April 29, 2015

Eve Planet Money?

So I'm a fan of a very economics geeky NPR show called Planet Money.  They've done a couple shows about Iceland (started by the economic collapse) and they've done at least one show about a virtual economy (Second Life) and a recent one about Magic: The Gathering.  So I figured I'd plug a show idea about Eve.  Anyone know anyone in NPR?


Hey there Planet Money hosts,

I thought I'd plug an idea for you that combines two things you'd like: Iceland and Virtual Economies.  What happens when you combine a free-wheeling libertarian economic model with massively multiplayer online game with an aggressive and very technically minded player base?
You get Eve Online, by Iceland software developer CCP.  A game that is primarily about virtual spaceships fighting in a fictional universe, but very strongly underpinned by economics that can be just as much of a player versus player battle as the combat between ships.  Not only do manufacturers contest through the markets in the traditional means of undercutting each others prices and exploiting new sales location, but also through manipulating those markets through speculation, hoarding, and controlling the means of products.  It's also a game where one of the best known player (Chribba) is an industrialist and trusted proxy for high-value deals.

You also get a player base that has a huge investment in economics, such as:
* The Eve Prospect Market Analysis podcast show (http://eve-prosper.blogspot.co.uk/)
* Markets for Isk (http://marketsforisk.blogspot.com/)
* Live data from the markets (http://null-sec.com/tycoon/http://eve-marketdata.com/)
* A player presentation on how he became a space trillionaire (https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=PLQvKSs1k6DLOiGGb44McruXcndTtzUUlu&v=1jytAfRGsjw)

Until recently CCP had an in-house economist, Dr. Eyj­ólf­ur Guðmunds­son, who has recently moved on to become Rector at the University of Akureyri.  Dr. Eyjo (as he is known to the player base) produced Quarterly Economic Newsletters (https://wiki.eveonline.com/en/wiki/Quarterly_Economic_Newsletter) that include Consumer Price Indicies, Producer Price Indicies, etc.  There is an interview with Dr. Eyjo by the host of Eve Prospect from March 2015 here (http://eve-prosper.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/special-report-dr-eyjo-interview.html) which includes discussions about mineral price movements, inflation in the economy, and privately issued bonds.  You see references to the in-game currency (ISK) which is of course a reference to Iceland's own currency.
Eve Online is a subscription based game, but it also has a in-game item (a Pilot License EXtension or PLEX) that people can buy with in-game currency that gives another 30-days of play time.  So players who are good at economics can effectively play for free.
So that's a lot of information.  I've attached a few images as well.  I would be glad to help point you towards people who could help in development of a story if you folks are interested.  In particular I am in the same in-game group as the host of Eve Prosper (John Purcell, aka Lockefox) and he could be a great starting point.
Thanks for all your Planet Money content!


Anyone else have ideas for plugging Eve through such means?  Anyone else want to volunteer to be contacted if Planet Money actually gets back to me?  Anyone else I should plug as economics-geek friendly?

I didn't plug Gevlon Goblin for all his economics because his blog is mostly about Grr Goons for the past year or so, Mynnna hasn't been posting since mid-CSM9, etc.

It's a long shot, but man it would be cool.

April 12, 2015

My Baby Booster Alt Skill Plan

First up on my alt training plans is the Baby Booster, inspired by a post on Eve Lost and Found.  There are three variations depending on how long you're willing to train them: 30 day, 60 day, and "long term".  Before we get into that a quick note on the recent discovery that new accounts are getting 4 remaps now from CCP - I've found that this is only the first character on the account.  So if you're spinning up a new account make sure that the more long-term and complicated alt is created first.  Unfortunately I spun up a station-sitting trade alt first, so he's unlikely to make use of all those remaps compared to the Booster alt.

A disclaimer here: I'm learning this as I go from reading around the eve meta-verse.  I'll update this blog post as I learn more from experience, commenters here, or other sources.

What is the Baby Booster?  Eve fleet mechanics are such that if you have more than one person in a fleet then the Leadership skills can give a boost to the performance of everyone in that fleet.  A single pilot with Leadership skills by themselves will not get these bonuses.  This leads to the infamous "solo PVP" where the actual combat pilot is receiving boosts from off grid, something that pretty much everyone I've heard of wants to see fixed including CCP Fozzie and CCP Rise.  Outside of this more controversial application, a booster is great for the kind of small gangs of lower-skilled players I see in my own corp where none of us have gotten around to training the leadership skills.  Given the arms-race nature of PVP, if you're going up an opponent who is going to have a full T3 link/booster alt this will at least help out.

What kind of bonuses are we talking about?

  • Leadership: 2% bonus to targeting speed per level
  • Armored Warfare: 2% bonus to armor hitpoints per level
  • Siege Warfare: 2% bonus to shield capacity per level
  • Skirmish Warfare: 2% bonus to agility per level
  • Information Warfare: 2% bonus to targeting range per level

So for having a T1 frigate in a safe somewhere in system you get bonuses in excess of what a really expensive pirate implant set in the head of every member of your fleet.

