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.

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!

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.

Death to Tech II BPOs

Sensationalist title? Read on, then decide.

I can’t be assed to go out and look, but I suspect that since approximately “forever” (defined as in this case as “whenever Invention was implemented” anyway) CCP has been saying they’ll do something about Tech II BPOs. This occurred most recently at Fanfest and has started off a slew of panicked sales, matched by many vehement denials from the owners… as well as a few hilarious but misplaced and hastily dropped accusations of impropriety. A spate of trolling from fellows of yours truly eventually prompted this post from CCP Eterne.

There are currently no immediate plans to remove T2 BPOs from the game.

I’ve bolded the relevant qualifiers there, because “no immediate plans to remove” certainly does not mean “no immediate plans to nerf.” Quite the opposite, CCP Greyscale seems to have them squarely in his crosshairs.

First thing’s first is this post, which is quite long, so I’ve quoted the relevant part below.

We are currently of a mind to shift invented BPCs so they have positive (or at worst 0) ME and TE figures. This a) prevents the removal of extra materials giving invention an extra-hard kick, and in particular b) prevents every invented T2 item from requiring two of the relevant T1 items (due to always rounding up materials). This will probably put all invented BPCs in the 1-5% ME/2-10% TE range, with decryptors adjusted to match. We may adjust T2 build costs upwards across the board to put the net T2 resource usage roughly where it is currently, so we don’t end up nerfing the demand for T2 components. (This obviously also serves to close the gap somewhat between invention and T2 BPOs; this is not a goal here but it’s an acceptable side-effect.)

It’s easy to read that and go “It’s just a nice buff to invention, how does that nerf Tech II BPOs”, so I’ll explain. The first thing to keep in mind is that one point of negative ME is a much bigger penalty than one point of positive ME is a gain. In fact, each point increases waste by 10% of the base build value; by comparison, getting a BPO to its perfect research level only saves 10% total. Nevertheless, the throughput of a Tech II BPO or even every single Tech II BPO of a given type is extremely limited, and so despite the cost advantage, Invention dictates the price on most things.

To illustrate, consider a Zealot. At ME0 the build cost is about 112m isk; with a month of research, that’s 104.5m isk. Another month to ME10 buys another million isk in savings, which is a bit hard to justify. The optimal invention cost, on the other hand, is either 130m isk (one run, ME-1) or 135m isk (two runs, ME-2) depending on Decryptor choice. Jita sale price, on the other hand, is 148m isk at time of writing. That considerable profit margin is where a Tech II derives its value… though it’s worth noting that the collective delusion that they’d always go up means that when they do get sold, the asking price is on the wrong side of farcical. The last Zealot BPO offered for sale was part of a 179 BPO collection and was clearly posted as a dickwaving thing – the seller turned down every single offer, including a 160b isk (around 13 years of profit) bid for the Zealot print.

But I digress. With Greyscale’s proposal, those invented blueprints would no longer come out at ME-1 or ME-2, but ME3 or ME2, with a build cost falling between 105m-106m isk. Throw in 4-8m isk for the Invention materials themselves and round the result of to 115m isk, because round numbers are fun. It should be obvious here that Zealot prices would fall, with 125-130m being a safe bet. That doesn’t change the inventors profit margins all that much, but the profit the BPO holder is making on each run suddenly dropped by almost half.

Astute observers may note I ignored both the material changes Greyscale referenced and the material changes already promised in the Research devblog. This is to keep the explanation simple, but I’ve checked the numbers with those changes and the outcome is basically the same. And, besides, other less tangible factors such as a shift in decryptor preferences (that +9 run decryptor looks real nice when it no longer obliges you to build at ME-6, which may or may not explain the recent rise in demand for them) and easier access to research facilities may well push the price down even further by increasing supply to the market.

So that’s strike one. It is worth noting, however, that it’s a change which largely affects ships. Most modules are unaffected, either because they use so few components and materials that the difference between ME-4 and ME100 is negligible, or because invention time is so “lossy” that the market is constantly undersupplied. What do I mean by lossy? Invention jobs for many modules run in just a few hours. If you plug in jobs before you go to work, you’re missing the vast majority of your potential output during the day; likewise when you sleep or do anything but regularly babysit the jobs. Once you’ve got the print its not so bad, since even frigate modules take hours to build and the prints start at ten runs. The Invention process itself is the bottleneck, and it’s why Heat Sink IIs sell for 840k when the cost to invent & build at ME-4 is around 460k. Same for 1MN MWD II (1.7m invent & build, 2.4m sale), Wasp II (738k vs an even 1m), and so on.

