Saturday, February 28, 2015

Rambling: Stumbling Over Questions

[TL;DR: Starting at the bottom. Why is there so much negativity to losing spaceships that it drives our social behavior in the game?]


Thursday, February 26, 2015

R.I.P Red Crosses

The latest User Interface development blog was released by CCP Arrow. I have an incredible amount fo respect for CCP Arrow and how he handles himself and his job. Back when the Unified Inventory was changed I was still a new player and the change went over poorly. Being new made the change easy for me but hard for everyone else. It did not help that it came out in an incomplete state that lacked much of the basic, daily usage needs and support for the players.

CCP Arrow took ownership of that. I had a lot of respect for him admitting that it was not what it should have been and that he kept working on it until the functionality started to return. I learned a lot about player reaction to change and incomplete design during that time. Later that year, I listened to him present at Eve Vegas 2012. He was ambitious with his hopes for the UI. That story is not the one that we are at now but it is interesting to be here almost three years later and at this phase of the UI changes.


Not so very long ago I was very new. I had no idea my overview had settings. Torpedo explosions were glorious waves and energy that expanded out from the ship. The Ui was colorful. When player ships exploded it was the most gorgeous blue flash. Drones didn't show up purple when they were in fleet and NPCs were red crosses.

Over time we have lost the blue explosions that defined player ship loss. Torpedo's are boring as hell to look at. I guess missile trails replaced their glorious effects. I also learned what an over view was. And red crosses meant NPC ships. Don't worry that I'm old and bitter. For attack battlecruisers, then known as tier three existed and the Noctis was still my most flown ship. I'm not that far back or anything.

Now we're going to lose that lingo. Red crosses. It is a strange thing and absolutely unimportant. There is no real loss. Maybe we will call them red triangles or bing cherries. I don't know.

The discussion about the icons is another one. I'm not sure if the tiny symbols will be enough and I have large screens. I know that pattern recolonization will work for us. Its how our minds work, but I worry that they are not different enough. However, red and white crosses are not different from each other as well.

That will be a later debate. There is already discussion. Likes. Dislikes. It will all filter into change and the future. But behind us lays a little grave of a familiar icon that defined the simplest and earliest aspects of playing Eve.

I'm kinda sad.

TCS: Restocking

The ramp up to voting is a very hard time. Sitting down to work on my market took more energy then it should have. However, I had some motivators. I had received a request from someone to pull some information about my market. That motivated me to get the delisted items relisted for a better overview of what I have. The second was a request for help about how I use my market tools.

That is what left me writing a loose, non technical guide to using Eve Mentat to keep stock of your market inventory. I need to clean it up and publish it I guess for those interested. Eve Mentat is a powerful tool but I use it almost exclusively to keep track of what items have sold. That is one huge thing missing from the current Eve market interface. Sold and expired orders. As it stands I can manually check what sold against what I have in my inventory. If I am technically proficient, I can write spreadsheets that pull and total information for me. We're in a stage of Eve's history where we are challenging barriers and definging what they actually are. Eve's market was meant to be a market as we find in so many games but it has grown beyond that.

That may be another topic when I'm a bit less distracted. We do have a some recent improvements that have made running a market easier. One of these is multi-sell. Introduced in Phoebe we have been using the interface and the changed sell window that came with it for a few months.

Multi-sell is interesting. I used ti very enthusiastically in December and learned an ugly lesson. Muscle memory can screw you over. I hit enter after typing in one of my numbers. Its a habit. My entire sale window sold itself. Due to Eve's markets there are buy orders of all types everywhere that convince the game that overly low offers are not overly low. I lost about 200 million in that mistake and learned to type slower and use multi-sell with more caution and not with valuable goods.

The place that I now use multi-sell is items that need to be restocked. I then use one of my screens and two clients to create something that looks like this:

It works for me. Your mileage may vary.

Chance is my Jita alt. She lives there and she buys stuff. She has no market skills. All she does is buy things and write contracts to shipping companies to move those things.

Tesau is one of the three market alts that belongs to TCS and sits in Sujarento. She has market skills and nothing else. Because I use a corporate hangar for my alts to share, she can simply open that and start selling things.

Like many people I have a shared chatroom for my alts. Tesau lists the items to Chance. Chance checks prices. Tesau changes prices with the multi-sell window based on Jita prices. I do about 10 things at a time. And poof it all goes up. Window layering helps me move faster in these situations. Its a lot of clicking one way or another and sometimes I get tired of it. The windows are not exciting to look at but I've become fascinated with trends and buying habits and seeing the meta move through modules and ammo.

What I have discovered is that slow moving items start to lose their value a bit to me. I lower prices or whatever to get them to move. Ammo comes and goes with need and activity. Missiles are still my bane when it comes to having them and how slowly they sell. But I need to have them because people want them.

Stocking a market is only partially dictated by those around you. You have to learn about your customers but it also helps to understand what they may need. Long range T2 blaster ammo is an example of this. It sells when there are particular ops but it doesn't sell every day like faction antimatter. But I keep it available because a market like TCS doesn't run off of daily volume or item velocity. It runs off of over all volume over time.

I'd also like to remind people that the type of market that I run is a market run in dangerous space. It will be different from high sec. Here. market pressures are different. Your clients are more specialized. I carry a handful of T2 rigs in Sujarento for Snuffed Out. It's a personal investment that I make to try to help out a little bit. In general I've been successful with low volume and high variety.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

CSMX Voting is Now Open

Vote Sugar Kyle for CSMX!

Link to CSMX voting - Fill it in yourself! You don't need no recommendations!


Link to selecting just Sugar Kyle - Add the others in as you will.

Remember to redeem your diplomatic shuttle in game! They available to all accounts. Hopefully all these links work. The list will autopopulate for you for each account that you log in after you build your first if the links don't work. Voting goes until March the tenth. See my endorsement list for links to more resources.

Guest Blog: Cosmic Travesty: Or why something that's been broken for a decade remains broken

Forward to a Gust Blog: Back in September I was on track for getting the COSMOS missions on Team Space Glitter's roadmap as part of my goal of getting broken things that frustrate people fixed. I was very excited about this. However, other things happened and the time needed to go through these missions and clean them up vanished. On the flip side we have had an amazing lore experience and new and exciting changes to the Eve landscape.

The COSMOS mission system is old. That does not change that the COSMOS missions are broken. It does explain a bit of the reason why. It was added for the Eve Online: Cold War expansion back in 2005. Over the years they have started to break. Their items have become obsolete. Yet, they are full of lore and mystery. They should have been better then they are. But much of Eve's old content suffers the same problem. I haven't abandoned my goal to have them fixed. So when someone offered to write me a comprehensive 'this is broken' list I said, "Yes please." Zosius over at Cloaky Bastard has also been documenting them as well.

I decided to host Nivin Sajjad's write up. For one, he has no blog and I find the information interesting. For two, it lets me have a super easy resource to pull the information for future use when that day comes that COSMOS missions have their update in the sun.
-Sugar Kyle

***
Cosmic Travesty: Or why something that's been broken for a decade remains broken

Once upon a time, when asteroids still looked like dirty ostrich eggs and L4 agents had yet to exist, CCP decided to add some variety to PvE by introducing a set of unique agents who would offer one time missions that granted massive boosts to faction standings alongside interesting payouts. Ever since then, the half finished perpetual train wreck that is COSMOS missions have become a time capsule of all that is terrible in PvE gameplay design.

Just how bad can it be? Well, I have been to the abyss and back more than once, and I have seen such wonders things. Welcome... to 2005.

Anyone who's done any number of L4 security missions is probably familiar with The Damsel in Distress. In this mission, you are tasked with looting an item from an exploding structure rescuing a young lady from a pirate stronghold while coming under attack from waves of pirates that spawn as you shoot her prison. Truth be told we're all pretty tired of rescuing the Damsel by now, to the point that CCP has made it into a running joke, but it does have one thing going for it.

That manna from heaven is instancing, and you have no idea how sweet it is until it's missing.
Now EVE is famous for having all its action take place on a single shard, but that only tells part of the story. Every time you accept a security mission, the game spawns an "instance" of what is essentially a tiny hidden room or series of rooms in some random point in space. This is a unique grid of objects the game makes just for you, which only you can warp to without needing to aim for someone else who's already there. Every time you go rescue the Damsel, there is a new Damsel, a new pirate stronghold, and a new set of rats.

Not so for COSMOS missions.

Thank you pilot! But our princess is in another cargo hold!

