Friday, September 30, 2011

Wayback Machine: 27 August 2009 (Shedding isn't easy...)

This is the third in my series of "wayback" posts - posts recovered from archives of previous iterations of my blog.

About a month ago I finally decided to grow up. I've been playing EVE since December 2007, when the Mac client was released, and in that time I have racked up 0 kills and been podded 9 or 10 times. I did hisec missioning, not even trying out L4 missions forever. I was the poster child for Care Bearing. I think part of it was, I didn't really get into EVE. For me it was like a round of Civilization - play every once in a while when you have time. Well, I got a couple of co-workers into it, and they called me on the care bear lifestyle back in March of 2009. Just before Apocyrpha was released. So I started looking at what goes on in a PvP lifestyle, and started focusing my skill training more on ship/ship support skills, rather than the shotgun approach I'd been taking since the beginning. I started reading blogs written by PvP players, like Wensley, Flash, Mynxee, and the like, but I wasn't looking to be a pirate - just learn how to fight and defend. Then I started taking missions and occasional drops into LoSec, learning more about the directional scanner (I still need work on this one), and watching local, and flagging players and corps with status so I can keep careful eyes out. Finally, I dropped the non-existent shield of the NPC Corp (The Scope, FWIW) and applied to a full-on PvP corp.
After a bit of Q&A, I was accepted and have been a novice in the corp for about a month now. I haven't started my actual PvP training yet, since days after joining the corp left Empire and went back to 0.0, and I wasn't ready for that leap. I've been grinding up my status with an NPC corp in Empire to get a jump clone, so I can take shelter in my fuzzy empire blanket when the 0.0 lifestyle gets to be too much, or when I need easy ISK or items that are too hard to make or get out in 0.0. Let's face it, I'm really just hanging on to my fuzzy status just a little longer, because I'm afraid of the change. However, this weekend I will have trained up the skills to mostly fly a Helios, and I'm going off the deep end. It's a 30 jump trip from Empire to my corp base in 0.0, and I'm going to learn my way down in the Helios, fit with a CovOps Cloak, jump clone or not...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wayback Machine: 25 August 2009 (The New Beginning)

This is the second in my series of "wayback" posts - posts recovered from archives of previous iterations of my blog.

First, the definition from Wikipedia:

I can be found in New Eden. I wander the empires, in the shadows of the universe that man calls wormholes, and the lawless places outside the empires. I am not a vicious killer, nor am I a fuzzy bear. I am Gallente, and in that I believe in everyone's ability to grow, learn, and be more than they are. I am honest, or at least I think I am, but I have a long memory, and all those who have wronged me will eventually see justice in the cold dark of space. Like you, I am immortal, but not infallible. I know that my immortality is a construct of technology, my body dies but my mind can be preserved. I do not consult the priests on the perseverence of my soul - I suppose that one day I will face account for my actions, and on that day I do not wish to be found wanting. I suppose that means I try to be a good person, even though I am a capsuleer. I am not a fool - I will not jump to the aid of those who cannot be saved, but I will not turn on them either.

From the wayback machine...

I blogged a long time ago on Gamescribe (some of you older EVE bloggers may remember that). I found one of my old articles archived on the wayback, and it was even a blog banter. It's painful to read, now with what I know in EVE...

