Occupancy Sovereignty Outline

One more quick one tonight, just to make sure I get it done.

With my latest post over on TMC, I really ought to get all the details I’ve been throwing around my head and occasionally at other people down on paper. A good way to start, though, would be to just sketch out the very basic skeleton. So, without further adieu:

  • Do whatever to the capture mechanics themselves. While the specifics absolutely matter, from a generic perspective it seems obvious that usage & occupancy will interact with them in some way as to make a highly occupied system more resistant to capture. On one end of the spectrum you’ve got the system touted by Endie and others, where usage literally is the sovereignty, and on the other end you’ve got it merely playing a role. I prefer it merely playing a role. Since this is just a skeleton post though, pretend that the Dominion mechanics stay in place largely as-is, with a few tweaks. The important tweak is a massive nerf to the EHP of the structures involved, we’ll revisit why (even though it’s probably obvious) later.
  • Revamp existing anomalies, other pve content and mining. This isn’t actually strictly necessary, but is a really good idea. My feeling is that any system in nullsec should have a basic standard of livability when at level 5 roughly similar to what you get out of a level 5 system with -1.0 sec now. Not TOTALLY even – better truesec already has a mining edge by virtue of their grav sites spawning the +5% and +10% ores and ice sites spawning more and better ice. Extending that concept to ratting, then, if you imagine that chain-farming sanctums and havens is worth 100m isk/hr, then lower end sites like Ports and such ought to come in around 80-90m/hr. At the base level (what I consider to be the current level 5) anywhere in nullsec ought to be undeniably worth living in, without making everything quite so homogenous as to remove reason to lust after better space. This is sort of what Greyscale tried to do back in 2012, but he badly missed the mark. More on that in the next point. One minor aside – Endie’s proposal uses missions, which I don’t like. However, they do alleviate UI based complications (eg finding one open anomaly amongst twenty in a busy system), and they oblige the users of space to move about that space instead of sitting tight in one system chaining sites. Both concepts are definitely worth incorporating, even if a purely mission based system isn’t.
  • Extend the military and industry indices out a number of levels. For the sake of argument just imagine they now go up to 25, and at successively higher levels you unlock new and interesting things. More solo content, more group content (especially more group content.) Incursion magnets? How about a Comet attractor…finally a way to implement “ring mining?” Use your imagination. Critical here is that the quality of what you can unlock is affected by the truesec of the system far moreso than in the base five levels, to the point where certain things are flat out unavailable in lower quality systems. Significant disparities at that point are more acceptable, since there’s a reasonable “base standard of living” everywhere. “We definitely make more than if we stayed in highsec so we’re okay here…but man, the Comet Array our neighbors are able to install is awesome, and one day we’ll take it from them!”
  • Leveling the indices up increases the usage needed to maintain any given system as well as the usage to raise the level further based on (at the very minimum) the total number of levels within your sov. Each extra system you want to raise is that much more difficult to maintain as a result. The equation to figure the usage for any given system at any given level would have some kind of exponential form.
  • Only usage by the sovholder counts towards the indices; unaffiliated usage does nothing at best, actually harms your levels at worst. This is critical as a check against the idea of splitting an alliance up and having each sub-alliance (“Goonswarm One”, “Goonswarm Two”, etc) take a portion of a much larger area of space. While it doesn’t prevent it outright, well… I happen to remember the drama and other problems Goons had way back in the day, before Sovereignty (the skill) existed and we had to form Goonfleet and Goonwaffe, and that was just living in Syndicate with nothing really at stake. If an alliance tried to segregate its members lest they damage their notional alliancemates’ space, well… the results wouldn’t be pretty. I do think there’s room here for treaties to allow shared usage without it being gamebreaking, but the why & how are details so we’ll leave them for now.
  • Moving on to the Strategic index, which also brings us back to capture mechanics. Link the strategic index into the other two indices, and extend it out to level 25 as well. It’ll progress up the levels naturally overtime just as it does now, but the expressed level would be capped by some combo of the other two levels. As moving up the strategic index would unlock all the upgrades it offers now as well as new stuff, including system defensive bonuses and the like – getting some of that lost EHP back – the effect is that an unused system would be very easy to take.
  • It would be preferable to have most or all of the new structures and upgrades accessible via the improved indices implemented as stand-alone structures that can be attacked/disabled/hacked/etc, breaking the infrastructure within the system out into discrete targets. Difficulty to take them down would be anything but flat – high value upgrades would generally be harder to take down than low value ones, and if there are multiple means of affecting them (there should be!) then the damage caused by each mechanism should be in line with the time & difficulty of doing it. This would be a tricky balance to hit – the idea is you want people to be active in defending their space, lest roamers be allowed to muck about with their infrastructure, but you don’t want a primarily USTZ alliance to have to spend the first hour of their primetime cleaning up the mess made by their EUTZ neighbors while they were all at work and vice versa.
  • And finally – do away with sov costs entirely. Yeah, you heard me right. No I’m not going to justify it now – it’s novel and a complete departure from almost every other suggestion I’ve seen, so I want to throw it out there undefended and see what kind of conversation it sparks.

That just about covers the basics. Yes, I consider several multi-sentence points to be “the basics”, is there a problem with that?

