Category Archives: You’re losing me…

When “Affordable” ain’t

Before Obamacare became law, my employer offered three plans: HMO, PPO and High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP). I opted for PPO, which had a combined deductible/copay/coinsurance of $1000/year per person.

The year the act became law, HMO and PPO options were taken off the table, and we were offered the option of HDHP, which had a combined deductible/copay/coinsurance of $5000/year per person. They took great care in repeatedly telling us that this decision had nothing to do with Obamacare, but was to do with “the higher costs of health insurance”, while ignoring the fact that the single biggest changes in the the cost of healthcare was the increased costs to health Insurance mandated by the new law.

“Pull the other one, it’s got bells on it”.


My lady has multiple allergies and several other health issues, which require several expensive (up to $300/month *each*) drugs. Before Obamacare, I had to find $1000/year to pay for these. At about the cost of a high-end cellphone plan, this was annoying, but bearable. Under HDHP, however, I paid the first $2500 of all medical costs which we usually burned through by March and then 20% of all subsequent costs until we had spent another $2500, which happened around September. For the last three months of the year, however, all health costs were covered at 100%.

This led to an interesting interlude a few years ago: I was picking up her drugs and when the pharmacist told me that there was no charge, the fellow behind me said “Free drugs? How do I get some of that?“. I riposted with: “Easy. Just spend five thousand dollars“, to which he replied “Forget I asked.”.

So for me, Obamacare translates directly to a four-thousand-dollar-per-year pay cut – and that’s just for her; if I get sick, that’s another five grand I’ll have to find. this is why I flatly refuse to refer to it as the “Affordable Care Act.” I think it’s the height of understatement to say that I’m not a fan.


Obamacare is not all bad news; two good things came out of it were The removal of coverage limits was a good thing, and Health Insurance companies could now no longer deny coverage on the basis of Pre-existing conditions. However, both of these changes increased the exposure of Insurance Companies, and those costs were passed on to the Customer – Mr. and Mrs. You-and-me. But the biggest insult about Obamacare was the ridiculous Supreme Court decision that effectively made purchasing healthcare mandatory; a mandate that has since been overturned by Executive Order, and rightly so, in my opinion.

The Healthcare system in the USA used to be a perfect example of capitalism in action; It takes about a million dollars and twelve years to train a doctor about the same as a fighter pilot. Unlike the Air Force, however, the Physicians train themselves at their own expense, so it makes sense that they should set the value of their services. As an aside, this is tempered by the fact that the AMA and licensing authorities effectively conspire to restrict the supply of doctors, which keeps prices high. This seems to be working; there are, for example, plenty of unemployed attorneys, but the unemployment rate of qualified and licensed physicians is effectively zero, and an M.D. is often perceived, rightly or wrongly, as a license to print money.


The problem with Obamacare is that it attempts to mix the worst of Capitalist and Socialized systems while getting the best of neither, and ends up being less than the less than the sum of its parts. The young were forced to pay for coverage that they did not want, in order to subsidize the unemployed, the itinerant, and the poor. The quasi-free-market Health Exchanges, while a good idea in theory, have not worked out well in practice; prices have spiraled in recent years, and many insurance providers have left the business or gone out of business.

I, for one, would like to see Obamacare repealed. But it will not be until something better is offered. And by “better”, I mean that “nobody loses any coverage that they currently have”, that simply won’t happen. This is in accordance with Prang’s Law of Freebies, which goes as follows:

Once someone has gotten used to free stuff, they will never voluntarily give it up, and will fight tooth-and-nail to keep it

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A digital book-burning

I recently meandered across a story called “Alex Jones will never abandon deranged propaganda, that’s why Twitter needs to ban him“. As is often the case for opinion pieces, comments to the piece were neither requested nor required. So here we go…


If untruthfulness was the basis of censorship, half of the liberal media would be in jail. Sadly, there are no laws in this country against mendacious libel as there are in the United Kingdom

Every week the tabloids disgorge a fresh cargo of sex, lies and fanciful tales at supermarket checkouts throughout the land, and nobody seems to get upset. While I voted for Trump in the last election (and I called it five months out) I am not a fan of Alex Jones. I find him to be a blowhard. I have never been a fan of either Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck, though I have agreed with some of their ideas, principles and positions. By the same token, I find Michael Moore to be a delusional blob of feel-good socialism. But they all have every right to speak, write, make movies, and do their thing. And I would oppose any attempt to censor or silence any of them.

