Population Density in EVE

No weekly CSM update this week – sorry guys! Busy putting out fires in meatspace, and besides, I really can’t think of how to spruce up “It was a quiet week because everyone is still heads down on Crius” for the third or fourth week running, the inspiration just isn’t there. Hopefully this week goes a bit better and I can swing that next week.


Different topic, a bit off the cuff. When you think about how many people you see in space in EVE, what comes to mind? In particular, what comes to mind out in nullsec? Probably not much. How many times have you heard it said (or said yourself) “I went roaming and all I saw in twenty jumps were three ratters that safed up instantly” or something along those lines? Hyperbole, perhaps, though on the other hand…

Pilots in space, as of 12:45 a bit earlier today. Granted, bad example – I’ll have to grab something during prime time later this evening when I get home, maybe on the weekends as well. And yet how much of a difference might it make, really? That’s a lot of white dots out in lowsec and nullsec – hell, a lot of white dots in Empire too. Needless to say, I and the rest of the Goonswarm directorate are probably some of the very few people in the game to hear complaints that space is too crowded, rather than the opposite.

What’s my point here? It’s this: someday, after CCP finishes the epic quest that is “rewrite basically the whole game” (that is, after all, essentially what the roadmap given at Fanfest is), CCP Seagull’s colonization vision comes to life, those player built stargates are finally going to happen, and they’ll lead to some kind of new space. At least, that’s what the idea of “colonization” would suggest now, isn’t it? It’s not a theme that makes much sense if they just lead to the same places you can get to now. So, take that population, cut it in half, throw it out beyond the player built gates. Then imagine how much less active space seems, new and old alike.

No, I don’t believe “make new space and leave the old unfixed to drive everyone to the new” is the plan, as some vocal assjackets have expressed in the past. CCP wants their game to be vibrant and interesting, no matter where you live. I’m just concerned that it might be self defeating. Food for thought this fine Monday morning.

CSM9 Update: Week Seven, Town Hall Edition

Quiet week. Not much going on, still. Sprint review with 5-0. Not too much else going on.

Let’s talk about the Town Hall instead. I jotted down most of the questions, and even though I wound up talking more than I expected to and so answered quite a few of them, I’ll repost answers here. Some of the questions are paraphrased, some aren’t, some are just links when they’re long. All these answers are my own, even in cases where the question asks what “the view of the CSM” is or some such.

1. A lengthy question concerning the story of EVE, who owns them, how they could change, and where Live Events come in.

Anything can be tweaked and adjusted by anyone telling it, whether that’s CCP or the players. Obviously some of those are tweaked for the sake of explaining things (alts as in the True Stories comics), others to better present (or gloss over?) the mechanics. There’s no real rigid rule as to when and how something should be tweaked, and there shouldn’t be. All of this applies to Live Events as well. The stories that come from those may be more guided, but the ones that are interesting to tell (such as the “slaughter of the lambs” story) are ultimately so because of player actions.

2. What is your stance on force projection. Do you guys think it needs any change?

I think considering it in isolation is somewhat foolhardy. “Force projection” isn’t an issue in its own right, the problem is how it interacts with the rest of the mechanics. So, while it almost certainly needs change and that change is just as certain to be tuning it back, “how much” is a harder question to answer.

3. Why don’t we have top hats in the NEXT store?

Good question. Largest travesty of our time, honestly.

4. How about making Blockade Runners immune to customs officers scanning for drugs?

How about not? Instead, let’s just throw out the contraband mechanic as it currently exists. Customs officers will scan you, but if they detect contraband, will merely flag you suspect and perhaps announce it on the grid or in the system. It’d be up to players to decide if they wanted to do anything at that point. Blockade Runners then have their natural advantage here in that they cloak and move fast.

As an addendum, eliminate the restrictions on contracting contraband, and drugs in particular. Huge barrier to their trade. A warning notification that a contract contains contraband should be sufficient.

5. What personal initiatives are various CSM members undertaking that you can talk about?

A few of us are gathering information on our various preferred areas to give to the PvE team to have a look at; Mike Azariah is doing Incursions, Corbexx is doing wormholes (naturally!), I’m gathering info on anomalies in nullsec, and Sugar Kyle is gathering general “PvE little things”. Steve is spearheading new gathering tools for “Little Things”. Mangala is talking with various social groups and corps in anticipation of future corp and alliance revamps, and Ali Aras has been doing work on new player learnability for the new industry system.

6. A question on disagreements between CSM members and how that affects the feedback we give to CCP.

The players we represent will disagree, why shouldn’t we? Suppressing disagreements in the name of unity or something along those lines would be doing CCP a developmental disservice and quite possibly suppressing issues they need to be considering about a feature before shipping it off to the players. We talk amongst ourselves and if there are multiple views, typically one person from each camp will say “These members feel this way”, so as to summarize the various viewpoints without spamming CCP. It’s the diversity that’s useful, not necessarily going “Yeah agreed, +1”

Pragmatically speaking, most of us are too bullheaded and egotistical to let our opinions go unheard even if they’re not the majority anyway. If we weren’t, we probably wouldn’t have run in the first place.

7. What is the CSM’s stance on interceptors that can be in warp before they can possibly be locked?

I’m okay with the very quick align time; we are not entitled to catch absolutely everything at a gate. The problem with the Malediction and Crow is the fast align, with the bubble immunity, combined with ability to apply their damage at speed and range. That third factor means they’re able to engage their targets with basically just as much impunity as they move around, and that’s the problem. I’ve posted one solution in the past (shuffle the Crow and Malediction into Combat interceptors and take the bubble immunity bonus away from that class in exchange for another bonus), Namamai has a simpler approach – simply force or at least encourage those two ships to use Rockets instead. That’d encourage them to make themselves vulnerable if they actually want to kill their targets.

8. Does the latest reorganization at CCP help or hinder CREST and third party development? And what about EVE-Gate as an out of game command center, especially for corp & alliance management?

One note on the first part of the question – HR matters at CCP are not one of the things that the CSM is generally privy to nor one that we give input on. That said, with the exception of CCP Xhagen (who was an associate producer) none of those let go were developers, as far as I’m aware, and so CREST and third party development should at least not be hindered.

