Welcome to the reincarnation of my blog. This will be a public forum (why else would I publish it to a blog?) but mostly I plan to use this space to organize my thoughts about EVE Online and maybe a few random thoughts that are only peripherally related to EVE. I'm familiar with the characters on EVE forums, so comments will be moderated. Trolls, griefers, and those with nothing constructive to add will be ignored. I may also delete anonymous postings; I'm putting myself out here and showing you my face - the least you can do is show yours.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

AFK (or The Emporer's New Clothes)

I'm taking a breather from the blogs.  Occasionally, I get caught up in some of the debates and Tom-Foolery of the ongoing drama in EVE.  When that happens, I find myself becoming disenchanted.  Case-in-point:  The new wardec mechanic, the "Forever War" and Goonswarm's tantrum

First, regarding the wardec mechanic, CCP should consider abandoning it. In 3-1/2 years that I've been playing EVE, CCP hasn't touched it.  In null-sec, the mechanic is silly; a player or a corporation can shoot whomever they please without consequence.  Also, a wardec has no bearing on sovereignty.  So why would a null-sec corp or alliance even bother?  (Besides, in keeping with the storyline, CONCORD has no interest in maintaining the peace in the outer reaches).  In hi-sec, there are various ways to circumvent the mechanic (and I suspect this will always be the case).  In low-sec .... meh ... who really goes out there anyway?  (Yes, I know you FW types are out there, but does a wardec really mean anything to you outside of what you're doing in FW?)

CCP hopes to re-invigorate the wardec mechanic by changing the rules a bit.  On the one hand, the changes make it a little more difficult to dodge a wardec.  On the other, the changes will attempt to make professional mercenaries more legitimate while throwing a token defense strategy to the little corps who either can't defend themselves are aren't interested in combat.  BUT there are exploits: 1) "The Forever War" (which is already being 'fixed' (I'll get back to that),  2) The extortion exploit where a mercenary alt corp decs another corp and then offers their services to fix the problem (I don't think we've seen that yet, but its coming), 3)  ???  (I'm sure someone who's more creative and sinister than I am can figure out something).  A targeted corp has two options:  surrender and thereby make themselves a bigger target two weeks out, or pay the extortion fees to hire that merc corp to combat the evil alts.  A couple of other options exist also, but they're not new:  corp jumping or station vacations.  So ya, CCP didn't really 'fix' anything and the wardec mechanic is and will be as broken next winter as it is today.

Second, regarding "The Forever War", my hat is off to Jade Constantine for figuring this one out!  For those of you who don't already know, under the current wardec mechanic introduced in the Inferno expansion, a targeted corp can declare a war 'mutual' thereby preventing the aggressor from withdrawing the wardec.  Then, the targeted corp can hire as many mercenary corps (or non-mercenary corps, for that matter) to join the war.  If the aggressor is an interesting enough target, Goonswarm for instance, mercenaries may end up paying the defending corp to be an ally in the war.  In summary, you have a permanent wardec that the aggressor can't escape and a business opportunity selling access to that war.

The strategy is absolutely brilliant!  It gives the 'home-field' advantage back to the defender and forces the bully corps to think twice about engaging a seemingly helpless mining outfit. 

Unfortunately, CCP doesn't see it that way and promised to 'fix' the mechanic in the next patch (thereby creating the illusion that they were colluding with Goonswarm, a ... ahem ... victim of this exploit, to change a mechanic to favor the largest alliance in the game - more later).  But what CCP fails to see is that Jade's idea is yet another example of emergent game play.  The mechanic isn't broken at all: an unlikely confluence of events within the game has developed where this mechanic has become useful to beat back the tyranny of an evil empire. 

Let me make this point perfectly clear: Jade's war with Goonswarm is an unusual circumstance that is not likely to be duplicated again.  Under normal circumstances, a war just isn't interesting enough for dozens of corps to offer their assistance and even pay for the privilege to do so.  Even in this situation, the involved parties are likely to get bored sometime shy of 'forever' and the parties will workout their differences.  The mechanic isn't broken; the Goons were just a little shortsighted.

Finally, regarding the Goons ....  (yawn).  Nevermind.  Can't be bothered to write anymore about them.  Nor can I be bothered to read any more about them, whether its in the forums or on the other blogs.

Which brings me to where I started.  I started this blog after the Incarna release when the Jita Riots were taking place.  CCP abruptly changed their attitude, but only subtly changed their direction.  Yes, its true, they seem to be concentrating on FIS:  we saw some re-configured frigates and a few new modules, we saw some changes to FW mechanics (I'm really not sure how succesful those mechanics have been, but I have seen a little more FW activity), we saw a new crime-watch mechanic (has this been implemented yet?  I really haven't noticed)  and we saw a new war-dec mechanic (which is in the process of being nerfed as I type this).  (We also saw a whole bunch of great changes to graphics and UI, but those don't affect game play - nonetheless they do make the experience more immersive and enjoyable).  Titans are still broken, though.  POS's are still broken.  Corp management is still broken.  Player Stations are still not destructible, sov mechanics are still meaningless, PVE content is stale...

BUT WE ARE GETTING NEW CLOTHES!  During Fanfest, CCP also suggested that they would dedicate considerable resources to making the game prettier. AURUM is apparently back as well.  Also, was I the only one that saw the WoD trailer? (Awesome, btw, but I was under the impression they laid-off that part of the staff.)

