Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Eve: Themepark or zoo? Not so much sand.

     All the haters of high sec players and indy types like to throw around Eve memes like "pubbie", "care bear", "sandbox" and "theme park".  PVP types are pretty much incapable of understanding or even accepting anyone who isn't angry enough to try to attack other players with no more expected gain than an e-peen number boost on a kill board.  The same angry little pvp types will also be quick to advise that said care bears would be wise to go "back" to a theme park MMO.  Like many/most memes, many/most of the users have no real clue what they are talking about, what the meme actually means, and angry Eve types are no different.

     A "theme park MMO" is basically any MMO where the content of the games is decided by the developers.  Regardless of how often you try or experience that content, it's going to be the same.  It's like a real themepark.  You go on the roller coaster today, and it'll be pretty much exactly the same ride you took on it last week, unless of course Bill-the-maintenance-guy was off getting a little sugar from Suzy-the-candy-floss-girl instead of tightening roller coaster track bolts.  How many roller coaster type rides does Eve have?

     The most obvious place to start is any pve content, and contrary to the pro-pvp crowd, Eve has tons of pve.  All the different types of missions are a very obvious addition to the theme park list, regardless of the type.  Planetary interaction, research agents, COSMOS missions and epic arcs are four more.  There are grav, radar, and DED sites to scan down as well, and that too is pretty much clockwork, bog-standard pve content.  More theme park-ery.   How about grinding for rep or status?  Same.  How about crafting?

     In Eve, "crafting" is a sure magnet for hooting and derision, but the industrial player does pretty much the same thing as any crafting player does in any other MMO.  The player goes out, locates and collects crafting material, either from the environment or from killing npc mobs.  They train up specific skills in order to create whatever particular item or items they decide, and in some cases need to buy the recipes first.  Sometimes, the player even needs to go into hostile areas of the game where either pvp combat or high level npcs provide a higher level of threat to make it difficult to obtain special materials for higher level items.  The player takes the materials, builds the item, and uses it or sells it.  Are we talking about Eve, WOW, LOTRO, or GW2 here?  Doesn't matter, they're all the fucking same as far as "crafting" goes.  Pretty much full-on theme park.

     Eve has tons of theme park content but there's also another clever meme to learn, and that's "zoo".  In basic parlance, a "zoo" MMO is set up so that a particular game feature can be tried almost as many times as you like, but each time, the content of the feature will or can be a little different.  Just like in a zoo, where one day you walk by the lion enclosure and the lions are outside sunning themselves, and the next day you go by, they're up against the feed shed going halfers on a memory.  Lots of content in Eve was highly predictable pve, but since CCP jacked up the AI levels recently, higher end npcs can be tough little peckers to deal with, because you don't know what they're going to do every time.  I'm specifically talking about sleepers, complex sites and Incursion npc AI here.  CCPs plan is to jack up AI across the board to make npcs act more unpredictable.  Maybe not full on zoo-ness, but definitely zoo.  More zoo stuff is T2 invention.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.  Scanning down wormholes, grav sites and other random spawns are also on the "zoo" side of game play.  So, there are some "zoo" aspects to Eve, and more zoo-like features have been suggested for future inclusion.

     In a "sandbox", the content is player driven.  A "real" sandbox has sand and . . . well, that's fucking it.  Eve isn't a sandbox.  It has a shit load of rules and mechanisms.  Eve players like to turn up their nose and claim it's a sandbox, but I played in sandboxes a lot as a kid, and I can't do a fraction of the shit in Eve that I could in a sandbox with just a stick and a rock.  The closest thing to a "sandbox" that I've ever played on a computer is Minecraft.  In there, the only thing that limits you is your imagination.  If the standard game play in Minecraft is too plain for you, then you can always make your own mod and truly build your own content, in a world that is completely unlike anyone elses.  In Eve, people are obviously confusing a minimised EULA with a sandbox.  Being able to be an asshole doesn't make where you're standing a "sandbox", it just makes it a spot where an asshole is standing.  Being able to run around in areas with low level/new players and ganking them doesn't make it a sandbox either.  People could do that in Asheron's Call or Ultima Online, to name just two.  Being able to claim, upgrade and control in-game territory is also nothing new.  DAOC, LOTRO, WHO, and GW2 are 4 that quickly come to mind, where you could do exactly the same thing.  No body was yapping about sandboxes with them.  At best, being able to fuck other players around without the Eve devs stepping in, it might amount to a spoon full of sand.  Far from a box, unless it's maybe a little box that a ring might come in.

     "But look at null sec!  Players control that whole area of the game."  And?  I knew of a guild in DAOC that controlled the whole RvR area of the game server and were operating no different than the null sec alliances in Eve.  That was also complete with battles involving all three races and hundreds of players fighting over keeps and resources.  Again, being able to lie, cheat, steal and grief in Eve, doesn't make it a sandbox, that just makes it a game that attracts assholes, generates lots of "bad" news for Eve, and simultaneously keeps the majority of "normal" gamers away.

     When you look at it, without the kool-aid glasses, Eve is maybe about 80% theme park and 19% zoo, with more npc zoo content planned, and 1% sand . . . spoon.  When it comes to null and pvp zones like Factional Warfare, the sum total of active accounts in those two areas is somewhere around the 20% mark of active accounts, and all those players are operating with 100% reliance on the theme park content for every item they own.

     So, the next time some meme spouting drooler of a pvp player tells a care bear to HTFU or go back to a theme park MMO, tell them to fuck off.  Tell them to then go get a clue.  Then tell them you already play a theme park MMO.  It's fucking Eve Online.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Saving Eve: 2 places to start

     Back a couple years ago, the common complaint was that CCP was pumping out too many big game features - the "Jesus features", they like to call it now.  Why were big, new features a problem?  Well, because for the most part, none of the features were complete.  They were like a house that had doors and windows that stuck because the house was cooked, and it had nothing finished on the inside.  CCP promised they would get back to them, but for the most part, they never did.  Eve is in perpetual beta.  It's got all kinds of things that were unfinished or patched and are still broken.  Null sec sovereignty, factional warfare (yeah, still broken), wormholes, corp and alliance UIs and player owned stations, to name a few biggies.  Contrary to the spin fests that David Reid puts out, even with these new, awesome ship changes in the latest patch, subscriptions are still in dire need of resuscitation.  CCP's penchant for grabbing PLEX money for anything and everything, to me, is proof that they are looking hard at ways to make some extra cash.  Most recently, anyone who wants to pay $20 for an overpriced EON magazine that costs $15, just let CCP know.  They'll pop one in the mail for you, but that'll probably cost another PLEX for mailing fees.  After all, who the fuck would want to use a PLEX to pay for their subscription anyway??

     So, the two ideas?  Well, not that they are anything novel, but they are simple, but not necessarily easy.
Players in station or active in systems
     First, drop all the other side projects, and put ALL the coders on fixing null sec sovereignty.  Make sovereignty performance based, and then alliances and corps will only be able to hold, what they physically can hold.  What they are living in.  No more dog-in-the-manger bullshit where big organizations own all kinds of space that no one does fuck all in.

      See the picture?  Right now, when I took that screenshot, there were ~40,000 players online.  You can see exactly how much of that population is in null sec, based on the display that is set to show how many players are active or docked in systems.  Two words:  GHOST fucking TOWN.  The biggest dot of the dots in the outlying null sec space is 92 players, and that was only one dot on the edge of the Vapor Sea.  All the rest of the big dots?  None were over 50 - I checked.  The vast majority of the small dots were 1 to 5 people.  Yeah, I spent about 30 minutes mousing over and clicking on that shit just out of curiosity.  Lots of podders and bloggers like to throw around null sec populations like 20,000 or higher, but the last real numbers of active null sec ACCOUNTS were just under 12,000 accounts, and that number went up from the previous CCP population numbers by .05%.  And yeah, that's not five percent, that's 1/20th of one percent, and that was the end of 2010.  For people to imagine that the active accounts in null went up by nearly double since then?  Whatever shit they're smoking is better than medical grade pot.  So for anyone interested in guessing, 12% of the online population is about 4800 accounts in null vs a very optimistic 20% of 8,000.  Look at the dots and decide for yourself.

     So anyway, performance based sovereignty.  Lots of easy-to-see unused space will no longer be claimed.  That leaves lots of room for other corps and alliances, that aren't part of and don't have huge super-friend daisy chains, to move down into null and maybe carve out a bit of space for themselves.  THEN they can spoon up with all the blue-fests down there.  And holy fuck, if that doesn't mean that there would be room and reason for some of the high sec players to move to null, like the players are crying about and CCP expects.  Also, with all the problems in null sec, and the sov grind that exists, lots of problems need to be fixed before other things like POSs are touched.  It'll be extremely easy to completely fuck up POS reworking when the space the POS is supposed to go in is fucked.  Fix the space FIRST, then you'll have more of a clue about what the players want and need a POS to act like.  Fix null sec FIRST, and that will sate the Eve vets, and encourage other players to go down there.  Fixing null is unlikely to bring in new players and more money, but new player features can come later and I'll touch on options for more money too.  More on that in another post though.

