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Friday, September 30, 2011

Thursday, September 29, 2011

It's all about fecundity.

"Intelligence is a valuable thing, but it is not usually the key to survival. Sheer fecundity ... usually counts. The intelligent gorilla doesn't do as well as the less intelligent but more-fecund rat, which doesn't do as well as the still-less-intelligent but still-more-fecund cockroach, which doesn't do as well as the minimally-intelligent but maximally-fecund bacterium."
— Isaac Asimov
'Fifty Million Big Brothers'. The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (Nov 1978), 55, No. 5, 93.
 I've pondered lately, as I realign my PI facilities, what's driving CCP's decisions. If you listen to the players, CCP should concentrate on pleasing the existing base. Failure to do so could result in a tremendous loss of revenue. I read recently on Seleene's Sandbox the following quote from a long time EVE player which seems to support this belief,
"You get to a point where you wonder if you're going to see anything new in the game you've played for so long. I don't think that I am, which is why my last paid subscription runs out 12 October. When I say I want something to do, I mean I want something else to do. Going on ops and doing the same thing I've done countless times before isn't the be all end all for me. EVE used to evolve along with its players and that's just not happening anymore."
However, I feel this is anecdotal at best. We all know that games don't last forever - regardless of marketing hype. What is the cause of that demise? Does failing to create new content for existing players really kill the game?

We have some hard data on accounts and log-ins for EVE. Jester has done a huge amount of work on this. You can find that excellent work here. They are indeed ugly curves Jester. But is Incarna the cause are merely the justification?

At Fanfest 2009 we got some real numbers for CCP subscriptions. Here is what Ten Ton Hammer reported back then as EVE's demographic:

95% of account holders are male
28 years old - average age
76 years old - oldest confirmed active player
20% of 2004's first month subscribers are still playing
That is somewhat alarming. There are no generation millennial to speak of. Half the population is absent. Women are just not interested except for a few notables. Why is that? According to mckimmins on that same Ten Ton Hammer article is was because of this:
"My wife likes to game a bit with me and we play lotro together. I cannot get her to even try Eve though. She says that since she cannot creat a pretty avatar and dress her up that she has absolutely no interest in the game." -- mckimmins
Now, all EVE veterans that I know about would scoff at dressed up avatars. I imagine they'd pony right up to CCP's bar an shout, "This is a game of Internet Spaceships damn it! We don't want no stinkin' Barbie fun house sorta game CCP!" Isn't that what they've been doing since Incarna? Wasn't that the point of shooting up Jita like some old Wild West cowboy all-night drunk?

When I look at demographics like the ones above, I get worried. I want EVE to last forever. There's a lot of potential customers missing from the figures given above. There must have been a lot of questions flying around CCP Corporate. Of all those accounts, how many are alts? If we lose a subscriber due to RL issues how many accounts to be lose? How many accounts are less than 2 years old? What is the account retention rate? How does that compare with the ratios in 2007? What about now? Are unique accounts diminishing? How do we tap into the 50% of the population that won't even try the game without pretty dresses?

This is how Incarna came to be. I think it was originally supposed to be done concurrently with ongoing EVE development. Then the recession hit - hard. CCP had to make a decision. Where do the resources go? Do we continue EVE development while we watch multi-account users drop off slowly as they lose their jobs? Or, do we go after the untapped markets? If we go after an untapped market, which one?

CCP needs their account base to multiply like bacterium. It's all about account fecundity. Eve is the intelligent gorilla. It needs to be the bacterium.

Frankly, generation millennial has very little money. My son is of that generation and doesn't pay me rent - 'nuf said. That is a poor market by all definitions of the word. Then there is the finer sex. They have money just like their hubbies and sig-others. They have time. They form social cliques and when one joins others follow. But there are no pretty dresses... there are no pink spaceships...

Guess what CCP decided to do?

Fly careful.

P.S.: Dust514 is for generation millennial. Free-to-Play is just right for them. They have no steady income, but when my son does get money he still doesn't pay me rent. He gets another tattoo. That's the RL equivalent of a micro-transaction. Think about it.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Finders keepers.

To go with my maxed exploration skills I also brought recon ships to level IV. This allowed me to finally fit Peeping Tom the way I really wanted. Here he is!