Last time I looked, Ignorance wasn’t a crime. If it were, the Bernie-Sanders socialists would be up on charges for failure to understand basic mathematics.

Close but no Cigar, bucko. While you are absolutely correct in saying that Twitter/Google/FakesBook et al are private organizations who can do as they please, that is not the point. The point is that these organizations are blatantly practicing partisan politics while pretending to be politically neutral. To quote Judge Judy Scheindlin: “Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining”

Another true-but-disingenuous statement. First up, the left increasingly uses “Hate” as a catch-all phrase for “criticism that I don’t like“, in the same way that they use Alt-Right to describe “someone I want to describe as a Nazi/Fascist/Racist/White supremacist, but can’t use those terms without looking like an intellectually dishonest idiot“. Most sensible people define “Hate speech” as something along the lines of “Any speech that calls for harm to another person”. By this definition, Maxine Waters’ call to harass Trump’s Staff in public is hate speech, as are the consistent calls to assassinate President Trump. Kathy Griffin’s infamous photo stunt may be a form of hate speech. No liberal media outrage in either case. Liberals, your political slip is showing.
Secondly, the NFL’s decision to ban players from any kind of political grandstanding is right and reasonable; the players are paid to play ball, and the League, who pays their salaries, can do as they please. If players want to play politics, they are more than welcome to do so on their own time. If I walk into a Starbucks wearing a MAGA hat, I should be treated the same way as anyone else. However, if I work there, my employers have the right to require me to remove it or leave. The bottom like here is the same: Don’t mix politics and business.

There’s the H-word again. Whenever you see that word, substitute “WAAAAH! SOMEBODY SAID SOMETHING I DIDN’T LIKE!” Sunlight is the best disinfectant. Let them speak, and let the chips fall where they may.

If there’s one thing that the last few Administrations have taught us, it is that a power that is given to one president is inherited by the next one. That which is created by the stroke of a pen can be destroyed by the stroke of a pen. The use of censorship to silence your opposition may one day blow up in your face.


He’s hitting all the buzzwords here. These people use cellphones and Postal serviced to communicate. Want to ban those as well? And what about the ISIS Recruiters on Social Media, are they being shut down with the same alacrity? Why is “Kill all white men” perfectly acceptable speech, but substituting the word “Black” is somehow racist?

This is just plain dishonest. Is the Post Office answerable for letter-bombs? Is the phone system legally responsible for wire fraud? Of course not. Is Facebook responsible for every DuckFace Selfie? So why is Twitter being held responsible for every tweet? And what, pray tell, is “real fake news”?


I am a firm believer in free speech, as long as it does not infringe upon anyone else’s rights. But that includes speech that I may disagree with. No one has a right to not be offended or outraged. If I don’t like it, I can spend my time, attention, and dollars elsewhere. Twitter has a competitor — Gab.Ai — and a lot of Conservatives, both reasonable and crazy – have moved there.

Bottom Line: The author is trying to suggest that Twitter can and should be some kind of digital safe space. Even if that were feasible, it would be an extremely bad idea.

Why ebay does not care about security

The Past

I have been on eBay since 1997.

For the past ten years, I have been using two-factor authentication to protect my eBay, Paypal and other accounts.

It started with the Paypal Security Key, also affectionately known as the “Paypal Football” because of its shape.

Introduced in 2007, the football is a $5 hardware device that displays a quasi-random six-digit number when the button is pressed. The code changes every thirty seconds and makes it impossible to get into your Paypal account without the “Football”, which lived on my Key-ring and went everywhere with me. When eBay bought Paypal, the football could be used to protect access to my eBay account as well.

Four years went by. The battery in the football ran down, and the device fell to pieces when I tried to replace it. Alarmingly, eBay no longer offered the “Football”, offering instead A Credit-Card device that fulfilled the same function at the somewhat higher price of $30.Getting the feeling that eBay was trying to turn a profit out of (in)security, I looked elsewhere… and found the Yubikey VIP.

