Thursday, January 31, 2013

Origin of a Spaceship

  1. A Laven is a subspecies of Raven that uses Lasers.
  2. Laven: A troll boat see: Battle Noctis
Once debated to be a crossbreed side effect due to the creation of the Sansha ships the Laven is thought to have escaped labs where it lurked, deep in the unknown recesses of Faction Warfare space.  There, the Laven fed off of orbital belts where the strong energies of the brighter stars were absorbed as additional fuel.  It is thought that their vestigial lasers, normally absorbed during manufacturing were stimulated by this excessive sunlight.  This allowed the Laven to develop into a small, unknown niche where they were fed by colonel settlers abandoned by capsuleers.

Eventually, flocks of Laven were scattered about contested, low security space.  Weak and shy they were too fragile to compete with the Raven Navy Issue that lurked the belts of 0.0 space.  Cast out of high sec due to the superiority and high numbers of their Raven cousins, Laven eventually found a place.  It was not until the recent spark of aggression between the planet side mercenaries of the various empire factions gained momentum that the Laven came to light.

They paid back their planetside keepers and have spawned into the darkness, their laser based nature making them so surprising that often other ships just stare at them as they soar through the edges of the atmosphere and strike with devastating accuracy when given brilliant circles to shoot at.

In the Wild:
Until recently, the Laven has never been seen in the wild.  Even now, only domesticated specimens have been seen.  Grants have been issued for further study of the differences in the species.  There is some hope that a domesticated Laven can be radio tagged so that researches can come to understand the habits of shit shy, elusive spaceship in its natural environment.

Other Crosses:
These types of hybrids are known but not well documented.  The only other truly well known case is that of the secretive crossbreeding of a Hyperion with a Rifter to create the Megathron.

See: Eve Subspecies

In Other Articles:
Euro Gamer Laven Sighting

Want vs Is

The trickledown effect of interest that the most recent capital battle has generated around the internet is that people are asking about Eve as a game to play.  Beyond the "How do I get into that fight" part of the desire is the basic, "What kind of game is it?"

I'm not one to go on about, "this terrible stupid game".  That mantra must be beyond my doe eyed adoration.  In my little, simple world, when something is terrible and stupid I avoid it.  If I continue to play it obsessively it is not terrible and stupid.  Thankfully, subtly of language is beyond me so I like to take statements like that as fact from the author and then feel bad for them.

One thing that has always frustrated me about any review is when someone gives something a negative review because they wanted it to be something else.  If I want an orange and go eat an apple, I then do not score the apple as a 1 out of 10 for not being an orange.  If the apple presented itself as an orange then the score of 1 out of 10 is understandable.  However, if the apple advertises itself as an apple and I went and penalized for not being an orange the critique is unreasonable.  "This apple, that says it is an apple, is not an orange. I'm disappointed.  It was a delicious apple but it was not an orange and I wanted an orange when I selected this apple instead of the orange that I wanted.  1 out of 10 stars for not being an orange."

This happens quite often in Eve.  People give it a poor review for not being things it never said that it was.  I can understand disliking the control mechanisms.  As a fan girl I am obligated to say, "Give it a try anyway you'll adjust!" but I can understand.  It is not for everyone but it has to be appreciated for what it is in the first place.  I to was lost with the WASD lack but once I figured out how to move my ship everything else became absorbing.

Eve is also billed as a boring game.  Boredom is to broad of a category   I have days when undocking is hard because I have so many other in game tasks to do that my spaceship is secondary. Is this boring?  Is it not?  I don't know but it is part of the game.  I find First Person Shooters to be boring and they are packed full of action from start to finish.  Boredom is often about engagement and what someone is looking for.  I've seen many complaints because Eve does not have push button receive PvP.  Those people are often directed to RvB where they can have exactly that because the players created it.

As an easy method of slipping away from a complex question I get to say that the "What" in Eve is different for every player.  Then we get to say, "It takes a special type of person to play Eve," but really it just takes a person who has those types of interests.  What types of interests draw people into Eve and stick them there? one hand we bring diplomacy, connections, player driven content, strategy, teamwork, spreadsheets, calculators, tools, economists, industrialists, strategists, chat channels, com channels, forums and in the other deceit, destruction, viciousness, serious business, scamming, manipulation, and the ability to press everything to its edge to see if it falls over it while we run away giggling while we have a deep economic discussion about the future fluxuations of minerals on the market and what that means for our production lines.

What led me down this rambling road was a corp theft(?) on the Dust 514 forum .  The simple and reasonable reaction by someone was to put a money cap and it solved that problem.  The reactions of Eve players are priceless.  From “Why” to the random announcements of personal responsibility and trustworthiness, please can have roles?

I once started to write a response to Nosy Gamer where he asked if Eve has changed him.  My answer was and is yes.  Eve’s descendants on Planetside 2 is one of my examples.  One of my co-workers plays planetside.  He is a member of something awful in a casual way but with planetside became more active.  Now he says pubbie and speaks like an Eve goon without ever having played Eve.  He has the right mentality for Eve just not the time with his other game commitments.  Yet, as he has played planetside the conversion has been interesting.  He plays with Eve players quite often and he can see the fleet tactics mirrored sometimes.  We have interesting discussions when we go out for lunch on our days off.  We only have each other to babble about video games so we try to use that time wisely.  But it isn't just that one place.  Eve players often run off to other games and play in their same social groups.  

This is not about the soft, cozy blanket of elitism that Eve players are often accused of when they venture into other games and state how ‘hard’ Eve is.  This is the subtle adjustments and changes that come from playing Eve.  I find myself often frustrated in other games that I cannot just kill people that irritate me. I have to remember that dying does not mean something most of the time.  I can go idle. No one knows I have all my gold coins on me.  Even if they do they can't take it.  Once that was normal but suddenly it was no longer stimulating that people couldn't take my things.

And that mentality of ours is enthralling to people if not appealing to deal with.  The reactions to the most recent battle and the entire reason it happened has gripped people. One thing that amuses me is how many people find Eve to be very readable if not playable.  I can understand that.  It really is a ridiculous pool of complex drama sided by ridiculous battles, pretty explosions and fantastic leaps of dark, human imagination.

