Saturday, 30 May 2015

Beginnings of a Plan

I have a plan. It's going to be good. Actually I don't. I have an new objective and that's not quite the same. But still good. It probably needs a name but I can't think on one yet. Of course, there are a host of hurdles in the way. This is Eve after all. And those are just the ones I can think of or have researched. Overcoming these will take ISK and more boringly patience. No matter. You have to start somewhere. So this is the start of the beginning.

I am going to be a bit cryptic about the objective I have chosen for now. It's not an opsec thing. You will probably be able to guess and be underwhelmed when you figure it out. But it is a big deal for me and right now I am just not too sure I can pull it off. To achieve it I am going to have to learn new skills and get some in game experience in areas that have been completely foreign to me. This won't involve exploding people if I can avoid it but will no doubt result in me exploding more.  My motivation for doing this revolves around change. Eve is 10 years old. Much has changed since it started. Much will change over the coming years. But I want to avoid becoming a bittervet - resenting the changes and overly nostalgic about the past. The game moves on and so should I. That said, a key priority is to be able to do what I currently like doing without having that compromised.

In practical terms, this adds some grit into the process because my alts will have to step up to the plate. Now they aren't exactly over endowed with skill points. Good at what they do - trading and hauling, but not much more. But first things first. I have probably have enough ISK but I want to keep the buffer I have. 

More ISK needed then. So while I am filling up the alts with new skills, I have changed my approach to trading. My trader was low maintenance. The dream is to keep it that way but with higher margins. Realistically, I am going to have to give it more attention. I have dumped a lot of stock and that has been entertaining to watch and I have now started on other lines. So far so good but it takes more time than I like so I will keep experimenting. But in terms of a plan I feel the drinks cabinet has moved a little closer to Berlin. 

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Update: New Structures and Wormholes Sounding Board

A quick update to the last post. The recording of the sounding board held by corbexx, CCP and a cosmopolitan bunch of wormholers can be played below:

It is long and a host of subjects were comprehensively covered. From what I heard there were not too many answers but there were plenty of clarifications. It was a very mature dialogue which is refreshing. If you want insight into what wormholers get up to and why wormholes are not like null this isn't a bad place to start.  I certainly learned a lot. Well done to those who got this organised and took part. Hopefully CCP are in a better position to reflect on some of the concerns raised.

Monday, 25 May 2015

New Structures and Wormholes Sounding Board

Just a quick heads up. For those of you who are in small gangs or are solo players and inhabit Wormholes you might want to pay attention to the Dev Blog by CCP Ytterbium. This is a big change and the impact on small groups in Wormhole space is not trivial. 

A key point to note (if I have understood this correctly) is that structures will have no longer have auto defenses. You have to man/woman the guns. Now you won't have to do this 24/7 but you will have to set a window - presumably in your prime time - when this activity should be done. In effect you will have to leave one person behind every day to do the job or be undefended.

Anyway, don't take it from me. Read the blog and form your own opinion. The reason I mention this is CSM X rep Corbexx is running a Sounding Board  at 18:00 Eve Time on Wednesday the 27th of May. CCP Nullarbor will be participating too.

So if you do have any concerns and you want them heard, contact Corbexx on the Eve Forum here to get the registration details.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Little Steps

The problem with my plans are firstly, they are in my head. This means they only ever make sense within the confines of my skull. Secondly, they are more of a vision than real plan. The detail is always something that can be worked out later and consequently irritatingly vague to most sane observers. Explaining the master plan right now isn't going to help anyone. So I won't. But I will talk about a little step on the way. 

A few weeks back I embarked on a Interceptor training spree. I don't usually go into Null much. I prefer Wormholes. The Russian roulette aspect is more appealing than the relative safety of Null to an extent. But the travel time was also a factor. The Astero is an agile craft but bouncing around bubbles is a pain. Interceptors seemed to be an answer and you can just about equip them to scan and hack. Today was the day of the great launch and maiden flight of my new Ares. I'm not sure if the Ares will be the final racial hull I will settle on but I just happened to be trained up in that first. I made a flight from Hek to B-R5RB in homage to the hilarious roam that didn't get there I happened to participate in last week.  About 33 Jumps. It took me 20 minutes. You can see the flight below:

Its the first video I have ever recorded so i apologize about the quality. Objective achieved though. I will play with it over the next few days.  Other parts of my convoluted thinking will emerge as soon as I figure out how to make it human readable. 

Finally, big thanks to the guys over at Crossing Zebras for letting me loose on their site.  