I had been using a Yubikey in the past to protect, among other things, my Gmail account (The epic Hack of the famous Wired Journalist Mat Honen, could have been thwarted, by his own admission, had he done the same). Now the good folks at Yubico were offing a Yubikey that also doubled as a Verisign VIP key (the technology that PayPal used in the football). I purchased one and have used it ever since. I am still using it to this day.

The Present

I got the following email from them yesterday.

Let me be clear: This is a really, really bad idea for a whole bunch of reasons. Let me enumerate a few:

  1. Texting is insecure. SMS is not encrypted, and SMS messages can be readily intercepted with the right equipment. Using SMS as a one-off mechanism to sign up for something is not too bad, but sending out a text every time you want to log in is a really bad idea.
  2. Not everybody has a texting plan. I am on Verizon’s ancient (not offered since 2012) un-capped, un-throttled, un-limited data plan. Verizon charges extra for text messages, so I have disabled text messaging.
  3. My phone is not always available. I may be able to take a call. I may be in a meeting. I may be in a basement or out of coverage. I may be overseas.
  4. I purposefully purchased serious securityand now eBay are replacing it with something that is less secure.

In an age where websites are becoming more and more secure, this is a retrograde step. So why did eBay do this astoundingly bone-headed thing?

  1. Money. It is my understanding that eBay have to pay Verisign to use this system, while a text message/voice system would be far cheaper.
  2. Support: Security, it is said, is the enemy of convenience. The previous system had some potential shortcomings that allowed users to easily revert to less secure options (“secret questions”, etc) if they didn’t have their hardware token with them. A properly-designed secure system would make it impossible to turn off two-factor authentication without extended vetting… which means hiring Customer Service people to establish the identity of the customer. Given the choice between “good” security and “CHEAP” security, it is hardly surprising that eBay went with the “less-good-but-dirt-cheap” option.

So what *should* ebay be doing?

  • If it ain’t broke… offer the $5 footballs again, or admit that you don’t know or care about security.
  • Use a known and trusted out-of-band key-generation system: If you don’t want to pay Verisign, use the Google Authenticator system, which runs in software, and is already trusted with Google, WordPress, DropBox and others who apparently care about security more than you do.
  • Roll your own like Blizzard and others. The technology is tried and trusted. Just do it.

But what if…What if the user cannot, for one reason or another, use the second factor? In addition, it should be possible to allow the users print out a set of recovery codes to use when the second factor is unavailable. Talk to Google about this; they obviously know something you don’t.

Don’t! Stop!

When booking a flight recently, I made the mistake of giving the airline my phone number. This is what happened:

  • First, they tell me to reply STOP to cancel.
  • Then when I do, they tell me to reply STOP * to cancel.
  • Then they tell me that I am opted out.
  • Then they tell me that they are sending messages again.

Good Grief!

Christmas in… August?

Just got this in my email:

 

My coverage does not run out until the end of the year, but they are trying to get me to pay up now; more than four months before the bill is due.

*SIGH*… They do this every year.