There is one other major aspect that has to be treated as well. If one of the goals of an occupancy system is to make leaving your space a considered choice, usage is one half of that coin. Power projection is the other, primarily projection involving cynos (if an occupancy system succeeds in prompting coalitions to break up & generally shrinks the amount of space any single alliance holds, jump bridges are even less of a factor than they already aren’t.) There are three basic avenues, any or all of which could do the trick. The most obvious is restricting mobility, anything from cooldowns to shorter ranges to the nuclear option of forcing them to take gates and re-imagining jump drives as a tactical (rather than strategic) movement ability – an MJD writ large, if you will. There’s also the option of redefining their role, which primarily involves looking at carriers and supercarriers; Dreads are already reasonably well balanced within the meta due to their niche and high vulnerability, and even Titans are arguably in an okay place. Finally, redefining the capture mechanics could significantly limit the usefulness of capital power projection, seeing as their most important role (aside from deterrence) is rapid grinding of EHP bricks.

 

Goddamn, over 1300 words for a skeleton. An outline. A summary. Frightning, ain’t it? But with this out there, it ought to encourage me to put in the effort to flesh it out.

CSM9 Update: Week Sixteen

So, Somer got taken out back and shot. Anything else need to be said? I don’t think so. Not publicly, anyway – the summit is just over three weeks out now, and I look forward to talking a bit more about it with CCP if the opportunity arises. Or if it doesn’t, for that matter. Of course, something something volcano…

Hyperion lands tomorrow with a fairly muted feature set, on account primarily of plenty of devs taking their Summer vacations after Crius. We get (among other things) some minor ship balancing work (if you can call the Ishtar changes that), Incursion adjustments, some wormhole tweaks that look minor to me but are apparently apocalyptic and so consequently have swarms wormhole pilots (the most hardcore & adaptable people in the game, to hear them tell it) fleeing their space like rats. There are also “Burner” missions (details here if you’re not familiar). Some clever hacks have endowed them with player-like abilities including the ability to use and be affected by Warp Scramblers. They’re still using existing NPC mechanics and so will undoubtedly be mastered in short order, but nevertheless demonstrate that we won’t necessarily be waiting for the new content tools to finish before actually getting new content. For my part, I want to see these extended upwards to higher ship classes, and also expanded out to pit you against small groups of foes working in concert. Imagine, for example, facing down two of the Daredevil NPCs at once, or a mission aimed at battleships that pits you against a half dozen cruiser NPCs.

We’re also due for a Town Hall sometime in the next month. I believe we’ve got the date finalized, but Mangala has taken point on organizing it, so I’ll merely tease and leave the actual announcement to him.

And that’s all for this brief week. I think there are just a few devs left on vacation and they’ll be returning shortly, so we’ll be back in full swing as we move towards the Summit and beyond that, Oceanus at the end of September.

A History of (my) Money

A Note: As I wrote this, I realized it’s not so much “A History of My Money” as it is “A History of What I’ve Done in Eve”. Even ‘back in the day’ when I logged in and PvPed a lot more than I do now, splashing about in the economic and meta side of the game has always been my real interest, and it is perhaps failure to fully appreciate that that accounts for my handful of burnouts over my career.

Every now and then I get asked about how I made all my isk. Most recently, that came in the form of “mynnna, did you amass your wealth reasonably gradually, or was it one big score that capitalised you and facilitated all the bigger plays?”

“Some of both” doesn’t say very much, and since talking about yourself is always fun, why not?

My net value in-game hovers right around two trillion isk, overwhelmingly concentrated in a pile of assets in Jita 4-4. That doesn’t include characters, which are worth another 500b isk even valued merely at PLEX value (divide the value of a PLEX by the SP you can train in a month and that’s a sensible if simplified minimum character value.) Most of that is moon minerals that I’m still waiting on for eventual appreciation in value, and if I hold them long enough for them to go where I expect, that number climbs to more like three and a half to four trillion. Sounds like a big number, and certainly is, but one thing to keep in mind – I’m far from the richest person in EVE. The most visible candidate for that title is probably Somer Mahm, operator of Somer Blink. If Somer’s personal take of the nearly two quadrillion isk the operation prominently claims winners have taken home is even just 1%, that’s twenty trillion isk. And, with the average margin on each and every paid Blink rarely sitting lower than 20-25%, there’s every reason to believe it’s higher. Then again, so much of those winnings are in the form of credit that just gets wagered again, and of course there are all the promos, freebies, and *cough* “giveaways”. Nevertheless, there’s ample money and even more assets floating around New Eden, and consequently there are fortunes out there that dwarf mine. The difference is that for the most part, they’re not so public about it.

But I digress. One of the things that’d probably be most surprising to people is how relatively little time it took for me to amass what I do have. While I’ve played since early 2006, the vast bulk of my fortune has only really come in just the past year. The short answer to the original question would be something like “I didn’t really make money very well at all at first, then I started amassing it reasonably gradually, and then it exploded as a result of a tremendous succession of big scores.”

The long answer is, well, longer. I started playing in March of 2006 and for much of the rest of the year was actually pretty alarmingly carebeary, taking advantage of the mining and ratting in Syndicate to claw my way to the ability to farm the Intaki Space Police agent in that constellation. Back then, those agents gave out offers for Snake Implants, so if you were lucky enough to get one (there was no LP store then, just random periodic “missions” where you traded LP for whatever you were offered) it was quite a boon. Despite losing my first ever Snake Omega to a gatecamping pirate in a sniping battleship in lowsec (for I had no instas) I managed to make and retain perhaps a billion isk. To the modern “average goon” that’s pocket change, but at the time it was quite a hefty fortune. By the end of our accidental invasion of XZH, though, I was basically flat broke, as were most goons. Even if we’d had the alliance-wide capacity to do SRP, the notion was an exceedingly foreign one in EVE at large at the time; even if it hadn’t been, Remedial (the CEO of the era) was a staunch free market libertarian type who would have scoffed at such an idea anyway.