EVE Blog Banter #8: Fighter-class ships and sqadrons
May 26, 2009, 12:54 pm 
Welcome to the eighth installment of the EVE Blog Banter , the monthly EVE Online blogging extravaganza created by CrazyKinux . The EVE Blog Banter involves an enthusiastic group of gaming bloggers, a common topic within the realm of EVE Online, and a week to post articles pertaining to the said topic. The resulting articles can either be short or quite extensive, either funny or dead serious, but are always a great fun to read! Any questions about the EVE Blog Banter should be directed here . Check out other EVE Blog Banter articles at the bottom of this post!
This month’s topic comes to us from Ga’len at The Wandering Druid of Tranquility.  He asks: “What new game mechanic or mechanics would you like to see created and brought into the EVE Online universe and how would this be incorporated into the current game universe?  Be specific and give details, this is not meant to be a ‘nerf this, boost my game play’ post like we see on the EVE forums.”
Nobody asked me, but I thought I’d chime in on this one. Game mechanics are a veritable rathole of scary stuff. I’d like to see a few things changed, but something all new?
I’m sure someone else has talked about piloted fighter squadrons, but that’s my choice. It’s kind of funny, as I play solo, but I would love to see the ability to set up a squadron of fighters that are either commanded by one pilot and the rest under AI, like solo play in some of the squad-based console games, or each pilot(ed) by capsuleers. Much like real fighter jets, they’d be small, with limited armor, but lots of speed and the ability to cause a bit of damage. Something like a micro-frigate concept, but specifically designed for group tactics, too fast for most standard ship weapons (requiring opposing fighters or frigs with tiny guns and lots of tracking bonuses) and dogfight-like UI that reminds one of a flight sim. Think X-wings or starfuries - tiny little things that are short-range (unable to warp on their own) but nasty in groups. Damage would be on par with Drones, maybe a bit more, but also modifiable with various ammo types. Short range (under 5k) shooters that can’t be targeted and hit by anything larger than a small gun (75mm anyone?), and too fast to hit with most missiles or rockets.
Let’s start with two classes for each race, a guns only fighter and a missiles fighter. Obviously R&D to maybe make a mixed-weapon fighter, or “stealth” fighters. Also brings about the possibility of atmospheric battles, as fighters would be designed for atmospheric flight.
  1. CrazyKinux’s Musing, EVE Blog Banter #8: Care for a little game of SecWars?
  2. The Wandering Druid of Tranquility, Wow, that new thing is so shiny!!!
  3. I am Keith Nielson, EVE Blog Banter #8 - Return of the Top Gun
  4. Once More from the Beginning, 8th EVE Blog Banter May 2009 Edition
  5. A merry life and a short one, EVE Blog Banter #8: In the Year of Our Awesome
  6. Inner Sanctum of the Ninveah, Planets
  7. Helicity Boson, Bantering the blog
  8. Achernar, Unique adventures
  9. Ecliptic Rift, OOC: EVE Blog Banter 8: Standings and secondary factions
  10. The New Edener, EVE Blog Banter #8
  11. Journey to New Eden, Eve Blog Banter #8: What new mechanic should be added to Eve?
  12. Life, The Universe and Everything, Blog banter 8: mentorship
  13. EVE Guru, EBB 8: Yarr! Prepare to be boarded!
  14. The Ralpha Dogs, Greed Is Good, Greed Works
  15. Rifter Drifter, Blog Banter 8: Strategic Gunnery
  16. A Mule in EVE, Expanding EVE
  17. Letrange’s EvE Blog, 8th Blog Banter
  18. Roc’s Ramblings, Blog Banter #8
  19. The Nude Nerd, Blog Banter #8
  20. More to come

Thursday, September 22, 2011

It's the end of the world as we know it...

Welcome to EVE Online. In this universe, they players make the stories happen.

Sometimes, I love to make end of the world predictions. Perhaps I'm somehow related to Nostradamus, or Edgar Cayce. Regardless, today we will discuss the end of the world, in relation to EVE Online. Let's start with the firestarter, one of the most famous and polarizing figures currently in EVE Online, The Mittani.

CSM Chairman, Top Goon
Mittens, as many call him, utilized his formidable political skills to get elected Chairman of the CSM, and has, since his election, utilized those skills in an effort to steer CCP towards focusing on EVE Online, the spaceship game. In recent weeks, it seemed as if his skills were bearing fruit, as various tweets and forum posts and comments hinted towards an announcement or information from CCP that flying in space (what most people call EVE Online) would be the primary focus of development for the foreseeable future. Many rejoiced, including myself, that the Top Goon had leveraged his skills successfully.

This week, the other shoe dropped.

I fear that for all the placating comments, and pandering to the EVE community, The Mittani is lying to EVE, and this camel's nose is based on the current CFC/Goon propaganda machine. Looking at it from both inside and outside the CFC, there are some amazing things that are about to happen - some mildly interesting, others potentially terrifying. But enough dancing around the campfire. Goonswarm, and their allies, have announced a new campaign to "freeport Delve". At this level, there is a little to worry about - turning a sovereign 0.0 region into a free-for all with open access to all stations seems a bit odd, since regions like Syndicate, Curse, and Outer Ring (NPC Nullsec) already exist, but it isn't the strangest campaign Goonswarm has ever undertaken. This campaign, however, comes alongside what could be the biggest troll in EVE (ever) or the biggest concern in EVE (ever).

thanks to Riptard Teg of Jester's Trek
Let's start with the theoretical NIP between the CFC and the DRF. For those of you who don't particularly care about nullsec, these are the two largest coalitions in all of EVE. The DRF (Russian alliances based primarily out the drone regions and what I will call the northeast corner of New Eden) and the CFC (Goonswarm, Test Alliance Please Ignore, and others) already control, between the two coalitions, over 70% of nullsec, at least in name. There's a great poster here that shows the combined regional control and military might of these two powerhouses. Recently, discussions cropped up in various EVE-related forums about these two groups creating a non-invasion pact, and basically splitting up all of sovereign nullsec between them. An unlikely event, most people would think, and very controversial, at best.

Controversy, however, is what many members of Goonswarm thrive upon. So over the last week or so, TEST and Goonswarm forum posters and tweeters (including The Mittani himself) have been fueling the fire of speculation that this could come to pass, even going so far as to make plans for their entertainment following the completion of the DCF conquest. These plans are the only real concern, were this entire activity come to fruition.

