Monday, September 23, 2013



Has Taken My Sight
Taken My Speech
Taken My Hearing
Taken My Arms
Taken My Legs
Taken My Soul
Left Me with Life in Hell

--"One" by Metallica

One of the things I was thinking about the other day was features that seem to have been removed from EVE. I'm not sure if they are or aren't for sure, but one of the quickest ways to get information is to make a statement on the internet, because someone will correct you.

Which makes me think of this.

The features that I think have been removed:

  • Custom "Orbit" and "Keep at Range" distances by ship class / size. If I recall correctly, this was by size, so a T2 cruiser would have the same orbit as a T1 cruiser but not the same as, say, a destroyer.
  • Automatic drone retrieval. When the warp command was issued, drones were automatically recalled. As long as the drones could get back to you before you aligned and warped off, your drones were safe. I found mentions of this as early as January 5th, 2009.
Let me know what you think! If I missed anything, put it in the blog comments and I'll update this post.

Whither Anoikis?

So, there is the recent trend that I have noticed, that is really bugging me. It is calling Wormhole space Anoikis? When did this start? I have been playing EVE since wormholes were introduced and its only since some time in 2013 that I have seen this term. Even CCP uses it in the recent Dev Blog highlighting Tiger Ears' Blog (one of my favorite ones). It is a word that I just don't like. It just doesn't roll off of the tongue at all. At least not mine. It wasn't used at all in Templar One. It just seems to me after all this time of calling wormhole space a number of terms that aren't Anoikis, this strikes me as a bit of an affectation. Oh well, that's enough for that rant.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Through the Looking Glass

Eve Online: Art in Motion (courtesy of  Eve Online Pictures)

Who can see the future?

I've been doing a bit of thinking about the future of EVE. About the game itself and my future in it. I wrote a brief reaction to Poetic Stanizel's quitting post and I just read Drackarn's take on Poe's post. I have to say I agree with him for the most part. There are some dissenters to Poe's view and some in agreement. I think James 315 had a well thought out analysis of the Eve Online Terms of Service (TOS) change. We need to think very carefully about the goal here, the desired endgame. And by we, I mostly mean CCP. We as players in general and the CSM in particular can make our opinion known, and attempt to influence CCP, but lets face it, we are not making the design decisions here. We provide the content, for the most part (more correctly, we are the content), but can not control the framework we operate in. We can opt out, we can rattle the bars of our cage a bit, but we can't stroll in to the Executive Producer's office and start giving orders. Who is CCP trying to attract? Theme parkers? Lets face it, there hasn't been much fresh new content added recently to make anyone want to resubscribe. In general, they have been making some good changes that improved our quality of life a bit and introduced some new "metas" (what ships we fly and how they are equipped), but the game is basically the same. The new content isn't really that compelling. Here is a post by a newer player describing his experience with the new exploration mini-game. I agree with almost all of what he wrote. Walking in station is a bust. Why was it so hard? Earth and Beyond did it in 2001.

What is good in EVE?

To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women... Oh wait, I'm thinking of something else.

What can I get in Eve Online that I cannot get anywhere else? Single shard MMO. Space combat simulator with consequences. Rich marketplace and economy. Player-driven content. Sandbox. No victory condition other than goals you set for yourself. No "gear treadmill" (the reason I quit World of Warcraft). By the last thing, I mean that there is minimal power creep (I'm not saying there is none, Titans, anyone?). I trained T1 frigates skills in 2009, I can still use a hull I bought back then to shoot stuff with. All of our existing ships are not relegated to the to the same level of usefulness of the rookie ships every six months. 

Basically, the game works because you can do whatever you want (fight, build, trade,etc), but all of your actions have meaning and consequences. If I have an accomplishment today it will be with me in a month or a year. Even if my brand spanking new faction battleship that I earned dies in a gate camp it was still something I had and I can lose it if I am not careful. There is risk in every thing you do. The things you do matters. To me that is what makes me spend the hours on this game instead of another game. It's something I have control of, that I can change.

This is where it falls apart

There has been a movement to dumb down the game, I feel, in recent years. Some of the changes were needed, because there were some really dumb game mechanics that were really confusing. CCPs document on how the old crime watch system worked was over 50 pages, if I recall correctly. So, some things come and some things go. I am just worried that the player base perceives that the atmosphere caters more to the care bear and theme park MMO crowd. Because that will make the veterans quit. EVE used to have much more of a "wild west" atmosphere than it does now. Or at least that is the perception. My fear is that in order to attract new blood, they will drive out the old players. This is not sustainable. This is what happened to WOW (the result, not the cause). To some degree it must happen, because not everyone is going to play your game for 10+ years. So there is always going to be an influx of eager rookies and a retirement of bitter vets. But you should not make that your business plan, to replace your current loyal, paying customers with theoretical people that have not even heard of your game yet, even though it is probably the only MMO that has a stable player base after 10 years.

