Sunday, 27 December 2015

What will CCP Denebole bring to the table?

You may have noticed that CCP recently hired Maria Sayans formerly of Electronic Arts (EA) aka CCP Denebola as its Chief Customer Officer (CCO). Based in London, the role appears to cover all the games in CCP's fold (not sure about the China Serenity side however). 

So you see the words "Electronic Arts" and you break out in a cold sweat. You wonder why employing someone from the darkside would be a good idea for CCP. Well I have no insight into what is actually planned and CCP Denebola has barely sat down at the desk. But a little research has dug up a fairly recent video of a conference presentation she made. Interestingly senior CCP management were also attending the European Design, Innovate, Communicate, Entertain (D.I.C.E) Summit  in September 2015 (not to be confused with EA Dice). 

So was this event effectively her job interview? If this is the direction CCP are taking I would find this pretty encouraging. Anyway, take a look and form your own judgement. I am not sure how the CSM would fit into this if there is a "Game Changer Program", if at all, but that is not to say the approach she outlines cannot be modified to fit Eve - and indeed DUST. Time will tell, but I am feeling positive about this. She clearly knows her stuff and could be a good catch for CCP.


P.S. As a slight afterthought, it might also explain why the focus groups have come to a grinding halt. I would imagine the CCP Devs would be reluctant to park their tanks on her lawn given her seniority. We might see some interesting behaviours in future.

Monday, 21 December 2015

The Year of Taking it Seriously

This is probably my last substantial post for this year. It gets stupid busy at Kong Towers over the festive period and I will be going on vacation straight after. So I will wish you all a pre-emptive "Happy New Year". May you reach your goals, or at least have fun trying to attain them.

I suppose that makes this an appropriate time to reflect on the year. If there was a way of generically characterising this year, it would be the year I took Eve  a little more seriously. While I still play on the margins of the game, I have made the effort to get involved in it and understand it a bit more. Before, I did a little bit of trading because that was the only thing I had success at. This year I took a stab at exploration. I learnt to fly Astero's, Interceptors, Covops, Orca and now the Stratios. This along with the cloaky Prowlers and Tengus mean there aren't many places if any in New Eden where I can't travel with a reasonable expectation of success. This is a pretty liberating feeling in itself.

I also learnt that I am not suited to being in a Corp. This despite joining the nicest Corp in Eve - Signal Cartel. The hierarchical design of Corps/Alliances in Eve just doesn't work for me. I prefer to collaborate rather than be led. Fortunately, the Eve community (yes, I can confirm there is one) is broader than the game and it has been an unexpected pleasure to get to know so many people this year and this has filled the void that is in the game. I wonder just how many people play Eve without ever communicating with anyone. That was essentially me before this year.

Of course it wouldn't be Eve if there weren't any frustrations. Eve has been going through a big transition and we have not reached the end yet. Often there have been proposed changes that have would have had a pretty horrendous impact on what I was seeking to do. Some of these have been subsequently reversed or at least put on hold. But it is clear that making long term plans is a bad idea right now so I am going with short term objectives instead and I have put my more hair brained schemes on ice until we see how citadels play out. I also stopped dual training once the future ability to pay for SP was announced. While I intensely loath the idea and I am completely unpersuaded by the reasoning behind this change, I would be mad not to take advantage of it if that possibility exists.

Looking forward, CCP have still not given us any real insight into what is happening in Q2 next year. So either nothing is happening and a lot of developers are twiddling their thumbs or something big is coming along. Something they don't want to share with the CSM it seems and you do have to wonder what future that institution has next year. I wrote about that some time ago and current events only reinforce my view on that. 

What will CCP be doing next year? It is not unreasonable to suspect their focus will be Valkyrie, but I expect they will be looking to capitalise on the publicity and attempt to attract more players to Eve. It is (almost) baseless speculation on my part but I would expect Eve will be moving to the Free to Play Model. Those with subscriptions would become the Pay to Advance/Pay to Win whales. CCP clearly has to do something to extend the playerbase and free to play is a proven model. The PVE events and SP changes seem to hint at that this could be the direction of travel. They are certainly not inconsistent if CCP chooses this path . The marginalisation of the CSM by some members of CCP, seemingly with senior support (they haven't spoken up in support of the CSM's role since before Eve Vegas ad they are the one's paying the bills) would seem a tactical choice to manage the introduction of something potentially controversial change. The perceived lack of trust is a convenient back story. Just to be clear, this is certainly fanciful thinking on my part but the Q2 silence is beguiling.

Anyway, I have had a great time this year and looking forward to what next year brings be it good or bad. Have a good holiday folks and if I don't get the chance to write again, I will see you in the New Year.  Fly Safe o7

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Eve Store - Maybe Next Year

At Eve Vegas this year, CCP announced they had entered into a commercial arrangement  that would in theory enable you to buy Eve merchandise. This was to be put in place before the end of the year. So time marched on and , well nothing. You may recall from the outset that I wasn't particularly encouraged by the announcement at the time. This was for a couple of reasons. 

Firstly, there was the products themselves. You could spy them from the footage and pictures from Eve Vegas. In quality terms they looked absolutely fine. If anything they were a bit over thought and too worthy. Cheap and cheerful they weren't. Bear in mind I was comparing this with CCP's partners in China - Tiancity. 

Tiancity definitely do cheap and cheerful and I am a very proud owner of a £30 Eve Online laptop bag. The problem is you have to fetch it from China. However, the original Eve Vegas announcement didn't offer much of an improvement. The plan was a US company would sell the products. Fine if you live in the US. Not so fine if you don't and  you have to lump in shipping and an other taxes your local tyrants wish to extract from you. It seemed a missed opportunity

But now we belatedly have a new announcement. This all looks rather promising. They are rethinking the product mix and addressing the shipping costs. Furthermore, they intend to tailor the products to in game events. A Drifter doomsday torch would be nice. Let's hope they manage to get this together this time.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Bits of This and That

Just grabbing a couple of minutes. The Christmas tree is now installed and Kong family members have been ordered to try an not make it look like a triffid this year. We shall see.

In Eve, I took a bit of a right turn. Then a left. Now I am turning right again. I had a minor flirtation with embracing PvP as I described on Crossing Zebra's. The whole experience made me think about what I wanted to do and the ISK I would need to do it. So I was looking at some ships to trade since I just sold a Dramiel I noticed a couple of cheap Stratios hulls nearby so I bought them. It was then I realised I was only a day away from being able to fly them in skill terms so this weekend I took the decision to train for them. I'll give it a go, but whether the Stratios will take over from the Astero or the Explorocepter as my go to ship will have to be considered. It is nice to have the decision though.

On that point, we have the new Frostbite release. Ive not tried the PVE stuff. It is not really my thing for reasons I may drone on and on about in the future (think Free to Play). However, the release still has plenty on things for me to digest. Exploration sites are better balanced so Data Sites will be worth the effort hopefully. The probe scanner window is iterating in the right direction but the probe spheres still  burn my retinas as they did on SISI.