As for EVE Gate, I’d love it if it were more powerful; I personally use it extensively to run the CFC renter alliances. .In general I’d say the development resources are probably better spent elsewhere though, but that does depend on who’s purview that kind of work would fall under. Whenever CCP gets around to the corp & alliances revamp that’s on the roadmap, though, it’d be a good time for another look.

9. A question about turning off the new tooltips.

Every time there’s a new feature, people want to be able to turn it off, to stay with the old stuff. And, no. That’d mean effectively maintaining two code bases, including legacy code CCP very much wants to be getting rid of. You’ll be better served explaining what the problem is with a feature and how it could be improved so that it can be fixed than you will be demanding the ability to turn it off.

10. When will the industry minutes for CSM8 be released?

Ask Ali Aras. She’s poked CCP Leeloo to get them released, so my hope is it’s soon!

11. What role is CSM9 taking with respect to integration of EVE Valkyrie and Legion?

When & if either of those games reach the point where CCP is working on integration I’d expect the CSM will work with both CCP and the CSM on that, but our primary involvement would be on the EVE side of things. For example, CCP could ask “what services would you like to be able to pay mercenaries to do” or “what kind of interaction with X game system would be interesting from the EVE side”. I wouldn’t expect to be working with CCP nearly as closely as we do on EVE things, however.

12. CCP says the goal is for everything in the game to be destructible. Does that include Jita 4-4? Wouldn’t that make the game unplayable for newbies and a lot of other people besides?

I’m pretty sure “everything should be destructible” should really read “everything that players build should be destructible.”

13. I travel for work and play alongside members of the military. With such military issues, would the CSM look at out of game queue management?

I’d have generally been all for this before today, but Steve Ronuken made the very good point that out of game queue management, especially if exposed to third party developers, essentially means no more queue. Whether “no more queue” as a concept is actually a good or bad thing is up for its own separate discussion, but if the conclusion is “yes, nuke it” I’d rather it be done in an overt way than a third party back door of sorts.

14. Lowsec used to suck. Now it doesn’t. But what about NPC nullsec?

So, I’d turn around and pose the question back to the person who asked: If NPC nullsec starts to get a lot of its own perks and advantages, what’s the point of lowsec then? Or depending on the type and magnitude of buffs, what’s the point of sovereign nullsec then? NPC null ought to have its own character and flavor, but I’m admittedly not quite sure what that is.

15. What about Syndicate LP store items? They’re kinda bad.

A problem universal to basically all LP stores is that they have their factional items, most of which are crap. So, you’re stuck with what few items are worth using, and then the stuff globally available, usually implants. If all your faction-specific items are crap, you’re kinda stuck, because the values on the global stuff is also crap. End of the day, it’s something best addressed as part of “metacide” – comprehensive module rebalancing – as CCP talked about at Fanfest.

16. What is the priority list for roadmap over the next year? Not looking for anything NDA here, just a general list of things that are going to be worked on.

Uh yeah, you actually are asking for anything NDA there. Sorry.

17. Lengthy question/rant about the ingame browser.

Be nice if it was better & more secure, more likely response (according to Steve Ronuken) is that it’ll be removed, eventually.

18. Has EVE Voice been abandoned? Improvements there would be nice.

Per Mangala, he’s spoken with the company that actually develops the back-end for EVE Voice and provided them with an extensive list of ways it could be improved for EVE’s purposes.

19. If Kronos has been released with the industry stuff, what would be in Crius?

Fixes, tweaks, minor features that hadn’t quite made the cut in time for Kronos, but with the teams responsible for industry then moving on to do invention (as is planned for post-Crius) it’d be a small patch. Something to keep in mind about the six week release tempo is that it doesn’t mean we get an expansion level release every six weeks, it just means that there is an opportunity for things to be released every six weeks. Smaller stuff – think of the typical contents of 1.x releases – can go out much more quickly, larger stuff can span several releases and push when ready.

20. Will we ever get walking in stations?

Yeah, probably not.

21. With outpost upgrades now being so much more valuable to have, are there any plans to rebalance their costs?

It sure would be nice! Personally, I’d settle for players being able to build them ourselves, with bonus points for the fillings they require either being built in or changed to something more compact. There’s effectively zero interesting gameplay surrounding the procurement, building, and upgrading of an outpost. Once the materials are in place, it’s a mad scramble for one lone pilot at an awful time (just before downtime) that consists of several freighter trips. Letting players build them just makes sense, making them just a bit easier to deploy relieves the bullshit now and paves the way for any gameplay surrounding their deployment when and if that’s ever revamped to be about putting up and defending it, not making a bunch of freighter trips.

22. What about ways for a small, organized group to disrupt a larger one in nullsec?

This is at least one element of what the “farms & fields” concept is about – I can improve my space and build ways to leverage more profit out of it, you can come along and destroy or steal it. There are other directions I’d like to see it go in the future as well. The key, though, is that they ought to require active input from the raider to carry out the disruption, and active play from the defender to eliminate the threat.

23. Should there be a minimum standard for politeness from the CSM?

If you want to be polite and reasonable in dealing with me, I’m happy to be polite and reasonable back. On the other hand, if you’re going to be a moron, I’m probably going to tell you you’re being a moron. And going a step further, if you want to be a troll, or just a general dick, then fuck you, you’ll deserve any abuse I heap back on you. And, while I’m sure this wasn’t the intent of the person asking the question, if you want to be a troll or just a general dick and be able to hide behind some mandatory “minimum standard for politeness”, then fuck you twice, you’ll deserve it even more.

In other words, no, not really. If you think a CSM is misbehaving on the forums, report their post and ISD will deal with it just like any other player. If you think we’re being bad outside CCP’s purview, then basically, tough.

24. If CCP suggests replacing null local with a hackable system deployable, where would the CSM stand on it?

I personally would listen to the suggestion and then tell them to go back to the drawing board, because if they’re taking the time to revamp intel gathering, they really ought to do it right, and “a hackable system deployable” (singular) sounds awfully shallow and boring.

