Sunday, May 24, 2015

CSMX - Post #10

Monday had a structure meeting with Team Game of Drones. While we talk in Skype and have many comments in confluence meetings have also been requested for face time on details. I missed this one because like almost every meeting so far this term it has been on a work day. The one next week will also be on a work day. I get to review the video later. I can say that people are covering all the topics that are coming up. Cagali even alarm clocks for the meetings.

Corbexx has also set up a soundboard for next Wednesday with CCP Nullarbor.

A question from me: What Faction Warfare Warzone bonuses would people like to see on structures in this new system?

Turamarth Elrandir pointed out on his blog that a lot of questions are answered in the dev posts of the structure blog. You may hate the forums but love the dev posts.

In the middle of the controversy over SKINS there is the V5++ initiative. This is a technical blog from the art team which explains the current status of the visual overhaul of all of the ships to the current shaders. And, they've also brought something they promised at Fanfest. The ability for your ships to visually age. This is all tied up into the personification, customization, and immersion goals. All I can think is that we now need car washes. This blog is not about SKINs and the recent skin bugs which is a topic still under discussion.

The features and ideas forum have been busy.

First, there are some tweaks to drones coming. This has had a lot of discussion. Changing drones vs changing hulls vs changing both. Jayne has been making damage charts left and right about what everything means.

CCP Deligate Zero published the armor plates change. This one is rather big in many ways. Plates are very common across the armor PvP spectrum. Acquisition of plates will also cause price spikes and availability surges due to LP stores. Even if you are not into fitting and EFT pay attention to this one. It is a wide reaching rebalance.

The discussion with the Jackdaw (the Caldari Strategic Destroyer) are hot and heavy with changes being introduced based on feedback and discussion.

I'll probably try for my open coms chat next Sunday. I use mumble and Eve Uni has not yet revoked their permissions for public coms!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Non Player Characters

Many times over the last year, and I note with greater frequency, people have suggested NPCs fill in particular tasks in Eve. I, at first thought that this was a random and rare wish. Yet, I've seen it more and more from various places and for different reasons. It is not something I think that I would ever propose. It is not something that I think I want. Seeing it cropping up has left me to at least wish to talk about it.

Perhaps it was the early exposure to missions that left me with the idea that the NPC empires 'hire' the players to do things and not the other way around. It just feels right. I swagger into their office like a bad ass and they thank me for coming and offer to pay me to help with their problem. This seemed to be the natural cycle to me.

But the latest suggestion of Wex and Dire to have NPC escorts for freighters has left me pondering the topic. Not because I am in live with it. I'm not. It is more to find out if this is something people find comfortable. And then, perhaps, what it would do for the game.

NPC convoys? NPC escorts? NPC guards? NPC hauling? NPC mining?

What would it all mean? I find myself at a bit of a loss creatively. This is not a topic near to my own soul.

There are some that will shun the idea. "Get more friends," is a common response to people. I find myself thinking of a merchant hiring a guard instead of maintaining a stable of professional soldiers. There is a chance that I may have been reading a bit too much military based stories of late. Really, I wind up tying myself in a knot. If one shouldn't have to get friends would NPC allies count? I think they'd would but maybe that, again, is just me.

In a way, Teams were a step towards this. It may be a good starting ground to see how people felt about the NPC influence in their day to day activities.

I have so many questions. CCP has worked to remove many things from the NPC hands and give it to the players. it just feels wrong to me to give some of those back to the NPC. Yet, even I cannot fangirl myself out of the fact that Eve has a lot of tedious busy work that is not complex. I've said before that I will not ask others to light my cynos simply because the job is tedious and boring.

Yes? No? Maybe so?



Thursday, May 21, 2015

Collateral Damage

Earlier this month I started the process of asset consolidation in high security space. It is the type of thing that I can do piecemeal and this has been a month for piecemeal projects. I tend to contract assets to two separate accounts. They both fly fully trained haulers which makes moving things easier. Things get sent to wherever I make my high security system 'home' base. Right now, that base is somewhat scattered. I decided to do some cleanup. I looked at my low sec assets and just pretended I didn't own any of that stuff and stuck to condensing high sec.

Over a weekend I wrote about a dozen contracts to Red Frog. I've written about my attempts at using different hauling services. At the end of the day, I've tried Red Frog, PushX, and public services as well as a few starter groups that have gone defunct. I've stuck with Red Frog, especially when it comes to things that are a bit out of the main travel pathways.