So ya. I'm running out of things to say.  More importantly, I'm losing interest.  I am enjoying the game for what it has to offer, but I am increasingly aware that the game is stagnant and there just isn't a whole lot to say about a stagnant game.  I read Selene's blog about the CSM summit (Part 1 and Part 2) earlier this month and was slightly encouraged at the prospect of player generated missions (Contracts associated with completing specific tasks). If CCP manages to implement even a fraction of those things, perhaps there's hope. 

Thanks for reading, all.  O7

Final word:  60 Tristans down, 1 solo kill and lots of assists.  After Inferno, Tristans are completely useless.  Hopefully they see some love in the Winter.  Tristan project on hold (again).  I'm loving the new Incursus.  Rifter is not the top dog anymore.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

100 Tristans

So this project didn't go where I thought it would.  That happens sometimes.  Sometimes a project takes you someplace you didn't expect.  Sometimes, when you think you've given up on a project, it has a way of spontaneously taking a life of its own.

No solo kills, yet.  But since I've joined R-V-B, I've participated in 145 kills and most of those have been in my trusty Tristan.  145 kills worth 3.89b isk and I've lost 18 ships 15 of which were tristans.

My first Tristan loss was to Sir Horace.  I foolishly thought my little tristan could take on a thrasher.  I turned the microwarp on and headed toward my target, being careful to approach at an angle.  My shields were gone in the first volley.  My armor took three volleys and before I could break off, my hull disappeared. My blasters didn't even scratch his paint.

My second loss was to a Kestrel.  That was humiliating.  Also demoralizing.  Two losses in and I was already losing hope.  I took my Tristan out to blow up a Titan and ended up on this kill. (Scroll down.  Keep going....  your almost there.  Yup down there.  At the bottom.  Thats me!).  Shortly after that, I wrote this.  A turning point, at last. 

In the course of a month, I've learned that:

a) In a solo frigate vs. destroyer, unless your very lucky, the destroyer wins. 

b)  If your guns aren't on, you're not contributing damage.  When an FC calls primary, and your flying a blaster tristan, if the target isn't already in your optimal then choose another target. 

bi)  You have a role in fleet.  If you're in a Tristan, you're not really contributing a whole heck of a lot of DPS; your job is to secure the next target and soften them up a bit.  You're not so much ignoring your FC as much as you're anticipating his next command.  (just don't let him catch you on any solo kills during the fleet fight!)

c)  Its ok to warp off the field when you get to armor (if you can).  You're doing the fleet a favor by surviving just a little longer. 

d) Its not ok to warp of the field if you have point on the secondary (or tertiary) target, especially if its a shiny target, even if you're in structure.

e) Overheat your guns early.  If you're in a frigate, keep them hot; you're going to die early and there's no point in saving them.

f)  Get through the demoralizing first few losses. More importantly, don't let the enemy in your head.

Also:  Frigates are cheap(ish).  They make your efficiency look really amazing if you manage to do nothing more than get a point on a more expensive ship.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Moving on ...

Ok, the drama surrounding the closing of Fanfest seems to have subsided a bit. It is really unfortunate that the last event detracted so much attention from some of the real issues presented at fanfest. Leave it to the drama queens to figure out how to upstage CCP at their own event - and thats the last word from me on that.

Here's what I took out of Fanfest 2012:

  • EVE has matured and CCP can let the players take over some of the NPC functions that were necessary early on in the game. (maybe we ought to re-think that?)
  • Inferno will be about war. As such, CCP is revisiting the war and crimewatch mechanics.
  • Ships will be rebalanced with emphasis on their roles and the skill tree will have to be re-worked to accomplish that.
  • World of Darkness is still being worked on and it will be dark!
  • Dust 514 is imminent.
  • Faction warfare will get some attention; the sovereignty mechanics will be brought in line with those of null-sec.
  • CCP has an opportunity to update the graphics in EVE, but it will require one year from a dedicated team and might delay other projects.
  • Between the sheets ... erm lines:  CCP is getting very cozy with Sony and Nvidia.  (Threesomes are fun especially when you're in the middle!  Be careful of jealousy though.)
I'm going to go back and review some of the fanfest videos over the next few days to see if there was anything really interesting there.  We really need to get back to FIS or even WIS and move away from the distraction of the last few days.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Jita will burn! (Wait, let me get my popcorn!)

When I got home from work this evening I saw the devblog.  It wasn't surprising.  I was prepared to move on and relegate this whole affair to the dust bin.  But then I read The Mittani's statement on EN24.

ROFL!!!! Poor Mittani!  Best tears ever!

I was entirely prepared to change my opinion of the poor bastard.

"Yet for CЅM7 I am going to refuse to accept the Chairmanship when CSM7 takes office‚ but not because of our enemіes trying to use my Fanfest fuckup for ingame political advantage."  Is the master of the metagame really complaining about his enemies tactics?

"Why did the shitstorm break out on Monday, when I was drunk on Thursday night? The hard fact is this: the gaming media hates CCP after the Incarna incidents..."  When you can't point the finger at yourself, the "media" is the next most obvious choice.  Read the entire paragraph here.  Is The Mittani taking credit for Crucible?  I was there.  The Mittani was conspicuously absent.

"As the profile of the CSM has raised due to Vile Rat and my successes on the Council‚ pressure has іncreased on CЅM members – and particularly the Chair – to be ‘upstanding citizens’ in Eve Online itself. An ‘upstanding citizen’ cannot lead Goonswarm."  That didn't stop him last year.  Not sure that anything has changed.  Oh Wait!  He got drunk!