After XZH, of course, there was Band of Brothers. “There are no goons, goodbye” and all that drivel. I actually simply got my hands on new mission equipment and moved up to Poitot (something something named system) and got a little money back, in between hilarious antics involving mass newbie ship swarms with gimmicky names. After BoB declared victory and departed, we moved to Scalding Pass, blah blah blah a lot of history goes here. Over the next year and a half or so I dabbled in various things – ratting, the Serpentis agents in Curse, even my first of a handful of forays into Industry – needless to say, building battleships deep in nullsec before Jump Freighters existed was sort of like industry hardcore mode, and 40-50 hulls a week was an impressive number. Still, my predilection towards flying and occasionally losing expensively fit Vagabonds while harassing Lokta Volterra and other foes meant I largely lived hand to mouth, never really building up much of a reserve.

At some point mid-2008, after running one exploration complex to learn the system and coming out with a few hundred million isk, I decide to try my hand at station trading. It wasn’t nearly so crowded a profession as it is today and finding items with generous margins was often trivial. Over the next six months, that isk turned into 18 billion. A modest success, but more than I’d ever made before, to be sure. Then I quit, burned out over EVE and something else, and – sure I’d never come back – gave most of it away.

Just a few months later, BoB was disbanded, and I resubbed along with many others. Before long I was back to station trading. However, after my previous relative fortune, I found fooling around with a scant few billion isk decidedly unsatisfying, so I decided to short circuit the process. I launched a bond offering, looking for 50 billion isk at a 10% return. Rather unlike bond offerings in the Market Discussions forum (a practice that is, these days, all but dead thanks to one scam after another) Goons are largely trusting of other Goons, and I’d never been shy about talking about my previous successes. One more helpful factor is that Goons were (and still are) lazy, and so will jump at any way of easy isk. Letting someone else make isk for you, of course, is the easiest way possible. In just a couple of days, I had my 50 billion isk, and very quickly hit the opposite problem – it’s actually quite a bit of work to keep 50b isk active, at least when you’re limited to generic margin trading. Which, I was – back then I was quite a bit less knowledgeable about the markets, so “trade across the margin” was it. Fortunately, a different opportunity presented itself – faction arbitage. Goons might be lazy, but the average line member is nonetheless a prolific ratter, something usually visible on Dotlan. That includes exploration, too. Back then, however, we lacked the shipping services we have today, so imports and exports to and from Empire was a lot harder. And once you got your faction loot there, you had to deal with contracts to sell it. Contracts couldn’t be easily adjusted, didn’t last all that long, and so no one else wanted to deal with them, either. “Dump to buy orders” wasn’t an option, because what buy contracts did exist were tremendous lowballs priced at half or less the sale value of the item. It seemed like a niche. I purchased a Jump Freighter and opened up shop. Sure enough, it was smashingly popular. To goons, getting 80-85% of market value instantly and without hassle beat the hell out of trying to get it sold themselves, and before long the venture had consumed most of my capital. Profits were good, and I all but neglected other trade in Jita in favor of lucrative market seeding in Delve. Alas, juggling school and EVE once again burned me out, and not long before Dominion, I very messily closed shop, liquidated my assets and paid off investors. In my haste I wasn’t overly concerned with wealth preservation for myself, and so was left with nothing but a few billion isk and a modest pile of a Neodymium and Technetium that, prompted by a brief but oddly informative devblog, I’d bought on a whim. Unfortunately, I sold them both (latter especially, of course) much too early, preferring to simply hold cash during my break from the game.

During that break, of course, Goonswarm famously dropped sovereignty in Delve and was disbanded by Karttoon shortly after. The alliance moved to Syndicate and then to eventually to Deklein. Tyrannis lands, along with it one of the largest single patch events the game has ever seen – the implementation of Planetary Interaction. A whole slew of previously NPC seeded goods were converted to player produced items… yet left on the market for some time. Dozens of goons and many other players besides made enormous investments, buying up those items for a small fraction of their brand new production cost. Guidance Systems are probably the most famous of them, and there are still multi-million unit stockpiles out in the wild even to this day. Alas, I was absent for this, still unsubbed, and so missed out on the opportunity for an overnight tenfold increase of my fortune. I came back sometime between Incursion and Incarna, promptly restarted the faction business (supplementing the 25 billion or so I had with another 30b isk bond that filled even faster than the first), and ran that for over a year. Goonswarm had, by then, recovered nicely from its trials after Delve and customers were abundant. Before long I had all the capital I needed to maintain operations, pay off the bond, and do other things, so I started looking around for other opportunities. Sure that CCP would fix R64s someday I started picking up Thulium, for example. No one had any idea when CCP might fix moons, but at less than 2,000 isk per unit, it seemed like a steal – a long term lotto ticket, if you will. There was money to be made on other events as well, of course.