25. Something about the CSM representing the whole playerbase.

So, the CSM collectively, as an organization, represents the entire playerbase, and given the mix of people we’ve got this year, it does a pretty good job. But the council is made up of individual members. Those CSM members do not and probably should not “represent the whole playerbase”. You, the individual, want an expert representing your interests, and none of us are experts in everything. Beyond that, occasionally the needs or desires of one part of the playerbase will conflict with or directly oppose those of another. And frankly, not all of the playerbase indicated interest in having me represent them, so I don’t feel especially inclined to do so.

26. Are more ship skins coming?

More ship skins were announced at Fanfest; the battleship skins were added in Kronos, and more will be coming over time. So, “yes”.

27. Does the CSM have plans to talk to CCP about integrating CSM voting into the client?

I think we’re all a bit concerned about the turnout and it’s something we certainly plan to engage CCP with in general. Implementing voting ingame might be one approach, though personally I think we’d get a better payoff elsewhere.

Lunchtime Post: A Different Approach to FW

Would have been a lunchtime post, except my lunch got interrupted. Welp.

Part of the changes in Kronos were aimed at Faction Warfare. The NPCs found in the complex got a serious buff to their capabilities and actually respawn as they were (I believe) originally intended to. The point of the change was to put a damper on the heavily stabbed semi-AFK plex farming. Unfortunately – at least, going by what I’m hearing from regular participants – the new NPCs put a crimp on active players as well. Someone comes in and jumps you and having this annoying NPC glued to your ass is not helpful, right?

So we’ve swung back the other way, I guess. What about a third option?

What if, instead of a timer and NPC spawns, orbiting a FW plex button meant that you’d have to beat the hacking minigame a few times?

I originally pitched this as a troll, but after letting it roll around I think there’s actually quite a bit of merit to the idea. What I’m thinking:

  • Every so often (say five minutes for sake of argument), if no hostile players are within capture range of the button, you have the hacking minigame presented to you automatically (no module required) opportunity to make a hacking attempt presented to you in an obvious but non-intrusive way. In some handwavey way anyone in FW will functionally have max skills and equipment, so you won’t actually have to have the skills or equipment. “Something something militia pilots issued automated hacking routines something something lore.”
  • Beat the game, get capture points towards flipping the complex. The idea would be to tune this so it wouldn’t take any longer than it does now, if you’re successful with your hacks. Larger complexes obviously take more capture points (and thus more successful hacks and more time) to flip.
  • Capture points are tied to ship size & type. A Tech I frigate would capture a complex just as fast as is possible now (success caveat still applies), but a Tech II or faction frigate could do it a bit faster.
  • Since larger ships would capture faster still, there’d be a bit more incentive to bring those larger ships into the larger complexes in the first place. Alternatively, this could allow multiple players to execute hacking attempts at once (perhaps capped by number of simultaneous attempts it’d take to capture the complex in one cycle), encouraging or at least rewarding cooperation. Both are probably worthwhile goals.
  • And finally, as an extra measure of “fuck you” to the stabbed farmers that I know all the FW pilots hate so much, WCS could give a very large penalty to the assumed level of your hacking skills. After all, you need a fast, responsive uplink to carry out a remote hacking attack, and WCS mess with your scanning & transmission capabilities!

So, stabbed farming nerfed if not killed off outright, minimal impediment to PvP, rewards bringing larger ships or working together – all upsides, I’d think. There’s still more room to play around with rewarding grouping or use of larger ships, too, like an LP bonus for X successful hacks executed within a certain window of time or for simply being in a larger ship.

I imagine some people simply do not like the hacking game period. Aside from that, though, any reason to dislike the idea?

CSM9 Update: (Late) Week Six

Quick one this week, and late, too. I debated writing this one at all, as for the most part Sugar Kyle and Xander Phoena have said pretty much everything I want to say and the temptation to say “just check them out” is rather extreme. But Sugar sort of shamed me into at least putting something on paper this morning, so here we are.

Incidentally, Sugar Kyle and Xander Phoena have said pretty much everything I want to say, so just check them out. Special attention to the notes about the first CSM9 Town Hall (June 22nd at 1900), the fact that we’re planning to do another “Little Things” campaign sometime Soon™ so visit the thread and post your little things! If you’ve never seen or done this, be sure to check out CCP Karkur’s post about proper formatting first. Xander also catalogued the multitude of appearances this week; Sugar Kyle’s open Q&A on Eve Uni Mumble, Xander’s own appearance there later in the week, Ali Aras’ weekly space hangouts (which I made it onto this without crashing this time, hooray!), and Corbexx and Major JSilva along with CCP Leeloo and Falcon for an interview on Capstable, which is very much worth the listen. Or so I’m told, as I’ve only just once again been reminded that I need to throw it on my phone so I can listen.

For this week’s “what’s the CSM think about X?” I’m going to point at this post, allowing mining and reacting in 0.4. Overall reactions are pretty evenly split between “Oh god, moongoo prices will crash and our alliance income with it”, “Oh god, moongoo prices and thus Tech II prices and thus Tech II margins will crash”, and “Mwahaha, now I get to have cheap Tech II AND gloat over those evil moon owners losing isk.” There’s also a little bit of nonsensical conspiracy nonsense coming from the usual parties alleging that Goons dropped towers on those moons ahead of time. Could the accusing parties get in touch and let me know where, exactly? I don’t see any Goonwaffe towers on 0.4 moons, which makes it an altcorp, and that makes it someone who owes taxes!

Anyway, I’ll leave you to figure out who’s dumb enough to believe it (spoilers, I’m sure he’s “just trolling”) and answer the question. What do I think?

I’m fine with it.

“But mynnna, your coalition’s income hinges on moons and any new ones is a threat to that! Aren’t you supposed to be more selfish than that?”