Welcome to the bizarro world of waiting for Godot rat respawns in public plexes. Rather than there being hundreds of Damsels in hundreds of rooms, each awaiting the arrival of their own gallant carebear, instead there is ONE room that everyone can see on the overview, containing ONE key ship or structure, that depending on type could respawn anywhere from once every minute to once every six hours to spit out a new Damsel for rescuing. So on the one hand, if somebody out of the tens of thousands of players currently logged on has already looted her this time around, you'll have to wait. On the other hand, a Damsel is a Damsel is a Damsel, so if someone else with vast intestinal fortitude decided to camp the respawn for a whole 12 hours, you can go buy up one of his spare Damsels on contract and "rescue" her all the same.

Psst, you want a one of a kind holy book for your agent? Just 25 mil a pop.

And I wasn't kidding about that six hours part. Some COSMOS rats will respawn after a few minutes, but the rarer ones only do so a few times a day. Hope you brought your poop sock.

Why did CCP do this? My guess is that it was borne out of a misguided attempt to force more people in highsec interact with each other. The reality, though, is much more likely to be you seeing a cloud of empty wrecks that point to an exciting future of twiddling your thumbs, or more absurdly, a complete absence of information that gives you no indication you're actually in the right spot, but that what you need will only show up again in a few hours. This, I think, is the first fundamental flaw of COSMOS missions. Item scavenging in slow respawn public complexes forces players into many long hours of futilely chasing after nothing.

Congratulations CCP, you have unleashed the purest antithesis of fun.

Now I mentioned some of the rats do have a respawn timer that is much shorter. Unfortunately, CCP has found a way to make this brutally unfun as well. First up, the kleptomaniac agent,

Scooping rat droppings is the life for me.

Did I mention this guy lives in a highsec island located behind one of the most frequently camped lowsec systems in the game? More on that later.

But that's not all. Sometimes a fast respawn becomes its own colossal headache,

I'm supposed to hack? Here? While they watch?

What you're seeing is a static COSMOS hacking site. This one in particular requires a mission reward gate key which will cause you to lock yourself out if you happen to die in there. In addition, each of those rats will respawn in a minute or two. As you can see, the full room DPS is near that of an L4 combat mission despite it being a hacking site. Some sites are even worse, limiting you to battlecruiser sized ships while having many times the spawns. You are expected to tank the incoming DPS of what are infinitely respawning and thus essentially unkillable rats while doing an RNG hunt on a separate interface for either mission items or Storyline module components. Once upon a time before hacking was revamped, you could at least orbit a can while letting your module cycle until they succeed. Now you don't even have that dubious luxury.

This and other factors have lead to a perpetually sidelined Storyline module market,

I'm not building any of these

COSMOS agents spit out a veritable fountain of strange little BPCs for strange little meta 6 to 7 modules that usually have the most generous fitting requirements in category, but come with performance stats that range from marginally worse than faction, to frankly bizarre.

Why is this a thing?

In spite of their often dubious utility, Storyline modules do fill a niche in letting people put together some extremely tight fits. But the market for them is miniscule, while the modules themselves are often horrendously overpriced and come with buy-sell spreads that are some of the largest in the game. So what made Storyline modules into the slightly poorer man's Officer bling in terms of lossmail mockery?

Several reasons. First, each COSMOS mission can only be completed once per character, and while some BPC drops are set, most are randomly chosen from a racial loot table. This greatly limits the BPC supply. Second, as previously mentioned, the static hacking sites that drop the actual components needed to build these items are often hard to access (their entry keys are also COSMOS rewards) and interactively unpleasant to the point of being utterly broken. Third, most of the modules require anywhere from two to five ranks in obscure skills such as Takmahl Technology or Yan Jung Technology to build, which you've probably never heard of and don't seem to have any other uses besides building Storyline modules. And finally, performance wise a lot of the items just aren't very good.

The result is that only a small handful of masochists are even bothering to collect the components, which are then sold at vastly inflated rates to the even rarer eccentrics numbering in the hundreds tens who just happen to possess both COSMOS BPCs and training in almost completely useless industrial skills. Meanwhile, every other sensible person out there who wants better than meta but can't quite fit T2 is buying the usually much more common, affordable, and better performing faction and deadspace modules.

Before I go any further, I want to talk about one of the rare things CCP has sort of done right when it comes to COSMOS missions. I bring your attention to the infamous Ihakana-Otomainen pipe.

You can almost taste the loot hauler tears

I am unabashedly risk adverse when it comes to my highsec carebearing. But even I have to admit the brilliance of placing most of the highest payout COSMOS agents in a highsec island that's only accessible through a single lowsec system. Now it was pretty sadistic of CCP to place them all in a stationless system, especially in the time before mobile depots, but beggars can't be choosers. And here's why,

A near complete Amarr/Caldari COSMOS run. Around 60% of the ISK value comes from just two Otomainen agents.

A place of countless dashed dreams, Ihakana is also a crucible that has pushed some highsec carebears into learning active risk mitigation techniques such as scouting ahead, flying in groups, cloaky gatecamp dodging, and various other creative means of smuggling PvE boats and their potentially billions in loot in and out of Otomainen. The skills, and the thrills, one gains from this tend to encourage people to start exploring other dangerous locales as well. I would know. I've fought and chatted with such folks in wormhole space before.

This arrangement wisely keeps the site where most of the combat and forage missions take place as a highsec system. It entices carebears with a balanced mix of safety and danger, while also giving the PvP groups that live in Ihakana a continuous stream of targets without granting them the means to exert a stranglehold on the mission system itself and prevent anyone else from attempting the unique PvE content. In comparison, the pirate epic arcs and COSMOS missions that largely take place in and around sov null don't work nearly as well in attracting people who aren't already up for extreme danger or are friendly with the locals.

But this arrangement is still far from ideal. Case in point, look at this smug asshole,

Sir Not Appearing in this Film

Guess what standings you'd need to gain access to him. 5.00? 6.00 Amarr Navy? You'd be wrong. It's unmodified 7.5 Amarr Faction, though you'd be hard pressed to guess that just by talking to him or reading his character description. But good luck finding him in the first place. This particular agent isn't referenced by anyone else in-game, and neither is he present at any of Otomainen's agent hangouts. Instead, he's hidden deep inside a static deadspace complex behind two separate rat infested rooms, in a place you'd have no reason to venture into unless you were either randomly exploring or already knew he was there. One of those rooms is also locked by multiple respawning battleships, which won't let you pass until they and everything else on grid are dead.

If by some miracle you do find Akemon and get him talking, you'll soon discover he needs three separate items to finish his heroic quest mission chain. In order, these are a widget from a rat that spawns once every 6 hours or so that's located in another system you'd have to cross lowsec to reach, a second widget in a structure next to him that may also take hours to respawn if somebody beat you to it, and finally, a 500m3 packaged fancy shuttle that's dropped at the end of a separate path down the plex inaccessible from his current location, which can only be entered using a gate key dropped in yet another room in the same plex. And of course the agent only informs you of what he'll need next once you've brought him the previous item, so unless you've read a guide and basically cheated your way into knowledge you had no way of gaining in-game, bought everything on contract ahead of time, and hauled it all inside your PvE boat, you're going to end up fighting through the same two rooms of L4 equivalent respawning rats again and again just to talk to him more than once.

This points to what I think is the second fundamental flaw of COSMOS missions. Aside from various other deal breakers I haven't even addressed yet, such as missions that take a half hour to completely spawn while leaving you with large stretches of nothing happening, or 22 jump highsec fetch quests thrown in between combat missions, or being asked to build a random item that takes close to 2 hours to finish in between combat missions, or vast swaths of content being wastefully self limiting when they're doable only once, or the wacky effort vs reward ratios for some agents that make no sense, or the fact that various agents are scattered in opposing faction space some 20+ jumps away who'll hand out missions suited for battleships, or the Gallente and Minmatar zones being left half finished... aside from all that and more, the second contender for absolute worst trait of COSMOS missions is the unforgivable extent to which the game goes out of its way to conceal vital information from the players. Most of the in-game info about mission order, standings requirements, or even something as basic as what you need to do next are either handed out in a needlessly delayed fashion or outright unavailable. Nothing outside of COSMOS points to COSMOS, and few of the agents point to each other. Even when they do, they can throw you into a nightmare dreamt up by the love child of Kafka and Rube Goldberg, where if you screw up even once somewhere in that mess, you're done for good.

An actual roadmap for Amarr COSMOS progress.