Eve is a vicious game run by vicious words.  Sure, there are plenty of warm snuggly things that happen every day.  Yet, when someone goes, “Where are you doing?” and you respond, “Killing people” and they go “Cool good luck” it's not a gentle game regardless of the attempts to diminish what is happening.  Because the game is about people in the end.  If I am PvEing I say, “Shooting red crosses.”  That in itself is an unconscious but factual distinction.  I don’t ‘kill’ NPCs.  I even define them by their visual icon. 

Who would have thought, "Do whatever you want?" could be so hard?  That freedom to run about and do your own thing would be so unappealing?  Its result is that each person will have a different experience inside of the game world even as they do the exact same thing.  Game world is used a lot as a polite way to define the game life.  Immersive is another way to say, "Holy shit I'm into this".  Yet, it was with Eve that any last traces of being embarrassed about being a gamer melted for me.  When my supervisor asked why I was going to Iceland I told him that I was attending a video game conference, like when I went to Vegas.  He looked at me.  I looked back at him.  He approved my leave.

After Shocks: Retribution

I decided to be fancy and look at numbers to end the month as if I knew what I was doing with them.

The main reason this happened is that I was skimming the killboard the other day and noticed that we had a lot more kills this month then I ever remember seeing on the board. I looked over it and sure enough, January has been a very busy month followed by December.

While THC2 has often had a steady upsweep in activity by the month with the occasional low points (these normally show activity, at one point there were only three active members for a few months) the last two months the numbers have been startling. We are both killing and losing more stuff. We are killing much more then we are losing but the numbers are heading up.  Our corp history from Eve Kill can be found here.

Month Kills ISK (B) Losses ISK (B) Efficiency
January, 2013 793 71.10 161 13.70 83.85%
December, 2012 422 39.44 82 9.89 79.95%
November, 2012 293 27.59 53 9.04 75.31%
October, 2012 308 29.11 65 5.46 84.21%
September, 2012 437 48.50 44 4.26 91.92%
August, 2012 288 38.58 60 6.63 85.34%
July, 2012 150 32.47 39 8.03 80.16%
June, 2012 175 16.70 30 5.33 75.82%
May, 2012 189 27.82 26 1.45 95.05%
April, 2012 317 40.60 53 12.93 75.85%
March, 2012 142 26.77 30 6.27 81.02%
February, 2012 145 24.73 10 0.87 96.58%
January, 2012 97 12.11 23 2.65 82.06%
December, 2011 100 12.98 20 1.90 87.22%

Some of that is enrollment and the resulting activity increase. We absorbed people from two other corporations. These people are very active. However, it does not account for it all.  A lot of it has been the ship changes.  September, 2012 is a month with a lot of POS modules, somewhere around 100 out of the 437 listed kills.  Compared to January 2013 where the POS modules number is under under 10.

Month Frigates Cruiser
January, 2013 9 24 86 6
December, 2012 0 25 40 7
November, 2012 2 5 32 2

I didn't go further back because we have some set up frigate fights that alter the numbers.  Of course it is not the be all and end all of everything numbers wise. But it shows a change in our patterns that is related to Retribution.  We are flying more cruisers, we have started flying more frigates in combat and we are flying fewer battlecruisers (although the numbers may not show that).  People have been emptying their hangers and breaking out smaller ships.  With a few new members frigates are creeping out of a few more hangers and in general our fleet compositions are changing and becoming more flexible.

We have also killed a ridiculous number of pods this month.  Over 100.  In general the activity is good.  It means the corp is alive and thriving and growing some.  People are out, active and engaged.  Fleets are often up and running.  A few more people have taken up FCing a bit more.  We have to break some bad habits in those areas as our coms disciplines at times and not argue with FCs just because they are your buddy you have flown with forever.

Losses are also up.  That's fine.  We're engaging more and engaging differently. The ships are different so there is a substantial amount of learning that comes with using them.  I see more and more cruisers and fewer and fewer battlecruisers being a continued trend.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Babbling: A Rambling of Personal Opinions

[TL;DR: Sugar's high horse of individual acceptance summery of a chat discussion this morning.  AKA Babbling.]

"Can you see up from all the way up on that soap box?  You are pretty high."
"No, this high up there are too many clouds.  Once it rains it should clear up."

And thus ended a discussion I probably should have refrained from having in a public chatroom and stuck to having on my blog where I can run around and write long, wandering threads of thought in a more suitable environment.   It is easy enough for me to forget that not everyone wants to have discussions on societal behaviors in video games.

Topics that creep up across the game tend to echo.  The discussions grow and shrink for various reasons.  At the core there is often a simple kernel that means something is an issue.  An issue large enough that it is bothering different groups of people in the same way, often without their interacting with each other.

The fundamental nature and aspect of Eve is often discussed   Eve is harsh.  Eve is dark.  Eve is full of non-consensual PvP.   Yet, there are also other aspects that become assumed.  We often call these, "doing it wrong" type of ways.  

However, the soapbox that I believe I was told I was standing on at such a height was a fundamental aspect of my personality.  I am a believer in looking at each situation as its individual self.  Now, it may simply be a piece of a larger whole or it may be an instance upon its own.  I'm also very interested in individuality at its core.

One of the first soapboxes I hopped onto as I climbed into the heights of self righteousness  was that people should not be forced to PvP.  I learned that saying that often causes the information following that to be ignored or missed.  I do not say that people should be able to opt out of PvP or that people should not understand that nonconsensual PvP happens.  I believe that people should be taught to mitigate their loses, to be aware of their surroundings, to know what dangers lay there but not be forced to press F1 to shoot someone unless they want to.  To many players play in ignorance of the rules of conflict inside of the game. I mean base core rules here.  That you can die in high sec still comes as a surprise to people.  Some who have playedfor years and years.

Pushing someone over their fear may work for people.  Once they learn that the loss does not hurt it opens doors.  But, mandating that a group such as Eve Uni force everyone to take aggressive PvP actions is something I do not agree with and something the topic was about.  The idea for me was that a place like Eve Uni is made to help and support new players not just one subset of new players.  If they are to do that, helping and supporting someone to get into the game that wants to play in a pacifistic way should be as much of a goal as getting people's toes wet in PvP.  

