Sunday, October 4, 2015

Taboo Questions

Let us talk contentious things.

What about high sec? When will CCP pay attention to high sec and those that cannot spend their time in dangerous space?  This is somewhat how the day started, sparked by a question from an anonymous poster.

Speaking about high sec, in general, is one of the hardest things to do. The amount of emotion wrapped around the topic is staggering. There are people who want to stay in high sec and nothing will make them leave. There are people who want no one to stay in high sec and wish to cripple everything about it. There are people in between, but the two extremes are large and emotional in discussion.

My belief is simple. If a player wishes to live in high sec, I do not believe that anything will make them leave that is not their own curiosity. I do not believe that we can beat people out of high sec or destroy it until they go to other areas of space. Sometimes, I think we forget that every player has the option to not log back in. We want them to log in. We want everyone to log in.

The question that I ask, and the one that I hope is heard, is what would things for high sec be? That is not said from a stance of ignorance but one of curiosity. My personal interest has delved into broad areas that sweep across the game. Value for development time is a concept I've developed on the CSM. It is a fancier way to say, "more bang for your buck," but a true one after all.

Often, when the topic of stuff for high sec starts, missions are the first topic. Refresh them. Add more of them. The basic problem in this is that this does not occupy a player. Another mission is new text and new triggers quickly accomplished. The amount of work that it takes to build them does not balance the amount of interest the players gain from them.

This goes into adding more epic arcs. A new epic arc would be very cool. Then it would be run and we're back at the start of needing more of them and more of them and more of them.

The work the PvE team has done has been about creating a more flexible AI. We've seen the start of this and now we are going to see the next step. NPCs out doing things in space and to and with each other. Then we can come interrupt. This is moving into the area of having events happening out in space that the player can go interact with. More mobile, interactive content that gives reason to move around and do things.

What is next? What is 'high sec' when it comes to development goals in the eye of the player? When people peek at the patch notes, see nothing of excitement for high sec and close them, what are they looking for?

Example: If incursions where updated to no longer be Sansha but be other types, is that development towards high sec? If it happened, what would it add to things for the name to change? If there was another incursion site or two, how long would that create satisfaction and pleasure? How quickly would boredom set in and this content would become the same as any other?

My own prospect mining idea was wrapped around spawns people had to hunt, find, scan down, and collect. A different type of mining that involved more looking and checking and less time at the lasers. The end result is the same amount of time spent but more activity for those that wanted activity.

At first, I was on the update content bandwagon to. But, I came to believe that building new and parallel activities is a better use of time. For one, we have the fact that the 'silent majority' is silent. They must like what they do. We cannot just take it because we believe it would be better. Instead, we have to ask CCP to create something new, and we have to let the silent people speak for themselves. They will migrate over to new content or they will stay and consume what they have consumed, happily, for years.

For two, we do not have unlimited development time. Everything costs. The developers are more an infinite resource. Because of decisions made over a decade ago, our current mission system is a horrific developmental time sink. This knowledge had stripped the romance out of my dreams of Eve's future. It is cold, nitty gritty knowledge that is not pretty or sexy but unfortunately true.

What would the high sec content be? I hear these calls to create it but I am told I am wrong in the ideas that I have or the what I envision. Please, what is high sec development? I have reached the point where I just don't know. People have already started announcing their intentions for CSM11. People are going to say that they stand for high sec development. I'm curious as to what they are standing for and what the long term vision of high sec staying players are.

CSMX - Post #30

Vanguard was released with a minor hiccup. Multibuy was disabled for a day or two thanks to a bug. Beyond that, the release was smooth and it was quickly over shadowed.

CCP Seagull released a view of the roadmap into the expansion planned for the Spring of 2016. She promised to be more open with the future plans and projects and she delivered. Now you all are seeing a lot of what we have been looking at as it stretches towards Fanfest.

The thing about this roadmap is that it is not set in stone. The features are planned for the times listed. Developers set their own release goals instead of their management setting them. Those goals can and may move. Something may move from one release to another so don't get 100% sold on dates. Releasing this general guide is part of that communication step where CCP let's us know what they are doing and what they envision in Eve's future instead of hiding in the corner scared because people got mad in Incarna. Personally, this is the type of openness and sharing I've pushed for and supported. I'm invested in it and I hope it goes well.