The one-two punch of waiting on multiple public respawns, and a "here's a rubix cube, go fuck yourself" design mentality, has lead to a bizarre situation where most people aren't aware of COSMOS missions enough to even know they exist, most people who know enough to at least try them won't have the knowledge to do them smoothly, and the sorry few who actually understand the missions in depth and want to run them will do everything in their power to have other players finish the worst bits so they can buy up the results on contract. If it wasn't for the isolated case of a few decent loot drops, or the sad fact that when all is said and done this is still one of the fastest ways to gain faction standing, then few people in their right mind would put themselves through a COSMOS run more than once. The whole ensemble is so badly put together that they make repeating L4s seem like a rewarding experience.

As it is, I'm already known in my alliance as that crazy person who would leave the wormhole once in a while to perform some kind of self flagellating black magic that summons A Lot of Money. Until most of the underlying design principles for COSMOS missions are revamped, they will continue to be just as obtuse and unpleasant to the vast majority of EVE players. Compared to recent improvements in PvE in the form of burner missions and Drifter AI blackboards, it's a shame to see a long suffering part of the game still remain so utterly broken.

-Guest Blogger, Nivin Sajjad

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

CSMX Lists

The easiest part about creating a voting list is placing myself first. Vote for me! When the voting goes live I'll have a direct link that does all the pretty filled in stuff.

My attempts to make a 'Vote for Sugar' button are not going very prettily.

Now for the more serious part for those interested in more.

Monday, February 23, 2015

A Moment for Exploration

I got interviewed over at Sagan Exploration. Katia Sae was kind enough to give me a bit of time to answer. However, I sat down and got it done. It was a super fun interview because I was able to sink into one of my favorite pastimes in Eve. In some ways I feel a bit wicked. Most of the other people profiled explore and seek Eve's lore and history. I'm a tomb raider. I plunder sites for their goods and run off to sell them to the higher bidder.

I absolutely loved the comparison. Now I need a bullwhip or a double set of pistols.

It does make me want to go and spend some time exploring for the sake of it. With the new expansion to the Lore I may take some time out this summer to just go and sink into Eve's world and catch myself up on everything.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

CSM9 - Day 295

“Is CCP doing anything about the NPE?” That has been a common question and one that I have said yes in answer. I have pointed out CCP Rise’s talks at Fanfest 2014 and Eve Vegas 2014. I have noted that we have not only a NPE focused team but also a retention team known as Team Homegrown who is a new construction that the CSM met at the Winter Summit. Also Rhea had fixes to the Tutorials which contained a lot of information and problems as reported by Steve, Mike and I after the release of ‘This is Eve.’

What I’ve had to sit on (the opportunity system) has been released in the most recent dev blog written by CCP Rise for Team Pirate Unicorns.  I like this system. While it is partially an achievement-based system it is a bit more free form than that. The goal is to feed information to the player as they come upon new experiences instead of having them separated from the experience in a bunch of mission text.

The old tutorial missions are still there and still accessible. They just won't be the default 'Okay welcome to Eve come run missions to play the game' that they currently are. The opportunity system does not yet give a player everything they need to start the game. It may, and probably will eventually. I’m not a fan of the “do a trick and get a cookie” method because the first and last time that happens is with the tutorial missions. But, it still has a place and integration with that place will take some time.

One of my favorite parts about this system is the potential for growth. I have supported a ‘second tier’ tutorial system idea for a while. The goal being to do something like jump into a system that has a low sec gate and receive information on it if you have never before been to low sec in an attempt to create awareness. This system will allow exactly that type of growth and spread and then maybe something integrated into corporations.

There are also several changes to how characters enter the game. No more starting in the captain’s quarters and walking around. Instead they will start in space in a ship with some action. I felt that undocking in a pod to warp to a ship to board it in space was rather far from any type of game reality and I am glad to see it gone. The forum thread is interesting with CCP Rise giving some insight into the testing that has been done and the results of looking into some of the things that players believe drive away newbies.

A Note: CCP Fozzie did some rebalancing of civilian modules. From the twitch stream “I did a light balance pass on the civilian weapons in Tiamat.” He discussed this on a stream this weekend where someone was testing the new Opportunities system.

While Fanfest is around the corner things are only picking up steam in confluence. I'm getting rather excited. We’re already getting a good look into the March release. People have asked about POS and Sov and yes we are active about them and there is a lot of discussion happening.

On the topic of POS, Corbexx and I are going to hold another soundboard for POS next week. We should have a post up by Sunday evening for signups in the CSM section of the forums. It will be Thursday evening, Eve time. The other recordings from previous sessions have been moved to CSM9.org (Thank you, Steve Ronuken!) . For anyone unfamilar with what these are, the soundboards were developed by Corbexx. They are small informal chats with players from various parts of the game about a focused topic in front of a dev. Corbexx and I moderate while the players discuss and work through the topic. It is part of our goal to connect the developers plans and goals with the players wants, needs, and expectations. They have been very productive and we hope to continue these into CSMX.

The Diplomatic Shuttle

The answer when asked, “Is CCP going to do anything to promote the election this year?” started off as "I hope so" and moved to "Yes". The hard part was not sharing the plans. The commemorative shuttle was discussed back in September. The 10th term is a fantastic point for a commemorative item.

I have heard some question and suggestion about it being something received once a player votes. I was absolutely against putting it behind any type of voting wall. Voting just to get a goody is wrong. If it is to celebrate the CSM everyone gets one without restrictions. The CSM doesn't only support its voters. I take the CSM process seriously and I feel its important to educate people. The shuttle should cause people to go, “What is the CSM? Why does it get a ship?” and create a question as well as plant the knowledge that it is there.

The comparison that I often use is the Guardian-Vexor. Almost everyone knows that it exists and that's simply because it has Vexor in the name. You see it whenever you search the market unlike many of its more exotically named relatives from the tournaments. Getting the shuttle out into the market and in space will create a level of awareness that will continue to pay back into the games future.

CSMX Candidates are announced early.

CCP Leeloo released the candidate list early. Then she made a spreadsheet of the candidates and their information. I made it to the official list along with 76 other people! If I don’t like anything about this process it is not getting an automatic confirmation number or something to use as a reference. I wound up taking a bunch of screenshots and making notes as to when I applied. My passport has the information from the e-mail. It is just a stressful thing hanging out there and having little paranoid moments that something didn't go through properly.

Voting starts on Wednesday (The 25th of February, 2015). Like many, I’ll have a few names up as an endorsement list at some point before that. This weekend has been devoted to getting Votematch done.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

What Was Paid Forward

I was telling Kaeda today how Lue has told me that he is proud of what I have become. I find it amazing because in my mind, I am still his newbie. I've been feeling a bit nostalgic for the days when I drifted about in space with him. I often talk about it because It was a very good time in the game for me and created the foundation for my love of low sec.

Lue, Diz, and Ender are very much my idols in game. I spent a lot of time trying to become a pilot that they could be proud of. I look back on my time with them in an extreme sense of nostalgia. If there is anything I ever want to retain and wrap my game of Eve around it was the time I spent in Klingt learning how to play, living, and doing.

I remember the times Lue abandoned me to go assist groups. I wasn't part of any of the local channels back then. Lue would just say that someone had called for help and vanish for a while, leaving me to clean up and occupy myself until he returned. I remember wanting to get to that place and point where I could respond to people and be useful.

Thinking of the future also makes me think of the past. I know that I want to develop something that will help people jump off the same cliff that I did. Not into low sec and piracy per say. I want them to become comfortable and capable in dangerous space doing whatever they happen to want to do in Eve. It is a tenuous thought still but one that I want to let lay on the back of my mind and grow a bit.

Do you have idols in Eve? Ender, Diz, and Lue are not the only people that I admire in this game. That is a long, long list. But they are my Eve Parents in many ways. I may never catch up to them. I won't ever be them. But the ground work that they laid I will build upon and hope that they will be pleased with the return to what they paid forward when they raised me.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Change on the Solar Wind

Vadeim Rizen > I've killed 6,000 ships in my day, fought one against few, few against many, and many against... well many more. I've seen just about every tactic in eve used, seen prominent alliances, fc's, and figureheads come and go. But the Drifter BS, is finally what's going to keep me docked forever.
Vadeim made me chuckle but he also gave me a beautiful entry for my thoughts about Tiamat's release and the subtle changes that it brings to Eve Online. Tiamat will probably be my favorite patch name and that is simply because every-time I see it I get a huge wave of nostalgia for my first MUD. Beyond that, I am interested in see how the growth of Eve's story is met. I also wonder if it will take NPCs of this strength and potential to get people to notice the video game side of Eve.

