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Monday, April 29, 2013

Odyssey: The New Station Interiors

*** CORRECTION: These changes were released with Retribution 1.2 on May 6, 2013. Silly Mabrick: tricks are for CCP. Now I really want to know what CCP has in store for us with Odussey! ***

As promised, this is the first in a series of videos I will compile as CCP tests the Odyssey expansion on Singularity. So far, the only new content readily apparent are the new station interiors. I took a Talos and captured video of them for you. I hope you enjoy the quick peak at the new interiors.

One thing still missing is the new undock lights and sirens CCP Soundwave mentioned at Fanfest. I imagine they'll go in when the new gate effects go in. That just seems right.

Personally, I can't wait until CCP uploads the new scanning interfaces to Singularity. For some reason, I have this dreadful feeling they're going to go up last. That'd be par for the course. I'd ask CCP Soundwave to have a heart, but we all know where that'd get us. *LOL*

Fly Careful

Friday, April 26, 2013

Fanfest Keynote - It Really Has Been An Odyssey

I took an extra-long early lunch today and watched the Fanfest keynote on CCP's HD Twitch channel. Don't worry, I'll work extra next week to make up the time. I wrote that just in case my boss reads this. I've tried to talk him into playing Eve but he's got small children and way too much going on otherwise. At least that's the excuse he gives. I think he just doesn't want to get pwned. *LOL*

So here are some of the things that really got my attention on the keynote. But first, I'll start off the list with something CCP Soundwave said yesterday. He said he'd like to see POCOs in high-sec. Yes, that's right, he wants to see player owned customs offices in high-sec. He mentioned that they would also be vulnerable to player attack. You know, that's not a super new idea as it's been mentioned before but I'm glad to hear that it's not forgotten. I don't know if it'll ever come to be, but it is something I can support. After living in one wormhole or another these past eight months I think that would certainly make high-sec life more interesting. It'll give me more things to criticize the goons over. ;-)

So here are the items that caught my attention during the keynote address.
  • Null-sec stations (not POSes) equal to Empire Stations. I know this has been requested for a long time. We'll see what the "instigators" and "enablers" in null-sec do with it. I think this decidedly falls into the "you can lead a horse to water" situation.
  • Adjusting Mineral Composition and Asteroid Clusters. This will no doubt cause massive ripples in the Eve Economy as industrialists scramble to adjust their production lines. However, the idea of asteroid clusters is fascinating. Isn't that what a grav site is now? Obviously CCP has something else in mind and I am very interested to find out what.

    (Update: 13:30 - the companion dev blogs are out; no more gravimetric anomalies. "We will also be making a significant change to the way hidden asteroid belts will be found by players. We are phasing out the Gravimetric signature category, and instead pilots will be able to find all Ore Sites using their ship’s built-in anomaly scanning equipment. This change will make finding hidden belts much less difficult for both miners and for those who would prey on them, so pilots are always advised to practice vigilance.")
  • Ice Belts to Anomalies! This is a very, very interesting move. It will make ice interdiction harder, which is not a bad thing. One comment to note, the ice fields will respawn after 4 hours upon depletion. There will be no waiting for down time. This is a very wormhole thing and I very much like it. I hope CCP continues to convert spawns to this sort of timetable rather than downtime respawn. That always left us at the back end of the day at a disadvantage whether one realizes it or not.
  • Jump Gate Transitions. "Nerd boner!" I could not have said it better.
  • New Pod and Death Transitions. I think we saw a little of this when CCP Soundwave was popped and podded during the demonstration. I didn't get a good look at it though. Still, I like pretty and fancy  so I'm for it so long as it entertains.
  • Probe Formations!!!!! I admit, I love to scan. The addition of automatic formations is very, very welcomed by this capsuleer. This comes with the ability to launch seven probes at once. That to will make wormhole live that much easier - or should I say deadlier. Probe launch is perhaps the only time you can catch a scout in a wormhole. This takes the discover time from five seconds to one. That's really significant and will affect wormhole play. Also, scan percents are changed to color coded bars rather than just numbers - nice.
  • New D-Scanner. THIS IS AWESOME WITH SAUCE. D-scans are shown on the main window. Objects show in space with brackets. The pilot determines if the detected items remain on the HUD or not. This is where I point out I was correct.
  • Crypto Challenge. An interesting game within a game. I'll need to play this before I'm convinced but it certainly peaks my interest. Once solved, containers scatter and you have a limited (very limited?) amount of time to grab loot.  There are no NPC's in the site so this isn't a combat mission and that's good. However, you can be found. That seems like the right balance but only actual play will determine if it is.
And after all this, CCP Seagull outlined CCP's vision for Eve Online over the next year (and I will add 'or so' because .. well, wow, it's a huge leap.) It seems to revolve around players building the "right kind of stargate" and "space colonization." Where have I read about this before?

Something was also mentioned about Singularity, the test server, and checking some of this stuff out. I most certainly will. I'll take videos and post my findings here for you to see. Stay tuned.

And lastly, I will just point out that Hilmar's first social experience in Eve Online, his epiphany moment, was due to carebears. His second was due to a PvPer. Now isn't that an interesting order of events - and proper.

Fly Careful

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Cosplay - How Far Would You Go?

For those who've never heard of cosplay, short for costume play, it goes hand in hand with video games. It is a cultural phenomena that unites fans of not only video games but also manga, comics in general and science fiction. And it's fan base is growing.
One of my other hobbies includes cosplay. I tend to favor Steam Punk myself, but I mingle with all sorts of cosplayers. Here are just a few with whom I've personally interacted.
(Photos are Share Alike licensed with attribution - non-commercial use only.)
Unfortunately, that does not seem to include player of Eve Online. I've spent some time thinking about why that is. It could be that Eve Online is not a movie or a T.V. show but that doesn't seem to add up. There are plenty of cosplayers who do not rely on film or broadcast to develop their costumes. I'm one of them.

A more likely explanation is there just isn't enough recognition of Eve Online as a potential cosplay source. After all, how many real people actually play Eve Online and do they have the resources of time and possibly money to commit to Eve Online cosplay?