Obviously I’m concerned about protecting moongoo prices – crashing moongoo prices means crashing Tech II prices, which runs the risk of lowering the raw isk to be made from building it, which would be… bad. Fortunately for reality, there are something like 170,000 currently mineable moons. There are about 11,000 moons that will become potentially mineable in Crius, which is an additional 6.5%. That’s not an additional 6.5% R64 moons, though – Lowsec regions realistically have about a third as many R64s as Nullsec regions, so it’s reasonable to figure more like two percent. Hard to get concerned over that number considering that it’s probably smaller than the demand increase that we’ll see from people trying out invention after the changes. Or to twist the knife, smaller than the increase in material requirements that Tech II blueprint owners are going to be seeing…

A few months ago I wrote a post rather crassly mocking all the “sky is falling” types predicting the demise of highsec industry by pointing out just how many job-hours goes into industry in the game. At the time I made an estimate for Tech II module production, but used ships only for my estimate, as I had numbers to back them up. The combined number, though, was something like 45,000 production-days per day, or about 3450 years of production every 28 day period. As it turns out, I was wrong about that – I was low, by almost 40%. Funny how being wrong can make you more right, isn’t it?

Anyway. Two more “just today” things. First, I made an unprompted, industry related suggestion that I hope gets picked up for Crius. I’d share, and since I suggested it, I’m pretty sure I’d be allowed to… but I’d rather it be a surprise. If they pick it up and use it, I’ll say then. And second, if you want to use a POS in highsec after the changes but are concerned about defending it, think about supporting this post.

Until next week~

Dumbing EVE Down

EVE is a complex game. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind about that. It’s something those of us who play it are often proud of; it’s something those who don’t play still know well enough for there to be a longstanding meme about it (to illustrate “longstanding”, just how long has it been since the game has been known as “EVE: The Second Genesis” anyway?) Rather predictably, one result of this is a faction that is against anything they perceive as removing that complexity. “It was hard for me, you’re (dumbing the game down)/(nerfing me) by making it easy for other players!”

That’s a dramatic and rather unfortunate misunderstanding of the value of complexity. Granted, one definition of complexity includes “hard” or “difficult”, but it’s not a necessary component and it’s not where it’s value to a game like EVE comes from. “Hard complexity”, by and large, belongs in a theme park. It’s how a game like World of Warcraft achieves some measure of longevity for it’s content. Raid encounters and boss fights are “complex” in the sense that every player in the raid has multiple things to track and do, all at once, and if any one of them fucks up, the fight punches the whole raid in the dick for it. I remember very well regarding some of those fights as “complex”, but nevertheless, they’re closed-ended problems. There is one solution, one way to win, minimal room for variation. Eventually you’ll get to it, trivializing and eventually obsoleting the content in the process.

Such complexity is all well and good in a theme park. Obsolete content is expected as a normal part of running such a game. In a sandbox like EVE, it’s a problem. We, the players, generate the content, and the systems of the game are there as tools with which to do so. Those systems becoming trivialized, solved problems is a problem itself – it’s not much of a sandbox if there’s only one right choice, is there? As a result, the complexity of those systems is better off as “soft complexity”, a system that defines the problem, but leaves it as open ended as possible.

If done well, a complex system like this is best characterize by the first line out of the Wikipedia article – “Complexity is generally used to characterize something with many parts where those parts interact with each other in multiple ways.” With many parts with multiple interactions between each part you have multiple paths to success, multiple choices to make, and plenty of depth. In other words, you have an open ended problem. This also helps to improve replay value, to make each repeated interaction with the system an engaging and even enjoyable problem to solve, rather than rote repetition of a problem long since solved.

That’s the benefit of such a system, the good complexity, if you will. The pitfalls, by contrast, invoke the classic dictionary definition of the word in my mind, something along the lines of “a part of something that is complicated or hard to understand.” There’s that word “hard” again. Lots of parts, lots of choices, sure. But the choices are poorly explained, or their interactions & mechanics badly documented (if at all), or the UI is clumsy. Worse yet, most of the choices could be redundant, either duplicates of one another, or perhaps, despite the attempts to be open ended, there’s only a few good choices after all. Collectively, that’s bad complexity. And, while there isn’t all that much actual “hard complexity” in EVE, the game is chock full of this “bad” complexity.

While there’s not all that much in the way of “hard complexity” in EVE, the game is chock full of “bad” complexity. That, I feel, is a large part of where the reputation comes from of the “learning cliff”, and is in turn part of what drives new players off. A well implemented “soft-complex” system is going to have a learning curve that starts shallow and ramps up into a steeper and much longer slope. Five minutes to learn, a lifetime to master is perhaps a bit overly idealized, but not all that far off either. And still people cling to hard complexity, or bad complexity as some lousy facsimile for difficulty. If that leads them to complain about attempts to fix it, quit because they think it’s dumbing the game down or that newcomers should have to deal with the lousy system just because they did… fuck ’em, they won’t be missed. Retaining more new players is more important than keeping them around.

Besides, no one who blusters in public about quitting actually does it.

This topic deserves an example, and given CCP’s primary focus for the next major release, it seems only fitting that that example be industry. I’ll stick with Tech I industry for now, just to keep the length here under control – Invention is a whole other beast unto itself.


Disclaimer: I did not pick the topic just so I could use that tagline.

The basic mechanics of Tech I industry are pretty straightforward. Take minerals, combine with blueprint, get product. The blueprint itself tells you everything necessary for a job, plus information on improving the blueprint via research.

The good complexity here basically ends at “what do I build”. There’s not all that much in the way of bad complexity, though. Research isn’t really clearly explained, and the UI leaves much to be desired. Most of the problems stem from complexity that should exist not being there. Where you build should matter, but it’s got no effect on labor cost and shipping is so cheap that “as close to the hub as possible” is the usual choice. How it’s built should matter, but all you can do there is to use a bonused facility or research your blueprints, and that’s just a cost or speed factor. There’s no way to experiment or tinker as in the crafting systems of some other games, so no “(Player)’s Modified 425mm Railgun I.”

