Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Awox Or Con?

This will be a short one. If you wanting the standard narrative of the Circle of Two mugging then go to either:
  • EN24
  • CZ
  • or from INN where I took the following:
(11:07:38 PM) directorbot: I want to smug. You are going to love this. I am the best CSM in history
~~~ This was a broadcast from aryth to all at 2017-09-12 03:07:48.478333 EVE ~~~(11:07:55 PM) directorbot: The next 24 hours are going to be glorious
~~~ This was a broadcast from aryth to all at 2017-09-12 03:08:05.526120 EVE ~~~(11:10:17 PM) directorbot: Flipped Judge at Summit. CCP watched me do it live. Keep is in his hands he has robbed them blind
And that is it. It is the story. Everything you need to know is in those three pings. Let's be blunt.

CCP facilitates a face to face meeting in Iceland that results in the loss of the assets for a section of its player base. So this isn't one of the great Eve heists. Like Gigx's ill considered threats, the conspiracy to defraud was in real life and out of game. And that would be fine if it had stayed there. But it didn't. CSM members, who lets remind ourselves are there to "represent the player community" while effectively in the employ of CCP  conspired to do the opposite. Consequently, the ingame collateral cost for the Circle of Two line members is substantial. Even the execution of the plan was done publicly and streamed into your basement with CCP's oversight judging by the swiftness of their actions.

CCP has a case to answer because they are complicit. The CSM, which I have often said should be disbanded has shown it cannot serve in the players' interests. A great Eve story? Sure, The Judge will make the history books although in my mind Aryth deserves the plaudits as it was he who swung the deal. But no, in reality it seems like a tawdry, well executed but ultimately pathetic real life con and it should be remembered as such. It should be condemned as such. Oh and here is the Judge conveniently talking to another CSM member. Go boost his views and take a look. Spoiler alert. At the end interview the Judge advises players to keep it in game. Priceless.

P.S. For reference, I have no connection with any Nullsec entity.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

The Final Frontier

There is, or rather there was a wall across Scotland. Begun in AD 142 it stretched for 39 miles and took 12 years to complete. Now known as the Antonine Wall, was abandoned 8 years later as the Romans redeployed back south to the previously built and more famous Hadrian's Wall in England. It was a sensible decision. The economics of maintaining it did not justify the security it provided. A point that was proved when there was an attempt to reestablish it a few years later. From that point on it was largely forgotten although you can still see parts of what was an astonishing engineering feat. A historical sidenote and largely irrelevant to the larger story of the Roman Empire apart from one aspect. The Empire reached its largest expanse just prior to its building. Hadrian's wall acknowledged that the future was about consolidation rather than expansion. Antonine's Wall was the frontier too far. While the Roman Empire continued to exist for many years particularly in the East, the story would be one of continual retreat in the West. In retrospect we can say Antonine's Wall was as good as it was going to get in terms of imperial aspiration.

This is of course a very melodramatic way of approaching the question around the imminent demise of Captain's Quarters by CCP. Like the ruins of the Antonine Wall, Captain's Quarters represent the archeological remnants of an earlier developer civilisation that had grand ambition. Walking in Stations. 

There was nothing wrong with that ambition. There was everything wrong with its execution. It was an unhappy time. Captain's Quarters are all that remain of that ambition and like Antonine's Wall you can go no further despite the cries of players to "open the door"

Thus the removal of Captain's Quarters is logical and of course an evidence based decision. It is not used players and it is expensive to maintain. The Art department can be busy making more profitable skins. In a world where there will no longer be capsuleers in Eve, just ships. The player avatar is now essentially pointless. So it is not unreasonable that CCP could apply same economic logic and remove the character builder and avatars from the game in order to focus on exciting new features. 

And here lies the problem. I have whined long and often about the death of the Route Map. It used to be a regular feature at Fanfest and EveVegas. It laid out CCP's aspirations for Eve. In recent years it featured less and less and at the last fanfest it disappeared completely to be replaced with some moody looking space images that told you nothing. Vacuous eye candy to be blunt. The hope was there were some nice surprises coming along that CCP had in their back pocket. But what evidence there is suggests the mood is around consolidation. Features will be extended (like HighSec PVE) but there is no desire to do anything new because the economic metrics don't stack up in a way that pleases investors.

Then there is the timing of the announcement itself. While we have not reached the volume of outrage that was generated by Incarna, a rage that killed Walking in Stations stone dead, we are in a period of diminished trust between players and CCP. While some of this is contrived, falling player activity is is more dramatic than anything that immediately followed after Incarna. There are alarm bells sounding somewhere in CCP. We know this because there have been a couple of announcements from CCP. 

Like Incarna, the problem has been determined as a failure to deal with existing game functionality and balance issues. A dev team is going to be dedicated to fixing these. Ambulation support and development will be stopped. The parallels between now and Incarna in terms of CCP's practical (the politics were very different) response are uncanny. But are they the same problem? To me, Incarna was result of too much hype and appalling delivery. Now? Competent (compared with Incarna) but lacklustre delivery and with no vision beyond maximising revenue and reducing costs of the existing assets. So while balancing the game is good, it might be a solution to the wrong problem. 

Ultimately, it is right that Captain's Quarters become consigned to the past. But it is sad that like the Antonine Wall, it could mark the high watermark of Eve's ambition. The final frontier. This isn't an Eve is dying post. The Roman Empire didn't die until a 1000 years later. But it perhaps it won't be anything more either as the aspirations now recede. Potentially Eve could be something less as other economically awkward features are axed. Alternatively, this could be a springboard for a renaissance.  A route map would be a start

Friday, 23 June 2017

Ready Steady Stop

So while the politics and weather are hot, it ought to be a pleasant distraction to hang out in the cold certainty of New Eden. OK, that might be a bit of a stretch but it is something to do while sweat drips out of every pore on your body. 

If you recall, I was rubbing my hands at the prospect of war. My small POCO holding corp had been wardecced by a chancing Corp hoping I would capitulate and fire sale these mundane assets tour de suite. I didn't. I hired a Mercenary group instead and I was ready for action which is where we left off. 

I know, anyone who knows anything about wardecs would tell you that the most likely outcome would be that nothing would happen. Well something did happen. Almost immediately the aggressor offered to surrender. Alright, that is actually a big nothing. I didn't accept the offer but the wardec has now run its course and no spaceships (or POCO's) were harmed in the making of this war. This is all rather underwhelming. I don't blame the participants for this. Wardecs are just a bad mechanic.

I've discussed this before as have many others. But in this instance what has the mechanic achieved? A few emails, a bit of ISK exchanged and a good reason for not undocking in Hisec. Nobody (including the Mercenaries) wins. I am not going to suggest solutions. That has been done to death and CCP have consistently said they are not going to look at it because it is hard.  There is no point.

But from this example it is clear wardecs don't solve the problem they were supposed to address - specifically, every player owned thing should be destructible and this mechanism allows that to happen in Hisec. My POCO's remain intact. It would be interesting to see the percentage of wardecs that result in no ship losses whatsoever. In any case, the consequences of having this mechanism are a barrier to entry the game. The sort of groups that could form and steal my assets just aren't generally viable with the wardec mechanism. A situation CCP might collide with when they introduce the new PVE feature to Hisec the in winter. Perhaps then they might reconsider.