Friday, February 28, 2014

The Cougar Store: Celebrating a Year of the Cult of Reasonable Prices

The Original Goal

Last March I decided to take half of my liquid ISK and invest it in starting a low sec market. At the time, I had little to know idea about what I was doing. I had friends who were market traders and made billions a day. I had tried my hand at market trading in the hubs a few times but I often went away frustrated and burnt. I did not know what I was doing and while well off and comfortable, I was not a massively wealthy player with tens of billions of ISK to throw around on a whim.

I didn't care.

Now March comes around again and I have held this low sec market for a year.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Missiles Burning in the Night

I guess this complex is mine. I orbit the beacon, confused as to what happened and overlook the situation again. Not knowing how to approach FW I've just been approaching it by slamming headfirst into it. I'm a bit lonely. I'm used to having more company. While I can listen to my boys on coms it is odd not having them in space with me.

My Faction Warfare life is very different from the one I normally live. Slowly, I'm learning the names of the systems. I have dotlan up in the background and I'm determined to hover along the front line to increase my chance of meeting someone. It may have been a busy night because space was very empty of complexes. I wandered for a while but I am still leery of Tama. Eventually, I moved a few systems over and saw a suspect and a war target in system. There was a small complex and I decided to plunge into it and see what was up.

On field was a wreck and an Atron. I went after the Atron at full speed. MWD on, long point, missiles, damps, manual piloting. I hit him a few times and he warped off. Okay. I keep thinking I've dropped my point but my cap was fine so I guess stabs? I finished off the complex and went through to the next system. There, I went to another complex and found a war target Incrusus. He warped off when I arrived. Confused, I completed the plex helping to secure the States.

I did another one or two and then I went to dock. I haven't yet decided on how my skills will go. I have Rockets V finishing by the time I wake in the morning. I'm not excited by this. Once, I would have been but now I understand how badly my support skills are and how a shiny T2 icon will not fix the world for me. Most of my other skills are still terrible. My navigation tree makes me weep.

My methods for fighting in Faction Warfare are simple. I stick to Novice and Small plexes for now and attack or defend as needed. I'm made of glass but I spend little time worrying about it. My alt is not yet a month old. I cannot hold her next to Sugar as any type of measure. So I do not and in that I am experiencing things a bit differently.

I think, in the end, this adventure will change me. I think it has changed me. When I feel my hesitation kick in I push it down. The ship is already purchased. I can avoid fights all day long. Why worry? In this environment I am fighting alone and for the State. I chase out those who would attempt to subvert the States control or I face them in battle.

Mighty Condor, Burning Bright.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Textures and Terrains

"Oh Sugar, how are you going to fix low sec?"
"Dearest, I do not yet know. However, be secure in understanding that I will make bad ideas until I, or someone else, creates a good one."
Knowing something needs to be fixed and being able to fix it are two different things. The essential nature of low sec is not truely broken, in my opinion. It is undefined. The lack of definition leaves it floating a bit off to the side. When looking to define it we have to ask what it is.

What we call low sec is low security empire space. It is owned by the empires and is, to some degree, touched by Concord. Molden Heath for instance contains the most Concord stations of any region in the game. The fact that the empires hold sway has to be brought into account. Lore is a very useful tool to create with.

First, I started to look at some of the difference between Faction Warfare low sec and non-Faction Warfare low sec as actual areas of the game. I've never been a fan of turning all of low sec into faction warfare space. In faction warfare the empires are fighting along their boarder lines. I believe that Faction Warfare should exist along the lines of the empire as this territory is struggled over. It is a land of moving armies and bleak shattered landscapes. It is a warzone and should feel that way with air that tastes of burning hopes and raw violence.

However, away from that it is sensible that the warzone eventually ends and normal, poorly secured space forms. In fact, I think the interaction between non-faction warfare low sec and zero security space should be explored a bit more strongly. Without the militias patrolling the merge between the two becomes a bit more unformed and slippery. It would create a more natural flow as space changes and in general give space more character which gives players more areas that fit them to settle into.

Low sec has fighting. The opinion of the quality of those fights may vary from one person to another but the spaceship violance is notable. One of the things we are struggling with is adding non-fighting content to low sec. There is a delicate balance. This is not null security space but it is not high sec. Low sec must keep its danger. It cannot be safe to do anything anywhere inside of it. That is where the struggle is created. What makes an industrialist want to be in a situation where they are in danger all of the time? This isn't about those that thirst for combat, for they will seek it out. Some of this is just going to be the person. There is no amount of honey that can sweeten danger for some pilots. That is fine. We account for that pilot from our planning because we cannot create what that pilot wants. That must be acknowledged so that plans are not over run by trying to cater to everyone. The purpose of verity is to create choice not a singular super food. To create it we will destroy everything else and replicate what we already have. High sec.

Instead, people need to have a reason to travel and a reason to defend. Last year I was reading a lot of thoughts and comments on territory. It also follows the basic conversation about sovereign null sec where Alliances may hold vast swaths of unused space. People need a reason to be in the space that they are in. This reason can be strategic, commerce, interesting, or whatever else pops to the mind. In low sec, an area that is somewhat neglected but not quite free, what would bring people to it.

I like to use the vision of Oases. A place of prosperity inside of a bleak landscape. It is not large enough for a huge society to grow around it. I think that movement in and out of low sec is a key to its nature instead of a static state. However, we have few enough Oases now. Most are in the form of security missions or interesting access points in and out of a region. But, for the industrialist, how does one form an Oasis where they are willing to put assets out while feeling that they have some chance to defend them as well? With it being low sec the system cannot be locked down. But, if people are out in space watching and being careful they may feel that they can be productive in space. And I ask this because often people ask about things such as mining in low sec and I have to ask, "Are low secs belts just for decoration or do we want people to use them?" And some people do use them (I stare at Nosy Gamer here) but, the vast majority are untouched asteroid fields.

Enter my (bad?) idea for the day. I lost my phone when this sprang to mind. I do not know if that affects the quality of anything. I did find the phone but as I searched for it my mind was wandering productively. I thought about something I was explaining to a person about our home system was the neck of a pocket (before I realized that my phone has gone awol). That pocket was once home to a Kelts Alliance. The idea of pockets is an interesting one and a common way to have a bit more comfort in a system. I wondered, if we laid down the star map and used pockets or dead end systems could we create a varied terrain of options for people to use as a reason to set up shop? A system with only one entrance is somewhat defensible.

Last week, we didn't notice a fleet because of the mobile scan inhibitor. It was an interesting mistake and one we will not make again (hopefully). It does show that terrain (for this is what some mobile structures are creating) has a place in Eve.

The goal is to create a reason to put roots down but not so great that everyone is in one spot. A reason to deal with fights. For spaceship violence must always be a focus point. A reason for travel. It gets people into the middle and deep edges instead all cluttered in pipes and boarder systems. It may mean changing the layout of some reasons. If anything, Faction Warfare has shown that changing gate layout is not automatically a terrible thing. Eve's world map was created by a random generator. Inside of this idea it may be time to look over more regions and think of some structural (aka gate) changes would create more options and interests. Be it something that spawns, station services... things that somehow are interesting... I don't know yet what that may be.

The carrot is the stick.

And thus ends this installment of random idea.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Written in the Sky

An impromptu post written on my phone. That is why I have the blogger app installed.

I received a mail from a supporter of my CSM9 run. It contained an image link. Created by Comrade Blade, one of the instructors at Eve Uni and their low sec campus he decided to throw me some support on dscan.

Thank you.

Update: Got permission to name the creator.

Third Party Services

I was approached by two people that I know very well to be their third party in the exchange of a high value asset. I was rather honored. I was to be given a large mount of ISK and something expensive with the expectation to give it back. I of course, said yes. I then asked if I could write about it. They chuckled at me and told me that they expected that part.

It amused me. I was more excited to write about the happening than anything else. Some might wish to take said items. But, I've built a lot of my personal reputation off of trust. It's sometimes an awkward task considering the piracy and PvPing. Some people simply will never belief what I say because of it. And that is fine. Eve is a game with complex trust decisions. I've said it before but repeating myself is fun. There is a lot of trust in Eve. There is a lot of reliance. For every negative thing that happens to someone the chances are great more positive things have happen. It falls under the simple trait of human nature to magnify the negatives and dismiss the positives. As one of my co-workers loves to say, "You can build a hundred bridges but fuck up once and you're a fuck up forever." For every theft there are hundreds of trust transactions. For every tightly woven group who share and give and take freely and thoughtfully, the one time Vov wipes out a wormhole corporation suddenly, you cannot trust anyone in Eve.

Most of my boys buy blind from my store. I have established a level of trust with them and the market that they do not feel that they are being screwed over. They assume that they are not. This is something that I have earned. I earned it in the same way that I buy back mistaken purchases (from my corporation/friends/associates). The other day someone purchased 230 Navy Cap Booster 400’s instead of 30. I purchased the excess back. I’ve done it before for a typo where 5k ammo turned into 50k worth of ammo. I’ve purchased ships back people realized that they would not fly and I have special orders that corp members request because they use them regularly enough.