"...but after what I’ve seen over the past few months and now at Fanfest, it is clear that I can either lead the CЅM or lead Goonswarm. "  Read:  "I didn't want that seat anyway"

" We need to get Razor a new home. "  How magnanimous of our dear (ex) chairman to give RAZOR a new home. 

"Jita will burn."  I'm going to get in my stealth bomber and head to 4-4 for the fireworks.  Can't wait to watch all those goonies get popped by the gate guns! Popcorn is already in the microwave.  Mittens is only 9 months late to the Jita Riots.  Someone should tell him its over.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Backed into a Corner

I've never cared for "The Mittani", his antics, or his alliance.  This post isn't about him.

The CSM chairman, a representative of the 'hardcore' EVE player base, publicly advocated the harassment of player that professed to being suicidal.  Whether or not the player was actually suicidal is not important.  The chairman realized his mistake and wrote and apology, and that's also irrelevant.

The terms of the EULA are pretty clear when it comes to harassment and when the MOST visible player in EVE violates those rules, CCP has a few options:

a) Ignore the infraction and be accused of selective enforcement of the EULA.  This option weakens CCP's authority to enforce their rules and makes the EULA a meaningless agreement.

b) Enforce the EULA without comment, as it would with any other player.  The problem here is that the chairman is a very public figure and the incident was very widely publicized.  A discreet response by CCP would do nothing to quell the controversy outside of the EVE community.  Also, the EULA would be damaged because the perception would be that CCP does nothing to enforce the EULA (even if they actually did).

c)  CCP makes a very strong statement in a very public way by enforcing the EULA with a disciplinary action even more severe than what would ordinarily be considered for such a violation.  This preserves their moral authority, maintains the integrity of the EULA, and shows CCP's intolerance for that particular behavior.

d)  The chairman resigns which saves himself the embarrassment of being the object of disciplinary action, saves CCP from having to make a tough decision, reinforces the EULA, and possibly earns him a bit of respect (and possibly loses respect from like minded members within his alliance).

Really, option A and option B are not realistic options for CCP.  Option D is not something CCP can do (and might not be enough of a response if the typical response to this violation is to ban the account).  Option C is really the only option CCP has.  CCP has to defend its EULA and has to send a very strong message beyond EVE-O forums that harassment won't be tolerated. 

Whether or not "The Mittani" had any malicious intent and whether or not the subject of his 'joke' took it serious, CCP has an image to maintain and and EULA to enforce.  CCP wants to promote EVE's 'hardcore' image and has two products that will rely on this hardcore reputation to be successful.  CCP has to draw a line with respect to acceptable behavior and be willing to enforce their EULA or else face the possibility that the next violation might be more widely publicized and more tragic.

EDIT:  An anonomous poster pointed out that the EULA gives CCP discretion about how to deal with bad behavior and that the TOS absolves CCP of responsibility from players' bad behavior.  (Sorta lke a legal 'dec shield' I suppose).  No matter.  I stand by my assertion.  Bad publicity will force CCP to address the situation.  Nice call, Anon.  CCP apparently doesn't take responsibility for fostering bad behavior.

Saturday, March 24, 2012


You've all heard it before:  when you transmit a signal into a receiver from which the original signal originated and the signal gets retransmitted - over and over again.  If the original signal gets re-broadcasted at exactly the same amplitude, you hear an echo.  If the original signal is dampened, the signal echos, but fades with each cycle.  If the signal is amplified, you can create all kinds of problems (blown speakers, for example).

There is a special type of feedback; one in which the original signal matches the harmonic frequency of the transmitter.  The result is a harmonic oscillation.  The linked example is the result of 25 mph wind that caused the Tacoma bridge to swing back and forth at its harmonic frequency.  Its also important to realize that the bridge regularly withstood much higher wind speeds.  Here is another example of a harmonic oscillation.  In this case, the rotors of the helicopter are spinning at exactly the same harmonic frequency of the helicopter's body.  Ironically, the rotors were spinning within the normal operating speed of the helicopter, so you can imagine how scary it is to throttle this vehicle through that specific range of rotor speed.

There is a social analogy to this phenomena.  If one person, lets call him Hilmar, says something that provokes a response from another person, lets call him Pod Pilot.  Pod Pilot's response matches Hilmar's harmonic oscillation and Hilmar's response matches Pod Pilot's harmonic oscillation, the system amplifies itself until the two participants annihilate each other.  This doesn't even have to be a heated exchange. Even a small feedback loop can create a catastrophic event (bridges should be able to withstand a 25 mph wind).

I watched a small portion of Fanfest this morning.  If CCP doesn't pay more attention to the unintended consequences of their game design, they'll find themselves in this destructive feedback loop.  I'm not going to offer specifics because CCP didn't offer any specifics, but I'm starting to suspect that Incarna will be the first cycle in the feedback loop.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Why do we PVP?

Corelin, author of Mad Haberdashers, posed a very timely question:  What is the point of PVP?

Corelin explains that in other games, PVP is rewarded with money, increased skill and access to better items.  EVE is very different in this respect; aside from the occasional loot drop, the reward for PVP in EVE is bragging rights.  I suppose there is also the satisfaction of executing a well planned strategy, or optimizing a fit for a particular role within a strategy, but the bottom line is that PVP in EVE is almost entirely about the ego boost.

Truenig1ght suggested that I listen to some podcasts by Kil2 and Sar Caid (Truen1ght, do you have a link to Sar Caid?).  I listened to all 8 of Kil2's recordings in one sitting.  Episode 2 (?) had an interesting discussion about the motivation for fighting, and specifically, what to do to counter loss fatigue.  (My words, not theirs).  This was a particularly timely episode, having lost 5 Tristans and a Bestower full of frigates and modules.  By Saturday night, one day after joining RVB, I was starting to doubt the wisdom of my decision and my motivation for playing EVE at all.