Early in 2012 it came out that CCP would be adding all faction, deadspace and officer items to the market. Knowing full well that margin traders would drive buy and sell prices together and kill my business model (why sell to me for 80-85% when you could use the shipping services we then had to send it to Jita and dump for 90%+), I closed down the operation and unloaded my remaining loot. I was able to fully cash out well before the patch, though some other faction dealers were not quite so lucky. (Incidentally, I’d come close to figuring out that trick but was unknowingly crippled by my preference for setting contracts to one week expiration – the trick relied on absolute age and so required a two week duration to work. Kwark still paid handsomely for his own stock, though, and so I made good money flipping modules from Goon mission runners who had an odd, almost robotic level of output. Don’t ask, don’t tell.)  He took a large bath on his vast holdings. Infused with a surplus of cash, I set about getting more involved in the market. But I’d learned a lot over the past year or so and so got more into advanced trading and investment techniques, things that offered larger returns over longer timeframes and so took less effort, rather than simple margin trading. I did stumble onto this hilarious oversight just a few days before the thread was posted, and decided to buy up as much as I could, refine it, and then file a petition to let CCP know and sell after it was fixed. I was beat to the punch on the last part, but not putting almost a third of my isk into the books. As it turns out, CCP took it seriously enough to do a quick patch on a Sunday, quite a novel event even if it was as simple as temporarily removing the item from the market. A couple days later they reseeded it, but it refined into a few units of Tritanium at that point. Even then I know a few people who lost their shirts by not refining immediately. Indecisiveness rarely pays off when it comes to speculation.In any case, though, Pax Amarria was a one-shot thing, so I needed other things to do. Fortunately, as it turns out, I’d found them two weeks previous.

It’s a not-at-all kept secret that CCP’s “Chaos” test server can be connected to by anyone. You can’t log into it, but you can patch a client, and then use “Reverence” to sift through the data files and see what’s changed. These days CCP is quite a bit cagier about what they put there, and has been known to outright troll the players, but it wasn’t always the case. Early in March, I found, via a publicly posted “diff” (a differential change log) by Sarmatiko, the changes from that day. They included Rogue Drone rats getting bounties. The implications were rather obvious – the longstanding mineral fountain that were the Drone Regions were about to get hit with a nerfbat. Like most people, I assumed that the drone alloys overproduced high ends, and so their removal would cause them to spike. It was, in hindsight, an awfully shortsighted assumption. The mass production of Supercapitals with minerals sourced from those very alloys wasn’t exactly a secret, after all, and how could that be possible unless the alloys offered a relatively balanced mineral basket? Still, early knowledge via the Chaos leak meant I hit high ends hard, and well ahead of most other people, and it wouldn’t be long before my oversight would be corrected.

Around this time I actually took the time to acknowledge that Twitter existed and the #tweetfleet tag was a thing. It didn’t take me long to find the (now defunct) twitter feed of CCP Diagoras, and no time at all past that to become a big fan. Diagoras was part of CCP’s Research and Statistics team, among other things, and so each and every day tweeted things he found in the course of his work. The twitter feed is a wealth of information, some of it interesting from a trivia perspective, and some of it invaluable data providing a look into the guts of New Eden’s economy with a detail that’s never been seen since, and certainly never will be again – CCP knows better, these days. Given the upcoming changes, one set of tweets relating to the amount of minerals obtained through any sort of refining was obviously of interest. On first glance, they seemed to confirm my assumption. A few days later, though, that assumption flew out the window thanks to this set of tweets, which provided average mining volumes for February. When taken together, it was possible to roughly estimate where minerals from refining were actually coming from – mining, or non-mining sources? As it turned out, the data showed that those “non-mining sources”, the largest of which were the drone alloys, may have been providing as much as 40% of the game’s Zydrine and Megacyte, but also provided 60% of the Tritanium, Mexallon and Isogen and a whopping 70% of the game’s Pyerite and Nocxium.

Already I’d been planning to take my profit and move into low ends in anticipation of upcoming demand from Tiericide, as by then it was known that the initiative would involve adjusting build costs. Needless to say the revelation about what was really oversupplied sealed the deal and aside from a brief excursion to the edge of the sandbox, focused on shifting the bulk of my cash into low ends. While it turned out that high ends rose on that very same tiericide demand, taking the profit early to buy low ends was the right choice. I sold out into the mid-summer peak and profited handsomely, rebought after the hysteria and chaos diminished a bit, and split between building a relatively modest amount of cruisers and selling minerals to everyone else doing the same for Retribution. Rinse and repeat for Battlecruisers in Retribution 1.1, though those minerals were supplemented by the gains realized from a largely overlooked change involving scan probes and containers. It was all NPC seeded up until Retribution, and CCP decided to make them player built and seeded blueprints. As it turns out in the initial pass, though, they’d flubbed something – I want to say it was one of the containers, but I can’t remember for sure – and given it a dramatically higher mineral value than its current NPC value. And, they could be bought in infinite supply. The value was obvious, but fortunately I bided my time. Why tip CCP off? This proved to be a good thing, as just before the patch they caught and fixed the mistake. Scrambling to find something else to do with the isk I’d freed up, myself and a collaborator instead hit nearly every NPC sell of Gaze Survey Probe in the game, up until we’d bought enough to increase the price (many NPC commodities fluctuate in price based on buy and sell volume). As a humorous aside, some poor sap didn’t wait, and for all we know is still in possession of tens of thousands of overpriced containers a jump or two from Jita. Whoops.

Of course, well before all of that, but only a couple months after OTEC was announced (sidenote: OTEC was a complete sham, or more correctly, a hilarious and trolly name for a what was really little more than a NAP with other Technetium owners. The undersupply that drove the massive price spike was completely natural) came this trivial little devblog. Then brand new developer CCP Fozzie was taking a stab at the broken-ass state of moon minerals in EVE and seemed intent on doing it right. The first crack was introducing Alchemy, of course, but it seemed as though another rebalance of moon mineral inputs, much like the one that had broken things in the first place, was inevitable. If it weren’t obvious enough, the devblog even acknowledged that. As a result, I minimized (relatively speaking) my investments into Battlecruisers and Battleships and instead started acquiring more R64s. This time, I assumed, CCP would get it right.