Vega Conflict – Afore Ye Go

Ten things that Kixeye should do before Tier 7

  1. Coin spend confirmation. Yes, I know that you’ve already decided that this is somehow “good for the players” (i.e., good for Kixeye), but I respectfully disagree. To put this into perspective, I haven’t purchased any coins in nearly a year. This is the reason why.
  2. Rebalance I: Reduce the “price” of Tier 4 items. Particularly VSec, which is currently more expensive than Xeno. Wassup wid dat?
  3. Rebalance II: Reduce refit times or implement a refit bay. Three days to install a single I-wave (Infernal Wave Driver) III which is hopelessly outclassed by Xeno everything? Ten days to install a top-end drive to a Javelin Jumpship? Are you joking me? Five days to build a naked Xeno ship is not bad, but up to two weeks to put weapons on it is a little bit much, don’t you think?
  4. Rebalance III: The pattern drop rate of Xeno Crafting is a joke. When you have more than a hundred cores and no patterns, something is obviously rotten in the state of Vega.
  5. Bug-fix I: Fix the “to-the-bottom” bug. Start the game. Remove a ship and put it back in, then try to add a ship to any other fleet. Once the “Recent Hulls” list is empty, you end up at the bottom of the “all hulls” list. This is a major pain on mobile, since we don’t have a scroll bar and have to manually scroll all the way back to the top.
  6. Bug-fix II: Fix the “No-avatar-on-Mobile” bug. Every time I play on mobile, my avatar gets reset to generic. It can only be reset on Steam…
  7. Bug-fix III: Fix the sort-order-faction bug. Sometimes the sort order of the hull selector gets changed to “Factions”. This was introduced when “sort-by-Faction” became an option.
  8. Fix the Black Market: The BM was once the most exciting part of the game; proceed to a planet, often running a blockade, to dock with a station, where you could trade your hard-earned Blood Amber for some excellent deals, including instant Mk II upgrade tokens. While you’re at it, make all resistors reusable. We paid dearly in Blood (Amber) for them, we shouldn’t lose them when we refit because Kixeye changed the Meta of the game (as they have already done, at least twice). These days, it is more of the “Coin Market” and the content hasn’t changed much in the past year; Dread/Komodo/Venom again? Give me a break…
  9. Make Blood Amber Great Again: Over the past year, the value of Blood Amber has been reduced. There is nothing that Blood Amber can buy that Coins can’t buy more cheaply. Kixeye values your Daily Missions at about ten cents.That’s how much Kixeye values the players; think about that.
  10. New daily missions: Same old, same old. Nuff said.

Google Goes Googly

I’ve been a “fan” of Google for more than ten years. However, they just did something that made me feel very uncomfortable.

They recently updated their YouTube App, but when I went to The Android Market Google Play store I was confronted with the following horror-show:

That’s a bloody awful lot of permissions!

Why all the new permissions? Why does YouTube need access to my contents (which they already own) device info (which they already know) and Contacts (which they already store)?

But wait! There’s more! A few days later they replaced the “Not Now” link (why not a button?) on the nag screen nag screen with a thirty-second countdown timer:

Update Or else

This screen comes up every time the app is started, which is extremely annoying, Google are playing hardball in their attempt to get you to get you to upgrade… and sign away a load of your personal information for which they have no clearly explained need.

Unlike most users, I do not use my main account to watch YouTube, so it doesn’t affect me. Instead, I use a secondary account with no Contacts for them to scarf, so updating is no big deal for me. I advise other users to do the same. But it is enough to make one wonder…

Google, what on Earth are you playing at?

Vega Conflict: Rebalance this!

I’ve been playing VC for more than two years. I have been a lone wolf, an alliance leader, officer and soldier. To some, that makes me one of the ancients, to others, a rank Newbie. But it is long enough to say that I know my way around the game. So here are a few suggestions for improvements.
  • Ship construction times are unbalanced: A Tier-4 Corinthian Cruiser hull takes longer to build than a Tier-6 Punisher Cruiser, for Heaven’s sake!
  • Give us a damn refit bay! It is bad enough having to wait a week or more for a ship, but having to wait another week or more to put special weapons on it is a joke. A refit bay would solve this problem – or giving a big (50%) discount on all stuff built with the ship.
  • Revise crafting times. One ridiculous side-effect of the recent introduction of Tier-5 and -6 ships is that crafting a mark-upgrade for a lower-level ship may actually take longer than the same mark-upgrade for a higher-level ship. For instance, a Valkyrie Carrier takes 39 hours per mark upgrade, compared to 13 for Freyja and 26 for a Dominion. Similarly, the Zeal Battleship is 33 hours, Vigilante 32, Hellfire 25. Hellfire is the cheapest, Zeal is the most expensive.
  • Gold Spend confirmation – “Are you sure?” when spending more than 100 credits. This one has been done to death on the forums, and Kix have made it clear that they absolutely refuse to do it. But this is the reason why I generally buy $5 tranches at a time instead of $50. It is also the reason that I haven’t spent serious money on this game — about $37 in total over two years, though I would be happy to throw $20/month into the pot if it wasn’t too easy to accidentally spend it all. I know you want us to coin, but this is costing you money, at least in my case. And no, a “one-off courtesy” and an admonition to “be careful out there” does not cut it. Put in a confirmation screen and give your Customer Service peeps a rest.
  • Meaningful notice – from time to time there are discounted refits, builds and repairs. Most of us are sick and tired of seeing a six-hour warning for “20% discount for refit/rebuild” when they are in the middle of a fourteen-day build. This is the only online game I have ever played where the players have no in-game advance notice of when important stuff is happening. Give us a week’s notice. It’s. Not. That. Hard.
  • Earn or Wait – pick one. A credit that was earned in an event should be immediately usable without having to wait hours or days. Adding 7x Infernal Wave Driver III to a Hellfire battleship should not take three weeks! Having farmed for parts to buy a\n improved Javelin Jump Drive, you should not have to wait for two weeks to have it fitted. The principle is this: if you bought or unlocked the blueprint, it is reasonable that you should have to wait for it to be fitted; if you bought, won or earned the item it is not.
  • Resistors should be reusable. The new ones introduced for Xeno Division are re-usable. Make the older ones re-usable as well.
  • Omni. Bus. Your Javelin should be able to carry all of your fleets, not just those within five levels of theirs.
  • Design a Black Market that doesn’t suck: I would like to congratulate Kixeye for reducing the Black Market from “the coolest part of the game” to “almost useless”, in a matter of months. Replacing quick-and-easy Mk II Black Market Credits with the endless and tedious Crafting system was not a smart move. Make the BM cool again. You know you want to…