I was especially pleased that I got two (2) large shield extenders wedged into the superstructure - especially since he has no armaments of which to speak. At least I'd not be alphaed - probably.

Today was the day I had time to take Peeping Tom out with his new fit for a test cruise. Unfortunately there haven't been many sights lately in my scanning window. Today was no different. All I came up with of note was another unstable wormhole. "What the hell," I thought. "I'm here to test Peeping Tom aren't I?" I warped to the wormhole.

A quick check of the database showed this to be a class 5. "I don't remember ever visiting a class 5," I said to myself. I headed on through.

On the other side I quickly brought up d-scan. This was a small system, I could see it all on the d-scan. It wasn't empty of capsuleer activity. There were POS modules and three ships on the results. But something was very odd too. The three ships, they were rookie ships. "Who the hell runs around a class 5 in rookie ships?" I asked Aura. "Please restate the interrogative," Aura replied.

"Never mind, I'll find out myself." It took no time at all to find the moon the three ships were near. It was the same moon as the POS. Staying cloaked, I warped to a safe distance from the moon to have a look. All three ships were hanging in space like they had nothing better to do.

Then I noticed there were no blue pretty blue spheres anywhere. I'd never seen a wormhole POS without pretty blue spheres. In fact, I was convinced all wormhole residences basically had chronic blue balls. I took a closer look at the station hardware.

"There's something you don't see every day," I mumbled. Ever the suspicious type, I figured it had to be a trap. Being a carebear, I decided I needed a lot more reassurance that it wasn't. I hadn't seen any other ships on d-scan bit that didn't mean there weren't cloakies like my around.

I decided I need to gather more information. I setup a safe spot and launched probes. I needed to test all of Peeping Tom's systems. Scanning down all the anomalies in the system would do that. It would also show me if the system was inhabited or not. I got down to work testing the ship and an hypothesis I was starting to formulate.

The first thing I hit was a big ladar signature. I soon had it pinpointed, and since I'd never seen a wormhole ladar site, I warped to it.

It was very beautiful!

However, I don't have a gas mining ship so this site would go unmolested. I returned to my safe and continued scanning. I found several more ladar sites, several more wormholes, and then I got a more interesting option.

"Forgotten hey," I said to no one. I decided to have a look.

"Forgotten my ass." One of these days, I'll have a go at these Sleepers. But that day was not today. I went back to my safe to ID the last few anomalies on my scan. Two of them were wormholes, making 5 total in addition to the one I'd come in through. I couldn't believe there was no other ships in the system. I'd seen absolutely no other probes. It was hard to believe but it was true.

The last anomaly I scanned down was a radar site. I needed to check it out too.

"Unsecured looks promising but knowing these damn Sleepers there're still automatics there."

"Affirmative," Aura said unasked. I ignored her. As I approached the site under cloak my suspicions were proven correct.

"Too bad," I muttered. But it was not a complete loss. My hypothesis had become an unproven theory. In more than an hour of scanning, I'd seen absolutely no evidence that this system had an active capsuleer population - of any sort. All of the Sleeper defenses were still intact. None of the anomalies looked to have been touched. If there was a capsuleer presence in this class 5, it was a very, very lazy one.

"I think someone forgot to pay their bills Aura," I said.

"Insufficient data to confirm," she replied.

"For now," I said. "Set a course back to our entry wormhole - 0 km distance. Let's put the theory to a test shall we?"

I got back to station and swapped Peeping Tom for Cab-over Pete, my Occator. He's a tough nut and hard to pin down. I figured I'd take those station modules out one at a time and see if anyone objected. I'd start with the warp disruptors just in case someone was waiting to online them. Yeah, I know, I'm paranoid. But hey, it's me.

I made my first run with heart racing. I warped to the moon; made a couple bookmarks. Then I warped to safe, turned around and dropped in at zero on the first warp disruptor module.

This was the critical moment in testing my theory. If some cloaky had been watching and waiting, I was certain they'd make their move as I maneuvered to scoop the module into my cargo hold. Nothing happen. I turned for the wormhole and was jumping back through it before I realized I'd been holding my breath.

I took a huge gulp of air as I checked the wormhole's stability. It was still solid. I dropped the module at the station and warped back for another. For the next 90 minutes I did a rinse, lather and repeat. No one ever showed up. I never saw another probe in system. I  got everything.