To survive CCP must add new content, new things to do, without destroying the "flavor" of EVE. There is a reason that McDonalds still sells the Big Mac, even though many other burgers have come and gone since the Big Mac was introduced. Its the special sauce.

Part of that special sauce is CCP's relationship with their customers. Most other developers do not have that kind of relationship with their customer. It has been rocky at times, but it is close. How many other games have an equivalent of the Council for Stellar Management (CSM)? How many other games can get hundreds (if not thousands) of fans to fly to Iceland once a year to meet other players and hear news about the game, ten years after it was released?

They need to keep it fresh and they need to communicate with us to continue being successful  They really need to be honest about Dust 514. I'm really not sure what is going to happen there. I want to like it, but its pretty weak in many ways, compared to its competitors in the AAA console FPS market. Whenever I play Planetside 2, I am wishing that Dust was like that. If it isn't going to make money they need to pull the plug. 

Also, vampires. CCP has been teasing the public with the World of Darkness game that they have been dangling in front of us for a while. I really think that needs to happen. I think there is an audience for it built in, and that it could find a much wider audience if executed correctly. They need to figure out how to make that and get it made. Maybe start with not trying to reinvent the wheel every time they do something. There are plenty of game engines and development tools out there. Use them. With the game market the way it is right now, making your own development tools from scratch is like trying to use Kickstarter to start a car company to make cars that compete with the Toyota Camry or the Ford F-150. Not gonna happen. Just, no.

I hope they can do it, I really do. If they can't I'm going to have a lot more free time in the future. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Sharp Dressed Man

Top coat, top hat,
I don't worry coz my wallet's fat. 
Black shades, white gloves, 
lookin' sharp and lookin' for love. 
They come runnin' just as fast as they can 
coz every girl grazy 'bout a sharp dressed man. 

-Sharp Dressed Man, ZZ Top

This is entry for Blog Banter #49: Rich. To be quite honest, I have never been super interested in writing a Blog Banter. I usually read them, but never was very tempted to write one. But, this topic is something that I think about a lot.

What is rich in EVE Online? Is it trillions like Mynna? Is it maybe a little less, like Parasoja? Gevlon Goblin? Lets face it, these guys have more ISK than they know what to do with. While they may be the One Percent-ers, my definition of rich in this game is a little more humble.

It is not having to worry about ISK. It means having enough ISK sitting around to replace all your losses, as well as letting you do what you want. By that I mean, if you want to buy a well fit Machariel to run some mission or DED plexes you just do it. You don't have to save, or upgrade incrementally, you just log on your Jita alt, buy and ship.

I don't just define it as the size of your bank account. I have pretty much enough ISK to do anything I want (barring super caps), but what holds me back most often is income. I still haven't gotten a handle on a steady, enjoyable income stream, so I am hesitant to spend much money, because if I do, I will eventually run out. And that is not good. Basically, to be rich in this game to me means having enough ISK on hand to meet your immediate and near future needs, as well as a solid enough income stream to keep up with your expenditures. If you lose 1B ISK of ships in a month, then your income needs to be 1B ISK/month to keep up with your play style.

I've tried almost every way to make money in this game, but I haven't really stuck with a method that I like that makes good money. Maybe I will eventually, I've only been playing for four and a half years (not counting my 2004 and 2007 flirtations with EVE).

Friday, September 13, 2013

We're not gonna take it!

Twisted Sister - We're Not Gonna Take It (Official Video)

So, I've been reading Poetic Stan's posts on CCP's handling of the reaction to the TOS change. I've been (very loosely) following this on the forums, too. I'm not happy. CCP locked the first thread when things started to get out of hand. That thread did not reach Mintchip -gate levels folks. I don't understand why they do that. There is nothign stopping players from creating another thread, which they did. This is poor community relations management. I'm also not happy that the executives in charge of this decision to change the TOS are throwing the GMs to the lions. Lets be real, the GMs aren't rewriting the TOS, that's executives and their legal team. This whole thing is turning into monocle-gate all over again. And you know what?

Let it.

Let's show CCP we aren't dumb. Their insistence that this was always the policy is false. I understand there was a naming policy out there, that is true, but it was pretty much never enforced. If it was enforced, the worst thing that would happen to you is you had to pick a new character name. NBD.

The new policy could completely outlaw many forms of scamming and emergent game play. It can be enforced with bans. This is the difference between tapping someone politely on the shoulder and asking them to maybe keep it down a bit and smashing them in the face with a hammer.

What do?

Show CCP that we won't tolerate being treated like idiots. It blows my mind that they want to replace a loyal, subscription-paying customer base, with some hypothetical people out there that may have been turned off by EVE's reputation. Because that is where this is headed. Make all of the community leaders quit in disgust and EVE will suffer a mass exodus. Who will fill the void once those existing social connections are broken. EVE is an addicting game. But it's not a very good game. I feel bad introducing it to other people, because it's such a pain in the ass. What makes EVE great is the players.

