Monthly Archives: June 2011
That is all.
Ok now it’s really all.
Kirith Kodachi says that we should “Wait and see” what CCP does, see http://www.ninveah.com/2011/06/wait-and-see.html. The problem with that is that by the time they start to DO something, they will not change it. Captains Quarters are here. Its not going away and we are almost certainly NOT getting back the old “Ship Hovering in the Hangar” view. This is because CCP needs the money from “micro” transactions to fund the development of WoD and Dust 514. Basically they have spent a TON of money developing these properties and are just bleeding money.
CCP Needs fresh income, if all they were doing was EvE, they’d be in phenominal shape. However they are developing two expensive IPs, one of which is years off, and one of which is around the corner. CCP Wants you looking at your avatar, they need you to see something you can make better in the aurum store to drive up demand and make more money. Its too late to change these things. Which is exactly why it is entirely correct to be upset with CCP when they start talking about game-changing AUR items. Once they start doing it they won’t go back, they cannot afford to lose that income stream once they have invested man-hours and the money there in it. Better to nip the problem in the bud early and keep them from investing in the first place.
First off if you haven’t seen that movie WHY THE HELL ARE YOU ON THE INTERNET! GO WATCH IT JACKASS!
2nd… EvE is a great game, I have great friends, both real and internet who play it. I could make a chart of everyone I know but it would be too big and I’d miss someone and feel awful. I solve problems. I’m much better at solving other people’s problems and not my own, which is a weakness, but I solve problems, and while I can’t solve EvE’s, and I CERTAINLY can’t solve CCPs (seriously good luck with the lottery next week guys) but my alliance’s issues I can help with, and I am doing my best.
Meanwhile a few things have turned our way in a more or less significant way and we should have some excellent opportunities in the near future. Following a couple of recent battles we have some folks leaning the wrong way I think. Anyway we are doing a lot of things, starting new projects, and the whole eve burnout is fading away. Lets hope it stays that way.
DISCLAIMER: I AM NOT AN ACCOUNTANT, I AM A STUDENT WITH SOME KNOWLEDGE OF THE PRINCIPLES INVOLVED
Alerted by Ripard Teg of Jester Trek: http://jestertrek.blogspot.com/2011/06/realities-of-eve.html
I’m not an accountant, I’m studying it so I’m going through these with textbooks in my lap. Literally. However the “book lernin” is fresh in my head and its not hard to read these tea leaves.
Cash from Operating Activities: $17.382M
Cash to/From investment Activities: ($25.914M)
Cash flows to/From financing Activities: $15.976M
Cash flows From financing Activities are basically one time cash grabs that you get by selling stock, this is NOT part of their day to day business operations and cannot be counted on in the future.
Cash from operating activities is cash from doing what do you, the fact that this is a very healthy profit and a good margin indicates that CCP has a very healthy product in EvE. Cash to/from investment activities is where the reading of tea leaves comes in. Going through the notes you find that they have about $23.5M tied up in “Development cost” which I presume to be Dust 514. Dust does not come out until Spring of 2012, and it will have further costs before then. I doubt they will be able to cut any of their ongoing cost of developing Dust. Basically that is an ongoing capital expense, where they are paying now to lay the groundwork for a new product. They still have to pay the coders, engineers, artists, and other devs for Dust, and as they get closer and closer to their release date they may even have to increase they amount they are spending.
In other words the numbers that count most, gaining $17.42 a year from doing what they do, losing at a rate of $23.5M a year investing in the future. Cash on hand (April 13, 2011): $11.2M. Amount due in Oct, $11.8m. CCP is losing $500,000 a month developing WOD and Dust 514. If CCP were not developing these games, or could cut its recurring development expense on them, they would show a much higher profit.
At the moment they have to figure out how to reverse that trend and gain money to get their $11.8M in cash to give to the banks in October. They can cut costs on EvE, which would likely mean firing staff and result in a backlash from the playerbase. They could cut development costs on Dust/WoD, which would mean slowing down THAT development and possibly start a spiral of missing release dates and damaging expectations which has hurt so many games, they can borrow more money, which may or may not be difficult depending on many factors (But I cannot imagine it would be easy in Iceland’s economic climate) or they can sell more stock, which is an unpredictable way of making money. CCP is a privately held company, so they can sell stock to whoever they want, it doesn’t have to be a public offering, however the current investors might not be thrilled at the thought of opening their own pocketbooks, assuming they even CAN in Icelands dismal economy, and finding new investors will likely be VERY hard, especially with the terrible press that CCP has managed to make for itself in the last month.