Sunday, 17 May 2015

It's the journey, not the destination that counts...

The London bus is a rare beast. It travels in herds. So you can wait hours for one and then find several turn up at once. My killboard is much the same . Two years without dying and then a couple of explosions in a row. This one was interesting. Most people try and save their pods once the ship is doomed. I, however, lost my pod but have no idea what happened to my ship. 

Let's rewind. Signal Cartel have cause to celebrate. They now have gained over 300 members since January. You can hear more about that here on the Neocom. That is no small achievement with the current newbro friendly fest that is going on in Eve right now because there is plenty of competition. Anyway, as part of that celebration a roam come treasure hunt was organised. They graciously allowed me as an interloper to participate. As with any party it is always a problem to know what to wear. A Griffin was the safe option. But then the Corax with its astonishing firework delivery rate would be good but perhaps a little vulgar. Then my brand new Ares But that would be like going in fancy dress to a dinner party. So I took the dust covers off the Griffin.

It took me an age to get to Thera. This was because for some reason I went to Jita instead of Hulm for the WH. I could hear the finger tapping coming from Thera when I admitted my mistake. Navigation is not my strong point. But at least there was an Easter Egg hunt arranged in Thera to keep the restless fleet occupied. Finally I join the fleet.

And what a fleet it was. There were nearly 30 people in it. It was the largest fleet I have been in and the FC did a great job in shepherding us along as well as streaming on Twitch. My Griffin did not look overdressed so I settled in and kept my head down. The objective was to go through Null Sec to see the B-R5RB system and take pictures of the Titanomachy monument.

So off we went. At first we cruised along with prizes being given at every gate. I won a Buzzard but there was a Nestor on offer to some lucky soul. Hugs were delivered in local comms to the bemused residents as was the link to the Signal Cartel theme. It  got an additional 30 plays and 2 downloads during the course of the journey.

Then things started getting complicated as we got deeper into Goon space. Sadly the Goons didn't exhibit a great ability to conceptualize and just wanted to shoot and blackmail us instead which was all rather dull. Generally, we outpaced them or just jammed them on the gate but they managed to pick a foew of us off on what was now feeling like the Long March with a bit of Benny Hill mixed in. Our scout heroically took one for the team.

By the time we got to the penultimate system we were a bit thinner and had a few just in their pods. I was still unscratched at this point. But the posse chasing use had grown and got more organised with bubbles sprouting around gates. We made a mad dash to the target and made it.

It was possibly at this point that collective hysteria set in. It was sort of like when you drink a cup of tea when you were expecting a cup of coffee. You know something isn't quite right but you plough on drinking it regardless. This point for us was the Titanomachy looking rather small and diminished and with rats hovering over it. "Rats don't shoot pods" says someone. So we park our ships safely and abandon them and go to at the Titanomachy. Finally, someone gets the courage  to say the emperor has no clothes. 

We are in the wrong system. We were in B-588R not  B-R5RB. My heart goes out to the FC but it was funny. Really funny. I was was crying. This probably explains why I couldn't reunite with my poor abandoned Griffin and its hold full of fireworks. It was gone. On the frantic dash home my pod got caught in a gate bubble. But a few others made it home. It was a fantastic event so well done for those organizing it. Can't wait for the 600 member celebration!

Wednesday, 13 May 2015


I wake up in Cistuvaert. Heart is still pumping. But it was not a dream. In fact it had been a strange evening all round. For starters I had finally enticed a friend to play Eve. "Ask me anything!" I said. So he did. Now I am really not the right person to mentor an Eve newbie. I have a take on the game that comes from years of playing it wrong. But I was up for it. I told him all the right things about not flying expensive stuff. Get the right skills and so on. I pointed him at Eve Uni and Signal Cartel as he wants to explore. I come out of this whole interaction feeling wise and sagely.  I seem to have acquired some Eve knowledge that people want to know. How did that happen?

So feeling smug, I resume my wormhole tour. I cleared a couple of sites before zooming off to the next WH but.... I had left my Hornet EC-300 Drones behind. No bookmark either so they were gone. "Never mind" thinks I. "I have spares in the hold so I'll pop out to High Sec and slot them in. But I will just do this wormhole first". You know where this is going. But the smug factor had taken control of my senses. I find a relic site and put out my Hobgoblin 2's. Two cans later and I am already starting the third. A Stratios and then a Hound appear. Rut roh. Targeting begins, I am being scrammed by the Hound (I think) so can't run. My drones take up the fight as I start taking hits. I hit my ECM Burst. The Astero seems to hold on for a while but then the cap runs dry. Or was it something else. Whatever it was it went quickly downhill from there. Boom.