The hope is that opening up these goals will allow us to ponder, debate, and give feedback sooner in the process. It will let the players see that CCP has long term plans. The exciting future horizon will be blurry but in view instead of something we hope to see when we wake up and peer out the ships window in the morning.

Some changes to data sites includes some of my projects. The changes in Odyssey made exploration a different game. Sites have steadily devalued over the last two years and rebalance and changes in the sites have been a constant request. CCP Red Dawn is addressing some of it in bits and pieces as one of his projects. Involved in that is a task that I mentioned in June where I was approached about getting a better spread of COSMOS items into data sites. Some had been added but it created a piecemeal situation where nothing productive actually happened. I felt a bit bad but I jumped CCP Red Dawn in the middle of his data site rebalance idea and beat him with the COSMOS stuff to.

There has been a general comment that the items are not worth it or its silly and will not help. The COSMOS items and in general story line items are being rebalanced as their modules are rebalanced. If t he items exist properly to build them, their prices will stabilize at a normal value instead of spiking wildly due to broken sites. It is not an instantaneous headship full rebalancing. It is a process that will give greater value to later rebalance processes and create a more rippling change. It isn't a Jesus feature, but I'm pleased that it has happened.

When it comes to that whole module rebalance thing CCP Fozzie has made a post for tweaks and the addition of a new module that has been discussed off and on for quite some time. It is all about missiles

The Discovery, an ice mining frigate's stats are available. I expect we will see a very interesting change in the face of ice mining. However, familiarity and barges will keep people where they are more often then not.

The brain in the box mass test happened. That is a good thing. CCP Habakuk did a bit of question answering for those interested. One thing addressed is USTZ testing. CCP knows they could get more people if they tested during USTZ. However, coordination is harder outside of normal working hours.

On Saturday, the Day 4 minutes from the summit came out. The faction warfare and PvE section was at first missing. In it is an interesting project Team Space Glitter has been tasked with involving daily rewards. I then derailed things to discuss the upcoming changes to Faction Warfare she and I have been working on. What is getting addressed:

  • T3D are getting kicked out of small complexes
  • FW missions are being reworked by CCP Red Dawn
  • FW based NPC patrols are being added
  • These convoy's will fight each other
  • Allowing individuals to enroll in FW without the entire corp/alliance having to go
  • Maybe making it easier to change militia with the standings stuff up to decoupling standings and being in the militia.
  • 4 way war between militia. It is a true 4 way war not just the removal of allies.
  • Suspect flagging when entering FW complexes. 

Most of this is stuff I've been talking about since last year. Its getting bundled up and worked on. These are the plans that have survived changes, upheavels, and development road maps as well as design needs and time. I was pretty pleased with it all. I still am. The response so far has been 'oh well nothing of matter is happening and FW is still being left to stagnate and die without things being addressed'. Normally I try to smile. I never know how something will be received and I stopped trying to guess a while ago. But having put a lot into this I'm not able to smile as easily as I normally try to. I'm sorry that it wasn't good enough.

However, on Thursday, when I was a lot happier, I gave into Dirk's polite requests and went onto his Open Coms Show. I hang out during the first two hours. Some expressed surprise that I went on. I'm not one for talk media. I never feel that I have much to say. I do hold my monthly talks. For instance, I plan to do so this evening at 2000 GMT with Thoric along for null sec and Corbexx along to be Corbexx.

That leaves us with two and half weeks till Eve Vegas.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Immersion vs Information

It is a common discussion. Most of the players know nothing about what is going on in the game. They do not read the development blogs. They do not know that patch notes are listed. Expansions are introduced to them through the log in screen. The forums are populated by a very small percentage of the subscribed users. That includes alt posters.

How do we get information out to people? We do not know if they want the information. We do not know if they would want it if they knew about it. And at the same time, we don't want to ruin their game play by forcing the information on them. What are we going to do?

The launcher was supposed to solve much of this. One day it may do so. The hope was that as a player logs in they will notice some of the information on the launcher screen. It is a hope that works in some way. CCP can look at the page hits and see some rough statistics of information absorbed. But many will never notice.

