it do a perfectly fine job of tanking/dps’ing high-level content?

One of the DiS pilots had a Noctis, a new-ish ship that is specialized in pulling in wrecks and salvaging them. The ship is designed to fit the role my Destroyer filled back in 2008; a ship you bring out once the mission is cleared to loot/salvage.

The Noctis was better at the role, with longer tractor beam range, larger cargo hold, and faster salvaging. My Destroyer was still perfectly viable. It’s also much cheaper, and much easier to fly. Again, name an MMO where the ‘newbie’ version of something is still viable when someone can bring the ‘vet’ version?

A better-known example of this also happened last night. I was in a battleship, but one of the newer players in DiS was in a cruiser, as he did not have the skill points to fly anything bigger. A cruiser, especially at his proficiency, has no chance in a level four mission solo. Yet as part of our fleet, he not only was able to come along, he contributed in a meaningful way, knocking out smaller ships that I would normally have trouble with. The bounty and mission reward ISK were huge for him, and he was very happy to get the chance to come along. From my perspective, he made running the missions much smoother, and also safer (frigates web/scramble, which prevents escape should things get ugly, so knocking them out is critical).

Finally, the fact that Taru is still a viable mission hub, after all these years, should not be understated. Again, if I log into almost any other MMO after four years, what are the odds that the content around me is still viable? That I can just pick right up and continue doing what I was doing all those years ago?

Which is not to say new content is not available to me. Incursions, worm holes, and who knows what else are all out there, and DiS plans to experience them, but those additions don’t obsolete older content. It’s a crime that in the MMO genre this is the exception rather than the norm.


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