The total haul was about 35 million ISK. All it cost me were a few grey hairs. Not bad for my first outing with my newly refit Arazu. To those who forgot to pay the bills, yes, I know who you are. I found some logs when I scanned the Ibis. I hope you don't take offense but... finders keepers.

Fly careful.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Reminders of acquaintances long missing.

I recently got all my exploration skills (Elite certificates for Cartography and Field Technician) completed and I've been aching for a little extra time to take Space Ghost for a spin. I finally got the chance last night.

There wasn't much of note in the old home system unfortunately. There were three combat sites and one wormhole. Slogging through rats has never been my idea of fun (Incursions excepted) so I warped near the wormhole. I'm always happy to check one of those out just to see who might be on the other side.

According to the database this was a class 3. It might be interesting so I headed through. On the other side I was greeted by a pink star and a system that was fairly mundane for a wormhole. I brought up the the directional scan and found lots but nothing close. I aligned toward the star to stay under cloak and began to have a look at the details of the scan. It was a busy system.

Mad science hey? These seemed to be wormhole residents after my own heart. Looks like they were trying to get rich on boosters, a profitable if not virtuous occupation. I've no quarrel with it, to each their own I always say - so long as you don't shoot at me. I tend to take that personal.

I wanted to have a look at the POS but needed know how active the system was first. No sense causing a three alarm if you know what I mean. I'd seen ships on the scan. I selected a different overview and isolated them.

Three industrials and three battleships. After watching them awhile, I could tell at least some of the capsuleers were active. I K162'd out of the system and left them to their work.

I may have to do some investigating on the corp tag I saw. I've some acquaintances, nominally carebears like myself, that took off for WS over a year ago and I've not heard from them since. I'm sure their out there making tons of ISK. I don't know what corp they dock with now. Who knows, perhaps I'll run into them some day.

Fly careful.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Getting to the root of GPU overheating.

TL;DR Reduce your video resolution if you want quality or change to Optimized for Performance if you want dual monitors (or high resolution like 1080p.)

We've all read the reports of GPU melt-downs due to Incarna. There was even a somewhat sideways admission by CCP that such issues might exist. However, we've not had (to my knowledge) pictures of slagged video cards directly attributable to Incarna. However, I have personal knowledge of how Incarna heats up my #1 Nvidia GTX 580 - more than any other game in my library.

Since I recently posted about my cooling system failure, you can understand I'm a little sensitive about heat issues now. In fact, when the system got back to me they'd also replaced the mother board and both video cards (I can't say enough good things about Cyberpower PC for this) because if reliability issues. One of the first things I did when I got it turned on was download better temp (CPU and GPU) monitoring software. I decided on a neat little Windows 7 gadget called GPU Meter.

So, as I sat the other day in my Captain's Quarters and watched my GPU temp hit 86C (97C is max operating temp) I started wondering why and how could I mitigate it. I undocked and watched as my GPU utilization dropped by more than 50% and the GPU temperature dropped accordingly. I docked. My GPU went to 99% utilization and its temp started to go up quickly. Indeed, Incarna seems guilty as charged. But what is a capsuleer to do?

Before I could decide what needed done, I needed data on which to base my decision. My scientific bent kicked in. I started changing parameters in EVE and captured the affect each had on my GPU. Here are the results of those tests.

Here is how I normally play EVE - 3200x1200.
These are the settings I run under.
This is a fairly high end system. I purchased it 5 months ago and it was state of the art then. I don't run it overclocked. Frankly, I've found no reason to do that. It handles everything with ease. Even EVE runs well though Incarna heats the GPU a lot. Here are the GPU stats running in this mode.

Notice the temp and GPU usage while I do nothing.
So the first thing I noticed here (besides the scorching temp) was that the fan was only running at 60%. At more than 80C I expected the fan to work harder. Then it hit me. I hadn't reinstalled the EVGA Precision control software for my video cards. Once I got that installed, I configured the fan control thusly.

Make the fan work 10% harder every 10 degrees until it hits 90 and then max.
After activating the Precision fan controls my GPU fan immediately jumped to 80%. The temperature began to drop.