The other big thing is the change to grid size. I have spent some time checking and changing instawarp bookmarks in various places over the weekend. That has allowed me to enjoy the graphical changes. Eve is looking so beautiful right now. Doing that made me a feel little nostalgic about Caroline's Star.

Caroline's Star one year one


Anyway, got to dash, The Christmas tree has just attacked someone.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

December Agony Aunt Column

Mr S of Deklein writes in to ask:

"Dear Mr Kong

I have been trying to engage the whole that forms the living and breathing gestalt. You know the thing that isn't tied together in a unified way. What is it called now? Reddit? No, not Reddit, the communist party? No, no, yes, that's it. The C(c)ommunity! Anyway, I've published two seminal pieces on a leading multi media platform that will fix all that but well, I don't seem to get the desired traction. Please. please, please can you help?

Love Mr S

P.S. Remind me, who is your local Viceroy again? Just wondering. S xxx"

Erm... quite. Well Mr S. I am thinking this might be a bit of a tough nut to crack so perhaps we should start at some basics.
 

Knowing How to Act Around Others


Use people's names. When you meet someone for the first time, try saying it back to them, such as "Hello, SpacePedo_666, good to meet you." Also, try using it again in the first conversation. You shouldn't force it, but people do like to hear the sound of their own name. Therefore, you saying it makes you more likeable.

Compliment people. Everyone likes to hear nice things about themselves. However, they must be genuine compliments. That means that you pick something that you actually do appreciate about the person and make sure to say it with intention and diplomacy, not in an offhand way.
  • You don't have to just praise someone's shipfits or doctrines. Try for other compliments, such as, "I always love your shitposts!" or "You seem to be glowing ISK today."
Skip the complaints. Yes, you've got problems in your life but so does everybody else. When conversing with other people, focus on what's going well in your life. Null Sec ratting rather than  kickstarters, for example. You'll be happier, and more people will want to be around you.

Be yourself. You probably think you can't be yourself because you have too many weird idiosyncrasies. However, most people appreciate when a person is being honest, right down to the quirks. So don't be afraid to just be yourself. People can tell when you're being genuine and often find that quality likeable.

Take time to listen. If you're always dominating the conversation, people aren't going to be around you. People like to talk about themselves, so give them a chance to do so. Ask questions, and try to let the other person talk more than you do.
  • For instance, try asking open questions instead of closed questions. A closed question is one that can be answered with a "yes" or "no." On the other hand, an open question encourages discussion. For instance, instead of asking "Do you like your community?" you could ask, "What do you like about your community?" 
  • One way to get people talking about themselves is to ask them about their lives. Ask about their alliance, killboard, and ships. Those three things will usually get people talking
Hear what other people are saying. When you give people a chance to talk, actually pay attention to what they are saying. Don't just be formulating what you are going to say next. You can show you are listening by nodding along, repeating back a synopsis of what the person said, and asking questions related to what the person said.

Don't brag. Nobody likes to hear about all the millions of alliances you have undermined. They'd rather get to know you as a person, so skip the bragging.

  • It doesn't hurt to praise other people, though. In fact, it makes you look humble and giving.
  • However, you shouldn't brush off compliments completely. When someone offers you a compliment, just say "Good Fight." or "I appreciate that." Brushing off compliments can make you seem like you are trying to be too humble, which can turn people off as well.

Hope this helps. Let us know how you get on Mr S. Next month, Mr M asks how to sail a yacht.

(with apologies to WikiHow)

Friday, 4 December 2015

Testing of Solace

For those of you using the new launcher, you may have noticed a new server on the list of test servers - Solace. Solace is or will be a major hardware upgrade for Eve Online. If you want any proof that Eve isn't being left to wither on the vine then look no further than this investment CCP is making. 

Full details, and only CCP would provide such details to its player base can be found here and here. Anyway, tonight (Friday) CCP announced a mass test of the hardware that is currently located in Iceland. As I write there are 900+ logged on the server and for good reason. It isn't like a normal mass test. You don't even have to have a live subbed account to take part. So what is the big deal.

When you log on, take a look at your character. The first thing you will notice are your skill points.


Yes they are maxed out. Every skill is trained to level V. There is nothing you cannot fly. Suddenly I feel a little underdressed in my little Astero. Fortunately, there is a dev hack that allows you to teleport to a few key systems in New Eden which was just as well because I was mired in a wormhole. One click of the link and I find myself outside Jita 4-4. But not the Jita 4-4 we all know and love. More like a post apocalyptic version of Jita. A Jita that looked like this:


Yes that is a lot of dead Titans. It was carnage. There was only one thing to do. Buy myself a Titan and join in. In Solace world, an Avatar costs 999999 ISK. The festival launchers, snowballs and fireworks cost more than the ship. I like this world.


So shipped and armed, I set forth:


It was a blast although the size of the ships made the snowballs and fireworks look inconsequential with doomsdays blasting right, left and centre. Bigger fireworks and snowballs needed CCP. I travelled back to Thera after a bit before finally being melted back in Jita. 

So I have flown a Titan. But the truth is it is slow and ponderous. If you added TIDI onto the mix it would be a frustrating experience. Flying a Titan was an ambition of sorts but I actually prefer the Astero. At least I now know and I enjoyed the experience of being a kid in a candy store. 

I understand CCP will be running another test like this when they move the hardware to London. For more details see this dev post






Wednesday, 2 December 2015

CCP Twitch

Just a quick one today. If you are stuck for something to do you could do worse than watching the CCP Twitch stream. CCP have been producing a daily show which is has covered a refreshingly diverse range of subjects.

My favourite so far has been the Happy Little Spaceships with CCP Jorg where he designs a spaceship on the fly and shows some concept art.

More surreal is the Does it FAT? #baking Starcakes with CCP Falcon and CCP Logibro #cake. What can I say. Watch it and learn about the pitfalls of making puff pastry.

For a full list of what has been aired so far, look here. I think CCP have been doing this as a trial to see whether there is sufficient interest. I hope it takes off and something more permanent happens in the future.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Dull Housekeeping Yawn Post

If there is one thing worse than a blogger talking about blogging, it is a blogger talking about the techy side of blogging. Unfortunately, this is about both. I promise not to do it again. I just want to establish a few basic principles in the light of the odd noises floating around the Everati.  Feel free to make your excuses and walk off at this point. If you are still here, take a deep breath, hold your nose and let's get it this out of the way.

Firstly some house keeping.

1) Domain Name

Has changed. Apparently, people read my scribbles on occasion. Prompted by Jason Quixos, I thought out to at least try and have the appearance of being  professional and have formalised the domain name to www.luobotekong.com. The old link still works for you luddites but it was a always bit of a mouthful.

2) Boring Techy Bit: 

The site is fully IPv6 for those that do that thing (Welcome Azerbaijan!) . My ISP does it natively so I know it works. 