Any of my friends will tell you that I am not an ego driven person at all.  I get no satisfaction from external recognition of my achievements.  In fact, my friends often get annoyed with me for not mentioning milestones.  Needless to say, having my name at the top of the list on a Titan kill has no allure to me whatsoever.

So I spent this weekend thinking about this question.  The fact of the matter is that EVE has taught me so much about so many things.  I incorporate my online experiences into my RL experiences almost daily.  At the moment, I can offer no specifics - maybe that's a post for another time.  The bottom line is that every move I've made in EVE has resulted in a learning situation with practical RL applications. I expect PVP will have similarly useful results.

The lesson I learned this week is about persistence and motivation.  Learning something new is rarely easy.  You have to deal with a lot of people who are out there who take pleasure in obstructing your path.  Occasionally, you have to have to step back and ask yourself, what is it that you want to achieve?  Also, how much do you want to invest in the effort to achieve it? 

Now, imagine yourself in a Tristan and the FC has called the cruiser sitting within your point range primary. Shortly after you've aggressed the target, your overview starts blinking yellow, then red and damage reports start flashing on the screen.  Instinct tells you to align and GTFO.  You start thinking about how much of a pain in the ass its going to be to get another frigate out of Jita and how long you'll have to spend shooting at red crosses to pay for (another) loss.  Then, just as your low armor alarm goes off, the cruiser pops!  In an instant, you align to a tactical, pray that no one is scrambling you, and warp out with a trail of fire behind you.  All of the previously flashing red boxes disappear.  You collect your wits, take the kill in for a moment while aligning back to the newly primaried target, and do it again.

Yes, I lost another Tristan.  Yes, I'll have to spend 15 minutes ratting to pay for it.  No, no one even remembered who tackled that cruiser and no, no kill mails in my combat log (my name was at the bottom of the list of participants).  Victory?  Hardly!  But I STAYED, I TANKED, and the target was DESTROYED!

Now, back to RL.  Think of all of those moments, when you face a task - especially the little annoying ones:  the visit to the in-laws, fixing a leaking faucet, an oil change.  Now imagine crossing those things off your list:  No more wife agro, no more damage leaking into structure, no more blinking lights on your dashboard.  Victory? (!!!)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Red Vs. Blue

I've spent the last few days thinking about what to do next in EVE.  I've done wormholes, I've done exploration.  I've done so many missions and incursions that the rats know me by name (incidentally, yellow box in rat speak means 'hello' and red box means lets play - they're very enthusiastic about playing, but their games are too simple now).  Mining, industry and marketing have no appeal to me (though I briefly played with planetary interaction when it was first introduced).

PVP is an aspect of the game that has been somewhat elusive to me.  I've gone on solo ventures, small fleet roams, lol roams, bombing runs, and blob engagements.  But the kill mails aren't frequent enough to reinforce my killing instincts and the loss mails are very discouraging.

I recently attempted to correct this with my plans to fly Tristans until I got 10 kill mails.  But I don't have a long enough attention span to hunt for the solo rifter in Ammamake. Also, Poetic Stanziel's experience with a similar objective made me re-think the objective.  (Tristans, despite the buff to hybrid turrets, are hampered by the fact that they can only fit two blasters; the two missile launcher hardpoints don't really supplement the damage enough to make this a killer frigate.)

My character is quickly approaching 50m skill points.  For the past two years, I've concentrated my skill plan on combat skills.  I have nearly perfect tank skills, nearly perfect fitting skills, and I can fly every sub cap ship in the game (except command ships).  I can use all t2 medium guns, t2 medium launchers are just a few days away (though Level 5 of a few important missile support skills are still a few weeks away).  36m of my 50m skill points are combat related.  This toon should be a much better fighter with a much more impressive kill board.

I came up with a number of different options while considering my next endeavors, but becoming a better combat pilot is the first step to all of the things I want to do in EVE. This evening, I put in an application for Red Federation.  Let's see where this takes me.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

What's next ...

A little while back, a couple of friends of mine invited me to join a small worm hole corp.  Initially, we were staged in a C3 with static low sec and C4 exits.  My two friends, bless their hearts, couldn't fly T3 cruisers yet and barely had the support skills to fly battleships. Needless to say, we didn't do too many ops until one of the two other, more experienced corpmates logged in.

While doing my nightly probing, I came across an unoccupied C5.  Not having much experience in WHs, I dismissed it as unimportant; our corp was too small and too inexperienced to have much use for it.  It turns out, the WH was a Pulsar and for my ignorance, I was awarded with "This Missing Link" medal; it was well deserved.

Shortly after, we found another class 5 and took up residence.  Our two green pilots had just acquired skills to fly a T3 cruiser (but not yet the skills to use T2 guns) and I thought it was a little premature to move into a C5.  My objections were duly noted and dismissed and we managed to set up shop just before christmas.  And then.....well, you can only probe so many anomolies before you start to go crazy.

January came....and went.  It was obvious someone was fueling the POS, but I never saw it happen.  My buddies are from U.S. east coast tz while i'm out here on the west coast.  That's never really been a problem because our work schedules were synched.  Occasionally, I saw my CEO who gave me a hard time about podding myself back to K-space; but I dismissed his complaints; I don't pay a subscription to track down wh's and anomolies that no one will use anyway.  After a sufficiently respectful amount of time passed, and as soon as I found a reasonably safe way out of the WH, I droped corp roles and started looking for the next thing.