System better... well, at least not getting hotter.
This pretty much resolved my heat issue. However, I still had unanswered questions. For instance, why was Incarna driving my GPU so hard when I was doing nothing. I get the whole polygonal thing, etc. I know the game has to constantly refresh the screen and that with certain graphics modes, blah, blah, blah. That's all great. None of it really answers why the GPU screams in Captains Quarters and gets positively mellow after launch.

As I thought about the differences I was reading the latest Incursion update. That's when it hit me. Captains Quarters is a very active place. Even though I wasn't doing anything my display panel most certainly was! My basic premise of nothing happening was flawed. With that realization, I began to wonder if it was possible to scale all that activity back. I began quality settings.

The first thing I did was turn off Physically Simulated Cloth and Hair. I was certain the simulating that level of detail would account for a large portion of the GPU utilization. Man, was I wrong.

Physical Simulation off.
Turning off the Physical Simulation caused my GPU to nearly have a stroke. The temperature jumped 5 degrees in less than that many seconds. My utilization hit 99% and stuck. It was, as Spock would say, fascinating. Evidently I was getting assistance from either my second GTX 580 (not shown on the other meter I had running) of the CPU was doing the calculations (possible as I have an i&-2600K.) I quickly turned Physical Simulation back on. That was certainly not the route I wanted to go.

Next I took a look at the affects the three settings for Physical Simulation had on the GPU. These settings are high, medium and low, which is mostly a duh. My standard setting is Physical Simulation on and set at high. You've seen that above. Here are the results for medium and low.

Physical Simulation Medium Quality

Physical Simulation Low Quality
As you can see, there is most certainly a positive result running at less than high. However, there really was no appreciable difference between medium and low. Both gave the same benefit in GPU utilization reduction and thus heat production.

After seeing the benefits of reducing quality, I decided to see what CCP's optimization routine came up with. There are three choices when you click the Optimize Settings button under Graphic Content Settings. They correspond to optimizations for quality, memory usage and performance. Naturally, performance scales bat quality for speed. I picked it. Here are the settings EVE chose.

Optimized for Performance
And, here is what my GPU meter had to say about it.

Optimized for Performance
Now that is a serious difference in GPU utilization! It seems that CCP does have a built in method for dealing with the video issues reported on the forums, etc. Nevertheless, capsuleers have to sacrifice the fine details to get it. Frankly, my Captain's Quarters looked like crap at these settings. At one point, I even went invisible in a way that would make Roc Wieler green with envy.

I can haz hair?
So, if you can live with settings this low it will probably resolve your overheating issues. Still, I didn't like it. I play EVE in part because it IS beautiful - even Captain's Quarters. I want all of the gorgeousness that is EVE. There had to be another solution.

There was. I run in 3200x1200 mode because I have two monitors. I put all my open windows on the right and leave the left monitor open to gorgeous vistas. CCP even put a camera offset into EVE to facilitate this. Thank you CCP. But, back to the other solution. If Incarna at 3200x1200 drives my GPU at 100%, what would it do at half that resolution? So I made the change. After all, I'd just finished three (3) weeks of playing on a single monitor using my M11x.

EVE as it was - 1600x1200.
And the meter says?


In fact, I took this test a step further. I turned off my Precision fan control and went back to the driver default. Here is what the meter looked like after I made the adjustment.

Just as Laaaaazzyyyyy.
And after 10 minutes?

Still Laaaaazzyyyyy.
Half the resolution translates into half the load. That's logical isn't it? Now, if CCP would follow through on their promised revamp of the UI, it wouldn't be such a hard pill to swallow. I've gotten very used to having a very wide cockpit window in my pod. Part of me wants to say I shouldn't have to go backwards to go forward. Is that an unreasonable expectation?

So there you have it. I can't tell you in precise technical terms why Incarna has to use so much GPU at very high resolution. Suffice to say it does. I can't test this against other highly graphic programs. The ones I have actually force play on only one monitor. There is a curious question begged in that fact. Is this something CCP gives us in EVE beyond what other companies do? Shouldn't we acknowledge that? If this isn't so, I'd be very interested running tests like these against those other games that allow expanded monitors like EVE. If anyone knows of one, let me know. I'll check it out and report back. Until then...