All of this is a back and forth of trust and communication between us. I have asked them to trust me. They have been given reason to trust me and given me that trust. I then do not abuse it because it is valuable to me. The return is appreciation which causes me to turn around and continue to do as I do and such we make a beautiful circle of amazing social interaction that brings tears to the eye.

It isn't a circle full of complete and total idealism. Intermixed with it is simple, intelligent behavior. It is similar to locking a car door. It is just smart to do. There may always be a day that there is an awox or corp theft. Someone may always smash out my window to enter my car. However, the basic measure of locking my door cuts 99% of the efforts. The simple act of not being an idiot cuts 99% of the problems in Eve as well.

I'm often asked how I feel about the scams and dark side of Eve. I'm fine with them. It is just not how I wish to play. I don't want to scam people. to be asked to buy and move a large amount of assets for someone with no collateral... to be asked to do a huge third party transaction... those things are where some of the fun in Eve is for me.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Send in One Sugar and I'll Double Her

The new capital wrecks are very, very cool. The shattered hulls are reminders of the destruction that happened. It is even better when they wrecks are not yours.

Today is a story of how I did something I've never done before. Sometimes, personal growth hits you all at once and today was one of those days.

I was working on stocking TCS. I had just gotten my headset situation corrected after an attempt to switch to a wireless headset last night. I was on coms just hanging out stocking my store and running Banished on a side monitor (I will discuss Banished on Downtime Hours). The boys were floating around. Some were looking for fights and some were doing PvP. We had no real fleet up and no real intention. I love days like that. We're all together, hanging around, playing the game in our little ways yet still an interlinked cohesive whole.

In Half a POCO was being bashed. Someone noticed a pod hop out and went to see what was happening. It appears that Kelts Alliance, a Russian Corporation of long history in Molden Heath was dropped by a BlOps fleet while reinforcing all the POCOs. The BlOps fleet lost several battleships and refit to carriers and dreadnoughts and dropped on the fleet.

As they waged dreadnought war we woke up. Pings hit jabber, we called people out of Dota2 and DayZ channels and the FC call was, "Get in fleet, get Guardians undocked! T3s, Armor Hacs! Get me DPS! Go go go!" Our fleet coalesced from nothing. People came screaming back into Istodard are full speed. Jump clones were activated. With two Guardians shipped the first part of the fleet undocked to go lock the dreadnoughts down. People logged in, another Guardian chased the fleet, T3s undocked and a link ship headed towards the system. In general the call was for, "More people" and we made that happen. Alts logged in. Someone called that they were en-route with an Armageddon. With the links already handled I looked at my alts window and stared at my Curse.

I have owned my Curse for a year and a half. It was a present given to me by Wet Rain of TEXN. I've wanted to fly it but Sugar has been busy. Last fall, I trained my alt, Blue Silk, into recons and up to five. I cross trained her into Falcons and Curse. I then, never used them and focused on Sugar. Silk has been a glorified cyno pilot for most of her life but in her own right she is a 43 million SP pilot who flies CovOps, Haulers, Freighters, Recons, and two T3s. She is a perfect scanning alt, a perfect exploration alt, a perfect recon pilot, and a fully trained link pilot. I've kept her in the background but she was my third character created with a 6 month side kick special when I was 6 weeks old just because I wanted an Amarr pilot. She was my primary money maker for exploration and an invaluable asset for supporting my other pastimes. And today, she entered into combat for the first time.

I switched into my Curse and undocked. I joined the fleet, reported that I had a Curse enroute and did something I have never done before. 

I decided to duel box the fight.

Sugar dropped onto the field in my armor HAC Loki. I anchored her up to orbit and started shooting primaries and webbing the ships. There was a Deimos and a Legion on the field along with a Thanatos, Moros, and Nagalfar. The capitals were all in siege/triage. I distributed webs and shot the primary as my Curse landed on field.

I've never flown the Curse before. I understand the basics. Neut everything, use my range to my advantage and my neuts as my weapons. I landed thirty off and started neuting as called. The Geddon landed as well and I learned how cap hungry the curse is. Our Guardians were amazing. They kept reps up, they stopped Dave from dying when the Nag finally landed a hit, and they kept my curse and the Geddon topped up. I kited my Curse for all I was worth and kept an eye on Sugar in her Orbit. Everything got neuted.

We killed the Thanatos. With their reps gone the Deimos bailed and we started shooting the Legion. The Deimos tried to land on top of our Guardians who hovered about 40k off the support fleet. I neuted the Deimos. Unless it was fitted with Projectiles it needed cap so I made sure that it didn't have any. I was also the closest point so I took care of that as well. The fleet finished the Deimos off and we switched back to the Legion. I decided Legion also needed cap. During this time Vand was logging in with a Phobos to take care of the pointing issue with the seiged dreadnoughts. An Ishtar appeared and we killed that as well. 

With the subcaps off the field we started shooing dreadnoughts. An ibis warped in which we popped in case it was a Cyno. An Enyo also appeared and died in a similar fashion. With everything pointed we ground away at the Moros. Kelts sent a Sleipnir to the field which we loosely aligned with. I think we accidentally killed their Keres but well... if it isn't purple... However, the poor Sleipnir popped under the Naglfar's guns. Our Guardians had him prelocked and he vaporized before their eyes. I was shooting with Sugar and keeping things cap dead with Silk. The Nag kept trying to shoot me and I just kept moving. The Moros died and we started in on the Nag. About halfway thorough the Nag dropped a depot. I called it and started to shoot it. We popped that before it went online and killed the Nag who kept trying to blap my curse. He was switching between me and the Geddon and landed a few solid blows on the Geddon. The Geddon hit his microwarp drive and left the field while the Nag missed me and I kited around and we worked him down.

Pop. About thirty minutes from start to finish and we were holding the field.

On Station a Hurricane bumped our link ship who had dropped links earlier when combat probes where out. He then engaged the link ship who was, surprise, surprise, tanked. The fleet landed on him and poof went the Hurricane. We then went back to hold our field and the rest of us reshipped alts or logged in new ones to clean up.

I've been asked several times since I started my CSM run about making money in PvP. Logging in haulers and cleaning the field and scooping all of the drones and fighters is how you make money. We walked away with a billion ISK in loot from that fight which we will split across the fleet or just give to the corp since we had no losses. I often see ISK just left out in space. Eventually, someone will clean it up or it will just despawn.

Once I dropped off the last Templar and docked in the stations I leaned back and said, "Holy shit." Did I really just dual box that fight? I have no idea what came over me. I decided that today, I was undocking and I was going to go all into that fight ISK, and losses be damned. I didn't care that I didn't know what I was doing. I had a pretty good idea and suddenly, today was the day to put it on the field.

I think my Faction Warfare fight last night gave me a tremendous confidence boost. It has never been about winning or losing for me but how well I do in a situation. When I took the fight last night and spent about fifteen minutes making all of the decisions until the other pilot left instead of finishing killing me, I was surprised. I was also surprised at how I knew what to do. I'm not calling myself a baller solo pilot at all but I have been out on the field doing spaceship combat for two years. It seems that, indeed, things have sunk in.

The total story (as I understand it) is interesting. Kelts was bashing a POCO with dreads when Immortal Wings BlOpsd in. They lost three BlOps Battleships and came back to drop Kelts and take down a Kelts dread. We then third partied in while the locals whos POS was being shot attempted to get on all of the kill mails. It makes for a messy battle report.

I absolutely love this type of brutal messy fighting. These are not everyday fights. They do not have to be. It's moments of intense excitement where local is quiet and everyone is focused. And no matter how it goes you know that it could easily be you on ehter side of the kill board.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

CSM: Running for Office: Week One

They say that to firewalk sucessfully you have to keep going. Be calm. Stay focused. Keep moving towards the goal. I may have learned to firewalk this week.

I decided that I would lump the CSM stuff into one post a week. That way I could load the post through the week while the rest of my blog had to stay focused on all of the other random things that come to mind. It also creates a side project that will follow my running process. Last year we had a pre-election which narrowed down the list to those seriously running. There was an application period This year, we do not yet have the rule list but I suspect it will be similar. It also means that not everyone who speaks up to run may be able to run in the final race (depending on number).

When I put my "I'm running" post up in Jita Park Speakers Corner I am not sure what I expected. I spent a day and a half wavering between posting and waiting, posting and waiting. It is similar to those days when you get somewhere before anyone else and start to wonder, “Did I get the timing wrong?” But I was burning with excitement. I had made a decision and I wanted to move from there.

It went in what might be called a different direction. My nervous energy won and I posted my thread first. I wanted to wait for someone else to post. But, time was ticking down, February was half over and no one had posted. I had decided and spent two weeks scratching away at what I hoped was a reasonable entry into the arena. I hate sitting once I am ready to go and finally I gave in and dove in to much nervousness and butterflies in the belly.

I shared the link and I went to bed. In the morning I had a few questions. They were tough questions. I set up a google folder and placed each question into a separate document so that I could focus on them and write them without the forum eating them. I figured that I would work on them with free time at work and that evening.
There were a lot of questions and a lot of "how will I fix this, what would I suggest for that, how would I make this happen." If I could but change the world and direct CCP. But, the current CSM members jumped in to comment that the CSM advises and suggests but does not control.