TL;DR, In my not so humble, amateur opinion, assuming these financials are correct (and if they are a fraud someone has more time than me) CCP is a successful company, making a lot of money, that has succeeded themselves into a SERIOUS cash flow situation and proceeded to piss off its customer base at possibly the most inopportune time. They have worked themselves into a corner and need to find a way out. That’s a LOT of monocles to sell.
This summer of EvE has been a rollercoaster. A Rollercoaster of Love.
Now get that out of your head.
CCP Zulu came out with another Dev Blog. He finally did the right thing. He apologized for the way things were presented in the prior Dev Blog and for venting his anger towards the community, by taking a harsh and self-satisfied tone in that Dev Blog. I can understand where he is at. I have had many times when I received an E-Mail or a report that made me want to take my laptop down the hall and smash the senders face with it until they got the message. I can only imagine how frustrated he was. However I am gratified by his apology even as I know I would prefer that it was not needed.
He goes on to say that the CSM is coming to Iceland on the 30th and the 1st to sit down and “define and address the real underlying concerns, and it assist us in defining and iterating on our virtual goods strategy,” This needs to not be a sop to the playerbase, the CSM, in its role as a stake-holder in EvE needs to have a voice with some weight behind it. They need to be able to draw a line somewhere and even if they cannot enforce it they need CCP to acknowledge it. However at the same time there is one simple fact that I think the players need to acknowledge.
MICROTRANSACTIONS ARE PRACTICALLY A REQUIREMENT FOR AN MMO
TO GIVE THEM UP GIVES AWAY A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE TO THEIR RIVALS.
This meeting needs to be an actual summit, where both parties, not sides, parties, meet, have an open and frank discussion. EvE Online has added another first to its list. The riots of the last 2 days have been epic, have encompassed thousands of people from around the world, and, in an odd way, represent a major accomplishment for CCP. They have created something so powerful that it moves people to a rage that is rarely seen even in individuals in other MMOs, let alone the playerbase. However now that CCP has seen that it can happen, they need to ensure that it NEVER happens again.
They need to meet with the CSM.
They need to listen to the CSM.
They need to stand up at the end and record a joint message with the CSM.
Hilmar needs to stand next to Mittens and say “This is what we have come up with,” and they need to release a FULL report on EXACTLY what will or will not happen.
Much of this rage has happened because both sides communicated badly. CCP was vague, smug, and arrogant to an extent that is utterly unbecoming and even undeserved given their recent activities. The players were fueled by rage and acted in frequently bad judgement both in the channels and content they chose to communicate with. The biggest difference between the two is that the players message was louder than a trumpet blast and clearer than mountain air. CCP has come off as muddled, confused, and arrogant.
Fancy hats joined the Aridia Group (we’re working on a name) on a roam out into Genesis. We got caught out by a small bait fleet that intercepted us as we tried to link up with a pilot disco’d in hostile territory, we lost a few ships who failed to jump through in time. At this point we jumped back through and burned out of the area, and went home, rather humbled but generally in good spirits. Upon returning to Aridia we caught a lolfit Megathron which we quickly put out of its misery (http://tfhc.eve-kill.net/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=10015218) and safely made our way home. Fleet discipline was quite good, people followed orders and were quiet for FC commands.
First PvP for a while, and the first activity on alliance scale since we lost half our corps and 2/3 of our numbers (not our combat strength thankfully) but it was good to brush off some of the dust.
In closing I want to say my accounts are currently set not to renew. I keep them paid up well in advance with plex, and plan on being active, however I have a sharp eye on CCP, and by the end of the summer one of my accounts may well be inactive depending on how things go. I’m also looking at Perpetuum along with Helicity and Paul Clavet. Interesting place. Went from ~150 a day to over 450 in the last three days, with the eve bittervets channel over 200. Their Devs are probably running around in their underwear screaming in joy (and frantically adding hamsters to servers that are clearly NOT up to the strain of the new population) So expect to see me in EvE for the summer, and then? Who knows.
Some days it seems like nothign goes right. Or weeks. Or months.