     2nd, ship skins.  Drop all the bullshit that the CCP artists are doing for all the NEX store crap that the majority of players don't give a fuck about, and get them on ship skins.  Supposedly, according to CCP devs, implementing individual ship skins is not that much of a difficulty anymore with the new V3 graphics.  Apparently, some CCP staff take issue with the idea of players being able to change the colour schemes on the ships, but too fucking bad for the devs.  I might give a fuck if they ACTUALLY PLAYED, but they don't, so I don't.  I doubt the players do either.

     My idea on how to do this is for another post, but basically, each player pays for a ship skin, once, for each type of ship.  There are over 200 different boats, so that is 200 individual payments, from 450,000 accounts.  Each skin only has to be bought once and while I doubt many would want custom skins for ever ship in game, I bet it would at least get 10 to 20 ships per player, not to mention start a new graphics industry going in-game for designing skins.  If you ever want to turn off the custom skin, there's an option for it in settings.  If you want a new/different skin, you pay for it and it's applied.  There's some money for CCP.  That way, CCP doesn't need to fuck with people actually using PLEX for what they were fucking invented for, by "allowing" players to buy $150 video cards for $400 worth of PLEX, or fucking $15 magazines for $20.  This, obviously, aside from being a big revenue stream for CCP, allows the many creative players to exercise their art muscles and would go a long way of appeasing the player base while CCP devs try to keep their heads out of their asses and hit the next big problem.  For that, I would suggest POSs for the WHOLE dev team to get on.  The more people working on it, the faster it gets done and the more people available to work on more patches.  Ship skins would also pique the interest of new players.

     That's it.  Forget about FW, POS, the fucking NEX store, UI tweaks and anything else.  Fix null, get ship skins, then move off to the next point.  Keep Greyscale and Punkturis away from the processes, and everything should be fine.

Friday, December 14, 2012

So there I was . . .

     . . . humping my ass through the boonies, deep in Indian territory.  It had been a tough day.  Pitched battles.  Gain ground, lose the ground, gain it again.  It's just the way it is.

     We had fought for over an hour trying to save a small station from some punk-ass Vanu in their purple, princess suits.  We managed to push their defensive tank line back a couple hundred yards and reduced their number from about 2 dozen soldiers, down to a manageable 3 or 4.  Just as we thought the situation was cool, they started rolling in with their heavies and some fast air.  Shit went sideways pretty fast from there.

     Their tanks were firing from run-up positions on a small hill about 200 yards south of the  compound.  We had our heavy infantry switch out to AT launchers to try to thin their ranks, but even with missile lock, once the tanks went hull-down, our rockets just hammered the hillside.  We got a few lucky hits in but we weren't clearing the armour fast enough, and certainly not as fast as they were clearing us with their small arms fire and HEAT rounds.  Huge splash damage.  The medics were busy little bastards keeping our guys on their feet.  We had some hard core dudes in MAX suits and they tried to flank from low ground to the west, but even with their engineers repping their power suits from cover, all the unguided proxy and HE grenades they sent down range didn't thin the tanks fast enough to be of much good.

     After about 15 minutes, the air support they had called in, arrived.  Their fast air was problematic as their low speed passes allowed their auto-cannons to rip shit up bad.  We were sending a lot of SAMs their way but splitting our heavies into AA and AT groups were reducing the effectiveness of our defence in a major way.  We couldn't send enough of either type of fire to take planes or tanks out faster than they were arriving.  As we tried to hold pop-up fire positions for our AT gunners, their air support and gunships would hit us from behind.  When we moved into cover from the fighters around the corner of the main ammo compound, their snipers were taking us from cover to the west.  Their shit was wired tight.  Ours was not.

     Our numbers and morale were dwindling.  We had been reinforced by a LAV and half a squad, along with 2 or 3 tanks.  The platoon commander decided to get the fuck out of Dodge when we were finally pushed into a small building in the corner of the compound.  Control of the facility had been lost, and the word was sent for the new reserves to do a fighting withdrawal to the north while the remainder of the platoon re-orged back at the bio-dome, a couple clicks to the west.  The hope was that the Vanu would consolidate most of their troops to secure the compound and only send a few after our smaller force.  The other ~40 troops would mount up in fast air, gunships and armour, and counterattack from the rear and their left flank.  If anyone couldn't get into a plane or tank, then they could jump on a turret MG or tail gun.  Everyone was invited.  We had 2 minutes for a piss break and a gear check, and then we were rolling out.

     Go time arrived.  We took about a dozen heavy armour, a couple LAVs and a couple gunships.  The rest went north, where they would slant off to the east and hit the enemy's left flank.  We were coming in straight from the south, hopefully, while the princesses were watching to the north for a counter attack from the direction our fighting withdrawal went in.  We hoped.  I had my gun cam running with the intent to catch a little retribution.  It was a satisfying thing to see our armour rolling out and I figured it was going to be even better to see us crash into the rear end of some unsuspecting enemy tanks and LAVs.  LAVs don't like 100mm AP ammo much.

     As we were getting close to swinging north, a fast air scout flew over our column.
"Well shit", I said over comms, "there goes the party."
"STEADY UP!" yelled the platoon commander, "Fighter, 12 o'clock high, get some triple A on that!"

     The fighter was low to the deck and coming fast, and as he crested the hill in front of us, we probably surprised the shit out of him as much as he did to us.  He pulled back on the stick and started to roll hard, up and to the left, and then he magically turned into a big ball of smoke and bits of metal flying out in a funky star burst pattern.  We had no idea if he got word out or not but our main force was nearly on the Vanu and there was no time to worry about it.  The fighter saw us, not our flanking force.  It still might work out.  What didn't work so well, was my gun cam after a piece of shrapnel caromed off turret and turned my gun cam into just a useless piece of tech.  Meh.

     We got to the break-off point and wheeled north.  I was manning the 30mm chain gun on the Prowler's cupola and keeping an eye out for any more enemy air assets.  The chain gun does a nice job on just about anything with it's AP ammo though, so a few tank targets would be cool too.  The prowler is a big tank with a fat ass, and it was slow up the first hill.  The lower, lighter, faster Lighnings (apt name . . ) left us in their dust, crested the hill and headed down a shallow dip and up the next hill.  We could see smoke and hear gunfire, lots of it, so I swung the gun forward, scanning the sky and quickly reloaded the mag.  Bad karma to be fucking around with reloads once we hit the shit.  And hoo baby, did we hit the shit.

     Did I mention the Prowler was a pig with a fat ass?  Well, it is a pig, but when you get a bit of a downhill, and a nice run of speed with a short uphill, you almost get enough air on the other side to pull a back side fakey.  I saw blue, then brown, then fucking stars.  We hit the ground like 40 tons of bricks and I bounced the chaingun off the bottom stop.  When all the craziness and vibration stopped, we had landed right in the middle of the Vanu defence force, which was busy sending round after round . . . to the west.  At our flanking force.  :)  Well, boy howdy!  How I DO love a nice broadside silhouette.  It was pretty hard to see what was a good guy and what was a bad guy.  Smoke, fire, explosions, Vanu tanks trying desperately to get the fuck out, and Terran tanks trying to get the fuck in.  The squad commanders were screaming out primaries, turrets and cupola guns were spinning like tops, and rounds were flying in every direction.  Every time I had to reload I cursed the fact that I hadn't taken time to put a little extra training into reloading skills.  If I'm loading shit, I'm not exploding shit!

     The Prowlers finished up blasting the stragglers while the Lightnings sprinted off after those Vanu that were smart enough to get out of the carnage.  A few fast air were buzzing around but our air cover had taken most of the enemy patrol craft out.  One of the enemy fast air, a nasty little one man killing machine called a Scythe, was jinking and juking, desperately trying to outrun and scrape off a couple SAMs.  He was a pretty slick pilot and managed to bounce one off a hillside, but the other missile was still looking for him.  The pilot levelled out and didn't seem to realize that his escape from the SAMs was running him straight down my gun sights.  I lined up on his nose, a little high, squeezed the trigger, and let him fly directly into my line of fire.  I fired 100 rounds of red hot AP into his windshield, and he piloted his fighter directly to the scene of a crash.  Splash one.  Good pilot though, just unlucky.  Sometimes lucky is better than good when you're in the shit.  Me and my driver?  So far, we were lucky.

     We surrounded the compound and poured a withering wall of fire at anything that moved - in buildings, outside or in the air.  In only a couple minutes we'd cleared the compound of enemy troops, and the total counterattack had been over in only 10 or 15 minutes.  We circled the wagons, set up a defensive perimeter, and while the main gunner kept his head on a swivel, I jumped out to rep up the tank and reloadboth guns.  Sent a couple scouts out to the east and north to set up pickets, and called her a night

     So, ok, I wasn't exactly "humping" too much seeing as how my less-than-narrow ass was parked in a gunner's chair, and it wasn't Indian territory, it was Terran, then Vanu, then back to Terran.  It's all good though.  Word is, we need to rest up for a big op tomorrow.  We're loading up half a dozen Galaxies, and going to hot drop 60 or 70 MAX on a New Con party.  Hope they have enough chairs.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Elitism & perspective

     I guess it's a pretty standard thing for "older" people to remember how they had to walk uphill both ways and seemingly forget that at one time they didn't know everything and couldn't do everything.  In Eve, how they had to push the frigates out of the hangars, by hand, in bare feet.  They look down on any new/young person if the youngling can't do what the vet can do now, and the vets don't remember what it was like at a time when they knew as little as the n00b.