But here's the thing. It has been over two years since I last died. So on waking up in Cistuvaert I felt a profound sense of relief, once my heartbeat returned to normal that is.  Finally the wait was over. An added bonus was my executioner was a sound guy. He was generous in praising my performance but in truth I hadn't a clue what I was doing. He recommended I use EC 300 Drones. I agreed. I also pointed out that he now had them :/

So kudos to Kerra CrackPot and the Lolly Pop Gang. Good fight and thanks for teaching a noob a lesson. 

Smug - EC 300 Drones = Dead Astero

Sunday, 10 May 2015


I was working on something else and somehow it turned into this. Big call out to Aura for supplying vocals.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

In the Absence of Justice

I wasn't going to return to this subject for a while but then Tarek Raimo over at Crossing Zebra's had to go a write a great article on the Leadership Problem. You probably better read it first. 

It is a good analysis. It asks the question "how did political and economic organisations of the real world develop to achieve higher stability by avoiding an over-reliance on leaders?" and goes on to consider the possible implications for the future organisations and leaders in Eve. I possibly agree with the conclusion but see situation rather differently.

Eve is... how can I put it... very Anglo Saxon. That is probably a really bad way to describe it so humour me and let me try and explain. 

Eve is often described as a sandbox and in many ways it is. But there are some key socio-economic characteristics that are constrained to a very western view of how a society and its economy should function. In fact you could go further and say that at the micro level the player is coerced into a particular variant of the western experience. As I have outlined in a earlier post, the Eve corp is a limited hierarchical mechanism designed to combine and consume resources (including players) with materials to generate income that may or facilitate warfare. You cannot set up a cooperative, trade association, trade union or charity for example and they aren't well suited to running services. Indeed where these are successfully established, they often require an out of game infrastructure. 

So far then, all we have is a limited emulation rather than a sandbox. But then this view is twisted in Eve by doing just one simple thing. The Judiciary System you would normally expect in such a world has been completely removed (with the limited exception of Concord) and this is where the fun and games start.

The Anglo Saxon bit? Here goes... in the western world,  trust is not a given where formal interactions are concerned. Would you buy a house on a handshake? Probably not. There will likely be a lawyer involved somewhere. So when you remove the rule of law out of the equation,  we end up with getting to ISK doubling, Carbon dressed up as a Charon and so on. Trusting anyone in Eve is inherently risky. In fact, mitigating against any form of trust dependency is the cornerstone of any interaction in Eve because "bad" behaviour can be well rewarded. This is what makes Eve such a fascinating experience.

However, this also all a bit weird. Weird because there are significant functional societies outside of the west that have very limited Judicial Systems or one's that can be corrupted to the extent they should be avoided at all costs.Yet houses are bought on the basis of a verbal agreement in such places. So somehow trust blossoms despite being in an environment where seemingly it can be readily abused. What gives?

My only personal experience with something like this comes from China where it is perfectly common (and significantly cheaper) to buy a house with just a verbal agreement. Or anything else for that matter. Why isn't China like Eve? I put it down to Guanxi

Explaining Guanxi is like trying to explain how to ride a bike to someone who has never seen one before. In essence, guanxi is a person to person relationship where each are obliged to help each other. In other words "You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours" In an environment where there are few inalienable rights it is a strong form of protection and it gets things done. A small example. Last time I was in China we lost our daughter. It was getting late so we called on the friend who works for the mobile phone company. They immediately gave us the location of our daughters phone (a department store) with no questions asked. We will at some point be obliged to repay that social debt if the need arises. To fail to do so would incur an extreme loss of status and lose your guanxi. And that could get expensive.

Is this relevant? Well I think it is. The latest BRAVE coup failed simply because the incumbent had a better Eve style guanxi than the usurper  - admittedly it didn't come into play until a very late stage but social debts were definitely called upon. So this dynamic already exists.

To conclude, the future social development of political and economic organisations of Eve will need to develop an equivalent of guanxi to achieve higher stability. By developing their Eve guanxi, leaders will contribute to their own stability. This will have to be conducted outside of the Eve environment because the organisation structures within Eve are currently not flexible enough to support the emergent play.