Open question: The EveUni and official wiki entries only mention being in space and in the solar system as limitations.  If you can provide bonuses while cloaked I'll definitely alter this plan to include the ability to put a crude cloak on your alts T1 frigate.


  • 30-day Baby Booster: 10% bonus to targeting speed, choose one other at 10%, others at 8% bonus, over four squadrons.
  • 60-day Baby Booster: All bonuses at 10%, over five squadrons.
  • Long term: Keep running with the above up to a full T3 with mindlinks.  That's beyond the scope of this article.

Training Pattern:
Train Cybernetics 1, then plug in +3 Cha and Will implants, remap to maximize Cha first, Will second.  If you're going to go for the "Long term" option, instead continue to Cybernetics 4 and plug in +4 implants.

Train Leadership 1, then each of the Warfare skills to 1.  Congrats! After 80 minutes of training your alt can already give to 2% bonuses to a minimal fleet (i.e. your main).

"Solo" branch point: If this is really just to boost your "solo" main then you can skip the Leadership over 1 that we're about to cover and instead just focus on the Warfare skills.  It won't let you squeeze any more level 5 warfare skills on the 30-day or 60-day plan, but you will have more time to get some ship skills in.

Train up Leadership and the Warfare skills to 4.  I'd recommend mixing in a Infomorph Psychology 1 or 2 as well so you can clone into a combat position then clone out to your learning implants.  You're now only 9 days into training and you can give a decent sized squadron 8% bonuses in all categories.

Train Leadership to 5 and start Wing Commander.  Now you can boost multiple full-size squadrons.  Choose what your priority is for Warfare skills to get to level 5.  I figure this is pretty much driven by your tank style, with the agility and targeting range bonuses being less useful.

Where I am:
My own new alt is now at the point of training the level 4 warfare skills.  I'm not going to prioritize Wing Command yet, since if our corp ever gets more than one squad we're pretty much guaranteed to have one of the veterans around with level 5 warfare skills.  Soon it's off to Estel Arador to pick up a clone I can move into the warzone and then it's time to start experimenting!

April 10, 2015

New characters and the last of the learning skills

Once upon a time in Eve there were learning skills.  When I was googling for information about character builds before starting up my first character I found lots of advice about what order to train the learning skills, even though they were gone by the time I started.  There's one learning skill left in Eve that you need to consider when starting a new character (main or alt): Cybernetics.  I expect it will be gone (or more likely changed) in the next year.  I'll make a recommendation below on a simple option there.

Learning Skills/Implants

The nature of learning skills was that they give no direct game benefit, only a second order benefit in terms of your speed of learning.  Apparently under the old learning skill system the best way to start playing Eve was to create a character, queue up the learning skills, and then don't log back into the game except to queue more skills for a couple days.  Cybernetics is pretty much the same.  Cybernetics lets you plug in implants that increase your attributes, which drive your learning speed, which you should do as soon as possible in terms of optimizing your growth.  Surprisingly a number of the articles I saw on alts just assume you know this.  The exception is Gevlon Goblin's guide to making a market alt (which is good, but slightly dated now):
"The first step in the way of building a trader (or rather any) character is to learn cybernetics. If you are a new player, lvl 1 is enough. This skill allows you to get implants that speed up your skillpoint collection. The +2 implants costs around 2M ISK, money you don't have as newbie. If it's not your first account and you are not a total newbie, I'd strongly suggest to learn Cybernetics 4 to be able to use +4 implants"

I'd alter that a bit if you aren't making a dedicated trader alt.  If you're a new player and you didn't come in on a buddy invite then contact someone in your player corporation - and if you didn't join a player corp do that now (Eve University, Brave, RvB, or our own Aideron Robotics).  If you're absolutely new it is worth it to make a simple deal: you give me a buddy invite, I start over on the buddy invite, we split the money from the PLEX you get.  Use that PLEX to buy (amongst other things) +4 implants.  Note that some new player corps also apparently give out low grade implants free.

Basically, Cybernetics 4 (75 hours of training) will pay off in 62 days (with some variation based on your mapping).  So Cybernetics 4 is not worth it for your two-PLEX-and-done alt, but for pretty much anything else go do it first.

But is that really good for the game?

An Alternative Cybernetics

A simple change would be as follows:

All new pilots start with Cybernetics 1, just like they start with racial frigate 3 and the like.  Lore wise this represents knowledge needed to get the capsuleer clone implants.

Skill requirements for +4 learning implants (those with attribute bonuses only) changes to only need Cybernetics 1.  Other skill requirements do not change.  For instance, Cybernetics 4 is still required for the High Grade pirate implants, and Cybernetics 5 is still required for Mindlinks.

I expect that CCP will go farther and radically change the attribute/remap/skill linked mechanisms, but this would be a simple way to get new players going without taking away the risk vs reward of losing your implants in PvP.

Edit: updated thanks to correction from maxpowerdup in the comments below.

