Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Hari Seldon for CSM

CSM voting has been open for a week, and the murmurs I hear are the voting is going well.  Endorsements and last-minute politicking are flying.  But let's get to the brass tacks; who will be on CSMX?  Danikov from TheMittani.com has a great infographic tracing the endorsements out there so far.

Endorsement map - Courtesy Danikov at TheMittani.com
I asked for some help from Danikov to help highlight the groups I expect the election to fall into:

  • "Golden Triangle": Corbexx/Steve/Sugar
  • Bloc candidates
  • Strong Candidates
  • Everyone else
Of the 76 candidates that passed CCP Leeloo's review, only ~25 really have any contention for a seat.  I am removing from contention people who don't have Jita Park threads, or didn't apply for an interview at Capstable.  Also, I am filtering out some very-long odds candidates who don't have the platform or support required to really meet Rippard's famous "1000 vote" threshold.

First Pass CSM Prediction


Let's fill from our most-likely groups.  That's the "Golden Triangle" and an expected bloc effect.  I won't actually rule on final ranks.

  1. Sugar Kyle
  2. Corbexx
  3. Steve Ronuken
  4. CFC - Sion Kumitomo
  5. CFC - Endie
  6. PL - Manfred Sideous
  7. BRAVE - Cagali Cagali or June Ting
  8. PROVI - coreblodbrothers
  9. N3 - Gorga
  10. RUS - UAxDEATH
There are 14 total seats, and 10 seats already have strong probability of landing a seat.  This is terrible news for incumbents like Mike Azariah, Xander Phoena, and Gorski Car.  For the last 4 seats, here are who I consider in contention for those wild card seats.
  • Ashterothi
  • Gorski Car
  • Jayne Fillon
  • N3 - Gorga
  • BRAVE alternate (June or Cagali... whoever doesn't make the first BRAVE seat)
  • Bobmon
  • Chance Ravinne
  • Bam Stroker
  • Alyxportur
  • BL - DomanarK
  • Mike Azariah
  • CODE/Marmite candidate 
That's an extremely crowded field for a small number of seats.  There are definitely combinations I'd prefer over others.

Expected Result:

  1. Sugar Kyle - Permanent Attendee
  2. Corbexx
  3. Steve Ronuken
  4. CFC - Sion Kumitomo - Permanent Attendee
  5. CFC - Endie
  6. CFC - Thoric Frosthammer
  7. PL - Manfred Sideous
  8. BRAVE - Cagali Cagali or June Ting
  9. PROVI - coreblodbrothers
  10. RUS - UAxDEATH
  11. N3 - Gorga
  12. Bam Stroker or Chance Ravinne
  13. Jayne Fillon
  14. BL - DomanarK
Alternate Contention:
  1. Chance Ravinne or Bam Stroker 
  2. BRAVE - June Ting or Cagali Cagali
  3. Gorski Car
  4. Mike Azariah
  5. Ashterothi
Unsure Predictions:
  1. CFC - Thoric Frosthammer
  2. RUS - UAxDEATH
  3. Bobmon
With only 4 seats to really play with, it's a real coin toss on who will really make it past the post.  There are also some weak spots in the field that might move the ranks around, but things get tight when trying to predict positions 10-20.  For instance, I'm having a hard time standing by a 3rd CFC chair, and the PL endorsements are pretty mercurial.

Definitely looking forward to the announcements at fanfest to see how close to true I was.  As soon as voting closes, I will be publishing a few articles about actual campaigning.  I'm especially excited to get those out to the candidates who may miss the post this year and retool for a CSM 11 run.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

CSMX - Endorsement List


With the last Cap Stable Analysis Show released and voting slated to open in a few hours, I wanted to finalize my endorsements for CSM.  And some time in the next week or so, also expect to see a sooth-saying meta-review of my personal CSMX predictions.  I have not yet finalized how I want to talk about my "hoped" CSM vs "expected" CSM.  Lastly, I'd like to do a talk about CSM campaigning, but I don't know if that will see the light of day.

Also, as a great resource, CCP Leeloo has released an official CSM listing. Also, my list is by no means a full list (5 of 14 slots), and an STV refresher is posted below.



Endorsement Breakdown

Steve Ronuken (@FuzzySteve)

Steve has to be my #1 choice.  A common theme among the Candidate Interviews was a call for more tools, but very few of those requests were coming from developers.  Steve Ronuken is an amazing resource in the #devfleet, and is unparalleled in knowledge about API/CREST/SDE/tools support and development.  My work would not be possible without the tireless work of people like Steve.