In my mind I had pictured something along the lines of my going on about how if this is a community focused topic that it needs to be brought to CCPs attention along with lists of suggested action plans and resolutions as well as reasons why it is a problem. It is why I change my 'interest' list from 'agendas'. Agenda sounded like I was going with a mission to fix this handful of stuff that I wanted as my pet projects. A perfect example of this is boosters. Boosters are a pet project that I am interested in but with everyone pointing at :cloaky stabbed frigates in Faction Warfare” boosters go off to the side. It is nice that I like them but it isn't Sugar Online.

But once I started, things just started to flow. I was humbled by the amount of support that I received and overwhelmed with gratitude. People had taken the time to read what I said. Others, who have followed my adventure in this game also responded. And for those that did not know me, I felt that they would give me the chance to become known.
I’ve written my blog from my earliest days to my current. I’ve laid out my thoughts and habits out through these pages. But, not everyone has read my blog and I did not feel that telling people, “read my blog” was a good answer. I started from scratch and answered the questions as I would answer them on my blog or in a chat. After all, these questions would show people who did not know me a bit about who I was.

What I saw was that the residents of low sec were passionate about low sec. That it is a large, intricate, passionate community with a lot to say and a lot that is wanted. I learned that other’s felt as ignored as I did and the ideas, desires, hopes, wants, complaints, and solutions poured out. I gathered them up. I made a google documents folder and started organizing and sorting the questions and information. It flowed. I am not yet on the CSM but I will prepare as if I have won the seat. The information people are sharing is too valuable to lose.

There have been many, many things to do in just a week. I am not sure I’ve ever been quite this busy in game. I was invited to the Amarr Tea Party for an interview and then to the Capsuleer run by Angry Gamers Inc. I’ll have a third interview with Cap Stable in the near future. They have extended offers to all of the CSM candidates. The interviews are something I am just running with. I have never been interviewed for things. I’ve always kept my thoughts to my text but some people wish to hear what I have to say. I think that is fair. I am, after all, asking them to listen to me and consider supporting me. It is not unreasonable for me to take these generous offers to speak about what I am so passionate about.

It is strange for me, taking them. I’ve never been one for self promotion. I link my blog to my bio and signatures but I write so often that I feel strange posting everything I write to twitter. Some days I write two to three posts and depending on my mood I may post them or schedule them for the future. I have no talent in sales. When I want something, be it article or knowledge, I go after it. It leaves me a bit puzzled about how I am supposed to ‘sell’ myself. But, that to, I shall muddle through.

My corpmate, Kooba, translated my CSM post into German and posted it on the EveGer forum. The boys spam “Sugar Kyle for CSM” when they are out roaming. I have visitors to my chat who want to see what I am like day in and day out. A week in and it has already been a wild ride. I’ve never been in this position before. But, I think I’m steaming along quite well.

I’ve caught up with my thread. There is an entire field of candidates now. I have a few more threads to answer but I decided to sit and ponder the posts. I have written a lot this week and more than one person has told me that they don’t want me to burn out with my excitement. I take that advice to heart. I to do not wish to become a burnt out husk of myself. And so, whenever I’m stressed I have a simple fallback.  I stop, take a break, and play Eve Online. It’s working rather well.

Oh yes... I almost forgot. My boys... oh my boys. They are spamming "Sugar Kyle for CSM" after every fight and gank and naming their ships after me so that the wrecks will be named. A rolling wave of violent advertising is my corporation. I can only smile and laugh.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

In the Defense of the State

All bundled up in the war zone I unpacked my ships and started to fit them. My newbie makes me grin. I picked up meta items here and there but I left her fits very cheap. I have decided that it is time to learn missiles. I hugged the mail that Naoru sent me with his missile lists (it is also my stocking list) and stalked Kaeda and Wex for loss mails. I needed warzone fits. Not Jaguars. Not cruisers. T1 missile boats that would burst into flame under gateguns.

I learned, that being a newbie is hard. I needed skills. All the lovely fits that I had, I could not fly. I do not mean that I could not fly them in reference to the T2 fits. I was going to drop down to T1 and cheap meta gear. While I might not be effective, I would be properly fit. No, I learned that I couldn't not fit things.

Capacitors management, I needed that. Rigs? I couldn't use a single one. Oh, Jury Rigging 3 is going to be another eight hours from now. Okay, I'm all set? Guess who cannot use Micro Auxiliary Units. No worries, Astronomics is only another twenty minutes away. Keep at it. My entire first day was sunk into just getting into my ships. I was tempted, horrible tempted, to undock in something not fully fit. I bit back the exasperation that caused such blasphemy to bubble up into my mind and I plugged in skillbook after skillbook.

Let me admit my next hiccup. I fit the wrong launcher onto my ship. I was so frazzled trying to get things to work that I didn't realize until I tried to load rockets into a light missile launcher what I had done. Sigh and back to the station. I refit and undocked and went back to the warzone for the very first time.

That was when I realized I didn't have my overview together. I warped to a planet, aligned off, and spent some time putting that into a better state. From there, I went to my first Novice Plex. Now, for those who do this every day it is an old game btu for me it is very new to do it from this side. I know to warp to 10k but beyond that, I was going all in.

Missiles loaded and guns blazing I burned in and chased down the NPC and killed it. It involved changing ammo and using my web but I was up to this task. I killed it eventually and started orbiting the structure and clicking dscan nonstop. I wasn't going to run, I was going to fight when it came down to it. An Enyo on scan... is it coming for me? Enyo off scan... ahh yes Novice plex T1 only. I'm a true novice at this but oh how the anticipation was starting to burn. Someone would eventually try to come kill me.

I tapped dscan and read Militia chat and watched my timer go down until, boosh! Captured that beacon I did!
Loyalty points awarded for militia effort
From: State Protectorate
Sent: 2014.02.21 21:25
In recognition of your effort to secure our strategic facility in the contested system of Ishomilken, State Protectorate grants you 733 loyalty points.
I am not only amazing I get mail to tell me that I am amazing. It even told me in local that I am amazing.

I did another Novice and watched the ships buzz across the system. From there I headed to the next gate and into a whole new world. With only one other person in system and nothing on scan I decided to be bold and take out the small complex. Look at me moving on up in the world. The timer went from 8 mintes to a bit more. The destroyer was tough for my newbieness. When I proudly told Wex what I had done he explained to me that I was hurting my faction standing by killing the NPCs because they were friendly. Friendly NCPs? I was ashamed. My bloodlust for red crosses had blinded me. My piratical roots were showing through.

Armed with a good dinner and a determination to lose ships I decided to venture deeper into the warzone. I knew there was someone who would blow my Condor out of the sky. I just had to find them and look tempting. I went to dotlan and studied the war zone map. Armed with a plan I moved deeper into the warzone.

With my eye to the map I skimmed in closer until I was two jumps outside of the front line (at least thats what I think it is) and saw an orange star in local. It was on! I warped to a Novice plex and started to orbit my heart out. This was one plex that would be defended.

And, after a few minutes, in warped a Federation Navy Comet. Orange star! Enemy in sight! Holy shit. It's on. This is me. All alone with battle at my feet. Honorable solo faction warfare combat to protect my plex was happening and it was happening now!

I locked up the Comet and burned for him. In the back of my mind I decided that he was probably going to be a blaster boat. I set an orbit at 10k and discovered rockets are not exactly projectiles. I pointed, webbed, and damped him. I also forgot scripts. Whoops. I then tightened my orbit and began to kite in and out beating him with my Caldari Navy Inferno Rockets. I chewed apart his shield and hit armor and almost nothing happened. He was landing an occasional hit as I nursed my MWD for cap. At some point I ran out of rockets and had to reload. I was down to 35% armor when I decided that I might as well regain some and make him work for the kill.  This Novice Plex would not fall!

I kited out to 15k and did a lazy orbit as I held a point on him and waited for my shields to regen. He was crated in December of 2013. A few months older than I was and probably better prepared. I bet he did not finish Capacitor Management II this morning to fit his a Micro Aux like I did. Fine. This was going to be a real fight and I wasn't just going to lay down and die. I nursed my microwarp drive usage. I kept it off except for when I was using it to push outside of his blaster range. He never pointed me but I left the point on him. After all, this was MY complex and I was defending it to the end.  My shields were back to about 70% and I was feeling good about going in and trying to brawl it out a bit more when he warped out.

Oh. I stared at my decycling point. Well then...

I blinked and told him in local I was going to fight again once my shields were up. He responded in Russian and according to Google translate he said, "lacked speed". Oh well. I docked and repaired and went back to my plex. I conquered it and boldly flew into a small with the intent to own it as well (and hopefully have someone come kill me).

I captured another complex and frustrated, went to feed the dogs. I returned and dove deeper into the warzone and picked a system with neutrals and enemies to dive into a Novice plex.

There I met a suspect Atron waiting on the warp in. He is my size! Yay! I found myself webbed, pointed, and in half shields before I finished locking. T2 rails. I'll remember that next time. It looks like I need some locking skills. Eventually, I pointed and webbed back, burning furiously as I died terribly in another two shots. I was even podded. If I had not tried to warp to a wreck I'd have been okay I suspect. The derp cost me my blank rookie clone.