CCP revealed Oddyssey at PAX East in late March, 2013, and needless to say, someone screwed up. It was still a month and a half to the expansion, and yet they showed off a slide like this? Despite the mistaken inclusion of Titanium rather than Thulium, the implication was extremely clear and made me very happy to be sitting on my cache of R64s. The Ice miner was a little more cryptic, yet just as telling in its own way. It offered no clue as to what CCP had planned, yet thanks to the nature of ice at the time – massive, literally infinite asteroids that could be mined by dozens of miners all day without exhausting – its value was in the crater. What could they possibly do to drive it lower? The most important factor in effective market speculation is getting in first, and so on the basis of that logic, I quickly and decidedly prematurely sold out of all of my tiericide Battlecruisers for a modest profit and dropped a pile of money on isotopes. That decision was vindicated a week or so later, when another Chaos leak showed ice belts vanishing from the game as static objects, and vindicated again by CCP Soundwave, who said in an interview I think ice is very underplayed as a very tactical resource. Like it should essentially be the oil of Eve Online… It would be good if it was something that people thought about instead of something you get from endless mining barges in Empire that may or may not be piloted by people.

Indeed.

Fast forward a bit, Fanfest confirms everything, Odyssey is deployed a little less than a month later, and the markets all go apeshit. The rest is basically history. Of course, by that time I’d already taken office on CSM8, which put a damper on my normal speculative market play. I’ve occupied myself since then by slowly liquidating investments and investing them into other things, mostly still underpriced moongoos, and riding the price cycles inherent to advanced reaction products – the reaction farm operators of the game tend towards a herd instinct, which results in inevitable cycles of crashes and spikes in their outputs. Presumably I can afford to be patient, and yet I’m getting bored. And so, instead of reinvesting as I liquidate, I’m getting out into other things. Market manipulations, industry, whatever. Still, the bulk of my wealth is bundled up in a pile of R64s sixty million units high, none of which have a name starting with “D” – I sold that all long ago. And so, most of my plans and schemes simply have to wait, as I don’t have the liquid cash to pursue them all. At least not yet.

Perhaps that’s for the better, though. I’d hate to incite all my planned chaos all at once.

CSM9 Week “What Week Is It Again?” Update

Events alluded to in my last post are only part of the reason for my silence here. We’re in the midst of the usual doldrums as various CCP developers take their summer vacations. Most notable is the absence of CCPs Rise, Greyscale and Ytterbium, who account for the majority of the design team. All left us things to look at before departing, but in their absence things have been quiet. Mostly. A topic and solution in our regular sprint review with Team Five-O pressed my rant button, but once I calmed down a bit and started discussing, I think I made my point well and hopefully we’ll see some small but nice changes effected for it. And, we’ve had similarly spirited discussions from time to time on Topics of Future Interest.

Hyperion will be dropping this coming Tuesday, though, and the developers currently on vacation should be coming back before long, so I expect things to pick back up as everyone settles in fresh from vacation to work on the upcoming winter releases in earnest. Sugar Kyle recapped the features of Hyperion nicely over on her blog, so I won’t repeat that, but there is one thing to touch on – the small adjustment to Planetary Interaction. As originally designed, only a member of the sovereignty holding alliance could drop a command center in sovereign nullsec, rendering half of the tax based controls that govern effective usage in every other area of space largely pointless. In Hyperion that’s going away, so they’ll work just like anywhere else – usable by anyone, if you’re willing to pay the tax rates. The exclusivity was probably meant as a minor bonus for sov null, but the reality is it just meant we have less control over our POCOs than other areas of space. Restrictions are fine, but this is a sandbox, so let us decide how to apply them, right?

The change to this feature highlights one of the truths of the CSM. It’s far from being the arbitrarily powerful group all too many credit it as being, capable of dictating anything to CCP at any time and having it happen. (As an aside, how anyone can actually look at what gets changed when and still believe that is a mystery I will never solve.) The truth is that the majority of the CSM’s work involves feedback and adjustments and so forth to whatever CCP is working on next in the plan.

I have to imagine that some of the dramatic misconceptions of CSM influence come from the Incarna fiasco, where (if you listen to most people’s version of history) most people seem to believe that the CSM and Mittani in particular bludgeoned CCP into changing course. There’s certainly some truth to it, but a gargantuan dose of public outrage combined with media scrutiny and criticism surely provided the extra “oomph” to make it happen. It was likely a once in a lifetime event, and such dramatic shifts are unlikely to ever happen again. Smaller ones can occur, though, but it can be a crapshoot. Sometimes an impassioned effort can get something to happen quickly. Other times a suggestion or idea will fall on deaf ears entirely. And other times, as with this PI change, it will go untouched for weeks or months, until being seized upon again at just the right time. That’s what happened in this case, with corebloodbrothers actually being the one to bring it up – perhaps unsurprisingly, since the restriction is a massive headache for the game’s only major NRDS entity that he represents. I pitched in my support, and this time, CCP picked it up. The few other PI related enhancements I’ve advocated for for awhile, though, not so much. Perhaps another day.