How do we fix that without huge popup ads? I noticed last week that if you select a character that is not training's skill queue, a notification that you can ignore forever pops up about multi-character training being available. I liked that but I do not wish for ads to be in every moment of my game telling me all of the exciting things that I don't want.

But basic information about the game should be available inside of the game. The question is how do we wrap it into the world in such a way as for it not to be offensive? We don't have the numerous menus in tab and escape that other games have. One idea that I did have was our in game mail.

Many people get angry when CCP sends notifications. When they have done so before it causes much anger. A lot of the players who do not know what is going on don't want to know what is going on. CCP has also kept a very hands off approach to their broader communication so this has become an ingrained reality.

In discussions, a proposal that I have made was to create another mail tab. We have mail and communications. Why not add notifications? It can be disabled easily but development blogs, major announcements, that type of thing could go there. Turn it off you never have to see it. Turn it on and they could put some information in game. It is not the first tab or even the second but it is a third tab that may provide some browsing interest. Toss in a few links and maybe, just maybe a few more people would become informed.

Of course, it has the chance of turning into a, "BUY MORE PLEX NOW" type of situation. I'd hope we could establish better guidelines and not come to that. More so, it is just an idea. One idea where there could be dozens about how CCP could communicate with us better without hat communication being intrusive.  And it may be a bad idea. Perhaps, CCP's place is outside of the client when it comes to their customer relationship.

But, I don't know. I discovered there was something interesting on the account management page. I never visit it. My payments are all automatic. I consider myself well connected to the going ons of the game. That connection could also be a blind spot when I think on a topic like this.

More? Less? Can we have information and immersion in the same breath? With more and faster changes in the game, the importance of communicating those changes seems to increase to me.

Hullo Weekend

Some days are stranger then others. Some weeks busier. The last few nights I've wanted to write stuff but I had other things in the way. Last night for instance I brought work home. Tonight, I went on Dirk and Big Country's Open Coms show. Sometime at work today I had an idea for a blog post that promptly fell out of my head when I had to do some tasks before I could write it down. I may remember it.

My weekend off hits. Tomorrow, I hope to finish doing my setup for my project for Dire. It turns out the staging system that I had planned to use may be out because a new pirate group has moved in and they enjoy camping the high sec gate. I'm going to have to research their activity and see if I can get my work done during their off hours. If not, I have a backup plan.

For the second time since I have started playing Eve my work schedule will change. When I started playing I worked midnights. Working midnights made it very easy for me to hang out with the West Coast guys. However, I switched to day shift and that came with its own requirements. Now, I am heading to an evening shift and it will be interesting to see what it brings with it. I'm looking forward to not getting up at five in the morning anymore.

Now I have weekend plans. Build stuff for Dire. Work on the structure FAQ. Get the minutes reviews. Plus, I finally remembered the small thing I wanted to do from the low sec session. I need to write a forum post. Maybe tomorrow?

Please, please don't let the power go out because there just happens to be a hurricane hurtling for the east coast of the USA. I really have a lot of Eve stuff to do.

Bonus, I'm going to wait to read Eve mail in the evening so that I don't open an angry mail and let it demoralize me for the day!

I shall report in as to how I do.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A Bit of Unexpected Clairity

I found myself wistfully swinging my chair back and forth. Tomorrow is Vanguard, a release. I'm not excited about it and that disappoints me. It is not because I am angry at CCP or disappointing in Vanguard's content. It is because the five release schedule has brought so many releases that I no longer get that burbling the world is changing get ready for it glow of excitement that I used to.

It isn't something I thought about until Expansion's came back. Also, attention has been elsewhere. I'm often a few releases ahead in knowledge and or projects.  But, today it is warm in the house. I don't feel particularly productive. I'm pondering going to bed early and I realize that tomorrow is release day and it is an, "Okay," type of moment.

Now, realizing my own state of releases, I'm much more excited about the return of expansions. It is not that I am bitter or angry or even dislike the five week schedule. Nosy Gamer was nice enough to sit down and create a condensed list of changes that have happened since the release schedule started. It was something I had planned to do but now I can mooch off of his work.