My point is also about a group focused towards helping people get into Eve vs a corporation where there are corporation requirements.  If A: Forcing a PvE focused person to pewpew is similar to forcing a PvP player to mine their first battleship. I don't agree with it.  If it is B: They signed up for the corporation. Have fun with them.  They can leave.  My goal is to not have them leave the game itself unless the game is really not what they want.  Hence, another post about that later.

I do not think the problem is that people do not want to PvP.  I think the problem is that people need to accept that they are part of the environment where PvP can happen.  If they wish to never engage in F1 aggressive pewpew they should be taught how to avoid it and how to accept when it happens.  This is something as simple as tanking your hauler, don't shove 10billion in a freighter, dscan, overview settings, and the endless list of survival skills that an Eve player needs.  

What I do not agree with is going, "oh well Eve isn't for them" if they do not want to fight.  That tastes to much of, "Oh well, if they don't want sov null they don't belong here" or "if they don't want to be pirates GTFO" or any other mantra.  The urge to place ones interest on another and force them to 'play properly' is detrimental.  A player, struggling to force themselves to PvP because they must and have no other choice will then leave because they do not enjoy it.  Yet, Eve has plenty of places for them to be and things for them to do where they don't have to go out in a fleet and shoot someone.

I believe in helping people take a step instead of pushing them into the pool.  I'm one who hates to be pushed  in.  It does not work for me.  I don't go, "My god this is fantastic."  I'm normally too busy being angry or miserable over someone forcing their will on me for their preconceived notion of my own good. I'm pretty comfortable with knowing what does and does not work for me.  Not everyone is.  Yet, if someone is asking to be given options and led then give them options and leave.  If someone has dug their feet in about (say battleships) and said "Do not want THIS but will take everything else" then work with it.  That is part of defining a game as well.  I was told I can come into Eve and make my path. I'm making it.  I stop and ask for help all of the time but I still will shape and mold it into what makes me want to log in each day. 

I do have a hard line in my understanding and acceptance of others.  That line is when they try to make high sec 100% safe and end nonconsensual PvP.  My support vanishes at that point.

Of course the conversation, which was wrapped around war declarations  migrated some into war decs needing to be changed or not needing to be changed.  As always, the insults are thrown out about cowards and wanting to war dec newbies for killboard status and such things.  What caught my attention and caused me to climb so far up my soapbox that it seemed I was attempting to transcend into a demi-god is my eternal frustration with assumptions.

I tire of assumptions in behavior.  I tire of people calling gankers cowards.  Some gankers are cowards.  Some do it because they want to kill and not take risk themselves.  That is fine.  Yet, to paint all gankers are cowards is also incorrect.  People do things for many reasons. I've never been fond of the 'all x are y'.  If someone says, "I am brave, I have killed a barge," then call them a coward if that is a word that you want to use.  If someone ganks and leaves call them a coward but you really have no idea if they are or are not or have another motive happening.  At that point the name calling has become nothing more than an assigned series of emotions and preconceived notions.  But I also don't get smack talk very well and understand that there is an emotional trigger that I am lacking somewhere.  It may be part of my acceptance or view of the game.

I'm not really into that.  But people interest me.  They interest me a lot.  I like to know the whys.  The why may be, "Because I wanted to," but that is not the same as, "Because I am amazing."  I may not understand the way personally but I would not label "wanted to" with "amazing" under coward.  I'm just not one to agree with instantaneous labels and I don't have the need to assign labels to others for their actions done to me. I assume they did it for whatever reason they have and if I do not know their reason I cannot assign anything to it.

Now, I sit upon the soap box of acceptance of individual circumstantial differences for all situations.  I like it up here I must admit.  There is a nice breeze.  I can preach loudly to look at things as they are and break them apart.  I guess it makes me sound like a pretentious git when I turn around and attack arguments by trying to rip away at the layers of context slathered on top of the topic.  But how can we see what it is about when it is all covered up?

I love those types of discussions but I really try not to have them anywhere but places like the blog.  Inevitably, when I am far from finished the discussion someone tires of it spamming the chat.  For a moment, that warm excited buzzing of a good topic makes me forget what I am talking.  That's what the blog is for in the end.  

Accept everyone (it doesn't mean you have to like them)?  People are different?  Individuality must be taken for its own merits?  It is all a reaction of my personal wants to be placed in these situations.  My thoughts are selfish in the end.  I know that for some it will always be 'coward'.  That too is okay as long as that is their end result based off of their reasonings.  Reasonings I cannot have because I am not them and may never understand because we are different.  

The most amusing part of the discussion was later when someone said, "Sugar Kyle, id have known you were girl purely by all that 'people shouldn't have to fight!' stuff earlier :D Because ive yet to meet the guy who would go on like that over combat in a computer game :D"

People so rarely check killboards. I'm often accused of being uninterested in fighting things because I support people who do not wish to fight things.  I don't promote safety.  That is a different subject.

Chuckle.  Maybe I should ban myself from discussions before lunch.

Stepping Up to Solutions

I wandered across a decision based upon an idea today that had an unexpectedly sensible and comfortable solution for me.

There has been a steady trickle of interest in the corporation of late.  This is not a bad thing. It has been a mix of experienced players and inexperienced players.  Growth seems to be a thing but mixing new people into the group causes some shifting and resettlement.  A lot of what we are doing as a corporation has started to need definition.  Therefore I tasked myself with sending the boys a serious mail where I ask them to tell me what they wanted done.

So far it has been productive and it is helping me with the entire direction when it comes to recruiting people thing.  For some reason they trust me to make a certain amount of decisions   Why?  Who knows.  But, they have left me to run around and try to figure out the recruiting thing.

Recruiting people in general is not simple.  It's not just a 'okay join up and be a body'.  Small gang types need a lot of cohesion.  There is a lot of trust and reliance between the members of a group.  People who can't get along with each other just cause fraying and issues.  I want to enjoy that. I've watched corps die because people let drama get in the way.  The boys will kick when they need to but I'd prefer to smooth some of that out at the start.

There are a lot of pros and cons to having rookie corps.  We're really too small to support an entire secondary corp of that level.  What I've decided to do is case by case or group by group bases.  Experienced people the boys can work with.  Inexperienced people I will run around with for a bit and see if they pick up on the basics skills of survival.