I know from my own Steam Punk cosplay that premium costumes, even if "found" through visiting all the local thrift and secondhand stores, are not necessarily cheap. Try buying a victorian swallowtail coat off the rack. Even harder to find are victorian style blouses, though corsets are a dime a dozen these days. The blouses though were constructed in ways that would vex a modern seamstress. I know, my lady bought one, took it apart, and rediscovered how they made the skin hugging blouse while still giving it pillowed shoulders. It was ingenious and not something you could do on a sewing machine.

With film based coplay there is at least a pool of online retailers where such items can be purchased, or at least patterns acquired. The same goes for a lot of Victorian wear, the previous example not included. When it comes to Eve Online though, not so much. And I believe that is a missed opportunity for CCP.

Fanfest starts today. Thousands of Eve Online and Dust 514 players are descending on Reykjavik as I type. I wish I was one of them, but I dallied too long and it was sold out before I could commit to the expense. Nevertheless, had I gone I would have had no problem dressing up. I consider it fun. It's live action role play (LARP) without having to put up with a game master's script. Those who participate in LARP know what I mean.

I don't think I'm alone in this. When I go to a con, there are hundreds of people who dress up. On Saturday night, the traditional Masquerade night, thousands cosplay. There are awards for the best costumes and recognition for the long time participant as well as the new bro just wanting to try it out.

This is something for which Fanfest is ideal. I wonder if CCP has ever given it any thought. I wish they would. Where else would you go for Eve Online/Dust 514 gear patterns and props? CCP could sell patterns to make the garments and drop suits and, believe it or not, people would buy them. After making their costume, they'll want a prop to go with it - like the parasol the young lady above carries to cosplay Kaylee from Firefly. Where else to you get blasters if not from CCP? Then all a person needs is a venue to show off their creations. That's Fanfest - for a start.

That brings me to another thing about cosplay devotees. They don't just keep it to the one event. When I started doing Steam Punk, there were maybe two cons where Steam Punk existed. That was several year ago. Today, I see Steam Punk at every con I go to. And if you search Flickr, you will see it has jumped cons. Steam Punk arrived at Comic Con in San Diego a few years ago as a trickle and today, though not a torrent, is an easily recognized genre of cosplay at the largest (arguably) con in the world.

So hey, CCP: with your new store opening today (with clothing!), as well as Fanfest kicking off, why don't you give some thought to enabling the cosplay community to enter the Eve Universe. Actively pursue and support that sect of fandom. You'd be surprised to see how far some of us would go to spread the fashions of New Eden to an unsuspecting world. Advertising that pays for itself, it doesn't get any better than that. And as a bonus, you'll attract an entirely new sort of Eve universe fan. So, if you're looking to enlarge your "player" base CCP, the cosplay community will back you up. You just need to make an initial effort. I recommend a Masquerade at Fanfest 2014. If that happens, I'll see you there.

Fly Careful

Monday, April 22, 2013

Burn Jita Proves Null-sec is Broken and it's The Mittani's Fault

This past weekend Goonswarm launched another Burn Jita event. In my last post, I categorized this type of event as one predicated on contempt. Though the event has become infamous, IMO it does not further the goals of CCP, and therefore Eve Online, except in the shallowest of terms. It gets some press; that's about all it does for the community.

The logic of this is fairly basic as I see it. The event is for bored null-sec dwellers. Though that may count into the hundreds of individual players, it does not reach across play-styles and seek to create an event for all capsuleers. Is it nothing more than self-aggrandizing ego masturbation though?

You see, when it comes to Live Events, or any sort of event, it isn't enough that a large group of people decide to do something. Their play-style is but one of many. Unfortunately, Goonswarm sees many of those other play styles as nothing more than a target for their play-style. High-sec carebears to them exist to facilitate their gameplay; being otherwise worthless. In the eyes of Goonswarm, anyone not of them is less than nothing. How can their events not be ego masturbation when they have such contempt for the 80% of us who aren't in their little club?

And before you let loose your words of wrath against my question, why don't you read precisely what The Mittani said posted in pastebin and linked on reddit,
"Burn Jita 2.0: April 19-21st 2013

There are few things that we of nullsec can agree upon, but one of them is, inevitably, 'fuck hisec'. We will now wash away the frustrations of March's cold war by covering ourselves in the blood and suffering of the people of hisec, the weekend before Fanfest begins - just in time to remind these people who the fuck we are. As before, we will invite every null entity which wants to participate in our holy cause.

Last year there was a tremendous amount of publicity about Burn Jita, leading to a whole host of hisec movements and wardecs to counter our efforts. This year we will not be making public statements about the Burn or actively trying to advertise it. Yes, we are giving approximately 19 days of notice with this post, as well as coordinating across the CFC and the HBC if they want to participate, but the blind sleeping masses of hisec will not realize something is coming until it is too late. I am eager to see what happens to hisec if we show up without three months of wardrum-beating and hype, unannounced, and commence putting everything to the sword.

The first Burn taught us a lot. We know Jita has a population cap; we know there are only so many routes into the system which are traffic controlled. We know as well that goons in Jita enjoyed not only taking out freighters, but spreading the carnage by using thrashers to take out industrials of random passers-by. A Burn is fundamentally a terror operation; it is not so much about the isk value of each freighter destroyed as it is implanting fear into the hearts and minds of even the most humble industrialist in his Badger II. This year we will be not only ganking freighters and industrials within Jita, but Miniluv will patrol the lanes outside of Jita to destroy anyone trapped on the gates from traffic control. The number of humans involved means that it will still be a complete mess, but we expect our terror-sowing to be much more efficient than last year."
The emphasis is mine. The comments in bold support my point that they care nothing for large swaths of Eve Online players. Their contempt is self-evident. The statement in italics indicates to me Goonswarm is not interested in furthering Eve Online as a game. How much press led to Death Race? How much even to Hulkageddon before Goonswarm ruined it? Yes, they ruined it. I used to enjoy Hulkageddon but now it's just more of the same Goonswarm crapola but that's a digression. To the point, without lead-in advertising, an event is worth nothing to CCP. The point of such events is to show the outside world the awesomeness of Eve Online. Not to keep it "unannounced" and without "hype."