TAXI!!

This morning, I got this email from Lyft, a company with whom I have an account that I have had for over a year but never actively used:

lyft

Let’s disassemble that, shall we?

“We created Lyft to be a model for the type of community we want our world to be.”
And there was me thinking that you created Lyft to make money. How altruistic of you. And what’s with the “community” talk? I thought you were a business.

“…diverse…”
We already have enough diversity. How about some unity?

“…inclusive…”
Inclusive of whom? Inclusive of illegals who have no business being here? Inclusive of Islamic Jihadists who want us converted or dead? Inclusive of Muslim Moderates who resolve their confusion and turmoil by shooting up scores of homosexuals in a club? Tell me more about this “inclusivity” thing; I’m not sure I understand.

“…and safe.”
Benjamin Franklin once said: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” America is not, and was never intended to be, a safe space.

“This weekend, Trump closed the country’s borders to refugees, immigrants, and even documented residents from around the world based on their country of origin.”
You obviously haven’t read the executive order. It does no such thing. Here are some of the highlights:

  • “The United States cannot, and should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law. In addition, the United States should not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry or hatred (including “honor” killings, other forms of violence against women, or the persecution of those who practice religions different from their own) or those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation.”
  • The Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence, shall immediately conduct a review to determine the information needed from any country to adjudicate any visa, admission, or other benefit under the INA (adjudications) in order to determine that the individual seeking the benefit is who the individual claims to be and is not a security or public-safety threat.
  • The Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence, shall submit to the President a report on the results of the review described in subsection (a) of this section, including the Secretary of Homeland Security’s determination of the information needed for adjudications and a list of countries that do not provide adequate information, within 30 days of the date of this order. The Secretary of Homeland Security shall provide a copy of the report to the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence.
  • Immediately upon receipt of the report… the Secretary of State shall request all foreign governments that do not supply such information to start providing such information regarding their nationals within 60 days of notification.
  • After the 60-day period… expires, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, shall submit to the President a list of countries recommended for inclusion on a Presidential proclamation that would prohibit the entry of foreign nationals (excluding those foreign nationals traveling on diplomatic visas, North Atlantic Treaty Organization visas, C-2 visas for travel to the United Nations, and G-1, G-2, G-3, and G-4 visas) from countries that do not provide the information requested pursuant to subsection (d) of this section until compliance occurs.
  • “…the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may, on a case-by-case basis, and when in the national interest, issue visas or other immigration benefits to nationals of countries for which visas and benefits are otherwise blocked.”

