Archive for the 'EVE Essays' Category

That’s what they are calling this in my in-game channels, and I am inclined to agree:

View it full screen. It’s worth it.

My re-entry into EVE has been a quiet one. Although I’m in the game several days a week, for some weeks I wasn’t doing very much except poking around and trying to figure out my new niche in EVE for making ISK (and trouble) when by myself. My illustrious careers in can flipping and aggressive salvaging seem to be pretty much history now, post Crimewatch; these professions have not become impossible, but they are much more difficult and much less profitable than formerly. Worse yet, the proliferation of tools for safer mining and easier salvage have vastly reduced the numbers of EVE players who mine and salvage in unsafe ways. So it’s become a longer search for a more dangerous fight.

I’m not whining; I’m just looking for the next niche of equivalent fun-potential. At least there have been minor joys, like finding and grabbing a couple of nice ships while searching for abandoned POS pinatas. But a new avocation hasn’t yet presented itself. In time, it will.

Meanwhile, I came across this YouTube video about the joys of flying with NPSI (Not Purple, Shoot It) fleets. So I decided to do a bit of that to get my fingers retrained for combat. In the end I found a mellow black-ops hot-dropping operation with good hunter-killers and so I’ve been spending several hours at the end of the day chillin’ in a stealth bomber (or sometimes a Falcon) and occassionally dropping in to remind people that EVE is not best played solo. Although our HKs are catholic in their methods for finding prey, it amuses me that a frequent tactic is to look helpless or clueless, and then grab the would-be predators who swoop in. There’s no fun quite like turning the tables on some aggressive boyo who thought he was killing a helpless victim. The biter, bitten!

Last night I was lucky enough to get the final blow on a Hurricane pilot who was fit for PvP and (correctly) thought he’d found some, but who failed to anticipate the true nature of the PvP he had discovered:

2014.11.19 06:37:00
Victim: NetheranE
Corp: Collapsed Out
Alliance: Overload Everything
Faction: Unknown
Destroyed: Hurricane
System: Ostingele
Security: 0.2
Damage Taken: 16192

Destroyed items:

Medium Auxiliary Nano Pump I
Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II
Navy Cap Booster 800, Qty: 12 (Cargo)
Medium Projectile Metastasis Adjuster I
220mm Vulcan AutoCannon II
Hobgoblin II (Drone Bay)
Faint Epsilon Warp Scrambler I
Synth Exile Booster (Cargo)
Medium Electrochemical Capacitor Booster I
Barrage M, Qty: 1000 (Cargo)
Fleeting Propulsion Inhibitor I
220mm Vulcan AutoCannon II
Republic Fleet Fusion M, Qty: 1040 (Cargo)
Republic Fleet Fusion M, Qty: 157
Republic Fleet Fusion M, Qty: 157
Nanite Repair Paste, Qty: 200 (Cargo)
Medium Auxiliary Nano Pump I
Medium Armor Repairer II
220mm Vulcan AutoCannon II
220mm Vulcan AutoCannon II
Gyrostabilizer II
Hail M, Qty: 1000 (Cargo)
Nanite Repair Paste, Qty: 32

Dropped items:

Medium Ancillary Armor Repairer
Navy Cap Booster 800 (Cargo)
Navy Cap Booster 800
Republic Fleet Fusion M, Qty: 157
Medium Unstable Power Fluctuator I
220mm Vulcan AutoCannon II
Reactive Armor Hardener
Republic Fleet Phased Plasma M, Qty: 2000 (Cargo)
Synth Drop Booster (Cargo)
Republic Fleet Fusion M, Qty: 157
Experimental 10MN Microwarpdrive I
Republic Fleet Fusion M, Qty: 157
Republic Fleet Fusion M, Qty: 157
Damage Control II
Republic Fleet EMP M, Qty: 1960 (Cargo)
220mm Vulcan AutoCannon II

And then I was stunned to discover that there are still people in EVE who haven’t learned that spilling butthurt tears is just a way to compound and deepen their loss:

[ 06:37:17 ] NetheranE > gooood
[ 06:37:27 ] NetheranE > #deathofsolopvp
[ 06:37:36 ] ColdHeart Hunter > Lolz bombers
[ 06:37:41 ] darkone040 > gf
[ 06:37:45 ] RiotRick > gf
[ 06:37:46 ] Khro Nology > gf
[ 06:37:49 ] Lexical Pedantry > gf
[ 06:37:49 ] Vanya Virpio > gf
[ 06:37:49 ] Leoric el Rey > gf
[ 06:37:50 ] NetheranE > “good faggotry”
[ 06:37:51 ] Adrian Trazani > gf
[ 06:37:51 ] Rafe Hollister > gf
[ 06:37:57 ] Marlenus > gf
[ 06:37:59 ] Leoric el Rey > thats rude
[ 06:38:02 ] Leoric el Rey > retorted
[ 06:38:09 ] NetheranE > retorted?
[ 06:38:11 ] NetheranE > alrighty then
[ 06:38:14 ] Marlenus > learn to spell
[ 06:38:16 ] NetheranE > keep being a douche bro
[ 06:38:26 ] Leoric el Rey > rude
[ 06:38:41 ] NetheranE > so you’re thin skinned and a bitch
[ 06:38:45 ] NetheranE > what else is new

I’m told that he went on in that butthurt way for quite some time after most of us had left local. I don’t have the logs, but it’s no loss, as NetheranE’s invective was distinctly weary and second-rate.

A final word about NPSI fleet action: if you haven’t tried it, it’s rather a lot of fun. If you are unclear what it’s all about, watch the video I linked above. I am quite enjoying Spectre Fleet (join the channel and mailing list of the same name in game for more info) but they are not the only NPSI operation out there. I’m finding that being in several NPSI channels is like being in a good alliance if you enjoy PvP roams and small-to-medium subcap fleet operations. At any given time when you log in, you can see what’s planned for the next couple of days, and pick from a buffet of options, fitting a good ship for whatever fleet sounds good and showing up at the appointed time in the appointed place for some no-nonsense fun. And yet it’s better than any alliance I’ve ever heard of, because it’s entirely free of pressure to participate and there’s no bullshit politics, at least not at the level visible to the grunts who X up every day.

In a trio of posts, CPP Diagoras has revealed the birth and death statistics for supercapitals in EVE in 2011. The population explosion (net births over deaths) is far worse than I had imagined:

Rixiu: How many titans and supercarriers are built per month?
CCP Diagoras: 2011 average was 137 supercarriers and 31 titans built per month, total of 1,646 supercarriers and 370 titans.
Della Monk: A titan every day? Goddamn. How often are they blown up?
CCP Diagoras: 86 titans destroyed in 2011, 269 supercarriers.
Rixiu: Damn. That’s insanely low. Supercap proliferation indeed. How many are there in the game total? Must be over 1000 titans by now and 2-3k supercarriers. That’s insane.
CCP Diagoras: Not counting ones that are in capital maintenance arrays (I wouldn’t expect that to be many) – 3,385 supercarriers and 847 titans.

Now, it’s worth remembering that supercaps were rebalanced near the end of 2011, with significant changes to them (and to logoffski mechanics in general) that may, it is to be hoped, increase their death rate. However, it’s unclear (to me; presumably the cap people know) how the changes affected their rates of manufacture and of being put into harm’s way, so the effect on net supercapital populations in 2012 is beyond my ability to predict.

Based on 2011 stats, though, we’re looking at a game population of supercarriers increasing by 1377 a year, and a game population of titans increasing by 284 a year. For determinedly subcap pilots like me, it’s a worrisome trend. Subcaps are enormously important in large support fleets when capitals are on the field, it’s true, but individual subcap pilots don’t get to have much impact in those battles. I worry that EVE may see the day when most subcap hulls now extant will be as irrelevant to important fights as most tier one frigates and cruisers are now. It doesn’t matter if the hull is useful (and most are, in the right role in the right situation); it only matters if the pilots around you think you’re not in the best hull for the job. And if the supercaps keep proliferating, we’re going to see the day (mark my words) that the minimum standard for a 0.0 fleet is going to be a Dreadnaught, which will be regarded as being about as disposable as a Drake is today.