So... 18k LP richer and one Condor down ends my first day in defense of the state.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Moving House

Susan Black wrote a terrific blog post about colonization and new horizons. It is a popular theme and one that CCP has hinted at. I read it and thought about the fun of that adventure and then I thought about the logistics involved in moving house into a new area such as this.

But, by moving house, I meant upending my corporation and getting all of our stuff there.

Calamitous-Intent has a home system. It is the place where all of our things are. It is home. The place where you know every gate and have a hundred deep safes. You can count how long it will take you two get from one spot to another and do it without even looking at the screen. Home is a concept in Eve and one that many share. It may be a wormhole or a piece of space branded with an alliance name.

Some of us never leave home. I spent my first year in Klingt and its surrounding system. We moved to Bosena when RANSM and 7-2 vacated it. But, we did not officially leave it until ROFL came in with planetary conquest and took over the system with almost a hundred pilots logged in. We left, and I was sad when it happened. I was even homesick for a while but eventually we settled into Bosena and it became home. 7-2 lives two systems over and even now many of us live between Bosena and Istodard. Still, that chunk of space is home with all of its comforts and familiarity.

If (or when) CCP opens up new space, how will we get there?

There is the romantic notion of shipping up and shipping out. Yet, I am a practical person. The handling of a large chunk of the corporation logistics renders me as such. I am the person who figures out how to get stuff into the hands of my boys. A lot of my time is spent collecting and figuring out what they need and making sure they have it when they need it.

In Susan's image it is a single pilot exploring. It is beautifully drawn. But, I realized that I cannot see myself alone in that way. Even as I smiled at it the back of my mind said, "But where is everyone else?"

What if CCP did make a goal such as that. If it was a land focused more on the individual wanderer. How many would let go of their current ties and how many, like me, would find themselves unable to go. I could not leave behind what I have. And, I think that is a very interesting and fantastic concept. I think that it would force changing decisions from people. I think many, many people would be willing to take that path and go at it to discover what is there. I think colonization is a major draw and one that people who do play Eve would find unbearably appealing.

And it would change things.

A Step Back to go Forward

Let's revisit the past...

There is a thread on the forums called, "Loot Spew 4 months later". It is a thread dedicated to the scatter can mechanic that was introduced in Odyssey. This was part of a two step change to Data and Relic sites inside of the exploration container. Pre-Odyssey, one had a code breaker or data analyzer module. These would run like salvagers done and eventually win their roll and unlock the container. At that time the pilot scooped the goodies and went on their way.

Like many activities in Eve, it was not very interactive. It was a point, click, wait, receive bacon action. As part of an effort to bring more interaction into Eve and less watching, CCP created the hacking mini-game and the loot scatter mechanic.

I tested and played with both of them a good deal, pre-Odyssey. Exploration was my primary income stream at the time. I walked away rather unhappy with the system. The hacking mini-game is a matter of personal taste. With max skills I rarely lost a game. However, mini-game did not hold my personal interest but that does not make it bad. Most people liked it or were indifferent with little outright hate.

The second change was to the actual loot. Containers, for those that do not know, can be scanned with a cargo scanner. This was useful to see what was inside of the can and if it was useful. However, CCP decided that when the can was hacked it would throw out some amount of small canisters that the player would have to click on. The goal was social game play with more cans than one person could capture. This was best circumvented by bringing friends. Mixed with the new, ease of access of the discovery scanner to find sites Exploration became a much more new player friendly activity.

lmost universally, the scatter containers were hated. They did not appear on the overview. The overview is how we interact, efficiently, with a lot of our large, three dimensional environment. The goal of the scatter containers was to make us pay attention and interact with space. Double clicking to hoover them in with a new beam that all of our ships were refitted with somehow during the patch.

Why was it so disliked?

Many, many reasons. Exploration has long been a very solo activity. Many people make their income from it and bringing friends means decreased income. "Oh, so selfish?" Yes, actually. Players need a particular amount of ISK intake to maintain themselves. Sharing is great but unlike missions which are reliable, exploration is not. Drops can be amazing. We all brag about the amazing drops. But they are not every day. I have gone a solid month with no drop over twenty million ISK.

Second was simple rage. We had scanned down the site. We had hacked the canister. We now watched our loot wink out of existence. I had to retire my Legion because it was not agile enough to gather many canisters. Eve players want their stuff and once that site is scanned, hacked, and opened watching stuff vanish was awful.

The third reason was mechanical. Not everyone plays on large screens at desk setups. Laptops, smaller screens, they all suffered from the clicking and grabbing. In general, it was seen as not fun. There were other reasons. Forum post after forum post was made. A lot of it was assumed to be fear of change. Screaming started very quickly. CCP endured it. Sometimes change is painful. And, sometimes change is actually bad.

I don't think anyone became fond of the scatter containers. They tweaked and changed them to make them more catchable. They leaned towards abandoning the massive numbers that were lost. They shrank the size of the loot items because people were losing things due to maximized cargo holds. The mini game was tweaked. A lot of people gave up exploration. A lot of people continued to explore. But the scatter containers were not loved. Many considered them a punishment and not something to interactively enjoy. The intent was there but the reward was not.

I stopped exploring. Before Odyssey I stocked up on CovOps frigates. I spent a few days doing the new sites, I made some ISK, and then the market tanked.

You see, the side effect of making something more accessible is that it is more accessible. With Odyssey the price of salvage and T2 salvage plummeted. With that plummet rig prices fell. It had an interesting effect of T2 rigs becoming cheaper and the new Capital Rigs not costing ungodly billion each as was originally estimated.

But loot spew was unloved. When ghost sites were introduced in Rubicon they did not come with scatter containers. And today, it is official. CCP_Affinity has confirmed that the scatter containers will be removed in the near future (hopefully summer).

I am happy. I walked away from exploration. The mechanic became unfun for me. I went from spending the first few hours of my day scanning to all of my scanning ships gathering dust. While I did not like the mechanic and spoke up about my distaste I am pleased that it has been reviewed and will be removed.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Contact Sucess

Last night I was invited to the Angry Gamers Inc Podcast. We chatted Eve for an hour and a half or so before my internet connection said "No" and crashed.  As soon as my husband came home it started to behave. I may not be able to allow him to go out anymore. It's a sad day, but internet spaceships are serious business and sometimes a relationship has to weather the storm. I appreciate them having me on.

Anthony (my newbie) had a lot of fun being in the twitch chat and asking questions and making friends. Gregarious creature he is. One of the things I brought up was the Hyperion that I mailed the other day. It was all part of reaching out to people thing. Well, right after the podcast ended I got a message from his CEO:
Hey there,
I just wanted to thank you for offering those tips to one of my new corp members. I didn't know he was traveling into low-sec as of yet and that was a very good lesson for him. 
It was a lovely way to end the day. He may not have wanted to mail me himself but I'm glad that he took the information and his CEO contacted me.

Contacting people in Eve is the proverbial box of chocolates. Sometimes you open it up and find out that there isn't a single piece of dark chocolate in the box. That means you just have to try again and maybe go to the store yourself. I'm pretty sure I have the analogy correct.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Soft and Hard Tools

On Christmas Day I wrote about the Corruption of Ideals. This was my own way of celebrating the relationships I have built in Eve. The acquisition of Robinton and Floyde have been nothing but good for 7-2. They are amazing players but more importantly they are amazing people. Their addition to my day is nothing but a net positive. I celebrate. I celebrate their fall from grace into my world. I celebrate selfishly for I have come to adore these two and the time that I have with them.

But with a theft comes a loss. That loss was not to me, for I am the thief. That loss was to the environment itself. Low sec is a place of constantly battles between people who are not allied. It is a place to hunt any who wander in and fail to defend themselves through awareness or strength.  It is semi-lawless space and because of that it is also semi-lawful. It is a place where almost everyone is a predator and every predator is prey.

A third or so of the members of 7-2 where once anti-pirates. And at one point in Eve's time frame, anti-pirates where very common. But many fall. The mechanics of the game fight against them. The nature of the game fights against them. Exhaustion claims them and game play drives them. Of course not all fall, but many do. The game doesn't support them after all. And, as I've been writing and writing and writing about low sec of late and casting around my net to scoop up the magical definition, I've started to ask what we are missing as much as what do we need.

There is an entire group of players who would like to fight more and who do not and cannot due to game mechanics. They are people who would love to become anti-pirates. It was my interactions with Faction Warfare that made me start thinking about this. Very often I heard that Faction Warfare gives a player a reason to fight. They can pick a side and have something to fight for and against. Not everyone who would fight or who would enjoy fighting wants to fight just to fight.

Outside of faction warfare, where do we have this? We have the anti-pirates. Those who would love to fight against the pirates. For we are outlaws, are we not? We have rejected the rules of high sec until high sec has rejected us back. We refuse to leave the empire but we live on the edge of it. We prey on anything that we can find, for good or for bad. Our own natural enemy is our own kind.