The only time I've heard anyone say to not vote for Steve Ronuken was Marc Scaurus joking "CCP should just hire him as a full time dev".  But I like having such a reachable, active, knowledgeable 3rd party developer representative on the CSM, and Steve is completely unmatched.  If you at all support the call for "more tools", those calls are impossible to answer without Steve Ronuken.

Sugar Kyle (@Sugar_Kyle)

I cannot say enough good things about Sugar Kyle.  She has received nearly unanimous endorsement from her peers and fellow candidates.  She has also earned the reputation as the hardest working CSM member in CSM9.  No one pounds pavement like Sugar Kyle, and no one engages with the entire playerbase like Sugar Kyle.  I will be astounded if she does not lock in one of the two "permanent attendee" seats on CSMX.

I'm especially evangelical for Sugar Kyle because she's such an avid supporter of all things lowsec.  Having lived in Gallente FW for nearly the last year, she not only represents my playstyle in game, but also deeply understands so many of the connected game systems.  If your fear is that SOV will steamroll other facets of the game, Sugar Kyle deserves a place on your ballot to defend nearly every playstyle outside of SOV.  Otherwise, she has an amazing track record for engaging with all sides to really grow her understanding and lock in a smart position.  

Ashterothi (@Ashterothi)

Cohost on Hydrostatic, Ashterothi jumped on the CSM race a bit later than I would have liked, but I have been helping run his campaign along with fellow co-host Phyridean.  Ashterothi is running on a very unique platform of servicing things like NPE and minigames like hacking, while also being the only full-blooded lore candidate I've seen running.  He also makes it onto my endorsement list because he has IRL experience with tool development, and I hope that he can help share the load with Steve Ronuken as a team effort on 3rd party dev topics.

With an expected docket beyond just corp/SOV/POS changes, I think Ashterothi will be a strong teammate to have at the table along with the other strong candidates and incumbents.  The thing standing between Ashterothi and a seat on CSMX is his late start making it an uphill battle to get the votes needed to run in this extremely competitive field.  If you support any of Ashterothi's platforms, I strongly encourage you to put him high on your ticket. 

Bam Stroker (@BamStroker)

Bam is another late addition to my endorsement list.  EVE meet organizer extraordinaire, there is no one higher on my list for player-to-dev connection and interaction.  I invite you to listen to our interview from Hydrostatic, this guy is a meet making machine.   Also he helped bring up the site EVEmeet.net and organized EVE Down Under, Bam's focus is on growing and engaging the community.

Though there are a decent group of other community-centered candidates, Bam rises to the top of my list for his selfless dedication to making those connections happen.  Also, I would like to see more representation from the wider spread communities out of US/UK/Scandinavia, and Bam being such a pivotal part of the AU community really seals the deal for me.

Jayne Fillon (@BomberJayne)

Jayne takes my last endorsement for his service to the NPSI community.  The CSM9 winter summit broke open the doors for talking about non-corp/non-alliance in-game support structures.  Living in FW, I see first-hand the pain of trying to keep together a loose collection of individuals, I can only imagine the heartburn from coordinating a coalition or NPSI community like Bomber's Bar or Spetre Fleet.

Though a lot of candidates pooled under the NPSI banner, Jayne rose to the top of crowd in my opinion.  Again, beyond the expected SOV/POS/corp changes in the next ~6months, there will be opportunities to focus on wider engagement problems that will help connect more people.  Where I endorsed Bam for his ability to reach people out of game, I'm endorsing Jayne for his ability to reach them in-game.  I especially like the impromptu and network building that the NPSI communities have fostered so much in the last couple years.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

ISboxer: A Tale of Two Items

CCP issued a rather surprising ruling before Rhea: client-syncronization utilities such as ISboxer are an exploit that will be dealt with the same as botting.  Though slightly tongue-in-cheek, CCP Random released a handy infographic about the new ruling:

This is a pretty huge change of direction on the part of CCP.  For years, tools like ISboxer have been in a gray "not illegal, but not endorsed" space.  This has allowed people to automate large fleets of miners or ratters and stay on just the other side of the botter line.  It has also enabled some rather hilarious one-man fleets and outrageous account counts for a very small collection of players.  But automation is always a contentious issue, and especially when humans are playing against robots (or puppets) the game quickly stops being fun or fair.