PvP can be taught if the person is teachable.  However, one of the barriers for learning said PvP is that veterans can and do easily tire of hand holding the basics.  Yet, new players need to feel comfortable asking questions.  But, people tire of answering the same question over and over again.  The easy questions that become second nature are the problem.

Hence my idea to do little newbie fleets.  As much as I don't want to step in the role of being a FC in this I've convinced myself that running around doing survival skills does not count as real FC so it's okay.  This way, I can ship everyone into frigates (if I have more than one person) and run around the area teaching basic things like safe spots, pounces, relaxing enough not to fail jump, aligning, properly selection stations and belts, lingo, scanning, intel gathering and relaying and understanding, etc.  All of the things that you take for granted once you learn them has to be retaught over and over again.  With the core skills learned and the ability to make sensible decisions learned, then the new player will not have to have that early hand holding that can frustrate and slow down a fleet. Then we can die in a fire trying to randomly kill things.

At least, that is my hope in this project.  We can only absorb but so many super new characters at a time.  We, in general need people to be self sufficient  willing to learn, and willing to learn from their mistakes.  However, I don't want to turn new players away because they are new.  It is hard being new, it's hard not being able to fly fleet comps but it's not impossible nor will it be forever.

I may burn out on it and demand minimum skill points and abilities and all sorts of fantastic things.  But right now, I still very keenly feel the results of being new and being given a chance.  I don't look forward to those I will have to turn away.  It is certainly not a come one come all anyone is accepted type of thing.  It won't always be fun which is kind of funny because it's a free time relaxation game but Eve is Eve I guess.

But more people means more bodies to do interesting things.  The social aspect alone helps keep people interested in the game.  The balance of experienced vs non experienced has to be maintained so that neither side feels overly put upon or neglected.  I have no clue if this will work out or not but I shall see.  I figure if people don't like how I do things they can go elsewhere. I'm not here to take in everyone. I do get irritated with people as much as anyone else does.  But for the occasional one that clicks with me and the boys I'd like to have some sensible foundation in place.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

I Tried a Thing

We had run out of targets but still had a lot of energy and the high sec system one jump out of low had a full ice belt. "Who wants to go suicide gank someone?"  It turned out that everyone was up for it.

Suicide Ganking has been something on my list of things to do.  I've participated in fleets as support but I have not yet been one of the shooters.  For a long time, I looked at it with distaste.  Later, it just seemed wasteful and then still later I decided that I wanted to give it a try.

I can't answer the, "Why suicide gank" thing other then it is something to do.  I don't run around and pretend to have a motive like the Miner Bumpers do.  It is something that I wanted to try and someone was going to be unhappy with the end result if it was done properly.  It is also something to learn.  I would like to try my hand at destroying untanked T1 industrial haulers for profit. I've done exactly zero high sec pvp/ganking/whatever the hot button description for the day is.

Operating in high sec when your security status is low enough to summon the NPC faction police is inconvenient.  They chase you around and destroy your ships if you sit still for too long.  A slow, fat ship may not make it.  Sprints across high sec systems can be quite interesting when out on a roam.  Gank Operations are a study in movement and timing.  To much time and members are picked off one by one before the goal is ever reached.

As we organized the fleet and reshipped into destroyers, our scouts started to scan the belts.  They wandered through and checked the barges to see who was tanked and who was not tanked.  We looked to see how close groups were together.  Were there suitable targets within range of other targets?  Eventually a Mackinaw and a Hulk were chosen.  The fleet was split into two groups and the warp ins settled down.

Fitting the ships turned out to be something of a cluster.  We had the catalysts but not the fittings.  Random, spur of the moment catalyst ganking is not something we have supplies for.  The solution was some very strange and very random fits with mixed guns and all sorts of random nonsense.  The goal was for the DPS however not the pretty.  In truth, the fits were embarrassing but their lives were to be short.

We gathered about the gate in whatever people had fit into.  The squads were split and everyone got their orders.  Jump in, hold cloak, squad warp, primary announced, target, count to three...
And poof.


And the comments start.  The fact that the ships are unarmed and cannot fight back and picking such a target is a 'brave' thing to do.  I understand the argument.  I just don't understand making the argument in the first place.  No one thinks that the mining barge is going to turn on the gankers and destroy them first.  This is why bait barges are so successful   It is not looking for a 'fair' fight.  It is a gank.  I'm puzzled if anyone really believes that the ganker is looking for a fair fight and somehow got confused between a Hulk and an Megathron. Or, it may be my reaction to not doing the role play and smack talk that so often follows ganks.

My end feelings is that the preparation and planning were more interesting then the end results.  I've enjoyed catching miners in belts in low sec or jumping through gates but this was just land, target, approach  press F1.  The end result was someone that died, we warped off, they told us we were bad people, we left the system.  I don't see this becoming a pass time for me.  I'm more interested in trying to pop the T1 industrials for goodies to fuel my industrial machine.


I was going to leave my post here and be done with it.  I have realized that I do not wish to be lumped into the mess with and Jester, told I'm doing it for any deeper reason then the fact that three days ago, it was something to do that I had never tried.  Mane was running around with the Molden Heath Environmental Authority (MHEA) long before the New Order became a thing as I wrote here and here earlier last year. When a topic is hot there is often an unfortunate habit of pushing everyone into the same, very small circle.  Not everyone goes there.  I did not try this for any other reason then it is something on the list of things that we sometimes do that I have never participated in.

Monday, January 28, 2013

A Tinker's Toys

It started with a simple enough question in a market channel.  "There are really market bots?"  To which several people informed the poor soul that, "Yes, there are market bots."  I was watching a trade channel and someone said they believed that CCP should allow botting for market trading.  I was stunned and asked, "What?"
"I'd like for market bots to be legal with a standardized API provided by ccp. Make people focus on the algorithms they use to update their orders and prices. Rather than on adjusting orders manually by 0.01 ISK every 5 minutes. It would make stupid trading entirely pointless or at least mostly pointless"
 The group advised him that he might want to adjust his trading habits if he thought that the solution would be a bot.  Someone asked him, "What's your problem?"
"I don't have any "problem".  I think legalized market bots would make traders think more and eliminate a part of the game that is only tedious."
"Why is it tedious?" another asked.
"Because you only work like a Machine. Updating order by some fixed algorithm. Free us up to concentrate on the fun part. On picking the right items and the right algorithms. Maybe even give us the possibility to trade algorithms. Charge fees for order modifications but remove the 5 minute limit"
A few days after this conversation, I saw a comment on Tobold's blog where he is commenting about Nosy Gamer's botting articles.  He comments on the tedious activities of MMO's that have an internal problem within their design because they can be botted and that things need to be more challenging.  I would think that people will always break things down to the smallest piece that they can.  No one has to play 0.01 ISK wars on the market and update their orders every 5 minutes.  No one is chained to that but by voluntarily placing those shackles upon their own game play they turn to CCP and point a finger saying, "Why have you done this to me?"