Should their be Vigilantes? White Kings? Those who seek to exterminate us?

When I first started writing my thoughts said that yes, it would be a natural balance. Good vs bad and et all. But before I moved into the range of directly supported vigilantes I had a little horrible vision. If there was a defined 'good' guy would that cause the current 'bad' guys to band together instead of continuing in their predatory state? I stopped toying with the idea of good and bad and started to wonder if it would unintentionally create sides and subconscious allies that would shatter the current predatory cycle.

My entire idea shattered into a thousand, unconnected letters and tumbled down around me.

I think that avoiding good and bad will always be the best decision. Instead, one should look at sides and decisions. One thing I dearly love is a good where the story of both sides is told simultaneously. For each side the other is evil and to each side they are good. I've often puzzled over Faction Warfare as one side insults the other (in good humor and not). But the why of it is quite simple. They are the other side. The not us. Non-FW low sec exists in a similar fashion. The us is the corporations and alliances. The them is everyone else.

And the reasons? Well they each belong to the person that has them. For whatever reason they have them. They are all part of the interpersonal matrix that makes Eve such an interesting game.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Hand the Harms Helps

I finished the tutorial missions on my alt. It took me a tad bit of time but I have graduated with five million ISK and a recommendation to join Faction Warfare. So, I'm going to go do that. For a bit, I was debating doing the utter newbie thing. I then decided I was dumb. I already have to deal with no skill points and doing lots of new things. I decided not to handicap myself by not using my ISK as well. When I first decided on this venture I thought that maybe I should use one of my randomly trained and never used combat alts. I decided not to. After all, faction warfare is suggested to my in the advanced tutorial missions. It is obviously a place for brand new players.

I also had an ulterior motive. I needed to move a Dramiel that I purchased at the wrong station in Jita to the correct station to ship it down to Teon. Shady, shady behavior, I know.

I've written a lot of notes about the tutorial missions. In general, I feel that the state of them is very good. I've learned to use the radial menu, scanning is a lot easier. There is a lot of explanation. People are skipping it. Also, they have a lot of items outlined in space these days at he start. Eve has a problem with being a pretty game. It's interactable graphics look like the background graphics of other games.

I have little complaints:

  • Double clicking in space is not mentioned.
  • Asteroids should be on the overview already
  • Most objects should be selected by default
  • The skill book giving is better than it used to be without as many duplicates. It still should drop the first book in the chain if it is going to give the rest of them out like candy.
  • The Sisters of Eve Epic Arc needs a bigger "go try this"

Thinking on things, I wonder if a criminal tutorial would not be out of line. One that discusses things like the suspect flags and stealing in a 'civilian' way. Explanations of the safety button and all of that. Vov asked me a question about that on my thread and I discussed how I'd love for the Captain's Quarters to be interactable. Now, while its late and I've already answered I get the idea of a criminal tutorial chain.

I was all set to load myself up with goodies when I got distracted by the sounds of a mission runner scanned down in a site two systems away. Sarah went first in an interceptor. He landed the initial tackle and I was behind him in a Jaguar. The Hyperion launched three drones and I got a little sick feeling in my stomach. Three drones. I killed the drones and we killed the Hyperion and I saw that it was a two week old player in a battleship, in low sec.

I felt rather bleh. I'm not doing anything wrong. Still, a two week old player in a battleship is a poorly advised player. I started to write him an eve mail. It is always hit or miss writing these kinds of mails. How much advice? How to say it? How will it be taken?

As I started to compose, Vand scanned down a Maelstrom in Bosena. We turned and raced the opposite direction and created the exact same situation. This time, the Maelstrom was a more experienced player. He sent Vand a mail saying "Sorry he could not give a better fight." Vand scripted a few words of advice to watch his dscan to not get caught.

I went back to my letter. It isn't perfect but it is something.  I went for a mix of advice and tips. Screaming, "Don't fly a battleship!" is solid advice but if someone is going to insist on flying them (and they often will) maybe a better way to do something bad?
I’m mailing you regarding your Hyperion loss. This is not an attempt to mock or harass you but to give some advice. You appear are a brand new player and I often write mails such as these. If you are not new please disregard this. 
Bringing a battleship into low sec is often a poor decision if you are inexperienced. The reason is because corporations like mine. The large size of the battleship makes it easy to scan down with combat probes. The slow speed makes it hard for you to escape when we send small, fast ships after you to hold you down for the rest of the fleet.
The dscan or directional scanner would have shown you the probes. That way you know someone is hunting you. You can make a decision to stay or to wait.
A large microjump drive allows you to get 100k off of the warp in spot. This gives you more reaction time when player pirates appear. Low sec requires situational awareness. With a bit of it you can avoid groups of roving pirates. The mantra bigger is not better is very true in this game. 
At two weeks of age it is advisable to avoid the battleships, especially in a situation where you may come in contact with player combat. For player to player combat a frigate is a better starting point. For missions, leave the battleship in high sec and try something smaller and faster or a lower level mission. Exploration is also excellent income in low sec and can be done in a frigate.
Please be safe and be aware.
We also wound up ransoming the pod for the Maelstrom. Vand did a lovely job and he paid up. We unlocked him and let him go on his way. Full of PvP I went back to my shopping and shipped my alt off to the warzone for new adventures.

Monday, February 17, 2014

TCS: A Cultists Thoughts

Croda (Markets for ISK) has made a list of Business Blogs and he was kind enough to put me on it. I felt a bit embarrassed. The type where you rub your toe back and forth and go, "Gee, me?"

I've been working on the TCS year end post. It is not very exciting work. Mostly, I am taking screen shots of various regional market graphs. I am very pleased with them. But, with my first, conscious deployment of the CIMM and the results of 1.2 billion ISK, I was feeling a bit down.

I wasn't down that CIMM made money. I was down because 1.2 billion ISK is the type of ISK that many people sneer at and call space poor. It isn't that I am ashamed of the amount. It is 1.2 billion ISK I did not have at the start of January. It was that I worried about my Cults message.

The reason that I started calling my market practice the Cult of Reasonable Prices is because I was more interested in the social side of the experimenter than the ISK side. The ISK side was important but it was not at the top of the venture. When I started with TCS my goal was just not to lose money. That is often my goal in the ventures that I start.

But here I had been listed as a place to think or learn about making ISK and in a month I made 1.2 billion while he made oodles more. I'd like to make oodles but the path I've taken means that my oodles, are oodles of noodles. The poor, collage student's fare.
What is TCS? TCS is a social project. It is about improving the lives of those around me because improving their game life improves my own. It is also a part time project. That was what I was missing and one of the reasons my results are not as spectacular as those I consider 'real' traders.

Low Sec isn't where you go to find the best market hub. It is not where you go to dump all of your goods. Khori cannot get a high enough consumption in Molden heath for his T2 production turn around. Nor is Bosena fast enough to feed traders used tot he nectar of Jita et al.

What it is, is a place, where a motivated individual can create a steady and reasonable income part time. Someone such as myself who is a resident of low sec but not defined in any one particular way.

Of course, as a Cultist, I want to preach my message. The CIMM showed that maintaining a market is reasonable enough to bring in ISK. At 1.2 billion ISK I can replace the ship losses I received while we were deployed with left overs. I can give myself a viable income while providing a service which improves my general life. I need to make pamphlets for this religion of mine. The store could support a player's PvP. That entire concept must be a success. But, pamphlets may help me spread the word.

For now, I have finished my buy orders and written a stack of contracts to get it moved. In the morning, restocking. But that will be the morning.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Song of Stuff

I am going to be bluntly honest.

I am one of those people who are fond of their stuff.

I'm not ashamed.

I like it.

It's mine.

I have most of my income tied up in my assets. I believe that is familiar for the bulk of Eve. A few weeks ago, Silver was liquidating assets and commenting that he finds it pleasant. I looked at my asset list, something that is becoming mildly horrifying and full of lag and disagreed.

On Thursday, I moved back to Isto a few days before the official move op. I knew that I would be working the weekend. With the move planned, roughly, for Saturday the chances of it being done during my work hours where quite high. I didn't want to spend the evening trying to catch cyno chains during one of the games busiest days. I packed up my stuff, solicited Kaeda for a cyno in Isto. With the death of cynos and the time to have small funerals over their wrecks it took about an hour to empty Nalvula.

Sugar needs to improve her cyno skills. It was a pain getting her set up to run the cyno. She has the skill. All of my in space characters do. But, she needs cyno to four.  It is at one. I am somewhat embarrassed for an unknown reason. Still, it took three trips to get me home. It took five to head out. I came back with a few things I didn't leave with (Talos and Prophecy). I also came back with many fewer Jaguars than I left with. I was down to my last one.

Now I am back home with all of my stuff. My stuff does not include spare implants. I will need to buy a new set due to a particular hot drop my first weekend in Nalvula. I still have plenty of LP and will pick up a set as soon as I remember. Of course, it is not optimal. I'll do it anyway. At the rate of my forum responses, that may not be till Monday. Even after being gone for a month, somehow my Isto hangar for Sugar has climbed in value. It is around 12 billion in hulls now. I swear I am losing them faster than I am acquiring them but I am starting to wonder. Plus, Silver and Altaen and their praise for liquidation has made me start to consider thinning out my hulls.

