Quick thoughts on Civilization VI

Sorry for the lack of posts around here, no excuse other than being lazy and nothing in gaming really jumping out to me and screaming “write a post!”.

Civ 6 is out, and I’ve played it a little this morning. So far I’m really enjoying it, from the graphics to the design changes. Its a bit early to tell, but right now I have a feeling Civ 6 is a solid step forward for the franchise, changing enough to feel new, but keeping the spirit of the series alive. More about it next week once I have some solid time under my belt.

Posted in Civilization Series | 6 Comments

EVE: Gambling banned, shrinking the sandbox

And so gambling in EVE has been banned. Along with that, bans have been handed out to individuals associated with the gambling sites who sold ISK for real money. Right now EVE Reddit (generally an anti-goon place) is rejoicing, as are of course Goons (who lost the Casino War because most of EVE was paid to fight us via casino-made ISK).

I’m glad CCP banned those who they caught selling ISK for real money. That has long been against the rules, and it’s CCP’s job to enforce the rules they created. It’s news-worthy today because of the association to the gambling sites, but these bannings aren’t anything new in terms of policy.

I’m not as happy about the banning of gambling in EVE, because it not only has a rich history in the game, but because it also puts a new limit on the sandbox. Betting on the alliance tournament was fun, and as Jester pointed out on Reddit, a lot of community events were funded or greatly assisted by gambling websites (which is good business for them because the publicity ultimately helps them), and with all of those now banned, we won’t be seeing as many events as we once did.

There is also the reality of how much this actually changes things. One of the main problems Goons had with the Casino War was that there was no in-game way to fight IWI (the gambling site that paid everyone to fight goons). The reality however is that if someone with the means still wants to use outside funding to influence the game, they still can. How do you stop a billionaire in the real world dropping 500k in PLEX to do what Lenny did? They aren’t breaking the rules, and you can do just as much about that situation as Goons could in the Casino War.

Ok, lets say CCP removes PLEX, so you can no longer convert real money into ISK legally. Does that fix the ‘problem’? Nope. Case in point, this story about a $75,000 bounty put on a wormhole alliance to evict them. How do you stop someone outside the game contacting another player and saying “I’ll give you X amount of real money if you declare war on this group”? You can’t, just like you can’t stop the leaders of, say, the top four alliances in the game saying “fuck it, we are all going to ally now and fully control the game to kill it because we can”. With enough motivation, ability, and the means, the players can do just about anything in EVE, which is why the sandbox is as awesome as it is. Banning gambling goes against that, without really solving the problem people perceived as existing.

TAGN post about the topic, with links to others.

Posted in Goons, Rant, RMT | 6 Comments

EVE: Adding PI to the mix to make a little profit

My adventures in EVE continue to entertain. Right now I’m still doing some ratting in my pimp-fit Rattlesnake, with my alt in a Noctis providing cleanup, doing Incursions as they come up in my Barghest, and have most recently added Planetary Interaction (PI) to my marketing mix of importing good from Jita to sell in the KarmaFleet home staging system of 7G.

I don’t have the same level of hate others have for PI. It’s not thrilling, sure, but if you like setting up production chains and dipping into min/max territory, it’s really not that bad. Plus it scales, so if you want it to be really hands off, you can do that with longer cycle times, while if you want to really push it, you can set it up for a daily schedule if not shorter.

PI in null also has the added challenge that you can also get blown up, be it when you go to pick your stuff up or when you try to haul it to a market hub. Delve is fairly safe these days because Goons put in a lot of effort to keep it that way, but it’s still null and danger can always strike. One of the reasons I have my PI setup in 7G is because the travel is reduced. I don’t need to leave the system to pick my goods up, and I can sell them right in our home citadel as well. Prices might not be the best, but with the alliances high need for PI, they aren’t terrible either.

Speaking of profit, PI is a reinforcement of how well the EVE economy works, in that activities that most see as ‘boring’ or ‘unfun’ are the ones that pay the most, and how profit-driven you are will really determine what you do in the game. It’s no secret that ultra-boring activities like station-to-station hauling in high-sec is profitable. But the real reason one can make ISK in that area isn’t market genius, but rather because most players won’t spend their time doing something that boring. For many, ratting is more fun, even if its not as profitable. You still make ‘enough’ ISK, all without constantly doing something that makes you want to blow your brains out.