I watched someone rage quit from Eve back in September because CCP refused to pay attention to Eve's world and story. They quit weeks before the Carolina's Star event started and the new advancement of the Eve Online story line which has led to the introduction of Drifters. I think that they would have enjoyed it but perhaps they had become bitter in the year that they played because Eve was not what they felt it needed to be.

The advancement of Eve's story is important to its health. Many of us are drawn to the game due to it being a science fiction space simulator. It puzzles me that the story has been so often swamped and shiny features but then the stories the players make are appealing and fascinating. The game world however, needs attention to.

I won't pretend I'm a lore type or a role player. I'm not. I do like watching it play out. I do like writing about the game world. I have written quite a bit of Eve Fiction because I like the world so much. I've off and on debated trying to start a steady series of fiction but I don't know if it'd fall into true to lore or silly stuff like my Origin of a Spaceship stuff (I will pick that back up, I haven't forgotten. Creative energy is just being absorbed by the CSM. Sadly, that's the type of thing that has had to give.) I've always created my own world and Eve is the first world that I have tried to enter into a story someone else has built. Its an odd experience and I do not think I am very good at it. But I've enjoyed the fiction writing contests and the energy that they produce.

At the summit, I pointed at more random events. I think the NPCs should be existing with us. They should go to customs offices, dock and undock, jump gates, and use wormholes. Faction warfare should have boarder fights between the factions. The world should live and breath and be alive. And maybe if we get used to the world no longer being static people will not log in on patch days in horror to discover that there are new, dangerous NPCs roaming around. It is why I want improvements to PvE. The videogame part of Eve is also important and when unhealthy the entire game feels it.

One of my first conversations on patch day was a second hand notice that some players had no idea the drifters were coming. There was no in game notice. Sure dev blogs, launcher, videos, news announcements, forums, player blogs, podcasts, and such had all obsessed over it but inside of the game itself the story has been unfolding with no hint to those who ignore exterior information. And I thought on it after my somewhat irritated response of all of the information released and decided that I think the entrance into the game is fantastic. It causes the game world's heart to beat.

Now it would be better if the bulletin boards showed the videos and news announcements and if the Captains Quarter's TV screens showed that information as well. Those are long term wishes of mine. But beyond that, I think that having new things happen will be a shock to the player bases system. One that they can recover from once they grow use to it.

And maybe we can have some change. A decade may not be a long time for an immortal but it is long enough for the world around them to change. For people to die and others to be born. Wars are fought and won and lost. Alliances change. New threats unfold. New technology is discovered.

I'm looking forward to this living Eve. Considering that Tiamat is a chaos monster, I am fascinated to see what is in store.

Monday, February 16, 2015

All The Things Said

There is a lot to learn from watching people argue and discuss things. There are often answers to more than is being discussed and questions about things not brought into the discussion. And so I found myself, yesterday, while watching a discussion and dropping in an occasional question to keep that discussion going, thinking that sometimes we do not realize that what we most need is change because we cling to what is familiar and comfortable. And that grip on what we love comes at a cost of us destroying it because it no longer satisfies us.

It started with an argument that was made back when I first entered to game. Back then, in my first few months, the CSM was not something I knew or paid attention to. But for others far older it was a time of great change and directional focus. And now, three years later they are looking back at the changes and not satisfied with the direction things have gone. Not because it has not been productive or produced various results but because it was not the results wanted.

We understand the game through our own eyes. Our experiences will mold us in some way or another. It may be insight and understanding or it may simply be the way we comprehend the flexibility of game play. This was exhibited beautifully today in a conversation with Vov. He had found a 3/10 DED complex and there was a Gila in it.

"Kill it," I said to him. For that is my reaction. That is what low sec is for me. If that Gila is not a corpmate or a personal friend, it is someone to chase off or remove from 'your' resource.

"It is high sec," he said. "I will see if I can beat him to the drop."

He did get the drop for those curious. It was my reaction to things. My reaction based off of what I do and what I have done. And in games that we have played for so long, we develop habits and habits can be frightfully hard to change.

A habit, however, is a habit. It is not the same as being fulfilled and nourished. Sometimes we need breaks and sometimes we need change and sometimes we are not able to make ourselves do so. Love fades and bitterness grows. And I think that it happens more often then I'd like in Eve, an old game with players who are deeply devoted to what they do until they are often trapped by it.

So, I listened to what they said but I heard something else. I heard someone that needed a change and wanted and desired a change but could not force themselves to change. So they pushed that desire upon the environment and when the environment became resistive they became bitter.

It is a cautious walk to take. Where ideas come from and why they develop must be examined as often as the idea itself. Otherwise, instead of adapting to the situation Vov could have raged over a dysfunctional system. Instead he adapted. As I talked to this other player I looked over what they wanted and where they wanted that change to happen and saw someone who might just need to take that personal leap. What they wanted existed. It was just not where they wanted it to be.

Often times things need to change. Stagnancy is dangerous for a game. But sometimes we need to change to. Stagnancy is just as dangerous to the individual players. Its part of the endless question of why.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

CSM9 - Day 288

Tuesday is patch day. The release, Tiamat launches on Tuesday, February 17th. The patch notes are up. Please read them.
  • Changed missile launchers to require the missile skill they use. Example: Cruise Missile Launcher I now requires the Cruise Missiles skill at level 1
  • Energy Neutralizers and Nosferatus are no longer affected by the power grid reduction bonus of the Guardian, Basilisk and Etana.
With it being the week before release things have been puttering along. We had our normal meeting on Thursday which was just a quick brush up on what is coming in Tiamat as well as the progress over some things discussed during the summit. With the release around the corner everyone is head down and working.

Last week we had new apparel for the mystery code holders released. This week, the second skin for Fanfest ticket holders has been released. If you are planning to buy a ticket you will receive all of the skins still.

Fanfest is fast approaching. There are all sorts of little changes coming up. One of them is that the alliance panel has been changed to the corporation and alliance panel.

For the lore inclined, another video was released by the Scope discussing a possible Sisters of Eve conspiracy.


Today is the last day for CSMX applications. CCP Leeloo tweeted on the 12th that she had approved over fifty applications. There has been some question over why we have so many applicants. My theory is that the requirement for releasing your real name was dropped.

The candidate list will be out on the 23rd. Cap Stable is still putting out interviews but they are not taking anymore.  The CSM announcement forum is stuffed full of candidate posts. Only ten days until voting starts. I spent some time mulling what I want from my CSM member. It is not just their platform it is the person that I would be giving my support to.

However, work doesn't stop just because the candidate season is in. We're really starting to integrate into confluence and activity levels have increased for some of us.  I can only hope that those running are running with the intent to be productive and proactive. There is so much that you can accomplish with some time and energy.

Friday, February 13, 2015

When Comments Get Out of Control

I treasure my comment sections. However, the comments from my previous blog post took on a life of their own. And my imagination started to spiral out of control. I spent the day at work watching them come in and eventually, this is what I envisioned:

Several pilots were scattered around the room. Round tables occupied one end. On the other, couches sat under a market screen that ticked with the current buy and sell orders for ore, minerals, and unrefined moon material. Atop a battered couch, her short cropped hair a pale blue halo about her head, a woman rested her cheek on a view port and watched a fleet of Tristan dock.

The door slammed open. "Everyone wants a battleship post!" snarled a man. He shrugged out of a jacket and headed to the bar. "You offer them a mining barge and no, they are to good for it. I sat there and watched at least a two dozen turn down perfectly good barge listings one after another."

Music drifted up from the old fashioned jukebox in the center of the room. It cast a shadow over a figure tucked int the dark recesses of a couch. "That's why I don't even go out anymore. It isn't worth it."

"You just hav' ta teach them adventure!" boomed a man from the bar. Tall and broad of shoulder a mane of greyed dreadlocks cascaded down his back. "You gotta give'm a reason ta fly!" A mug of frothy brew waved around but the only drops fell into its owners mouth as he took a deep swig of the rich brew. "Then they flock to you and they'll do annathing!"

The door burst open again. Bright eyed and cropped headed, the man staggered in under an immense burden of paperwork. He dumped them down on the first table he came to with a flourish and wiped sweat from his brow. "This is the newest roster. I've created a new calculation that takes into account the experience of the crew member as well as the efficiency of your ship. If you look here on page twenty-six..."

Intrigued, the dreadlocked man stalked over the plush carpet and picked up a binder. "This is incredible," he boomed.

"Did you use a computer to compile this?" Neatness dripped from him. His jacket impeccable with its gold and green leafing, his bearing Caldari businessman, a man drifted away from the market screens. "I'm not a fan of machines judging people." The lights from the changing stock prices gave him an aura as his calculated tread crossed the flood without a sound.