I made a lot of ships for Odyssey. Battleships were going to gain a bump in mineral cost. i wanted to avoid that and felt clever by spending a bit of time and ISK building myself a set of battleships I was interested in. Fast forward eight months and I have undocked a battleship around six times. Plus their warp speed has made the boys give up Battleship Sundays.

Maybe its time to ship some of them off to a trade hub. I did sell one to Ren, but I don't need nine Armageddons and three Apocs and this random stack of Megathrons. Well, I'll keep the Megas and the Tempests but thin down the rest of the herd.

I also have a Rawrcat fleet to plan. It would be a good transference of ISK from battleships to Jaguars.


Additional: On Friday, amid everything else, I did a interview with Med Lacroix. It's my first time being interviewed but he held my hand and we chatted about PvE and Newbies. It's fifty minutes of my rambling (while trying not to cough and often failing). Being interviewed is pretty nerve wrecking, I will admit. For those that wish to listen:

P.S. In this interview there is a discussion about "stuff after the tutorial missions". When talking I was just dredging around my brain and I didn't give proper credit to Chirality Tisteloin because we had that discussion together.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Sugar Kyle for CSM9

Posted to the Eve Online Forums:

I’m Sugar Kyle, a two year player of Eve and a two year resident of low sec. I’m going all in for CSM9 on a basic platform of being a representative for low security space and the people that live there. Low sec is a vibrant facet of Eve and one that I’m here to support. A low sec representative was missing from CSM8 and my goal is to not have this happen for CSM9.

I am a member of Calamitous-Intent, a small gang PvP corporation of semi-nomadic nature that bases out of Molden Heath. I have spent the bulk of my time in eve in non-faction warfare low security space. Many would label me as a pirate or outlaw but small gang PvP would be my area of PvP activity.

I do more in low sec than spend my time looking for explosions. I run a market in low security space. I disliked the fact that everyone in the region had to jump into high sec to do basic shopping at a station. I put my ISK into the venture and a year later I am still keeping people supplied with spaceships to commit spaceship violence. It gives me experience in the market and with asset logistics. I also manufacture boosters for my market and corporation. I can build up to capital ships (I have alts for these things). These are some of my non-combat talents.

I make my ISK in low sec. I started salvaging my corporation’s level 5 missions as a newbie and worked up to exploration and booster manufacturing before I ventured into creating a market hub. I consider my market a social project made to prove that one can make ISK in low sec by selling things at reasonable prices to the people who live there. Players can live completely in low sec if the residents of that space are willing to put the time and energy into taking care of the space in which they live. This can be accomplished while still shooting all of the things all of the time.

At Fanfest 2013, I spoke to a CCP Developer during a low sec discussion and presented my idea to introduce 1/10 and 2/10 DED sites into the low sec exploration site list. These sites had been static sites and were removed in December 2012 with Retribution. The complexes were introduced into low sec as exploration sites with the release of Rubicon. My goal was to create more content for lower level players. It was also about breaking some of the theme park rails that Eve has under much of it’s older content. if a new player is to live in low sec and go outlaw early they need to be able to sustain their losses.

When I am in high sec I am often a space trucker. In the past I have spent time doing incursions. I was curious about them and have spent many a morning in an incursion fleet making ISK. I am also not embarrassed to mine. I built my Orca out of mined minerals because I wanted to.

My null sec experience is roaming in small gangs looking for fights and the occasional exploration excursion. As for wormholes, I’ve cleared a few C3 sites in my day, assisted in a wormhole theft engineered by someone else, a gank here or there, and regularly use them as a roadway to other parts of the game.

Some of my areas of focus:
  • Residents of Low Sec needs to be able to support themselves outside of Faction Warfare. This means PvE content from exploration to missions to resource gathering options. Low sec is its own defined part of space and "go to high sec and mission" or "go to null sec" should not be the default option. Those things are good and well and many fun adventures can be had making ISK in null sec, but then those things become high sec and null sec things and move pilots out of low sec.
  • Low Sec suffers from an identity crises brought on by the tiered approach of high -> low -> null. This approach does not represent the actual gameplay of Eve and leaves low sec an unfocused state where it has no actual definition. We have stuff. Cultures built through players living in the space.
  • Faction Warfare is supposed to be the empires fighting between themselves. If the actions of the capsuleers are causing the empire to lose control why is Faction Warfare not defining more across space? Should not wars affect economics, military mobilization, and be major news sources? Even bulletin boards (or a new board if it is a code problem) in high sec should announce the current status of the war.
  • PvE in general needs love and attention. The stale state of missions causes boredom. New content is wonderful but missions are a staple. They need regular attention.
  • Player Retention. We need to make sure that the introductory experience for new players is intriguing enough to get them hungry to learn more. If that is adding to it each release or completely gutting it and starting over with a new approach it is an important topic that should always be on the table. With the current upswing in people trying out Eve the information that they provide about their first days in Eve are crucial to help the continued improvement of the new player experience.
  • Corporation Management Interface - The unintuitive, obscure nature of the corporation interface needs a complete overhaul. 
  • Boosters - They feel incomplete. More types, more combinations, maybe the stronger boosters less painful to manufacture so that they will gain more common use.
  • POS - I have run a POS for research and booster manufacturing for the last year and a half. I know this pain, well. They need to be mentioned and brought up. 
The CSM is an advisory group to CCP. They are a conduit for the players to the designers. I believe that a resident of low sec can speak about how changes or additions will or will not affect the residents of low sec. I am here to represent and protect what makes low sec an unique area of space.

About me:

I am 34 years old. I’ve spent the last eleven years in emergency services. I currently spend my time solving other peoples problems and handling whatever I’m handed to take care of. That may range from courtroom testimony to incidents I have handled to being on the street in a blizzard keeping my little part of the world. I’m able to work well with others and able to document how well I happened to do that. My career has also given me a taste for honesty and a lack of embellishment in things that I report. It is a side effect of being liable for every decision that one makes. I’m not afraid of work or documentation.

There is always a question of spousal support with a commitment such as this. My husband supports my Eve addiction. He has travelled with me to Fanfest and Eve Vegas even though he is not an Eve player himself.

I write a regular blog about my playing of Eve. At over a thousand posts in two years I can, do, and will communicate. I have, in the two years that I have played, attended Eve Vegas 2012 and 2013 as well as Fanfest 2013. I will be making plans to attend Eve Vegas 2014 as soon as the dates are announced. When I attend these events, I take notes and write daily blog posts about the topics that are not available by stream or audio.

My video game background starts with MUDs as a teenager. I still log into the MUD I started playing then to chat with my friends from college. I’m a console gamer as well as a PC gamer. I did not enter into MMO’s beyond playing Diablo II with my best friend until Hellgate:London. From there I have played City of Heroes and Guild Wars extensively before settling on Eve just after Skyrim was released. I currently run a Minecraft server for the Molden Heath community.

I’m available, daily in game, on twitter, on google, on Skype, Steam, Jabber, and e-mail.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

CIMM: A Month Long Project

The Calamitous-Intent Mobile Market (from here on referred to as the CIMM) was a month long project focused around taking a market with us on deployment.

The reasons to have a corporate market:

  • Accessibility of needs
  • Refitting
  • Decrease time needed to get in space
  • Adapting to the organic nature of fleet engaged
  • It makes the boys happy
  • Immediate activity options
  • It is healthy and makes people feel cared for
I've been selling things to the people I play with for a year and a half. I started with boosters (at almost cost) and moved on to the Cougar Store (reasonable prices). The CIMM is simply an extension of these activities. I also bring my booster supply along and stock it. For whatever reason, I enjoy breaking the things that I do into their own area. TCS is owned by that corporation (which is just my alts). CIMM is owned by a market alt. My boosters are listed by Sugar or Chella. I tend not to merge the ISK each activity provides.

 What I have learned is that if you provide the items for people they will buy them. This may be ship contracts or it may be a market. And they will consume more than if they did not have the market. I originally tried to sell my boosters person to person as people requested them. It was not until I started listing them that they started to sell well and regularly enough to pay for the time I was taking to create them.

I learned not to expect people to have everything that they need. It would be nice but they do not. Helping them access it is a better solution than bitching at them. Some of the boys sell their assets before deployment and use their ISK to buy what they need. The market becomes their flexability. Unlike me, who moves a jump freighter and carrier load after carrier load of things they just settle in and buy what they need. By providing it and following my mantra of reasonable cost they do not mind that they are paying me for the convinence.

Sometimes, people take affront to someone (especially a corp mate) making ISK off of them. There is a certain amount that I am willing to give to my corporation. Time, energy, planning, donations to projects, corporation tax, those are all part of running an orginization. The corporation is all of its parts and sometimes we have to look outside of the me bubble when we're living with so many other people. To some, that means that everything done for the corporation should be done at a zero profit. This may be one of the few times that I embrace Opportunity Cost.

Can one make enough ISK for it to be worth running a mobile market while worshiping at the Cult of Reasonable prices?

I had to see.