But there is something else there that hints of a larger problem. It is the line, "We will now wash away the frustrations of March's cold war." You know what that's about? It isn't ego masturbation. That's a comment as to the totally broken nature of null-sec. The are so afraid of fighting each other the entire region is a quaking pit of worry and frustration. Worry from those in charge, like The Mittani, who may lose control if they engage in open combat, and frustration from the masses of goondom who are told "no" to open combat at every turn.

I have to wonder if that's what original Goonswarm members signed on for? Did they sign on for glorious fleet fights or to gank people who couldn't give a shit about PvP? Let's analogize. I joined the U.S. Army in 1982. I was a cold war warrior. Then the Berlin Wall came down. The Cold War ended. We won - or so they told us. In reality I feel like I took a punch in the gut. What I wanted to do with my life no longer existed. My enjoyment of my career declined precipitously. My raison d'ĂȘtre was turned on its ear.

Now, don't take the wrong analogy from this. Many of you will jump on the point that Goonswarm is in a Cold War right now. That's not the relevant analogy folks. The relevant one is having your reason to exist pulled right out from under your feet. Not being able to do what you aspire to makes existence meaningless. What's the purpose of a soldier if he isn't allowed to defend something?

From there, only bad things can happen. When you are primed all your adult life to go 200 MPH for a glorious cause and then DIAF, pulling back is not in your vocabulary. I didn't want to and neither does the average Goon I suspect. I had to walk away from my former life - completely and utterly - to find solace. The goon-born, indoctrinated as they are to that existence, cannot. So they come to Jita and have become gankers rather than the PvP warriors they wanted to be.

In that light, Burn Jita tells me null-sec is broken. Null-sec isn't meeting the needs of those who live there so they prey on high-sec. Can that truly replace what they really want? That's hard to gauge but I doubt it. It's the difference between catching a Marlin and shooting fish in a barrel. The alternative conclusion is a null-sec op like Burn Jita is meeting the desires of those who live there. In that case, if the event does serve to "remind these people who the fuck we are," Goonswarm is not the conquerors of null-sec any longer - just a bunch of gankers slowly losing their PvP edge. If Burn Jita serves to remind us of who you are, you're a pale shadow of what you used to be.

And you can blame The Mittani. He is the one holding you back. He says,
"A Burn is fundamentally a terror operation; it is not so much about the isk value of each freighter destroyed as it is implanting fear into the hearts and minds of even the most humble industrialist in his Badger II."
Freighters? Industrialists? Really? Why aren't you putting fear into the hearts and minds of PL or NCDot pilots? The answer is because The Mittani won't let you. Go read the entire pastebin post. He claims,
"If we had rabbled more about Montolio it would have allowed him to distract his disparate anti-CFC coalition from their internal difficulties, so we clammed up."
So rather than give Goonswarm a whole lot of GF, he opted to clam up? WTF? His update goes on to say things like "we've reached the natural borders of our ability to defend" and "our war options amount to 'Wait for someone to attack us'." Oh, I'm sure that makes for fascinating politics but is that how null-sec should be? Is that fun for you? Then he substitutes Burn Jita for real PvP and tries to convince Goonswarm it's the same thing. I don't think it is. Neither should you.

Fly Careful

Note: comments on this post will be heavily moderated. Those comments that do not contribute to the discussion will not see the light of day. You are warned.

Friday, April 19, 2013

BB46: CCP is King and We are Its Warrior Subjects

"EVE Online is a unique piece of science fiction that is ‘participatory’." - CCP Seagull, December 2012

EVE Online is heading into its Second Decade with renewed vigour and a new development strategy. At the CSM Summit in December, Executive Producer CCP Unifex and Development Director CCP Seagull explained how future development and expansions will be broader in scope than recent "collections of features" stating that CCP "want to create something more inspirational, that players aspire to play." 

With the return of Live Events such as the Battle for Caldari Prime, clearly the prime fiction of EVE is back in favour as part of this new thematic approach to expansions. However, EVE's story is very much a tale of two playstyles, with an entirely player-driven narrative unfolding daily in parallel to the reinvigorated backstory. Often, they do not mix well. How can these two disparate elements be united or at least comfortably co-exist in a single sandbox universe?


Co-exist, it is such a relatively simple concept and yet the reality has eluded humankind for all of its existence. The first evidence of human warfare, which I studied in some depth as part of my previous profession, dates back 14,000 years to what would become Egypt. Archaeologists found a mass grave with men, women and children in it. One man had been shot in the face with 14 arrows. That was the deciding factor on whether this episode counted as war or raid. In a raid, they only kill the guards (if necessary) and get out fast. They don't stick around to shoot 14 arrows into a dying man's face. That's the logic for the warfare case at least. War is vindictive. It seeks to annihilate a people, a culture, a way of life. To engage in war is to express the deepest contempt one human can have for another. It makes a warrior waste 14 perfectly good arrows as an expression of that contempt.

Some societies, the pre-European Zulu Kingdom comes to mind, incorporated ritualized warfare into their culture. They scaled the carnage way back to merely a raid. It became their societal ideal of courage and manhood. The logic went something like this. In Zulu society, a man could not marry without permission from the King. Permission was predicated on his perceived courage and prowess as a warrior. A warrior could demonstrate that in war, but war is costly for the King in terms of warriors and wealth. Sans war, another way to gain prestige was to raid one's adversaries and steal cattle from them. Cattle were wealth and to successfully steal cattle, especially if there was no bloodshed, became a mark of courage. Such bravado was often enough to gain permission to marry - especially if the stolen cattle were given to the King. In typical Zulu fashion, marriages were done en masse, with hundreds of warriors getting married at one time. I highly recommend The Washing Of The Spears, by Donald R. Morris,  to any interested - but I digress

That leads me to wonder about the nature of the relationship of player-driven events toward CCP. Is it a war or is it a raid? I think that makes a difference in how we treat player-driven events as they relate to CCP-driven events. Depending on which side of the divide they fall on, CCP's reaction to them must be very different. Before a player-event can co-exist with back story, we need to know if the event is done to gain acclaim, or if it is done out of contempt. Events done for acclaim can be brought into the fold so to speak. They will co-exist because they are motivated by a desire for recognition. The spoils of that desire often find their way into the King's herd and the King gives the sought for award. That is ultimately CCP's desire with their events - to enrich their herd and recognize their brave warriors - so to speak. The other  manifestation of a player-event is at odds with CCPs motives. It would be unwise for CCP to support them in any fashion.