I said:
"There is more to do then sit there updating your orders like a machine.  If someone is doing that they made the choice to do that. it sounds more like you are suggesting "dear CCP make the market automatic for me because I obsess over it."  I then asked him, "Why would you suggest CCP accept botting into the game?" 
I was interested in his reply.
"It's frustrating to see people spend hours upon hours with menial tasks when there is so much potential for creativity and ingenuity. Mission running is stupid, too but it doesn't have that sort of potential."
 I asked:
"And you think botting will bring out creativity and ingenuity?"  
I decided to stop arguing at that point and let him finish giving me his story.  I realized, he meant what he said so I might as well find out why he felt the way that he did.  I was not going to understand it by guessing and hoping that I was right.  I asked:
"Please tell me how."
And he obliged:
"Look at algorithmic trading irl. A lot of thought goes into devising trading strategies for "bots". Crazy statistical models (often lifted from physics). Economic Models. Experience. safeguards to prevent them from getting gamed or participating in a market crash by accident."
Gevlon pointed out: "But then we could have PvP bots too and it would be a race between AI programmers"
 "I would enjoy playing that game :D. I don't expect ccp to legalize bots. But I would like them to do it :D. Just to see what happens. I think I'd enjoy the resulting game."
The rest of the conversation bot based video games and programming in general.  The pleasure of building a product and the pros and cons of using it.

I'd love to say that I understand his logic.  In a purely metaphyiscal sense, where one debates the deepest dreams and wants I can understand letting go of sense and reason for the pure burn of desire.  I would like X because of Y.  Even if X is terribly destructive I do not care because I would enjoy it even if no one else would.  It was nice to see an argument not dissolve into "everyone bots" or some such thing as they often do for their reasons.

Is the game broken because people can bot in it or would bot in it to avoid things?  People will also cheat at events that they have trained for to win or gain an edge.  The assume that it is simply a result of uninteresting activities is to look at botting as only a way to replicate the actions a player must do.  In a game like Eve, where a player does not have to do the actions the bot takes over the bot is even more of a choice to make life easier or acheive a win.  Must the market order be adjusted in the .01 ISK war every five minutes?  No. Many traders make their fortunes without ever touching these battles.

If people are pushed by their own competitive nature that is not the fault of the game.   Where does personal responsibility lay in this?  I also play blink but I do not blame blink for the ISK that I lose.  I can't agree that people 'have' to bot.  People want an edge.  People who are rich and successful will still do things to exceed their own innate abilities.  Its not a fault of the game its an aspect of personality.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

It's Not Just Destruction

7-2 broken down their base in Assah and moved.  Like the loyal camp follower that I am I jump cloned over, pulled down my market orders.  I then hitched a ride on the nearest carrier for my goods.  With my stuff secured and on its way, I hopped into a Rookie ship and made my way down the road towards the next stop.  Thirty some jumps later, I settled in, reaccepted my stuff and restocked the market

The move is up into Minmatar Faction Warfare space it seems.  I'd already been meaning (but not accomplishing)  hanging out in the area.  This created a perfect situation for me to move my stack of frigates and start some of my own adventures in exploding. Or so I hope.

Pirate invasion of Faction Warfare space is a go.  I think.  As I've stated before, I enjoy 7-2.  The feel is very different.  My biggest problem at the moment is that I cannot fit several of their fleet comps.  My lack of large guns is very telling at this point.  I had planned to work my way up through medium T2 lasers but I believe now is a good time to get myself into a Talos.  Blasters will give me access to both Talos and Naga, allowing me to fly in the sniper fleets I am currently missing out on.

Of course, by the time I have large guns they will move on to another system I am sure.  At least, I will be ready for the next move.  But for now the moving is interesting.  I am used to having a 'home' system and some staged systems.  This is one of the first times I have had a temporary home, broken it down, moved it, and set it back up.  It was kind of cool which is good because I am a terrible home body and I have been working to get out and do more stuff away from my familiar circle of Molden Heath.

The day turned into a very long one of many fleets of different types.  I never got to keep track of the blow by blow battles because I got distracted by the entire super fight that went down.  We killed a lot of things during the night.  I had my Thorax out for the first time.

No Hoard Left Behind

[In the  time honored tradition of Eve online, Sugar discussed things she doesn't know anything about in the most random way.]

I know that no one is tired of hearing the endless streams of topics about the various major bits of drama that have gushed all over the game of late.  After what seemed to be a quite Fall and sleepy holiday things went wild.  Retribution was fun and appreciated but the rage with bounties, tears of mission runners and new joy over the cruiser changes were mild compared to the plethora of frothing over the CSM minutes and my own personal tears over the BC changes.

Thankfully, some people have not abandoned the habit of discussing things they know nothing about and suggesting terrible ideas for change.  Knowing that I do not participate enough in these instates, often too busy hiding from my own Legion or bouncing around in frigates and blockade runners, I felt that it was time to do my duty.

I started to wonder… what about peoples stuff?

You see, one of the negatives of a war in null sec is that stuff gets abandoned.  Yes, I know that people will say things like ISK and structure grinds and timers and CTAs and other such things.  But really, what about the hoards of abandoned stuff?  The stuff that sits, waiting each day for its owners to resub only for them to find out they have been torn from the sweet piles of hoarded clutter that they once loved?

One of my issues with Worm Holes are that they are not secure.  The POS can be robbed.  The POS can be destroyed.  Everyone can lose the wormholes entrance and find themselves disconnected forever from their things.  A problem in Sov null is the same.  People have stations but they risk the change of being locked out of their stations.  A fast, devastating back stab from inside of the corporation leadership will render them stuffless.