I probably sound like I’m being a downer on the CSM and what it can accomplish, and that’s not intentional. As I said, the bulk of our work does involve working on what CCP is working on, giving early and ongoing feedback and suggesting changes and refinements. In that regard, we’re plenty influential – there were countless times on CSM8 and have been just as many on CSM9 so far where the suggestion of just one member, well argued (and often hewing to Greyscale’s suggestions for effective feedback, incidentally) effects significant change on a planned feature. I like to think my public post on freighter lowslots was influential in redirecting that change, for example, and both Steve Ronuken and I provided CCP Greyscale with extensive feedback publicly and privately as he worked to adjust numbers on invention, copying and so forth. Those are just a few that are public enough that I’m okay sharing, so I’ll have to simply say “trust me that there’s more” for now.

One last note before signing off. Yes, Somer Blink appears to be up to it’s PLEX incentives again. And no, I’m not going to comment on it any further just yet. It’s a Sunday, it’s late in Iceland, and I’d rather talk to CCP about it first.

Until next week!

Not Dead Yet

Kinda fell off the face of the planet as far as blogging is concerned, as I’m sure I like to think was noticed. Real life reared up and kicked my ass in a big way. But on the bright side, I’m finally getting treatment for that pesky case of depression.

Too much info?

Anyway, resetting the routine includes getting back to writing, so stay tuned.

Crius Economic Chaos

With the patch notes for Crius released, basically everyone who isn’t living under a rock knows the general nature of the patch (as an aside apparently a lot of people live under a rock, because the comments thread is full of brand new complaining, by which I mean the same old complaints being remade). “We changed all the Industry” is a fairly easy concept to wrap ones head around. So what moves, where, and why?

Manufactured Goods

tl;dr: Expect a base price rise of 3-4% or more.

If players build it, expect it to rise by at least 3-4% on average for Tech I and anywhere from half again more to double that for Tech II. Why? All the shiny new fees, of course! There’s ample room even in highsec for people to spread out (see this post for details; an astonishing amount of highsec sees no Industry use at all and with generally shorter research times post-patch there’ll be plenty of space to spread out there too) and plenty of people will no doubt chase the lowest possible production costs as possible.

However (contrary to what some of the aforementioned complainers believe) the system is not intended to force anyone to move. It is merely intended to create choices about when and if and where to move that are deeper and more meaningful than “as close to Jita as possible with empty build slots.” Simply not moving, however, is a valid choice, so much so that if it proves to not be favorable enough, CCP has a system in the wings called “Legacy” (see the bottom of the teams devblog for a brief explanation) to help bolster the option.

If “not moving” is an option, then a sizable number of players will exercise that option, spreading out some but then for the most part staying put. Those players either through numerical quantity or average size of their operation or both, will account for a large fraction if not outright majority of manufactured goods. If margins render them unprofitable, they don’t build, and the item(s) in question run out of stock, rising in price until it’s profitable again.  Smaller producers or those more willing to move will realize higher returns, while the lazier types will skate along at some level of modestly profitable. And if this system sounds implausible, it’s mechanically very similar to both moongoo & alchemy, and the existing interplay between Invention and Tech II BPOs. So, what scant few people who very vocally threatened to quit over the changes may or may not come back (but they won’t embarrass themselves by admitting they were wrong), most of them didn’t actually follow through to begin with, and life will go on.

Tech II Markets

tl;dr: Chaos?

I’ll revisit this again a little later in this post, but the times involved for Invention are getting messed with pretty considerably. Invention will now only require one copy of a BPC regardless and then copy times are considerably lower on top of that, which marginalizes that aspect of the process. Invention times have also changed, though there’s more variety there, and build times have as well, again, more variety. The net effect is that some things have a longer overall time to market (copy time + invention time + build time) and some things have a shorter one. It’s actually very much up in the air how this will affect prices, though. In theory shorter overall time to market would increase supply, and the opposite would be true for a longer time to market. But in practice, players already have dead time between jobs – the time between a job finishing and the player waking up, or getting home from work, for example. I’m not sure how big of an effect this will really have as a result.

Capital Ships

tl;dr: TANSTAAFL

These are worth touching on specifically.If Highsec was easymode for regular industry, than Lowsec was easymode for Capital industry. Much like building in nullsec, a lowsec capital builder has to import their minerals in compressed form, but unlike the nullsec builder, they can do it to a station with both a refinery and production slots, eliminating a lot of the pain in the ass hauling from Minmatar to Amarr outpost. When the first wave of industry changes were announced – refining changes in particular, and later the 5% ME bonus for an Amarr Outpost – there were suddenly quite a lot of complaints. The 20% improved refine yield alone would have given nullsec builders an effectively indomitable edge over those in lowsec, and that 5% ME bonus would apply twice (components, then the capitals themselves) to seal the deal. Recognizing both these specific complaints and that Lowsec was a bit left out in the industry department (almost all the inconvenience but none of the perks of nullsec with almost none of the convenience of highsec), CCP went ahead and implemented the Thukker Component Array. Combine its 10% reduction in materials with a high end refining array for a 54% base refine, and some – but not all – of the gap is closed.

Of course, it’s a POS module, which means running and maintaining a POS, which can be attacked and destroyed, plus the other extra hassle. No more jumping to a station and building right there. CCP addressed the complaints, but in a very TANSTAAFL way, and I suppose it remains to be seen how many lowsec builders will bother to continue. If a lot of the current crop quit, then expect shortages and rising prices.

