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.”

Not playing Eve. Astonishingly, not missing it.

However, I am playing some World of Tanks. And I’ve got a problem.

The in-game chat feature sucks and is hard to use while driving a tank. I want a few chat macros, so I can say funny things with low effort. “Hey all you woodchucks, stop chucking my wood!”

I downloaded AutoHotKey, and it sort of works. I can get it to send an {enter} keypress that opens the chat window, enter my text, and send another {enter} to say that to my team.

However, I am failing utterly at sending a {Control}{Enter} that will say the same thing to friend and enemy teams alike. I’ve tried “Send ^{Enter}”, “SendPlay ^{Enter}” and dozens of variations on that theme, with key delays, delays between events, lots of different stuff. None of them work.

There’s also a button you can click with your mouse that will send your text chat to all. I’ve gotten its location, I’ve trained AutoHotKey to put my mouse over the button, but the button press? It fails. Not always — I’ve got a macro that will successfully press it about 10% of the time — but it’s not repeatable with any reliability. Something is eating the mouse clicks. Again, I’ve tried both “Click” and “MouseClick” in various variations, I’ve tinkered with the key timing, I’ve tinkered with the Send modes. If it totally didn’t work, I’d have given up … but, rarely, the keypress takes. So, I feel like there must be a setting that would work.

So, if you have had any success at getting AutoHotKey to work reliably in WorldofTanks, I’d love to hear from you. Ideally what I want is a sample of code that successfully and reliably sends either a control-enter or a mouse click at a location. Which basically means, if you’ve ever written a successful Macro for WoT, you must have what I need. And I’d be very grateful. This is one of those nerd frustrations that doesn’t stem from any real need, I just *want* and have gotten frustrated.

I do know that using macro programs in games can be tricky and difficult. Could be, I can’t get there from here. But I suspect I’m just inept with AutoHotKeys.

Finally, for the rules lawyers among you, the WoT devs have stated that macros of this sort do not violate their EULA. In case you were worried.

(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.

I’ll do a big post later on all the reasons, if I ever decide I care enough to take the time. But as of today, I’ve canceled all three EVE subscriptions. Here’s what I posted in the reasons box:

5 year veteran, unsubscribing 3 accounts because:

1) Persistent failure to balance, update, and iterate on old content.

2) Cannot operate multiple clients without turning off new Captains Quarters station environment.

3) No new game functionality in recent patch to replace the functionality lost.

5) Complete pants-on-headedness of new micro(mega)transaction store.

6) Utter loss of faith that the old EVE, the spaceship game, will every get the attention it needs to survive and thrive.

7) I am beginning to believe that CCP/EVE had now committed itself to an unretrievable failcascade.

It was a good five years. I used to think I’d play EVE forever. I’m sad that won’t be happening. But thanks for all the fish.

Right now I’m playing World of Tanks, but that’s not going to last more than weeks, or maybe months. Battlefield 3 is coming.

Will I be back to EVE? Dunno. Right now it looks like they are going to gut the game in pursuit of microtransaction riches. There might be a party on the way down, with tons of goodies flying around in the possession of rich newbie idiots — and I can see a role for Ironfleet in that decline.

Or, they might come to their senses and start fixing all the stuff that’s been neglected over the last few years…

Yeah. Me neither.

So I dropped out of W-space in some very empty NPC nullsec in the Stain region. There wasn’t a lot going on, but I went exploring for undefended towers and more wormholes. And in this one system (A-SAX0 if you want to go see it for yourself) I found something peculiar.

I’d already zipped about to take a d-scan inventory of the system, and found it entirely free of towers. So you’ll imagine my interest when 26 structures popped up when I launched a probe.

At first I had visions of all the fittings for a deathstar POS, abandoned loose in space somewhere for complicated logistical reasons. But soon my probing made it clear these were warp disruptor bubbles, all in the same place. Was I probing down the world’s largest rapecage, placed at a safespot for no obvious reason?

Not even that. Eventually I found this:

break out the bubbly

What you are looking at is 27 anchored small warp disruptor bubbles, aligned in a widely spaced grid, with one extra off to the side. What is it for? I have no idea. But somebody took a lot of time to build it!