The terrific pain of losing one's stuff can be enough to make one risk averse.  Unwilliness to invest to heavily of one's life in an outpost that might be torn away happens.  This leads to messy bedroom like asset lists.  These lists are full of page after page of stuff.  The issue with this, beyond horrifying the neat freak in some of us, is that if stuff is spread across a vast distance of NPC stations due to the complex need to not fully trust the outpost then it decreases the efficiency of someone responding to things.  People will do things like fly Gunless Naga to go and get their guns in their half fit Naga and respond to a CTA because people are people even when you give them mutating drugs and radiation.

But, being tasked with the job to solve issues I have never had to deal with myself by absolutely no one but my own wandering imagination, I started to wonder: What if people had personal eject buttons for their stuff  What if they could send their stuff careening into space for a pickup?  Then there could be stuff rescue fleets!  

Instead of stuff abandoned for the possible forever there could be a chance for freedom.  And like someone climbing a barbwire fence while running from wild dogs in the jungle, that chance for freedom would be worth it to some.

As I understand it, there is currently an ejection system in the game with PI.  It spits your goodies into space for you to retrieve.  If one were able to do this to stuff (all or nothing I guess because like multiple girlfriends, you may love some more than others but you can’t admit that) and then have a vast stuff rescue fleet it might be interesting.

In the grand sense of poetic scale logistics maneuvers bulk haulers and freighters would descend.  A legion of jump freighters (because I’m sensible and know that’s all that it would be at the most) and carriers and mother ships would arrive for the Red Cross of Stuff Rescue mission pinned to their sleeves.  Stuff would be scooped up and the rescue forces would retreat from the natives down a wild white water rapids of high adventure as cargo holds full of T2 modules squealed in glee and arrows thunked just short of their targets.

Thanatos would sail into deep space as probers frantically searched for them and pilots raced to board the empty ships.

Ahh, such sweet dreams.

[End Random]

Beauty in Destruction

It is funny, as I watch this battle going down and ships are being destroyed left and right that the sheer beauty of some of the screen shots take your breath away.  I don't know who took it, I'd love to give it credit.  I saw it copied on one of the live feeds and it has traveled across the chat channels.

While we mostly watch Eve from a distance and the brightly colored pixalted boxes mean a lot to us, the moments where we can truly absorb Eve's imagery are wonderful reminders about the lovely aspects of the game.

Eve is full of historical moments.  Random incidents that spark a massive surge of player interaction.  These things happen because we are all in the same place.  People will talk about the mess in Asakai for a long time.  Battle reports, reviews, and stories told over a pint will whisper through the game.

I watched.  I watched for hours.  I also roamed during the time.  We killed a lot of things as we kept track of what was happening only a few jumps away.  "Are you going to go?"  "No, I'm just going to watch," and I did, we did.  Plenty of people went.

I managed to settle into a live stream run by Shigsy.  I'm not one for live feeds but this is one of the few times where I am happy to watch something.  The chat was interesting.  People who have never watched Eve came into the chat room to find out why there was an Eve stream on the front page.

"Why is a feed with a 2.7 Frame Per Second getting over 2,700 viewers?" one person asked.

Others asked why it was so interesting.  Why did we care that the ships were being blown up so much to stop and watch what looked like a big, immobile blob of ships.

People explained.  They explained that in Eve you lose your ship forever.  They explained that the ships they were watching burn took true, real world months to create.  They explained that the game only had one shard and there were over two thousand people slugging it out in one singular spot in the game at that moment.

"Oh.  Wow."  People responded.  Trolls popped in and declared the game to look boring.  Many others were fascinated as people did their best to explain.  "These ships can 'teleport'" they said, "and 'teleport other ships'" and "mistakes were made".  I watched Eve players break down the concepts of Eve into simple terms and step from their high horses and use analogous descriptions closer to fantasy MMOs to people who might be interested in Eve.

These are the things I like most about Eve.  The intangible strands that tie the game together.  For hours we watched spaceships burn and explained to people why the spaceships burned.  People sent out their pings and made phone calls and sent out e-mails and text messages.  Thousands of players responded.  More people then could fit into the system.  Mobilization was enormous and it did not stop for hours.

The scale is fantastic.

P.S. At least we did not have to explain why this ship looked like a violated umbrella...

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Assessing Exploration

With the incoming ship changes in Retribution and coming up in Retribution 1.2 new skills have been added and will be added.  There will also be other skills that will make the entry into some ships simpler   However, the skills that are added are support and secondary skills that will increase the length of time for a newer player to fly a ship very well.

I had to take a two month break from turning my scout into a perfect scanner for the battlecruiser skill changes.  She is also a combat pilot (technically) and it would have been silly for me to skip out on that part of the change.  However, as I get back onto track to finish topping everything off to fives across the board I notice that becoming a maximized explorer takes some time.  And while a new player may not have to have fives across the board I wondered if the bar of entry might be a bit higher than it needs to be. 

There is already a precedent for these things.  Barges have become easier to access across the board.  Skills are being lowered from V to IV in other places.  There are still advantages to having a skill maxed out.  I am not even thinking of decreasing skill lengths. Yet, I do not think that does not mean adjustments may not be something that should be looked at outside of the basics 'spaceship' accessibility tree.

One of the five parts of the tutorial mission is the exploration missions string.  These missions introduce players to what the various exploration sites are named and 'look' like.  The player retrieves a certificate using a site appropriate module.  The hardest part of these missions is learning how to use the probes.

Exploration probes function on a three dimensional max.  3D is hard to explain in 2D.  There are not exploration videos that can also be watched but, sadly the missions string remains one of the most frustrating  unrewarding and unfriendly of the groups.  However, some are lured in by the possibilities and still wish to explore.

Recently, frigates were buffed and exploration frigates were brought up to a similar strength as Covert Operations (T2) frigates.  For high security space, where the sites are easier to find this eased some of the first barrier someone had.  A ship to scan with.  A ship with bonuses to scan.