     Eve is certainly no different in this regard.  The vets are way out to sea on the ocean of Eve, and many look back with disdain at the players just starting to wade into the surf.

     One of the biggest problems with Eve is that many new players get their first taste of Eve by getting fucked over in a scam or being blown up.  The elitists explain that the new players "should know better", but there's no explanation of HOW they should know better.  The vets have no cogent answer, because they don't remember how they figured out not to be scammed, or they DID get scammed and don't want to bring up the hypocrisy of their current point of view.

     When the elitists started, there were no PLEX (didn't come in until about 2008) so they really don't give a shit how many different ways there are to spend PLEX now, nor do they care about the rising cost of them.  From their lofty heights, the vets are oblivious to the fact that paying customers (yes, even if they buy PLEX with ISK from the market, they're still paying) who can't afford the inflated PLEX prices will stop playing.  This elitist view is held by some of our CSM members too, notably, Karde of Noir mercs.  Not really representing all the players, apparently, only the "have" players that pay for subscriptions with real cash.

     I read and hear all the disdain from "experts" who laugh at all the "fail fits" that show up on kill boards.  Somehow, the rest of the players, the "fails", weren't born with innate knowledge of Eve ship fits like the critics.  Apparently, any trial and error fit experimenter is somehow supposed to also know that they were supposed to "ask someone" about the fit.  How and where that someone was to be found, for someone with a life who doesn't obsess over a game and the whole meta aspect of it, is not answered.  The standard "they should have known better" is all that's proffered.

     Contrary to the angry pvp perspective, any player that goes through all the tutorials, learns the basics of how to play Eve.  It isn't all about pvp, because if it was, there would be more reference to that in the tutorials.  But there isn't.  Granted, it's pretty damn hard for NPCs and AI to simulate pvp, but pvp is far from "all there is in Eve" like the elitists like to preach.  If it was "World of Tanks in Space Space Space®"(to be said with suitably booming and echoey voice), there would be nothing but NPC markets full of spaceships and gear.  But there isn't.  Curiously, it would appear that there is a huge layer of player activity underneath the destruction where players actually CREATE all the gear for/in the game!  Also, conveniently coincidentally, there is an equally huge layer of in game resources and mechanisms that allow the creating of all the shit getting assploded!  Just like in real life though, all the people that build all the shit, and do all the base level, boring, repetitive jobs that generate the raw materials, are looked down on by all the "cool" pvpers in the game.  Anyone who doesn't do pvp, according to the elitists, is either;
 a) an automatic target
b) needs to start doing pvp immediately
or c) needs to leave
Can't imagine why Eve subscription increase is drying up . . .

     The problem, is lack of perspective.  Non-chip-on-their-shoulder players, of which the MMO world is apparently majorly populated by, can understand hard core pvpers.  The world is full of angry, aggressive people that want to "get even" for their life, and so look for any means to lash out.  Non-pvpers might not like these people, might not even understand them at times, but they accept their existence.  Pvpers, on the other hand, are far more narrow minded and short sighted.  It's their way or the intarpipe highway, especially in Eve.  Anyone in Eve that doesn't do pvp, just hasn't been "enlightened" yet.  they think just about anyone can be "converted", hallelujah!  Possibly, the huge chip on their shoulder is blocking a large percentage of their view, or prevents them from looking left or right.  In any case, many/most of them can't imagine why any "sane player" would want to do anything but try to shoot other players.  The elitists KNOW that anyone that doesn't play like them, is doing it wrong.  A "sandbox" like Eve, where any play style at all is possible, is awesome, BUT, only if everyone plays like the pvpers.  A sandbox is only a sandbox if it's all pvp.

     Now, don't get me wrong.  I don't mind pvp.  I do it in many games, just no interest in doing it in Eve right now.  I like HALO and Battlefield 3, I'm in the DUST beta and I spent more time in Planetside 2 than I do in Eve right now.  But, I like all the things I can do to CREATE things in Eve.  From and industrial player's perspective, Eve is very much like many other MMOs.  Improve the building skills, get the materials, build the items, and then sell them.  Even having to get the raw materials in more dangerous areas of the game is not some novel concept created by CCP.  It takes a lot of time and effort, sometimes really fucking boring time and effort, but that is not a big deal for a builder, a creator.  That's just the way it goes.  People who build, accept that.  The people who roll on in after the fact and destroy what was just built, have no appreciation for much of anything other than the possible grief it causes someone else and/or the adrenaline shakes they got.  It doesn't take a lot of time or talent to destroy things in most cases, and Eve has few exceptions for that process.

     The elitists laugh and enjoy intentionally griefing players that are doing things they despise doing.  The elitists have no problem explaining that stupid miners need to stop mining while they grief barges in Hulkageddon, and they laugh when the miners complain.  If miners explained that the griefers would have to stop doing pvp for a month, and start mining instead, the pvpers would lose their shit and likely rage quit.  To the elitists, it's completely acceptable to only support their point of view, due to a lack of perspective.  Granted, not all the non-pvp Eve players have perspective either, but they won't be causing a player to quit Eve due to griefing.  For the most part, the DO have perspective.  They are the majority of the player base.  The players that cause almost all the Eve news, are a minority, and the vast majority of the news is negative.  Because they lack perspective.


Friday, December 7, 2012

Mining libations: pods and cans

     Whilst mining I mentioned I listen to pod casts.  I don't mind learning a little bit about Eve's history from them, and I especially like hearing about the history from a null sec perspective.  As such, I tend to go back as far into the podcast's archives as I can, and move forward to the present from there.  I like the mental connection a "podcast" generates when the subject matter of the podcast is Eve.  Broadcast from a pod.  Fitting, thinks I.

     Anyway, I listened to Pixxie's Eve Online Podcast off of iTunes.  I thought she was an Aussie, but it turns out she has a South African twang to her voice instead.  At any rate, she only had a few episodes, but her voice was very pleasant to listen to.  She's pod faded since May of this year as she jumps around a lot from one MMO to another.  She speaks from a new player perspective and was well worth the listen.

     Another one I listened to was called Isk.  It's a guy who plays the market, trades and does BPO research and sales.  He sounds like a pretty smart guy and makes his in-game isk using the methods he talks about.  Unfortunately, he isn't very good at clearly describing what it is he does or how he does it.  He jumps around a lot in his podcast and even though I do most of everything he talks about, I still had a problem understanding what he was talking about at times.  He should make show notes, a basic "plan" for what he wants to cover, how he wants to cover it, and make sure it is in order.  He got his accounts banned in Dec 2011 for some forum post.  They were reinstated about a month later, but hasn't done anything since.  One thing that was an aggravation, and a distraction, was listening to him huffing away on his cigarettes, and listening to him gulping wine.  I've heard other similar explanations or talks on similar subject matter that were far more informative and easier to understand.

     Another one of the many I've listened to, is Starfleet Comms.  A great podcast, by a bunch of Brits (I think) but sadly, due to real life happening to one of the hosts, the podcast is pretty much done.  It was two men and a woman.  They worked well together, were very smooth, very comfortable with each other.  Well worth the effort of starting from their first episode, and working your way to the last.  Can't tell you what the date was for their last episode because they use Yoiul Conference time :)  I was hooked after just a couple episodes and was very disappointed that they had faded out.

     While I like to listen to podcasts and audio books, others have different ideas of what fun is, around ye olde asteroid belt.

     Yes, that is the same dude from Mittens-gate and fanfest, but it wasn't him that set up all those cans.  It was another player, apparently, a fan.  It was pretty impressive to see when you warp in, because that cluster in the middle, is a huge ice belt.  The pattern of the jet cans dwarfed the belt.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

If Greyscale had a clue . . .

     I've been listening to hundreds of podcasts, from a number of different sources, as I do my indy thing in Eve, and also at work.  A recurring theme, back to 2008 at least, is that this dude is consistently involved with half finished features that are fucked up, right out of the gate, or that he comes in after the fact and completely fucks it up later as he "fixes" it, and then it stays fucked up, sometimes, permanently.  He consistently dismisses the opinion of players, and seemingly looks down on them/us as rather stupid or uninformed people who know considerably less about Eve than he does.  I think of the Wizard of Oz music track, and unlike the Oz characters, once greyscale got to the Wizard, unfortunately, we'd likely find he really DOES need a clue.

     Most recently, he has decided that (due to lack of coding supervision) a number of areas of game code are going to have their complication reduced.  It doesn't matter that it works fine for players, he's only interested in what will make his job easier, apparently, because regardless of whether Eve sinks due to all the dev fuck-ups, he's still ensured a job.  The removal of separate cargo holds, announced a month ago, is, I think, a prime example of how "features" are going to be removed to make incompetent coders' and CCP supervisors' jobs "easier" by "simplifying" code.  Either the devs like Greyscale are too incompetent to properly supervise the coders writing clean code (and adding sufficient commentary about function), or they have sloppy code writers (still the supervisors' fault for employing them) writing fat and sloppy, ill described, code.  Every time CCP can't be bothered to do something, they spin a long (most likely bullshit) dirge about how badly it was coded and that they are scared to touch it lest the entire Eve universe implode.  In the real world, if someone is working on something that is broken, and the admit they are not competent enough to fix it, why the fuck are they still working there?