When I started the project I liquidated PLEX that I won from the Pod and Planet Fiction Contest. I started with 3.6 billion ISK and sat down and purchused everything I could think that I needed. I then stocked it and went back for all of the things that I forgot. To my pleasure, I was up and running over the first weekend and peaked at around 220 items offered.

Part of the CIMM plan was to use one alt to manage it. TCS is a project balanced between three trade alts. The mobile market needed to be, well, mobile. Two or three jump freighter loads. Enough items to satisfy everyone but not so many that one account could not buy. It also needed to be financially viable. Obscure, rare, special snowflake items could be shipped in at need. Hulls and guns would not be listed. This decreased both the m3 volume of the market and the number of market orders needed to manage it.

I had one major question when the deployment system was selected. I was only six jumps away from Jita. Would anyone use my market? Bosena is about 6 jumps from Rens but Rens is not Jita.

The answer was yes. Items started selling before I finished listing.  When I went back and started to look at who was buying what, I discovered that my corporation accounted for 1/5 of my sales. I still managed to top the market for things like rigs and PvP focused modules. By top I mean have the lowest prices.

Between January 25th and now the CIMM has made a raw profit of 1.2 billion ISK.

I'm pleased with that. Back when I was actively making ISK with PvE my personal goal was a billion ISK a month. I've always looked wistfully at market traders who make tens of billions a month. That doesn't seem to be my talent. Instead, I steadily make enough ISK to afford what I want to do, comfortably.

I learned some things along the way.
  • 2 billion ISK will stock my mobile market at the levels to be fully up and running from day one
  • My corporation is not my biggest buyer with an open stocked low sec market
  • People need stuff. Combined with the Solitude location we kept and this project I can boldly say the obvious: A market brings the buyers.
  • The corporation is happier when they can have what they need at their market tips
  • I really enjoy this stuff
  • Jump freighters are slow (maybe I already knew this)
  • Just because Jita is there does not devalue having my market
We're ending our deployment in a few days. I am debating leaving most of the stuff up. Maybe in a few weeks I will slip back and remove whatever is not selling. This will increase the ISK that I gain from this project. I did not have the market PvP battles that I did in Solitude. I somewhat miss them, irritating as they were. I also stocked about other day which was in line with Solitude. The difference is that in Nalvula I did not need to keep a complete duplicate of what was on the market due to the constant buy outs.

There are many different ways to make 1.2 billion ISK. There are many faster ways. Getting a good drop in a DED site for instance. I've made more than that in a day before. The market, however, is a type of gameplay. The mobile market is a refinement of that. It isn't just about the cash in my pocket. The cash in my pocket is an incentive and a balm for the work involved. I'd do this anyway. Whenever the boys say thank you or express to me that I made their moments easier by having the things that they need I cannot help but smile. Those smiles tend to last longer than most.

My experience so far says that tossing up a market in low sec works and I call my mobile market a success. I balanced it and Bosena much better than I did back in October when we were based in solitude. Bosena still gets a bit less attention than when we are not deployed. I am okay with that. Roams and corporation activities have a higher priority than the market activities. I'm not interested in burning out on this. It is much too interesting.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

An Exchange of Jaguar

It is Floyde's fault that this happened. I do not think that it was his intent. I'm sure, in fact, that it never crossed his mind. It had not crossed mine. But, that does not decrease the fact that everything that happened it is all because of Floyde.

This is the story of how I wound up in an Ares that still had a warm seat from its time with Gothie Maulerant.

On Monday, I went out with the boys. I went out with Altaen before dinner and out with a fleet that Floyde was FCing after. I was in a Jaguar and we were in frigates. Altaen, I will give a honorary frigate title to because he caught up with us. We were going into Black Rise. I was in a Jaguar with limited time. I was comfortable, docking when bedtime came. And so, after fighting this Brutix Navy Issue who gave good fights and a nice chat, I docked up and logged off for the night in Nennamaila X - Wiyrkomi Peace Corps Assembly Plant.

On Tuesday, I logged in after work. There where 60 some people in local. Why where there so many people in Nalvula? And chatting? And no war targets? It took me a bit to realize that I was still in Nennamaila. That explained it. I decided, with things busy and myself tired, to do logistics, work on my announcement post, chat, write blogs, and go to bed. I'd leave in the morning when there wasn't a 150 man Brave Newbies Fleet rolling around and gatecamps and all that good stuff.

Enter, Wednesday morning aka today. AGAIN, I forgot where I was. At some point, after moving ships around and whining to Ueber about how I could not get out of his station for spaceships camping the undock last night I realized that I was still in Nennamaila. I needed to leave and local was around sixteen. I debated hopping across high sec. Last time I did that in this area I lost my Jaguar. Maybe I'd try low sec this time.

Then I got a conversation request. I accept it, which I'm prone to do. This is how I met Gothie Maulerant and escaped from Nennamalia. But, I get ahead of myself.

Gothie messaged me and said, "You're here in my station!" I was wondering what I had done this time. Or, what the boys had done. But instead, we wound up in a conversation about the market. Gothie is doing the low sec market thing and doing public ship contracts for popular frigate fits. We chatted. I get all bubbly when I can low sec market at full excited speed and I explained why it was Floyde's fault I was stuck in the station. We discussed my various chances to escape and Gothie offered me an Interceptor. I responded, "Trade for my Jag?" and magic was made.

A few minutes later I was in an Ares named Bcl and Peanut Fudge the Jaguar had a new owner. A few mod exchanges, and off I was, heading for Nalvula. Giggling all the way.

I'm always surprised when people recognize me in space. It can be very fun. :)

Being an Explosion

Dying to a HS gate camp made me realize how little I know about the activity. My Jaguar, while amazing for the most part is not quite fast enough to make it through gatecamps that are gatecamping. They are prepared for frigates after all. And, jumping into a high sec gatecamp wasn't something that I was particularly expecting. They happen sometimes in Molden Heath but normally, darting through high sec goes smoothly. I'm one of those flashy reds that goes streaking through a system with faction police spawning on the gate behind me.

This time, I landed and realized that it wasn't going to go smoothly. Interceptor, Rook, Vigilant. Yeah, well. The ship loss has a surprise factor of zero. And, as I warped my pod off to continue my trip I realized that I didn't expect the gatecamp. I proabbly should have. Faction Warfare areas tend to come with a different fleet type than non-faction warfare areas. They are more prepared for frigates. For, frigates are more common inside of Faction Warfare low sec.

It is probably the same reason that I am always startled by bubble camps and cloaked bombers. Spending more time in null sec means that one comes across many more cloaked camps of bombers. Normally it is the one guy in Great Wildlands with uber (but not Ueberlisk) tanked recons luring the unwary into his bombers. People bite the bait, the bait tanks, his bombers uncloak, he jumps the gate, they bomb the fleet, people die, and it seems to be enjoyable enough because they continue to do it.

Really, what can I say? I undock in ships with the full understanding that I may not redock in them. I often expect to redock, such as my Jaguar ahead. I'm sure the campers want to take their ships home as well. They did a better job not losing their ships than I did.

Thus, upon this day and this .08 high sec gate; I died. I died some more the next time I went out to PvP. Altaen and I went out in a duo. Know that I was glowing as I followed along. He wound up jumping into a camp and dying. I dithered on the gate. Was he going to make it? Should I kite off? Should I wait to assist? Should I just leave? Dither, dither, point, dead.

Welp. Off our pods went home and we made it about halfway before some more bubbles. I almost made it out of that one as well. Damn. I need another Omen.

Such is how it goes. Sometimes one undocks to glory and sometimes one undocks to the glory of being an explosion. I still do miss the brief blue nova that player explosions used to be. It took a bit to get used to it. To die and reship. I've died more on this deployment than ever before it feels. Sometimes it is frustrating. Not the death. Normally it was the fight, or more exactly, the mistakes I made. Such as dithering. Or jumping into a high sec gatecamp. Or jumping into a bubble gate camp. Or being bombed taking bait...

Khori and I disagree. Often. On one particular point is starting new players. Khori believes in the buy 200 frigates and die until you figure things out. I believe in educating people and teaching things, giving a foundation of knowledge and then going out and doing things while that prelearned knowledge comes together. Both are valid but we truly disagree with each other as to our tactics. So, when he convinced my newest newbie to try to go out in a Rifter I rolled my eyes but Khori gave him the ISK for it. My newbie died to a gatecmap a jump or two in. He was frustrated for a bit with the normal levels of, "that was terrible." However, we talked, he came down off of his adrenaline high and found himself torn between trying it again and waiting for a bit. We talked. He and Vov and I (Khori was mad at me by now. This does happen. :P) about seeing ships as disposable objects instead of sacred things to never lose. It is a mindset that Vov and I worked at prying away early that Khori had already loosened by giving him the ISK to adventure with.

Gatecamps. Bombs. Losing spaceships. Dying. Poddings. None of it is the end. It may not be the end one was going for. I certainty go, "urp," when I realize where I am. But, petting my newbie through his first flare of, "This is awful!" until he recovered is eye opening. That loss hits hard. It may not become easier so much as better understood. I'm sure some find it easy but not all will glory in it.