I've been doing incursions since, but its only really a past time.  Incursions are the best PVE in EVE, but after you've run them a few weeks, like all of the other PVE, it become predictable and routine.

So now what? 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

CSM 7 Vote

I intended to research the candidates and comment on my research here.  As the number of candidates increased I realized that wasn't realistic.  I did manage to read most of the candidate statements on EVE-O forums.  That is about as much research as I did on most of the candidates.  If the candidate's statement didn't have any clearly defined objectives, I moved on to the next post.  Surprisingly, there were quite a number of CSM6 delegates included in that group.  I also passed up any post with herd's of alliance mates supporting the candidate and paid closer attention to posts that were spammed by the alliance mates of the candidates opponents.

My three favorite candidates were Two-Step, Hans Jagerblitzen, and Mintrolio.  After all the research and all the reading, my decision boiled down to:
  • Who will be hardest working:  TWO-STEP. I followed the dev blogs and the csm posts through out the riots last summer.  Two-Step was clearly out in front doing exactly what he was elected to do.  The others were silent, added token comments, or were outright condescending toward the player base.
  • Who will represent the interests that I care most about in EVE:  This one was a tougher question to answer.  HANS JAGERBLITZEN wrote a very lengthy manifesto and I read every page of it in one sitting.  Many of his ideas are similar to my own and I even caught myself abandoning some of my own wishlist items in favor of his.  Not that any of this makes a bit of difference because the Developers will do what they need to do.  It was nice to see a vision that so closely matched my own.  TWO-STEP also qualified as a candidate who would represent my interests well, but he wasn't quite the clear cut match that Jagerblitzen was.
  • Who will provide the most comic relief:  Really, this was an afterthought.  But it also occured to me that sometimes the issues the CSM and CCP deal with are far too serious.  MINTROLIO reminds me that this is, afterall, a game and his style would go a long way to difusing some of the tension.
In the end, I cast both of my votes for HANS JAGERBLITZEN because I feel very strongly that he has some very useful ideas, communicates those ideas very well, and listens closely to what people have to say.  Those are very important qualities in a candidate.  TWO-STEP did not receive my votes, and for that I am very sorry.  TWO-STEP deserves to be re-elected and I happily endorse his candidacy.  MINTROLIO, keep poasting pleez.



Good Luck to all the candidates, but especially Hans and Two-Step.

EDIT:  I read some of the other blogs and forum posts prior to, during, and after writing this post.  This will be an exciting election!  It seems that EVE players have awoken to the importance of CSM - no doubt in response to events over last summer.  I'm particularly excited to see the support Hans Jagerblitzen has and Poetic Stanziel made a good observation:  with the number of votes being cast in this election, the bloc candidates aren't automatically assured a seat.  Candidates must have an appeal beyond their block.  That is very good news indeed for candidates like Hans, and must be a little frightening to The Mittani.

Also, CCP should be paying very close attention to this election.  The enthusiasm for the elections and who the players are voting for should send a very strong signal to CCP that they need to listen to their customers more attentively and to the aspects of the game that need attention.  If this election doesn't provide an outline for next summer's expansion, CCP will have missed the message (AGAIN).

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Update your Clone!

I've had this drilled into my head since I started playing EVE three years ago.  This weekend, I came face to face with the possibility of losing skill points, skill points that I've been carefully accumulating and patiently waiting on.

I went on a bombing run organized by someone from the incursion community.  (Sorry, I forget the name at the moment).  About an hour in after our first attack, my HUD went red.  Twice.  (Damn bubbles).  I found myself back in hi-sec conveniently near one of the trade hubs where I quickly rebuilt my bomber and headed back to the fight.  In my haste, I forgot to update my clone.

My deficient clone didn't hinder me from my solo trek across 15 or so null/low sec jumps.  In fact, it wasn't until our second bombing raid, when my HUD went red again, that I realized that I'd forgotten something.  I made it out in my pod, but our FC didn't.  We were left to make our own way back across hostile territory.

I charted a course back.  The course I chose was not the most direct, but avoided some gate camps that we'd seen earlier.  I warped from gate-to-planet-to-planet-to-gate and avoided a couple of gangs until I reached the low/null boundary system.  The sovereignty here was being disputed and the current occupiers were camping the gate and had it clumsily bubbled.

I warped around and created a few safe spots.  Unfortunately, none of my safe spots were in d-scan range of gate (for that matter, nothing was in d-scan range of the gate).  At this point, I started to wonder how many skill points I was going to lose. 

Then it occured to me that I have a utility alt that I trained specifically for this type of situation!  I logged him in, put him into an empty but updated clone, and headed out to resuce Crash in a cloaky probing ship.  I easily crossed the mostly empty low sec regions.  When I came to the last jump, I took a deep breath and activated the gate. 

It was camped, of course, by half a dozen various ships.  Interestingly, my ship ended up outside the bubbles.  I broke cloak, aligned to the nearest planet, cycled MWD, and engaged the covert ops cloak.  But instead of warping to the planet, I changed course and headed straight down.  A couple of the intercepters took the bait and headed to the planet I was aligned to.  (I'm not sure what they were hoping to accomplish; I could have been at any of the belts, or moons for that matter, around the planet and cloaked on top of that.)