"Not at all. I believe in educating your crew instead of using them as a comedy." His file still open determination filled his stance as he squared off against the taller Caldari. "This study has laid around incomplete for years because people don't want to embrace what we are already using."

"They kind of are a comedy." Chocolate skinned she slipped away from the  market listings and picked up one of the binders. With a slender finger she paged through them her blue tatoos accenting her intense focus. "You can get them to do anything you want for ISK."

"That's because they are here to get wealthy, as are we all!"

"Not me," said the shadowed man. "I'm here for the music."

"Wealth is a concept not all will understand," murmured the sharply dressed Caldari. His boots glittered in the light.

"These calculations will improve it for everyone." He picked up one of the files and flipped to a page. "The algorithms are very simple and pull from factors that we already use but this optimizes them."

"Not me," said the guy in the shadows.

The chocolate skinned woman licked a long finger and held it up. "The winds tell me that you are angry." She walked back to the bar and pulled out a can of finger nail polish and began to lacquer on a scarlet coating to her nails. "You don't like people or something?"

"I like few things but good music."

"I don't like people," said the blue haired woman. "It frustrates me that I have to pay people to run a ship I can run on my own."

"Lass! You can't run a ship like that on your own. It is not that you are not competent," he said hastily when one blue brow arched, "It's the strain of it is to much for a singular person."

"I agree. You cannot expect a computer to understand you well enough."

"I like the taste of nail polish," announced the woman at the bar and began to sip from the tiny jar. "It tastes like cherries and tears."

"Madam, that is not a drink." Grey haired and broad of jaw another pilot entered the fray. He neatly took the bottle of polish away from the chocolate skinned woman and ordered her a Black Rise Blush. "If someone wants to go out alone, they can."

"What happened to the music?" asked a slender, dark haired woman. She had seemed to be asleep on a couch but lifted her head and cracked open heavily lashed eyes. "It was nice.

"I dismantled it," said the finely dressed Caldari as he rose from a crouch and tugged his shirt straight. "It had to many decision making capabilities. I'm way of anything more complex than a mix tape."

"I think that a crew is worth the time. I'm going to look at these algorithms and compare it to how well they drink at the bar," said the dreadlocked man. "I like humanity in my humans."

"I say we stop wasting our money. I fly my ship without a crew and I do damn well," said a pilot who had remained quiet during the rest of the interchange. "I use drones and they are just as good if not better!"

"Where are you docked?" asked the finely dressed man.

"Burble glurp," said the chocolate skinned woman as she downed her drink.

"Maybe I'll just stay in dock for bit," muttered the blue haired woman.
***
If you can't figure out who is who, check some avatars. :)

I love all of you, my commenters. Even my anon ones. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

If I Must Share...

A dangerous habit of randomly writing what comes to mind is the distraction that it also causes. I was looking for a song to encompass my feelings of lonesomeness and I discovered that there are not that many songs about being happy while being alone. One of the closest ones that I came up with was 'Home on the Range' but the lyrics, when I read them made me recoil a bit. I did a few searches, side stepped, and decided to write anyway.

Cyrillian Voth did an impressive write up about the potential of ship crews in Eve where he builds up ideas laid out by others into a more coherent plan. This is a conversation that started (mostly) on twitter. It seems to me to be a side effect of the recent expansion of lore and the general interests that players have in expanding the fine detailed depth of their game.

I've read proposals for ship crews on and off over the years. I have one problem with the topic. I hate that Eve ships have crews. It was very devastated when I discovered that they did. I had always assumed that they did not. And one day I read something that said they have crews and my world rained down around me.

New Eden Crew Guidelines

I'ma  science fiction junky with a great love of sentient spaceships. Thorarinn Gunnarsson's Starwolves did it for me. The first book in the series I read was Dreadnought. I still own a copy and I love it. one day I will write about sentient AIs. I did not read  Ian Bank's culture books till much later and Saberhagen's Berserker series left me a bit unsatisfied because I love a good AI. I really enjoyed David Weber's Fury character but felt a bit unhappy because the ship was a reflection of the main character even thou she developed her own personality.

I love AI's. Second best is when a person can interface with the ship. Bio-engineering is amazing.  That makes Dietz's Legion series amazing. I love cyborgs and telepathy and people that are half or fully machine. I just adore that fusion of science and biology. So it means that I unconsciously pushed all of that onto Eve only to discover sometime later that my ship was full of people.

Woe is me.

Beyond that I think we are looking at various avenues of what I'm going to call 'fine grained' game play. Complexity that comes out of choices and patterns to create an intricate and perhaps personal puzzle. I use perhaps because the right way is a constant source of peer pressure in Eve. But, I see the desire to have complexity at the higher level instead of the base level. Crews. Boosters. Attributes. All of these discussions have been swirling around the basic premise that the game should be playable and the complications available for those who seek improvement and gains based on knowledge. Not on the level of basic game mechanics.

I think I like the focus. I'm the lazy player that gets a flaming sword and uses it for the next seventy levels. But the details expand the world as much as the large chunks of new space and the release of new technologies.

Maybe one of them will let me be alone in my ship. For now, I'll have to tolerate others. I do admit, I'm not sure why someone wired into a pod and immersed in goo needs a living crew. I thought that was the whole purpose of the link into the pod.

Sigh.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

What I Want From My CSMX Candidate

For anyone that has missed it, I am Sugar Kyle and I am running for CSMX, the tenth Council of Stellar Management in Eve Online. But this post isn't about that. This post is about my efforts to pick who I will vote for on February 25th, 2015.

My number one choice will be myself. However, once the candidate list is released on the 23rd, I feel that it is a bit of a responsibility to write up a ballot this year. I won't cover everyone. I'll cover the top of my ballot and a few people that I find interesting and may or may not add to my own but I would recommend to people with other interests.

I've said before that I worry that I will not be elected. I've received amazingly kind reviews from people ever since I announced my decision to run. However, I'm a creature of planning. That means I have to look at a future where I will not be on CSMX. That makes my voting a serious thing for me.

I ran for CSM9 because I love low sec. I wanted it to be represented. I did not want another year without someone on the council without a representative for low sec. Once on the CSM I found that there were things I could put time and energy behind, outside of my initial focus. It is not something that you know until you have it in front of you. But once there, it seems silly not to work on it as well just because it was not on an initial campaign platform. For some that makes sense and for others they ask me if that is my responsibility. I will say it is.

I started halfway through CSM7's term. I knew little about things and it was not until CSM8 was elected that I started paying attention. Hans was on the CSM at the time as a FW representative for low sec. This is a good thing but in the Retribution patch notes a single sentence changed my fate and the way that I looked at the CSM. The static DED complexes were removed from the game and with them came the death to a section of the community that I lived in. That is a longer story and one rehashed many times over. It set the seed of representing the player and hearing the quiet voices of smaller groups. When there was no low sec focused rep for CSM8 things had to change and sometimes that means you take that responsibility upon yourself such as I did for CSM9.

When I look at what I want in a CSM representative I want someone who will listen to me. It may be ideal to have someone who knows my lifestyle but there is easily a chance that they will not. That can be substituted for someone who will listen and consider other parts of the game. I want a representative that would listen to me even if they did not know me and care for my concern as if it was their own. That is the representative that I try to be and that is the type of person that I will add to my ballot.

There are others who make fine CSM members for their goals and focuses. I will not give them my vote because I have one chance to pick a person who I can give that hope and concern to and know it will be cared for. My second pick would be for someone who at least would care for the play styles that keep me coming back to this game over and over again even if they are not the person who would care for my personal concerns.

People who dismiss others or their concerns, especially when they have no personal knowledge of those things, will not be on my list. Nor will those who say that they listen but never show any follow through. I don't need a loud, flashy CSM member. I need someone who is willing to care about someone they do not know. Voting is highly personal to me. It is trust. It is hope. I give none of those things lightly. Even in a game.

My list will not be political. It will be personal. I have people that I like who I would not vote for because while they will be outstanding members of the CSM it will be on their terms and for their reasons. My reasons, my hopes, my joys, my wishes whispered in the dark... none of those things concern them. And while confidence is important and a personality that can handle conflict and being told that they are wrong, I still need them to care about me because that is why they ran. Being bold and vivacious is fine but force of will and nature does not also have to mean pushy and not considerate of others.

The personal strength of an individual is important. CCP will not always agree. They will not always heed what is said. They will have a different task list and a different agenda. Personal energy, pro-activity, the ability to hold one’s temper while being adaptable.. those things matter and I want them in who I select. The hardest part is separating if I like the person from if I feel they are the right CSM candidate for me.

