Saturday, January 18, 2014

Project Atlas Gets Quietly Trumped…

~or, “I can’t Stop Watching…”

A quickie, while perusing my must read list I saw this from Ripard, and that led to this, which led to this, which led in a roundabout way to this on Das Mittens… which led to this quote…

How did you guys go about setting up the wormhole part of the map?
Squizz: Believe it or not, all that data is in the SDE.” (static data export)

Now I’m no programmer but are you telling me a MAP for ALL of Anoikis has just been sitting out there all this time?

I have turned off my screensaver and now have just 2 Firefox windows open… One running on the 22” showing Empire Space and one on the laptops 15” showing Anoikis Space…  and I just can’t stop watching…  =]

Fly Wreckless… though the Map says not… and see you in the Sky  =/|)=

PS  For those who don’t get the Project Atlas reference in the title.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

How I See EvE...

~or "How I EvE, Part The Second..."



This follows sorta in the vein of EvE Hermit's post, "How Do You EVE?"  I followed along as did a few others in the EvE blogsphere and posted a pic of how I play EvE here. This shows the physical way we each EvE... the rooms, desks, systems and screen arrangements, etc. we each use to play the game...

Now Rixx Javix has posted "My Eve Screen" which sorta fits nicely with Hermits post. This shows the layout of the game ON those screens. I find this as interesting as the physicality of How We EvE. Where we play the game is very important... but how we 'see' the game is more important.

I love my current setup. I'm on my 'spot' on our sectional in the Pub, feet up on the hassock, laptop on a comfortable lapdesk (I bought for the wife and that she never uses...). I usually have Netflix or something on the 50"flat panel up on the hearth with the game client on the 22" to my right and, on the left, on the laptops 15" widescreen, I have either;

(1) PYFA, my blog (and others) and other EvE related apps or...

(2) the EvE client stretched across both as you have seen above.

I use UltraMon to manage the dual screens, to stretch and resize the client across both screens and I have come to really prefer this layout. This allows me to have:

(A) in Station: the 'Active Ship', 'People & Places' and 'Station Services' windows are all on the laptop and off of my main 22" screen where I have just the 'Cargo Bay', 'Item & Ship Hangars', 'Market' and the 'Character Sheet' & its additional screens and...

(B) in Flight: the Ship and JUST the 'Ship Controls' with 'Selected Item', 'Drones' and any Locked Targets so just ship and weapons controls share the screen with my ship and stuffs in space around me and allowing me to have the 'Overview' and 'Active Ship' open on the laptop.

So...  How do YOU see EvE?

Fly Wreckless and see you in the Sky =/|)=

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Oh Corpmate Where Art Thou?

~So Many Toons Yet So Few Flying…

Nosy put into words something that has been itching at the back of my brain for a little while now…

From January 2010 to May 2012, the number of average concurrent users declined from 32,492 to 27,764 (-14.6%) but the number of subscriptions rose from 325,134 to 363,851 (11.9%).  …I don't have an explanation...

Here is the graph showing a decrease in players flying around in space while more and more players start new accounts (and remember each account has three toons)…  I get a real head scratch and an ‘Hmmm’ face going over this one…  How is it that LESS accounts are getting actively played and yet MOAR accounts are getting started?

Is the graph a lie as Rixx Javix says and as Nosy supports? It is simply showing data. Graphs don’t have agendas, granted the people making them often do, but in this case Chribba’s, MMOData and our collective agenda is the facts, and nothing but the facts. We all want to know the real skinny, not the Goonswamed spin… and I don’t even think Goons have an issue, plan or spin to put on the data for Subs and ACU numbers in this case.

Let’s say the graph is not a lie, but the gut reaction is… “Subs are down! EvE is DYING!! Teh Sky is falling!!!  Arrrrghhh!” this reaction is wrong. But WHAT do they show us? How do we answer Nosy’s Conundrum, “How can you have an increasing number of Subscriptions and yet decreasing Concurrent Users online?” More accounts but less people playing.

Is it some weird Bot Effect? Like the Butterfly Effect only, you know… yucky. I think it is safe to say these Subs are probably a mix of Alts, Bots and Noobs just like always. Rixx was really right about one thing, warp through any of the noobcrèches, they are awash in truly new players and this is nothing but a Good Thing™… But I wonder if the percentage of new players to alts to bots has changed… (wish we knew what THAT number was over time too TBH).

New Players are usually gonna play their main until they either figure EvE out enough to stay (that ever elusive ‘thing’ we are all bantering about ATM) or ragequit from boredom, disillusionment or are griefed out of the verse.