Also the site now has a partial SSL certificate provided by CloudFlare. You can't have an "HTTPS" address with a custom domain in Blogger so this is the best I can provide given that it is free. Essentially, traffic is encrypted between your browser and the CloudFlare server. From the CloudFlare to Google it is treated as normal HTTP. So if your ISP or public WIFI connection is being 'monitored' you have a degree of protection that you wouldn't normally have. Not perfect but better than nothing. We will see how it goes. 

Now onto some basic principles:

3) Purpose of Blog.

Hasn't changed. It remains simple really. I am a solo player. I rarely get to talk to people in game and the outside world thinks I am deranged when I attempt to explain Eve. This is just a place I can vent about the highs and lows of my journey in Eve. Feel free to join in the conversation. 

In principle, I like to avoid calling out specific individuals or groups. I will always give mentions to those who have done something impressive like Katia Sae. And what an achievement that was!

I also try to avoid discussing areas of the game where there is no personal impact. Balancing Capital ships for example. There will always be exceptions I guess but these are my starting points. In terms of in game politics, the only view I hold is mine and that tends to be anti establishment. However, I am not aligned to anyone and I am not against anyone. Solo players get shot at by everyone afterall. If that changes I will be very clear about it.

4) Declaration of Interest: 

Tinfoil is the raw material of Eve debate. So here are my skeletons: 
  • This blog is a registered Eve Online Fansite. I get a media account as a perk. However, I have subbed an additional account on that basis, I think it is important  that I am not totally beholden to CCP and can speak as an active paying customer.
  • I occasionally contribute articles to Crossing Zebras. My arrangement with them is that I receive no ISK or any other remuneration for anything they may choose to publish. 
  • I occasionally donate ISK to in game groups who contribute to the Eve community

5) Monetization

I don't do it. It is a game, not a job. I also don't want to be obliged to write about 'popular' topics just to drive up income (or indeed be forced to play in a certain way to be able to write about some unfortunate Titan) . Sometimes I just want to write about subjects that interest me - such as Eve in China or making music etc, rather than something that is clicktastic. 

There will be no advertising here and I won't be selling any books. The same applies to the noises I put on SoundCloud (which can be downloaded freely) and Youtube. So just to be clear, any 'creative' work I have ever done for any other group has been for free and because I regard them as decent guys who contribute to the Eve community. This is not to judge those who do monetize. So long as it is within CCP's T&C's it is fine by me. But it is not the way I choose to roll.

Ok. Glad that is done with. Anyone know of a decent unoccupied C2 wormhole?


Thursday, 26 November 2015

In Other News

Eve. You know? The game? Yeah, I actually played some. Space ships and stuff. To recap, I have been looking for a wormhole for some time and sorting out my characters to support the operation. I thought I had found a wormhole that looked promising. It was C2 with a lowsec static, one abandoned POS and abandoned POCO's. Traffic was low and the last kill had been early in the month. My main had been parked there for ages. I am not sure why I was holding back but I had a gut feeling. 

It was more procrastinaion than a desire to do any research but I took another look at the killboard to try and counter the negative vibe I was getting. Looking back a number of years, I suddenly noticed a name that had cropped up three times. The odds of a player finding the same wormhole over a 5 year period and killing someone seemed a bit long. The player's most recent kill was for a different corp in nullsec so they were unlikely to be an ongoing threat. I was in full detective mode by now however. I decided to look up the corp the player had been a member of when they had been killing people in the wormhole. That was illuminating. It was only a small corp but one of the current members had killed someone quite recently and there had been a whole chain of kills by the corp for the hole I was in over many years. My conclusion was this was wormhole was contnuously parked with a hunter from a single player corp. 

Presumably he/she switched the alts when they were sufficiently trained and only played the wormhole character when not doing something else. Either way, I was not alone. A hunter had been in that wormhole for years and was still acive. I was in the pixel space equivilent of a lobster pot. Now knowing you are in a trap can be used to your advantage. But it is not as if things aren't complicated enough already. So I resisted the opportunity destroy my non PVP credibility by hunting the hunter. My search for a wormhole goes on. What I will say is this exactly why I enjoy travelling in wormholes. There is a history and a mystery to them all. The cost of finding that out can at times be expensive. 

I also had another quick stint on the SISI server last night. The probe map has changed again. The probe spheres are now a lot brighter. Not sure why that has changed as I didn't think that as a problem before. They definately give your retinas a sun tan now.

And in other, other news, my Eve Online laptop bag finally arrived! If you have been following, I bought it from Tiancity, CCP's partner for the Chinese instance of Eve Online. A combination of friends and relatives and relatives of friends have acted as couriers. The bag cost about 35 pounds but it is not cheap and nasty looking which was a primary worry. It is well made and nicely detailed with Eve logos both on the outside and on the lining inside. It is also a limited edition. Number 120 of 800 (I think). Why CCP can't do anything like this in the west is still beyond me. I know they are setting something up in the US but the goods on display and EveVegas looked pricey and a bit over-thought. An Eve selfie stick would work for me. And anyway, shipping costs from the US will probably make the proposition a bit too expensive for us yokels living in the uncivilised world

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Camp of the Broken Butterfly Wing

Clever girls. He was right in one respect. Girls are extremely clever. However, he was wrong in another. The Eve demographic being what it is, more likely it was a bunch of men toying with their mid life crisis that had just pulled the rug from under the Mittani. To the casual observer it was a wonderful schadenfreude moment. For us irrelevant untermensch plodding around new eden, it is always heartening to see Eve aristocracy slipping on a banana skin.

No doubt normal service will be resumed and darkness of anonymity will envelope our subterranean lives and we can... oh wait he said what? He wants to "kill pretty much everybody else"? What did I do? What did we do? Turns out you, I, and "pretty much everybody else" are part of a vast anti Imperium conspiracy. Who knew?

Fortunately, we aren't very good at it. Our collective failure has left our challenged minds in an embittered shambles leaving the destruction of CCP as our only recourse. Clever untermensch. Not to worry though because the fine Imperium military have figured out our dastardly plan and will summarily evict us from Eve. But just could we please just support their book project on the way out.

Ok let's just hold it there for a second, grab a breath and try and get underneath the absurdity. When I posted my impressions of the EVEVegas Keynote, the only statement I made about that book was:

"An Eve story book sponsored by The Mittani..."

The three little dots were shorthand for a host foreseeable problems. But that was the point. They were entirely foreseeable. If my minimal intellect could spot them then you would have thunk that the Mittani media machine would have spotted them too. The Mittani is of course a comedy villain to many who regard it as a toxic brand. A media organisation ought to be able to manage that out  in the same way VW managed out the embarrassing fact that Hitler had been their primary sponsor.  That was what I thought anyway, and besides, books about Eve are a good thing. Not something I personally read but certainly something Eve players like as Andrew Groen demonstrated

What transpired was a farce. The Mittani was put front and centre of the Kickstarter campaign. An exceedingly high target was set without initially explaining the need. With TMC's reputation for monetizing the game, it was easy meat for the unpersuaded. The Fountain war meta re-erupted  from its dormant state but this time the battlefields were social media. It was over before it started and now we have the tantrums laced with hypocrisy and the blame game. Oh and now the leaks

The Imperium may have won Null, or what is left of it, but they misjudged the meta game entirely. Something they were once renowned for. Declaring war on everyone and everything won't change that. They have made the irrelevant relevant and have lost control of the narrative for now at least. Something is very broken at Mittani Central and the mob scents blood.  When you are in a hole, stop digging. If they truly care for the game, maybe they should just play game. Keep it simple. Let the Butterfly Effect drive the meta. That way we all have fun and more people embrace the game. And then maybe we could make a book about that. 


Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Wardecs: Another half baked idea incoming

There is a bit of a player debate about Wardecs. That is not really news I suppose because when has there ever not been a debate about it? This debate does seem to be more constructive and looks further than the tourettic "HiSec should just HTFU" school of thought. Beating carebears until their morale improves is not the most convincing logic I've come across in Eve. Before I delve into the messy bits, I had better declare my stance on the topic du jour. I sort of care but don't care. Wardecs are easily avoided if your space game isn't dependent on HiSec. So from that point I don't care. But CCP insist you form or join a Corp to build a POS because of CCP's Hisec wardec reasons. Now I don't mind exploding. I world naturally prefer not to. But I dislike everything about the Corp and Alliance system and resent being forced to adopt it. I could go on but I would just be rehashing what I have said in the past about the organising entities in Eve. I must learn to let go. OK I will just say this. Actually, no. Let us do it this way... 

What are 'Wardecs'? There is no such thing. It is a complete misnomer. Wardecs are not wardecs. They are bribes. Bribes to Concord. Bribes to let Concord look the other way if you have the urge to bash a bear. No war is involved because there is no victory condition. You can continually bribe Concord and you can give bribes to cover multiple groups. The process up this point is entirely aggressor driven. The victim is passive and cannot influence the proceedings. Once they get the notification they have 24 hours to prepare. Which often means bunkering down or simply not playing. It is a horrible mechanic so why is it needed?

CCP has a problem. It has a the design view that every player owned asset must be destructible. And so it is outside Hisec and to a degree inside HiSec with ganking etc. Except that is, when it comes to player owned structures (POS). These can only be squished by a Wardec. This is why you have to be in a Corp to build a POS. A game wide solution for a Hisec problem. The additional problem CCP now face is that a healthy mercenary culture has built up around this mechanic . It would be a shame to lose that. So why "fix" it? It is a barrier to entry for new players who want to establish new Hisec corps with here friends. Have you seen the age demographic for Eve? A increasing amount of us are on the wrong side of the mortality bell curve. At least for those of us who can remember our age.

Can it be fixed? Well CCP haven't rushed into the fray and it has been raised every year I have been playing he game. So it is either not a priority, too hard, or both. Most of the suggestions I have seen tend to want additional functionality added to the game or are just variants on the current scenario that don't really address the key issues. So I am no holding my breath.

What would I do? Not sure. It has probably been thought of before but I would probably focus on the bribe aspect. Maybe invert the concept. Let us accept that Concord is inherently corrupt. We all have to pay a weekly bribe to ensure Concord protect us. If we choose not to pay then it leaves us open (or your Corp open) to attack from the Mercenaries who in effect become debt collectors working on behalf of Concord. Concord being the greedy souls that they are will demand more and more each week because you keep paying. A taper if you like. That would incentivise you to stop paying for at least one week if only so you can slide back down the taper an start paying a reduced bribe to the following week. If you own a POS (and you don't have to be in a Corp) then you have to pay an additional weekly bribe to keep that or any other asset safe in Hisec. There are other metrics you add too but, well its a mad idea. Puts me in good company though. Now what did I eat for breakfast?

Monday, 16 November 2015

Progress. Slow Progress. But Definitely Progress


Slowly but surely my demented plans are coming together. For now, Luobote is leading a sedentary life in a C2 wormhole. I have been looking for a base for operations for some time. The perfect wormhole doesn't exist. It is always compromise between accessibility and previous history. The killboard for this hole suggests the last time someone exploded was last month. It only has one static to lowsec so the traffic should mostly be light. I have been sitting and watching to get a feel of the place. 

There are signs of previous occupation. An offline POS run by one solo corp and POCO's set up by another. Both corps appear defunct. In fact, the POS corp's demise looks a bit like a rage quit. His/her fully laden hauler and webbing alt both got taken out over a year ago and they never retuned. The POCO Corp on doesn't look active at all. I will need to form a view about what to do about them. I don't do PVP but then again I have put a few NPC's to the sword. I have always thought of abandoned assets as space litter and players who have left the game as effectively NPC's. Bad for the environment and it would be rude not to do something about it. It is where I differ from Signal Cartel's Credo. But on the other hand, bashing the offending structures will be a pain to organise and will mess up my virginal killboard. So for now I wait and may offer to purchase in the unlikely event they are still playing but somehow mislaid their wormhole and now just want to get rid. The wormhole does seem to have potential at least.

Training for my other alts is coming together. It been a long drag but my Orca pilot can now fly an Orca. That is half the battle. The other half is to be able to tank it so I can haul in Hisec and more importantly for my purposes, train the things to make it a useful aid in Wormholes. I am only days away from achieving the Hisec side of the equation so that will be the next major milestone. Hurrah. The other Alt I am training is learning to fly a cloaky nullified Tengu. It can already fly a Prowler but bubbles are a thing in WH Space so it adds a bit more security and gives options for tackling the harder PVE sites in the future. Currently it is working through the Level V's needed for the subsystems. What I train next will largely depend on the POCO/POS conundrum. I am thinking Oracle but I am open to suggestions. My final alt is my main hauler and trader I spoke about in my last post. As always she just gets down to task in hand. All in all it is all looking rather positive.

Quite when this will all finally come together I am not sure. It is like cooking a complex meal. So many dishes to coordinate and make ready at the same time. Bad analogy. I am a terrible cook.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Spiced Wine and Long Limbed Roes

The shocking weekend news put a dampener on things. My thoughts go out to you guys. 24 hour news channels speak a lot but tell you little. I decided to seek comfort by tidying up some Eve odds and ends. 

My second and ultimately successful attempt to make Eve work was when I gave up on my main. Luobote has had a troubled life. Up until recently he was a jack of all trades and master of none. He was an ISK disaster zone. A man with weapon skills but has never harmed anything other than bothering asteroids and low level NPC's. So I abandoned him as a difficult child and went to work on my alt. She is a much more focussed individual. ISK first and fun later. For most of my time in Eve I have concentrated on her journey to the extent that she has more SP than Luobote.

There have been some missteps along the way and today was the day to cover up some of the evidence scattered across the universe. Early in her Eve career she took a fancy to hauling NPC goods between NPC stations. It was easy but dull ISK and done in a Mammoth. It was all good formative stuff that came to an end once I could fly Blockade Runners and station trade. I still have the Mammoth although it is now more set up as a battle Mammoth to give gankers something to digest. Never had the need to use it though but maybe one day.. But the trail of debris left about New Eden had to be cleared up sometime. 