     I have a few theories on that when it comes to Greyscale.

1.  The fucker owns majority shares in CCP and they couldn't fire him even if they wanted to.
2.  He's a close relative of Hilmar (married his ugly sister, cousin, et al), and there's a heavy familial obligation to give the driftwood a job.
3.  Hilmar owes Greyscale a pile of money, and Greyscale leveraged a job out of it in lieu of the debt, or until it is fully repaid.
4.  HE owes Hilmar a shitload of money and Hilmar is keeping his dumb ass around until it's paid off.

     Maybe there are others, but I can't seriously see how it has anything to do with talent.  Granted, it's possible that not all his projects fucking suck, but you know how the adage goes, "You can spend nearly your entire life building bridges, but suck one dick, and guess what your title will be?"  Looking at Greyscale's "bridges", he can claim the LP store function, the booster building process, Factional Warfare, null sec design/mechanics, scanning, T2 invention and production, the Primae, and most recently, axing corp hangars on ships.  There are more things he's been involved in, but seriously, how many of these things didn't hit the servers fucked up or completely broken/useless?  Obviously, not so much "building" at all, but a whole lot of sucking hard.  He's been responsible for some of the most fucking horrendous click fests in the entire game, and NOW, he's all about "complexity"??  Fucking really!?!?

     His "official" bio is a fucking joke too, but then, it can't be much of a news flash.  His "motto"?

     "One half of game design is having solid, well-reasoned opinions about everything. The other half is figuring out why they’re wrong"

     Oooooh, how profound!  So, yeah, no news flash that he has "solid" opinions on everything, he's got his ego to thank for that.  Not much is "well-reasoned" from an actual game play or customer/player perspective though, because he doesn't play the fucking game, and he's too arrogant to listen to people who DO play the game, and DO know.  What the "well reasoned" part is, is how it will make his job easier.  If he was competent, that right there would make it easier.  If he actually listen to people who knew more than him, like the players, that would make it easier too.  The second sentence of his motto?  Well, lucky for him, he's wrong very little.  Doesn't take a lot of effort to find out where he's wrong when he knows he's right, right?  I wonder where he plagiarized "his" motto from?  His "bio" is precious too.
     "It turns out that if you don’t bother doing any homework at school, you can go on to study a subject with no obvious applications at a really good university and then end up designing computer games in Iceland. I am not a good role model"
     Now THAT is far more accurate and far more believable.  It's one of those cases, I think, where the truth is supposed to be taken as an ironic statement.  Fake humility.  He didn't specify the "subject", I noticed, but I can't see in my wildest imaginings how it would be game design, but if the "subject" was, then by logical extension, I can't see how it was a "really good university" either.
     I think the Eve player base, while pretty damn happy with the ship re balancing (at least they have ONE dude, in charge of ONE team that has a fucking clue), is still on a low boil.  I think that while they announce (in May '12) 360,000 "active" subscriptions, the number of actual people that pay for those subscriptions, is considerably lower and CCP can see the numbers that put Eve in a precarious balancing act.  In 2010 CCP said they had the same number of accounts and that the I would bet that the actual number of real people behind those accounts is less than half.  I wouldn't be really surprised to discover that "real people" numbers are closers to 120,000.  Maybe less, and that's why CCP was/is pushing so hard on that useless captain's quarters and the highly coupled NEX store, DUST and it's pay-to-play model and all the recent "extra" uses for PLEX.  I think they know that Eve is stagnating hard, and the anemic increase of 25,000 SUBSCRIPTIONS (NOT players) per year since 2008 isn't going to pay the bills and it makes Eve extremely dependant multiple times over for each and every customer.  They were at 300,000 at the end of the first quarter in 2009, so that's really only 60,000 accounts in three years.  I believe they are well aware that the majority of subscription increases are due to players buying multiple accounts once/if they stick with Eve for a while and see the advantages of multi-boxing.  I think the shitty numbers forecast for Eve are why they stopped doing quarterly reports.  Teh numbers show that the players aren't going anywhere close to the direction CCP is trying to  force them in their "brilliant" game vision being pushed by clowns like Greyscale.  I'd love to know what the real average daily PLAYER count on Tranquility is, because the number displayed at log in is ACCOUNTS, not players.  What is the average time an Eve player is logged in?  4 hours?  5?  6?  Less than 4?  Take 24 hours, and divide that by the average hours played per PERSON, then multiply that by the actual number of players online.  What's the real number?  Scary-low?
     Anyway, I think they are playing a dangerous game of roulette where they throw out these half baked "iterations" in an attempt to appease the masses, including completed fucked up shit like the FW mess, that fucked up inventory, and now things like the corp hangers, and who do they have steering their boat?  A moron like Greyscale.  If that isn't a recipe for disaster, I don't know what is.  they talk a lot of pro-player, pro-CSM bullshit, but I think it's predominantly bullshit.  Null sec is too scary for CCP.  POS are too scary for CCP.  Inventory is too messy for CCP.  Ship skins are too low a priority for CCP.  I don't think CCP has a real plan, and neither do the CSM members either when you listen to them on the most recent podcast appearances.  They seem to be pulling at straws, and unless people like Greyscale gets their heads out of their asses, Eve is going to tank while the loyal and dedicated players doggedly try to plug her holes and keep her afloat.
     I'm not all gloom and doom though, there IS good news.  Punkturis is knocked up, and supposedly she'll be stepping down and out for a long hiatus.  That's a good thing.  While she's gone, she can't fuck up any more things like she helped fuck up the inventory.  I hope she'll focus on motherhood for a long, long time instead of stupid fucking game design ideas.  Now, if only there was a way for Arrow and Greyscale to get knocked up too, Eve might have a chance if it could survive 9 more months of meddling.  Give Greyscale a job collecting dirty towels at the local hot springs.  It can be one of those corporate character expansion bullshit things.  I can't see how someone can have a job picking up wet towels, and still have an ego about it.  It'd be a good thing for him.
     On a side note, "bullshit" is in a spelling checker.  That's awesome :)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Unparalleled access . . . or not

     Lots of publicly active players are quick to use words like "unprecedented" and "unparalleled"(they mean the  same thing anyway . . ) when they talk about the relationship and communication between Eve players and CCP, and therefore we should tread lightly, out of respect, when using that "unparalleled" access.  I think they (the proclaimers) need to get out more.

     Two games that immediately come to mind that had far better communication between the devs and the players are Blade Mistress and Tale in the Desert.  There have been other titles that I have been involved with/played that had equal or better access than Eve players do to CCP, and other players who have been around the PC game world for a while could likely come up with a bunch of titles too.  Maybe these advocates are hoping to get a little CCP public expose and garner a few CCP browny points to spend at a later date, at some unanticipated place or time, like, maybe being some/one of the official player podcast commentators at an upcoming fanfest.

     If CCP wants their game to fly, literally, they need to get their heads out of their asses, collectively.  How many work at CCP?  300 or so?  For every CCP employee, busy toiling away in one of their little super-teams of developmental goodness, on some specific part of Eve, there are tens, dozens and possibly hundreds of players that are more expert on how to USE said specific part of Eve, than ANY CCP dev will EVER be.  Why?  Because someone who codes all day, and has a history of some of the truly boneheaded decisions that CCP has made, has demonstrated time and again that they really know fuck all about the game they are building.

     For any particular project, anywhere in the world, there are three distinct steps and three distinct kind of people.  Designers, builders and users.  I have been building shit for over 40 years.  I have been designing those same projects/things for nearly the same amount of time.  More often than not, I usually have also been the one using said item(s).  It isn't what I planned, it just ended up that way.  That gives me a perspective that not everyone has.  A simple analogy is a race car.  The dude that engineered the car, and the guy that actually fabricated the car, are most likely not the dudes who are going to drive it at top performance.  Sometimes you get a person who can do a combination of two of those things, and sometimes you can be lucky and come across a person who is decent at all three.  A large number of CCP projects and their devs have demonstrated on multiple occasions, that they don't play Eve (or at least no where near as much as they infer), and have no clue at all about the actual game play.  Some devs are pretty switched on, but lots aren't.  That's where listening to players comes in.

     Players don't need to worry about how the game is designed or coded, all they have to do is worry about how it plays.  Many players spend as much, or possibly more, time each day playing Eve, as the devs do working on it.  They are experts in how the game plays, and if CCP is too fucking stupid, or arrogant to acknowledge that, they will see their game carry on with the flat line, and then a subscription decline as players get tired of one fucked up change after the other.  If CCP is too closed minded to understand that the keenest of the players are looking to keep the game they love improving, they deserve to tank.  If CCP can't see that players are offering advice on nerfs, to THEMSELVES, only the most arrogant dev would ignore that.  That's what happens though.  That's what IS happening.  It happened with that stupid captain's quarters.  It happened with the null anomaly nerf.  It happened with that stupid fucking inventory.  It happened with factional warfare.  It happened with the war decs.  It happened multiple times before all of these too.  Page after page after page of PLAYER and CUSTOMER complaints on the Eve-O forum (another predominantly useless turd of a feature) and the devs and they sycophantic GMs and ISDs edit and delete and lock anything that really calls CCP out on their stupidity.  Stupidity that could have been averted, had they listened.