Impacts on PLEX


I spend a lot of time talking and writing about PLEX.  People want to know where it is going and what the greater impact will be.  Though I think the general populace grossly overvalues PLEX, pinning extra meaning to it that is not there, it is an important metric to look at that tells us something about account activity and ISK supply indirectly.  The recent fall can be broken down into three parts: general instability, ISboxer ruling, and Black-Friday Sales.  

Price Instability

As I said on EP005 of the Prosper show, the PLEX crest to 1B was a hilariously unstable rise.  It tripped our most extreme price tracking bins and was an unprecedented spike in the history of the product.  Given no outside force, I would have expected the price of PLEX to fall down to 950 on its own.  The first few days after the spike shows that deflation back to normal.  Also, since October, PLEX has been in the "overbought" territory on the RSI chart signalling additional instability, but was not responding to those signals at all.

ISboxer ruling

This really kicked PLEX in the teeth.  Simply put: demand for PLEX will fall if people aren't going to run as many alts.  There was a lot of weirdness going on the day of the announcement, namely some "blocking orders", or large buy orders meant to soak up the downward pressure.  Though social media was ready to announce the return of 700M or less PLEX, there just wasn't a way to drive the price that far.  I put some predictions out pinning the price at 850, but I was a little disposed the day of the announcement, so I wasn't able to get in the thick of the speculation.  

The effect here is pretty simple to explain: demand fell, so the price could not be sustained in the 900s any longer.  Pair that with a panicked sell-off trying to retain value before the crash completes becoming a positive feedback loop driving the price further down.  It's interesting to look at the RSI part of the PLEX chart (bottom plot) and see that the price stopped falling just-shy of the "oversold" line.  This is what I based my predictions on, and came out wonderfully smug for the prediction.

Black-Friday Sales

When I recorded EP005 of the Prosper show, I gave two pieces of advice ahead of the Thanksgiving break.  First, that the spike was unstable, and it was a good time to sell if you were holding, and that there should be Black-Friday/Cyber-Monday sales, prompting a good opportunity to buy.  It really isn't a surprise that GMG and PLEX retailers like EVEtimecode.com had 15% or better deals in this pre-Christmas season.  It's traditionally a huge recruiting time for MMOs in general, and deals should be expected.  It's hard measuring the efficacy of this latest sale when paired against the ISboxer ruling so close, but the bottoming out at 850 falls inside expectations as a floor.

Additional sales should be expected over the Christmas break through to New Years, though I don't expect these to correspond to dips as strong as seen a few weeks back.

Impacts on Tritanium 


The other side of the coin with the ISboxer ruling is that automated mining fleets aren't going to be as easy to run.  This has the biggest impact on the low-end mineral market, where HS belts could be stripped bare with little actual effort.  But the demand for low-end minerals is outstanding, and any significant disruption in their supply will move the bar quite significantly.

There are two secondary effects that are also interesting: the run in high-end minerals, and the lack of spike in the ice markets.

Other Minerals

There is a paradox in mineral markets: low-ends are usually undersupplied, and high-ends are oversupplied.  This has a lot to do with the freight weight vs value of low-ends, and the way NS/WH space export mined materials.  Especially after Crius, NS/WH miners will want to keep low-end minerals stocked locally, but will be overwhelmed by a glut of high-ends, which end up exported to Jita.

If we look at Megacyte/Zydrine, the highest tiers of normal minerals, we can see they also spiked with the ISboxer announcement, but are quickly falling back toward their original trend lines


Ice Products

You'd think that if minerals were in a tizzy because of the death of "automated mining fleets" that ice would not be far behind.  It's even more laborious to harvest, and suits itself better to set-it-and-forget-it mining.  Unfortunately, we may be waiting a while to see a constriction in these markets due to a speculative bubble pre-Phoebe.  Also, with the spike of minerals driving up ISK/hr for traditional mining, ice may never see the pop I would have expected


Conclusions

The ISboxer ban is good for the game in general.  Players should be fighting players, not robots.  It's interesting to see both expected and unexpected reactions to the news, and I think we will continue to see some effects bubble through all the way to Jan 1, when the bans actually take hold.  I'd expect that upward pressure on PLEX will remain anemic, and the low-end mineral markets will stay high but flat.  As we go into the new year and settle into the new normal, these markets should return to their established trends pre-announcement.