I've had one problem with Red Frog since I started using them and that was my fault. I under collateralize a package while tired one day and it was stolen. Said person stole a bunch of items and bragged about infiltrating Red Frog. It was one of the first times that I wound up as a collateral damage to something a bit larger in Eve. Nothing I lost hurt. It was odds and ends. The person who got it all would have wound up dumping it as a lot for ISK. Not a bad deal for them because it was free I guess.

I learned to double check my contracts. I often make mistakes on them and cancel and restart over and over and over...

Anyway, I wrote a bunch of contracts and promptly got busy at work and in game. I haven't paid much attention to see if my items were delivered. They are. They are not. Or, collateral is received. Red Frog maxes out at a billion ISK and I often top my contracts out around 900 million ISK.

I could move my own stuff but I've developed a fear of flying a freighter or Orca through any of the gank pipes. I've been bumped a few times. Once, someone tried to random me but he didn't lock me so I logged out in space. Another time they did lock me but they where to busy bumping someone else at the same time and I was able to warp out. There are only a handful of things that you can do to make yourself a better freighter pilot. My skills are maxed. I have implants in. But at the end of the day you are still a big, fat target for them to do with as they please. Having developed a fear of Machariel's in high sec I just stopped doing more than short trips across very high security space.

This morning, when working a character back into low sec around the seemingly omnipresent gatecamps of this area I decided to check her mail. I figured that I had mailed myself something. I often do that and I've learned that sometimes those mails break and refuse to stop flashing. It is not that I am obsessed with talking to myself. It is just a good way to leave a note for myself. I do it most often with market orders when someone is manipulating a price on a very cheap module so that I remember to check back the next time.

I blinked twice when I saw that it was a letter from Red Frog telling me that my courier could not be delivered due to the pilot being ganked. It also called me Sir, which amused me. Its normally the correct assumption in Eve.

Red Frog uses one alt to get the contract and another to deliver it. I was curious as to what package had gone missing. It had been almost a month and I'd not checked on them. A lot of them were a mix of things. Some high value. Some trash. All of different sizes.

Courier contracts do not tell you, the maker, what is in them. It is one of those details that I hate. "What was in that again?" I wondered as I saw that I had lost stuff.  The screen just mocked me and showed me the time that the contract was failed. That is not the time of the gank necessarily. It meant that I had to do a bit of detective work.

I had a three day period where the gank could have happened. I pulled of zkillboard and selected freighter kills. I then moved back to the time frame in question. Chances are that a red frog freighter pilot is going to be out of corp to avoid war decs. The chances are also that it is going to die in one of the two pipe systems on the route. It took about ten minutes but I was able to find a gank heavy morning and what looked like my missing package. A few searches looking for two key items in the package that I knew I had shipped and could not find in my assets and I was sure that I found it.

It all dropped too.

I made 100 million. I lost nothing irreplaceable. The pilot left Red Frog a week and a half later. I may rebuy some of the stuff. It was only a handful of hulls that I was not attached to.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A Look at the History of Expansions - Part Twenty Two

A Look at the History of Expansions

Previous Entry: Incursion

November 30th, 2010 CCP released Eve Online: Incursion. It was a partially completed expansion. The game mechanics the expansion was named after did not arrive with the expansion. The expansion page for Incursion is one of the most interesting that I have seen as it covers a very large expansion but it is released in several parts over several months.

In the Incursion the release is full of what would be considered quality of life improvements. These are small changes to the game that have a large impact on the day to day mechanics the players work with. In the first section of the page the CSM is given credit for bringing several tools and improvements into the game. The release feels light. UI customization has been added. Faction ships are on the market. Visuals have been changed. The war against lag is being fought and the Noctis, a dedicated salvage ship enters the game.

But even a quiet expansion can be very loud. The UI changes that started in Incursion created our current HUD.


Also at some point there was potential for the neocom to be on the bottom of the screen. I cannot help but think that a lot of people would die if this happened. The changes themselves were not overly loved. The compression meant that players had to learn the new system and the potential of a horizontal bar was not appreciated. I went to the old forums to check.