Nope, it wasn’t me or Marlenus that got this awesome kill:

2012.01.14 12:50:00

Victim: Long Stroker
Corp: FP Council of Trust
Alliance: None
Faction: None
Destroyed: Nemesis
System: Tolle
Security: 0.7
Damage Taken: 1250

Involved parties:

Name: Zedrik Cayne (laid the final blow)
Security: 0.1
Corp: Standards and Practices
Alliance: None
Faction: None
Ship: Iteron Mark V
Weapon: Medium Pulse Laser II
Damage Done: 1250

Destroyed items:

Covert Ops Cloaking Device II
Overdrive Injector System II, Qty: 2
Mjolnir Torpedo, Qty: 22
Mjolnir Torpedo, Qty: 1352 (Cargo)

Dropped items:

Stasis Webifier I
‘Arbalest’ Siege Missile Launcher, Qty: 3
Warp Disruptor I
1MN MicroWarpdrive II
Target Painter I
Mjolnir Torpedo, Qty: 11

That’s old Ironfleet friend Zedrik Cayne, who goes all the way back to the days when Ironfleet was in TEARS Alliance with the Suddenly Ninja boys. Apparently he’s still tearing up the spaceways in his own outfit, Standards and Practices.

This kill, though, came to my attention when the 0.0 alliance I’m in got a war declaration from Standards and Practices. I couldn’t stand the curiosity; I simply had to track down the info on which of our lovable chuckleheads had managed to irritate Zed so badly. Turns out it’s all on his blog and a forum thread. TL;DR version: They got butthurt about losing the nemesis and a few other things, declared war on Zed, and then boldly ran away — which is to say, they all dropped corp and joined up with one of our member corps, while their CEO stayed behind just long enough to taunt Zed with the supposed impossibility of his following them to 0.0.

They don’t know Zedrik the way we know Zedrik. This should be funny!

This guy never says the word “EVE” but it’s obvious what game he’s talking about. And he’s dead right — there are strong practical reasons why you shouldn’t let your alliance trash your coms with language that demeans and excludes and offends an unknowable but real percentage of your members:

I play an online game where the most commonly-heard phrase for “destroying the enemy” is “raping their faces.” Usage notes: “we really raped face last night”, “we caught them by surprise and raped their faces”, “who’s online and ready to go rape some face?”

By no particular coincidence, the voices you hear in your headset when you play this game are overwhelmingly male.

The politics of managing voice coms for a group so large are intricate. The more people using coms, the more social cohesion you have and the better your gaming group will fight together. But if coms are shitted up in ways that make various groups feel unwelcome (gays, women, ethnic minorities) these people will not use coms and may not stay in your group. So when your people start using “gay” as a derisive adjective, calling the folks who aren’t combat-oriented “Jews” because they are busy earning in-game currency, throwing around words such as “cunt” and “bitches” like the unsupervised 14-year-old-boys many of them are, or using “rape” as a laudatory verb of victorious combat, it’s important to push back.

That’s from ErosBlog, which is emphatically NOT a link that’s safe to click at most workplaces.

Alternative post title: Fuck Me Asshat

Sometimes jet-can miners lose ore. As readers of this blog know, that can be painful, especially if they have poor impulse control or an anger management problem.

One very old-fashioned and somewhat inefficient solution to this problem is to anchor giant secure containers in the belts, and mine into those. (It’s inefficient because they are expensive, small in volume, and difficult to anchor in numbers due to minimum spacing requirements.)

The steps involved in doing this correctly are:

1) Anchor the can or cans.

2) Set a password on the can or cans.

3) Mine into the can or cans.

Fail any of these steps, and you may lose stuff. For example, fail at step 1 and I’ll scoop your cans.

Failing step two is rare, but it does happen. Interestingly, taking ore from an anchored can with no password does not appear to trigger a criminal flag. It can, however, trigger smacky emails from members of Iron Society [IRONS]:

From: Murthrox
Sent: 2011.11.25 18:31
To: Marlenus,

Fuck you asshat

While Murthrox was mailing me in anger, I was busy hauling ore. The ore I couldn’t fit in my Crane stayed there in an Ironfleet can.

I had some important stuff to do (like catching up on my Jester) so I watched the Ironfleet can for awhile in my stealth bomber. Murthrox docked his Retriever and came back in a Vagabond, then went from can to can setting passwords. (I checked, later. Good boy, you can learn from experience!)