With that in mind, here are the player-driven events I most remember since becoming a capsuleer over five years ago. After each is my evaluation of how they fall on the war versus raid, or if you prefer contempt versus acclaim, divide.
  • Hulkageddon - Acclaim until it became contempt as forever-geddon.
  • Bring Me the Head of Kirith Kodachi - Acclaim
  • Jita Revolt - Contempt
  • Burn Jita - Contempt
  • Gallente Ice Interdiction - Contempt
  • Death Race - Acclaim
The one event not in that list is the latest event. That was the Battle for Caldari Prime. It was unique in the fact that it was a CCP-driven event with player-driven interaction requested. It was completely successful according to the feedback I've gotten from those that participated in support of the story line. The negative feedback I've read came from those who wished to act against the story line. Interestingly enough, the group behind all the contempt events listed above is the same group that opposed the Battle for Caldari Prime story line, but that really is beside the point.

The point is, CCP was correct in shutting down those who did not want to "play along." That player-driven sub-event was not motivated by the right reasons. If CCP-driven and player-driven events are ever to co-exist, the players must understand their place and who is King. They are warriors seeking acclaim. CCP is the King. The warriors must do as the King allows. Acting against the King is an act of contempt, not acclaim. It is war against the King and deserves 14 arrows through the face.

If CCP is serious about getting players involved to the extent they claim, they need to also get serious about weeding out the contemptuous in favor of others who just want some recognition. CCP needs to reward those that play along and punish those who do not. They are the King, that is their right. To that end, I'd recommend the following.
  • Have players sign up to participate - any active account will do. As part of the sign-up, there should be a mini-EULA. I list of dos and don'ts that clearly define how the player is expected to participate. If an advance sign-up is untenable, have the mini-Eula pop-up when they activate a jump gate into the system. Before they proceed, they must agree. Otherwise, they stay in the entry system.
  • Give out virtual t-shirts or something to those who participate in recognition of their participation. Personally, I'd like so see custom ship skins handed out because that is much more visible to other players. It would shout to the Eve Universe, "I stole his cattle and got away with it!" Ouch...I guess I just pushed that analogy too far, didn't I?
  • If a player attempts to "crash the party" without signing up, don't let them into the system. You're the King CCP, you can do anything you want.
  • If a player agrees but then violates the mini-EULA, ban them for 30 days - no exceptions. If there is a carrot, there must be a stick.

So in summary, CCP is King and we are its warrior subjects. Act like it.

Fly Careful

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Prediction: Eve Online will Come to a Tablet Near You "Soon"

On Monday Poetic Stanziel made a post concerning CCP Unifex's lateral transfer to lead CCP's mobile initiative. Poetic's post was a bit disingenuous as it only really ran down CCP Unifex's PI comments. I'm still not sure if the post said anything substantial about possible CCP mobile applications, or was just a thinly veiled slam of "boring" game play. Since this topic was already in my hopper, I will now properly discuss how I think CCP is and might leverage mobile technology in the short, medium and long term.

The short term, and by that I mean within months, is easy. It has been in the works for some time now. CCP's mobile strategy has sort of always been there in the background. They've done in a limited way what Apple started with the original iPhone. They allow third party developers to use their platform to enhance the product. This is what the Eve Online API is all about.

And there is a new API standard on the horizon. It is called CREST. CREST will allow not only reading content from CCP servers as is currently allowed, but will also allow limited write access to the servers as well. According to Chribba it is still mostly Dust 514 oriented, but will have plenty of Eve related stuff when it goes live for us.

What I see looking at the Eve Wiki page for CREST is it currently supports contact management. From that it's not hard to imagine an Eve-mail client that will allow pull/push access to Eve-mail in real time. This alone would open up new and very welcomed channels of communications to players of Eve Online. My current alliance relies on Alliance Eve-mail (which members probably won't see until login) and text messages. The text messages are good at getting out a CTA, but they fairly well suck for anything else. And there is the added issue of having to give out your telephone number to relative strangers. I made a mistake when sending mine to our Alliance leader and inadvertently sent it to the entire alliance. At that point, Pell had to admonish everyone not to abuse my number. Because of such issues, some players just won't give out their personal cell number. I can't blame them. What if their only cell is the one their job provides? Keeping all communications within the realm of their character and keeping that firewall between RL and Eve would make many players happy even if that was the only thing they got.

But that is not the only thing they'll get. In the medium term, and by this I mean six to 12 months, I hope CCP enacts a slew of industry and trade related API calls. For a very, very long time the Industrial Community of Eve Online has wanted the ability to control their production outside the client. A sufficiently robust CREST API can allow this. I believe we will see the ability to control station jobs from a light mobile client running on Android and maybe even iOS. This light client would allow manufacturing, BPO research and BPO copy interaction. Initially I think we will see this enabled in NPC stations and eventually it will roll down to player owned stations.

Before they can get it to the POS level though, I think they are going to have to separate POS defense from POS everything else. The POS link to the combat system is a hinderance here and a possible exploit channel. The one thing the API cannot allow is combat access. A full client is needed for that. But these first steps at POS redesign in Odyssey is likely oriented toward the goal of isolating POS everything else. It's not just because CCP want's to make using a POS easier. Whatever they invest manhours in must have a better payoff than that. It has to advance the game. Allowing industrialists to run their businesses outside the main client will free up their actual play time for more engaging activities - pun intended. I could take care of business during my work breaks and reserve my limited evening playtime to actually playing with other people.

There is also a corollary to this approach. It will allow those who never wish to shoot at another player an opportunity to play Eve Online they way they want. One solution to the wolf in the sheep pen issue is to simply put the sheep in the barn. Right? Adding buy and sell order management to the CREST API, as industrialists also very much want, would create a new avenue for casual play. It might not make mining possible, but it would provide alternatives and could be a mini-game unto itself.

These short and medium term goals will run on all sorts of platforms. Applications (Eve Online mini-games if you like) for PCs, consoles, tablets and smartphones will abound once the CREST API is fully realized. In the long term though, the Eve Online client must be playable on tablet devices. A console client would be good, but consoles are just a dedicated computing device. Not everyone can have a console. If Google get's it's way, everyone will have a smartphone or tablet in the next two years. Read Mr. Schmidt's statement if you don't believe it.