Behind the expansion the attempt to clean Eve of botting and RMT was still going on. A year and a half later, CCP Grimmi released an update that they have not stopped on that path. There are no stats nor any charts such s the first Unholy Rage dev blog. CCP Masterplan also writes an update on the 'thin client' which is part of CCP's continued fight against lag. This particular development blog contains a walk through of how the 'tick' that is Eve's heartbeat works.

November rolls into December and CCP releases the Echelon for Christmas of 2010. The Echelon is am exploration ship with bonuses to decryption. The idea is that it would help in some of the incursion sites. What I find interesting is that CCP Loktofeit notes that the Eve universe is 23,000 years in the future. That ties neatly into the rearrangement of Eve's lore which somehow manages to be lost and disorganized.

While the Echelon was CCP's official holiday present the real one may be the removal of learning skills. The development blog at the end of November gave a comprehensive overview of the change. CCP Zymurgist followed up with a forum thread giving a detailed Q and A for the removal on December 15th, 2010. This of course led to people being mad. Mad that they would not get a free remap of their attributes. Meh about the skill point reimbursement. Post #49 in the original comment thread makes sure to note that the change is dumbing down Eve and ruining the game with its slippery slope. Post #52 comments that Eve is becoming a game for casuals and post #66 hates the change.

January 2011. Eve does not die because of the learning skills being changed. Incursion is being released peace meal. Patch 1.1.0 is released six weeks later and with it comes the actual incursions from Sansha Nation. Incursions will bring a great change to the game in the fact that NPCs will affect daily life, randomly. Where before players did or did not interact with the descent of an incursion on a system a player may be out mining and find themselves in the middle of a great tug of war. This will be stronger throughout low sec and null sec with NPC gatecamps that can destroy roaming fleets and systems locked down for days.

At the same time, CCP is releasing its new character creator. This is a major step for one of their longest discussed projects, Incarna and CCP's long worked towards goal of avatar gameplay. Every player will have to log in and create a new portrait. The character creator is receiving a lot of attention. An article on Gamasutra has quotes from the various members of the development team as well as some photographs used for inspiration and hairstyles. New is good but the old has seven years of familiarity and attachment. From this spawns the decision to maintain a database of old character portraits as outlined in this dev blog by CCP Purple Tentacle.  http://oldportraits.eveonline.com/ has been created and will be maintained with the images that players logged into for the first seven years of the games existence.

Out with the old, in with the new is quite a theme. It covers many changes from character portraits to introducing avatar game play. The changes extend to the forums which are being completely reworked. Eve's community has become an important part of the game and the forum update is not just minor tweaks but a movement to an entirely new forum. CCP expects players to keep up. CPU requirements will also increase. The API is going to HTTPS and gains more customization.

Change does not come smoothly. The re-customization process has several hiccups as players adjust to the changes. Incursions are also stumbling along and being readjusted and CCP opens up a feedback discussion with the players to ask them how they feel about the way incursions are working and what should be tweaked now that they are released.

To mention feedback, CCP Soundwave posts a development blog outlining responses to player feedback in a new initiative of fixing little things that the players have asked for. This started with some features in Incursion brought forward by the CSM and they want to expand on this. Jump clones can be destroyed remotely now. Remote repairs of criminal players is removed to stop the ability to Concord entire fleets through crimewatch. You can now place items into containers even if the container is not open and you can see the location of stations in the market window.

Optimization is a very hot topic at this time. CCP Stillman takes some time to write out how the Quality Assurance process works at CCP. Over in the war on lag department, CCP Veritas explains that missiles break Eve. Missiles are one of the most popular weapon systems and the Drake sits upon a throne as the most used and useful ship in the game. The drake uses missiles and missiles are a massive stress on the server that CCP is trying to correct. During this investigation CCP Veritas realized that the inventory system needed to be cleaned up as well.

Compared to CCP's past progress the release of Incursion could be considered messy with fourteen  release points to its name. However, CCP Zulu steps in with a Producer's Letter to say that the many point releases is a new model that CCP is moving forward with. This will be the future of releases and he takes the time to write a brief summery of some of what has happened since Incursion's official launch. This post however is CCP's line in the sand to announce that they are about ready to start discussing Incarna, the next release.