It's also interesting to see the timing of the ISboxer bans fit so nicely with the release of the CREST market feed, ending the need for cache scraping.  If I were going to put on any tinfoil about this change, it's that CCP is shoring up their positions with respect to the EULA, eliminating a lot of gray-operations.  I couldn't be happier about it, since it's always better to have everyone operating inside the rules, rather than having to do wink-and-nod exceptions that weaken enforcement options.


Don't forget to tune in weekly to the EVE-Prosper Market Show!
Twitch: twitch.tv/hlibindustry 0300 Fridays

Sunday, November 16, 2014

How It's Made: Price Flagging

I owe my partner in crime, Etienne Erquilenne, a huge debt for adding a much needed second pair of hands onto this whole Prosper project.  His IRL expertise is completely invaluable, and has freed me up to accelerate the development schedule measurably.  But, as I've expressed on the blog before, I'm very much a fan of open sourcing.  So let's look under the hood.

Volume Flagging

Volume data was straight forward.  Since they never go negative, and rarely jump by orders of magnitude, it was pretty easy to wrap the values up into a normal-ish histogram.  Below is Tritanium:
1yr of Tritanium Volumes - The Forge

Not perfectly normal, but close enough where we can use percentiles to check the "sigma levels".  
For those who aren't statistics nerds, we can say things about values depending on how far they are deviated from the normal.  +/- 1 deviation (sigma) should be relatively normal behavior.  +/- 2 deviations should be extremely rare.  The further we deviate from the norm linearly, the exponentially fewer values we should see at those levels.

Since volumes are largely well behaved, I used this principle of sigma flagging to highlight extreme outliers to report for the Prosper show.  

Price Flagging

Price values aren't so well behaved, and using the same approach is not going to flag useful data:
Just looking for straight price outliers isn't useful.  The only things that will flag are long rises/declines which represent the extremes of the last year.  We'd like to use the same extremity methodology for prices, but a different approach would be required.

Deviation From a Trend

The inspiration came from the Bollinger Band chart.  Simply, it puts a simple-moving-average trend line and then moving-deviation bars around the chart (red lines on matchstick above).  If we instead characterized the distance from a trend, we'd be able to say things about "this is an extreme deviation".

This is a far more "normal" plot.  Also, Etienne rolled in simple-moving-median to compensate for items that might have outrageously bi-variate behavior because of a paradigm shift due to a patch.

Unfortunately, without some sort of second filter, we're going to flag everything every week, and that's not a useful filter.  So Etienne added a voting scheme and "highest votes" binning technique to properly classify the outcoming flags.



Results So Far

So far, this is my favorite validation that the pull is working as intended:


Here we see a peak last week, and a drastic crash in progress.  Though we would have reviewed the data anyway (fuel is a forced group in the tools), finding it in the expected flagging group is a great sign.

To explain what I see in the first graph: we see a spike in pre-Phoebe stockpiling, then a rapid dump off once the patch hit.  What I also see in the above is an heavy overcorrection in the price, dumping it much lower than really makes sense.  If you were watching this product, this would be a great opportunity to buy hoping for a snap-back.  Especially looking at the bottom RSI chart, closer inspection shows that the product is crossing heavily into "oversold" territory, and is strongly signalling an artificially low price.  Of course, balance these price signals against the volume flags (perhaps slightly anemic) to temper expectations. 

What's going on under the hood is the tool is checking the closing average against the white-dotted moving average line.  Though the moving average will catch up, right now the distance from the trend is WAY out of whack.  Especially since it's voted for "very abnormally low" for 5 days, along with 2-3 votes for "abnormally high", this was going to end up in the charting group regardless.

Great... but

Now I have a new problem... too much good data.  To keep the outlier segment inside 15 minutes, I have to filter the pick list to 15-25 items.  Etienne's new tool flagged 500 items, and the true-positive rate is astounding.  For those looking to get into some powerful market automation, this methodology is extremely powerful and should help boil down opportunities like nothing EVE has seen before.  Though we still lack the means to automate "black swan" events like expansion releases, the flagging methodology is very useful for the active trader.

Also, for all of its power, we're up against a problem where the show format and the goals don't match.  Two of the chief goals of the show is to showcase investment opportunities and general trend information going into the weekend.  Unfortunately, the flags are very good for a very short period.  Many of the flags show high pops during the week, after the action has expired.  So, if the trend isn't cooking on Tues-Weds, the show will miss the opportunity to report it.

