From the SWTOR Patch Notes:
A host of new Galactic Starfighter items have been added to the Cartel Market; check the new Starfighter tab to see them all!
Soooo the fastest if not the only way to get these upgrades is to buy them for real money. Of course they will probably be bound to the character for at least a day or so. Still letting people buy good parts for real money right off the bat… ouch. Nice to know wallet warriors are going to be rocking it for at least a few days. I know it’s a skinny difference but I much prefer to be able to buy a multiplier to my rate of advancement than to just buy advancement. I like the feeling of “earning” my gear, even if I earned it with an advantage over simply showing up, plunking down dinero and saying “WORSHIP ME MORTAL ONES” for a week while people catch up at least to the point where skill at the computer = skill at making disposable income.
I’ll be interested to see the Galactic Starfighter content of course. It’s one of the most iconic parts of Star Wars, and even if I usually detest PvP outside of EvE, I’ll probably participate to some extent, just to try it out, but I don’t think it’s going to be a real game-changer for me. The story is still the key (more on that in a later post) and the PvP, while getting more imaginative, will now consumer ever more resources as they will be managing 8v8, starfighter, AND the upcoming 4v4 arenas. That’s a lot of resources for a game based on “Story” to devote to PvP.
Ok, I’m going to just officially take the month of November off so I can work on my horrible novel for NaNoWriMo. I’ll probably cave in and do a Rubicon post and one concerning the CCP financials that came out a bit ago, but don’t expect much more than that. Fly dangerous etc. etc.
Sorry for being out. Work is picking up and it’s likely this whole quarter will be like this. Still and all I need to post MOAR. Especially when I’m up to about 20 drafts.
BUT ENOUGH OF THIS. Let’s talk about spaceships. Specifically, how fast they warp. Battleships went from 30ish seconds in warp (not counting align time) to 50+ not including your align time. That means that we’re talking around 2 minutes a system at an average of 20 AU. Longer warps take longer of course, and this is gonna change some things. I’m gonna talk about travel first.
Travelling is going to take longer. This is going to have a couple big effects. First: Taxi Titans are even more important. It’s hard to make a change that doesn’t help Goons but this one… it helps goons a lot. They can move heavier fleets faster than anyone especially on their home turf because they can ferry people with titans easily. That makes this a supercap buff in my book. They are that much more essential and the people that have them will profit more for it.
Fleet comps will have to be more diverse. Tackle will be essential as BS simply won’t arrive on the field with enough time to tackle anything. Just throwing in some dictors and logis probably won’t cut it. FCs and doctrine bunnies will have to look hard and how much they need. Also having squadrons that can go out and pin an enemy on the field, mix it up with them, while you get your hammer out is going to be important.
The nightmare in all this is coordination. Presumably fleets will still warp at the speed of the slowest ship. That part is easy, but getting your tackle out there moving at one speed, some heavier tackle out there at another, your battleships out there at yet another and god HELP you if you have to move caps within a system. Although as slow as they align that’s hardly new.
Planning and preparation is going to be huge. HUGE. The kind of operational planning that Goonswarm has long excelled in will be even more important once we cross the Rubicon. Alliances are going to find moving fleets to attack far more complicated, and even defending with a heavy fleet will likely cause far more issues than today. Oh and forget catching up in a BS. Not gonna happen. Unless you want to bring an inty, be on time. Inty pilots feel free to show up three hours late and buy your ship whenever because apparently you are a combination of fast as shit and unstoppable. Seriously.
There will be more consequences, intended and unintended. These are my first glance reactions.
And yes I do know there’s current CCP Financials. If you are really lucky I’ll hit that Thursday.
So I found a NEAT POST dating way back on @gamerchick42 and thought I’d steal the idea.
Carebear by Rudyard Kipling
O it’s Carebear this and Carebear that and Carebear wont you shoot?
But it’s “How you doing buddy?” When he’s splitting up the loot.
He’s splitting up the loot my friends, he’s splitting up the loot!
O it’s “How you doing buddy?” When he’s splitting up the loot!
Henry V, by William Shakespeare
By Jove, I am not covetous of isk,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my SRP,
It yearns me not if men my doctrines steal,
Such outward things dwell not in my desires:
But if it be a sin to covet killmails,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith my coz, wish not a man from Goons
God’s Peace! I would not lose so many a killmail
As one goon more, methinks, would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, FC, through my fleets,
That he which hath brought a drake or sebo’d alphaing killmail whore of a ship
Let him depart; his ammo shall be saved
And his participation shall be noted as he were here
We would not die in that man’s company
Who shows up merely to make numbers and steal my killmails.