As I said, these guys were not particularly proficient at putting up warp disruption bubbles.  I made my way around the bubbles until I found a spot where the bubble provided minimal coverage over the gate, dropped a book mark, then warped to one of Crash's safe spots.  I logged Crash back in, warped to my alt, traded ships with him, and cloaked.  I warped my alt to the gate bookmark I created earlier.  Of course, the intercepters immediately headed toward me, but I was far enough away that it didn't matter.  I warped from the bookmark directly to the gate and found myself within activation distance!  My alt jumped through and proceeded back home.  Crash followed closely behind, his skill points protected only by a thin cov ops hull. 

Lesson learned:  Update your Clone!  AND Use the resources that are available to you. 

PS.  A corpmate would have been handy in this situation; anyone recruiting (50m intact sp toon looking for new opportunities here!)?  Also, use situations like this as a learning opportunity.  Finally, this was the most fun I've had in Null sec in a very long time (and thats just sad.)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Blog Banter #33: The Capsuleer Experience

I read CCP Legion's DevBlog the other day and started to compose a forum post, but my response was lengthy.  Since Seismic Stan turned the question into a topic for blog banter, I decided this was a far more appropriate place to post those ideas. 

EVE has the most unusual new player experience of any game I've ever played.  CCP drops new players into the game in a useless ship, with practically no isk, no skills, a couple of chat windows with players that laugh at you when your ship blows up, and a few dozen tutorial missions to get you acquainted with the game.  Is it any wonder that only a handful of people who share CCPs sense of humor would continue beyond the tutorials?
But wait!  Now that you've endured the tutorials and have 10s of thousands of isk, a handfull of the most useless ships in EVE and no skills to speak of, you get to grind for months in the most monotonous PVE environments before you can make enough isk to pay for your first battle-worthy combat ship.  Soon after that comes the realization that support skills are more important than the skills that let you undock in a battleship followed by 6 more months of training and grinding missions.  Finally, 9 months after your 14-day trial expired, you reach the magical confluence of knowledge, skills, and wealth to take your first cruiser into low-sec (at which point you promplty lose it to the gate guns!)  A year in, your character is breaking 25m skill points, you have access to some of the more advanced ships and modules and you only have to spend about half of your time grinding isk to pay for your losses, you can finally start to enjoy the game!  Is it any wonder that the vets think that since they had to endure it, all the noobs should also?  Is it any wonder that if a player can endure the first two years of EVE that they're unlikely to quit?  Most importantly, is it any wonder that most players who try EVE don't make it past their 14-day trials?
Ok, you already know all that:  we've all already endured it.  What to do about it?

I.  Introduce a new tutorial system.  The new tutorial system is abbreviated, context sensitive, and happens almost entirely outside of mission space.  Yes, you will still have to grind rocks.  Yes, you will still have to hunt a few rats.  You will also get a lesson on how to adjust your overview settings and how to use the directional scanner.  You may even be assigned to melee missions with other players to introduce players to the concepts of aggression timers and PVP.  Also, Aurora should coach new players through the stereo system of your rookie ship rather than via tex messages.
II.  Re-invent the NPC corporation.  New pilots should not be assigned to a new corporation right away.  Aurora, having learned about the new pilots play style, assigns the pilot to smaller player corporations based on the pilots preferred language, when the pilot is most likely to be active, and what the player seems to like most.  The new NPC corp has an NPC CEO who assigns missions (both group and solo objectives - see III) and declares war on other NPC corporations.  Gradually, as the player and corp matures, the NPC CEO becomes a less active until he/she resigns his post, and either assigns the CEO role to the most active candidate, opens elections, or merges the corporation with another NPC Corporation (in case the NPC corporation is too small or inactive).

III.  Abandon missions for organic objectives that are more consistent with the player/corporations' objectives.  Missions haven't changed significantly in the three years that I've been playing EVE and frankly, they're boring, outdated, and create a class of players that are commonly referred to as 'carebears'.  There will always be miners, industrialists, marketeers, explorers, and mission runners, but new players should at least be introduced to the non-pve career paths.  This is an opportunity for some creativity.  Think pirate NPC corps, FW NPC corps, Sovereign NPC corps.

IV.  Accelerate new player development.  I think its unreasonable to expect a new player to play the game for an entire year before they get their first solo kill mail.  At month one, a new pilot should be able to fly a frigate with 90% of the ships maximum capabilities.  By month 6, a new pilot should be able to fly a battlecruiser with 90% of its maximum capabilities.  Some of the core fitting skills should be automatically acquired and acquired in tandem with development of ship and weapons skills.  To balance the new skill acquisition, the more advanced ships should be tougher to get into.

The new player experience as it stands is flat, boring, and out of date.  If this is a players first experience with EVE, its no wonder they leave so quickly.   The new player experience should be tantalizing enough so that he will endure steep learning curve, the long skill queues and the isk grind to realize the depth and immersion of one of the best MMOs around.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Hans Jagerblitzen - Turning the Tables

I've been reading a lot of candidate statements and old forum posts in the last few weeks.  Most of the candidates statements have no substance to them.  Also, it seems that the null sec alliances are extending their meta game to CSM. 

Most of the really important mechanics in EVE are broken and CCP is going to have to step up their game this year.  CSM7 will have to present a vision to CCP of how the game should look or we'll be stuck with an expansion similar to Dominion.  (Dominion is proof that the developers don't actually play their own game).  When I review a candidate, I'm looking for that vision.  Its unlikely that CCP will implement all of the ideas of all of the candidates.  Its not even likely that they adopt most of the ideas; CCP likes to come up with their own solutions.  But CSM has an opportunity to guide CCP in very specific directions and the vision of CSM candidates give folks like me a sense of what that direction is.