Not all is bright and shiny. CCP Zulu promises that CCP will continue to deliver quality of life improvements. Eve has been known to leave broken things broken. With all of the new gameplay and changes comining CCP Zulu says:
"We're going to continue on this path of more, smaller and more evenly distributed deployments in the future now that we have the ability to do so and it seemed quite well received by you all. Over the coming weeks and months, our dev teams will add meaningful content and fixes to EVE and we'll be sure to keep you up to speed on all the upcoming face-meltitude that they entail."
It is February, 2011. Incursion has been released but it still has a bit more to go. Incarna however is looming on the horizon. CCP first brought this idea forward in 2006 around the time that Eve Online: Red Moon Rising was released. They discussed it at Fanfest in 2008 and showed their concept for Eve's future. They hinted that it would be ready in 2009 but delay after delay hit. Now, it is February of 2011 and CCP is about to move forward with their biggest and most ambitious update and change to Eve's future with the introduction of Eve Online: Incursion.

Resources:
Eve Online 2010 Dev Blogs
Eve Online 2011  Dev Blogs
Eve Online Patch Notes
Gamasutra - Revamping Character Creation in Eve Online (2011)
IGN - Eve Online Walking in Stations First Look (2008)
EVE FPS hinted at during CCP’s annual presentation (2008)


Monday, May 18, 2015

Those People Over There

I sit in Faction Warfare space and watch the militias heckle each other. In between a neutral may comment. I read posts and listen to discussions as people yell insults at each other in local. I've watched gankers and miners exchange in high sec. The word propaganda has gained a sour taste for me due to the wars of information waged in null sec.

I wonder if I am odd in that I do not find anyone to be my enemy. I do not love everyone. Oh no. I am not some creature of pure and sweet cored soul. I dislike my fare share of people in Eve but I have never felt that they were my enemy. I have never had the desire to go and 'get' them or in some way make their life hard.

One of the most interesting things that I read early in my time in Eve was a post by Susan Black that I am to lazy to find in which she liked the walls that Faction Warfare gave the game. There was a bit of a reason to do the things you do. At that time I examined myself and discovered that I enjoyed doing things for the simple pleasure of doing them. My PvP was without goals and without negativity. Over time, I've never developed an 'us vs them' feeling about any group in the game.

A lot of this I blame on my non-competitive nature. I'm reminded of my personality test in What Kind of D&D Character are You? I share that link so that you will find yourself sucked into the test. But also, because it was interesting that I managed to not match anyone in the corporation at the time in race, skills, or alignment. I really do fit much of the definition which I found interesting.

Why don't I hate anyone? It sounds like a silly question. Someone will chant, "Can't we all just get along?" in the background. But, as I watch groups in Eve clash with each other I often wonder why I don't feel that particular draw. It is not that I think everyone loves me. Some people hate me. Some hate my corporation. I'm okay with being caught in that conflict but I don't share any distaste back. In fact, I can often emphasis with their dislike of me. After all, I did kill them or inconvenience them or my corporation did move into their territory or take their asset. The distaste is understood. I just don't share it.

To say, "I don't care," is to lackadaisical. I do care. I'm quite serious about my game. Nor do I think people are automatically my friends. I just don't have any problem with 'them'.

The D and D website over there has Ten True Neutral Commandments.
A list of Ten Commandments for a true neutral religion may look like this:
1.You shall avoid lies.
2.You shall not kill the innocent.
3.You shall not murder.
4.You shall help the needy if such action aids yourself.
5.You shall honor those who honor you.
6.You shall follow the law unless breaking the law can advance you without harming others.
7.You shall not betray others unless your life is in jeopardy.
8.You shall aid those who aid you and harm those who harm you.
9.You shall not promote an extreme viewpoint.
10.You shall advance yourself without harming others.
It seems that I am a D&D character stuck in the wrong game. I also think that I am not the norm in this particular aspect of my personality.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Off My Tuffet

I had a dream on Sunday morning. It was not a nightmare. It was a stressmare. I was supposed to be at work but came home for something and wound up going through a portal to another city where work could not contact me. My communications equipment then died and I spent the entire time worried that they'd try to reach me and not be able to and I'd get in trouble. So stressful! Ugh. I woke up quite frazzled and crawled from the bed to start tea, check my garden (the Zucchini needed pollination) and logged in.

Wex appeared and told me that we had solved the freighter problem.