Truly, once I calmed down I wasn’t worried about the $99 license. There’s some concerns there, but frankly I think that that initiative will be a boon to CCP and the community in the long run.
Nor am I terribly worried about FAMC. I’ve already figured out how to ignore it and I’ll even get around the main rollout when it comes. Just not a big concern for me, and who knows I may even find parts of it I enjoy when it threatens to stop murdering my computer.
However last night I got a banner from Sassy B of http://idrawedsumspaceships.blogspot.com/
and I caught my breath. Not because its beautiful, but because I realized that CCP no longer deserves the community it has. Its that simple. The players care too much about the game for the people behind the game to shit all over their players like this. Right now the only thing keeping me going is a sense of duty to the friends I have in the game. The fun is gone, CCP killed it.
Even if I cancel my accounts I still have months of gametime left. Maybe something will change. Who knows.
CCP has responded to the 5000+ post mega-threadnaught on their servers. CCP Zulu has spoken and he has said: Nothing.
The boards are in flames over microtransactions for in game benefits. Not because the prices in the store are too high, although I think they are, and not because people see the whole model as a transparent way to make a few bucks, it is, but its becoming an industry standard, and CCP frankly does have the right to make money off its customers, that’s kinda where they get money.
CCP Zulu talks about how the articles in the newsletter are opinions. Ok. Fine. Lets look at who has these opinions. In support of microtransactions for virtually everything we have “a driving force in CCP’s Game Design Department,” and to balance him with an article written almost as poorly as this blog we have: “A renowned master of spreadsheets (who) works his Excel wizardy in the Research and Statistics department,”
Gee I wonder who is setting the course for CCP.
CCP, Talk about the elephant in the room. We aren’t fucking stupid. We aren’t ignorant. We love your game, that is why we are angry, furious even over the course you seem to be setting. Talk about the elephant in the room. We want you to deny that your devs are working on ways to cut people out of the marketplace. We want you to deny that you are selling a direct, in-game advantage to players for money, removing any other parties from the transaction . Talk about the elephant in the room.Tell us that you aren’t going to break the economy, and the entire game in the name of a quick buck. Talk about the elephant in the room. Quit bullshitting us with “Oh you are being mean, oh the prices are set like this for a reason,” Quit dancing around the issue. Talk about the fucking elephant.
CCP has been staggering from land mine to land mine for the past month. It’s almost as if, as a company, they have said “OOOOOOH look at the shiny bomb on the ground! Lets pick it up!” *whoomp* “Hey look THERE’S ANOTHER! SCORE!,” Indeed it seems that CCP has made deliberate decisions to violate principles that the large and vocal majority of its user base have declared anathema to their experience.
The first landmine was the terribly worded memo regarding 3rd party apps. This began a threadnaught of classical proportions, filled with a mix of intelligence and… well… other stuff. CCP has retreated from the most egregious of its errors in that, and I think is working towards what could become a very positive development despite all the people who will rush to scream “THE SKY IS FALLING” at any change that is made. However this does not change the fact that CCP, an international company with almost 400,000 customers released a memo that was vague, poorly worded, and massively offensive to its most die-hard supporters. Had this been shown to a small, bound focus group, like the CSM, it never would have made it past there. The fact that CCP did not avail themselves of the resource they had is rank, amateur BS.
Staggering along CCP ran into the FAMC (Forever Alone Minmatar Closet). Honestly as CCP expansions go I’ve seen worse. It would be nice if it didn’t overheat my brand new gaming machine, but it set reasonable goals, and for the most part delivered. It would be nice to see it a bit more ambitious, and it certainly needs a LOT of work but it is a step towards a goal that CCP has had for a long time, and a goal I think will be good for the game in the long run. Bringing a more identifiable avatar along and making it a bigger part of the game will bring in new customers, particularly the female gamer if certain surveys and polls are to be believed. The new turret effects are AMAZING. Very slick looking, and much more effective than the old graphics, frankly this part is the one absolute unqualified success of the expansion and I will defend that until I get into a huge fleet fight where the added load completely melts my system. Additionally the “throw-in” prize of the new Maller skin. Its awesome. I love it. I’m training to be able to fly a Devoter in large part because of it. I do have to ask why the Maller? Here’s a list of ships that BADLY need to be redesigned before the Maller did.