One other market these things will touch, though, are Jump Freighters. The array allows the building of advanced capital components as well. And those things are tiny compared to regular capital components. Using a jump freighter to get in and out wouldn’t be hard at all, short runs would minimize risk if it were attacked, and a 10% ME bonus is a pretty damn huge deal. Combine with access to an upgraded Amarr outpost for the ME bonus there and the benefit of a good team and, well… it’s a lot of work, but anyone doing it would have a huge price advantage, at least.

About those Tech II BPOs…

tl;dr: Get owned.

I wrote about this some time ago, while the changes were all still in development. As explained then, the biggest deal here is rebasing Invention to produce positive ME blueprints. That annihilates a huge majority of the advantage BPOs have over invented BPCs. Instead of being perfect or near-perfect while the BPCs require anywhere from 120% to 150% of perfect material requirements, the gap can now be as low as 6-8%. Of course, that edge plus no need to spend money on invention means that BPOs will remain profitable…just 70-90% less profitable than they are currently, turning the already ridiculous 5-15 year ROIs often demanded for them into utterly outlandish multi-decade ROIs. It’s no wonder BPOs are proving so hard to sell all of the sudden. While this may lead to a severe price adjustment, that’d also require current holders to take one hell of a haircut on their stocks. We’ll see what happens but it seems probable that whoever holds them now will be the last “greater fool”.

Probably doesn’t help that the natural time to do even more to Tech II BPOs is alongside the Invention changes, which CCP will be starting on next…

Speaking of Moongoo…

tl;dr: Moongoo consumption is going to rise by several percent at a minimum.

Crius is actually a pretty damn big deal for moongoo consumption and prices, but since it’s not in a big splashy obvious way like Odyssey was, I haven’t seen it discussed much.

First thing’s first, the easy one to grasp. From the patch notes, “Most Tech I materials have been removed from Tech II blueprints.” Innocuous enough on its own; we need to delve into this post from CCP Ytterbium to clarify it. Long story short, those same materials are being replaced with Tech II materials of roughly equal value. Note, the Tech I being removed is just “extra” Tech I, such as the raw mineral content found in most Tech II ammos. The base item requirement remains, however. I don’t think the Crius SDE with these changes is out yet, so I can’t quantify the scope in detail… but here’s a short list of some of the things that have Tech I materials being replaced.

Actually, here’s a short list of things that don’t have extra Tech I materials. That’s easier.

  • Tech II Launchers
  • Some Tech II ships, but not all. For example, the Ishtar, Zealot, Cerberus and Vagabond have one mineral or another, but the Deimos, Sacrilege, Eagle and Muninn do not.
  • Tech II Drones

And… that’s it. It’s hardly an exhaustive search, and I’m not actually certain if everything that has extra materials to remove is also having them replaced. On an item to item basis it’s a relatively small change, with the replaced materials topping out around 10-15% of build value for Tech II ammo, and closer to 3-5% for various affected modules. But the sheer scope of items it touches makes the overall effect fairly significant.

On top of THAT are the aforementioned changes relating to Invention rebasing. Simply changing all Invention to produce positive ME blueprints would have resulted in a catastrophic drop in moongoo usage, so CCP adjusted the base material requirements upwards by 50%. What’s that do?

Current ME % of Current Perfect Crius ME % of Current Perfect
-4 150% 2 147.0%
-3 140% 3 145.5%
-2 130% 4 144.0%
-1 120% 5 142.5%
PERFECT 100% PERFECT 135%

Given that choices with respect to decryptors will be shaking up a bit as a result of the patch we can’t really definitively say “What’s most commonly built at ME-1 will be ME5 post-patch”. But regardless, almost no matter how you cut it, the net result of this change is that Tech II items will get a bit more expensive to build…especially those built from Tech II BPOs, as illustrated by the “PERFECT” row, which highlights the whole “get owned T2 BPO owners” thing.

Next up, a bit more of an abstract change. Blueprints in general underwent fairly sweeping changes to a variety of stats – most relevantly to this subject copy, invention and Tech II build times. If you feel like digging through a couple dozen pages, the thread on the topic can be found here. The short version, though, is that the overall time to market (copy + invent + build time) is up for some items, down for others. “Down” is the direction of choice for most if not all modules as well as several classes of ships. This has the most nebulous effect on moongoo usage, though, because it only means that there is potential, for the given existing population of builders, to make more stuff in a given amount of time.

And finally, the completely unquantifiable (for now) – how many people quit industry? How many people try it out, and how many of those stick with it? All factors that could affect usage.

Sticking to the quantifiables, though, my own estimates run anywhere from a 3% to 20% increase in moongoo consumption, varying from goo to goo and by what variables you pick.

Oh yeah, and those newly mineable lowsec moons? Not very relevant. There are about 170,000 moons ingame that can be mined currently. Roughly 11,200 moons in 0.4 will become mineable. That’s a 6% increase. However, lowsec regions tend to have about a third as many moons as an analagous nullsec region (that is, Aridia and Delve are the two most R64 rich lowsec and nullsec regions, respectively, and Aridia has about a third as many as Delve), so it’s reasonable to assume a 2% increase, instead.

Minerals

tl;dr: Probably down, mostly.

Minerals are in kind of an odd place right now. Go back as far as Tiericide and as that initiative progressed, demand for minerals got higher and higher as ships were built en masse by the thousands ahead of time… and then as each class was completed, they were removed from global mineral demand due to the glut of now underpriced ships. Mineral prices plummeted, but for the most part leveled out back around last October… and then, varying by mineral, either promptly spiked again or did not, as demand picked back up, but also as the new global mineral ratios took hold. Odyssey brought with it massive buffs to nullsec ore composition that left Mexallon undersupplied compared to other minerals. As things moved into the winter we hit the normal and expected peak mineral prices… and now back around May or June, they started falling, some quite hard. While a summer slump is a normal part of what used to be the regular mineral price cycle, I’m honestly not sure if that’s what’s going on here or if something else is at play.