As a parent, I am painfully aware of the potency of a full-blown temper tantrum. My girls (who already have me wrapped around their little fingers) can change a whole plan with a well-timed (and well-executed) tantrum. My fear is that The Mittani, thoroughly frustrated by the doublespeak and lack of action by CCP to "save" the spaceship game EVE Online, has escalated his frustration into a tantrum, at the root of which is the DCF concept. After all, if CCP won't work on the game he wants to play, why should he, as the "King of Space" let anyone else play the game they do make.

I can hear most of you about now saying "what the hell are you talking about?" So here's the tl:dr.

If the DCF were to take over 95% of nullsec (or all of it, which is the plan, supposedly), the discussion by goons on many forums is to then turn their sights on Empire, and grief the players who blindly continue to pay and play the game that isn't the EVE Online they want it to be. The goal, by wardeccing empire corps, and running regular operations into empire space to attack those players, is to drive players out of EVE - to make the game so frustrating that the poor "carebears" would stop logging in.

The conclusion, in this perhaps crazy plan, is to bring about the end of EVE. The funny (sad?) thing about this is, it shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone, whether true or troll. After all, Goons have always played their game - which often translated into ruining your game. This is the same alliance that, when bored a few years ago, wardecced corps to take down their towers, in a jihad against moon-pillaging evildoers.
After a while though people will start leaving the game. Not the bittervet assholes like us who post on or fhc either... the people who love the game despite its flaws and still play, and who played all through the bad expansions. The people who kept a positive attitude during the rough times because they had faith in the devs and fellow players as well that the game would get better. Maybe for them it never got bad at all. These people start leaving in droves because they can't play the game anymore. Griefed out by the fucking Mittani. Melvin the Mission runner and Kevin the Carebear. You never gave a shit about them before -- they were just ships passing by. Little people playing the game in a small way and enjoying it. When those people leave because of this it won't be CCP they blame. It won't be the expansions or monocles or engine trails or MT. They will look to you as the reason. And that is how Eve Online will finally die. It won't be because of CCP's unfortunate design choices - it will be because the biggest power bloc in the game got bored and decided to break it for everyone.
and the response from a prolific Goonswarm Poster, "endie":
This all sounds fucking brilliant.

So there it is, the end of the world. Let's hope that Rixx Javix was serious about playing EVE until the lights go out. Maybe he and The Mittani can do a frigate duel, in the spirit of Nash's Celebrity Deathmatches, for the last fight in EVE Online.

One can only wonder if, by actually iterating on FiS, and improving the actual spaceship game EVE Online, that CCP can stop Goonswarm, the DRF, and their allies, from bringing about the ultimate headshot, and bringing to an end, EVE Online. I will be watching, from inside and out, as the future unfolds.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

EVE Online: Addiction

Let's be clear here. I love EVE Online, the game you fight in spaceships. I have paid and played for years, and would like to pay and play for more years (my wife would prefer I not). I speak out about things I am passionate about - but in the end I have to vote with my dollars, because that is all CCP seems to listen to.

My subscription(s) should do three things (in this order):

  • maintain the existing infrastructure and environment for the game EVE Online
  • update and introduce new features to the game EVE Online
  • enable CCP to expand as a company into new products and ventures
If it doesn't then I'm paying for something I don't care about. I'm pretty sure the first (maintenance) is covered, since I logged in last night. Unfortunately, the priorities of the second and third items do not seem to match my expectations, at least over the last 6 months. That is my sole concern. 

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

Recent events with the CSM Emergency Summit minutes (or lack thereof) and the subsequent dissenting CSM voices on EVE Radio, assorted blogs and various other gaming media have brought the relationship between CCP and the CSM (and therefore the players) to the fore once again.

Tweetfleet conversations later discussing the situation led to calls for a Blog Banter to facilitate a broader dialogue across the blogging community. As a result, the following questions have been asked:

"In recent months, the relationship between CCP and it's customers has been the subject of some controversy. The player-elected Council of Stellar Management has played a key role in these events, but not for the first time they are finding CCP difficult to deal with. What effect will CCP's recent strategies have on the future of EVE Online and it's player-base? What part can and should the CSM play in shaping that future? How best can EVE Online's continued health and growth be assured?"

OMG! EVE IS DYING! (again?)