Lastly, it's a little hard to use this as a direct day-to-day trading tool because of the way the CREST feeds update.  Rumors are that CCP is going to roll out a "one day" CREST feed to simplify keeping the dbs up to date.  

What's Next?

We have some tasks on the table, but the short term goals are:
  1. Bring in destruction data
  2. Do inter-hub analysis
  3. Build indexes
Things are moving along pretty well.  I expect that zkillboard data will be live by the first week of December, and a few more QOL updates should make the show prep move along easier.  Also, rumors of new CREST feeds should improve the quality of data we're pulling (or make our lives even more difficult).  Regardless, with new hardware coming in at home, the ability to automate more should make things move more smoothly.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Who Reads the EULA?

The developer portal went live recently, and I've been excited to see it finally release.  I've been specifically eager for the blog portion that should serve as a better direct communication channel between CCP and 3rd party devs.  It has been an excellent resource so far about API updates and changes.

HTFU Devs

Though CCP's new ~6wk release cycle is a great boon for the community at large, it's really demanding to keep up as a 3rd party dev.  Recently, I've been spending more time building/anticipating flex capacity, because without being able to quickly change at release, 3rd party devs will never be able to keep up.

I think it's telling with the lag in the release for IPH in the face of Crius changes that we're going to have a really interesting tool environment coming forward.  If you have the ability to code, or want to learn, better get in while the getting is good.  There is going to be more and more need for 3rd party developer support in the community.

Thankfully, CCP_Foxfour and CCP_Nullarbor keep the hits coming on the 3rd party dev side.  So, despite the challenge of getting started, the API's and resources have never been more solid.  Tune in to #devfleet on twitter and /r/evetech on reddit if you're interested in tracking more of the player-side of the dev environment.  And subscribe to the official developer portal!!!

New API EULA

As an active or aspiring developer, go read the new EULA.  Like actually read it.  It's been very well written and is pretty easy to understand as far as TOS go these days.  In all, I'm very pleased with the vast majority of the language.  SSO remains free to develop for (as long as you've ever had a paid account), CCP won't be throwing any surprises on the license/TOS without appropriate notification, and overall the terms are by and large agreeable.

The one point I want to complain against is the monetization rules.  TL;DR there are 3 valid ways to monetize an app or service:
  • ISK for service
  • Ad support to cover costs (but frown upon profiting)
  • Donation jar style contributions
The problem I have is that it's verboten to gate features behind a paywall.  Some of the older players may remember "EVE Is Easy" causing a shitstorm a couple years back when they tried to sell subscriptions to exclusive PVP tutorial content.  Though I still think CCP was right to stamp down this particular type of service, the standard Patreon model isn't far off from this, and I'm kind of a fan of that kind of service.

Monetization

"If you're good at something, never do it for free".  Though I'm doing the project for the actual love of the work, you can't talk about doing this much work without someone asking about: how do you become one of those YouTube/Twitch guys who quit their job and play games 24/7?  And though I'm not against making a few bucks on the side (beer and coffee are always appreciated), I'm not looking to quit my job and make EVE graphs 24/7.  This work is squarely in hobby territory, and I'm more than happy to keep it there.  

Unfortunately, CCP kind of ties my hands on how to grow the work to something more.  To cut to the chase, I hate ads.  I don't serve them on the blog, YouTube, or Twitch.  I would only include ads for a direct EVE product like PLEX retail, news site, or player service.  And then only as live-on-air style.  This is no way to keep up with dev costs or hosting services for anything more beefy than this blog.  

I've been mulling starting a Patreon for the project, but am hesitant to start it up.  I don't think it's kosher to gate content, even if it's a "Patrons get it 1wk early" kind of service.  Though I'd never gate the main show (delay would make the show worthless), doing interview supplementals might work... except that I'd feel like a heel inviting guests to help enable me to make a quick buck.  Another option is syndication with another service like TMC/EN24, but I would probably be paid in ISK.

So I want to open up the question to the readers/viewers.  How do you feel about monetizing the Prosper show?  Would you be okay with ads?  Syndication?  Patreon?  "F$#k you, everyone else produces for free"?  Leave comments here and I'll mull it over.  I won't be gating content or holding anything hostage, but I'd love to hear what the audience thinks.  I'd like to provide more services, and some amount of monetization would enable more... I'm just uneasy about taking the plunge.