To use the Magnate as an example it has a 7.5% bonus to its probes scan strength   This improves the ability of the probes to find and narrow down the site.  It also has a 5% bonus to the codebreaker, analyzer and salvager cycle timers.  This speeds everything up and speed is ISK in this game.

Comparing it to its T2 brother the Anathema one must remember that the Anathema is a Covert Ops frigate. It can fit a Covert Ops cloak which allows a ship to warp when cloaked.  The Anathema also has other bonuses but the exploration related ones are a 10% increase in the scan strength of probes.  It has a 10% reduction to survey probe flight time as well.  Useful enough but one of those, "Okay. Sure. Does anyone one use this?" type of skills on a ship.  

The Anathema does not have the 5% bonus to the codebreaker, analyzer and salvager cycle timers.  However, when one is using such a ship there would be a assumed suggestion that other relevant skills had been trained up to the point that the 5% bonus was no longer of interest as well as the other abilities of the ship overcoming them.

A T1 frigate may use two gravity capacitor upgrades.  This rig increases the scan strength of a ship by 10% each time.  This means that for high security space a T2 frigate is not an absolute must for scanning strength which is good.  It is good because ISK is a major barrier of entry.

I noticed that T1 probe launchers do not have any scanning bonuses to them.  T2 probe launchers have a bonus of 5%.  Faction launchers have a bonus of 10%.  T2 launchers take two weeks to train into.  Faction launchers take the same time as T1 launchers but easily cost 50 million ISK.  Should T1 launchers get a bonus?  Or should the ability to fit a 3rd gravity capacitor upgrade rig onto a T1 ship compensate for the 10% given by a faction launcher for a new player?

If one is going to go out and explore, starting in high security space and doing Ladar, Radar, Magnetometric and Combat sites they need to have the ability to use:
  • Codebreaker
  • Analyzer
  • Salvager
  • Probe Launcher
  • Probes
They will need to know Astrometics, Hacking, Salvaging, and Archaeology.  Each comes with a full set of prerequisite skills that will take a few hours to a day or two to learn.  Technically, with Astrometics along the new player is good to go.  However, that is like saying have at it with gunnery 1 and frigate 1.  Mission and be successful.  No.  They are advised to learn their support skills and this holds true for exploration. Then there are the support skills:
  • Astrometrics is a basic skill supported by:
  • Astrometric Acquisition : Skill at the advanced operation of long range scanners. 10% reduction in scan probe scan time per level.
  • Astrometric Pinpointing : Greater accuracy in hunting down targets found through scanning. Reduces maximum scan deviation by 10% per level.
  • AstrometricRangefinding : Skill for the advanced operation of long range scanners. 10% increase to scan probe strength per level.
  • Astronautics Rigging : 10% reduction in Astronautics Rig drawbacks per level. (also allows one to install grav rigs)
This is one of those points where skill points vs career come into play.  They are going to need some basic combat abilities as well as these specific modules. The skill spread for the items is also a bit broad.  Salvager's are one of the items that a player should be able to use immediately, if poorly.  Yet, its requirements cause the game to give the player a civilian salvager to not break up the timing it will take to use the regular salvager item.  Similarly, the codebreakers and analyzers are also scattered about in their basic requirements  yet each of these items is very important to the minimum needs of a new explorer.

And then there is the fact that exploration leans so heavily towards T3(Tech 3) or Strategic Cruisers because people wind up wanting is all of these on one ship.  Now, because each site has its own needs spare modules can be switched out without much effort.  A Radar site will only user a codebreaker and the hacking skill.  The Analyzer is not needed for this site.  The salvager is optional if the explorer wishes to salvage any wrecks that they may make.  The site may or may not have NPCs that guard the containers or spawn when the containers are interacted with.  

A Magnetometric site is going to potentially need a salvager and an analyzer  I often get sites that need either or item for the cans. I thought that the little pop up would be a fair warning but sometimes I need both.  Again, NPCs may be in the site and they may spawn upon can interaction.

Switching out fittings, not having a one size fits all ship option in the first week: That's Eve. I'm okay with these things.  A stream lining of the skills needed to access the equipment might not be a bad idea.  Exploration is a career on its own but it is not stand alone.  Combat skills, ship skills, and tanking skills are still completely relevant to someone entering an exploration career.

Then there are Ladar and Gravimetric sites.  These sites are both filled with harvestable materials.  Outside of high sec, Ladar sites may resolve into either a gas nebula or a combat site with booster materials.  Belt rats also spawn in both Gravimetric sites so normal mining precautions against such things are advised.  Some explorers find Gravimetric sites and attempt to sell them to miners.  If they will buy them, I don't know.  It is done at times and an idea.

I'd not seek to change the sites only smooth the accessibility for the newer player into the career.  It is highly competitive, and sadly filled with experienced people in complex, well skilled ships (let's say Tengu cuz that's what I mean) clearing the sites out in seconds.  I like the competitive aspect of it but because it is so competitive I wonder, should it be easier for new players to step into the competition.

Exploration is a very rewarding career. If it was not aimed at new players I'd probably not have sat here and looked over all the bits and pieces and wondered.  However, it is one of the five major tutorial strings.  I've held many a hand and walked them through those missions and listened to them spew hatred for it.  I was one that was so frustrated by them that I didn't start exploring for a long time afterwards.  I guess some would say good, less competition.  That's not my thing.  Maybe more new explorers cleaning out the shiny bits of high sec would push some of those systematic Tengu site clearers out and into more lucrative space.  (Not that I think that would ever happen because risk aversion).

Friday, January 25, 2013

Deciphering Decisions

[Must Serious Post for a moment]

Like elections IRL, the CSM elections have started to ramp up before the populace was quite ready.  As I flipped through the formal notifications for some of the runners I see that they stretch all the way back to November.

The CSM is an interesting institution in Eve.  Created as a player representative group to CCP they are voted in by the players.  The entire election system has become a series of campaign platforms by people who state the reasons they wish to run and the focuses they wish the bring to CCP in hopes of players voting on them.

The player population, similar to several real life populations, are often indifferent, uninformed and uninvolved in the election.  The CSM has come and gone but as the positions have aged so have they matured.  The history of turmoil and all that good dramatic stuff I won't get into.  I've only been around for a year and I'd have to rehash rehashed history.