In a way I indulge myself during my own term. The things that I do? They are the things that I want. I try to make myself the CSM that I want to vote for. But, I have to make sure that there is a CSM to take care of me should I not be elected again. And then there are the complex things like roll over votes and such.

It is odd to hear the clock ticking on the end of the term. I still have so much going on. And there are lists, and lists of things still to do. Add in candidate watching and it is amazing how Eve stuff can eat up the time. I'm guessing that the massive influx of candidates came from the removal of the public name requirement. But I don't know and I'm not going to worry toO much on it. As with many, I have my eyes on a handful of people who satisfy my requirements.

"It was good enough for me as a child!"

"Notice: Your special edition issuance is available to you. The 'Impact' jacket features pitch black nanofiber-laced harness locks in seamless connections on the front. Any capsuleer wearing this jacket is ready for a fight."
Wilhelm reread the notice again. The instructions showed a man, neatly dressed out in a rich orange jacket with white gloves. On the couch of his captains quarters there was a tangle of black plates with mottled green fabric. He picked up the mess and again tried to slide one of his arms into it. The buckles caught and green fabric wrinkles around his wrist. Determined, he pulled it over his head and gagged as a plate pressed into his nose. The pants were no better. He assumed they were pants. He had managed to get both knee pads on but the rest was a tangle of cloth and codpiece. How the belt attached he didn't know. it was currently decorating the other side of the room where he had thrown it in frustration. It had been a while since he had been out of the pod bt he was sure he remembered how to get dressed. The shirt he had peeled out of had come off just as he remembered. This... this fashion however... it was something else...

I could not resist after I read Wilhelm's post full of 'I don't know why I have this' but to capture it. I chuckled to many times. But, as he outlined his attempts to figure out how to dress his avatar and noted that the first thing he did was Google for help, I sighed. I didn't sigh because he used Google. I sighed because dressing his avatar required a search. And he is not the only one. The first time I tried to put something on that was new I to had to Google. That is how I learned that clothing must be on the hangar floor. Then you scroll to the left instead of the right and you find your non-standard duds.

Nothing tells you that little feature. You learn it through trial and error or by Google. I'm a terrible trial and error person. I have to use the Minecraft Wiki for crafting because I never figure out crafting recipes on my own. I'm horrid at that and Eve is full of things that you just have to figure out.

Double clicking in space, I am looking at you.

I started to ponder if it is all side effects of Eve's haphazard start and tendency to focus on the big, flashy future over the immediate needs of things. Whatever it is, it crops up constantly and it has to be remembered that we still lack basic things.

I'm reminded of every time I argue about the map. Sure, we have dotlan. Sure, we have other resources. At the end of the day the game should have basic tools within the game client. A map is a basic tool. And then, even as I wrote I realized that I was not sure if we had a command list. This led me down a rabbit hole late at night to find out that Eve has a full set of slash commands that were proposed back in 2008 by the CSM. Eve Uni has a section on them as well.

We discuss what we think new players need and what a New Player Experience should be. Yet, I stumble upon simple frustration points often enough that I think we need to smooth out the rough features. It is like we have a very nice house but we never got around to putting something on top of the dirt floor because it serves, its been turned hard as rock from time, and we're used to it. Its a nice, quirk that has always been there. Why change it?

"I wonder if the March boots were made in March or are for Marching. I was hoping for more casual wear." Having failed in his attempt to turn the strips of cloth and plates of leather into something that covered more than a continuous handspan of his body, Wilhelm had opted for something more familiar. It took him a while to find his closet. It seemed that the station refurbishment had gone ultra modern and removed any visible doors. He had accidentally activated a proximity sensor when he was trying to use the mirror to detangle the jacket. Maybe there had been simple, encoded instructions on the design. Now groomed and dressed, he updated his personal log:

"So I'm thinking I ought hire someone to round up all that clothing I have left strewn about space and put it together in a nice little wardrobe that has an actual door that doesn't give me a black eye becuase its spring loaded. That thing still hurts. I feel like wearing my Quafe T-Shirt when I am out in Immensea. It just works there. I don’t want to worry that I might have left it behind in Deklein or Jita or Amarr."

Note: This post is 100% teasing Wilhelm with the story that I wrapped my thoughts up in. That is his fault and I calmly pass the fault onto him thanks to his rampage on twitter. I take no blame or responsibility. Like a gremlin, I should not blog after midnight for things happen.

Monday, February 9, 2015

My Virtual Garden

Every now and then one writes a blog about writing a blog. I often write these for milestones. I normally do a yearly notice as the blog ages. This is a primary Eve blog. I have another one that I drop occasional topics in but I spend most of that time putting energy into Eve.

But I hit a blog milestone that I've been sitting on for a bit while I addressed some personal doubts about something that is irrelevant.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Underside of the Circle

Back in December I had a bit of a rawr moment after I moved TCS to Sujarento. The war zone was hot and heavy and someone kept trying to buy me out. I believe in smothering fire. They would purchased my entire stack of cheap modules and hulls.. I'd relist it. They did it again. I shrugged and replaced it. It kept me on my toes for a few weeks. The player was in a NPC corp and I speculated wildly that it was about the market and such things.

And then, today, I got this eve-mail.
Formal Apology, Sujarento Market Manipulation
From: M-----
Sent: 2015.02.08 18:32
To: Sugar Kyle,  
Hello !
I would like to apologize for the market shenanigans of December.
I joined faction warfare on my combat character in September last year. Due to school and work I was inactive for awhile. After Thanksgiving I had the time to start moving assets from my previous home and try and eek a living mining, manufacturing, exploring and trading to support my combat alt. Fast forward a few weeks, 
I was trying to help my Faction in the struggle over the region. I was hoofing stuff in from Jita the long route and I noticed how wonderfully stock the Sujarento market was. So I popped over on to Regional Market and started surfing the prices and volumes, I have to say I was impressed, nay, a bit jealous.
So I asked myself "Why couldn't my Faction stock our system???" Needless to say, I purchased a large volume of ships, modules, rigs and drones, many of which I handed straight to the leadership of my alliance and some items I stocked to the market where my combat character and there belligerent buddies deploy from.
A long while later someone told me about someone posting something about market manipulation in Sujarento in the weeks before Winter Holiday... They posted the URL in an alliance email. http://www.lowseclifestyle.com/2014/12/shelves-overflowing.html I thought oh goodness, I have become one of them, one of those people that try to control things that ought to be free, to mucky up commerce, to take away the freewill of the open market.
I too take pride in trying to deliver my market the best of goods, in the variety and volumes needed. M---- has a lot to learn from your posting on Lowsec Lifestyle.
Please accept my sincere apology, thank you for providing your market and the people of Faction Warfare a means to enjoy the game. I will not interfere with your trade and look forward to more of you posting on Lowsec Lifestyle. If there is anything I can do to help please let me know.
Thank you and take care !
M----
I was not crazy! I was not right but I was not crazy. In fact the entire situation was better then I thought it was. It was exactly what I wanted to happen and one of the reasons why I enjoy running a market.
Re: Formal Apology, Sujarento Market Manipulation
From: Sugar Kyle
Sent: 2015.02.08 18:34
To: M----
Hi! 
This is such a great mail. Yes, I saw your name a lot and was like, "what is this?" :P But you can see in my words my responses and reactions. Can I use this mail on my blog? It is amazing and would be a great view of the other side of things.
I feel bad for dumping all that stock on you but! Must keep the spaceships blowing up. 
I have such a grin on my face.
-Sug 
How I giggled. I was also very, very excited. It is rare that we get to to know what actually happened. I can guess and speculate to the best of my abilities but having an event come to a full circle is one of the best parts about Eve. There are so many sides to this game.
Re: Formal Apology, Sujarento Market Manipulation
From: M-----
Sent: 2015.02.08 18:45
To: Sugar Kyle,  
Hello !
You hvae my permission to use my email in your blog. I just strated reading it and I think its great. People are really caught up in the politics and the pomp of it all. There is sooooooo much fun to be had in all area of EVE. I think your posts and attitude portray, maybe even exemplify waht makes the game great and never dull. I remember when I first started to play, when I left all my friends who play WoW and all those games. When I saw the industry, trade, manufacturing and research of EVE, I was delighted. I thought... this is a real economy. 
I have been going to business school for the last 3 almost 4 years, much of what you learn there is directly applicable in EVE. I have been toying with pursuing my masters, and if I did so I would teach. I would try to make the senior class project EVE based. Tell the class you have a week to learn EVE, then I give each of you 50 million. You can do whatever youd' like, create teams corporations the skys the limit. Give me your API's, you will be graded on a curve, most profit, the best grade. Have fun.
Thanks again !
M----- 
And such was my joy to share this story.