The the Vagabond went away again. I was still catching up on blogs, so I watched for quite a long while. Finally, Murthrox came back in the Retriever. Sadly, he went to another part of his canstellation and resumed mining without showing any interest in the Ironfleet can. So, then and only then, I went back to get the rest of the ore.

In all the pain of the last couple of years as CCP seemed increasingly to lose its way chasing monacles for use in locked empty rooms, it’s been easy to post a lot of shit on the forums (and I’ve done my share of that). Less easy has been to maintain empathy for the devs who may have shared the pain, but could not say so. Here’s CCP Grayscale, apologizing because (or at least explaining why) he didn’t pay enough attention to the forum objections during the big round of nerfing the better anomalies out of most of sovereign nullsec:

I’ve been increasingly withdrawn from the forums for the last year or two. It’s a pretty draining experience reading page after page after page of angry posts, about all kinds of topics but all ultimately driven by the same core concerns of abandonment and neglect, and agreeing with those concerns, and not being able to do much of anything about it. As a result, I’ve been avoiding listening to the forums and focusing on doing the best work I can, but the former occasionally precludes the latter. On the bright side, it feels like the mood on the forums has been improving hugely in the last month or two…

Indeed it has. Progress is on the horizon, prosperity is just around the corner. Hope is in the air. Welcome back.

Back in June when I unsubbed all three accounts, I felt that CCP was committed to an “unretrievable failcascade” and I didn’t have the heart to ride down with it. But I also said CCP “might come to their senses and start fixing all the stuff that’s been neglected over the last few years.”

Yeah. It wasn’t very likely and I didn’t expect it.

But now, they are very definitely making the right noises. Hilmar’s apology, the features promised for the winter expansion, and the “they really aren’t faking here” layoffs and reorganization of the company to have a more solid EVE focus — it’s not features in the client, yet, but it’s more than PR smoke and mirrors. It feels like a serious commitment to remove the pants from the head and get back to work.

Can they execute? Well, recent track record hasn’t been good, and the 20% layoffs tend to suggest they don’t have a ton of time to get it right this time. And the “more of the same old failed not-fun shoot-the-big-anchored-pile-of-hitpoints” mechanic they are introducing with player-owned customs offices in Planetary Interaction suggests that execution is still a problem for them. Devs who don’t play the game — and thus can naively suggest, for example, that people in wormholes might put up a “freeport” customs office open for public use, rather than locking roaming strangers out as everyone will — may yet be the death of this game.

Be that as it may, I have been patching my clients this afternoon. And I’m going to resubscribe at least one of them, for at least a little while.

Am I really back? We’ll see. But I’ll probably stick around at least until the winter expansion is out. I’m interested in those new battlecruisers with battleship guns. And assault frigs fixed? Might be fun. Implant killmails? My pod-squishing Sabre would like to come out and play, please. For the first time in a long time, there’s new stuff on the horizon, and (cautious, easily-extinguished) hope for the future.

I haven’t been playing EVE. I don’t have any active accounts. I haven’t missed it. I’ve been playing a little World Of Tanks, and a little Stronghold Kingdoms. But, you know, I still idly think sometimes that I’d maybe like to play EVE again someday, if CCP ever takes its pants off its head.

Word has reached me of some possibly hopeful developments in that direction. If you are reading this, you almost certainly know more about that than I do.

Meanwhile, this post. Behold:

Incarna: The Text Adventure

As Jester said, “It’s pure genius. And the best thing about it is that it has exactly as much content as does Incarna itself.”

(I’m talking about what are usually called “microtransactions” in most games. But since EVE opened with $60 eyewear … DERP! Let’s just call ’em MT for short.)

Anyway, I was never against MT in EVE. Done right, MT can make a game better. Done wrong, they are horrible. But I just saw this poker analogy on Failheap that explains the difference in a way that I couldn’t have:

Think of Poker. You get the big tournaments, like WSOP Championship. You buy in from the house (or win your way in through free tournaments at PokerStars) and that’s it. Everyone starts off with the same # of chips. You can’t buy more.

It’s a game, and there’s actual accomplishment. People with big dorrah can buy into many tournaments and don’t have to play in, but it’s broadly fair.