Alts are gonna do the Alt thing, either…
(1) undock and self-destruct, bloodjumping to null and the piles of ISK and free ships so they can bloat the Blobs of the Big Blue CockRing…
(2) buy a shite ton of books with transferred ISK and stay docked up for a few weeks\months while they focus-skill for whatever task their Main Sub created them for,
(3) buy just a few necessary books with transferred ISK and undock as soon as they can fly a ‘whatever’ then moving out to whatever system their Main Sub needs them in for scouting, or a OMF (One Man Fleet)…

And Bots… first off, Fuck Bots m’kay? M’kay… Bots are not alts and are not players. Bots are created to sit around skilling up until their Main Ahole edits up a new copy of whatever hack app he uses to control them (more effectively than even Sansha Koveki could ever wet dream about…) until he sends them out to mine and mish and grind up ISK in their mindless legions often while he himself is permaAKF…

So, the numbers… Alts and Bots are probably in the majority here. Alts ‘cause so many players, once SpaceRich, can AFFORD multiple personalities with multiple skillsets. Like Ripard said, Alts are important because of the SkillCliff. Because it take RW TIME to skill up and because the skills for a given area of gameplay such as Industry, Subcaps, Caps, etc. can take years to get proficient in so the ability to afford more than one Sub means you can focus skill each Sub into a specialty in the same time…

So instead of taking Ripard’s approx. 12 real YEARS to create one well rounded Toon who can Do It All, you can have 3 or 4 Highly Skilled Specialists plus your Main in say 3 to 4 years. This is a powerful incentive to create and use Alts especially if you add up the Power of Alts… affording them via PLEX becomes easier as you have more toons to work with to make ISK. And at the very very least you are ‘guaranteed’ a small gang or a ‘fleet of you’ every time you log on… whereas your corpmates or Allies might not be online or might not be interested in mining or mishing or whatever…  But you, yourself and youse are always there.

I commented on Ripard’s post on the Impact of Alts that I knew a guy in Null who ran 10 concurrent toons and ALL he ever did was mine. His Main was in a cloaky off grid boosting Orca and he ran 9 Hulks with the Orca warping in to scoop the ore and back out to cloak up again… Some of you can full well understand the sheer amount of ore he produced. He sold it all to corp for Industry and he had what he felt was full, engaging gameplay. And I doubt 10 is the highest number of Subs held by one player either.

Then there are Bots, same in principle but totally different in impact. Bots are not players, they are not alts of players… they are a hack of the game mechanics just to grind ISK for whatever nefarious need. Some feed the coffers of Alliances and corps, some feed the wallets of players who have no desire to ever grind and can’t afford PLEX IRL but are hooked on PvP. Some feed the RMTers, the vermin of MMO’s, the lowlifes and thieves who sell their ill-gotten ISK and ships etc. online for real money… to the junkies and real losers of the MMO world.

I have no idea if there are more Bots than Alts… but CCP is working hard to weed them out so gods I hope so. I mean you don’t BAN 6000 Subs (whether CC or PLEX it’s all bank to CCP) in a business with approx. 500k paying accounts on a whim… 6000 x $20 = $120,000 per month or $1,440,000 per year, would YOU throw that income away lightly?

And last the New Players… The churn of noobs coming into the game and, one can only assume, the small percentage of them who make it to veteran. I do wonder what the numbers are for that now… How many new accounts are created? and what percentages of them are still logging on in 30 days? in 60? in 90?

So… how can we have Increasing Subs, moar Noobs, Alts and (a hopefully fewer) Bots and yet have Decreasing Average Concurrent Users actually playing the game?

Maybe be as more veteran players get SpaceRich more of them may be creating role specific Alts and skilling them into niche gameplay areas…
Has there has been some weird increase in Bot accounts but they are not being used???
Noobs? I just don’t see how the increase in Subs can be accounted for by the Churn of New Players… Noobs generally actually PLAY the game, they are learning and experiencing it for the first time…

However if it IS Noobs, that does not bode well at all… Cause that means moar and moar people are starting new accounts and trying EvE… and less and less of them are finding anything worth staying for...

Fly Safe and see you in the Sky  =/|)

Friday, January 10, 2014

BB52: Live Fast and Die Young, or…

~or “Live Long, and Prosper…”

Welcome to the continuing monthly EVE Blog Banters and our 52nd edition! For more details about what the blog banters are visit the Blog Banter page.

Blog banter #52 – The Other Side
Go to the always useful and take a look at the All Time (weekly average) graph for concurrent accounts logged in.

For the past four and a half years, the graph has hovered around that 30,000 mark; it is, for all intents and purposes, a plateau. But everything must come to an end sooner or later and that is what this blog banter is about.

What's on the other side of that plateau?