You see, a lot has been made recently over the precipitous decline in PC sales worldwide. ZDNet and it's affiliated sites have run many, many articles about it.

Interpretations of the data abound. They run the typical gamut from the Chicken Little scenario to all is well. However, the one thing all they pundits agree on is the growth sector is no longer the PC. It is the mobile device, and at the top of that list is the tablet.

What CCP needs in the long term, and by long I mean within the next year or two at the most, is an Eve Online client that will run on a tablet platform. There is already much interest on the forums asking about it. CCP has been remarkably, or perhaps not remarkably, tight lipped about it. It's a tall order after all, especially when we don't even know if the graphics hardware on future tablets will support a game like Eve Online. There are certainly enough nay sayers.

But that's the growth market folks. That's what CCP has to do. CCP Unifex's transfer was not a demotion as some have speculated. It was not a lateral move either. It was a promotion into a job the scope and description of which hasn't even been invented yet. But it's exciting to contemplate what Mr. Lander could do there. Everyone thinks he did an excellent job with turning things around after Incarna. It's natural to believe (hope?) he can do similar great work with mobile platforms. And when Eve Online does come to the mobile platform, it will include everything that Eve Online is, not just PI as a game (though that may still happen.) I firmly believe the hardware will get there. I also think that CCP will get there. The only thing that remains to be seen is how quickly. With Mr. Lander at the helm, I have a feeling it will be quicker than otherwise.

Fly Careful

PS: The title is a bit of a troll so don't get too wrapped up in it. Okay?

Monday, April 15, 2013

"I Quit Eve"

Did you miss the quotes in that title? Did I make your heart skip a beat - for whatever reason? Yeah, I did it on purpose. That's how I get my laughs, imagining the expressions on all of your faces. But I personally did not quit Eve Online. You are all stuck with me.

The title simply reflects a bit of curiosity on my part. There were some comments made on my last post (and good job to all those who made them so insightful!) and it made me curious. The comments concerned how lasting the effects were on Eve Online from someone playing a high-sec pirate/ganker play-style.

So I did a Google search on the phrase, "I quit Eve." You can see the results here if you like. Let's just say the reasons people quit Eve Online are as varied as the reasons they started playing in the first place. Here is what I hope is a representative sample of the reasons. As I went through them, I realized there was a common thread underlying their reasons. I'll let them speak for themselves, and I'll let you try and figure out the common thread.

I am going to start with Alt + Enter and a post he wrote a year ago. This post is excellent. I am envious in fact because I don't think I could write better. Here is what Steve, the author, said about why he quit,
"And after a series of mishaps, and falling out with a couple of corp members, I quit Eve Online. Every so often, I return to see what’s new, but my interest rarely lasts more than a month or two. The reason for this? Boredom, mistrust and a slowly festering sense that New Eden was becoming a rather nasty place to spend my evenings. 
The bottom line is this: people are pricks."
The next reason comes from TallGuyCalif's Computer Gaming and Entertainment Site. I think his reasons involve the learning cliff more than anything.
"The reason I dropped Eve Online and never looked back was the travel time. The time it takes to navigate to the next acceleration gate in a mission just got tedious. It turns out that as you get bigger and better ships, they get slower, so the problem gets worse. My destroyer was slower than my smaller frigate, while my cruiser was slower than my destroyer. I realized that it would only get worse and never better as I progressed to bigger, “better” ships. So I quit cold turkey. If they ever change that hierarchy, I would be happy to try again, because I did have fun, for a while, but until then, I don’t like having my time wasted for me."
Next, I'm off to MMO Misanthrope. With a title like that, you'd think this fella was a prime Eve new bro candidate. Nope, it seems Eve Online is a crappy PvP experience. I'll pull out the reason that sums it all up, for me at least.
"4. The PvP sucks. There is no balancing mechanism at all. You can get ganked by as many and as powerful ships as anyone wants to. In my time playing:
-One destroyer, a ship barely above frigate class, got ganked by three battleship-using pirates.
-One frigate, in RvB, got killed by a Tech 3 cruiser from a hundred + KM away, to the point where it would be impossible to respond.
That’s just a couple. The PvP simply isn’t fun. It’s too reliant on player stats (and dont let people lie to you, having all level 5 skills and being able to equip tech 2 stuff is a huge difference, as well as shipping up to higher ship classes) too reliant on large fleets all coordinating fire on single targets, and has no point."
Here's one straight off of Reddit. He also thought the PvP sucked, but from a different point of view.
"TL;DR: Life sucks, so EVE sucks. The best part of EVE is imagining how cool it would be to fight in spaceships. But you have to sit on your hands for obscene amounts of time to do so and once you can, you realize it sucks. Also, feudalism."
The next one, from Mogzine, has a bit of a different twist on why he quit. It really wasn't because of other players. However, he does have an interesting view of skill acquired by playing a game versus the Eve Online skill method.
"Unlike other MMOs, Eve doesn’t implement a traditional leveling system based on race, time spent in game, or XP gains from kills. Instead, there is a very extensive skill system. This skill training can take a few minutes or several weeks. Skills continue training even if you are logged off. This is the same system that time management games use, such as Farmville and We Rule. Personally, this is exactly the game mechanic that I want to stay away from. These types of games tend to play themselves with minimal interaction from the player. The bottom line is, the player with the most time wins, not the player with the most skill. Insert face palm here."
The last result I want to quote comes straight off the Eve Online forums. Check this reason out.
"I've often complained countless times over the past 2 years that gameplay mechanics have changed for the worse, the play style that is often talked about in eve advertisement videos about the sandbox and null sec has intruded itself heavily into high sec (PVE play) space. An area of play that is supposed to be reserved for those with a much more casual style of play, or so we were led to believe so many years ago. Which had allowed eve to accommodate many different types of players, not just that hardcore gamer."
So what is it I think is lurking under all these reasons people quit? Here is what I think all these people allude to. Eve Online bills itself as a PvP game. The primary PvP area is supposed to be null-sec. That's where player alliances are supposed to vie for power and keep things lively. The null-sec "lords" have failed miserably at this. Null-sec PvP is a long, boring trudge. No one I have ever heard discuss it actually likes how it works, except perhaps those who are in control. Feudal lords like their positions of power but not so much the conscribed serfs.