What I will miss most about tomorrow is not being able to listen to Diz muse about the battlecruiser changes. I hope that some point in the future, I'll get to give them a try and that I will find myself pleased with the outcome. I have refused to fly Hurricanes since the nerf almost three years ago because I refused to add to any stats that said Hurricanes where being used as often as pre-nerf. And I've whined about them a lot since then. I couldn't even go, "I'm done talking about them," because really I wasn't. I was bitter and mostly bit my tongue because frothing bitterness wasn't going to make things go back to how they used to be.

Plus, I have this thing where I try to let changes roll on and adapt to them before I go about seeking change.

That leaves me excited on one hand to see what the changes are going to do out in space and a bit wistful for the past on the other. I'm not a theory crafter or an EFT/Pfya warrior. I always need to take my ships out into space and fly them around to get a feel for them.

I think that I understand the positive  response the return of expansions  has generated. Now it is for CCP  to strike the balance.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

CSMX - Post #29

To start with the biggest question: Why is Day 4 delayed?

We had technical difficulties. During the entire summit we kept having files corrupt and they had to be recovered. This slowed everything down. Normally, Day 4 would have been recovered but with Fanfest on Thursday and Friday CCP had an Event and then the CSM had a gathering and a dinner, things didn't get done. Followed by developers where heading out to the European tour of Eve Meets, lots was going on, files had to be recovered, and everyone was exhausted. And here we are with them not finished and released. Releasing the minutes in 24 hours is ambitious and this time didn't go smoothly. I know other people like it. I've been over ruled on it. I still dislike it. I've been transcribing my notes and the video has been recovered so that last day should get together, approved, and released even if I have to endure my own voice and transcribe the entire thing on my next set of days off.

Tuesday is release day. Vanguard's patch notes are available. As always, read the patch notes. I do admit this is not a habit I had in any game before Eve.

The rules for the Amarr Championships have come out. People are already at work grinding up their security status and writing their letters to the houses. These are small gang fights that will take place in November with the finals at Fanfest for those interested. I'm not into tournaments but the amount of roleplay and angst is fascinating to behold. Like the decisions CCP has made on how to hold this or not, they have caused a stir of interest and that is always good. Remember, the team does not have to be the same corporation or alliance.

I got a nifty mail the other day from someone who contacted me about a little thing earlier in the year. I directed them to the little things thread. For the Vanguard release, they saw their little thing included in the release. All of the credit goes to the developer that pulled the fix from the little things thread and the player who posted it. I love to share success stories like that.

Also new players will be starting with some more skill points. There has been a lot of talk about retroactively giving the skillpoints to everyone. The two weeks before the patch will be grandfathered in. I've checked but I haven't seen mention of retroactively changing skill points for everyone for the other skill point changes that have come in. That includes when skill points where decreased to 50k. CCP Rise made a post about it. This topic is one that we started last year and it has continued forward. It is a fine balance between helping new players invest without taking away rewarding first moments. I'm not convinced that skilling them into T2 weapons and Frigate 5 on day one is the path to go. For one, not everyone wants combat capabilities and for two you take away so many early accomplishments that your help can also hinder. We who play, who write these blogs and argue these mechanics are vested in Eve. We have to invest new players first in the very concepts of our game.

Do you use PLEX to buy your Fanfest tickets? If so, buy them now. CCP will be phasing this out as they fully convert over to Eventbrite, The answer is in the link. Sales of Eve Vegas and Fanfest tickets via PLEX are very, very low volume and high overhead. When this was suggested last year the CSM pushed that CCP could not just snip it out without giving people a chance to plan around the change. That is why there is the special sale for this year and the warning of the change went out in March.

Eve Vegas is in less then four weeks. Oh my. Who else is going? If you are interested in Eve events check the Out of Game events section of the forums or try Eve Meet.

I have quite the task list of stuff to work on. It gets in the way of non-CSM blogging and regular game play. The minutes getting finished and the FAQ are my main priorities for my next two days off of work. I'm giving myself leeway that the FAQ may not get done till this weekend. Then it has to go in for fact checking with Team Game of Drones. I'm also going to try for a talk this weekend. I suspect Sunday around 1300 and 2000 Eve time like normal on Eve Uni public coms. I should have Corbexx along and Thoric can hopefully do the 2000 session for those interested in null sec chats.

We are hitting the halfway point of CSMX.