Wormholes by Alfred Tennyson
‘Tis not too late to seek a newer wormhole.
Jump in, start scanning and cloak up at a safe
Finding sites and moons unoccupied
To find the stars unclaiméd and the orbits
Of the shattered planets until I die
It may be we shall find an unclaimed C5-C5
And meet the great Bob the Wormhole God whom we fear
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Shattered Narwhals, and AHARM, and R&K, that which we were, we are
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
made weak by wormhole death and bad sites but wealthy in wallets
To Scan, to Plex, and never to negotiate!
Cynabal by Lewis Carrol (edited with help from Shootin’ Star)
‘Twas brillig, and the slithy pods
Did skid and tumble in the warp;
All mimsy were the Basilisks,
And the Ishkurs raths outgrabe.
Beware the Cynabal my son!
The points that traps, the guns that smash!
Beware the OGB and shun
The fruminous Thrasher-thrash!
He took his god-tanked Geddon in his hand
Long time the manxom foe he sought
and rested by the Tama gate,
And orbited a while in thought
And as in uffish thought he orbited
the Cynabal came, with MWDs of flame,
Came burning in to land the point
And smacked local as he came
F1, F2! F1, F2! and through and through
The Bane Rage Torps went snicker-snack!
He looted its wreck, and with its loot
Went galumphing back.
And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish Carebear!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!
He chortled in his joy.
‘Twas brillig, and the slithy pods
Did skid and tumble in the warp;
All mimsy were the Basilisks,
And the Ishkurs raths outgrabe.
“Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of Empire,
And danced the heavens on tear-streaked wings;
Nullward I’ve raced and joined the tumbling mirth of countless goons
and done a hundred things You would never do
scammed and blobbed and flown in endless CTAs.
Spinning there I’ve spammed local countless systems
and flung my eager craft through airless halls of null.
Ever Deeper into the lawless zones
I’ve ratted the ore-swept belts while AFK,
where never bantam, or even breacher, flew;
and, while with silent, thoughtless mind I’ve shot
the loyal blue in his own space space,
Infuriating my diplo, who cries “WHY GOD?!”.”
So this weekend I was in the Twin Cities. I stopped by the Games Workshop store up there. MANY years ago my long-suffering family took me to the one in… Seattle? Vancouver? Somewhere where it rains a lot. The place was amazing. Huge. Well stocked. Knowledgeable staff. Laid out far better than the local gaming stores nearest me. I was able to get a whole unit of Engineer Outriders, which were nearly impossible to acquire in any conventional manner available to a teenager way back then. If I was even a teenager.
Fast forward to Saturday. We get there, GF looks over the Eldar, the plan is to at least get her HQ (Farseer with retinue, or an avatar) and maybe some troops. Only… there’s no Avatar, and they only have the solo farseer sans retinue. The one staffer working there comes over, I ask him what’s the haps. Turns out they are direct order only. Even for GW stores. Now I’ve heard a bit about direct order. More on that in a minute. I didn’t realize that it applied even to GW stores. Then I started looking at the shelves. Almost NONE of the direct order line that I know of was on the shelves at all. Nothing. Period. Bupkis.
I’m not sure if this is just that store or what, but they don’t stock a TON of GW product because it’s not part of the core line. That’s lousy. Then I started to look over the store itself. I am blessed to have a place near me as good as Mayhem Comics of Des Moines. No they don’t give me a discount either. The place is big. Well lit, spacious walkways (which is important when gamers seem to grow side-to-side every year) attractive displays and a HUGE games room. The only place I think the GW store had a match was the quality of the staff. The gentleman there on Saturday was top notch. Knew the product line, had the answers, and as I observed him dealing with other customers he was extremely personable, and a great salesman and an ambassador. Seriously GW that guy needs to be doing more for you than working at/managing a shop.
But the GW shop was still smaller, less well equipped, and less well staffed with only one guy there on a Saturday, with an Army Book releasing that day. It lacked the massive game room, shelves and shelves of terrain, and additional stock that the folks at Mayhem keep on hand. When it comes down to encouraging the hobby, Mayhem does a better job than a GW store in addition to selling other products and even other wargames.
Now about that direct order system. From what I understand: Direct Order is a subset of products that aren’t as common, and aren’t considered in as much demand. Stores are strictly limited in how much they can order in a given month, and it’s a harsh limit. If you need a lot of this stuff, well, your customer will have to order from GW directly. This is in addition to GW limitations to online shopping from 3rd parties, which is effectively total.
