Friday, May 25, 2012

D * V * F > R

Blog Banter 36: The Expansion of EVE
"With the Inferno expansion upon us, new seeds have been planted in the ongoing evolution of EVE Online. With every expansion comes new trials and challenges, game-changing mechanics and fresh ideas. After nine years and seventeen expansions, EVE has grown far more than most other MMOGs can hope for. Which expansions have brought the highs and lows, which have been the best and the worst for EVE Online?"
"Time may change me
But I can't trace time"
- David Bowie

CCP heralds the twice-annual EVE expansion as "Free", and in the strictest sense, it is. We don't have to pay more for it, but it is not truly free. Players pay every month for EVE, far more than maintenance costs. Seventeen expansions into EVE, I've seen ten of them, beginning with Trinity. When I tried to list the expansions I've seen, several were forgettable. I'll cover my top three, and touch upon the ones with the most failed promise that I've lived through.

I Trinity

Trinity holds a special place in my heart, as the most important EVE expansion for me. As a Mac user, I had drooled and grumbled about not playing EVE for the first four years it was out. When it was announced that the Intel conversion at Apple was bringing EVE to the Mac, I signed up for a subscription on Day 1 (I didn't even do a trial). It wasn't the most game changing expansion for EVE, but it was for me.

II Apocrypha

Apocrypha had the most impact on me as a player. I had been solo-ing EVE (badly), and having skills to get in and out of wormholes early in the Apocrypha days made me friends with people who did things in groups, and opened my eyes to the truth of EVE - it is not a game for solo players. New probing methods, Tech 3 ships, isolated islands in space, Apocrypha brought about a whole new class of player - the dedicated wormholer, and strategies and tactics alongside it.

III Crucible

For many, Crucible was the make or break of EVE. Players who had yearned for the success of Incarna had been disappointed (putting it mildly), and the issues that surrounded Incarna needed a clean break. Crucible focused CCP on spaceships, and EVE was once again a fun, beautiful game that included spaceship combat. Cruible kept many of us from leaving the world of New Eden forever.

The worst expansions are harder to cover. Really, only one expansion in the 4+ years I've played EVE has been bad. I had some forgettable ones though. Quantum Rise and Tyrannis didn't bubble to the top of my memory when thinking about expansions, and I wasn't sure Incursion was a full expansion until I checked the expansion history on Wikipedia. That didn't make them necessarily bad, they just weren't...memorable. In the four years I played EVE, only Incarna was a failure as an expansion. Incarna has been covered so many ways, by so many including myself, I'd rather just say "it was bad" and leave it in the basement.

Two expansions that could have been amazing were Empyrean Age and Dominion. Both of these brought about new conflicts, new areas for player driven content, and both were abandoned half-finished or worse – broken. With the recent introduction of Inferno, CCP looks like they might actually make good on the promise of the Empyrean Age, and it hints at changes to fulfill Dominion in the future. Here's hoping that Winter 2012 (or Summer 2013) brings about the next iteration in the long-broken Dominion as well.

The title of this post is taken from "The Formula for Change" created by Richard Beckhard and David Gleicher, refined by Kathie Dannemiller and is sometimes called Gleicher's Formula. This formula provides a model to assess the relative strengths affecting the likely success or otherwise of organisational change programs.

Simply put, Change = dissatisfaction + vision + practical first steps

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

On the definition of Piracy

Just a bit of a brief explanation, in case anyone cares.

In my fantasy land of EVE Online, pirates aren't just pilots who run around in frigates looking to gank ratters or miners in losec belts. They don't just sit on hot losec gates in instalock canes popping noobs who turned on "shortest" autopilot.

Don't get me wrong, they do these things. But they do (or they did) much more. Pirates hunted the losec systems of EVE for lucrative haulers (who used to exist), for hisec mission runners attempting to run the rare losec mission, or small fleets running LV Missions. Pirates felt like they owned certain constellations, or systems, and made it their mission to hunt down anyone who dared enter their territory.

They didn't just shoot each other, or the foolish random pilot. They hunted Faction Warriors (they didn't join FW). They might have even occasionally roamed into hisec for the terror of a mining fleet gank (not a random one, a full-blown operational gank).

To be fair, I haven't seen a lot of pirates in losec lately. I see solo hunters, I see groups who are more like the mafia than a pirate corp. Not that there is anything wrong with either of those things. But they aren't pirates. If you are calling yourself a pirate, take a look at the historical (and modern) pirate, and ask if that's what you are doing. Because if you aren't, you shouldn't bother calling yourself a pirate. Also, just because you live in losec, have a -5.0 or lower sec status, and you shoot people, that's not really piracy either. Just saying'....

Ships in my Hangar

I've not been logging in a lot lately, but I've been collecting my ships from around New Eden into a central staging system. After 4 years, I had a lot of ships scattered around, and now I find I just have a lot of ships. It doesn't help that I used to play Somer.blink and collected my wins instead of cashing them out.

Upon doing this list, I realized that I have a serious problem – too many ships. So the first thing I did was donate some hulls to Hulkageddon for prizes. The other interesting tibit was that I don't have a single battleship in my staging hangar. I have a couple hulls stored in HiSec, but not one fit up Battleship. I never really liked them. Too slow and deliberate for my style.

Saying that, I like frigates a lot, even though they aren't the hardiest of ships. I added up the numbers, and (excluding T1 hulls) I have almost 48 frigates in my staging hangar. Here's a sampling of them:

Enyos (a lot) - I really like this AF, and it's even more awesome since Crucible.
Ishkurs I keep meaning to set one of these up as a losec PvE boat.
Jaguars and Wolves - Did I mention that when AFs were buffed in Cruicible I bought a lot of them?

Helios - A decent LoSec prober for exploration. Less useful in Null (where I fly a Cheetah instead)
Keres - I've never fit up the Keres. I am really annoyed by Sensor Damps in PvE, so I really have to try it soon in PvP to see if it annoys others. But it requires good support to survive.

Ares - tackle. Because fleet tackle matters.
Taranis - tackle with a bit of a bite. Also a good 1v1 boat.

Hounds & Nemesis' - my old CEO loved bombers and hot drops. I've bombed badly a number of times, not sure I've ever done it well.

I won't go into the other hulls. Lets just say I have too many ships, and I need to start losing some.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Unintended Consequences

Once upon a time, traders plied the spacelanes, hauling goods across the expanse of space to net a profit.

In the olden days, these traders had to utilize freighters or industrials to haul their goods across dozens of systems. Then, the empires developed the Jump Freighter.

A massive vessel with over 300,000m3 of storage, the Jump Freighter is able to both navigate standard stargates and jump to a cynosural beacon. And in that instant, losec died.

This is not a clarion call for the end of the Jump Freighter, because it has a purpose, in fact much of nullsec in EVE would not exist as it does, without the Jump Freighter. This is a thought, about the rule of unintended consequences. I believe the idea was to improve logistics to deep nullsec. After all, even on a good day, it's fairly difficult to get to Stain, or the deep drone regions. And that is with a Jump Freighter.

But the unintended side effect of the jump freighter may have been the death knell for true losec piracy. After all, it's not profitable to hunt the spacelanes between regions when there are no industrials (or freighters) traveling them. And so, as I found in a trip out to Solitude this weekend, the once-busy losec routes are, sadly, desolate and barren. But the station systems on common jump routes are filled with cyno alts, awaiting their moment to undock in a frigate, pop the cyno, and sit for 10 minutes, waiting to either dock (or if they are lucky, get shot).

And so piracy in New Eden is but a ghostly shell of its former self.