My former location here: http://2ndanomalyfromtheleft.evepress.com/, no longer exists.  Why I could not tell you and despite myself and other members of Evepress’ best efforts to contact Solus Argum regarding our site, no response has been forthcoming.

So, for the dozen or so readers of my blog, it was time for a move.  I will continue to try and get the old info exported out to this one, but I cannot make any promises.  But enough about me.. you are here for EVE!

And it has been a VERY dramatic week for Eve players,with the installation of the Carbon UI, the customizable APIs, and of course the new currency of “Aur”.  All of which I have to salivate and watch from the sidelines as my internet won’t be back up for another nine (yes, I am counting) days.  Not only that, major changes have happened on the politics of the game as well.  The once inpenetrable force of the Northern Coalition has been all but crushed with Vale and Geminate Regions now safely in the hands of the Drone Russian Forces (DRF) and their multitude of friends.. most notably Pandemic Legion.  TEST and Goons have reset may NC members, though keeping their Pure Blind and Delekin friends blue.  But the Russians appear to be trading system for system as forces in southern space keep eating up space abandoned by DRF allies.

Microtrans… I mean “Aur”

So, first off probably the biggest stir came about with the introduction of Aur.  The devblog here: http://www.eveonline.com/devblog.asp?a=blog&bid=913, goes into considerable detail into how CCP has set up their own form of Microtransactions.  As you are no doubt aware, the Eve blogging community and the MMO community at large have had a very mixed impression of microtransactions.  Some, including myself, see microtransactions as a poorly thought out gimmick, one designed to take advantage of younger, less patient players who want to “win” a particular MMO and then move on.  Others have thought that these models will issue in a new “golden age” of F2P MMOs that will revolutionize the industry. 

How does CCP’s version of microtransactions play in that regard?  Well, it is well-thought out and anyone who says otherwise don’t know what they are talking about.  The model as given above indicates that these “vanity” items will have no effect on typical game play (i.e. no clothes will give you any extra % in damage or ROF, etc) and that PLEX will still be the center of that circle.  The “vanity” items like clothes are not permanent and can be destroyed if you get podded.  It also appears that they can be transported and thus, destroyed like normal loot.  Plex itself can be broken up into Aur to purchase these “vanity” items and then you can sell these items for isk.  Sounds really great..

..on paper.  When I first read this, I was really impressed by how sensible it sounded.  It looked to me like CCP had found the right mix of microtransaction and non-interference with game mechanics.  Yet, something bothered me.  There seemed to be something lurking in the back of my mind that said something was off.  You see, while I don’t work with Plex, I do understand that market dynamics give Plex a unique place in the Eve universe.  PLEX is good for only one thing and that is for 30 days of game time.  Up until now that value versus Real Money Value was capped by the dynamics between the real life economy of the players who use Plex the most.  So, essentially, a person who was poor and lived in a third world African country (but who had a good enough PC to play Eve) could buy Plex with isk he made ingame, and the time he spent to make that isk would be equal to someone in the US who was relatively rich because a he wasn’t going to buy Plex if the value (to him) of that Plex reached over $14.95.  Now, with the addition of Plex being destroyed for Aur, that Plex suddenly gains tremendous additional value.  Technically it’s not WHAT is being sold, but how many people are willing to BUY that is the important marker here.

Let’s give an example.  Suppose CCP (or whoever) produces a “suit” that they sell for 2 AUR.  Now CCP hasn’t given us details but let’s pretend that 1 Plex breaks into 10 Aur.  Now, that person realizes that this particular suit is going to have a lot of buyers, so he decides to sell the suit for 100 million isk.  Let’s also say that at this time Plex’s sell for 450 million isk a piece.  Once people realize he is making a profit off of the Plex (legitmately, of course), more people are going to buy Plex to convert to Aur, to sell 100mil isk suits.  Plex dealers then get into the deal.. and raise their prices as well.. causing a new cap.  To the person who buys Plex using Real Money, the direct value of the Plex hasn’t changed.. but the ingame value has just gone up about 10%.  For the person who buys Plex ingame.. the COST of that Plex requires him to put in at least 10% more time, and likely more to keep playing because the more he plays, the more risk he has to undertake.  CCP tries to counter this buy having an individual spend time watching for patterns and to add/remove Plex to maintain a certain equilibrium.  However, this is flawed in that in order for the equilibrium to be maintained, a set value must already be established.  It is also flawed in that the response is reactionary, and not likely preventative.  In other words, the value of the Plex going up to 500 might be “High, but okay”, but perhaps later CCP considers that value to be too low.  Soon, you are pricing your players out because of good ole greed.

Likely someone who is smarter than me will probably say I am an idiot and mention some Economic Theory that supposedly makes all this moot (and no Greenspan’ing it either..).

Carbon UI

This UI, described in this devblog: http://www.eveonline.com/devblog.asp?a=blog&bid=916, has been an ongoing upgrade to Eve Online for a while.  And I myself am very happy to see Eve getting a much needed facelift… though having a customizable UI would still be nice..

Customizable APIs

Still not sure what to think of that, though I can see the good of it, I see the potential holes that ones who spy and who operate undercover may be able to exploit.  Needless to say, I am going to be brushing up on these new APIs soon.

The NC versus DRF War

It seems that the NC has finally met its match.. well.. let’s say this correctly… NC has finally been beaten.  The war that has been ongoing for months and months finally reached that “point of no return” for the NC.  Yesterday, the NC needed to pull everyone in and to make a final stand to save several CSAAs.  It didn’t happen.  TEST and Goons have adjusted their blue standings and have made new arrangements leaving their former friends in what appears to be a hopeful attempt to convince the DRF that the real NC is dead and that the rest of those in the North are willing to let the chips fall where they may.  While the NC certainly can be faulted for some poor leadership decisions, the DRF strategy required calling in every favor and buying every friend they could to win.  Unfortunately, it seemed that the NC had taken a play from the old CVA playbook.. and got to scared to commit when it needed to.  And much like CVA, it had relied too much on numbers and not necessarily on tactical or strategic planning.  It could also be said that it was a matter of arrogance on the part of the main “A” team of the NC, which again seems eerily similar to what happened during the cascade and collapse of Providence during the CVA/AAA war.  And much like the CVA/AAA war the battles almost always hinge in one system.. one system where people find out not only who’s fleets are better.. but whose will is stronger.  For the CVA/AAA conflict, that place was D-GTMI.  For the NC, I would have to say that O2O-2X.  It was there the the will for the entirety of the NC, including Tribute, would be determined.  It was soon after O2O fell, that RAGE space started to collapse, with Majesta Empire falling shortly behind it. 

Perhaps, in the end, there is still one truth:  The more things change.. the more they really stay the same.

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