Monday, 4 May 2015

Lore Ambulance Chaser

The plan was to give some love to my trader and not do any exploration. The market seems slow though so there wasn't as much to do as I thought. I relocated the hoard of blueprint copies I seem to have amassed to a central location. At some point I will do something with them even if it is only to sell them. With the chores done I decided to try a little project.
A poor man's/woman's Interceptor. Why would I want such a thing? Simple answer is my Interceptor skills are still a way off and core skill training is more of a priority. But I still want to be able to fizz around Hi and Low-Sec at high velocity. The Drifter attack in Yulai brought it home. I was many jumps away at the time so could have missed it. As it turned out, I was at work at the time so it was so academic problem. Still a problem to be solved though. I need a Lore ambulance chaser. So I bought a Vigil for 300k ISK, put some basic stuff on it and bolted on a cloak (the most expensive component at around 3 mill ISK). I put the cloak on because... well Drifters might not appreciate the rusty patina of the Vigil was my thinking. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder but I am not sure if the Drifters behold much if the autopsy is to be believed.

Looking good. The Vigil that is. Eve Gate doesn't look bad either.

Of course I had to try it out, so set sail for the New Eden system to see the Eve Gate on a twenty jump journey through Hi and Low-Sec. The Vigil goes through space like a hot knife through butter so very pleased with the result. It got past a gate camp without incident but even if it explodes it is no big deal. So another crucial problem solved.  

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Beyond Aurora

I've not written for a while because...  reasons. OK let's be more precise. Real life is part of the picture. Then Eve naturally. Two Hugs fleets, a rescue mission (failed), getting to grips with Tripwire, exploring a shattered wormhole for the first time, the hilarious consequences of meeting BRAVE newbies in a wormhole. That all took time. Then there is a little research project on the history of HMS Aurora after it was sold to the Kuomintang in 1947. The Wikipedia entry is depressingly inadequate because typically it is written from a very narrow western perspective. It misses an amazing story. Murder, intrigue, corruption, principle, families split by civil war, international crisis... it has it all and is important to my family. I've been helping a music project as well which isn't unrelated. Oh and I left Signal Cartel..

Now if you are expecting a drama bomb then there is nothing to see here. It's a cliche but it wasn't them, it was me. My expectations were flawed. Eve Scout/Signal Cartel are a great and growing corp. I have deep respect for them. JOIN THEM. I do not regret my time and it has allowed me to reflect further on why I participate in Eve and what I want from New Eden.

So what have I learnt? Well in a sense the experience was reaffirming. My belief has always been been that there is an alternate way to play Eve. There is an orthodoxy in the way the game is currently played that is self reinforcing. New players get told to join a corp and that the pinnacle of the game is the Null-sec where you can be a pawn in someone else's game of capture the flag. The only measures for success are the Killboard, Sovereignty, ISK and tears. Result!

On an individual level I have always looked for ways to challenge the tradition. For example, when CODE were doing their thing in my area, as a trader I imagined there must be better way of achieving the same outcome without all the grief. And there was. You just needed to take a different perspective. I decided to defend the New Eden environment and save the asteroids. Venture production had saturated the market because of CODE's activities and I could pick them up really cheaply. Cheaper than they cost to produce. So I bought them, recycled them and put the Tritanium on the market causing the prices to fall locally. This kept the miners away (Ventures now too expensive and Trit prices too low), saved the asteroids, denied CODE possible targets and my trader made a profit. I also destroyed more Ventures than CODE did so it was a win all round with no grief.

So the orthodoxy can be challenged at an individual level. And if we all did that then New Eden would change. It just needs a consensus and some lateral thinking. But how do you extend paradigm so that like minded people can work together? How do you codify an alternative way of playing the game? This where I thought Signal Cartel might come in, They have the Credo and the organisation. But there is a difficulty. Using a Corp structure is inherently orthodox and hierarchical. And that is part of the problem not part of the solution. You can't be a peer in a game mechanic enforced parent/child relationship. The Credo is also tightly coupled to the objectives of the Corp which are narrow in scope (Exploration). Unintentionally perhaps, that leaves you with a priesthood who curate the Credo. So it is hard to extend it to other activities in Eve without creating awkward contradictions. This doesn't make Signal Cartel bad. Quite the contrary. They are definitely a step in the right direction. But there is a bigger vision to be had and a corp just isn't an appropriate mechanism. I probably already knew that so it was my fault for expecting it to be different. At least I know for certain now.

Anyways, what I now know is that exploring New Eden isn't just about looking at the pixels. There is a whole other dynamic to be explored and experimented with. And who knows maybe one day there could be an alternative New Eden. That's what the crew of the ship formally known as HMS Aurora discovered if you look at it from a different perspective.