So we need to show CCP that we won't take this lying down. First of all, I suggest a petition blizzard. Petition the ever-loving f$@k out of everything. Petition every player with the game suggested surname, because they could be confused with other players with the same surname. Petition every James 315, Mittani, Chribba, Entity impersonator. Petition anyone who talks in local. Once CCP has about a 5 year backlog of petitions maybe they will listen.

If all else fails, shoot the damn Jita Monument.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Wherever I May Roam

And the road becomes my bride
I have stripped of all but pride
So in her I do confide
And she keeps me satisfied
Gives me all I need
And with dust in throat I crave
Only knowledge will I save
To the game you stay a slave
Roamer, wanderer
Nomad, vagabond
Call me what you will
-- Wherever I May Roam, Metallica

So, I recently wrote a post about Low Sec, but I left it partially written. Unfortunately, I sort of forgot about that, edited it, and hit "Publish". I wrote a few things about the good and the bad of low security space, but I didn't share any of my ideas about how to make it better.

Typical Low Security Space: Nothing to see here, move along...

As I roam around low sec, my thoughts often flow along the lines of "there is nothing here". Some pirate groups which have hunted what little prey there is mostly to extinction. A few FW plexers that will do anything not to PVP with another player. Some roamers that will only take fights when their (largish) small gang dramatically outnumbers and outclasses (ie. having more support than) any opposition. Don't even get me started on gate campers.

Low sec still needs the "killer app". Something that will bring more people there. There are a few good moons, but that mostly just brings large entities with lots of friends. There is exploration, but its not a very big draw. There are a few DED complexes, but they are rarely run. There is FW, but it mostly draws cloaked, stabbed T1 frigs. 

One idea I had was expand on the idea of what makes low security space low security? The empires nominally own it, but they don't really control it. They just take note of your misdeeds (well, at least Concord does). Enter pirate factions into Faction Warfare. Have empire nations do "incursions" into low sec. Get rid of people with people orbiting buttons. Make them really destroy some ships. Make it so when people warp into your plex, you want to fight them (ie. the reward for doing so is high enough to make you evaluate your chances of winning instead of just warping off). Right now there is no penalty for leaving a plex. Make it a BIG penalty, like it counts down at 10x speed or resets entirely when you warp out.  It would be really sweet to do the Serpentis' dirty work and earn Vindicator and Vigilant BPCs without having to go to null sec.

The problem with low sec is there just really isn't a reason to be there for a lot of people. It's risky, but not much potential for reward exists. Make it so the "Big Leagues" are in low sec and high sec is the "minors". 

I know I was pretty much rambling, but my point is CCP should re-purpose some of the existing content and mechanisms to put some more life in to low sec. Keep sweetening the pot until it draws more and more players. If Malcanis' law kicks in too hard then back off a little bit (what I mean by this if large null sec alliances abandon null sec for the land of fruit and honey then you probably opened the ISK faucet a bit too much). I would like CCP to put stuff in space for people to fight over. Right now I almost exclusively encounter other players on gates, stations, and FW complexes (a few brave miners notwithstanding). I would love some feedback on this.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Stuck in Middle Management Hell

Peter Gibbons: The thing is, Bob, it's not that I'm lazy, it's that I just don't care. 
Bob Porter: Don't... don't care? 
Peter Gibbons: It's a problem of motivation, all right? Now if I work my ass off and Initech ships a few extra units, I don't see another dime, so where's the motivation? And here's something else, Bob: I have eight different bosses right now. 
Bob Slydell: I beg your pardon? 
Peter Gibbons: Eight bosses. 
Bob Slydell: Eight? 
Peter Gibbons: Eight, Bob. So that means that when I make a mistake, I have eight different people coming by to tell me about it. That's my only real motivation is not to be hassled, that and the fear of losing my job. But you know, Bob, that will only make someone work just hard enough not to get fired.

-- Office Space, 1999

Just listened to the Crossing Zebras interview with Lovelocke (ENL-I) and it was gratifying to see that my post about TEST was spot on.

Things Lovelocke and I agreed on:

  • AFK leadership (due to indifference or RL issues)
  • No middle management / bench strength (Middle Management Dino doesn't actually exist)
  • Toxic forums / social environment. I guess they finally got sick of the constant chorus of "Kick ENL-I"

Things I laughed at:

  • "[I] don't post on Kugu, because it is a cesspit of retards"
  • Lovelocke talking about his 30 day forum post ban. If you haven't listed to the interview you should (it's somewhere around the 42 minute point or thereabout). 
  • FWEDDIT's recruitment poster: "FWEDDIT: Like TEST but with SOV"

I think that TEST's Curse deployment plan is wayyyy better than the "let's go to the shittiest part of Aridia" plan. That was Lovelocke's recommendation and I'm happy they seem to be taking it. I actually had to restrain myself from re-applying (to TEST). This should give them a chance to catch their breath and regroup. They need to actually get some middle management and effective delegation in place and build their FC roster, while not letting their null sec survival skills atrophy.

Good luck, TEST. Also, I wish ENL-I the best in their new home (GSF).