Fly Careful.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Is CCP the victim of displacement?

I don't believe anyone can dispute that we are living in stressful times. The last several years have especially been hard on people all over the world. Let me recount some of the major issues, in no significant order, for those who may have been AFK:

  • Japan suffers a massively catastrophic natural disaster that creates the second worse nuclear accident in history.
  • The Arab Spring sees violence spread across the middle east resulting in civil disobedience, civil war and the toppling of some very long time governments.
  • Western economies continue to tack a shellacking. Austerity measures in England and Greece and the threat of austerity measures in Italy bring riots and chaos to the streets.
  • In the United States, fundamentalism sweeps into public office in 2010 in the guise of the Tea Party. The vulnerable economic recover falters as "no" becomes the new word for compromise.
  • Climate Change ramps up as the unprecedented melt-down of our planet continues.
  • Iceland votes to default on its debt obligations (I add this to show that CCP employees are also stressed by factors beyond their control.)
To say that tension levels are high is an understatement. None of us knows what's coming next. With all this turmoil and unhappiness in the world, I wonder how much of it gets shifted. We can't do anything about the uncertainty the envelopes us due to events beyond our control. However, we can shift our anxiety to more readily available targets that will actually respond to our need for acknowledgement.

Sigmund Freud called this Verschiebung. In English, psychologists call it displacement. Wikipedia defines it as,
In Freudian psychology, displacement (German Verschiebung, 'shift' or 'move') is an unconscious defense mechanism whereby the mind redirects affects from an object felt to be dangerous or unacceptable to an object felt to be safe or acceptable. The term originated with Sigmund Freud.
I think ranting at a dehumanized corporation would strike anyone as safe. In today's economic climate caused largely by corporate greed, it would also be very acceptable to to so. The article goes on to say,
Displacement operates in the mind unconsciously and involves emotions, ideas, or wishes being transferred from their original object to a more acceptable substitute.
Is it beyond belief that perhaps some, if not most, of the ire capsuleers are directing at CCP is misdirected? We are all unable to do anything about the calamities surrounding us. That is why we escape into EVE. But then, just when we thought we were safe from the tempests our daily lives have become, CCP seems to act like the very antagonists we are powerless to stop. They won't do as we want. They marginalize our desires and they mute our voices. And, since most of us won't riot in the streets, we riot in Jita.

If that doesn't take the term "sand box" to a new level, I don't know what does.

Next time you want to rage in the face of CCP, gauge your personal anxiety level before launching. It may not be CCP's behavior you are truly upset about. EVE is just a game. What does it really matter if we don't get a shiny new Internet spaceship every six months? Play the game for what it is, not what you think it should be. No one is cheating you out of anything besides make-believe ISK. Just chill. If you don't enjoy the game any more - leave. No one will forcibly stop you with tanks or bombs or freedom stealing "laws." And you'll be a lot happier for it. I guarantee.

Fly careful.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Blog Banter 28: "The Future of EVE Online, CCP and the CSM"

There are so many great responses to this so far that I cannot list them all here. For the complete list please look to the Blog Banter page at:

First a disclaimer, I am not pro-CCP or anti-CCP - beyond the fact that I love their game and will continue playing it until the bitter end if need be. What I say here, in a hopefully understandable manner, is more analytically than critical. There are plenty of critics and some even employ excellent analytics. But this is a thought experiment, not a rail-gun. It will be no where as exciting as sharks-with-freaking-laser-beams.

That said, let's begin the thought experiment. In your mind, go back in time to the beginning of the year. Incursion was just released. Smart Sansha slaves started showing up in all sorts of systems from hi-sec to null-sec. It was actually a very good expansion with something offered that players clamored for for years (smarter rats.) Though opinions vary greatly, this was an enormous expansion to the game and something the silent majority had wanted for quite some time (myself included.)

Now what? That is what CCP must have asked themselves over and over. In fact, they'd been asking themselves that very question for quite some time. T2, wormholes, incursions and all those FiS things were planned years in advance. How do I know? Because that is how business plans work the world over. It was all planned. So, now what?

What could CCP bring to the game that they had not already done? More null-sec? More smart NPCs? More wormholes? More ships? Sorry folks, that just doesn't work in the game industry or any industry. That is called "the status quo" and it is a story line to End Game. What else could they add to FiS?