Happily, much of this will be addressed by Crius. Teams and scaling build fees will give plenty to think about for where you build – they’re your good complexity. The new UI is solid (though still seems to have a few bugs) and the filters do a pretty good job of letting you manage the information that defines your vast array of available choices. Given large blueprint collections (which someone may well keep in multiple locations to optimize production based on teams), hundreds of systems and potentially thousands of available teams, that’s a very good thing. There’s probably some more that could be done in the discoverability area, but even just what’s in Crius is a big step in that regard. Despite all the new choices and resulting complexity, explaining them should be pretty easy:

  • Systems with more activity will tend to have a higher cost to install jobs.
  • Teams offer bonuses to time or material cost for things you build, but they must be paid, increasing job install cost.
  • Special facilities – POS and Outposts – can offer additional benefits.

Am I missing something? Taken at a sufficiently high level, I don’t really think so, and it’s not too hard to drill down to finer detail with just a couple more lines. In other words, if we’re after an open-ended soft-complex system with industry, “objective achieved”, or at the very least a damn good start.

One last factor, something you could consider as a “still missing”. I said earlier that the only real source of choice in Tech I industry was “what to build”. And – credit to Lockefox for making this point – Tech I build times are such that it can be a stretch to call that a choice. The demand in Jita for any given Tech I ship can be satisfied by just 3-4 characters building 24/7. It’s even worse for modules. Once you can use Tech II, there’s no reason to ever fit Tech I again, and even when you can’t use Tech II there’s almost always a Meta module that’s actually cheaper.

Compare that to something like Ishtars. The daily movement in Jita takes at least twenty characters to supply based on build time alone, a number that only climbs when slot-hours for research and invention are factored in. If Tech I build times were lengthened somewhat, the choice of “what to build” – which, even with everything new in Crius, is still the predominant choice in industry – becomes more meaningful. There would certainly be interesting ripple effects, though “no reason to use Tech I once…” remains a problem. Both of those, however, I’ll have to revisit another day, in another topic.

Like the general topic? Let me know – I’ll probably make a series out of it.

CSM9: Week Five

Another short one this week. First thing – the elephant in the room, so to speak. Nothing I can say is going to change anything about events of this week. I don’t have anything to gain by taking CCP to task, either, and in fact believe I’ve more to gain (especially when criticism is required) by engaging CCP privately and professionally – not publicly. You’re welcome to disagree, but if you’re hoping to see such criticisms, you will nevertheless have to go elsewhere.

Kronos dropped on Tuesday, which means it’s been a relatively quiet week on the development front. Our meetings have been far more interesting. Early in the week we met with CCP Seagull about the development process of EVE. I can’t say a whole lot about it, as is often the (frustrating, yes) case, but we’re collectively pretty excited.

One of the other meetings I can talk a little bit more about. It was with Team Space Glitter. They’ve been quite frank at fanfest & other venues that the tools available are… lacking… and one of their primary mandates is fixing that. No one expects it to be an easy task, but it is one very worth doing. In the meantime, though, they’re looking to echo the work of CCP Karkur and her endless and laudable annihilation of “little things”. While I think a more formal manner of gathering these is something necessary for the future, we’re all going about it our own ways for now. I have a general feedback form on my blog here, which I invite you to use. “Little things”, in context, would be something like “This 3/10 complex has a MWD restriction” or “This mission doesn’t drop the loot it’s supposed to. For my own part, I’d be particularly interested in hearing about ratting anomalies. If one type of anomaly or another in your part of space seems considerably more difficult, time consuming, or less valuable than what should be another anomaly, let me know why.

Moving forward, Kronos is launched, and while some of the teams will undoubtedly be working out any kinks or bugs, the rest are forging onward to the release of Crius, just over five weeks away. The content of the patch is pretty much locked at this point (no, angry PL posters of that thread, you’ll have to wait a couple months for the complete invention overhaul and yes, it WILL happen) but plenty of testing remains. Crius will be deployed to SiSi on June 10th, so I strongly encourage anyone interested (newly or otherwise) in industry to get on and try everything out.

On that same note (speaking of “angry PL posters of that thread”) – what Crius is is an overhaul of the research and industry system that is primarily focused on Tech I production. What Crius is not and at this point, cannot be (see aforementioned “locked” post) is an Invention overhaul. Invention is getting some attention, yes, but it’s primarily by-products of attention at the Tech I level:

  • Tech I copy times were reduced below Tech I build times across the board to give Tech I producers additional ways to optimize their cashflow, but it allows Invention to be made less “clicky” by increasing build and especially invention times without affecting overall throughput.
  • Furthering the above, Invention will only consume a single run of a BPC now, rather than max runs, which further reduces its reliance on copying.
  • Extra materials have been eliminated, because they’re not affected by Material research, which makes them confusing. The nature of negative levels of Material Efficiency means Invention would be hit especially hard, thus Invention is being rebased to produce BPCs with positive ME.

But to reiterate: that’s not everything planned for invention, and the teams working on Industry now move to Invention next. Feel free to be as cynical as you want. That Guardian article, as florid as its storytelling may have been, does demonstrate why there’s reasonable historical reason to feel that way. On the other hand, working with CCP over this past year has left me with little reason to doubt the claim “the invention overhaul is coming next.”

See you on sisi!

Inflation Revisited

First, a preface: I haven’t written anything in a week or so. Real life exploded in a mildly dramatastic way. Welp.

Anyway, at the request of a topic submission, I’m going to revisit an old topic here, and tackle the topic with updated information. The question:

I was recently having The Inflation Discussion, and I’m afraid I didn’t do well presenting the usual counterarguments. Those I was arguing with Just Know that there has been a lot of inflation because, well… because battleships are twice as expensive as they were in 2010. They then went after the usual targets of incursions (not a significant source of payouts compared to nullsec rat bounties) and FW (which increases money velocity but that’s about it) as sources of inflation, and I know the counterarguments are out there. I would be very interested in seeing an extension of your classic “inflation actually follows rebalancing” graph since 2012. I don’t know if the data or existing graphs are available out there, but it’s one of my more favorite graphs on this topic. Unfortunately, all the recent targets for “causing inflation” are things which were added after that graph ends.


To spare you the need to go back and read the previous two articles, I have a longstanding hypothesis on inflation – defined as most people tend to think of it as the increase in cost of goods over time, usually due to increasing money supply. That hypothesis is simply that inflation due to growing money supply isn’t really a thing in EVE, or if it is, it’s drowned out by inflation (and deflation) brought on by mechanics changes – in other words, changes to supply & demand.