Is there any path for CCP to follow to raise those numbers upwards for a sustained period, or is EVE going to enter a decline to lower logged in numbers from this point? How soon will we see an end to this plateau? Months? Years? Or will you argue that 'never' is a possibility? Or you can look at the root causes of the plateau and tackle the question if it could have been avoided or shortened if CCP had taken different actions in the past.


There are three distinct possibilities for what’s on the other side of the current state of the WCA (Weekly Concurrent Average)… (1) it will, for some reason, climb again, (2) it will for some reason begin to decline, (3) or it will, again for some reason, remain the same.

Now most feel that ‘Growth is Good’… and in many specific cases this is true, but not ALL cases. Population growth in living things is ‘good’… until the population outgrows the available living space/water &/or food sources and then it causes starvation and in-fighting and with humans, it can eventually lead to War… Cancer is unrestricted growth and to the cancer cells, for a while, it is ‘good’… until they kill their host thereby killing themselves… Market and production growth in companies is ‘good’ until they start to outstrip the natural resources and run the risk of losing sight of legal and moral ‘rules’ in order to maintain that growth, this is seen as greed and has been the cause of amazing harm to individuals, groups and whole populations.

I have never felt that growth or a ‘continuous growing trend’ is a good indicator of health in living or legal systems… ‘Sustainability’ should be by far the more important aspect. Growth is what happens in the early years of a lifecycle of any dynamic system, be it a living organism, a population of organisms or natural or manmade complex systems… Stars and solar systems have lifecycles… granted extremely long ones from our perspective but they don’t exist forever. Individuals and groups have lifecycles as do nations and companies… But growth ends when maturity is reached.

The cycle of Birth, growth, maturity, decline and death is one of the very few things you can reliably count on in the world as we know it. Nothing man has ever seen is provably infinite… everything and everyone eventually dies. Even the uncountable galaxies we see in the black are finite in their lives (and possibly in their numbers)… as finite as the mayfly, though on a very different timescale.

The other Absolutely Guaranteed Thing in the verse (and this goes part and parcel with the concept of lifecycle) is ‘change’. Change is the force that drives the lifecycle in all things. Change is, IMHO, the ONLY real constant in the verse. Everyone right now is crying and beating their chests and arguing over Global Warming like it’s a Bad Thing… well, it’s not… it is however just the Next Thing in the normal course of Climate Change. I don’t even use the term “global warming”… it to me is a non-sense term in current usage.

Yes, the planet is warming up, and yes, we are a factor… but why is that a Bad Thing? Ever think it is supposed to be this way? Would you rather we were heading into another Ice Age? Cause I can guarantee you with or without us it AINT gonna stay like this forever… right? Climate Change has been and always will be the ‘norm’ everywhere in the verse… it just happens on dynamic living planets like Sol III a wee bit faster than it does on moar staid, settled down and lifeless worldlets like Pluto or for that matter, even our own moon. But both of those, in their time, have seen dramatic change… and they will again one day… just not on OUR timescale.

So, to me, the core of the answer to the Burning Question of The Day in EvE is not “Is EVE dying?” but can EvE do something so far NO OTHER MMO has done… Reach a viable ‘sustainable’ maturity?

My friend Mabrick got his .2 ISK posted afore me, so to his blog post on BB52 we go to see this… Subscriptions : 150k - 1m. That is a chart showing the historical growth curves of MMOs with 150,000 to 1,000,000 subscriptions… shown below.

What I read out of this is ‘sustainability’ in EVE Online. The ONLY other MMOs listed in this category that aren’t in decline are Dofus and Second Life. ALL of the others show serious, sometimes dramatic, declines and several have bottomed out. 17 YEARS of statistical data and ONLY 3 of the 15 MMOs listed are still showing signs of health and sustainability.

Let’s look at some of the others… how are the Big Boys of the MMO world doing? Subscriptions : 1m – 12m?

Not so hot huh? While the King of MMOs, WoW did once hit 12 Million subs, it is now under 8… over 25% decline. Of the 7 MMOs with over 1m subs, only one not related to WoW shows any signs of sustainability, Runescape Global… but RG is a lot like EvE in one way... Look at the numbers, Runescape is obviously a very niche MMO… like EvE. And that I feel may be key. Niche markets, or I should say niche players, are DEVOTED players much like cult movie fans.

Look at “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”… a B-grade tribute to B-grade movies but it is also one of the most well-known and financially successful midnight movies of all time. Released in ’75 it has the longest running theatrical release in film history… and it is still playing in movie houses today. And that is testament to its deep cult following… to its niche audience, the people who LOVE that film (and yes, I have been several times over the years, though NOT in drag…LOL).