This has caused those serfs who want "fun" PvP to look elsewhere. Low-sec, wormholes and NPC null-sec can have reasonable PvP, but even Jester awhile back was complaining of the lack of good PvP. His alliance blamed it on those who would rather farm than fight: the carebear mentality as others would call it. He called it risk-averse thinking. How nice. I think it's pure laziness. None of these "PvPers" want to take on the risk of NPC null-sec or low-sec because they don't want to loose their stuff. They just want to cause ships to explode.

So where do they end up to get their PvP jollies? That's right, they come to high-sec. They prey on the easy targets they find there just as Spawne32 alluded to. It's not really because they think there is some higher cause they serve. That's just whitewash. High-sec is the only place where they can routinely and consistently blow up other ships. They don't care what sort of ship it is and they don't care who is flying it. Noobs blow up just as easily as freighter pilots with years in game. The only thing that matters is it fits their "kill it now" mentality. Just like TallGuyCalif said, they don't want their time wasted.

Oh, and they also want to minimize the risk. That's only natural. It's the same thing as wolves attacking domesticated livestock. Why risk injury attacking an Elk when you can kill a defenseless cow instead? It's a very fundamental and, I hate to say it, natural response.

That doesn't mean it's good for Eve Online. It is terrible for Eve Online. As many of these folks who quit have pointed out, it's ending Eve Online. High-sec isn't what it's supposed to be according to CCP's own descriptions. As several of these people pointed out, it's changed tremendously over the past decade.

CCP has tried to address this situation but I don't think they completely understand the dynamics behind it. They gave us bounties, but the wolves just made sure everyone got bounties so it was a zero-sum change. Then they gave us duels, but that violates the risk averse nature of wolves. They don't want a fair fight. They just want to blow another ship.

CCP has done some things that work. I believe Faction Warfare is working well mentally if not mechanically. It seems to satisfy those who participate more than other PvP options. And wormholes are working for nearly the same reasons. PvP isn't always easy to find, but when it is found it can be very fun. I know, even Mabrick was in a 40 ship fleet fight - once.

But that's only a 50% success rate, and the problem persists. I am hopeful that Odyssey will be a big piece of the solution, but it will have to go a very long way to make everything right. But if CCP can pull it off, it will solve two of the biggest game-killing issues facing Eve Online. It will give back to new players a place, and a chance, to learn the ropes. That's what high-sec is supposed to be for. And secondly, it will give PvPer's the explosions that they long to have.

But there is one extra thing CCP must do to completely resolve this issue. If they don't address the risk-aversion portion of this problem, nothing else they do will succeed. The wolves will continue to prey on the domestic livestock. That's what wolves do. Today the United States does one of two things about it since wolves were reintroduced to the lower 48 states. They either pay the rancher for his loss, or the capture and move the wolf back to the wild. This is a forced relocation and it doesn't always work.

And that's why I also have a word of warning for the wolves. In the United States, wolves were eradicated in the lower 48 states because of domestic livestock killings. Today, when a reintroduced wolf kills it is "encouraged" to stop and go back to the wild. If it returns to killing livestock, the government ends it. For those of you who think it is not harmful to Eve Online to prey on high-sec players, remember that lesson. Don't leave CCP with any other option than to exterminate you by making high-sec a PvP free area. They could, and they will, if you continue to threaten their livelihood.

Fly Careful

Friday, April 12, 2013

Carebears Do Not Exist to Facilitate Your Play-style

Undocking is permission for PvP. How many times have I read that? Far too many to recount here. That mantra is repeated so often it really has become banal. And whenever the PvP crowd feels their play-style threatened by those who would rather not PvP, the volume and tempo of the chant increases - exponentially. At points the shouters become unbearably absurd, as if they will rage quit if they can't shoot everyone anytime they want.

Yet I do not disagree entirely with the sentiment, volume and pitch of delivery notwithstanding. And that statement was just misinterpreted by every chanting PvPer reading this - both of them. Okay, maybe there are a few more than two, but I would wager ISK that every single one thought I just gave them permission to attack me.

I did no such thing. My comment is about a reality, not permission. When I walk out my door every morning, get into my car, and drive to work, I understand that it may be the last trip I ever make. The reality being life is dangerous. To be real, Eve Online must imitate life and that includes the possibility of death at any moment.

However, I do not seek death. I do not wish it upon myself and I must say I will resist it with every fiber of my being if it tries to pay me a visit. Fortunately that has not happened in a long time and in my previous encounters I obviously came out victorious. But I did not relish the encounters. Permission was never given. To this day I wish they could have been different. I did not ask for them and I certainly don't want them to happen again.

I believe that is a perfectly normal reaction for any living creature. I am sure all of you reading this who have had such an experience feels the same way: happy to have come out on top and just as certain you never want to go through it again. If you say otherwise you are lying to yourself. Life seeks to survive - it is in our biochemistry - and we can no more feel otherwise than we can deny evolution and not seem a fatuous luddite.

So let's paraphrase that famous Eve Online mantra in this light. Leaving your house is permission to be attacked. How does that sit with you? Oh, you don't mind? You're a realist - or a fatuous luddite - and proud of it? What about those you care about: girlfriend, spouse, mother, child or dog? That's different isn't it? You don't want them attacked when they leave the house. Why not?

Shove it. Your opinion doesn't matter. Leaving the house is permission to be attacked. The mewling masses need to understand this. Death is a fact of life. Life can end at any moment. I must make them understand this! And it's oh so easy to take out a child. They are practically defenseless and offer no real threat of turning the tables. All one has to do is get the drop on them and it's over before the child even realizes it; no chance of escape. I am so big and they are so small. They don't even realize the danger they are in. All I have to do is wait for the school bus to drive away and grab her. And wouldn't it be exciting if she cried and no one came to save her? Cry as much as you like little one, daddy can't find you. I've made certain of that. Maybe she'll plead for their life before the end. That would be a juicy memory - the tears; the begging. Delicious...

Repugnant isn't it? The child does not exist to be a victim of the murderer. No one does. No right minded person would ever claim this is acceptable behaviour, let alone defend it. That is why our societies have such detailed rules concerning when it is allowable to kill others and who are always off limits. Countries can go to war and kill millions and that is acceptable, but one man cannot abduct a child from a bus stop and torture her to death.