Then there are games where you can keep buying in, throwing your car keys, house deed, etc on the table. Bad idea. But guys at the table are OK with it because they’re going home with everything you have.

What you can’t get people to accept is to keep buying chips from the house that the players at the table can’t win.

GTC/PLEXs is putting your car keys on the table – the guys in the game take your money. Aurum for ships/ammo/skills is buying in from the house and fucking over the guys at the table.

Reason I was always fine with Plex buyers (never bought one myself) was that I viewed myself as one of the “guys at the table” who were going home with the benefits.

But I don’t agree with the last sentence that I quoted. Done badly, Aurum for game-changing goodies is indeed “buying chips…that the players…can’t win” and therefore is “fucking over the guys at the table.” But if you do it right … if you zealously police the items for sale so that all of them, one way or another, are as vulnerable to loss and transfer as the player-made items in the game … then the “players at the table” will accept them just like we always accepted Plex-ing your way into a Titan.

Just for example: want to sell skill training for Aurum? That could be OK. But not if you just buy points in a store and get to distribute them into your training queue. But imagine if they sold EXP potions (call it “Quafe Especiale” maybe) that operate by doubling your training speed for a short time (say, half an hour). To get much benefit out of those, you’d have to carry a bunch of them around with you in your cargo hold, and you’d have to be playing the game. If you are carrying them around, you can lose them, and “the players at the table” can win them.

Of course, they shouldn’t just sell one QE potion. They should sell a range of them, from 25% to 200% speed boosts, with durations varying from 15 minutes to maybe 2 hours. Prices to vary accordingly.

Also, of course, they shouldn’t sell the exp-boosting “Quafe Especiale” directly. For Aurum, they should sell very expensive blueprints for very expensive nano-additives used in the existing (difficult and tricky) booster manufacturing. The player can just buy the very expensive QE on the market, and player manufacturing gets a boost, and CCP still gets paid. The game gets richer and better. Do rich people get a leg up? Yeah … but the game gets richer and more complicated and more interesting, too, so that’s OK with me.

Except, of course, we no longer trust CCP do do things this smart way that they themselves invented.

How about another example? I expect them to sell better rigs (Tech III?) for Aurum. Imagine if they instead sold blueprints for these, but the only way you could get the TechIII salvage was by salvaging wrecks that were from MT-derived ships or had MT-derived equipment on board. You just added a little more risk to flying around in a cash-premium vessel, which is good because it helps balance whatever benefits the ship provides; plus, you boost salvaging and manufacturing. Game play gets a tiny bit richer and more interesting.

Except, of course, we no longer trust CCP to do things this smart way.

There were a lot of reasons I canceled my accounts, but the biggest was my #1 listed below: “Persistent failure to balance, update, and iterate on old content.” And that includes the failure to integrate new content with the old content. It’s clear to me that they’ve abandoned last year’s promise to keep MT in the realm of “vanity items only” — but as I look around the gaming market today, I can understand they may have made a foolish promise, and I could forgive them saying “We derped, and man is that embarrassing. But we’ve hardened the fuck up to get through this, and we hope y’all will HTFU along with us. And here’s what we are gonna do to make sure MT in EVE will aways be awesome…” And then, they just have to promise never to sell chips that the players at the table can’t win.

But they can’t do that. Because they seem to have forgotten what makes EVE awesome. And they never integrate the new stuff with the old stuff any more. Or, when they do try, they fuck it up on a massive scale (like when they tied PI to old commodities but showed their cards to the speculators first).

And that’s why I canceled my subs. Because I’ve been waiting for a year and more for new stuff that’s niftier than the old stuff, new stuff that works with the old stuff, new stuff that takes opportunities to make stale old stuff useful and interesting again. And they aren’t doing any of that any more. A year ago they said :18months: and I didn’t believe them but decided I could wait and see. Now? I’ve realized I was fooling myself.

And that’s what angers me about MT in EVE. It’s coming, and I don’t mind. But they aren’t going to make it awesome, they aren’t even going to make it EVE-flavored. Instead, they opened with virtual space-dolly shirts that cost more than my real shirts. And that’s how I knew there was no point in waiting any longer.