But don’t worry, Greyscale’s out for those BPOs as well. As detailed in this post, he’s thinking about increasing the max run counts on invented BPOs, and scaling up the length of the job to match. Numbers (and I suppose “even happening at all”) are still up in the air, but nevertheless, the effect would be to diminish the lost time factor in Invention, which would increase overall throughput and bring prices down.

And all this, strictly speaking, is before we’ve even gotten to actual Invention reworks; according to the first Industry devblog, those “are pushed to be done next in line, mainly for fall and/or winter.” Makes a lot more sense why BPO owners are rushing to sell now, doesn’t it?

Mordus Legion: First Look at Fittings

Namamai has updated EFT with the brand new Mordus ships, which means you’re able to play around with them now and wish they weren’t still a month off. If you don’t know where to find them, here you go. Download, extract the files into the Data folder in your EFT folder, overwrite the existing files.


This thing is undoubtedly the most relatively powerful of the ships. At 3789m/s it’s just a touch slower than the Daredevil (3891m/s). Its got a 3s align time which, while beat by both the Dramiel and Daredevil, matches the Condor and beats any other missile frigate by a wide margin. More significantly, the available fitting is quite generous, so you can do something like this without much trouble:

That also works with a Medium ASB if you’re feeling like an active tank; just replace the ACR with a Tech I CPU rig. Setup that way you’ve still got a solid 4300 EHP and 105 DPS tanked. It’s everything that makes the MASB Merlin fits attractive, without that pesky part where they don’t get an MWD.

On the missile front, there’s the obligatory souped up Condor.
Something like that, I guess?

Long story short is you’ve got a lot of fitting space that affords a lot of flexibility. I expect these will be a common sight in lowsec, and might replace or supplement the Crows and Maledictions in roaming interceptor gangs. Or, for that matter, be used as a counter to said gangs?


Of course, if you want an interceptor counter, perhaps you should be looking up one ship size. With Rapid Light launchers and a couple BCS II, the Orthrus volleys for about 1600 damage every 3.5 seconds. The typical roaming interceptor has well under 3,000 EHP, so you can do the math on that one.
Dip into the wallet a bit and you can make an XLASB fit work, but someone else came up with it; I’ll let them post it if they want.

In the less specialized realm of fits, there’s the utterly obvious HAM skirmisher.
I should credit Namamai for this particular fit, since I stole it from him more or less outright… but on the other hand, it is the utterly obvious thing to do. A third BCS II fits, but the Nanofiber gives you the speed to keep up with nearly any cruiser in the game, which is worth far more than a little bit more DPS on top of what is already an exceptionally respectable number.


Let’s get the obvious out of the way first: No, it’s not really a PvE boat. You can do it, it’s got “highest missile DPS of any missile battleship” as a point in it’s favor, it’s able to field a perfectly respectable tank (you can even tank upwards of 600 DPS passively against the right damage profile), and the velocity bonus means you’ll waste fewer missiles. Use a Golem or Navy Raven anyway – their bonuses to damage application more than make up for the slightly lower paper damage.

With that out of the way, the obvious question then is how to use the thing for PvP.
May as well get that out of the way first, though I’m really not sure that labeling it “comedy” is actually fair… aside from the officer Scrambler, anyway. That might be a bit much. But, the missile velocity bonus is just begging to be used that way – blow everything, kill, neut or jam off tackle, bail. Shed the over the top officer Scrambler and you can fit Cruise Missiles instead, which might just be the better option anyway.

This could be fun, if we didn’t live in a world where it would just be expensive bomber bait instead.
Anyone care to place bets whether it’s even possible to firewall 20km/s cruise missiles?

The Verdict

I will freely admit that theorycrafting fits isn’t my foremost talent and so I may well have overlooked something here.


The Garmur is the best of the bunch here, hands down. I said it twice for a reason. The Orthrus is no slouch either, though, and it’s not hard to imagine that it’ll squeeze out the Vagabond, Cynabal, and… everything, really… in the “expensive roaming toy” department.

Biggest loser, then, is the Barghest. I call back again to the previous “theorycrafting isn’t my strong suite” line and admit I’m not really sure if it’s just not that strong, or if it’s actually pretty decent and is just outshone by its smaller bretheren. Either way, it’ll be the least popular of the trio.


Edit: I saw this on twitter shortly after publication, which I have to say takes the cake in the “Comedy Option” department.

CSM9: Week One

The first observation here is that it was difficult to write any CSM8 weekly updates with the likes of Jester around. Xander is doing a fine job of continuing the tradition. Hate ’em or love ’em, they’re both quite loquacious, which makes writing anything without feeling like I’m just regurgitating what’s been written elsewhere difficult. But hey, it is what it is. Hopefully as we proceed through the term, the fast pace imposed by the new release cycle will open up gaps for different coverage and viewpoints… or conflicting coverage of the same thing, which might make for a more interesting read!