Now lets add this to GW’s litigious nature. GW would sue a cockroach for infringement if it grew a birthmark that looked like an aquila. The very popular site Beasts of War has been hammered frequently with cease and desist letters. Their partner, Wayland Games, would be massively affected should GW hammer Beasts of War. Beasts of war is in kind of a unique spot. Located with Wayland they can probably hit GW staffers with water balloons given a proper slingshot during their lunch break, and as one of the largest and most visible online reporters of wargaming news, they are frankly very large, and very hard to ignore for GW. It’d be about as subtle as the Red Sox owners putting in a billboard showing playoff results across the street from the Steinbrenners house. Tough to ignore.
Side note: Red Sox Nation, can we make that happen?
Now I’m not questioning GW’s right to protect their proprietary information. I’m questioning their judgement. They certainly have the right and some level of responsibility when it comes to protecting their info. I’m actually not even going to question their judgement at this point. It’s a bad fucking idea to do it in the manner they do. Stores are ambassadors for their product as well as outlets for sales. Online news sites drive demand for their products above and beyond what GW manages with their own website and youtube videos. This would be the equivalent of CCP slamming every single blog, podcast, vlog, or news site that uses their copyrighted material no matter how it was used. This would be like CCP going after me, the person sitting in this chair, with lawyers and all, for linking a video of one of their trailers. Literally. GW has gone after people that linked their own public videos.
The worst ambassador for GW is GW. Their stores are slipshod affairs. Their legal team is voracious and out of control. Their pricing is nonsensical. I could probably name 50 people who could do a better job running the company than they are and for once it’s not hyperbole. Those of you that have dealt with them in the past are probably nodding your heads.
They make great games. They make gorgeous miniatures, and the stores that carry them are worthwhile endeavors. I’ve played the game since you could get 30 marines for 30 bucks. I just wish the company at the top of the pyramid was less grimdark and more open and engaging.
Thanks to yesterday’s ANON posting the link to some more current financials.
Ok so CCP’s cash situation is a little weird. Quite a bit weird actually. CCP took about 40 million in loans and bond issues (the bonds at a 7% for a 5 year note) 8 million of which they haven’t touched. At the end of the year they were down 18 million from where they started in cash. That’s not fun.
I understand why they are at where they are. They are spending a bunch on R&D for existing products, and a bunch MORE on development for other products, (in 2012 this would have been Dust and WoD) and they have a lot overhead on their admin expenses, but they aren’t out of line for the number of employees they have. The problem is they are trying to become a bigger company, and borrowing money to get there.
The problem is I still don’t like their cash situation. Last year Dec 31 they had 3.6 million. This year they borrowed 32 million, had an operating profit of 2.8 million, and ended up with 20 million in cash. A lot of the other 18.4 million probably went into Dust. That amount *should* be dropping off some, and will be tempered somewhat by the 5 people now paying for Dust. The problem is CCP is putting themselves in a bind. The note rate is hardly friendly, and they will have to have 20 million on hand when they come due to pay them off, not to mention the 7% per annum. That hit will come in 2017. In 2016 they have to pay back the rather friendlier 20 million (of which they haven’t touched 8 mill) which they should be current on in interest.
So where they stand right now is problematic. They have to cut costs quite a bit, mostly in R&D, which limits future growth, in Admin expenses, which just seem high when laid against the revenue they are generating, and in development costs, which ran them another $24 million this year. At the bottom line they lost 1.5 million dollars a month in 2012. If they hadn’t borrowed money in 2012 they’d have been out of money before the end of March. I’m guessing they actually spent a lot less in the first half of the year, and put up some big bills towards the end of the year after figuring out their financing, but still, averaging at a loss of 1.5 million a month before figuring in the money you borrowed isn’t a good way to pay your bills. Especially when gross profit for the YEAR came up only $800,000.
CCP has to begin operating at a profit without relying on financing. And they have to do it soon. They need to come up with a way to increase cash on hand quite a bit in the next 4 years, they also have to operate, and decide how they will operate in the future, and frankly it looks like they stink at it. They have to either get Dust working at a profit or put it out of its misery. They have to take a serious look at WoD and decide if they can do it without killing what they have right now. I’ll say again what I said a couple years ago. EvE makes money. It doesn’t make a lot, it isn’t terribly sexy, but it makes money. It would make more even on paper with a reduced staff (I imagine a lot of the overhead goes away without the teams working on Dust and WoD) and while I don’t doubt that these are good people doing their best, the company doesn’t look like it can afford them. Not unless they can get Dust making money NOW and/or get WoD out the door and making money before 2016.