Hans Jagerblitzen did just that.  He made the effort to write some of his thoughts down in a 'manifesto'.  Though he bills himself as an "Empire Candidate" he is no carebear.  His manifesto presents some ideas about how to restore the war dec and bounty system, how to reinvigorate low-sec, and most important (for me) how to bring some balance back empire pvp.  He is not one of those griefers you see on the forums whining that  Empire is too safe, nor is he a carebear advocating rainbows and ponies.  His vision is fair and balanced and, if implimented, would go a long way toward freshening up Empire life.

Why should you vote for him? 

  • Empire residents:  He's got your back.
  • Faction Warfare:  He's one of you!
  • Low-sec Pirate:  You want more targets, right?
  • Griefers:  some of you may enjoy prey that fights back.  Tear collectors should vote for someone else.
  • Null Sec/WH Residents:  This plan offers a bridge between Empire residency and Null residency.  Seriously, some of the null bloc solutions I've seen will more likely to cause an empire resident to unsub than to move to null.  Null needs more cannon fodd...erm combat pilots and CCP needs more subs.  This guy knows what he's talking about and you can spare a seat at the table for him.
  • Industrialist:  Sorry Indy's....I don't share enough of your perspective to be able to tell you how this plan will work for you.
So we've established that Hans has a vision, but he has some hurdles he has to overcome.  A) He doesn't have a lot of exposure - yet.  CSM7 is too important for you to vote for a candidate who won't get a seat.  That being said, HE IS WORTHY OF YOUR SUPPORT! At the very least, he has the opportunity here to change the focus of the discussion.  B)  If (when) elected, he will likely be surrounded by delegates who are louder and have a different agenda.  He needs overwhelming support to legitmize his campaign.  MAKE IT HAPPEN!

I'll be following Hans's candidacy closely here.  He's got my interest and he really deserves yours.

Here are some usefull links if you want to show your support or learn more:

Blog:  http://hansshotfirst.blogspot.com/
Manifesto:  http://dl.eve-files.com/media/1202/Hans_Jagerblitzen_for_CSM7.pdf
Candidacy Announcement:  https://forums.eveonline.com/default.aspx?g=posts&t=66900&find=unread

EDIT:  Hans's candidacy announcement clearly shows that he has the support, his platform is legitimate, and he is electable.  Go for the Chair, Hans!

Saturday, February 11, 2012


Dovinian opened his candidacy with a short introduction about his RL character.  He's young and married with no kids....yet.  The next important point to me is the fact that he joined EVE a few years prior, but left because the game was too complicated and had too few resources for him to get a firm grasp.  I can certainly relate to that.  I assume that since he mentioned the new player experience, that this is one area that he's interested.  He also mentioned that he thought that the POS and corporation management interfaces need some attention....Indeed they do.

His introduction was followed by a long list of Dreddit (the corporation to which he belongs) members endorsing his candidacy and a few Goons sprinkled in for good measure.  Most of the thread, however, was about 'beeping'.  The thread was apparently locked by a Developer, and then unlocked after which the discussion about 'beeping' continued.

Dreddit and TEST Alliance are primarily null sec outfits.  Null Sec interests are well represented throughout the list of candidates and, unfortunately, Dovinian did not distinguish himself. 

I didn't bother to look beyond Dovinian's candidacy post for insights because I don't take his candidacy seriously.  I will, of course, keep an open mind.

Good luck Dovinian.

Alekseyev Karrde

Alekseyev is the second CSM candidate that I'll review here.  I've read his candidacy post which is mirrored on his blog

Focus:  Mercenary experience.
Secondary Focus: War Declaration mechanics, small gang PVP
Tertiary focus:  broken game mechanics.

The Good: 

Member of Noir., a well known and respected mercenary corporation.  I haven't had any business with Noir. directly.  I may have ended up on some of their kill mails, but I don't really pay attention to such things and I certainly wouldn't hold that against them.  What is important is that I've heard of them and this is important because any viable candidate has to have some brand recognition. 

Member of CSM4:  This guy's been there before, he knows the players and he knows the process.  Experience is invaluable and he has already established relationships with CCP developers (for better or worse).

Platform:  War Declaration mechanics are indeed broken.  War declarations are far too easy to evade, and have little or no impact or consequence to the game.  If the war dec function was removed from EVE, I don't think anyone would notice.  That being said, Alekseyev didn't mention how he'd like to see the mechanic fixed (more later).

The Bad:

Area of Play:  Mercenary corporations operate in a small niche of EVE that was created as an indirect consequence of other mechanics in the game.  That in itself isn't bad, but the Mercenary experience is a very small aspect of EVE that affects only a handful of players.  Of course fixing the war dec mechanics is important to a mercenary corporation like Noir.  Unfortunately this platform alone is far too narrow to support another merc bloc candidate.

Over representation:  Selene and Elise apparently represent the Mercenary bloc on CSM6.  Selene has already announced and won a position on the CSM7 ballot.  Elise has not.   If Alekseyev's platform was a bit wider and if he had addressed a wider range of issues, I would have dismissed his association with the merc bloc as a non issue. Even one seat going to a single candidate with a focus on war dec mechanics and the mercenary experience is over representing that small group of players.

Specifics:  Alekseyev offered very few specifics in his candidacy announcement.  What's clear is that he wants to fix war dec mechanics, but he hasn't presented any vision for what his solution would look like.  I realize that CCP likes to come up with their own solutions to problems.  I think that the candidates idea of a solution is an important indication of how he will frame his argument. 