     I said it before.  CCP is quite likely not able to deal with their creation anymore.  They should be extremely grateful that they have such a loyal and mature player base, even through and in spite of, their most massive fuck-ups.  It's not hard for them to go through their player comments and see that they're not a bunch of min-maxxing whiners looking for easy mode, yet time and again, they don't listen.  If they get so far down the pipe of a particular development feature or process that they decide it's "too late" to stop it, and it turns out to be fucked, that's their fault.  Their problem and their poor process.  In all my years of development, fabrication and production, every time I have seen the "it's too late" scenario marched out, it has ALWAYS been based on the fact that someone is trying to cover their ass for the wasted time and money.  In the world of development and fabrication, there's no such thing as "too late", just too arrogant.

     Eve players don't need to fawn over the devs lest they get pissed off and stop listening.  Lots of them already don't listen.  The devs should be thanking their lucky stars that THEY have unparalleled access to players who take a "game", THEIR game, as serious as they do and are interested in developing the game for the  long haul.  If CCP is really smart, they'll acknowledge and accept the fact that they may be the designers and coders, but they really have no clue about the game play, that is a big step forward.  Even the fact that they are the designers and coders is completely useless if the direction they are going is completely unplayable or unpalatable to their customers.  Players aren't driving the bus, and don't need to, but if a player knows the road and tells the driver that the bridge is out, that might be a smart time to listen.  CCP has their ideas about the direction they want to go with their game, and rightly so, but if they allow too many of their employees to walk around with their heads up their asses, they'll be following their vision into red ink.

     So, maybe I was wrong.  I think there IS unparalleled access.  The unparalleled access is how a game company has thousands of far more expert users of their product than themselves, who are bound and determined to make the game work, regardless of how bad CCP tries to fuck it up.

     Maybe, fire Greyscale (who doesn't play Eve at all), and give that job to the ship balancing dude.  He'd do a better job at moving Eve forward, and might even be able to go back and fix all the shit that Greyscale has fucked up.  That would also be "unprecedented", but a good thing.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

DUST Motes: Speculation

     I remember a Star Trek episode where the plucky crew of the Enterprise stumbled on a race of xenophobes, and the aliens kept erasing the crew's memory while Data tried to help clean up the errant loose ends.  Problem was, a few strands were left hanging here and there and the humans, being human, couldn't help but tug at them to find out what they were attached to, which led to the inevitable nearly-fatal hijinks for the entire crew.  I think of that show when I think of DUST 514.

     DUST will be a fairly major accomplishment if CCP can take the idea they've been cooking since 2008 and get it to decently mesh with Eve.  There are probably a fairly huge number of technical issues to deal with, and that doesn't even include the game balancing issues between the two games' populations and complicated market interactions.  On one hand, CCP needs to develop slow enough that the ship doesn't sink when they smash the bottle off her nose on launch, but they can't wait too long either lest a fickle FPS crowd loose interest in a prolonged and de-featured beta, and the crowd goes looking for another ship.

     I probably have more plans imagined for DUST than CCP does, but that doesn't mean what I hope DUST will be, is what CCP intends DUST to be.  For non-Eve players, some of the very generally described game play features inspire a lot of speculation that tends to grate on the already fairly raw nerves of the Eve players, especially the null Eve players.  FPS players are pretty jazzed about the ability to actually "claim" in-game resources and land, and that it can still be theirs tomorrow when they log in again.  It's something that has only been possible on a very limited scale, and is completely transient in other FPSs.  The ability to claim  planets and space - sovereignty, is an exciting thing and some of the most vocal DUST players are looking forward to dropping in all over the Eve verse, scooping up planets left and right.  Eve players think parts of the rumoured game play will be pretty cool as well, until of course planets and systems in null sec are mentioned.  At that point, the nicey-nice, and genial conversation sort of hits the floor.  The polite smiles go bye bye.

     For non-Eve players, they really don't understand the time and effort involved in claiming space in null.  FPS lads think that a few rounds of match play, run over some bunnies, capture a few zone guns, and they're well on the way to grabbing some tasty null sec space.  An Eve player really doesn't want to hear about that shit when it takes them days and days to go through the iHub and TCU reinforcement timers, or what happens to the shit they have in the system's outposts.  A DUST bunny says "WTF is an iHub and a TCU??"  The short answer is, they're a couple of many things that are really going to piss off Eve payers, that's what they are.  Eve players need to carry around supplies, plan moves, build ships and mods and ammo and take it with them when they go off to kick someone's ass.  They really don't want to hear any bullshit about how DUST bunnies can drop from the sky, like the special snowflakes they are, and start poking gaping holes in their alliance's sovereignty.  Eve players don't want to hear about a magic travelling market that goes with the bunnies, everywhere they go, and making their gear on the fly as they drop into the planet zones.  Eve players don't want to hear that an alliance might need to go out and get a bunch of PS3s if they want to keep control of their space with the same effort as they do now.

     Speculation is always going to be an issue when you have a bunch of gamers as excited as the DUST bunnies seem to be.  NDAs, limited game functionality, and cloak and dagger references to game features are lacking just enough detail that they inflame the imaginations of the console players, and inflame other things in the Eve player base.  After all, it's not like CCP dropping stupid shit in the lap of the player base is a rare thing.  Eve players can do some crazy shit, if there's too much stupid shit.  With too little understanding of Eve, the DUST bunnies will dream up some really optimistic, pro-console game play, and that already isn't very popular with Eve players, especially in null sec.  With too little info on DUST, Eve players are going to dream up some really pessimistic pro-console game play, and that is not going to make integration any more acceptable with Eve payers.

     Eve players are already on a bit of a short fuse and all the recent ship balancing and eye candy is helping a little, but I don't think it's really taken the heat off of the Eve pressure cooker a whole lot, especially with the null crowd.  DUST is no where ready to come out of the oven yet, and there are so many aspects of the game that haven't even been tested or seen yet, it's got to be well into next year before they even think about an open beta, if they're smart.  There are a lot of fancy games that have just come out, or are going to be released soon.  Maybe CCP is being smart and they're waiting for the smoke to clear a little from titles that might be too close to DUST, like Planetside 2, MWO, Hawken and Halo.  The longer CCP waits, the better the game will be, but the longer they wait, the more tired the enthusiasts will be of grinding the same beta content and over-speculating about features that that could be years away from implementation.  I think CCP needs to start adding more little bits and pieces, a little more often, or people aren't going to be around in the months ahead that I think it'll take to test out even the most basic planet-taking features.  I'd hate to be the guy planning the release date.  While CCP claims that the nature of Eve's and DUST's game play connection is such that either game could survive without the other, it would be a real shame to see the incredible potential of DUST, roll over and sink to the bottom on launch.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Post nice stories too. Yawn . . .

     Whilst doing my mining, I went though a number of Lost In Eve podcasts.  I like the rivalry banter of the good old triple A vs CFC stuff, which mainly involves Rundle's -A- pulpit.  I like the null sec reports on wars, etc, and I don't necessarily mind them talking about dev blogs and game changes.  What is tough to sit through though, is when they get all Eve-fanboy.  They talk about talking about Eve.  Talk about talking, and ho boy baby Jeebus, can those two fucking talk about talking, especially, "the Rundle".

     A common theme/comment is how to get non-Eve players interested in Eve.  How to get the "Eve in great" message send out to the world's gaming community.  Well, the word IS getting out to the gaming community and it isn't a good "word".  That bit of news should be approximately of ZERO fucking surprise to any Eve player, and it should be abundantly clear to Jade and Rundle, but in their Eve coloured glasses, sometimes I wonder, because they want people to talk about the good stuff too.

     They seem to be able to gloss over the fact that Eve has a fair number of assholes in it, and they are big enough assholes to command the greatest part, like, say, about 99 fucking percent, of all Eve news content.  Open sandboxes, and emergent game play, and you can be the master of your own domain, and all that rot, is pretty much a thin skin of dried shit that floats atop the cesspool of Eve that the rest of the online world thinks it is.

     Few people pay attention to any kind of news that is nice or good.  Criminals, evil corporate types, murderers, who is cheating on Sandra Bullock again, and the need for 57 million firetrap SUVs to be recalled.  Those are things that catch people's attention.  They want to hear about bad shit happening, especially to other people, because it makes them feel good that it didn't happen to them.  No one gives a shit about how many old ladies were helped across the road, or how many people were fed at the food bank, or how many starving people with flies walking on their eyeballs were fed in the desert country of <insert desert country name here>.  That shit is skipped right over so you can get to the comics or fast forward it to get to the Sandra Bullock part (who I think is HAWT! :)).  No one pays attention to good news like that in real life because it makes them feel like assholes, because they didn't do any of that good stuff.  So why would "good Eve news" interest anyone and be a draw for new players to flock to Eve?  The answer is, it doesn't and it won't.  Bad news DOES attract more assholes though, and that's not good either.