First thing’s first, a bit about what the market indices actually are. There are four of them – Mineral Price Index (MPI), Primary Producer Price Index (PPPI), Secondary Producer Price Index (SPPI), and Consumer Price Index (CPI), and they each track the relative price index of a bundle of goods. The Mineral index is just what it sounds like, tracking the price change in minerals. Taking things out of order (it will make more sense that way), the CPI is anything and everything consumed in the game – ships, modules, implants, etc. It also, in what is I believe a fairly recent development, seems to include PLEX. The SPPI is made up of components and materials used directly in creation of items in the CPI – components of all kinds, salvage, etc. And finally, the PPPI in turn is made up of items used to build things in the SPI, which means it’s primarily comprised of moon materials (raws for sure, I assume intermediate and advanced materials as well), though it’d include Tech III inputs and probably some other stuff that’s escaping me right now as well.

The most recent information on the indices, alas, is only available in graph form, and was found in a devblog looking at the economic impact of the battle of B-R5. As with the last time, I’ve gone ahead and marked this one up.

Up to about the end of 2006, I don’t have much a clue. I’d only barely started playing, info is scarce, so who knows. I will point out that Level 4 missions were introduced in mid-2005, which makes for a humorous correlation to whatever caused that enormous drop on the PPPI. The more likely explanation, though, is that the Cold War expansion increased reaction outputs, monkeyed around with reaction cycle times, lowered fuel consumption for POS slightly, and added in the fuel bonus from sovereignty. It also added outposts, creating far more convenient staging areas for mining moons (and, for that matter, regular minerals) in nullsec. While chatting with Ranamar a bit, he also pointed out that Dreadnaughts were introduced in that same expansion, offering previously unheard of jump drive based logistics capacity, making the movement of moon materials much simpler. So it’s a hypothesis, but unfortunately one that came after marking up my graph.

Towards the end of 2006 is when things start to get interesting. Invention was introduced in Revelations I, though it took a few patches before they got things right.  In context, “got things right” meant tuning the availability of invention materials. That explains the precipitous drop in the PPI; and the CPI followed (albeit more slowly) as invention became more widespread and the old Tech II cartels were broken. Revelations I also introduced the drone regions, and the drone rats there dropped alloys that refined into minerals, rather than giving a bounty when destroyed. The increasing population in the drone regions helped push minerals down continually until mid 2010, when meta 0 loot drops were removed from the game.

Moving on forward. Thanks to invention, consumption of moon materials skyrockets, turning certain moons into “supermoons”. That prompted the introduction of Alchemy in late 2008 and, well… oops? Not necessarily. While I had originally attributed the resulting spike to Alchemy driving up its own inputs, Ranamar pointed out something else – the old Ferrogel duping exploit was discovered (technically, rediscovered) by CCP around that same time. No doubt the dupers were keeping the price of anything they produced suppressed, so their elimination allowed the market to spike in a big way. A year later, Tech II build requirements were messed with, laying the seeds for the rise of Technetium. That’s plainly visible in the PPPI through mid 2012.

Fast forward to mid 2010 and the release of Tyrannis. Tyrannis brought with it Planetary Interaction, which meant taking many formerly NPC seeded goods and subjecting them to the whims of player creation. The effects speak for themselves. Something to note here is that I think that the wiki’s explanation of indices is a little misleading with respect to PI. The raw planetary materials that you extract may be PPPI items, but P1 through P4 materials are made from those raws and used in all manner of other things. That makes them secondary items, and explains that green cliff. Meanwhile, every other index continues to rise with only brief interruption as the removal of Meta 0 loot and upward march of Technetium ripples through the economy. The spike in mineral prices culminated with the simultaneous removal of drone alloys, Hulkageddon V, and the start of Tiericide.

Last time I wrote about this, that’s where we ended. It’s been awhile. At this point we’ve pretty cleanly explained why the battleship mentioned in the question costs twice as much now as in 2010 – minerals are hell of a lot more expensive! Still, two more years of price changes to explain.

For starters, the Technetium nerf in mid-2012, which is rather obvious on the graph and led to a sharp decline in the PPPI. That drop is only just starting to turn around. Meanwhile, mineral prices stay high for quite some time, thanks to vastly heightened demand due to Tiericide. That slacked off in July 2012 with Retribution 1.1 and Battlecruisers, however, and dropped off even harder with the release of Odyssey and the completion of Tiericide. With virtually every Tech I ship having been built ahead of time in massive quantities, the market was glutted for months.

In the past six months, however, the mineral markets have largely turned around. With the surplus hulls finally cleared out (for the most part), mineral demand returned in a big way, and is only continuing to go up. Meanwhile, R64s are slowly but surely creeping upward as stockpiles are depleted and demand continues to rise. Combine with Alchemy & Metamaterials driving demand for lower end moon minerals, and the PPPI is slowly rising as well.

And in the future? Who knows! The biggest thing to watch are the tweaks to invention in Crius. CCP will be rebasing invention to yield positive, rather than negative, ME numbers on blueprints, and adjusting material requirements accordingly. On top of that, they’re playing around with numbers for copy times, invention times and build times, adjusting them to yield a less click intensive process. That’s liable to increase demand for moongoo, and doesn’t even get much into whatever is planned for a proper revamp post-Crius.

One last note – as mentioned earlier, the CPI includes PLEX. This annoys me to some degree. Here’s why:

One was PLEX prices, which rose by only 1% but weighed a whopping 24% in the index.

Needless to say, that’s kind of a distorting effect. And to make matters worse, unlike everything else, PLEX prices do react, and react significantly, to “all the usual suspects”, though perhaps not quite in the way or for the reasons many expect. More on that one in an article I wrote a few weeks back.
And that, for now, is that!

CSM9: Week Four

I need to take better notes.

This’ll be a short one, partly because of the above, partly because it’s been what we’ll keep simple and label a busy week outside EVE (no doubt my seventeen readers noticed the drop in output!), and partly because the weeks before patch releases are always relatively quiet on the CSM front.