Let's start with what EVE has:

  • spaceships (three different tech levels with mostly the same gear for them)
  • space stations (both NPC and player)
  • moons (moon goo)
  • planets (planetary industry, so much more than Farmville!)
  • advanced alien foes (Sansha)
  • arch rivals (read faction warfare)
  • private empires (read null-sec)
  • pirate havens (read low-sec)
  • "Beware: beyond here be monsters" (read worm holes and sleepers)
To be sure lots of this needs some "fixing" but what else does a space opera (which is what EVE is if you didn't know) need? Frankly, there isn't anything else. Think about it. Run through all the space operas you've ever watched or read about. Take ST:TNG for instance. Let's run through the list again:
  • spaceships (from NCC-1701D to the Borg cubes)
  • space stations (K-9 anyone, Farpoint Station (technically not but cool))
  • moons (several figured prominently)
  • planets (hundreds of them)
  • advanced alien foes (Hello, Borg! Oh, and don't forget Q.)
  • arch rivals (Klingons, Romulans and Ferengi, oh my!)
  • private empires (Do Orion slave traders count?)
  • pirate havens (more than a few rogues)
  • "Beware: beyond here be monsters" (the Delta quadrant, "The Traveller" episode.)
And there isn't much else is there? I think if you'd run this through any of the space operas, the list is fairly complete. So where else do you really expect CCP to go? Where else can EVE expand? If you think FiS will attract more players going into the future if it is simply made better, I think your wrong. How long until "been there, done that" trumps "wow, Internet spaceships?" If my years in gaming have shown me anything, it's that players are mostly in it for the new experience, not the same old experience with a new skin. The silent majority will bleed away more quietly than they played if all CCP did was the same ol' same ol'.

This thought experiment doesn't even begin to address the limitations the EVE platform placed on "fixing those things that need fixed." Having been around computers most of my life and making a living at it, IMO most of the "broken" things have their roots in what the developers can actually code. That's a platform limitation and a serious one. Remember the dev blog many months ago that discussed how Incarna lowers bandwidth consumption tremendously? That's the tip of the iceberg folks. Lag in massive fleet fights? Platform limitation. Limits on how many players can occupy a given system? Platform limitation. Just how much database power does it take to track 3 different technology levels and the redundant modules you find in all of them? That's a lot of platform people. Throwing hardware at it is expensive and won't work. I've seen that fail often enough to know better. The platform includes the software and that must change first. Software drives hardware. Together they make platform.

And CCP has been working on their platform. They have been working hard. They've made huge gains in database capabilities. The new Captain's Quarter's save lots of bandwidth. Moving off Python for anything is a huge gain. Think about all the incremental little wins they've had fighting the lag monster in fleet fights. There have been numerous hardware upgrades. CCP has not been complacent and not all their resources go to Dust 514 - not even close I think.

So now to the big question. Is EVE dying? Yes - and no. EVE is evolving. In every evolutionary step, the old creature type dies as the new creature type out competes it. It is the same process that occurs between species but it does not have the same result. In inter-species competition, one losses when the other wins. In evolution, there is no loser. In the end, there will be a new species similar but not the same as the old species. It will have kept the best of what it was and added what it needs to survive. The old species as it was will in fact have gone extinct. Standing in its place will be a somewhat similar looking, more upright tool user with an atlatl. That is the proper way of things. It is how species cheat entropy and it works. You are living proof of it.

So EVE must evolve. CCP knows this. They have been working on it for years. Yes, money is tight. This rotten economy was unexpected and they launched a major endeavor just before it hit. You should laud them that they went ahead with it anyway. That took balls, I'm telling you. They don't always communicate their intent well, but I believe their hearts are in the right place. I am willing to trust them. After all, it's only money.

So what of the CSM? I'll go back to the evolution analogy. It was recently discovered that two archaic human species, Neanderthal and Denisovan, contributed much to the immune system of non-African Homo Sapiens. Though those two archaic human species are extinct today (they failed to evolve,) they contributed significantly to most of your ancestor's survival. We carry there legacy within us now.