This made me laugh:

CCP Zrakor submitted the very first petition after EVE went live which went as follows:

Subject
Yay I AM THE FIRST TO COMPLAIN
Petition
*Whine*

The answer, by GM Panzer:

Dear Zrakor,
We want to congratulate you on being the first petitioneer in EVE. On the other hand we want warn you that if you ever send in a petition again your account will be deactivated, you will be banned from the game and exiled from Iceland.

Source.

When I finally escaped from the Klein-bottle wormhole system, I dropped into Amar high sec in devoid. Whilst having a glance around, I found an offline pinata research dickstar POS — my guess is, it’s kept offline and only brought up in time of war.

Only, the corporate hangar array was not anchored.

Now, I’m not fully versed on how arrays work. I know that when you blow them up, they have a chance of dropping stuff that’s inside. And I think I know that if you blow up a control tower, anchored mods will come unanchored, can be scooped with a hauler, and can be repackaged in a station like secure containers — whereupon any loot will fall out, with no risk of loss.

What I don’t know, though, is whether you can deliberately unanchor an array that’s got stuff in it — or whether this hangar array had to be empty when it was dropped or unanchored in the place I found it.

No matter, for an array worth 15 million ISK, I’ll go buy a Badger and haul that puppy into a station.

Which I did. Of course I watched with great interest as it repackaged, but nothing fell out.

Oh well … it was still a fast 15 million.

This is not supposed to happen, therefore, the skeptical man assumes it did not happen. But, it totally has.

What am I babbling about?

Simply this: I’m currently stuck in a wormhole system with no wormholes. Not even one.

Jumped in from high sec last night. Watched a pair of Drake ratters painfully, slowly kill sleepers. (One of them was only 20 days old or so, but I never got an opportunity to molest them.)

Logged off in the wormhole. Logged back in today, scanned for signatures. Result: no signatures. Not even one. Anomalies, yes, structures, yes, one ship in a POS, yes. But signatures? “Negative response, Captain.”

I tried it three or four different ways, using Sisters core probes, Sisters combat probes, enveloping the whole system in probes, doing 8 and 16 AU scans at each planet … nothing. Checked my ignore list, it was clear. Checked my filters, they were right, scanned again on the “show all” setting. Not one cosmic signature in the system.

It’s like a roach motel: salvagers check in, but they don’t check out!

The whole system of wormholes depends on the iron law that there’s always at least one static wormhole out of every system. I know this. I assume I must have screwed up somewhere, which is the only reason I didn’t immediately file a stuck petition.

That was about three hours ago. I’ll log back in soon, and check again. If I find a wormhole, phew! I’ll chalk it up to EVE weirdness.

But if I don’t? Then it’s the stuck petition for me … and how much do you want to bet I’ll be told “There’s a wormhole, you just haven’t found it?”

This reminds me of that old Arth folk song about a man named Charlie and something called a “subway”, whatever that is:

“And did he ever return?
No, he never returned,
And his fate is still unlearned…
He will ride forever
‘neath the streets of Boston
He’s the man who never returned!”

Update: I was painfully aware as I wrote this post that if anybody else came to me with this story, I’d make sympathetic noises while thinking “You dumbass, you obviously didn’t scan it right.” Logic tells me that’s the only explanation.

So I logged back in and had another look at this huge system, with the outer planet way out in a 70AU stellar orbit. Damn this is a big system. And, uh… with my screen zoomed so that I can see the whole ring of that 70AU orbit on my solar system map, why is there a little curved line in one of the corners of my screen?

You guessed it: another planet out at 124AU. With my wormhole. Doh!

Does anybody but me remember the only war Ironfleet ever declared? The time we (me, Torpedo Ted, and Miss Iron) declared war on a whole alliance, and achieved our war aims?

That was all the way back in 2007, and the alliance in question was called Independent Faction (INDY). I haven’t seen them since, until today, when I found a Class 5 wormhole absolute chock full of their towers and industrial apparatus. I note with interest that the corp I had a real grievance against [AC-ME] is still a member, but it’s just a residual nub now, with only one member left.

I got all my kills in an old-model cruise-missile bomber in that war, but our best kill was by a three-day-old character in a Kestrel, who caught a war-target Badger II moving all his stuff. It’s interesting to read (in the post I linked above) my negative attitudes about PvP back then. I find it much more entertaining now…

Still, hunting war-target mining barges was some serious fun. Good times, good times.