Well, we've all heard it. In the almost 4 years I've been playing EVE, I've heard it a lot. EVE is dying. Usually when CCP comes out with an expansion that doesn't meet the wishes of a specific group of players. But then, we all watched the logins increase, from 20k, to 30k, to 40k, and more. And then there was Incarna. I'll admit I log in less since Incarna. In fact, I have two accounts due for renewal in the next 2-3 weeks that I disabled auto-renew on when Incarna came out. And I'm not sure I'll renew them. I've rambled about the expansions before, but looking seriously at each of the semi-annual expansions, Incarna is the first one that is absolutely nothing about spaceships. CCP claims it needs to move towards 3D character interaction (walking in stations) to move forward, but that motion is slower than maple sap in mid-December. Incarna was "released" in June 2011, with one small room and no interaction. Today (September 2011) it's still just one small room and no interaction. This room is supposed to be your quarters, but really it's only accurate if you live in a Minmatar station. So there are 3 more small rooms that haven't come out of CCP yet before we even start talking about actual interaction. And this was considered an expansion of EVE Online. So where did it all go wrong? How about missing the point completely. Here's a quote from the EVE Online website:

What is EVE Online?

EVE is a Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMORPG) that takes place approximately 20.000 years after our times in a galaxy on the far end of the universe. When you join EVE you assume the role of a freshly graduated „Capsuleer“, a relatively small group of elite spaceship pilots capable of controlling powerful spaceships on their own from within their capsules. Capsuleers are often referred to as "The immortals" due to the fact that the highly advanced capsules they are connected to from the inside, are capable of instantly dowloading their consciousness to a clone of themselves in the case of physical destruction.

This sounds like a game about flying around in spaceships. In fact, that's the reason I started playing back in 2007. Unfortunately, 2 of the last 3 expansions haven't really been about flying around in spaceships. Tyrannis was about planets, and getting stuff out of planets, but no interaction with your actual spaceship (unless you call a mid-space rendezvous with a static box interaction). Incursion made us hope CCP realized the game was about spaceships, and it was pretty good. Incursions are a great way to get players to work together and make a good amount of money in game. It brought some freshness to EVE, although it took several months to trickle out completely. And then there was Incarna. Incarna brought the NEX (a RMT Cash shop for clothing for your new EVE Avatar) and a single room where you get out of your POD and sit on a couch alone. Incarna also brought most standard gaming rigs to their knees with it's intensive hardware requirements and 3D engine, so much so that many veteran players disabled it, only to discover the insult of CCP - when you disable Incarna, you stare at a door. No ship. No hangar. In fact, as far as spaceships go, Incarna reduced the number of functional tools are game playability when in station. Many people took this suggestion (see the door) and cancelled their subscriptions, including myself. As I mentioned, two accounts come due in the next couple weeks. So why would I renew them?

This is the same question many have asked since the release of Incarna. People at CCP used to play EVE. Many still do, I'm sure. But do they do more than log in, flip a skill, and watch the video screen in their Minmatar Captain's Quarters? There was a time that CCP paid attention to what was happening in EVE Online and made adjustments to the game, because they recognized what their players were doing, and came up with ideas to make it better. Then there was a time that CCP recognized that EVE needed something fresh, and exciting, and they added new ships and content to the universe. But that freshness is now stale, changes have been made but not iterated on (like the never-finished nullsec upgrade Dominion), and updates to some ships have made others virtually useless.

So much bad news. So what is the future of EVE Online?

I'm going to be positive, because even after 4 years I still spend hours reading and writing forum and blog posts about this game that I love, but the reality is, CCP has to recognize the issue and act on it sooner than later. I think (I hope) that the winter expansion will bring the focus back to spaceships. Even though team BFF seems to be a small piece of the hundreds of CCP employees, they are the team that seems to actually play this game we love, and they are trying to work on the spaceship side of the game (or at least that's what they say). But as the weeks (and months) pass, more and more subscriptions (like mine) are tailing off, and the number of folks logged in is dropping. Hopefully CCP sees this trend, and in the winter expansion (or before it) they will bring back one small piece that everyone took for granted – low-impact ship spinning. So many would log into EVE, and just sit in station while using corp/alliance/chat (or now Jabber) and undock when there was action. When CCP took away that view, many stopped logging in because the heavy load of the Incarna Engine on a computer, just to stare at your ship, made it hard to do other things while EVE waited. Now, when the ping comes across Jabber, fewer folks are actually logged in, so why bother at all? By showing us the door or 75% CPU/GPU utilization to stand alone in a room, CCP has asked us not to log in and wait, so it becomes effort to log in at all, and people just don't.

The CSM knows it, and they are gearing up to try and push CCP to recognize that bleeding your cow to death isn't the wisest course of action. Posts by The Mittani, Seleene and White Tree show that the CSM is gearing up to do what CCP seems unable to without them - try and save EVE Online. Because if the current trend continues, and there isn't growth for the spaceship side of the game, EVE will die before it can become real (the fantasy shown at FanFest).

Upper management in CCP needs to look at the logs, really and make sure that the spaceships get as much attention as the spaceshirts - because if they don't there won't be anyone to wear the fashionable artwork coming into the NEX.