I guess we’ll see if that last one changes a bit as CCP gets more accustomed to the new release cycle.

Anyway! The key word there was relatively quiet. In this context, I mean no new feature posts, no significant discussion of upcoming changes, that kind of stuff. However, the introductory meetings march onward, with no less than five this past week. The last of them, with Team Superfriends, quickly moved on past introductions and got into their plans after Crius and beyond. Our enthusiasm led the discussion astray more than a few times, so hopefully they didn’t find that too overbearing!

One thing I am going to reiterate is that I’ve got a feedback page now. It’s titled topic submission, but really, use it for any sort of feedback.

On the feedback side of things, we’re certainly still actively engaged with the ongoing industry refinement work, but even when it’s real-time chat on Skype (Greyscale, Steve Ronuken & myself have amassed probably several hours of such chat over the course of this week!) it’s almost entirely prompted by public posts such as this thread rather than new things being run past us before pushing to the public. Barring some curveball that’s a trend I expect will continue past Kronos until a good ways towards Crius, at least so far as Superfriends and Game of Drones are concerned – and why not? The overall scope of the industry changes as well as the details are public already, leaving very little reason not to do the refinement work in the open, with open feedback as much as possible. But at some point the designers on those teams will shift attention to beyond Crius… and there’s always Team Five-0, whose post-Kronos work I’m very excited about.

I was going to wrap this up by piggybacking on Sugar Kyle‘s opening topic, a simple question posed to her: “What is the CSM like?” I’m also an ‘infovore’ as she put it (and easily distracted), which means I at least read if not participate in virtually every discussion, in ever channel, as much as work and real life allows. Rather than rehash her response, I’m going to just say go read it… because her explanation is great and I’m not sure what else I’d add.

One last thing I do want to reiterate is that I have a feedback section, and while it’s titled “topic submission”, go ahead and drop whatever in there. In fact, by the time you read this, I’ll probably have changed the title anyway!

CSM9: Week Three

One minor site related thing before diving into the update – I’ve got a submission page for topic requests. Nothing more to say about that, really.

So what’s new this week? Meetings. More meetings. Oh god, the meetings!

Actually, no, it’s a great thing, the meetings have been productive. As an added bonus we’ve figured out how to overcome one shortcoming of the meeting platform, allowing more of us to attend live on a regular basis. That includes myself – the vagaries of scheduling meetings involving people across five or six timezones and two continents means the “optimal” time falls in my commute hour or in the first hour of work. Fortunately, the efforts of CCP Leeloo (who we’ve decided must be a Genie) mean that recordings of the meetings are posted for any of us who missed them within a couple hours.

In the “newly posted features” department, Sugar Kyle and Xander Phoena have both done a good job covering that. I hate feeling like I’m just rehashing what they write, so I’m not going to belabor the point too much. Instead, I’ve got a few bits of my own to add to a couple things,

MMJD are removed from ABCs… for now. They are not ruled out for the future. Personally, I hope they come back for that application, although the slow fall from favor of the class in many of its old applications has its roots in things that go well beyond what just MMJDs would solve.

The Mordus NPCs currently on the Test Server are actually found in anomalies, not belts as was originally stated. That it explains why I had no success finding them the other day. Edit: No it doesn’t, the sites are the source of BPCs for the new modules and the like, belt rats remain source for the ships themselves. I just misattributed my bad luck.

And then Freighters. Last week it was rig slots, and after public feedback and plenty of internal debate, they now have low slots instead. Overall I’m a fan of the outcome here. The upsides are a little larger, though the downsides are as well, a fact that there’s no getting around; “freighters as they are with modules on top” was something that was never on the table to begin with. The ability to refit on the fly to suit the next hauling job does a lot to offset that, though, while the permanence of rigs only exacerbated the downsides.

The question I’m sure some people are asking, then, is why didn’t the CSM fight this before it was posted? The answer there, simply, is good ideas don’t always happen all at once. Just like anyone else, we see something, we look it over, we think about it. Reservations may manifest themselves immediately, as they did in this case. I was concerned about rig permanence eroding the supposed new flexibility, and the steep downsides to go one way or another was something everyone was concerned about.

Most of the time, though, “we’re concerned about this” isn’t enough. When I was growing up, one piece of advice I heard from my dad over and over was “When you have a boss, don’t just bring him a problem. That just makes you a problem. Instead, bring a problem and a solution, or better yet two or three.” In this case, we had the problem (our concerns), and even had a solution (“why not slots instead”) but part of a solution is being able to defend the solution. The solution had problems of its own as well – low slot modules are far more powerful than rigs, and so difficult to balance, as Sugar Kyle noted last week. And thus, Fozzie marched onward and took the changes public… as he well should have! More on that a bit later.

Internally, discussion continued. Low slots for freighters looked like a fun little design exercise, so I generated some numbers. Scroll down through that post and look at the base EHP numbers and EHP numbers for various fits, and you can see why Damage Controls were left out of the final design – while they’re arguably balanced, the swinginess and tradeoffs involved are ultimately far too large. Nevertheless, it demonstrated it was possible, and so we submitted the design, our strengthened verbal arguments, and (quite possibly most importantly) the support low slots had received in the feedback thread both before and after my post.

And so here we are.

I mentioned a bit earlier that Fozzie was absolutely right to press on and take the changes public. Why? If the CSM has reservations, no doubt the players will as well, and so why not wait and address them? A large part of that I already explained, the lack of a good argument defending concerns. Another major factor, though, is that the very reason things are released far in advance of a patch (sidenote: balancing existing ships is generally not very demanding on developer resources, so two and a half weeks before patch is pretty far in advance) is to give time for feedback from everyone. That does include us – we’re not banned from giving feedback once a feature is posted in F&ID, after all. And besides, often as not in such situations, our continued feedback will draw inspiration from yours.