But Eve Online is just a game. And we can do whatever we want because it isn't real life regardless of what the motto says. Except we are all living creatures; driven by a biology that tells us the mantra is wrong when the victim is unwilling. So you see, undocking really isn't permission to PvP. Undocking is acceptance that violence may happen, but it is not permission. And if you take nothing else from this post, learn this truth. Carebears do not exist to facilitate your play-style. You have no right to view us that way. And you are wrong to believe you EVER have permission to shoot an unwilling victim.

Fly Careful

PS: I will be particularly picky and subjective on approving comments for this post. If your post contributes little to the discussion, I will not allow it.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Doubleheader - OOC: RL > EO and The Future of Eve Online

I don't have anything pithy or thought provoking for you today. I don't have anything droll or boring either. What I have is the equation RL > EO.

While I was on my mini vacation at NorWesCon36, my significant other got a call about her 94 year old aunt. She'd fallen again and we were advised she could no longer live alone in her retirement community. She has a couple health issues that now preclude that possibility. My sig-other left on Friday morning of the con and went to be with her aunt.

By the time I'd returned home last week, the aunt had moved in with us. This was always a planned possiblity (at least since her last diagnoses 10 months ago.) Since I returned, I think I've logged in twice for only a few minutes to setup training and that's been it. I meant to get something written for today, but that didn't work out either. So you really don't get anything today.

I will however express my disappointment about this article: As ‘Eve Online’ heads toward decade two, CCP talks about the future. Is it just me or did this article bill itself as being about Eve Online's future and then pretty much just talk about Dust 514? At the end I couldn't help but think the message between the lines  was Dust 514 IS the future of Eve Online. Please tell me I'm wrong. That last quote really worries me.

Fly Careful

Monday, April 8, 2013

You Will Sometimes Pay a Price for Their Ideals

Today Grimmash published his 30 day PI challenge results. You can read about his results here. I am also going to borrow his table showing his results. I know he won't mind.
He flat out calls my claims false. However, I will just point out that he DID NOT follow the formula I laid out. His skills were not maxed in the categories I said they would need to be maxed. That was NOT optional. It does make a difference. He could not run all the planets he needed nor all the planetary facilities he needed to give my claims a fair trial. Using the word "false" is unwarranted IMO.

Still, I would not go so far as to call it true either. Kao Jai has made it plain to me that he cannot make half a billion ISK a month with high-sec PI. He can make more than twice what Grimmash did, but that is not what I'd said.  Since I can't really say 500 mISK a month is plausible, I'll cop to...
And I said as much. In my follow-up detailing Kao Jai's efforts, I admitted to being overly optimistic. Still, neither Kao nor Grimmash lost ISK. They both made ISK with not a lot of effort, though perhaps not a lot of fun either. I think that is the real takeaway here. There really is no need to be a poor noob.

But Grimmash goes on in the second half of his blog to discuss a few other ways new bros can make ISK with the same or less training time than PI requires. Grimmash concludes noobs must have an "active" play style to get the most from this Internet spaceship game. That is how it's meant to be played. This makes me wonder if his PI effort wasn't somehow tainted by this bias, but that's okay. Kao Jai is much less conflict oriented than most people. I know he has no such bias and he couldn't do it either.

But back to Grimmash's ideal of the "active" play style being the one you must adopt to get the most fun from Eve Online. Codswallop! No, you don't. If you are of a mind set like Kao Jai that blowing up things is not as enjoyable as making something, your options for making ISK become somewhat limited, but it is still doable. You have PI and you have manufacturing. Of the two, PI takes less time daily and less overall game knowledge IMO. It's easier to break into than manufacturing. That's why I recommend it to new bros who aren't conflict oriented.

And like Kao Jai, you don't have to give up your Internet spaceship game because people tell you it is for "active" play styles. You have as much right to play this game as anyone else. Just be aware you will be shot at and victimized. You will be a minority with all that status entails. They will call you carebear - and you will sometimes pay a price for their ideals.

Fly Careful

Friday, April 5, 2013

Catalyst vs Hulk: Let's Get Real

In my last post, Everything Must Have a Price, I made the case for adding risk to ship bumping. As it stands now, there is no risk to the bumper. There is also no risk to the bumpee. This is not how the real world works. Since "Eve is Real" is a CCP motto, I want that realism put into Eve.

To that end, there are some very well established equations for calculating how much energy a bumper imparts to a bumpee. These are the physics equations for kinetic energy. As Rammstein pointed out in the comments last post, the simplest of these equations is E = 1/2 mv^2. In English, that translates as energy equals one half mass times velocity squared. This assumes a non-rotating rigid body and no acceleration. For the purposes of this post, I will use a MWD Catalyst versus a Hulk in a game of bumping. The assumptions for this first calculation are that the Hulk is stationary and the Catalyst is already moving at max speed using my skills.

E = 1/2 (1,550,000 kg)(1846.11 m/s^2) = 2,641,294,652,377.5 Joules = 2,641,294,652.3775 kJ

To give you an idea of how much energy that is, it is nearly 1 trillion Big Macs worth. Or, in a more standard comparison it is 0.63 kilotons. That's a considerable amount of kinetic energy. So how much velocity could our catalyst impart to said Hulk? This is a more complicated question. However, for the sake of this blog let's assume all the kinetic energy of the catalyst is imparted to the hulk. I simply solve for velocity of the Hulk by reworking the above equation: v = sqrt (2E/m) with E equaling the amount of energy delivered.

v = sqrt (2*(2641294652377.5 kJ))(40,000,000 kg) = 363.40711690729861103876847365741 m/s

Interestingly enough, that seems to correspond with what I have personally seen when two such ships bump. But don't don't forget Newton's Third Law: F2 = -F1. Objects in motion tend to stay in motion, and objects at rest tend to stay at rest. The Hulk gives back to the Catalyst the full force of the impact - all 0.63 kilotons... of... it... wait a moment, that's wrong (get the pun - math geek humor!) I haven't actually calculated force. The above equation only calculates for energy. It says nothing about force or momentum/impulse.