Either way, though, two expectations.

  • Overall, minerals continue to fall and settle lower than they otherwise would have. If they’re back in the normal summer/winter cycle then they’ll rise again later in the year,  but not as high as they would have, either. The assumption is that POS and outpost refinery facilities see extensive use, increasing the gamewide mineral supply.
  • One or more minerals will set its own trend. As I mentioned before, Mexallon had a nice rise due to Odyssey, but Crius is adding Mexallon, Pyerite and Nocxium to Arkonor, Bistot and Crokite, respectively. If I had the cash to speculate I’d probably look at Isogen as a buy, but it’s hard to say. Long time players will remember how drone alloys suppressed mineral prices across the table, after all, and it’s possible (though admittedly unlikely) that supply increases enough to outstrip demand due to superior refines.

Ice

tl;dr: Man who even knows.

Couple of factors for the ice markets, really. On one hand we’ve got the increased jump fuel consumption for jump drives, undeniably an increase in consumption. There’s also the removal of standings requirements to anchor a POS in highsec, opening up of previously restricted space in highsec, and some portion of those 11000 moons in 0.4 that might be worth mining. On the other hand, one of the primary driving factors behind highsec POS use was research slot congestion – copying, material and time. Slots are going away, though, so POS use is down to the strength of the bonuses, and… whether that’s enough or not is a crapshoot. My thinking would lean towards “no” with Invention being the exception, but regardless, we’ll see some kind of drop in overall POS usage. Determining what that actually means for overall ice consumption is beyond me, though, as I just don’t have the information needed to make that kind of estimate.

One other interesting twist here is that the build time for fuel blocks is tripling. While I’ve no doubt that long term the market will settle out and more production capacity will move in to continue to meet demand, in the short term it’s very liable to cause supply issues. Markets will just run out, prices will spike, people will rush to build blocks for quick profit, spiking ice products as a result, the block market floods, etc. I’d expect a couple cycles of that before stability.

Miscellanea

There are various other smaller markets likely to see upheaval as a result of Crius. Decryptors come to mind – changing Invention to yield positive ME will generally put far more emphasis on decryptors that improve TE and/or BPC runs, though if you’re looking to speculate that train long since left the station. Anything else I’ve forgotten, well, probably doesn’t matter.

CSM9 Update Week 10

Another week passes! The summer summit attendees have been announced, or rather we’ve been told we can talk about it. It’ll be the 17th through the 19th of September, with Sion, Ali, myself, Sugar Kyle, Mike Azariah, Corbexx and Steve Ronuken going. “Summer” is a bit misnamed at this point given the actual timing, but over the years they’ve drifted a bit… though as Sugar pointed out, the last day of Summer is the 21st so it’s still technically true.

One other note in this otherwise short (blah blah Crius soon, the usual excuses…) update is the concept of “Little Things” as Sugar Kyle touched on in her post. One “Heretic Caldari” had taken exception to the naming, seeing it as asking players to self-censor and possibly losing out on things, because we of course do not know what is or is not “little” from CCP’s perspective. But that actually deviates rather significantly from the way I (and I think CCP as well) think of them. The idea of “little things” is not “things that take minimal developer effort”, but rather things that are little to the players. If they take minimal developer time that’s certainly going to make it more likely to be implemented, but you absolutely shouldn’t be thinking about it when making you’re suggestions. What you want to think about are minor gripes and annoyances and quality of life flaws, things that don’t necessarily break gameplay in a huge way but just annoy you a little when you’re trying to do something.

Examples? Well how about the little things in Crius? Among others…

  • Separating corp & personally insured ships.
  • A default “No Label” label for contacts, and a label on the online/offline indicator for your contacts.
  • No skills required to fit a ship.

And from Kronos?

  • Reloading indicators
  • Highlighting in Assets
  • Cleaner info windows.

And so on and so forth. The Rubicon 1.1 devblog actually has all the “little things” devblogs since CCP Karkur’s first one back in early 2012, and the trend is repeated throughout: Little things are little to you.

Borrowing an example from Sugar Kyle’s PvE little things, “The entire mission system is boring and awful” isn’t little. There’s nothing little about it, you’re talking about an entire gameplay system there. Something along the lines of “an overlay that shows me where I have to go and a summary of my objectives without having to open my journal and check each mission individually” though, that’s little (and it already exists to boot.) Or, with my own little anomaly oriented project, “Anomalies are awful and bad, replace them with a dynamic PvE system with high-functioning player-like AI that spawns and reacts based on the number of players present and what they’re flying” isn’t little. But, “Hidden Rally Points are supposedly the lowest difficulty type of Rally Point, but widely separated spawns slow down completion time considerably and an incredible number of elite cruisers per wave makes them a lot harder than you’d expect; grouping the spawn points into a couple of clusters and replacing some of the cruisers with battlecruisers or battleships would help balance the site” would be.

And one last non-PvE example, one of my own favorite pet peeves, “Wouldn’t it be great to be able to create multiple stacks of a given size at once?”

 

As of now, one week to Crius! Once it launches we’ll get more activity, likely a good split between tweaks and adjustments to Crius and short & long term future work.

This is late because I was going to combo-post about the NPE, but welp, post still isn’t done…