- Exequror (and rename it so i can spell it please)
- Old Maller (if even here)
Yesterday’s post got a comment, basically saying that “It’s Just a Game” is not a reason to do things in EvE that some people consider griefing. He relates back to the Massively post quote of:
“Well no, sorry guys, there is no game life vs. real life; there’s just life, and your actions affect others regardless of whether it’s “just a game,” “in character,” or any other convenient excuse. It’s not “your character” bleeping around with other people’s characters — it’s you (and them).
I take objection to this. This says to me that if you are constantly picking the “evil” faction in the game you are an “evil” person? The quote explicitly states that there “is no game life vs. real life; there’s just life, and your actions affect others regardless of whether it’s “Just a Aame,” “in character,” or any other convenient excuse.” Does this make all Amarrian characters in EvE slave owning religious fanatics? Am I truly an immortal pod pilot with billions in my accounts and a fleet of ships at my back and cell? Of course not, its ridiculous. Nor am I a mass murderer with a death sentence in any “civilized” system, because EvE is “Just a Game” with, and I’m going to make this absurdly clear:
DIFFERENT RULES THAN REAL LIFE
To call the distinction between “real” life and “game” life “fallacious” frankly ignores why many, many people play these games. It is a game. It is different from real life and people play them because you CAN do things in the game that are accepted by certain people within the game as being within the rules. If I went “PVP” in real life i’d end up in the jail or in the morgue. I’ve received threats from people to hunt me down and kill me in real life, racial, ethnic and sexual slurs, and all manner of abuse from people in game while can-flipping, gate-camping, war-deccing, even roaming in nullsec.
To make a point specific to EvE: If this game wanted to advertise itself truthfully they would point out that EvE stands for Everyone Vs. Everyone. It is a unflinchingly, unapologetically, explicitly pvp oriented game. Many games have systems that allow you to consent to PvP. EvE is nice enough to do this. Log in, if you are in a station there’s a button that allows you to consent to PVP. See that button in the bottom left? Its called the undock button. If you click that then you are accepting the fact that there is PVP in your future at some point. If someone is bored and you look like a juicy target, they can attack you anywhere as long as they are willing to face the consequences. Yes people screaming “GRIEFER” or “BLOBBER” or “H4XX0R” at everyone who has ever shown up on their lossmails is a consequence of PvP. A hilarious consequence. What is sad is the yes men and me toos that don’t understand that EvE allows PvP of everyone, not just other people, and who cannot accept their own losses might be, in some small part, their fault.
Lately our gatecamp has gotten a lot of whining. Indeed I’ve noticed something about the culture and perception of EvE-Online in the last few weeks. I saw on someone else’s blog (I’m afraid I cannot remember who) a comment that EvE stood for Everybody vs. Everybody. That struck me as the EvE that I play. You have people you shoot and people you shoot with. I spend a lot of time managing my moneymaking, but that is intended to let me blow stuff up with neater toys.
However some people disagree. Recently there was this gem of tears from Massively.com (http://massively.joystiq.com/2011/05/03/the-soapbox-why-we-grief-a-therapy-session/)
The most misguided nugget in this I shall quote directly.
A few griefers whom I’ve talked to (and even some of the wackier roleplayers) love to seek shelter behind the fallacious distinction between “real” life and game life, as if the latter is some sort of netherworld that exists in a vacuum removed from reality and devoid of human interaction (and resulting emotion). Well no, sorry guys, there is no game life vs. real life; there’s just life, and your actions affect others regardless of whether it’s “just a game,” “in character,” or any other convenient excuse. It’s not “your character” bleeping around with other people’s characters — it’s you (and them).
Now I spend a lot of time in EvE. but one thing I have managed to remember is that IT IS A GAME. If you are losing your head over your cyno ship getting popped in the same gatecamp you lost a cynoship ten minutes ago then you are nuts. You are the guy in the office whose stapler I hide in the bottom drawer to watch you LOSE your MIND because you let everything get to you. Is my behaviour anti-social? A bit. Is yours? Hell yes.
Yes gatecamps aren’t fair. They are not supposed to be. A fair fight is one you might lose. I don’t want my fleet to be yours +1, if I’m FCing and I’ve done my job right my fleet is yours +10, you just don’t know it. A gatecamp is a way to chill out for a while and kill things. Nothing more nothing less. People go crazy when they go through them and lose small stuff. People go through them and lose… well… this http://tfhc.eve-kill.net/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=9618805 and we never hear from them.