One that Mab dint go into was the one that caught my eye the most… the PCU : Largest Shards, the Peak Concurrent Users in the only 2 Single Shard MMOs out there… EvE and Second Life.

Now we are finally comparing a Granny Smith to a Golden Delicious… Like 2ndLife, EvE is far moar a true Virtuality, a virtualized simulation of ‘life’ than just a ‘game’ such as WoW. To me WoW feels like a ‘game’, EvE feels very different, and not just because you are not running around following some fantasy elf ass either... Undocking in EvE feels like a lot more than just a game… at least it does to me and many others according to the amount and content of the blogs and forum posts and articles both in the Net and in the RW media.

In the above comparison we see in the data points that 2ndLife had very slow growth for 3 years then a sudden surge to a peak just shy of the 90K mark mid ’11 with an almost straight line gradual drop off since … The statistical curve is very telling… and looks to me, like a healthy lifecycle, a strong growth then a steady slow decline.

EvE however shows a very steady and, in comparison, smoother growth curve that, in the data points, shows so little comparative variation it is almost flat line.  The trend has its largest variance across 2011… from an approx high of 65k+ to a low of 45k+… only a 20k change. In the statistical curve, which is much closer to the data points, it has only JUST NOW started to really flatten out. If you were to  make an assumption and trend these out as Bell Curves, you get an approx 12 or so year lifespan for 2ndLife and an amazing possible 22 years of life for EVE Online! Imagine an interactive MMO GAME lasting for 22 YEARS!

So, taken in this light the question is, how do you EXTEND a healthy life in an MMO? How do you plan for sustainability in a virtual world? The answer… No One Knows. It’s never been done before. ALL of this is a New Thing in the world. We are creating the The Age of Computers, we are living right now, today, in the birth pangs of the Information Age. There are those who will immediately say “No we aren’t!”… but I say we are.

The Information Age may be set as beginning in 1947 when the transistor was born, and main frame computers may have been around since the 50s… but the modern Personal Computer is only 37 years old. The first successfully mass marketed personal computer was the Commodore PET introduced in January 1977, but backordered and not available until later in the year. It was soon followed by the Apple II, usually referred to as the "Apple", in June 1977, and the TRS-80 from Radio Shack in November 1977… Think about it… only 37 years.

I’m 53… so am I an AGE unto myself? Mebbe in my own mind (but it’s OK, they know and like me there…) but not out in the Real… no, 37 years does not an Age make… only history will judge the ages of man and the ‘verse. So we are at the barest beginnings of an age of man that will see wonders yet undreamed… who in 1977 could have imagined a virtual world as deep, broad, detailed and engaging as EVE Online much less the Internet and all the change it has wrought?

I was 17 in 1977, and by sheer luck I was exposed to computers. My math teacher took an interest in me. I was then, and still am, horrible at math but I am a absolute whiz at geometry and with anything in three dimensions, he saw this and he and I had found we shared a common interest in SciFi and games. So he mentored me, nurturing my natural talents and helping me get over my fears and frustrations with math… (a debt I can never repay except to try and pay it forward in my personal and working life and with my kids…).

He met with my parents and received their permission to take me to the Va Beach campus of TCC once or twice a week after school that whole year where he taught me a text based version of Star Trek… (really, Star Trek!) I played it on a terminal of the Tidewater Community College Main Frame. And here we are a mere 37 years later and I am once moar flying virtual spaceships… but this time in the most amazing visual 3D environment man has yet created (that I know of), but, I digress...

One last thing, EVE Online is also a dynamic living system. It is created and maintained by the Devs and Managers at CCP… it is influenced and changed by the players directly and their reps on the CSM… it will find its own way in the world, as do all things in creation… and yes, one day it too will pass… but look once again at that nice steady curve… EvE is just now hitting its stride… it is maturing, and I personally believe, unless someone, be it a Manager at CCP or we the playerbase, push EvE in front of a train, (a sad yet distinct possibility if one looks are the history of both)… as long as we avoid that, I believe we have a real chance to be still logging on and undocking in, the most amazing virtual verse man has yet seen well unto and mebbe even past, my 65th year… and I would like that a lot.

So, to sum up… All of the above charts and such show a large number of games that have Lived Fast and Died Young, a very few that are Living Longer and Dying Slower and one… one that just might live long enough to reach maturity, and that is a very fine thing all told. I want to live my virtual life almost as the Vulcans teach, but not exactly… I wish to Live Long, Die Not Too Often and Prosper in the deadly skies of New Eden.

I have no answer for what CCP or we, the players should/can ‘do’ to ensure that any more than I can predict the stock market or the weather… All I can say is, let us all take great care in what WE each do and say and how it all impacts this great game we all love.

Fly Wreckless and see you in the Sky  =/|)=

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