NOPE NOPE NOPE. INFO FROM CCP’S FINANCIALS HAS CHANGED
MY OUTLOOK ON THIS. BLOG POST TOMORROW WILL COVER
HOW AND WHY THE BLOG BELOW IS MORE OR LESS COMPLETELY
So we all missed it. I didn’t see any commentary on it, I didn’t see anyone talking it up much on twitter, even TMC missed the implications on their article about the big plex sale on Amazon. And I can’t say it’s really THAT surprising, but I’m surprised nonetheless.
First let’s go back to the first blog I wrote that was linked by outside sites. Here. The short, short version is: CCP operates off large cash loan that run October – October. In June 2011 they had gotten so far behind the curve that they didn’t have the money to pay back the loans, and they were losing $500k a month developing Dust 514. If you look around on my site, or consult your memory, you will find that CCP ended up selling a ton of plex at a discount, and then firing 25% of their staff.
So last week, Amazon put plex on sale. Big time. There was even a much smaller discount on CCP’s site. People cashed in. The price cratered from 600 Million on 9-24 to 550 million on the 29th. Currently it has slid back up to 574 million, but a lot of people probably built quite a tidy stockpile of gametime or Plex at a discount.
More importantly, however, this is a big red flag for CCP’s health as a company. It says that once again, for the second time (at least) in the last three years, CCP has run into a major cash flow problem that prevents them from paying back their loan on time, which would burn their credit rating, and make the next loan much more difficult to acquire.
This one wasn’t as big a shortfall, it didn’t seem to require quite as many drastic measures, but that does not make it less disturbing. Back in 2011 CCP could have cut off Dust and/or WoD, or severely curtailed them to limit the damage going forward, and they did, as well as cutting down on staff and other drastic measures. In 2013 Dust is open for business and shuttering it would look just awful, and likely cut off a lot of potential for investments should CCP’s owners want to go that route. WoD isn’t exactly getting so much money that there’s anything meaningful to cut at this point, and CCP has seen so many devs leave this year that they probably don’t have a lot of fat to trim on that end of the budget.
I may be overstating things, and this year, unlike in 2011, I don’t have CCP’s financials sitting on my desktop letting me look through for the details. However a sale like this is a bad sign. A discount that deep means CCP is getting a lot less money in return for getting cash now. Instead of getting whatever their take is on $50 bucks from amazon, they get their take of $37.50. A 25% hit, and they still owe 30 days / plex. Sure not all plex are redeemed for game time, but I bet a lot more are when the isk price drops. This means CCP knows that rather than getting an average of $16.66 per player plexing, they are going to get $12.50 (minus Amazon’s take) and that they are ok with that as long as it fixes their cash flow problems. That’s fine, that’s a business decision, but to have to make that decision at the end of September, with loan repayments to make, and in a situation where there’s no really good choices to raise money… No bueno. No Bueno.
And that’s what we missed. We missed that CCP is, if not struggling financially, than at least staggering a bit, at a time when their resources to cure that stagger are extremely limited.
So EvE Online is a game where the overwhelming majority of content is generated by the players. There just isn’t a lot that CCP has added to change the way the game is played that hasn’t been dwarfed by what players already did dating back to the addition of Incursions. There’s been adjustments, but for the most part players have been in the drivers seat. For two and a half years. With the same fundamental toolbox, and the same fundamental map until earlier this year. Now things are shifting. And CCP is kicking this boulder down the hill hard.
Ripard’s footnote about moons not being conflict drivers is interesting but I think he’s too close in. I think moons are meant to be a different kind of conflict driver. Renting space is how the big boys play, and will for a while, Moons will sit in between them and pure PvE moneymaking done in other arenas. CCP wants to create fights that aren’t CTAs, they want fleets that aren’t hundreds strong battling it out, and they see these mobile structures as a way to create a new type of combat. This gives the small fry a way to poke, harass and set traps for the big boys, and especially for their renters. I imagine the likes of Noir, R&K and Rote Kapelle are already looking at new and interesting ways to ruin unsuspecting folks weekends.
This patch seems aimed at finding a way for people to punch above their weight. Rather than continuing the rich get richer until their own weight/malaise/incompetence crushes them CCP wants to give the middleweights a tool that lets them set the table their way, and fight their way. Maybe they can’t topple the big boys, but they can apply pressure their own way, and in a meaningful way, not just killing afk ratters during CTAs. Stealing resources that go to the alliance. Even if moons aren’t the biggest income, they are important. Temporary bases in ratter space dropping property values faster than a KKK rally during an open house. Making small war on big people possible. Will it work? Probably not at first. And that’s why I’m not terribly sanguine about this. This patch will need constant updating. CCP will need to iterate and build on it. And that’s not what they do. I hope CCP will do it. I hope they will break with what they have done in the past. I hope they will take a good idea and keep working on it, keep building on it, and make it so the promise and the delivery match up.