     Drama makes news stories and that catches people's attentions, but the vast majority of the gaming population isn't really interested in REAL drama, personal drama, drama that knocks them on their chair shaped asses and takes their shiniey stuffs and money.  Not even PVP players from other games who routinely get their stuffz back.  They, the majority of the non-angry players, I think, want goodness, niceness, or at least no badness.  "Good news" isn't news because it should be the standard, not something out of the ordinary that earns a news bulletin.  "GOOD" is expected, and in most MMOs, is the standard as soon as you log in.  People just might like to play a game to relax.  To zone out, not think, do stupid shite to get some pixels broken, killed and revived, or break some stone blocks, or just plant some fucking carrots.  They don't want to have to look over their shoulder for a boogey man player looking to ruin their day.  Even if Eve isn't filled to the brim with assholes like everyone thinks, it doesn't matter, that's the perception, and no "good" news will ever wipe that out.

     I had a bit of an epiphany though.  The good news is more bad news!  I know right?!?  I think CCP is slowly realizing this too.  What we need is more news of game changes, nerfs and lots of public outcry and reports of tears.

"But d00d!", you exclaim, "that's what we've got right now, and that's the freakin' problem, yo!"

"Ha ha!!", says I, "But this time, it is not the cries of the carebear, nor do the tears come from the eyes of the miner or the pubbie, anon.  This time, the wailing and the gnashing of teeth have come forth from the pie hole of the griefer."

     As news gets out that griefers and assholes are unsubbing from Eve because it's becoming too Hello Kitty in Space™, that is exactly the kind of good news that will start inflating the anemically flat  subscription numbers.  You gotta break some poopy eggs to make some good news omelettes. ;)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

King of blogs? Podside #7 necro

     Whilst doing the high sec care bear thing and catching up on old podcasts, I came across episode 7 of podside.  Apparently, being low in retrospective thought, and high in blood alcohol level (just guessing there, in defence of their thought processes . . .) a number of podside participants took umbrage at Mord Fiddle's post on his blog entitled Victory Conditions.  I know, June, but I said necro in the title, right?

     A long while back, I went all the way back in Mord's blog as far as it was saved, and started reading forward.  Unlike me, Mord is an excellent writer.  Articulate, clever, and a very entertaining and an educational writer where it comes to null sec news.  He's got a wry sense of humour and a sarcastic/ironic writing style that, based on the comments, a fair number of people don't "get".

     Another person who doesn't get it, is this dude named Spencer, on the podside episode, and apparently he's a Mittens fan and got butt-hurt because of the way Mord wrote his blog articles, and that Mord was so anti-Mittens because of the Goon's whole ministry of love thing where the goons were going after the authors of online meta content that was anti-goon.  At any rate, mord wrote a tongue in cheek post about how he would accept the Mitten's surrender on behalf of ANY persecuted blogs or podcasters, not ALL of them.  I thought it was funny and brilliant, but that's only because I actually READ what is written, and not jump completely over fucking conclusions like the lads at podside.  For whatever reason, the participants of that show were infected by the cloud of stupid or lack of sense of humour, and they all go stumbling off into the dark at about the 49 minute mark.

     So, at the start of Spencer's "rant", he asks if he's over reacting or not.  Well, yeah, in the same way the Lost in Eve crew went 100% tinfoil in the suicide-gate fan fest podcast, yeah dude, you fuckin' over reacted.  LOL

Thursday, November 22, 2012

DUST Motes: Running the numbers

     DUST 514 is still in some flavour of beta-ness.  Depending on who you talk to, listen to, and when such interaction occurs, it's either "closed", "open" or just "beta".  It's all very tedious, really, but I suppose NDA games need to be played as much as DUST does at this point.  At the present time, there are a number of blogs and podcasts that are talking about DUST and the devs are decently active at appearing on or in them.  As such, they have thrown out a few interesting numbers.

- In the Eve-verse, there are a little over 5400 systems and about another 2500 wormholes on top of that.  For the time being, CCP is going to start out DUST with interaction on the temperate planets only, and only those in high sec.  Worm hole space will have "something different' but nothing more has been defined about "different".
- Apparently, there are something on the order of 7200 temperate planets.  1115 of those are in high sec.
- Each planet will have a number of "districts" that are distinct areas on the planet and that can be warped to by Eve players in their ships.  The number of districts will depend on a number of factors, like planet type and size, but the number of districts will apparently be in the 10 to 20 range.
- Each one of these districts will be further subdivided into "zones" that hold individual structures and resources.  It is in these "zones" that the actual fighting will take place.  Now, I'm not sure where I read or heard this, but I remember a number of 2 or 3 zones per district.  I don't remember if that was an average or not, but it's all speculation at the moment, so an average will suffice for now.
- Based on the time of day (the planets spin), the planet's location relative to the sun, general geographical features, and the colour of the system's sun, the server will randomly generate the map's terrain and lighting for each zone.

     So, taking a low district average of 10, and a zone number of two, when all the temperate planets in high sec are rolled out, that's a ballpark number of 22,300 separate and randomly generated maps.  Over 140,000 maps when all the temperate planets are rolled out.  When all 46,172 of the "K-space", or normal space, planets are included, that is a low average of over 923,000 individual maps.  There are another 21,000+ planets in worm hole space too.

     Safe to assume that you won't be likely to get bored running the "same old" 1 million+ maps in DUST 514.

     Also, just as an aside, the ASCII code for 514 is this; .  Just sayin'  ;)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

QQ - Eve's waning bloggery. ?

    O M G!!  Eve blogs and such are d i e i n g!

     Or at least, that's what I read.  Not sure where all that comes from though.  I think part of it is because apparently the mittanni.com is gobbling up writers and bloggers faster than the Langoliers.  As more and more good writers are apparently/allegedly/approximately forsaking their blog writing in favour of plying their trade in a more professional and perhaps visible venue.  The fear might be that all the quirky differences and opinions will be mopped up under the blobbing coalitions of a few big sites like Evenews24, and the aforementioned one.  Lack of variety of opinion, and all that rot.

     Apparently along with this gravitational pull of big sites, the blog pack has had/suffered/seen drastic decreases in blog-member activity.  Not surprising really as ownership and the site has hopped around enough times that it might have lost itself.  Thankfully, there's Google.

     Blogs come and go, as their writers come and go.  Life happens, interests change.  Some people get all enthusiastic about some particular "thing", and think, "Hey!  I could write a blog about that!"  I will be the first to point out (and at me) that being able to write a few random thoughts on a blog makes you a blogger, not a writer.  Writing, like many, many things, is an art.  It's a special way of thinking and seeing things in your mind, and then being able to put that in words.  Like poetry, perhaps, but with less rhyming shit (yes, I like poems to have rhyming shit).  Blogging is not a quick and dirty thing, at least not for me, and it can take hours to get something written, even when it's mostly written out in my head already.  I'll start writing, then go look for a link, or a picture or a reference, try to resist the SQUIRREL! urges, and next thing I know, a couple hours have gone by.  At least right now, I want to be playing Eve and/or DUST, not writing about them.  I think a lot of starting-out or would-be bloggers find that while initially they might have a lot to say, the blogging thing gets old fast and attention and interest drifts.  Some people keep an eclectic blog going that changes along with their interest(s), but with Eve, I think for the most part that the two biggest culprits of Eve blog-fade are A) losing interest in Eve (either completely or just sliding into bitter mode), and 2) losing interest in the amount of effort required to blog regularly, either because life gets too busy or they can't think of anything they'd particularly like to write about.

  Either way, or any way, I don't think it's a big deal.  People and blogs come and go, and while there might be an ebb in active blogs, or at least active blogs of "quality" right now, It will no doubt change.  So, no, chicken little, I worry not that the blogs are falling of the edge of the Eve universe.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Smooth Criminal, Pt 2

     No, this isn't another lament about the Mittenzes, it's about one of his directors.  Whilst doing my menial mining-thing, I've still been plugging away at old podcasts, working my way to thepresent, and have listened to a number of episodes where Courthouse is a guest.  He seems to be a fairly regular fixture on the podside shows, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

     Courthouse is one of the Goon diplomatic directors and he is also a Cluster Fuck Coalition manager.  No doubt he is talented at it as he is also another smooth, articulate and intelligent individual.  He has a measured and calm way of speaking and every time he speaks, I can't help but think there's some strategic or diplomatic agenda that he is steering the podcast towards.  I'm not really a paranoid, but I am aware that he IS a Goon.  A HIGH LEVEL Goon, and they're always scheming about something.

     He's covered a number of topics in the basically free-form podcast episodes and has shared some insights on some of the higher level Goonfleet motives, some principles behind some of the ship doctrines as well as the "Goon side" of the instance where the Goon finance department bent CCP over the faction warfare barrel and made them and the Eve economy squeal like a pig.  Apparently, the Goons told CCP that the FW changes were wide open to abuse, and nothing was done.  Supposedl;y, they told Punkturis, (you know, the one who completely fucked up the inventory with that unified piece of shit?), and she did nothing, likely because she had NO clue what they were talking about.  That part of the Goon tale, is fairly believable IMO.  So anyways, the Goons figured the only way to get their attention was to demosntrate what they were talking about, and, well, the rest is Eve history.  Not being overly cautious, while listening to all the things he says, I am very aware of what his job is, who he plays/works for, and that some of the things he says start smelling very much like spin and propaganda at times.