See, it isn't enough to just calculate the energy of the collision. We must determine the force imparted by the collision. That involves momentum which was also discussed in the comments of the last post. I don't know what the acceleration of our Catalyst is, but I can calculate it's impulse momentum when it acts upon the Hulk. The equation for impulse is: I = m(v1-v0). That's impulse equals mass times the change in velocity. For our Catalyst, the impulse is:

I = 1,550,000 kg (1846.11 m/s - 0 m/s) = 2,861,470,500 newton-second

From this known impulse, I can now calculate the force of the collision. With a known impulse, force is equal to impulse divided by the change in time or F = I / (t1 - t0). The smallest unit of time we have for this equation is a second. I will assume the Catalyst goes from full speed to zero speed in one second.

F = 2,861,470,500 newton-second / 1 second = 2,861,470,500 newton = 291.7887853286805 kilotons

Whoa, that is a huge jump in effect. The energy of the bump is less than one kiloton, but the force of the impact is enough to level a medium sized city. Do you really think an unreinforced Catalyst can withstand that amount of force intact? What are you smoking?

The Catalyst is not a fragile ship but it certainly is no battleship either. Though I don't know how much energy a shield hit point equates to, I do know what the total power output of an unmodified  Catalyst is. A Catalyst's power grid can generate 70 megawatts.

The conversion to Joules per second is easy: multiply by a million. The Catalyst generates 70 million joules of power per second. If all that power went to the shields, it could compensate for 0.00001673 kilotons of energy. That's not even close to compensating  for the 0.63 kilotons of energy the bump generates, let alone helping deal with the 291.79 kilotons of force exerted on the ships. The shields should just collapse.

That is why I say a Catalyst must be reinforced to withstand the collision. If it can make a Hulk suddenly jump to 363 m/s, that same Hulk will kick it's nose in because F2 = -F1 - just like you saw on the ship pictures from the last post.

And no, the Hulk might not survive either. I've not done that calculation but the power grid of an unmodified Hulk is half that of a Catalyst. However, the Hulk has more mass to absorb the impact with so maybe it won't insta-pop. You folks can argue that all you like. I only want to point out that ships aren't billiard balls and all that energy HAS to go somewhere. Now, you can invent all sorts of magical bullshit to explain away the laws of physics if you like. But I like hard science-fiction, not the fantasy-crap of the weak minded.

That said, impulse is very important for another reason. It is a method ideal for in-game physics engines. Look under paradigms in this article. Bottom line, Eve Online already has a game engine that models real world physics. I don't think much more work needs done to bring risk to ship bumping. It might be relatively easy considering the code already calculates damage over a very wide variety of situations - and the physics engine is already involved. How do you think missile damage is calculated? All PvPers should know it is a function of ship size AND speed coupled with the blast radius of the warhead. If that isn't physics in action, nothing is. And what's a ramming ship in reality if not a guided missile? So what about it CCP, can we get real now about ship bumping?

Fly Careful

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Everything Must Have a Price

I am back from my short vacation. As you can tell, I didn't blog. I also didn't log on. When you are having boat loads of fun with other like minded people, you need to stay in the moment. So I did.

But speaking of boats, I'd like to show you a few.

That was not a touch of vacation induced weirdness. This is what happens when one ship bumps another. The result is as bad for the bumper as the bumped. You see, ships are not billiard balls. They should not be considered such by players - and CCP needs to address that misconception.

I'm not advocating the elimination of ship bumping. That would not be in keeping with the spirit of Eve Online. But such bumping should come with risk. Eve Online is a game of risk and reward. If risk must precede reward, a price must be paid to bump.

What is that price? The pictures above illustrate it far better than I could describe. Ships are generally not made to collide with other ships. However, such ships have been used since ancient times. Ramming ships were specially designed for the role. There was still a large risk of damage to one's own ship so designers attempted to lower the overall risk through various methods. However, this did not eliminate all risk. And for certain, one simply does not grab just any ship of the line and ram another ship. That could sink you as well as your enemy and what good would that be?

So ramming ships were specially engineered, yet they could still suffer damage themselves.  How would this manifest itself in Eve Online? I foresee a robust and redundant system. Shields would be the primary shock absorber like the head of a bow ram. When a collision occurs, shield strength would drop precipitously trying to absorb momentum and kinetic energy - just as they are designed to do. All shield modifications would affect this. If a player wanted for instance an uber-ramming Catalyst, he would have to shield fit it, the more active the better, to give it a larger chance of a successful.

Of course, speed and mass would matter in the equation, but the ship with the stronger shields would generally have the advantage. The risk would come if shield strength dropped below a threshold, say 50%. Note: this could happen to BOTH ships in a bump situation because of the speed and mass parameters in the collision equations. If shield strength dropped too low, damage to external ship modules, like guns and launchers, would occur. If shield strength went even lower, there could also be internal damage as ship systems over stress. Bulkheads might warp and even buckle under the extra strain.

Armor would mitigate this internal damage like the reinforced hulls of old. It would protect fragile inner parts. Thus, a Caldari ship would have a shield advantage but a Gallente ship would suffer less internal damage. Now, back to our Catalyst pilot in his uber-bumper. He might want to shield and armor tank his ship. Failure to fit his ship properly for bumping could result in crippling consequences.

And just to keep things interesting, there should always be a chance of critical system damage that causes one ship or the other to explode spectacularly - even after only one bump. This chance of critical failure could be almost completely eliminated by player choice though. But to do so would mean our already shield and armor tanked Catalyst would also have to be hull tanked. Hull tanking would be how you stop the critical failure of a vital system. It's the extra bushings on the engine mounts and the double rivet line on every seem. That may be a lot to ask a player to do just to bump - but no more so than asking carebears to put up with it. So go ahead and cry me some tears in the comments if you don't like this. I'll relish them all - I promise.

To recap, I certainly do not feel like CCP should stop ship bumping. Their decision on it was the correct one. I think the option should be open to any pilot. But if you are in a smaller, cheaper and less protected craft, you may want to think twice before bumping another ship; especially a large and massive ORE ship. And if you want to make a living at bumping, you're going to have to engineer a vessel for it which can take the pounding. It may take more skill and cost more, but that's what they did historically. That's what capsuleers should have to do in New Eden.

Fly Careful