PI is a ‘blow your brains out’ activity for many, which is why despite being so low-entry and ‘easy’, it pays decent ISK/effort. 5M ISK or so gets you a full setup, while to null-rat at a good clip you need to spent a billion ISK or more (to say nothing about the danger of losing your ratting ship vs the risk of PI-related losses). Yet we have far more ratters than PI people, just like we have far more ratters than haulers or traders.

That’s the massive difference between success in a virtual world vs the real world. In the real world people have to work, which for many is near-zero fun but must be done, and where profit is often times the ONLY motivation. With that profit/fun balance being so different, making a lot of money in the real world becomes far harder, because the competition is far greater. In a virtual world, even one such as EVE, you aren’t competing against most players, as the population of people who play almost exclusively for money is very small, which is also why that group is absurdly rich (multi-trillions of ISK is the low-end here, while organizations like IWI are dealing with ISK amounts in the quadrillions.) If you focus just a bit on profit, you can get ‘enough’ ISK to then go and do whatever it is you consider fun, be it PvP, higher-end PvE, or random side project.

Posted in EVE Online | 2 Comments

Bad advice is bad, but entertaining in small doses

A few people have sent me links to Gevlon’s blog since he picked up League of Legends, and I must say it’s been interesting reading so far. In a lot of ways the posts are similar to when Gevlon first started playing EVE, only instead of tackle titan theorycraft and hauling badgers ‘to get rich’, we have stuff like ‘mute everyone’ and ‘don’t gank early as a jungler’. If you don’t know better, it seems like correct advice, but people who actually do know what they are talking about know it’s just bad/flawed advice.

Gevlon’s goal for LoL is to be in the top 10% in ranked play, which is sorta like setting the bar for being ‘rich’ in EVE at being in the top 10% of ISK in your wallet. Basically, almost anyone who actually tries/cares can do it with a bit of effort, so the goal is almost automatically reached simply by showing up. But that has always been one of the boring flaws with Gevlon; he talks a lot and sees himself as making a difference, but ultimately accomplishes very little (though as I’ve said before, being so pants-head insane for so long that CCP recognizes you for it is a pretty major accomplishment on its own).

Top 10% in League is upper Gold, depending on region. Gold rank isn’t bad (Silver seriously is full of people who don’t understand even the basics of the game, while I can’t even imagine the kind of creatures down in bronze), but I also don’t think it’s a difficult achievement. From personal experience over the years, both with my own account (floating in Plat, from 1 to 5 depending on how much I play LoL vs other games), and watching my wife play (floating between gold and plat), the level of play down in Gold is somewhat significantly different than in plat+, both on a micro and macro level. People understand the basics in gold, but it’s still a level where basic mistakes are common (not warding for example), and the toxicity level is still pretty high. The number of afk or ragers in my wife’s games vs my own is very noticeable.

To go back to the Gevlon and EVE comparison however, Gevlon right now is doing the league equivalent of hauling badgers. For example, he is now focused on solo’ing dragon as Warwick because he believes that is statistically the best play. What Gevlon doesn’t understand is that kind of play doesn’t exist in higher ranks, because in higher ranks the other 9 players aren’t so bad as to fully ignore objectives and not ward them. Does it work in Silver? Sure. But almost anything works in Silver. If Gevlon ganked top lane at level 3 well in every game, he would go up in rank. If Gevlon ganked mid line directly at 6, he would win more games. Hell, if he simple doesn’t make massive mistakes and doesn’t go afk, Gevlon will move up in ranks in Silver. That’s how low the bar is at that level. But making badger-hauling ISK, or Silver-winning plays, doesn’t translate to top-level success. No one got truly EVE-rich hauling badgers (or skillbooks for that matter), and no one is hitting plat+ because they focus on soloing dragon with WW at lvl 5.

Let’s take instantly muting everyone for example. At lower levels people don’t generally talk strategy because people (like Gevlon) don’t understand the game well enough yet, so muting or ignoring chat doesn’t have a high correlation to winning or losing. But if you are thin-skinned enough to let chat bother you in general, that’s a flaw you have whether you are in silver or diamond, and is going to be something you will be fighting against going forward.