But I almost didn't.

Recently, I read something about myself that made me ponder my market postings. I know that I have tilted heavily into market and industry from PvP focus since the CSM started. A lot of that has just been about time. Unlike being in space, I can break up a market or industry session over the course of the day and through other obligations. It often takes me the bulk of my day off to finish doing market buys where it once was a focused hour due to how spread my attention now is.

That made reading some sharp words hurt that much more. I'm soft tempered in general so I am poor at shrugging things off. But, I've never, ever said that this blog was all about PvP. I've never said that I was all about PvP. I picked Lifestyle back when I badly wanted to be a pirate and did not feel that I deserved it as a salvager and newbie. Back then, I was called a scavenger by someone I respected and that made me look at salvaging and wonder if I should keep it up. The same words about how all I am is the market and industry when it comes to low sec made me wonder if I was doing something wrong. For a moment I questioned what I was writing and why.

But, I picked Lifestyle for the name of my blog because living in low sec is not about one thing. It is not about one type of person. It is not about one type of activity. Nor is playing Eve a singular thing. There is no one thing about Eve. That causes us frustration when we try to explain it but it also is one of the most compelling and enthralling thing about the game.

What compels me is the people and the interactive web that we create intentionally and unintentionally. It is probably what I love best about the game. It is my time wheeling about space in a Jaguar being the forward tackle for a fleet. It is feeding capitals into the hungry maw of Snuff Box. It is unknowingly supplying a corporation when I think I'm fighting a market war. It is every part of every day. There is no best part of Eve for me.

There is just Eve for me. Not to be anyone elses right way. Not even when it gets me mocked and insulted. I know that we all play games for different reasons. I often consider Eve to be similar to a book. I rarely read books for the ending. I read them for the story. Eve is very much the story of games for me.

And that is why I play.

Molding Actuality

"Eve advertises be the villian."

I've heard it a lot as I discuss Eve the game and Eve's future. I pulled the pieces for the be the villian advert that I see when I occasionaly am on a machine without add blocking. It also happens to say:


But it focused on Be the Villain. It fades out and stays there. And I understand why. It catches the attention. It is more flashy. Marketing is about selling things.

But... ahh that eternal word to state disagreement after a compliment or moment of agreement... but! But! marketing brings people into the game and a side effect of marketing strategy is perception. Perception will dictate who decides to press the play the free trial button and what they expect to happen and enter the game planning in the depths of their conscious mind.

It is a problem on the other side of the trial. Once we catch them how do we keep them? How do we keep the people after them? My latest musing came because I saw an add on twitter. It was from G2A.com. No idea what type of site it is but the image:


Damn that looks pretty. But it is wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong wrong. That is a Venture. Its a flashy ship but I'm reminded of the laser Raven for the Dust 514 advert. Next, a Caldari Bounty Hunter. I groaned and would have put my head to my desk but my paint tray was in the way. Bounty hunting needs so much attention. It is just not hte viable career that people are looking for it to be and here we have a big add luring people into Eve to be a bounty hunter.

I was reminded of the Amazon adds and went to find them.

Phew. 



Someone has stopped with the super misleading, flashy marketing ads. Thankfully. There are still some laying around. I really, really, really want that be the villain add removed. There are others more neutral, more tasteful, more representative of the game out there. It is not that things cannot be exciting, but those seconds used to catch someone can also damage as much as they may gain a sub.

Of course, I'm a player not a business person. I am quite probably wrong. I know nothing of marketing. But, I do know of effects of advertising and I have seen the attitudes of players that enter through different venues. Anecdotal it may be but that is what I have.

Small things have fascinatingly large results to people. We react to things, to words, to images. It is why CCP must cast their marketing net wide. Skirmisher, industrialist, colonist. Yes. That is Eve. Fleet commander, pirate, mercenary... these are Eve. I can curl up in this care and tell you stories of each thing. 

But villain? Hero? Powerful words. Gripping words. Words that would appeal to marketing (I guess). But the right words for Eve? No. And I think that Eve's right words can be powerful and compelling while honest about the game. Eve is a compelling place where people make choices and those choices ripple out. It is a place where people interact with people and those interactions will be different just because people are different. It is not right and wrong or good and evil. It is people making choices. Some may be the extremes of good and evil but most will be made in the greyness of choice and personal decision.

It is to complex for simple labels. To clarify myself as I did in the comments, if two sides go to war both are good and both are evil. If a third party drops in they are good and they are evil. It is not a black and white game where you pick A for the moral decision and B for the immortal one.

This is reflected in the discussions about trailers. We can be compelling and excite the deepest passions while sharing the actuality of the game. A thing that causes people to come into Eve ready to accept the game that Eve is not the clever facade created to get them in and hopefully catch them.

Of course, I am an unabashed fan girl of this game. My view may be tinted by such.

Edited because the problem with just writing your thoughts is that you are the only one inside of your own mind. It is easy for me not to expound on an area as much as it deserves to make sure that my actual point is not lost in translation.

CSM9 - Day 281

We are a week outside of the Tiamat release. If you have not caught up on the features check out CCP Seagull's development blog over the plans for this release. Also remember to check the patch notes. They are normally released by the Friday before the launch, giving you the weekend to go over the features.

Last week CCP Darwin whispered in my ear that they were developing some added functionality to Eve Probe to let players who are more video inclined make their own scenes. It is the first step towards Jessica type access that has been sought for so long. We sat down with Jessica itself at the Winter Summit and saw that it is not a packaged system to hand out. However, now we have a first step. I do not have personal skill in this area but getting that door cracked open has been a hugely exciting accomplishment. If this is what you have been looking for I advise you to go read and look into the thread about it.

CCP Foxfour put up a challenge to build a static web application for browsing the Eve market using CREST. I had two very good discussions with third party developers at my local area meet last night. I advised them of the IRC Dev fleet as well as #tweetfleet. It seems that people are reading the developers.eveonline.com site as well.

If you have had this jump bug, please file a bug report. It is being worked on as well so know that this can happen.

If you wonder how many Interbus POCO are left in high sec the answer is none. A tiny bit of info for those of you who love stats.

For everyone watching the story line the Scope released some video coverage. I'd suggest you keep watching.

It is both the week before the patch and prefanfest time.

Fanfest is in five weeks. For those who are travelling, CCP Explorer has created a "coming to #eveFanfest" tips and hints series on twitter. I'll toss in my own note that the country is in love with licorice. Its in deserts, breads, and chocolates. If you hate the stuff check the back of packages for Lakrid, lakkrisrot, or words that look like they might sound like licorice. Then put them down. There are several convenience store like shops you can go to to buy water and snacks and even small food stuffs for more reasonable prices then drinks in restaurants.


The aftermath of the local VA/MD/DC meetup was incredible. I had hoped that twenty people would show up. I planned in my mind for thirty. I got over fifty at our peak with people coming and going through the evening. I handed out gifts, goodies, and game items like it was my job (which as the event coordinator it was). It was a success with us taking over the bar area in a huge, ringed blob of Eve players swirling and socializing. I had amazing discussions about attributes, newbies, retention, wormholes, low sec, faction warfare, and third party development. I met an elusive high sec solo player who is taking the game at his own speed and was there to soak up the environment and enjoy seeing Eve players in the wild. I made him tell me everything about how he plays, what he likes, his goals, why he has chosen solo, and what his Eve future holds for him.

Special thanks for those who told me to get them swag for the event while I was in Iceland. CCP Falcon loaded me up. I passed out shirts, posters, trading cards, game items, mugs, gloves, books, and out of print DVD with in game items attached. I have more for the next one although I wish I had taken more this time! Event coordination is new for me. I got a lot of positive feedback and ideas on how to set up the next one which is loosely in my mind planned for April sometime. I will hunt down Bam Stoker and get some advice because this thing is rapidly growing and with it becoming my baby I'd like to keep people having a fantastic time meeting other players in the area.

A month left to CSM9. I've started to get comfortable with confluence and build in things that I'd like to get in front of CCP. I also have an idea for catching CSMX up to speed a bit faster and improving their CCP/CSM interaction that I will write up to propose to CCP Leeloo and Seagull as soon as I post this.

My CSMX application and passport have been submitted. It appears from CCP Leeloo and CCP Falcon's interview with Cap Stable last night that everyone and their second cousin is running for the CSM this year. It should be interesting and I hope that all of these people throwing their hat into the ring are ready for the time and energy the position will ask of them.