This is where the Spiced Wine and Long-Limbed Roes come in. These were my main hauling items. 
If you check on Eve Central you can buy Spiced Wine for 1,452 and sell it for 1,708. Multiply it up and it becomes a useful figure but it takes time. Ideally, you need a Jump Freighter to make serious ISK but you might also want a life. Anyway, I had pile of the stuff all over the place. These were the result of purchases that were either too large, or at a dodgy Low Sec station. Low Sec doesn't intimidate me the way it did then so I spent about 2 hours hoovering it all up and selling again without incident. I have some closure on that part of my Eve life now but it is good to know the old ISK making ways are still around if the need arose. And it was comforting.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

CSI Drifters : The case of the strange noises

The plan was to write something else completely. It still is but that will have to wait for another day. Instead, today's free time got hijacked by lore. A tweet by @Ashterothi, a noted lore hound, hinted at a mystery in one of his tweets. Hopefully he will publish the whole background story on Crossing Zebra's at some point. Now I don't pretend to know the details or their significance but from my perspective it was @anteovnuecci 's (another lore hound) discovery of some garbled audio files titled "Drifter Voices 1a-5a" that roused my interest. You can hear them  here along with some other files. 

I'm not sure if they are from SISI or a patch to Tranquility. I missed that bit unfortunately. My limited contribution was to try a clean them up a little to help the experts interpret them. They made no sense to me. The recordings had obviously been reversed and then had effects applied to them afterwards. I only had limited time so could only do a few basic things to try and clean up the sound with mixed success. Some words could be picked out and the accents were certainly more English than American. So whoever they are meant to be they must be the bad guys if Eve is following the Hollywood tradition.

Anyway, if you want to find out more, join the tweetfleet slack #lore channel and maybe help solve the mystery. It still astonishes me how much Eve you can end up playing without even logging in.

UPDATE: Ashterothi has now done a great write up on the discovery. Read it here and everything will make sense. Sort of.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Drifter Complexes Done the Serenity Way

I came across this awesome video on Reddit of all places and it was uploaded by guy called "copyliu" It is a documentary on how a group of pilots on the Chinese Serenity Server tackled and overcame the Drifter Complexes. It is in Mandarin but has English subtitles and also has graphic explaining their approach to the rooms in the Drifter sites. In short, they studied some of the approaches we have used on Tranquility and rejected them. Instead they theory crafted their own approach using Bantams as the focus. If Drifter complexes are your thing then you might be interested because they also use much smaller fleets than the ones I am aware of. It is not quite Rooks and Kings (can they ever be bettered?) but there is a strong flavour of that style of storytelling. Well worth a view and thank you copyliu for sharing.





Window Control + Buzzard Divorce

I confess defeat. I have been trying to learn to love the Buzzard. For the last month or so I have been using it trying to make the relationship work as I wander about New Eden. But yesterday I snapped out of denial and jumped back into an Astero. Reasons? Primarily, I couldn't get a fit that didn't involve off lining something. I am no theory crafter so maybe I was missing something. But If you don't have confidence in what you are flying then you aren't likely to use it to best advantage when you are facing a challenge. And yesterdays challenge was Parallax. Actually it was more than that. It was how I fundamentally interact with Eve.

A few posts ago I talked about the new launcher. I still think it is a great change, addition even, to the game. The downside was I somehow messed up all my settings (Overview, mod buttons, window placement etc). I haven't managed to fully restore everything in a way I was comfortable with. I am not particularly OCD about these things but some semblance of order is helpful when you need to react quickly in tight situations. So it needed to be resolved. And then there is the Parallax release.

On first looks, the Parallax release doesn't offer much to the way I play. But the new Probe Scanning interface is huge for me. The addition of assigning a hot key to DSCAN is also massive. DScan is the dead man's handle in wormholes. Fail to click it and can quickly find yourself becoming the victim of someone who did click it. Problem is, you can only click one thing at a time. It becomes a tough choice if you are in the middle of a hacking mini game. Not a problem now.

Probe Scanning has had a difficult transition with the 3D Map. While it hasn't been a case of going back to the drawing board, it has undergone a number of iterations since its first unusable incarnation. It now has a dedicated map window and the UI has been refreshed. Anyway, the plan was to head off to Thera and adjust my environment as I travelled.

So I undock and use the ingame browser to call up EveScout. Except I couldn't because I had lost my bookmarks. So I spent 30 mins putting putting new bookmarks back for things like Tripwire. The future of the in game browser is limited I understand. CCP hate maintaining it and there is always a security risk with it being ingame. It is understandable but it is had to imagine life without it on my laptop. Anyway, minimising the browser became a problem for me because I keep it as a bar at the top of the screen. But this now overlays where the scanning probe map automatically minimises to. Not a big deal, but it further limits my view of Space.

Anyway, such procrastination resulted in me entering the wrong wormhole. The Thera link had expired and I ended up in a C2. Going onto full paranoid alert when your screen is a mess is not good for your heart. Once I got a tactical safe I began scanning in earnest. My scanning skills were recently maxed to level V so finding things doesn't take long. The new scanning map takes some getting used to. I am sure this is due to the familiarity I had with the old system. If I put that to one side I think I will like the new interface over time. It is certainly responsive and you can filter out things that used to get in the way. There is probably another iteration needed  - the wormhole markers seem very dark for example, but it is really usable with the DAcan representation being a nice touch. It will help new players understand what DScan is actually doing (or not doing).

After scanning down the system, I found two juicy looking Relic sites. However, Tripwire indicated a some Russian on Russian action had happened ten minutes before I had entered the system. Paranoia kicked in and I assumed the victor had seen me enter and the sites were still being watched. So I left it at that. I will concentrate on the rest of the window arrangement in a quieter location. I need to train my fingers to hit DScan while doing the mini-game at the same time too.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Do you get the CSM you deserve?

The idea that people get the representatives they deserve is not a new one. But do we really deserve the Council of Stellar Management (CSM)?

The Principle


Better cover some basics first. Just what is the CSM? Don't be ashamed if you don't know. Many players don't so you will be in good company. Let us start with how the CSM formally describes itself.

"The Council of Stellar Management (CSM) is a player-elected council who represent the views of the members of the EVE Online community to CCP. To quote part of the CSM white paper summary:
The purpose of the CSM is to represent society interests to CCP. This requires active engagement with the player community to master EVE issue awareness, understanding, and evaluation in the context of the greatest good for the greater player base."

This is all marvellous and worthy. The white paper (PDF) is fascinating and really worth the read. It is also flawed. It skips past refuseniks like myself who find the idea of joining the grand civilisation it speaks of as a constraint on our independence or just simply irrelevant. I don't know the size of the constituency my playstyle inhabits but my guess is it is not insignificant. 

The other obvious thing is it is written in English. 25% of the people who view his blog do not come from an English speaking country. Maybe it is my bad maths but I would guess the proportion of people who play Eve where English is not their mother tongue or even understood would likely be much higher. So the original premise behind the CSM is innovative because it acknowledges the benefit of player representation, but then it excludes a proportion of the player base from the outset. But at this point you might conclude it is better than nothing.