Big news of the week, of course, is that we opted to eliminate officer positions in favor of forming an autonomous collective, to borrow the words of one FHC poster. As has been detailed elsewhere, people will pick up the work as necessary. One person might assume charge of driving the minutes process, for example, another (or two or three or four, if CSM8 was any indication) might take notes during meetings, and so forth. In short, the extra responsibilities of the old officer positions will be picked up voluntarily, and since those responsibilities were the foremost reasons for the positions, why keep them around?

For my part, I’m a fan.

Xander commented on the number of channels that the new members were admitted to after signing the NDA. Unfortunately, there are still more! While the various CSM8 channels will go away, we do have CSM Alumni (just what it sounds like), the CSM/CCP joint channel (likewise) and the CSM9 private channel (again, likewise). But over the next week or so I hope to see new serious business channels for each individual feature team. The CSM/CCP joint channel, after all, is very much a general bullshit channel, particularly in the evening EVE time when most of CCP is asleep but all the USTZ CSM members are still around. Individual team channels offer a no-nonsense place to discuss the features being worked on by that team. While they’re normally quiet, they’ve proven their worth over the course of CSM8, and are likely to be even more valuable under the new release tempo.

Both CSMs got together with Team Five-0 for a brief sprint review. This one was fairly low key, although what Xander referred to as “not to exciting” was this, and it’s easy to see how players might have what we’ll delicately call a mixed reaction to it.

Two other notables outside the sprint review. We’ve gotten to see the first iteration of stats for the Mordus Legion faction ships, and all I can say is I’m excited to get my hands on them. The stats and racial bonuses are very solid and fit the ships’ roles exceptionally well, and the role bonus is exceptionally interesting. While I suspect it’ll be under-appreciated at first, it certainly sets the ships apart and compliments their role nicely. I’ll have more to say on them once they get posted.

Finally, another “thing” for the upcoming release, which definitely sparked a lively debate amongst both ourselves and between us and CCP. It’ll be interesting to see how it’s received by the players at large, although like Xander I think it’s a positive.

In other news, the new site layout is probably hard to miss. I’ve setup a new page with CSM9 member’s blogs, as well as links and RSS feeds for each member on  Eve-o. One thing in particular to note is the ability to search for CSM posts as a whole, which is either brand new or merely something I’ve never noticed; not sure which. Since that exists, though, perhaps we can get “jump to CSM post” functionality in forum threads as well?

Last but not least, CSM9 results, including the ballot files in the comment thread. I’m still digging into these in a bit more detail. In the meantime, Jester and Rhavas (who gets “a little ranty”) both have posts on the subject.

Interceptors – Quick Thoughts

It’s been a long day, so here’s a quick topic to chew on.

Like it or love it the new role bonus for Interceptors – bubble immunity, in case you’ve been living under a rock – is probably here to stay.

That’s not to say that interceptors might not see some balancing. Historically, CCP’s balancing efforts have always hinged on how widely used a ship is relative to similar options. In the case of interceptors, I’d probably lay money that the Crow and Malediction are dominating in that department. While any of the ‘Fleet interceptors’ (defined as such by their bonus to Warp Scrambler and Warp Disruptor range) work just fine in support to gangs large and small, those two are undisputed kings of the interceptor roam. Bubble immune with a fast align time, 30km point and no need to decelerate from their high MWD velocity to apply damage, why wouldn’t they be? Piss poor DPS, sure, but a couple of them working in concert can kill off ratters without much issue and packs of them can handle a lot of other things.

At some point, if I’m right about the usage, they’re going to get revisited. So, here’s some food for thought for a novel approach.

First, split the ‘Combat’ and ‘Fleet’ interceptors a little more broadly. The Tech II specialization or theme of the class is “Mobility”, but that need not mean a class-wide bonus. Fleet interceptors keep the bubble immunity, as it’s an excellent bonus for pursuing fleeing targets and moving about an incumbered battlefield. Combat interceptors, on the other hand, could replace it with a bonus allowing short-range engagement and disengagement at will. The idea would be to differentiate them from Assault Frigates, whose low sig radius and generally robust tank lets them hang in close and pound their target. Imagine, if you will, a bonus that conferred immunity to webs, or scramblers… or both.

Edit: It’s already caused some confusion, so I should point out that when I say “immunity to scramblers” I’m thinking specifically of ignoring the “shuts down MWDs” part, not the warp disruption effect.

Probably a dramatically overpowered example, but you get the idea of the theme.

Second, give the ‘Fleet Interceptor’ role to the Crusader and Raptor, respectively, rather than Malediction & Crow, and given that, change up the other bonuses a little to suit.

The end result would be just a little bit more thought necessary when it comes to choosing your interceptor, especially for roaming.