The point is that the CSM is an elected board that communicates with CCP.  Agree or disagree, tinfoil or not, they are represented as picked by the players to represent the players.  If there is no representive from an area it says that the players may not be as vested in that area.  Truth or not it sends a message.  

The issue with a lack of participation from the player base causes the election results become lopsided.  People complain that they have no representation.  But did they vote?  Not feeling represented is the fault of those that did not vote for the people who might have represented them.  Yes, there is a chance that the person may not be elected but at least you can bitch in complete and smug comfort knowing that you made an effort to select someone.

I'm not going to do point by point comparisons of people.  That is not where my skills lay.  For me, I'm going to find the candidate(?) that are going to have focus in the area of the game that I am interested in.  I only hope that more people will do that and make their selections.  Low Sec had one representative for CSM7.  I've enjoyed my interaction with Hans and he brought various topics forward for low sec outside of faction warfare.  I'd like that again.  I also admit, I'd like enough people to take interest in the elections for what they are supposed to mean then seeing them as some type of trolling system for the game/CCP/other players and electing dead weights that bring nothing to the table.

On the table now is Marc Scaurus as the person who has stepped up to say he wishes to represent low sec.  I find I'm uncomfortable with saying it aloud but politics are an area I find no pleasure stepping into.  Yet, I must and I must look at these things and make decisions and hope that I can be pleased with my decisions at the end.  Marc has stated some background, some future, some focus and potential promises.  I'm flipping through his history and weighing my decisions.  The lovely thing about a blogger is that they tend to stream their history behind them for perusal.

Rixx Javix has already endorsed him.  When he leaves Amok. I can make a more solid decisions.  I won't throw my full support yet, but I am hopeful.  As for the Goonswarm link, I don't care.  I know that plenty of people have their whatever for whatever.  It's not my thing. I have no love and no hate for Goonswarm.  I'm fascinated by the emotional responses that they cause in many players but I do not share them.

Will others step forward?  I don't know. I'm watching, reading, and waiting.  We will see.  The reading material can be interesting.  Some of the proposals are mind boggling.  Injecting plex into structures?  Or candidates can go to Two Step for a lesson in eloquence

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Flight Feathers

This is the last of my little series of Year One achievements.  A year in Eve.  A year blogging.  And finally, a year in corp.

This is a history post.  Backgrounds, summaries  information, some thoughts, some events, a dash of mild drama all wrapped up in a review.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The World in Opposite

"How do I fit my ship to avoid PvP?"

If we were sitting at a table, I'd have just stared at him, wide eyed for a while.  As it was, my fingers slowed across my keyboard as my mind processed the information. I think my brain rebooted.  For one, I'm always startled and confused when someone comes to me for advice.  For two, it isn't the normal kind of question I am used to answering when I answer questions.

The running away part wasn't that hard.  I'm well versed in that.  It was running away and avoiding PvP.  As long as I've been tottering around low sec I've been taught to fit your ship for PvP and go down fighting.  I've died in a fire before.  I've died slowly.  I've died jammed.  I've sat there as I poured pure DPS hellfire out of my autocannons and didn't even scratch through reps as I died.

The next question might be my own post about my cloaky loki. The difference is, I'll still have a point on my Loki and should I face the situation I'll go down burning in a flame of pathetic brilliance.  I will then weep for my lost skill points.  But that is the choice that I made.

But, this person and this question is not me.  It is not about me. It is not about someone who wants to engage in PvP.  This is a career carebear with character's back in 2004 and for some reason knowing me for the last year has sparked his interest a bit in and for low sec.

We discussed nanos, we discussed stabs, we discussed dscan and sweet burning titans he doesn't really know dscan well.  I discussed watching for probes and since he normally duel to quad boxes, cloaky alts on gates to give him a bit more time to get out of his site.  I am teaching him how to avoid me to the best of my ability because that is what he asked for and that is what he deserves to get.

I don't know what I'm doing. I feel like I am throwing a lamb out to the wolves.  But that is just me being protective because he is my friend.  He's not a child and hes not an idiot.  We have the oddest conversations because he is Norwegian and his English is very good but... sometimes conversations get confusing.  Still, he is the same person that extended me a hand of friendship with a mining fleet my first week in.  He is the only person I've ever loaned ISK to and he has always paid me back.  He built me my ships when I could not build them for myself.  He has been a true friend to me and it is for me to be as true as I can back.

Why am I not trying to talk him out of it or tell him to learn to PvP?

Because it is his game.  It is not what he wants to do.  It is not that he has never tried.  It is that he has found other interests elsewhere.  I do not think that his choice to follow non-pvp paths in play should be penalized. He does not reject PvP. He does not rage against it and ask for it to be changed. He has been ganked before.  He shrugs and gets another ship.  He plays Eve and he plays Eve by Eve's terms not by terms defined by me.

I'm not trying to teach him PvP.  He has dipped his toes into those waters before.  He accepts Eve as Eve is.  If he wants PvP he will ask me about PvP.  He wants to run distribution missions for a group that mostly has the agents he wants in low sec.  He might even do some low level missions.

I wrote my bio almost a year ago.  It's a lot of my opinion on a lot of things.  I have many days where I feel a bit lost and confused.  I seek understanding on both sides so much that I occasional render myself confused as to my own opinion.  It is hard for me, as someone focused on the whys and not the wins to stay grounded sometimes.

Sometimes I read my own bio to remind myself.  I read it not to become swept away in the surge of other, more aggressive view points.  I read it because I believed it when I wrote it and I believe it now.  Sometimes the knowledge feels far away.  And through all of my personal frustrations as I play this game I do my best to remember the whys of things.
Everyone says that Eve is a sandbox.
I don't agree with that. I believe that Eve is a beach.
On one side is the ocean. It is an ever changing, fluid environment. that's PvP
On the other side is land. Its stable and solid and familiar and supports you. That's the life of a carebear. It's tempting to stay there.
But in between is the sand. And that's where worlds are created. It may be bordered by the two forces. That is balance.
On the beach are trillions of grains of sand. Each one is a choice, a decision, a moment, an instance, a chance to be used or discarded or bypassed or noticed. The ocean may pour over it and the land may shake it, but it is a flexible, fluctuating, ever changing world. It is the world that I mold.
That is my Eve