The Institution 

Now let's look at the CSM itself. The institution is funded entirely by CCP and they also provide support and infrastructure. There is no independent bureaucracy - the CSM forums are moderated by CCP for example. So without CCP financial input, the CSM would not be viable. Candidates are elected through the STV system. The candidates are not entirely unreasonably vetted by CCP before they can stand but it means they have the ultimate veto over  players voting choices. 

A successfully elected representative will be obliged to sign a Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA). The primary purpose is to allow CCP to share sensitive information with the elected representatives for their opinions. Information that they cannot then share with the players who elected them. So at this point the mandate the representative was elected on becomes secondary to the CCP narrative. If your policy is "Fix Warddecs!" and CCP say it is covered by the NDA because "reasons", then you are effectively silenced. The CSM is for all intents and purposes a CCP controlled institution following the CCP agenda. This is not to say CCP are evil. They want to make a great game that we enjoy and the CSM can and does provide feed back in the manner I posted about earlier.

To recap where we are. The CSM isn't designed to represent parts of the player base and it culturally excludes others. If you get past those hurdles you may still never hear the outcome of your representation because you representative may be shackled by CCP's NDA. But still maybe better than nothing because at least someone is looking at what CCP is up to in theory. Let us think about how it works in practice.

The CSM In Practice 

At this point we are thinking about human level.  Some organisations are stronger than the sum of their parts. Others are only as strong as their weakest link. This year's CSM has had some hard working and diligent people on the council. But it hasn't taken much for it to be sabotaged by weak individuals (or at least the perception of sabotage through an NDA breach). This is not a unique event. The temptation to use NDA information for personal or group advantage is overwhelming for some. In consequence, the working relationship with CCP is in tatters to the extent that they didn't even get a mention in the Eve Vegas keynote speech. A point that was made by the some CSM members at the roundtable.

CCP's use of the CSM is consequently limited to only where trusted relationships can be forged between individual CSM members and individual Devs. In fact they don't need to use the auspices of the CSM to even do that. I don't think it is a coincidence that CCP has set up subject matter focus groups independently of the CSM. It wouldn't be unreasonable to conclude they were set up precisely because of the problems they have with the CSM. Even if that is not the case, the focus groups' existence undermines the role of the CSM regardless.

Are CCP right to turn their back on the CSM? It is actually hard to judge. CSM members have no accountability and there is no notion of collective responsibility beyond abiding by the NDA once elected. They do not have to participate nor report back to the players who elected them. They are not even bound to tell the truth. They can choose to hide behind NDA as even when it is not appropriate. A CSM member may say one thing in public, and then something completely different to CCP. We can't know. Without accountability there is no basis for trusting your representative to do the job you elected them to do.

Lets recap again if you are still following. The CSM is not representative and it is not bound to represent those who elect it. It isn't trusted by CCP who are circumventing it by selecting their hand picked friends to "represent the views of the members of the EVE Online community to CCP"  The institution is not fit for purpose.

What to do

The sad thing is the CSM is in principle a great idea. To say goodbye to it is to cull something that made Eve and CCP unique. Can we avoid that? What lets the concept down is the CSM is CCP driven rather than Player driven. If it is to continue there needs to be clear blue water between CCP and the CSM that isn't muddied by NDA restrictions that inevitably cause all the dramas. The CSM needs to represent the diversity of New Eden as well as the power and egos. It needs to be accountable, responsible, professional and credible if CCP and the players are to engage with it. It is a big ask. If you read Reddit then maybe you think it is fantasy. But if we truly believe Eve is the amazing community we say it is then it must possible you would think. 

As for the CSMXI campaign, I will follow it with interest if only for the drama but as things stand I will not be voting this time. This is not because there won't be some good candidates. There probably will be some excellent ones. Take a look and see for yourself.  No, I won't vote because I genuinely have no idea of what I would be voting for.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Launch Control

It has been really hard  get some quality Eve time recently. It has not been for the want of trying but Mrs Kong has plans (for plans read directives). Some of these plans appear to involve strange things called vacations. The primary purpose of these things seem to require separation from the laptop, travelling somewhere, and then to photograph the random destination from every possible angle and orifice. Once you have done that you can return home again. Strange indeed. Anyway, now the objective has been successfully completed and the world is now presumably a better place, I can now be reunited with my laptop. What to do?

First task was an important one. Attach a Signal Cartel sticker to the laptop. It was a bit trickier than I imagined, you need Level V Fingernails,  but the laptop now looks glorious (in my eyes at least - thanks Mynxee!).

Next task was to log onto Eve. What is normally routine exercise turned into my own pixel vacation. I chose to install the new Eve Launcher that is currently in beta. What it didn't seem to do is import my current settings but it did give the impression that it should. Maybe that was due to the particular build or just my error I don't know. In a way it was good that it didn't because it made me experiment. Overview settings aren't a big deal for me as I use the SaraShawa Overview Pack with only a couple of tweaks. So the focus was on window arrangement and graphics settings.

This is important because what you can do is launch more that one account immediately and attach different profiles to the accounts. So four hauling I might want low graphics, while for exploring I might want higher graphics. Running two or more accounts, you might want to optimise for performance. All this is possible and it works really well.

But there is more. If you want to log onto the test server Singularity (SISI) (there is a mass test for brain in the box tonight by the way) it is just a click on the drop-down box You are presented with the same options as you would get with Tranquillity. Simples. I hadn't logged onto SISI before so I gave it a try. There was about 120 other players on at the time. I didn't see one of them. Hek was deserted. Now I have a lot of fondness for Hek and seeing it empty like that was a tad weird. But SISI will be a great place to experiment in future so I won't be a stranger there. 

So I have only used the beta launcher briefly but it seems stable and is definitely intuitive. I am a huge fan. I would hate to return to the old one.  Take the journey, try it! 

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Eve Vegas Keynote: A Couple of Rough Observations

Last night I managed to catch the Eve Vegas Keynote speech by CCP Seagull and her supporting cast on Twitch. Thanks to EOC and TMC for providing a facility that was seemingly beyond CCP. Plenty of good things are coming. I wasn't aware of anything new being announced but there was certainly more detail. Capitals and Super Capitals are in for a big change and this will probably dominate the Everati discourse over the winter. That is not my game so I will leave those best placed to emote about that. As an outsider, it does look pretty exciting but fundamentally irrelevant to what I do. What follows are my rough observations. I take a half empty rather than a half full perspective - its my nature and is a counterpoint to the natural hype that surrounds Vegas. Don't interpret this as an Eve is doomed whinge. It isn't. The future looks good but its certainly going to be different.

Money for Skill Points

CCP Seagull faced this head on. She is deeply committed to it. No explanation as to why though.
Speculation: Subscriptions will in the future play a lesser role if any. Eve will become Free to Play, Pay to Win/Progress (delete according to your prejudice/vested interest). That would certainly bring new players into the game which must be the likely driver for this in the absence of any official explanation. Watch for skill points being offered as rewards as happens on the Chinese version of Eve (might do yet another post about this sometime in the future).