This last week has been interesting in that there has been a bit of a shift in the community mood. I don't know if it is because summer is over and peoples children have gone back to school. I do not know if it is because so much venom, bitterness, and hate has been spread that some are finding themselves empty. But there has been a marked change of behavior. People are pushing back against the negativity and nastiness instead of embracing it. Pizza for CCP. Support as CCP Ytterbium puts his foot down.

It is not that I want people to suck up to CCP and buy them stuff. CCP is not a perfect company. The developers are not perfect people. Nor are the players. What I want people to remember is that there are people on the other side of their screen. Developer or player they are a person. You can disagree absolutely and completely and even become angry without treating someone like trash. I've never asked anyone to say they liked what they did not in the game or the games development. I don't plan to start. But, seeing this mood adjustment in the last week has been healing.

Eve isn't perfect. Things can be better. That is why some of us picked up these responsibilities and make these efforts that are made available. I know that some consider the CSM to be ridiculous and nothing but fourteen self serving people attempting to manipulate CCP for their own gain. For all of those that have believed in me and walked with me the last year and a half thank you for all the mails and conversations. I'm still responding back to some of them. You all keep me going through the negative times. Sometimes it is hard to see anything past them. I told you last year and this year again that my CSM term is only successful with all of you with me. Thank you for helping me keep hope in the community that I promised to serve.

Friday, September 25, 2015


Perhaps, I should have been more productive this evening. I could have transcribed some day 4 notes or worked on my outline and links for my Sunday post. Instead, I spent a lot of time reading.

CCP is instituting a skill point change on Tuesday where new players will get a base skill point bump by giving them some basic skills that currently slow down the first few days of the game. There are a lot of reactions around this. Many good. Many that feel that it isn't enough. And a lot of people who are angry. I'll touch on that a bit more on Sunday.

Somewhere in all of this reading, and talking with a few new players who have been in the game for a short period of time, I realized that we've had an interesting generation appear. Last year, I had discussed that we will have players who never knew Eve before Phoebe. This was exaggerated from its normal trend by the 'This is Eve' trailer. That gave us an entire wave of players, many that left but some that stayed. Many where from already connected and interactive groups. Those players stepped into some of the social aspects of Eve earlier then others.

That is how I found myself blinking at a conversation I was reading that went, "Remember two years ago when they released the last expansion?" and the other party said, "No. I started last December. I've never seen an expansion."

Huh. I don't consider myself that old of a player. My 4th birthday is coming with the start of December. But, I have seen so much in my little time. The rise and fall of Battlecruisers online. The end of expansions. The changes of Phoebe. Crimewatch. Odyssey. And for all of that I have seen so little. I'm a post Incarna child and I am very firm in that stance. I cannot know what CCP was like before Incarna but now we've had very game changing releases happen.

What will this period of no expansions be known as? We have a generation of player born into it. Born after Phoebe and lured by 'This is Eve'. They are players that came for the interactive gameplay. The fleets and the corporations, the people working together to do things. Oh, we have others players. The ones that always appear. Some that stay because like me they logged into Eve one day on a whim and fell in love with the game. Or the ones that came again and again and only in these latest changes did they stick.

How will they see Eve? Some are born as I was, with 50k skill points. On Tuesday, others will enter with 400k+. The ones who enter now will known expansions and meet one as they enter the spring. Those who have not known expansions will look at this as a new type of game. And those of us who have known expansions will compare it to what we have known. I, since Crucible, and others since Castor.

We will also see it through the time of no expansions, through the future and the past. What it means and what will come, I don't know. I do believe that CCP works on a more complex problem than Eve the game. It works with a player base that has been with them for over a decade. It causes a dance of bringing in the new and not disenfranchising the old. And it is not a charted future.

Eve's generations are interesting things. They are not defined by an expansion or the name of a release. They are defined by events within the game world. Maybe a release, maybe a single change, perhaps a trailer, or it might be the rise or fall of an empire.

It reminds me that my Eve is not the same as another. Outside of what I like to do and the game that I play there are other things that define my game. How can I ask someone to understand the rise and fall of a well known alliance, to know the joke about an often spoken of player that they will never know? Of blogs gone cold and empires grown old, there will always be someone who never knew them.