As you can see, it is by no means a blanket ban; it is an invitation for other nations to either help us, or be counted among the enemy. It is a “put-up-or-shut-up” challenge. But let’s continue:

  • I hereby proclaim that the entry of nationals of Syria as refugees is detrimental to the interests of the United States and thus suspend any such entry until such time as I have determined that sufficient changes have been made to the USRAP to ensure that admission of Syrian refugees is consistent with the national interest.
  • I hereby proclaim that the entry of more than 50,000 refugees in fiscal year 2017 would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and thus suspend any such entry until such time as I determine that additional admissions would be in the national interest.
  • Notwithstanding the temporary suspension… the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may jointly determine to admit individuals to the United States as refugees on a case-by-case basis, in their discretion, but only so long as they determine that the admission of such individuals as refugees is in the national interest — including when the person is a religious minority in his country of nationality facing religious persecution, when admitting the person would enable the United States to conform its conduct to a preexisting international agreement, or when the person is already in transit and denying admission would cause undue hardship — and it would not pose a risk to the security or welfare of the United States.

AS you can see, there are specifically crafted exceptions. Nothing to see here folks, move along. Now back to the good people at Lyft…

“Banning people of a particular faith or creed, race or identity, sexuality or ethnicity, from entering the U.S. is antithetical to both Lyft’s and our nation’s core values.”
And accepting mass immigration from nations who hate us is not exactly smart. Oh, and “our nation’s core” values are binding on American Citizens and Legal Residents and no one else.

“We stand firmly against these actions, and will not be silent on issues that threaten the values of our community.”
That’s nice. And there is that lovely word “Community” again. Even nicer. But where were you when Hillary was calling me and half of the country “a basket of deplorables“? Where was your “Community Spirit” then? Were you standing firmly then? No, all we heard from you lot was *crickets*.

“We know this directly impacts many of our community members, their families, and friends.”
There is your favorite word again. You’re not a social club, you are a business. Start acting like one.

“We stand with you, and are donating $1,000,000 over the next four years to the ACLU to defend our constitution. We ask that you continue to be there for each other – and together, continue proving the power of community.”
You really love that word, don’t you? Can’t you come up with at least one synonym for “Community“?

There is a fine line between loyal opposition and insurrection. When a person does that, it is called protest, and is the right of any individual. When a publicly-traded corporation does it, it looks a lot like treason.

What you do with your personal share of the profits is entirely up to you (as long as you don’t donate money to the wrong causes). Whether your company gets any of that money from me is up to me.

Vega Conflict – Two Years On

January 16th is a special day for me.

Two years ago today I discovered Vega Conflict. To some of you, that makes me a rank newcomer. To others, I am one of the Old Great Ones™. Today is a day for me to stop and reflect on how far the game has come in those two years.

When I started, the pre-eminent ship in the game was the Dread Battleship; a powerful and feared beast that lived up to its name, took two weeks to build, and was well-nigh unstoppable. Now it is merely average; the middle of a line-up of seven battleships that range from the humble Rancor to the mighty Hellfire, and it takes only five days to build one. Since then we have seen the introduction of Carriers, Blood Amber, Cutters, The Black Market, Iron Star Company, Demon Corps, and Strange Green Creatures from Alpha Centauri… ohhh, the screams, the screams..!

Where was I? Oh yes… once upon a time, projectile weapons were the bees knees. Then, with the introduction of Impulse Beam and Aurora Ray, Beam weapons came to the fore. Current Flavor of the month are explosive weapons, with the Manifold Missile occupying the top spot. But watch this space…

One would think that I am wildly happy with the way that things have turned out, but I am not. I love this game. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t still be here. I love it enough to have written a book about it. But a combination of bad decisions by Kixeye – and good ones deliberately not made – have turned this wonderful game into something that more and more resembles an abusive relationship with a capricious partner who punishes swiftly, rewards rarely, vanishes unpredictably, appears unexpectedly, promises much, but never seems to quite deliver the joy that the relationship once had.

My biggest gripe is that the game has become totally pay-to-win. Coiners can steamroll the opposition with two-hundred-dollar fleets of Mk V ships that take the rest of us mere mortals weeks or months to build. The idea that people will spend what is essentially a modest car payment for what is essentially a box of bits is, to me, laughable. I say this not as an envious kid who wishes he had a Credit Card, but as a middle-aged IT professional with a higher-than-average income. I have spent about $50 on this game over the past two years – mostly in the first six months. I do not begrudge Kixeye the money; good work deserves money. But these coin offers are ridiculous.