Structures

They look amazing and can do amazing things, ISK price points look reasonable. On course for arrival in Spring 2016.
Speculation: Pending further details obviously, but I would suggest it is goodbye Hisec as we currently know it. Why? You can run a market in a Citadel and set your own tax rate. I asked myself the question where would I set  up a market. Nullsec, Lowsec, Wormholes or Hisec? Well in Jita obviously and undercut Jita 4-4 because that is where the business is. Now it won't just be me that does that. The world + dog will want a piece of the action. That includes the large Nullsec entities who will muscle in and take control. Hisec will become a gangster paradise. When gangsters take over the 'hood it is bad for the local economy. People leave - just look at the empty space in nullsec. Will be interesting to watch.

Capital Ships

If I ever build a citadel, there will be a host of fun things to take it down. If.

Merchandising

An Eve story book sponsored by The Mittani... 
Lots of well crafted and clever things, "Bottle of Tears" , Quafe hip flask and so on, with prices to match if the pictures from Eve Vegas Store are any true reflection. 
Observation: All can only be bought on an American website who's name I can't remember so shipping costs and taxes could well kill this stone dead for those of us who dare not to live there. Personally, I will stick with Tiancity but that is obviously not an option for most people. It's still a missed opportunity.

UI

Dscan - looks great
Detachable Camera: Looks great
First person View: Look really great

Other Things

Brain in the Box, Hardware and other game optimisations demonstrate CCP's ongoing commitment to Eve Online

Science Minigame

I'm curious

General Observations

1) Not a single mention of the CSM (unless I missed it, it was 2am in the morning). Interesting.
2) The development roadmap was restated and goes as far as Spring 2016. Beyond that who knows but I expect the Money to SP feature will be likely at that point considering the commitment CCP Seagull has but behind it.

I've probably missed some things. So some good things coming and some things that are less optimal. I'll give it 7/10

 


Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Catzilla, Trains and Spaceships

File this under weird. It will save time. And no, I don't have a therapist...

Imagine the disappointment. The requirement was Hot Wheels . Hot Wheels were cool. All my friends had them. I knew what to do with them (vroom vroom). I had to have one. Plenty of hints were given. I turned up the TV volume every time they were advertised, talked loudly about them, and even drew pictures of them. The  message was abundantly clear. It couldn't be simpler.

What I got was a Hornby Train Set . As I am sure you will agree, this was betrayal of the highest order. My father had deliberately sabotaged Christmas. How could he do that to his son? As my world crashed around me he catches my expression which is a mixture of despair and rage. He knows he's been found out. He bought it for himself to play with. "Open your next present while I set up the train set" he says to distract me. He succeeds for now. A huge plastic Tyrannosaurus Rex emerges from he wrapping. Perfect!

Perfect because it was the ideal instrument to brutalise the Barbie doll my sister had just joyfully received. THE ONE SHE HAD ALWAYS WANTED! War commences. Dinosaur versus Barbie was never going to be an even match and Barbie's head is soon rolling across the floor but still smiling as it tumbled. I am sent to my room despite my pleas against the injustice of it all. My father rages because he has to glue Barbie's head back on to abate my sister's tears and can't play with the train set.

The following day, my father tries to indoctrinate me in the way of train sets. He talks of strange things. Signals, points, schedules, rolling stock and level crossings. This is clearly gibberish. The man must be insane. All I can see is two trains going round and round in circles. And that is it. How can you win this game? He tells me it will be better when we buy more bits. Seeing the trap, I tell him its boring and Hot Wheels are better. I leave because me and the dinosaur have other plans that involve my sister.

The next day, things are looking bleak. Somehow the dinosaur disappeared overnight. I have my suspicions but no one is fessing up. I am really bored now. The train set sits on the floor taunting me. With nothing better to do, I start to play with it. My father is away so I don't give him the satisfaction. I quickly learn that crashing trains is far more interesting than making them go round and round but I would have tired of that if hadn't been for the cat.

Now the cat and I at that time had a similar outlook in life. This usually manifested itself as playing with something until it broke dramatically or proudly bringing in something disgusting from the garden. Watching the locomotive mayhem became irresistible to my furry friend. In cat terms, I was creating excellent content. He chased the train, pounced and missed. This naturally created content for me.

Game on. Operation Avoid Catzilla commenced. This went on for ages until the cat go fed up and sat on the rails to gate camp the train station. Plan B. I brought out the alt train. The one with the cow catcher on it and approach the feline from behind. At which point my father hot drops into the room via the door. The cat being smarter than me dives for cover. A long lecture ensues. "I am not playing it properly" he says. Treat it with respect or you can't play with it again" he says. "Fine I don't want to" I said, and I ever did again. The train set just gathered dust after that.

If you haven't guessed, playing Eve reminds me a lot of about that train set. I often get told I am playing it wrong by some fatherly vet. But there are welcome differences. No one can stop me playing and whatever I do wont wreck the fatherly vet's game. Eve, like the train set, is an environment where you can let your imagination loose. My father wanted to be George Hudson . I wanted to be Catzilla's nemesis. Eve has the capability to support both at the same time. I think my father would have enjoyed it. But I wouldn't have told him about it. He did, after all, sabotage my Christmas. And I miss the cat content. I guess that's why we have YouTube now.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Skill Training Completed: Living with Pay to Win


So beyond the kneejerk reaction, time for reflection. Firstly thing to say is  I still regard the proposed ISK to Skill Points change as a Pay to Win feature obviously. Now there is no agreed definition on what Pay to Win means so I am not going to debate that point. Free student tip: You could write a PhD thesis about it. I am just going to say what it means to me and work on that basis.  Simply put, it is paying for a competitive advantage, in a multiplayer game. 

As has been pointed out, Pay to Win already exists in Eve Online. Buying Plex gives you access to ISK. Your ship just exploded? Pay for another one and rejoin the battle. Want new skills? Buy a character off the bazaar. So why the emotion over ISK to SP? 

Let us be clear. I would actually benefit from the change in a significant way. The most skill points I have on any character is 25 million and I have made some dumb choices in the past. Selling skill points wouldn't be my priority, but I can now quickly buy my way out of my current situation. And that is the thing. It is the immediacy. Buying a char was a pain and took time. Guzzling skillpoints doesn't. 

For example, I have no PVP skills and can only fly a limited set of ships. Never needed them. If I wanted to bash someone's POS I would have had to hire a merc corp or train for ages. Not now. Instant Oracle and SP, blast away AFK and job done. Then sell the SP and Oracle. Easy instant gratification when you have money. So Pay to Win it is. That there are other pre-existing examples in Eve doesn't diminish the fact.

But ISK to SP changes the game significantly too. I am not talking about CCP now taking an aggressive monetization stance although perhaps in a more refined form that is now their direction of travel. It is a more fundamental point. You will have to play differently and you will have different options available to you.