     He IS a very big fan of Mittenzes, he is NOT a very big fan of the current CSM, nor triple A's leadership and tactics, and he IS very knowledgeable about Eve and it's history, especially null sec history and politics.  He's another very smooth criminal who is very good at putting positive spins on all things Goony, and it is no surprise that guys like him and Mittenzes work together in game.  Those two are in extremely stark contrast compared to the general goon derps I've been "lucky" enough to run across.  Another savvy handler in the goon derp herd.

Friday, November 16, 2012


     In a bit of "extraspection"(yes, new word, I submitted it to Websters just now), I noticed that other high sec players don't see PVP the way it pretty much really is in Eve.  They see different forms of gameplay as completely separate actions, and "PVP" is a term that is defined as one player, usually someone despicable, blowing up someone else, usually "minding their own business" in a transport or mining ship.  I see them all as pretty much the same thing, PVP, and PVP always involves the loss of ISK.

     The obvious form of ISK loss is an assploded ship.  The ship is an asset, but it was likely bought with ISK, or made out of minerals/things with an ISK value.

     When someone gets robbed, or scammed, whether it's for an item or a ship, a pyramid scheme, for a contract gone wrong or mis-typing a market sell/buy order, it's still a loss of ISK, and even in the market, it's still player vs player.  It doesn't always involve blowing something up.

     If someone bum rushes your incursion room and snakes your completion out from under you, or nija loots or salvages your mission, that's PVP, but more importantly, it's a loss of ISK.

     Even in the heady world of miner bumping or another mining fleet out-mining the other players in the belt, forces them to move more often, and that too, is PVP.  It's loss of ISK, loss of ore income.

     There are a myriad of ways to PVP in Eve, and that's not at all saying that I condone assholery like straight up ganking or the scammers themselves, but in the end, it's still a loss of ISK, which makes it PVP.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

WTF is a "Hellcat"?

     Having been playing Eve for a couple years now, and having at least a marginal interest in things mercenary and null . . enary, I've heard a number of mentionings of different "cats", and, I thought exactly what the title says.  With a little bit of random clickery, I managed to get a little more info on it.  So, just give me a second to adjust my ass in ye olde rocking chair, and I might be able to elucidate on that, or at least tell you about it, a little, maybe . . .

     To start, we need to set the way back machine to Feb 2007.  A female player started in Eve as a fairly hard core indy player doing market trading, mining, manufacturing, etc.  After getting ganked by pirates in lowsec, she met another player (who had tried to save her during said gank) who soon turned pirate himself.  After being regaled by his tales of piracy hijinks in lowsec, she decided that it t'was to be the yarrrr life for her too.  Her current toon was not suited for such a direction, so she created a new toon, on a new account, and called her . . . wait for it . . . NANCY!  No, just kidding, it was actually the birth of Mynxee.

    While Mynxee was skilling up to be the mostest fiercest female piratey type in Eve, she played support and transport roles to her big sister.  Later, the tables would turn and the big sister would be the transport and scout for Mynxee as she wreaked havoc in New Eden's lowsec.  In Feb 2008, she founded the all woman, female only, pirate corporation called Hellcats(as well as the Hellfleet alliance) to foster and train other female players interested in the pirate's life in Eve.  Due to a problem in getting and keeping female players interested in piracy, she eventually left to join Noir in Mar 2010.  Hellcats officially closed in Oct of 2010.  She also served a term as the chairman of CSM 5.

    So, fuckin' YAWN already!  HELLCATS?!?!?  Yeah, so apparently, at some point, the Hellcats had a battleship doctrine that used Abaddons.  As small gang pvpers, using mostly frigates and cruiser class ships (from what I've been able to see) that bit about Abaddons might be a little sketchy.  At any rate, apparently, in late 2010, Pandemic Legion, in a pique of homage to the all-female corp and also to the TV show, started naming fleet ship doctrines with the suffix of "cat".  Hellcats, Thundercats, Slowcats, Herocats (definitions of the last two cats differs), and yes, even, supposedly LOLcats, again, details of the last one are murky, and NO, it's not a picture of a cat with guns taped to its paws or something . . . I think.

     What I want to do, and possibly should have done, was maybe send Seleene a quick message and see if he knows about the origins of the whole "cat" meme.  Perhaps I shall, and get back with a quick edit when I get an answer. :)

Monday, November 12, 2012

PLEX for subscriptions? I sit corrected.

     Earlier on, I talked about CCP considering allowing PLEX to be used to pay the way for fan events.  Well, only being about, oh, nine and a half months LATE, it turns out CCP is already fine with players using PLEX for fan events.  Specifically Fanfest 2012, where PLEX could be used for access passes of various style, plus fanfest events of many kinds, including a hoity toity dinner and a chance to get a behind-the-scenes tour of CCP itself..  What I should have said, is that PLEX is considered being allowed to pay for PLAYER created/run events, like Eve Vegas, or ones anywhere in the world that are quasi, or fully, CCP sanctioned.

     On one hand, it's cool that CCP allows players to subsidize a fanfest event by working on the cost in-game.  At the same time, it takes an in-game resource that was intended for subscriptions, and drives the price up because more uses for the PLEX increases the demand and increases inflation.  increasing the PLEX prices to the point that players are no longer interested in, or no longer have the time to earn the isk to pay for the PLEX, means they will either pay for PLEX with real money, or stop playing Eve.  People who heavily rely on PLEX for subscriptions, will opt for not playing anymore.  Pretty much defeats the purpose of PLEX in the first place.  PLEX for subscriptions should be a CCP priority.  PLEX for extracurricular things should be a very distant second.  If CCP stays greedy and allows PLEX for anything and everything, they'll eventually pay with subscription loss.

     Accepting ISK, on the other hand, or partial PLEX and partial ISK for non-subscription things, means they still make extra money off the PLEX, they might be able to manage PLEX inflation, keep subscriptions and they would provide a big ISK sink for Eve.

     EDIT:  Also, just noticed, but PLEX are not $15 each, but $20 each.  Not sure when the price went up, but it's been a while since I bought any with real cash.  That's an extra 25% increase in the money CCP gets every time they spin a PLEX-for-something plan.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Gevlon + FW + DUST = theory

     Perhaps it might be time to don either a tin foil hat, or some kind of protection from people who are wearing said tinfoil hat.  Your choice.

     Gevlon posted a few thoughts over at his blog, back at the end of last month, that postulated another viewpoint on the whole Factional Warfare fiasco.

     In a nutshell, here are the salient points . . .

- DUST 514 is basically a black hole for ISK.  When a DUST bunny dies, if they're paying for better-than-default gear, the gear is lost and they need to buy more.
- the DUST players will be initially fighting on, and for, temperate planets in and around the FW systems
- FW players will be issuing contracts for the bunnies to take planets for them
- CCP possibly "planned" for the FW isk faucet patch in an ill conceived plan to flood the FW players with tons of ISK so that highly lucrative contracts could be issued to the bunnies, who would then in turn be able to spend their ISK windfalls on highly upgraded DUST gear for their toons, which would cause the console players to be massively enthused about DUST and continue playing it
- with so many FW farmers soaking up too much of the ISK faucet, CCP realized that much of the bunny-intended-ISK was ending up in the hands of players who wouldn't be interested in FW PI, and therefore pre-emptively patched, and "fixed" the FW isk fountain

     Some of that might be slightly more paraphrased than the original, but that's the gist of it, as far as I can make out.  Interesting hypothesis, but I'd feel better about his post if it appeared nearer the beginning of Apr.  Having some experience with DUST, and Eve/CCP, I have some . . . "observations".

1.  While it would not surprise me that CCP would come up with a financial plan as entirely fucked up as this, and with one of the devs publicly explaining that if you don't use a "legal" exploit when it's presented to you, you're an idiot, well, I have a hard time buying the idea that this was intentional on CCPs part.  More likely, they relied on their frequently clueless economist instead of talking to the players, specifically, the goons who raped their stupid patch.

2.  For anyone that has played DUST, it's a long fucking way from being ready to come out of the oven.  The maps (only two right now) look like they were designed by a flunked out class from the Vermtek Community College FPS Level Design course of 1991.  It takes 5 to 7 minutes for the game to even load, and one of the two levels is a pure sniper fest (they had more maps).  The graphics quality needs to come up to par, keyboard and mouse functionality needs work, and the chat and group mechanics are about 1985 level.  If CCP was planning to leave the FW isk tidal wave flowing until DUST was released, Eve's economy would have been pretty much permanently trashed.

3.  While lots of DUST fans, including marketing types and many people who have never even played it, will get dreamy expressions and misty eyes while they talk about the millions of DUST players, you'd be lucky right now to find 30 people in local.  Only closed beta, I know, but from only about 25 years of console and computer gaming, for a beta, it's a ghost town.  Keep in mind that's over 400,000 beta keys that CCP gave out, not to mention you can get into the beta by buying the mercenary pack for 20 bucks.  If that extrapolates to going live, it would take a long, long, long, long time for a likely small console community to burn through trillions of PI contract iskies.  Those, would be some fucking rich dust bunnies!  They could buy a ton of trick shit! (even though it would be a long time before they could actually USE it)

4.  Having tons of isk in DUST is nice, but not necessary to get "good" gear.  Like Eve, skill training allows marked improvement in performance and survivability, so better performance is not necessarily money dependent.  Additionally, to get the "best" gear, that requires you buy the items with AUR.  AUR = pay to win.  Again, even with great gear, it requires prerequisite skill trees be fleshed out to use the gear.  The skill training requires skill points, not isk.