Also, be careful of your twitter conversations and promising the player base tacos. Thanks to Bellak Hark for this cute bit of propaganda for my campaign.

I'll be hijacking Eve Uni Public Mumble for my monthly CSM Q&A on the 22nd or 23rd of this month.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Blog Banter #62 - Generations after Icarus

What is and/or should be the future for walking in stations?
-Kirith Kodachi

Last year I was debating the perception of Eve and CCP by the player base. I had interacted with more vetran players then every before and I was puzzled why my sense and view of Eve was so different from theirs. I wound up writing one of my favorite posts at that time. I have referenced it more than any other post I've ever written. Not because my post was incredible but because I had managed to write down something about Eve that I think is a very important factor about the game.

Eve has generations of players. The easiest way to look at these generations is by expansion. But, that would not be the best way to look at it because developmental styles and the directional changes of the company have also come into play. As I've worked on my history of Eve's expansions over the last year I have reinforced that belief. With current changes and events since I have started the game I've solidified my belief that the Eve that you start with is the Eve that sets your expectations.

What pounded it in for me was the fact that we now have a generation of player, the "This is Eve" generation who have never known pre-Phoebe teleportation mechanics.

We have an grown generation of players who never played battle cruises online.

When the topic for the banner was first suggested I went through my normal thoughts on how I had nothing to say. I watched people wage extreme opinions for and against the concept of walking in stations and avatar based game play. I realized that I was personally pretty neutral on the topic. That seemed weird. There was so much passion for and against around me. Why was I standing in the middle watching the argument back can and forth to see what happened instead of on one side of the battle?

Because I am a post-Incara child.

I started months after the summer of rage. CCP had gone full back to spaceships. The Tier 3 - now attack battlecruisers - were introduced. As far as I am concerned, they have always been here. I started up Eve, felt a warm flood of excitement as spaceship grapehics happened, and got dropped into the character creator. I spent perhaps an hour sculpting Chella. I upped her age a bit, made her not stick thin. Boots and cargo pants with a t-shirt finished us off. I spent time picking my background and started the game.

I started in the captains quarters. Aura showed my how to walk around and go to my ship. I explored them, went to my ship, undocked, and fell in love. It would not be months until I learned I didn't have to go into my captain's quarters. It would be longer until I adopted the habit of not going into the captain's quarters. I considered them a loading room of sorts. A place to safely hang out while I worked on things, chatted, and etc. It reminded me of the avatar areas of the play station and xbox. Idle, eye candy places that had little or more meaning.

It was not till much later, when I started to sink deeper into the game and community that I learned CCP flew to close to the sun. It was the players who, as Daedalus, watched their loved one plummet to destruction. And it is player, such as myself, who only heard the story and its warnings but did not experience the actual event. I never knew that time in Eve's history.

Now we move forward. We are almost four years past Incarna. Four years where players have entered the game, grown, and learned Eve. Four years for wounds to heal and people to forget. For some, it is only the blink of an eye and they still watch Icarus plummet from the sky. For others, they read a fable and the story it is meant to share.

It creates a rift in perceptions, further detailed and supported by personal interests and choices in the game. I found myself criticized by some for my questions about Avatar changes during the Winter Summit and thanked by others. They came from all ages and experiences in Eve. Some had lived through Incarna and still tasted dreams. Over this last year I have proposed many things and spoken to many people about parts of the game. Three things get attention. Anything about non-consensual game play in high sec, spaceship balancing, and avatars.

I think that the desire for avatar gameplay is only going to start to grow again. It was there before Incarna and it never went away. I do not think that CCP should full stop on spaceships. I hope instead that their efforts to fixing the years of game neglect that came from the fast, big, flashy release generation that desires Jesus features, will allow them to catch back up to themselves and expand out from there.

Avatar gameplay is not inherently bad. Poorly planned avatar gameplay that takes away from spaceships and keeping the game irritated and healthy is bad. Incarna soiled the entire concept. A concept that is very normal and familiar everywhere else. And like most things that have hurt, people avoid it. At the same time, CCP has to rebuild trust and like anything else, negatives carry more weight than positives.

I don't know if it is essential for Eve's future. But, I do think it would create more paths and avenues to explore. Paths and avenues that may bring in a different type of player and open up another layer of game play. At the same time there are so many paths and avenues that have not been explored. I'm looking at you pirates and smuggling, the expansion.

CCP does not have a large enough development team to do it all at once and in my perfect world I'd prefer avatars to be a small dedicated team and the bulk to stay with spaceships and space. But, my knowledge knows that it doesn't work that way. An entire design section that mirrors the current but was smaller would have to be developed for it. It'd be almost a different game and so far we've had Dust launch and have some rocky times and Legion and Valkyrie not make it out of the gate yet, while WoD died before birth.

I know CCP has the talent to make Avatar gameplay. I would worry about making avatar gameplay and the rest of Eve continuing at its current rate of repair, iteration, and growth. Maybe when the repairs are done and its more a focus on iteration and growth some pressure will be eased. Maybe because I have grown up in the generation of Eve being fixed, I'm overly nervous. I don't know.

I don't know an Eve that as a whole, dreamed for avatar gameplay. I do know an Eve struggling to heal from its past and learn from its mistakes. I'm more than happy to see an Eve with a complex future. But I do not think the future is right now. Not when we are so close to sewing closed the final wounds left by the past.

But after? Soon(tm)?

I believe in dreams.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Winter Summit Minutes Remix

This is a CSM post. A long one. Also Sion. Enter at your own risk. The Dev blog with the Winter Summit minutes and CSMX candidacy application information can be found here.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

After Ripples

Changes to the game are expected. They are anticipated. I've talked about adaptation. But, I was restocking my market today and realized that it has been a while since I stocked Cynos. In fact, I've only stocked cynos once since November. I took a moment to make sure Eve Mentat had not missed the cynos delisting or selling out. They were still sitting there and I sighed and put a check mark beside another item hit by the other side of the nerf bat.

It is becoming a bit of a list.

I started playing Eve for Crucible which was the November 2011 release. I started as a salvager and I made my first billions off of salvage. I had a Noctis and I used it to salvage level five missions. A lot of my early blog posts are about the time I spent in space gathering loot and learning how to pay attention. One reason the Noctis was preferable to a destroyer was because of its cargohold. Fully expanded, my Noctis could empty an entire level V mission without having to warp to the station. However, in Inferno they removed meta 0 modules from the loot tables. Drone goo was also removed at the same time.

The goals behind this nerf were to buff industry and mining. Meta 0 modules dropping from NPCs depressed the market for player built items. CCP has pushed Eve towards building things themselves. The drone goo removal was a strong hit to gun mining. It made a lot of sense from a world view point but it was a hit towards the life of a salvager that was only enhanced with later changes.

There was once a time when you could advertise as a salvager and people would let you tag along and maybe take a cut of the loot. It was to much effort for them to do it by themselves. Back when I started (all that not long ago) the old crimewatch system would still cause you to randomly steal cans from fleetmates and flag you as attackable. It made the salvager cautious because fleetmates could decide to kill the helpless Noctis pilot for their own amusement. That to changed with things like the mobile tractor unit and other changes. Salvaging as a career of collecting not just salvage but loot drops drifted to a slow, sad death with the changes to reprocessing.

It is not that this did not need to change. It is that it killed a playstyle with it. Such is what happens with change but it still sucks and I'd very much like there to be a reason for career salvagers again. Sugar can fly Ore Industrials just for that reason.

Odyssey had side effects to my market when it came to probes. With people no longer losing their probes I went from selling thousands of probes a week to a hundred or so a month. It wasn't just my bottom line that was hit. It was everyone who converted LP into sisters probes for sales.  Datacores were also hit. They were moved into FW and Odyssey made them easier to find. It is another situation where I do not think the changes were bad but they differently had a tangible effect.

And now I looked over at my stack of somewhat dusty cynos. Sure, they sell but not with the speed they did before. Nor does fuel. The deceleration is a ripple of the movement changes. Yes, they needed to happen, but that leaves side effects that need to be cleaned up or closed off. Such as the heavy missile changes. Oof. Talk about dusty piles of unused ammunition and modules.

Change is not always terrible. But standing here a year or two after some of these I think that there are many areas that can be neatened, trimmed, and cleaned up. The website still lists salvaging as a career and it, like piracy/anti-piracy or being a mercenary are careers that could perhaps receive a bit of a polish and relaunch.

Maybe I just miss those innocent days when I hung out in a Noctis, tucked up against Lue's Chimeria, grinding missions and enjoying the simple pleasure of being in space, making ISK.