Communications:  A few questions were posted in Alekseyev's  announcement.  None were answered.  We already have too many non-responsive CSM members.

History:  A search of forum posts by Alekseyev yielded three posts, one of which was his announcement.  Apparently Noir. was involved in a dispute with another corporation over the terms of a contract.  The posts yielded no insight into this candidate's perspective.

Conclusion:  At this time I can not support Alekseyev for CSM7. While I agree with his assessment about war dec mechanics and I personally admire Noir., Alekseyev's platform is too narrow to deserve a seat on CSM7.

Good Luck, Alekseyev.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Character counts

As I mentioned in a previous post, I'm starting to research the candidates for CSM7.  First and foremost, I will not be supporting anyone associated with the Goons.  I never really cared for The Mittani's snarky posts, his gamesmanship, or his ego.  I'm really not sure what he did on CSM6 or what his role was in resolving last summers standoff between CCP and its customers.  His role on CSM6 is unimportant to me; I don't like the guy.

I read this forum post.  The condensed version is that some poor noob got scammed while applying for membership with Goonwaffe.  Apparently this guy thought it was reasonable to pay billions of isk for the opportunity to apply to Mittani's corporation.  That was stupid.  Goonwaffe is renowned for this kind of scamming and openly brags about it.  In fact, this is the second post of this sort I've seen in the last few weeks.  Goonwaffe has no integrity.  Pay special attention to this post in that same thread by The Mittani.  Notice The Mittani's CSM label under his name and above the name of his Corporation. 

If you elect a scammer to CSM, you're asking to be misrepresented.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Blog Banter 32

"A quick view of the Eve Online forums can always find someone complaining about being suicide ganked, whining about some scam they fell for or other such tears. With the Goons' Ice Interdiction claiming a vast amount of mining ships there were calls for an "opt out of PvP" option. Should this happen? Should people be able to opt-out of PvP in Eve Online? Should CONCORD prevent crime rather than just handing out justice after the event? Or do the hi-sec population already have too much protection from the scum and villainy that inhabits the game?"

I am not a fan of tears because they usually accompany whinning and my knee jerk reaction to such whinning is almost always HTFU/GTFO.  That being said, there seems to be an awful lot of tears both from players who are being griefed and from gankers who get their jollies from blowing up targets that are incapable of fighting back.

The quick answer to this questions is: NO, there should be no pvp opt-out flag in EVE.  Combat is an important part of the game; it makes game play dynamic, challenging, and fun. PVP, in whatever form it takes, is an essential part of internet spaceships.

That being said, EVE is NOT about PVP.  Eve is about empire building. This is very important because the activities that go into building an empire is what makes EVE such a rich and immersive environment.  Some of those elements include industrial production, commerce, diplomacy, resource allocation (control), and yes, military conquests.  Also, its worth noting that the most economically productive areas in RL are those that are secure, relatively risk free, and stable.  That's what an empire should strive to achieve. 

In EVE, stability is achieved somewhat artificially in High Security space, hence the attractiveness of those areas.  Some areas of Null Sec space have also achieved this level of security for its members, but lets not kid ourselves:  residence of those areas are as risk adverse as the so called 'carebears'.  They dwell in areas that are protected by honey bees rather than Concord.  Some players have sought out the isolated and easily controllable pockets of wormhole space.  Seeking a stable and secure place within EVE is a completely reasonable endeavor.

In my humble opinion, the PVP mechanics are working as intended.


The December meeting of CSM6 is over which means two things:  a)  CSM6's influence over CCP extends only as far the likelihood of the individual candidates' incumbency, and b) its time to start looking around at the field of potential candidates. Fortunately, CCP seems to be heading in the right direction and I doubt that CSM6 will be called upon between now and elections to stand between CCP and its customers. In the meantime, its time to start researching candidates for CSM7, explore my own feelings about the direction of the game, and figure out who will best represent my feelings during the following year.

This will be the first year that I vote for a CSM candidate and I'm excited about that.  I joined EVE during CSM4 and wasn't even aware of the existence of CSM.  As I recall, it wasn't until the pop-up on the log-in screen announcing the election of CSM5 that I became aware of it.  I closed the pop-up without any further thought and didn't think about it further until I saw the posts in forums about "18 Months" and the development of Incarna.  Still, I had no opinion and no reason to vote for CSM6 candidates.

Then the shit hit the fan last summer.  Ordinarily, I don't let myself get worked up over a video game.  A confluence of events that had nothing to do with Incarna, events which occurred both in game and in real life, made me realize how much I enjoy the game and that EVE was worth getting angry about.  I was one of the players that shot at the statue in Jita.  I was one of the players that posted in threadnaughts.  I was one of the players that unsubscribed and biomassed my character.  To be frank, CSM6 still wasn't on my radar when this was all happening.

However, in the few months that I played Perpetuum Online, it occurred to me that CSM would/should have been ideally suited to communicate the anger and frustration of players like myself to CCP.  I started paying closer attention to posts from CSM members.  I started reading blogs.  Most important, I started forming an opinion about individual CSM6 delegates.  Two delegates stood out:  White Tree and Two-Step.

This year, I will actively participate in the CSM7 elections.  In the coming months, I will research a few of the incumbents' positions, I will pay closer attention to players that I think would make good candidates, and I will discuss CSM7 with anyone who engage me in a discussion. By election time, I will have an informed opinion and I will try to rally as many players to support the candidates that deserve a free trip to Iceland.

Comments, opinions, debate and discussion are welcome and appreciated.