At higher levels, if you instantly mute everyone, and your jungler tells you they are coming to a lane at X time, you are going to lower your chance of winning by not helping to set that plan up. If you are in bot lane and your partner says they are going to go all-in at a certain point, having them muted is going to lower your chance of winning when that play goes south. From a blind perspective, Gevlon will see that as the laning partner making a dumb play. For the other 4 people on his team, he is going to be seen as someone who failed to make a play. In Gevlon’s crazy world view, he will think he is right. In the real world, his rank growth will be hindered by his own bad advice (muting everyone).

So if you follow Gevlon’s advice for LoL, much like his advice for EVE, you might climb out of Silver or be ‘rich’ enough to hire a small group like MoA to buzz around accomplish nothing of true importance (You’ll have to find a different group than MoA however, as they are now renter pets). If you aim a little higher and want to be truly EVE-rich, or climb higher in LoL, Gevlon’s advice should be used for what it is; batshit crazy entertainment only.

Posted in Blogroll, EVE Online, League of Legends | 2 Comments

Trigger warning for Gevlon

How many posts (you can estimate by the dozens) would Gevlon sperg out about this CCP tweet if he hadn’t ‘quit’ EVE and was off playing League of Legends with the one-armed children down in Silver V?

Posted in Blogroll | 4 Comments

EVE: Rat droppings and bling

Ratting in Delve has left me with plenty of ISK to play with, and I’m still missing about 60 days worth of training to properly fly a carrier. So I’ve instead invested 1.3b ISK into an Incursion ship, and joined that SIG in the Imperium. With the ship (a Barghest) purchased in Jita and shipped out to Delve, its now a matter of waiting for an Incursion to come around to our local neighborhood.

Speaking of ratting going well, a recent Dark Blood spawn dropped a nice little 400m implant for me a few days ago. That, along with getting back to back 10/10 escalations, really pushed my wallet up. And overall Goons are killing it in terms of PvE performance, as Delve is now the number 1 spot for NPC deaths. Guess lots of people missed ratting after The Casino War (and also tells you all you need to know about how important the balance of PvP and PvE is, even an a ‘PvP’ MMO like EVE).

PvP-wise I’ve been in a few fleets recently, mostly just neighborhood cleanup stuff, along with a few trips via wormholes. I think things will pick up with NC/PL going to war with CO2/Test, though only if CO2/Test are dumb enough to continue throwing ships into the meatgrinder. I’m also hopeful we show up to their important fights, and put that whole “MBC will stop and shoot goons” theory to the test. Something tells me that might not be the case.

Posted in EVE Online | 3 Comments

Clash Royale: We fixed tourneys by getting you not to play tourneys!

With the most recent update to Clash Royale, SuperCell ‘fixed’ Tournaments by… basically replacing them with the arena system from Hearthstone (as all things Blizzard, I’m sure HS wasn’t the first game to introduce such a system, but you know what I mean).

On the one hand, the arena system is fine. Lose 3 you are out, top prize is after 12 wins, tourney rules, etc etc. Its a good addition to the game, especially because the costs to enter are 10 gems (basically nothing) and 100 gems. Sure the rewards aren’t great, but if you are looking to play some extra games of CR, this isn’t a bad option.

What is unfortunate is that they didn’t fix tournaments. There was a ton of hoopla around emotes (you can now mute people), and how for so long SC kept them on to ‘evoke strong emotions’, yet tourneys did just that. You saw the names of the people you were against, you knew their position, and you knew when you were in an important match against someone up high. All of that, IMO, was very important, and made tourneys feel different from grinding out chest crowns.

The other big addition were cash shop changes, with the game now more directly selling you epics and legendaries via new chests. Its an example of what F2P forces developers to do when the money starts slowing down, as it was for CR. It’s not a ‘game is dead’ addition, in fact its perfectly fine IMO, but its not one that happens if CR was able to continue making money as steadily as CoC or BB. Problem is I just don’t see CR having that kind of shelf life or sustainability, so changes to get people back and paying will happen.

For me right now CR is my 3rd game, behind Clash of Clans and Boom Beach. Its fun to play a game or two, but more than that it feels like too much of a grind a lot of days, which is a bad sign considering CR is the newest game of the three, by more than a full year.

Recruitment reminder: We have a couple spots in both Boom Beach and Clash of Clans (search for “Supreme Cream!”), so if you are interested in joining our merry band of misfits, apply and mention the blog. New players welcome, we will train you up!

Posted in Boom Beach, Clash of Clans, Clash Royale, Inquisition Clan