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.