Another example. I was thinking of training into Outpost Construction to be ahead of the game when the new structures arrive around Spring. Someone has to build Citadels right so why not gamble on the skills you might need and make a profit before others catch up. Well not now. Everyone will just pile in at the last moment once details are known. There is no future reward for taking a risk with skill training now. That saddens me.

There are the benefits though. I currently have two subbed accounts with dual training on one of them. Now I no longer need to sub one of the accounts. Its was basically doing skill queues online to become a rounded Orca pilot, and similarly dual training is no longer needed as I can just buy the Skill Points instead. That saves me £26/$40 a month. The actual costs haven't yet been released yet so this might not stack up but having a live account just to update a long term skill queue may not be the best way to go. 

Finally, pity the poor Corp or Alliance leader. It is only a matter of time before their members demand a free skill pack for whatever doctrine is the current fad. Or alternatively, the stalinist CEO who demands the poor noob buys SP before he/she can join the roam.  

No, the sky doesn't fall down with this change. But Eve will be different because the change is disruptive. My prediction? PVP will become a more secondary activity to PVE because players will be grinding to pay the rising cost of Plex and Skill Packs. Pay to Win games are like that. Eve will be like that. Maybe you want that. I'm not so sure.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Paying to Win : Drawing a Line in the Sand

Ok, this is a knee jerk reaction to the latest Dev Blog. But I feel strongly about it. I have played a lot of games in the past. Maybe too many. In the past you got them on floppy discs or CD's. Accessibility to the internet allowed patches and fixes to be applied. And then the bean counters stepped in. Monetization opportunities and micro transactions came into play. Paying to Win became acceptable rather than just simply cheating. This fundamentally changed how games were made and played. 

Now I have played these games and I find them cynical and unrewarding. Cynical, because they play on the player's goodwill and loyalty, or even addiction but devalue real gameplay if it doesn't offer a sufficient return on investment. Those that do not engage in war of the wallets become content for the paying whales until they realise the futility of trying to compete. I am not playing a game like that again. It is why I am not interested in Eve Valkyrie. When you see CCP vacancies such as Monetization Manager, you know the direction of travel of that game. Eye candy is not enough to entice me.

Eve, of course, was different. It had already learn't that lesson after Incarna. Vanity items only was the agreement. The new EXPLORING THE CHARACTER BAZAAR & SKILL TRADING dev blog says different. The proposal is to allow the purchase of Skill Points. Pay to Win pure and simple. Already one CSM has spoken against it and claimed this was not what CSMX wanted. If it goes ahead it will be a breach of the Accord. And I am not going to willingly volunteer to be some else's content. Think again CCP


Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Gold Serenity Skins (updated)

Just a quick one today. From the official Eve Wechat account I saw these skins being promoted. Apparently gold duct tape for Minmatar ships is a thing on the Serenity server that hosts the Chinese version of Eve. (updated: see video below)


Updated: Came across this video on the Tiancity site:


video

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

The Obelisk on your back

How sad am I? Completely. Now we have got that out the way, I came across this:



Yep it is an Eve laptop bag that transforms into a Obelisk. Bizarre but I must have it. I do need a new laptop bag anyway (pathetic justification I know) and it is only £40, 55 Euros or $60. So I have bought one with a little help. Getting it out of China might take a while but there is a a plan.

Is it legit? Tiancity are CCP's partners in China so yes. Why CCP can't do stuff like this outside China is beyond me

The Tiancity link for the bag is here

Monday, 5 October 2015

Roadmap: Erm...What's Next?

This is entirely unfair but the new roadmap announced by CCP does beg the question. What is next? It seems a bit ungrateful to ask to be honest. Nevermind, let's go there anyway.

The current roadmap takes us to spring 2016. The date isn't specific but I would imagine CCP marketing would want it around fanfest in late April. This would only really give 3 months before the summer break. Part of that will be refining, balancing, fixing, call it what you will, of all the things released before that period. There won't be a lot of developer time between now and this time next year essentially. Maybe 12 to 16 weeks worth. That's the first thing to bear in mind.

The next thing to consider is the roadmap graphic presented by CCP (see below). 




The bit that is missing from all the current announcements is "Alliances and Corporations". Now I got confined to bed last weekend. Having abused my backbone, it retaliated and froze. To mitigate my misery, I tuned into Sugar Kyle's and Corbexx's Question and Answer session. As an aside, it was an excellent session, but they didn't have a clear idea about what CCP were planning next either. But Sugar speculated that "Alliances and Corps" were a possibility. So lets run with that assumption and say that by this time next year we will be experiencing the new Alliance and Corps features whatever they may be.

Why am I dwelling on this? On one level this is all very good and exciting. But as has been pointed out by others, it can be interpreted as the ongoing appeasement of Nullsec to the detriment to the rest of the game. That is a little unfair given that structures will be used across New Eden but only a small proportion of people set up a POS in Hisec, and if my unscientific survey of Lonetrek is any indication, even a smaller proportion of people actually fuel them. So most of the big ticket changes have most likely gone over most people's heads outside of Nullsec. Alliances and Corps on first sight might seem like more of the same.

Now of course, it depends on what CCP intends to do with Alliances and Corps. Is it just a refresh or is something more radical afoot? If it is the former then Eve won't have changed much, if at all for a lot of players for 18 months or so. Those players don't form a naturally coherent constituency so won't wail in unison if they don't like it. They will just leave or put up with it. So the way the cards are stacked, it is hard to imagine CCP doing something radical. No one is really asking for it with any passion.

But if CCP were to do something more exotic, what could they do? Corps are currently "one size fits all" entities. They are vehicles for command and control. Great if you want to be commanded and controlled. Tiresome if you don't. In real life you have a much broader range of entities. Cooperatives, partnerships, sole trader, trade association, and trade union to name a few. Why couldn't we have these or something like them in Eve? Rather than surrendering yourself to work for someone, why not have the opportunity to work WITH someone on your own terms? 

If I were a miner for example,  it would appeal to me if I could join a trades union AND join a corp. CEO cracking the whip to push up the system index? On strike lads! Give us better terms and conditions! That would make me want to bother asteroids. Who knows, the CSM might become more representative with union candidates, or you could manipulate the market, or offer non profit buyback services for your members or hire mercs to clear the Uedama pipe or, or,.. The block alliances would hate them but the "meta" would be different. Ok back to reality. I don't expect any of that in 12-16 weeks available. At best Wardecs might be slightly tampered with if there is to be any impact at all outside of Nullsec. That is probably the best we can expect if my assumption is anyway near correct. Which it probably isn't.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

EVE Online Roadmap Update

Well this is a welcome surprise. Late Friday night CCP announce their route map for the next 6 months. CCP Seagull (so good to see a higher profile from her) outlined what is coming in the video below:


Much to digest and I am looking forward what is coming. A breakdown of the details below. Alternatively, go to the Eve Update site here


October 5th

November 3rd

Fall

Winter

Spring

Data Sites


Final thing. CCP are looking to improve Data Sites. I suspect this is focussing on short term fixes rather than something more fundamental. If you are interested join the debate here