That is what the CSM must keep in mind. I feel its days as a separate species are numbered. It is both an asset and a liability to CCP. Lately it seems it is more liability than asset. It cannot survive in the current environment IMHO and most EVE players don't care about it (less than 1 in 5 even bothered to vote when it was made terribly easy to do so.) However, it can leave a legacy within what is to come. That won't happen if the CSM tries to fight CCP. They'll lose that fight for certain. As crude as it sounds, the CSM must mate with CCP. There, I've said it. I've carried the analogy too far. Stop giggling.

If the CSM really wants to help FiS survive, they need to help CCP understand how to bring those that love FiS together with those that love WiS. They have to embrace Incarna. They have to open the doors to their Captain's Quarters and breath deeply the stale, recycled air as they stand on their own two feet. Instead of pointing out everything that is wrong with Incarna and making ultimatums, they should wax poetic about what Incarna ought to be, what it can be, what it will be (credit to General Douglas MacArthur.) If the individual members cannot do that, then they should step aside. There are alternates who can. Sometimes politicians have to do what's right, instead of what their poorly informed and panicky electoral base wants. This is something Homo Sapiens evidently have a hard time learning and an even harder time accepting. But if the CSM wants EVE to survive, in whatever future form it takes, they must do it.

For those who love the EVE of yesterday and find the future I outline uncomfortable, just remember this: you are still an upright, tool-using, creative hominid of the genus Homo. We've changed a lot in the millions of years it's taken us to get to Internet spaceships, but we are still here. EVE as we know it now will be too, even after the DUST 514 settles.

Take heart! Fly careful.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Burned out on burnout.

While I was away taking a much needed week off (I just set my PI on automatic and let it run *grin* ,) I read that 00sage00 is leaving EVE for good. He primarily sited burnout as the reason. I wish him the best in school, etc.

But his farewell triggered an old, and I will say an unpleasant, feeling in me. It's a puzzle I've not been able to solve since I started playing MMORPs long, long ago. Ultima Online ago to be exact.

Why do people let themselves burnout?

Seriously, I don't get it. I'd understand if they say it no longer pleased them to play. That happened to me in Star Wars Galaxy. I could understand if they had an issue with the other players. In World of Warcraft, I got fed up with all the immaturity.

Yet I've seen people quit time and time again and claim burnout. Are they hiding their true reasons for leaving? I just don't know. I have to take their word at face value. But if I were honest with myself, and I must be, people leaving the game citing burnout is one of the biggest reasons I fly solo. I guess I've got abandonment syndrome or some such. I'll try and explain.

Ultima Online was a griefer's paradise. No gate camp in EVE ever came close or can come close to the grief camping that happened in UO. For the younger crowd, let me explain. Whenever you died, your "ghost" had to make it back to a specific spot to re-spawn. These spots were well known and there was no 20 second rule in the beginning. The griefers were always waiting. The minute you materialized, BANG, you were dead again. Rinse, lather and repeat. Then there were the city camps. They weren't nearly as bad as spawn camps but cities were the only place to get outfitted. If you escaped the one camp, there was always the other waiting.

The only lone-wolf in UO was a perma-ghost. To protect myself, I joined Crusaders of the Realms. I had many, many excellent adventures with them. When UO ceased to meet our needs, we went to Dark Age of Camelot and then to Asheron's Call. I made many friends and eventually became the Historian and maintained our web site.

But there was a down side not easily seen until it was too late. Friends departed permanently. My mentor, Jackwar, even left and I was sure he was forever. He seemed so steady and balanced. They almost to a person claimed burnout. It made little sense to me. I'd played as long as they. I'd played as often as they. Yet in the end, they all left and I remained.

It was a most melancholy experience to "stand" alone in what was once the bustling virtual center of guild activity. Virtual echos down empty halls are demoralizing. You eventually leave but only after the good memories metastasize into malignancy. It is an unpleasant condition and probably permanent.

Now I fly alone. I will never disappoint myself. I play when I can. I work when I must. I have other interests that help me stay balanced. Perhaps that is the key to it all. Don't let it become the only thing you do.

I can't say with certainty that happened to all those others, but I believe it did. We played long and we played often. They burned out because they were not balanced. We talk about work-life balance. Don't forget game-life balance too.

Fly careful.

OOC: I went to Glacier National Park for a hiking vacation. It was WAY better than any game... I'm just saying.