April 6, 2015

Future of Big Battles in Null

When FozzieSov was first announced, there were complaints that there would be no more B-R fights.  The immediate counter was "so how fun is to be at max TiDi for hours and hours on end?"  I thought surely the real response of "yes, there will be big battles" would come around but apparently not.  I was particularly frustrated when one of my favorite podcasts went on and on recently, but apparently none of them had actually read the devblog (or at least could articulate it).  We even had one guest reinforce the stereotype that "I don't need to read, my superiors in the alliance will tell me I need to know" before he went on to spout stuff that was just plain wrong.  So I'll put our my statement, as a non-null resident no less, that we will have huge battles to rival B-R - just not the TiDi fests of Dominion Sov.


If you still haven't read about the new sov, please do so before you go commenting on blogs and podcasts and such.  It's not that hard, let me help:
* Politics by Other Means: Sovereignty Part Two (Fozzie Sov's introduction)
* Entosis Links and Ship Balance: original thread on F&I - read the first post and then skip to
* Entosis Links and Ship Balance Part Two

And now, on with the show

The Battle of D-Day

Let's start with a comparison to military history: the Battle of D-Day.  Here's a quote from the History.com article:
During World War II (1939-1945), the Battle of Normandy, which lasted from June 1944 to August 1944, resulted in the Allied liberation of Western Europe from Nazi Germany’s control. Codenamed Operation Overlord, the battle began on June 6, 1944, also known as D-Day, when some 156,000 American, British and Canadian forces landed on five beaches along a 50-mile stretch of the heavily fortified coast of France’s Normandy region.
Hmm, notice how this isn't referred to the Battle of Juno Beach, the Battle of Sword Beach, the Battle for Cherbourg, etc etc.  We don't talk about how many men died on each of those beaches as separate events and compare them against the battles that have gone before on that.  We don't treat how many men came in on gliders and by parachutes into the enemy backfield as separate skirmishes.  That's because those were just smaller locations in support of a larger mission objection: flipping Sov of the Normandy Constellation from the Germans [NAZI] to the Western Alliance [ALLY].

Oops, did I just say Sov? Well, let's take this back to New Eden then. If D-Day was under FozzieSov, what might we see?

The Battle of the Normandy Constellation

Operation Overload starts with five large fleets surging into the Normandy Constellation.  Thanks to intel leaks, the defenders set up heavy gate camps but were unable to stop interceptors and CovOps ships from getting past and using cynos to allow larger forces to land.  The defenders break off of gate camps to chase down intruders using Entosis Links to reinforce sovereignty structures, POSes and other structures.  As the initial defenses are breached and some of the attacks succeed, command nodes start to spawn across the constellation.  The battle rages back and forth for days, with each day running into the hundreds of billions of ISK destroyed.

War-reporters stream from their covops as battles run around command nodes, eagerly watched to learn what tactics and fits both sides are using.  Third-party groups swing into the constellations hoping to kite off the edges of the command nodes, or catch juicy Entosis-laden ships.  An NPSI streamer laughs as someone in his fleet takes a shot at a Drifter Battleship that apparently is observing one such battle, leading to a whelp of the entire NPSI fleet.  Mercenaries are pulled in on both sides with instructions to reinforce POSes and hunt down Entosis-ships.

Eventually the defending forces are pushed back and control of structures begins to swing to the attackers.  The Command Nodes for the headquarters station are triggered and the attacker starts to take them.  At risk of losing the final nodes, the defenders commit their capital and super-capital assets.  Cynos in the final command nodes on both sides bring in dreads and carriers to secure the grids, both sides not wanting to be the first to commit supers and titans on one command node lest their opponent overwhelm the other four.

On the final day the last five command nodes see waves of attack, reinforce, commit reserves until capital and super-capital assets are deployed in multiple systems and multiple nodes.  TiDi ramps up as the doomsdays start to rain down, hitting 10% dilation for a full two hours in three of the systems before the final command node is secured.  The defender manages to extract their forces from four of the five command nodes as they realized they are overmatched, but enemy bubbles and hictors keep it from going cleanly.

In the aftermath the analysis and reporting goes into overdrive.  Billed as the "largest player battle in video game history" the link gets passed around about how thousands of Eve players battled back and forth for over a week, with trillions of ISK lost and the inevitable conversions to USD and Euros.  A popular eve-news side features a ten-part series of interviews with skirmish commanders from the most nail-biting of the command node fights, the final article of which is picked up by a mainstream gaming media site.

Player videos and commentary swamp /r/Eve, along with recriminations over spies and betrayals.  Hero-Entosis pilots regale friends on how they managed to keep their link up for a few moments more even as enemy battleships took the grid, just enough time for a corpie to land and light off a cyno that brought the pivotal caps on field. As the defenders lick their wounds, they harass the new sov-holders with Entosis HAC gangs, but only half-heartedly as they let people know that they didn't really want that constellation anyway.

Future Fights

Saying that they won't match the old fights is like saying that D-Day wasn't that big because each individual beach and para-drop and airstrike involved was small.  You just have to shift your definition of what a "battle" in Eve means to something that more approaches reality.  It's a new kind of battle that, as an outsider to null, actually sounds interesting compared to the 24-hour long 10% TiDi battle that frankly sounds boring.  The idea of having these raging battles across a constellation, now that's something I could get into.

But we'll still have TiDi, you know, if you were missing that.