There are numerous other gripes that come to mind:

  • The decline and fall of the Black Market: The Space Station-in-orbit-of-a-random-planet thing was a lot of fun before that Scar-faced-Barstud crash-landed on a planet near you and set up shop in what is now more of a “Coin Market” then a “Black Market”.
  • The devaluing of Blood Amber: Want a Valkyrie Pattern Box? You will need some Blood Amber, some VSec Parts… oh, and Twelve incredibly-hard to get T4 Carrier Cores. Or… hey! You could just COIN IT!
  • The absolute refusal to implement a Coin confirm button (this is the reason that I will not purchase large amounts of coins; too easy to accidentally spend them).
  • The lack of a Refit Bay: I remember LXC saying that a refit bay would “unbalance the game”… right before Kixeye rebalanced/unbalanced the crap out of the game, robbing ships like the Rapture, Nexus and Eagle of their unique and enjoyable idiosyncrasies… and still no Refit Bay. Bah.
  • Crappy support: When a supply run that ended with the enemy dying with the clock at 0:00 resulted in no strongbox being dropped, I shot off a message to support. They asked for proof, lectured me, and generally made it clear that I wasn’t getting anything off of them. Willingness to lose a customer over a single strongbox: Zero out of ten.
  • Power Creep: If I was starting the game now, I would look at the year-plus building curve that a non-coiner would have to endure to reach Tier 5… and quit.#I could go on, but you’ve heard it all before; when faced with the choice between making things right and putting the fun back into the game or introducing a new hundred-dollar coin offer. Kixeye would apparently prefer to get to work on the latter.
  • Kixeye has also had a nasty habit of changing the behavior of enemy fleets in the middle of an event – and never to the players’ advantage. Contrast this with Star Trek: Timelines, which routinely apologizes by giving out tranches of resources to players when things go wrong.
screenshot_2016-12-30-20-50-00We messed up. We’re sorry. Here’s free stuff.

The fact is that the game is no longer as fun as it once was, and it’s not a game that I can recommend to others. Since the Great Rebalance, I have been:

  • Doing events and grabbing all of the tech that I can
  • Killing aliens (perhaps the only truly fun part left in the game)
  • Killing supply run fleets (or you could wait for the appropriate “Materials” market event and COIN IT!).
  • Avoiding Civil Wars (the prizes are crap and I have never used any of the “extended” weapons).
  • The odd fight: Five minutes of combat, five hours of repair… or hey, you can COIN IT!

At this point, I’m holding on, hanging in there, farming and grinding, hoping for things to change, but too many disappointments have made me cynical. But in the interest of helpfulness, I have a few suggestions for Kixeye to continue ignoring:

  • Create an exchange to convert useless parts (Scythe parts, anyone?) into useful stuff.
  • Offer something worthwhile for Blood Amber that isn’t bloody useless or bloody expensive.
  • Coin Confirmation Button (unless you really don’t want my money).
  • Quit putting lower-class cores in Strongboxes! There are few bigger annoyances in the game than engaging a 65 Demon Corps Contingent or Harasser Supply Run fleet, bringing home a damaged or half-dead fleet, opening the strongbox and finding a Tier-4 core for your trouble. The same core that you can get from an Artillery 37 using an insta-rep fleet. As Dilbert would put it: “Gaaaah”.
screenshot_2017-01-16-21-57-50An hour’s work. Six battles. 1xT4 Core. 5xT3 Cores. No Patterns. Gaaah.
  • Either equalize pattern drop chances (so the likelihood of a Mk II pattern is the same as the Mk V), or provide a mechanism to fuse patterns into better ones. Or drop generic upgrade patterns that can be used to mark-upgrade any level of that ship. Anything is better than seventeen Mk II tokens and no Mk IV or V. (Or hey, you can coin it!!)
  • Concentrate on $5/$10/$20 coin deals that actually offer something worth having; I believe that it is easier to get $10 out of fifty players than to get $200 out of one high-roller.
  • Design a monthly subscription arrangement that offers bonuses every month.

I understand that Kixeye needs to make money, but one life lesson that I have learned is that when you pursue joy, money often follows. But when you pursue money, joy is rare.

Bottom Line: Concentrate on delighting the players, and they will bring their friends. Concentrate on coins and they will join their friends.

Pay-To-Win will kill this game