5.  It's not hard to make isk, and to fight without losing ANY isk or to build up isk, you just use default or "special offer" gear, both of which have unlimited quantities.  Additionally, the bunny market is going to scale and fluctuate based on console isk flow, players that die a lot will get a bonus to the isk they get rewarded, and players that don't get killed a lot get slightly reduced isk rewards.  As mentioned, you can buy all kinds of cool guns and tanks and suits, but if you don't have the skills to use them, the gear sits there until you amass the millions of SP it takes to use them.  Also, if Eve players end up being the ones that get the BPs for making the bunny gear, there goes the isk sink.

     Maybe the goblin was trolling, and I took the bait hook line and sinker.  Maybe he's serious.  I can't tell.  It's an interesting theory, but I think it's fundamentally flawed because the supposed end point, the focus, of CCP's master plan, is a FPS that has a long way to go.  Mind you, it's not like it would be the first time that CCP sends something off to fly before it can fly.  I don't know what Sony would say about a still birth from CCP.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The plaaaan . . .

     At this point, and it's only about 2 years in, the most gratifying sound to come from Eve/Aura is "skill training completed" in that sultry little voice.  Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, at this point, she only speaks her mind about once a week, if I'm lucky.

     At this point in world domination, all the toons have their high and low sec mining skills maxxed.  All the core skills are at 4, with a number at 5 if they were needed as prerequisites for more advanced ones.  All the individual racial frigate skills are 5, and most have cruiser and battleship skills at 5.  Most of the toons can also fly an orca and a freighter, and 3 or 4 physical freighters are usually enough to handle mineral transport duties to and from the trade hubs.  With racial destroyers and battlecruisers rumoured, I switched all the toons' training to get both of those up to level 5.  Somewhere, sometime, somebody mentioned, I think, that anyone with BC or destroyer skills at 5 would get some kind of grandfathered bonus when the new racial boats and their skills skills come out.  So, what the hell, I figured I'd train them up, just in the off chance that it saves some training time later.

     All the toons can manufacture and do ME and PE research, and can build all the capital ship components.  I was dabbling in orca production for a while and making about 200 to 250 million profit per boat, which was nice.  Other observant players noticed the same trends though, and the market areas I was using were flooded with orcas, so my last one didn't sell.  I managed to sell 6 or 7 of them though, so I was happy.  I might get some more BPC packs for some orcas and try again, but prices are a little flaky right now and even the BPC packs have gone up a lot.  My orca BPO is still in research and nowhere near ready to use yet.  I have some freighter, dread and carrier BPC packs and intend to relocate to near a low sec system and make a few capitals for sale.  I bought a number of capital construction BPOs and they are currently in research.  A long haul at one month per upgrade point though.  I bought a few compression BPOs for some T1 items, so I'll use those to hop the minerals into the low sec station I plan to use if it means too many freighter jumps.  Multiple freighter pilots means I can make hay while the sun shines as an alt watches the system and gates.  I'll permanently leave an alt from one of the accounts sitting in there in a T1 with a prototype cloak so I don't need to jump it in to scout.

     All the toons are going to be aimed at carriers and dreads, wiht a couple also aimed at flying a rorqual.  They will also be able to fly the standard fleet ships like drakes, canes and eventually tengus as well as their racial T3 ship.  The downside of having long duration skills in que also provides the upside of not having to worry about loading skills every day.  More short duration skills will be needed, obviously, when I start cross training the toons on other racial weapons and boats, but that is not until well into the new year.

     While I wanted to, and still would like to, run the COSMOS that I started, and maybe even try some more incursion fleets, for now, I can generate a good steady income, plex the accounts, and keep the training plans full until I decide I'm ready to try WH space or null.  In the near future though, time permitting, I'll start looking more closely at the requirements for some low sec cap production.

     The trick with Eve, is time manipulation.  Get as many revenue generating schemes running simultaneously as possible.  PI + manufacturing + some mining (for more minerals for more ship production) is a good start at doubling or tripling the Eve time.  Isk per hour will obviously vary, but it's still passive activity that is, or will, eventually generate income.  Patient entry into the cap production will allow me to keep a suitable ISK buffer and not leave me with a bunch of caps that I can't get rid of.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

More CCP pay-to-win

     When I did my last post on what I think/feel/believe is a pay-to-win scenario that already exists in Eve, I had it on a time delay for posting.  In the mean time, one of the items I mentioned, the latest open tournament, has had some changes.

     First, the entry fee of 20 PLEX was reduced to 10.  Apparently this was in partial response to complaints from players that the entry fee was too high.  If true, that's a step forward from CCP.

     At the same time though, word from CCP was that there were anywhere from 60 to 80 teams who signed up for the tournament.  That number depends on the quality of your rumour connection I guess, but a number in the 60's was apparently put forward directly by CCP.  Amazingly, more than half the signed up teams bailed on the tourney before the bidding for spots would start, though.  That's crazy, right?!?!  Now, the conspiracists would proffer that there never were that many teams that signed up, and that the number of teams claimed by CCP was a very pathetic and douche bag attempt for CCP to try to get player groups to bid more PLEX for the 32 team spots.  More PLEX bid means less PLEX in game, which means PLEX prices will rise (as they are doing), which means more PLEX will be bought to replace tournament PLEX and sold at higher prices.  Can't really see who would benefit from all that PLEX selling, except of course CCP, oh, and the richer Eve players.

     So, move ahead a bit to the point where the bidding is done, and they couldn't get enough teams to play in the tournament.  Of the only 27 teams that actually bid for a spot in the tournament, only 3 teams bid 10 PLEX, and the top teams bid over 40.  Of the 27 teams, 575 PLEX were bid.  Once players found out that there weren't even enough teams that bid for spots, some wanted a complete refund and were ready to bail out.  At that point CCP decided to give everyone back their extra PLEX, and so all 27 teams were in the tourney with a 10 PLEX bid.  Hopefully, that's 300 PLEX that might end up back in the hands of players to help stave off more PLEX inflation.

     More tin foil time though.  It is rumoured that there was some behind the scenes shit going on with some CCP devs trying to entice certain players into the tournament.  Now, with their denials about the whole T20 incident, and then their recant of the denials when the CCP dude admitted that he was a cheating fuck, but they still didn't a) fire him or b) re-instate the player's accounts that outed the mess, so I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for an honest answer out of CCP if a couple of their devs WERE pulling strings.  The whole "pro-Eve tournament" thing would be another potential cash cow if CCP could siphon off a bunch more PLEX.  The tinfoilers would also be remiss if they didn't point out that 2 of the three 10 PLEX bidders also got a bye for the first round.  How many OTHER alliances/groups (with perhaps tournament participation history) did CCP contact with possible enticements for the tournament?  Were the two 10 PLEX bidders given a little nudge nudge wink wink and a bye if they decided to join the tourney?

     Personally, I don't give a fuck about the tournament, or whether CCP has a couple devs doing shit in the shadows.  I'm more concerned about how much more lag or bugs they'll inject, or how they're going to fuck up the UI.  If CCP wanted ALL players involved, CCP could have accepted ISK for entry fees as well.  After all, they've already been PAID for every PLEX that's in the game.  Apparently though, they only want the "most dedicated teams to enter and compete to be champions".  Uh, yeah, ok.  Mainly though, the teams most willing and able to pay CCP with real cash to let them in the tournaments.  Pay to win, much?

     But wait!  There's more!  :)

     In more pay-to-win news, CCP is thinking about accepting PLEX as a form of payment to attend fan events.  Good for them, bad for players who buy PLEX with ISK, but then, like so many "programs" amd "offers", CCP is only interested in the players who can AFFORD to do that.  PLEX is a cash cow to be milked.  Fuck the fact that PLEX for ISK was implemented to HELP players pay for their subscriptions.
     Additionally, according to David Reid (CCP's marketing dude), they were SO happy with the whole video-cards-for-PLEX thing, that they want to do it again.  Now, why wouldn't CCP be happy when they can offload a hundred video cards (that cost them less than 200 bucks) for $300 worth of PLEX each??  Again, good for rich players who can bankroll that amount of ISK to PLEX at the drop of a hat and definitely good for CCP.

     Last point, according to our very own Alekseyev Karde, you know, the CSM dude, the guy who represents players?  Well, according to him and his buddies, any player that complains about the inability to use PLEX to pay for their subscription, (which is why it was instituted in the game) is a whiner.  Nice.  Good thing Alekseyev is thinking about ALL the players, or maybe he's only interested in a select subset of players, like the ones who have enough disposable income to pay for subscriptions and PLEX with real cash.   Start at 20 minutes.  That's some fairly elitist bullshit, but at least then he casually wonders what effects it will have on the people/plebes that he thinks are whiners.  Yay player reps!

     Tournaments, CCP convention tickets, video cards?  My, my.  So MANY uses for people who can afford to throw PLEX around.  I guess the dumb-ass, whining players who actually use PLEX for what it was intended for will have to HTFU, or go play something else.  Go pay-to-win!  ;)