Just to close this post off, what exactly qualifies as a strong argument, and why isn’t we’re concerned enough? CCP Greyscale had an unbelievably good post on the topic of giving feedback a couple weeks ago that delves into that. I’ll quote the bullet points and briefly explain them each in (mostly) my own words here, but go read the whole post too.
Be calm and reasonable. Rageposting (which needs no explanation), outlandish and/or hyperbolic claims (“this will absolutely kill X and everyone will quit”) and childish labels (“coward module” comes to mind, courtesy of the MMJD thread) are not convincing and generally will not get you anywhere but ignored.
Show your work. This is the why; your opinion is not enough, as a thread will often have multiple conflicting opinions. A side that can support its opinion is far more likely to be successful.
Be Specific. Numbers are fantastic. Demonstrating why something is too big or too small is much better than just stating that it is. To grab the easiest kind of example, you might feel a post-balance ship doesn’t have the CPU to fit a reasonable fit for a certain task. Your argument will be strengthened by saying “This is the fit I want to use, these are the compromises I have to make (meta modules, different tank choices, etc) to make it work, and these are fits similar ships in similar roles can use that don’t have to do that, for that reason this ship should have at least 30 more CPU.” Actual example, not saying who, what or when.
Consider the whole picture. Much as you might like to think so, you are not the only player in this game. The developers are going to consider all angles on feedback as it is. Demonstrate you’ve done so as well and you raise the odds of your suggestion being taken into consideration.
Start your post well. A clear, concise summary – an abstract, if you prefer – will grab attention. This is especially true when your feedback is, by virtue of topic, a wall of text.
Speaking of a wall of text (to take the bullet points out of order) make sure it’s readable. Break up your paragraphs, punctuate correctly, and perhaps include some wit.
Finally, be novel. This isn’t to say that the tenth or twentieth or hundredth “I agree with this idea” post isn’t useful, as it indicates that one idea or another is something players can get behind. But there’s nothing to +1 without succinct yet comprehensive posts laying out why something is a good or bad idea and how to fix it.

While he was speaking for himself, I virtually guarantee you that this goes for literally any developer in the company… and speaking for myself, a lot of it goes for me as well. I’m here, among other things, as a conduit for feedback from players back to the developers. Coming to me and saying “this is bad, fix it” isn’t very useful on its own; even if I already think its bad myself, your reasoning and explanation could well be the new insight needed to convince CCP.

Just a little bit of food for thought next time you’re writing a feedback post.

A Dogmatic Future

This last Fanfest was the first one I’ve ever been to, and one thought that occurred to me was man, I wish roundtables were recorded, because occasionally some neat shit comes out in them.

I only actually made it to a couple of round tables, but one of them was the second ship balancing round table. It fits the bill, though. There was definitely some neat shit, and it’s neat shit that only about fifty players (if that) heard, that I’ve not really seen commented on anywhere else.

First thing’s first – Dogma. If you’re not aware, Dogma is the system in the game that handles your ship, its attributes, and how your skills modify those attributes. You’d think this is a simple and straightforward task. Take number, multiply number, viola! But as it turns out, it’s something more like this:

Yes, to my slight shame, I used to play WoW.

CCP Veritas gave a more in-depth explanation during his presentation at Fanfest, which was recorded and is available here. The part about Dogma is at 37:40, but really, take the time to watch the whole thing.

If you’ve watched the presentation, you might be wondering how, exactly, Dogma relates to ship balancing. In hindsight, it’s actually really obvious. Veritas even obliquely references it in the presentation, talking about how they want to “make the system more flexible for Game Design” and how “adding to their attributes table is something they’d like to do.” But I wasn’t at the Gridlock presentation, so it wasn’t until that ship balancing session that it all clicked together.

First thing’s first. When asked “What is your vision for Titans?” CCP Fozzie answered “To find a vision for Titans.” We’ll come back to that one.

From another player, “If you could snap your fingers and fix Command Ships and gang bonuses, what would your ideal solution be?” A likely direction, at least, apparently a module that generates a point-blank AOE effect, applying a temporary buff to any ship in gang. The boost would persist if you moved out of range, but you’d have to get back in to refresh it.

Unfortunately, it seems, such a thing isn’t really technically feasible. At least, not right now. Echoing what Veritas had said, Fozzie went on to note that it might be possible after Team Gridlock finishes the Dogma rewrite.

If you think about it, that’s not that surprising. Gang bonuses are nothing but a stat change after all, exactly what Dogma handles. Given how CCP Veritas cited session changes (during which all your stats have to be recalculated) as one huge factor in server load, it might not be entirely accurate to say that it’s technically infeasible. A more plausible scenario features CCP Fozzie proposing this mechanic, only to be told by Veritas (after he’d finished hyperventilating) that he would murder him in his sleep if he tried to implement it now.

If gang bonuses are just a beneficial stat change, then effects like webs are obviously negative ones. This is how Supercarrier and Titan balancing comes into play. If the Dogma re-write opens up more and new ways to apply stats, we’ve got a whole new realm to work within for those. What if instead of guns and a Doomsday, a Titan fielded giant targeted AOE webs instead?

Just an example, probably a bad one, and one very much born of thinking inside the box to boot. It’s easy to imagine the upsides for the purposes of supercapital balancing, though. Perhaps the largest is such an ability could easily be made to be stacking penalized. That would address what’s always been the largest difficulty in balancing them (“How do we do this without making 50 of them together too good? What about 100? 200?”) That in turn does something about the ever widening power gap between established and existing alliances and the currently mythical “newcomer little guy”. Such bonuses would also likely mandate the use of a support fleet of some kind, which is probably a desirable outcome as well.

Basically, if you’ve been wondering what’s been taking CCP so long to rebalance gang bonuses and Supercapitals, this might just be the answer.

There’s one last upside here as well. One complaint cropping up more and more lately (though still not too often, to be fair) is that as we add more and more ships to the game, they’re just crammed into the same niches, where they either obsolete their competition or are instantly useless. A bit melodramatic and generally incorrect, but there certainly is a kernel of truth there. Just think of the Mordus ships – the Garmur instantly compared to the Crow, the Orthrus to, well, any of your favorite skirmish ships, the Barghest to the Machariel. Given a limited number of roles to work with, it’s not all that surprising. But if – when? – the Dogma rewrite lets the game designers go off in completely new directions, create entirely new roles or radically redefine old ones? Well then – sky’s the limit.