The freighter problem was that we use a freighter to move things from the station to the POS for the capitals. Components are huge. Mineral volumes are huge. We built the freighter in Sujarento  because it was cheaper then buying one on the market. It is also less of a risk then a jump freighter for those times when you forget to enter the POS password and find yourself sitting in the darkness waiting for someone to kill you. We had discussed moving it by convoy or just sending it the one jump through Tama to high sec and building another one.

The freighter problem was one of my things that needed to be done and solved that I didn't have the urge to do. Freighters moving through low sec horrify me. I've killed my share. So, I log in and peer at my screen and Wex tells me that Mortvvs has solved our problem. Wex was discussing the freighter problem and Mort goes, "Bridge it."

Hot damn. That makes complete and total sense. I didn't think of it. I however feel that is okay. Wex didn't think of it. I'm gonna forgive him as well. Nether of us owns a Titan after all. But Mort goes and sets everything up and I'm sitting there with Wex telling me that Mort is ready to bridge the freighter.

I'm not ready! I wailed somewhere in the back of my mind. After all, I had just spent hours stressed about not being able to get to my job because I had to wait for the bus to go back to the portal so I could come back to our world. That however was a dream and this was not. Somehow, I managed to log in other characters and set up courier contracts to myself, for myself, to move a huge amount of stuff that needed to be moved for production reasons.

Did I mention that I'm also terrified of towers? The titan of course is in a regular corp tower that I could warp to. However, one bad experience and I'm distrustful of everything. But Mort is ready and Wex is getting a cyno in position and I'm undocking and warping to the tower knowing I will bounce and die.

I didn't die.


Charon's are next to Erebus. I do not think that I ever expected to see my freighter sitting beside a Titan.

Wex was jumping a carrier at the same time. He lights the cyno and jumps his carrier. He wants to double check the cyno spot he has selected. Mort opens the bridge and goes, "bridge is up" and like a duckling taught to follow in a line I jump.

"There goes checking the cyno spot," says Wex.

Whoops.

We don't bump. I dock. That was ridiculously easy.

I guess I need to get the rest of the stuff moved nw that productivity has happened.

CSMX - Post #09

I've been commenting on the ongoing discussion on structures. The structure update development blog was released on Tuesday.  There is good. There is bad. There is change.

If you go back to January of 2013 Two Step posted on the forums about his disagreement with CCP's perception of Player Owned Starbases and their need for attention. Two Step was a member of CSM7 at the time. It's been a long path to move from the threadnought created to looking at Team Game of Drones lay out a massive concept that will change how we do many things in the game. Two years and five months but we're here now. It hasn't been a smooth road and it still is not.

I've sat down with a lot of people over the past year+ and asked what they wanted from structures. We've gotten CCP Nullarbor into  small soundboards. We've done surveys, filled out data sheets both internally and in public. We've written essays about this stuff and now we're starting to close in one the first changes. That is good but its not perfect yet. With the dev blog release there are some concerns. There is going to be a lot of change. On one side we are looking at the idea of a 'window' when you are docked to the POS.

I've sat down with people and discussed the loss of dscan for available pilots in space and how this will affect wormholers as they move through their chain. The conversation with CCP Nullarbor has been very good. He opened a #structure channel in the tweetfleet slack and he has been reading and responding to conversation there as well as the development blog. Things are still not in their final form and I beg of you to continue to share your doubts, concerns, and wants. I like where it has the potentual to go.

For things that are in their final stages, there is Entosis Link Testing on Sisi. We were asked to share this far and wide so that they can get as many people working with the mechanic as possible. See CCP Lebowski's dev post to join the Test Wars they have set up. For those interested in testing, more burner missions have arrived on Sisi.

For those participating CCP has expanded the PLEX for Good drive and added a silent auction. The auction finishes May 22nd, 2015 at 23:59:59.

Last Year I asked CCP Manifest for the video from Eve's Museum of Modern Art exhibit. He said he would get it for me. The end of that path has finally come to flower and on Tuesday CCP released the video they had created. I am guessing that it had to wait for the exhibit to finish its display or something technical and legal. It is well worth the watch. I wrote about it earlier this week. I find it to be a very beautiful look into the game. I also feel 100% responsible for making this happen! When people ask, "Sugar what did you do on the CSM?" I shall proudly say brought the MOMA exhbit to youtube. You can also view it in 4k.

I was able to make Monday's meeting. I won't make next Monday's meeting because of work. Such is that entire employment thing.