After I lost my Omen and then pod, I was thinking, "Khori is right about losing ships until it doesn't bother you anymore." Sure, the situation may be frustrating. I don't want to lose my ships. I've never subscribed to "didn't want that anyway." If I didn't want it, I'd not have purchased it in the first place. But, now it is a humph and a sigh because I have to buy another one. It is one that I try to share when I speak with new players interested in PvP.

Nothing is wrong with not wanting to lose your ship. But, if you are attached to it don't undock it. I'll run through high sec in a Jaguar again. I'll happily follow Altaen into battle any day. And, my newbie? He has recovered and when I logged in to finish writing this post, he had gone out and lost a few more ships. It was exciting and enthralling but he decided to take a break and work on learning more basics. Also, he just subbed his account.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Scraping the Start

TL;DR: Sugar focuses on one topic two days in a row. This miracle brought to you by Jaguars. Jaguars, the frigate of choice.

I am one of those people who downloaded Eve to check it out after reading about the terrible things that happen there. It seemed to be right up my alley. I started playing directly after Crucible was launched. It was launched the 29th of November and I started to play December 1st. That means, in my world Attack Battlecruisers have always existed. It also means that I was on board for the change to the item management windows. This was a huge moment, where CCP changed the entire way that we move things around. It also did not go as well as expected and they released it with a lot of usability lacking. That happened because what players do with the interface and what the developers expect them to do often vary. Eventually, this was rectified and the new interface with its trees and ability to move things was born.

I like it and slowly my use of it has increased. When the POS change came in that allowed us to move things between POS modules from anywhere within the force field I really came into full appreciation of the tree. It was not until I started managing the store that I honestly came to use, and then love, the filter window.

Yesterday, I commented on some of the things that I saw seeing doing the tutorials again. I've received a lot of good discussion. At one point, Sarah Flinnley comments on the UI as the biggest hurdle for new players.
Third time I try Eve I go at it KNOWING the the UI sucked. But wanted to play a space MMO I tough it out and start learning....
 I thought about this. My first reaction was, "Well I use it just fine," but I realized that no. I do not. I didn't know, for instance, that you could group guns for a while. I didn't know that you could activate modules by using F keys for who knows how long. I didn't even realize that there were short cuts to use the overview and do things like jump. Because of that, I have a hybrid usage of short cuts, button clicks, and the right menu that I am embarrassed to show other people because I know is not optimal but it is optimal for me.
Obviously, the user interface was a problem for me. It seems to be one that I conquered without realizing it. I was enthralled with Eve. I had no problems using the Market interface and buying skillbooks. That is something I often see Rookies struggling with at first. In my mind there are always markets or shops so just go and find it. Yet, I didn't understand about selling thing to buy orders for months after I started. I figured out my asset window quickly and learned the rule, "When in doubt, Right click." But, I have to learn the fleet window which is still mostly shrouded in poorly documented mystery to me.

My knee jerk reaction was just a matter of comfort and habit. Sarah Flinnley is correct that the UI leaves a lot to be desired. This is something that CCP also has noticed. Or, so I believe.

One part of doing the tutorials was using the radial menu. I have not used the radial menu since it was implemented. That is because I am comfortable with what I currently do. Instead of introducing the radial menu and nerfing the other menus, CCP introduced both. That stopped the older player from being alienated and unable to do anything (anyone remember our irritation over the undock button being moved for Odyssey?) while giving the newer player a more intuitive means to do things. And yes, I do mean more intuitive and I wouldn't have said that if I hadn't sat there while Aura showed me the radial menu.

Like many, young and bold dinosaurs (unlike the bitter crusty ones :P) I have a hard time replacing what works quite well with me with something that may work better. The tutorial gave me a more relaxed way to learn the radial menu. To my amusement, I don't trust it yet. The pictures don't reassure me like words do that I am going to jump. For my Venture going off in yellow glory to mine Veldspar to make a cap booster (that is another issue post on its own) using the radial menu is new and interesting and I am willing to experiment where I am not with my jump freighter or in combat. But, for a new pilot, it is what they will know best and it is a better more game expected way to interact.

Similarly, the discovery scanner. Outside of the issues many currently hold for it, the concept of it as a more visual in game view without having to switch to a special viewpoint is an indication of where CCP wants to go with the interaction the users have with the game. More visual. More audio. More intuitive. I wonder if some of the UI changes are missed by experienced players simply due to our ingrained habits that cause us to flow with the older UI.

The UI. Is it alone the problem or is it also a mixture of the current tutorials? Are we sniffing up the wrong tree by trying to mold the new player experience into a boarder, more truthful representation of Eve? And perhaps, we need to rethink what we consider the new player experience and redefine it into something that suites Eve without integrating the current one.

Also, I really, really feel that not integrating the new player experience and station services into the Captain's Quarters as intractable stuff (as it is in Dust) is a major, major miss on interacting with new players.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Starting Again

Player retention has been on the air. I'm as interested in it as anyone who is interested in it. As part of my CSM prep (since retention is an area I'm interested in and half of my not to terrible ideas are about improving life for newer players) I finally sat down to do the tutorials. I've been meaning to for ages but it is very easy to just forget to do them. After all, these days I log in and alt, autopilot her to where I need her and start pumping skill books and ISK into her. This time I decided to go and do the missions and make my ISK that way and then go to Faction Warfare and finally try some entry level frigate stuff as well as trying to make it in Eve as a newbie again.

I've been writing an on going list of thoughts about the tutorial process that I will sum up later. I don't dislike the Tutorials but it is bad when I find myself confused doing basic things. However, along the way other things happened. Such as Rookie Chat. I adore rookie chat. I still do after two years. I spend about 70% of the time answering questions instead of doing the missions. I even adopted a week old player and dumped him to the mercies of my chatroom. He is past all the basics and just needs some footing so as long as he is willing to tolerate me I'll be available to answer questions. But that burns through my ISK because everyone has CSPA fees and I have like 400k ISK right now. Oh well.

Interesting things happen in Rookie Chat. Such as ideas:
Cortes D'Arc > i totally thought i could send out probes and find arkonor roids then jsut warp to them haha
This came after we explained how probes and finding things with probes worked compared to survey scanners and finding out how much ore is in them. Still, I found his idea interesting. Go to a system, launch a probe, have it report back if a particular asteroid type was available and where it was. It just seemed as if it had some potential to be interesting and searching for things.

I missed who suggested this one but saw it flicker across the screen.
If you could mine particular minerals out of the asteroid instead of getting a mix of what it has.
He was looking for Pyerite if I am correct.  And he thought it would make more sense if you could selectively mine minerals out of mixed asteroids instead of the general rock crusher approach that we currently have. I thought that would be interesting. Instead of finding a field stripped of rocks you'd find it stripped of particular minerals. Again, I'm not sure if it is practical but it seemed interesting and a different approach.

It also told me that there is a lot of different opinions as to what mining would be or should be. The change mining to be more interesting debate is a large one and an old one. Seeing it through new players eyes is interesting.

The newbie that I picked up and adopted was telling me about the current scams to get rookies into areas to die. Knowing that they cannot do it in rookie chat they are doing mass invites. Once in the chatroom the recruiters are giving them ISK to pack up all of their stuff and fly to a system where they then AWOX them.

I rarely speak out against the things people do to each other in game. I will limit my association based off of how people treat each other but I don't insist the people approach the game the same way that I do. Even if I can't understand a play-style I accept it. Except for the people who truly prey upon absolute newbies. I cannot wrap my head around it and it drives me to a red eyed insanity. They crouch outside of the rooke stations suspect. They rename cans and mobile depots to say, "free stuff" or some mix to try to lure them out. Like my story above they invite from rookie chat and lure them away from the systems and then kill them and take or destroy all of their stuff.

Yes, Eve is a cruel game. We live, we die, we fight, we lose, we win. But, there is a line to me and that line is when fun comes in finding day old players and killing them. "They have to learn sometime" is really a completely ridiculous excuse. They are going to learn. They are going to take a distribution mission into low sec or be like the one who I gave a bunch of links to about wormholes and how to judge what they are and where they go because he keeps hopping into them. I don't feel guilty if I kill a newbie in low sec. I may send them a mail to try to help them not make the same mistake but guilt? No. Because it is a cruel game where ignorance can be your biggest challenge. But none of that lines up with those that stalk them in rookie chat and in the rookie systems. It is game play that I disgusting.

Fixing it isn't as easy as condemning it. I guess it is similar to those that camp spawn points in other games. It is not like the conversations about challenge and cowardice that I often here. All of that is game play but none of it is on the level of what people who stalk day old players do. I don't want to have an Eve with instances and 'safe' zones for newbies. That is why fixing the problem is so hard. And it is a problem.

Outside of that, I do have one pet point that is driving me crazy about the tutorials and I must campaign to have added: In the very first missions Aura teaches you how to warp to gates and use acceleration gates and jump through gates and open cans and approach things and orbit things. But what Aura does not teach you is to double click in space to manually pilot your ship. That needs to go in there. It won't fix all the people who want joysticks and Valkyrie but I fully believe it will help with the immersion and depth of the 3D environment that is in current game play.