Saturday, October 31, 2015

Pod and Planet YC117 - Cortex

Cortex
Written for Pod and Planet YC117 fiction contest
Author: Sugar Kyle


Todaki VI - Moon 1 - School of Applied Knowledge

The door cycled open and Nikol was greeted by a wash of stagnant air. It was not foul but she still felt her nostrils flare as it wafted over her and left a bitter taste on the back of her tongue. "Contamination?"

"The air is clean," responded the security officer. Vekosi, she reminded herself. She needed to know people not uniforms. "It's been on pure recycle for a while," he said, eyeing the notification by the portal. "No toxins. Normal organic composition. Oxygen is low but not hazardously so."

"Someone needs a shower," she responded and stepped through the doorway into the room. "Pull a sample for a complete analysis and then start a full scrub. I am not going to breath in some pseudo-demigod's filth."

Sterile, was how she would describe it. Silver, and silver again. A long couch occupied one side and the flicker of the vid the room's only illumination. Swathed in shadow, an empty bunk held a single blanket. It took her a moment for her eyes to adjust to see the back of the head silhouetted against the vid.

She breathed again. The air had the same, dead quality to it. The fresher air from the station, rich with metallic undertones, seemed unable to penetrate the room. "Lights," she snapped. "Override, Onis 345D-765L-10H." Illumination chased back the dark shadows. "Capsuleer Jul," she snapped. "I am Investigator Nikol Onis." There was no reaction. No movement of the head. The short, thin blond hair hung still. Nikol kept her step soft as she swung a wide arc around the couch. The capsuleers profile came into view. Strong nose, full lips. The vid's lights reflected in unblinking eyes. She paused. A breath. A long pause. Another. The eyes never moved. Both hands rested in his lap. Nikol took another step and waited.

No reaction.

"Capsuleer Jul," she said again. No flicker of awareness to her presence. "Vekosi," she said. "Get me a full medic team in here." She could hear her words relayed as she watched the capsuleer. The slow, slight breaths where the only indication of life. She assessed the rest of the room. No weapons. No sign of food or water. Her steps had left faint impressions in a thin layer of dust. There were no other disturbances.

How long had he been here like this?

The question followed her as the medical team responded. They slipped into the room and the medic crouched in front of the capsuleer. He did not respond. She flicked a light into his eyes and moved one of his limp arms. Another monitor slid into the port at the base of his neck but first they had to blow dust away from the port. Efficiently, they checked the man's vitals but Nikol saw the same question echoed in their eyes. How long had he been here? LIke this?

"What is wrong with him?" Nikol got to ask hours later in School of Applied Knowledge's capsuleer medical facility. She had walked through the long, transparent tunnel that arced over the clone holding chambers. Below, millions of lights illuminated the silvery capsules that housed capsuleer bodies. Bodies that were empty of consciousness. It had been tough to repress the chill the shadowy chamber gave her. She did not wonder that the Amarr considered capsuleer's soulless. Now, she stood in a small room with the comatose capsuleer fully tied into the medical facility.

"I'd say his mind has been wiped," said the doctor. "It is similar to when they move their conscious from one clone to another, but Capsuleer Jul does not have a registered jump clone."

"Is that normal?"

"Normal enough. Some of them are state bodies. Even after they change, they are still just like us. Some never develop a taste for spaceships. Some spend years learning before they go look for work. Capsuleer Jul was one of those. He has never left the School of Applied Knowledge."

"Is this normal?"

"No. Not that i have seen. But you may want to talk to someone that can access capsuleer records."

"CONCORD then." She turned and paused. "Thank you, Doctor. What will happen to him now?"

"He will go into the deep freeze for now, until CONCORD rules on this. I will send you a copy of my report."

"I would appreciate that."

***
 Yulai IX - CONCORD Bureau

The diplomatic shuttle slipped into one of the smaller hangars on the underside of the massive station. Nikol had been fortunate to catch the transport. An enormous freighter floated above them. Connectors snaked between it and the station as a cloud of container drones loaded and unloaded the massive ship. Nikol felt like a child and she had to stop herself from pressing against the glass to gape at the enormous silver-gray ship. A fleet of Velators sped past, their antics a dizzy swirl as they swooped over the station and vanished into warp.

The shuttle slipped into the long, low hangar and settled upon a circular platform. It docked and a hum engulfed them as an energy field surrounded the ship and separated it from the open vacuum of the hangar. Nikol straightened her uniform jacket. A diplomatic envoy from the School of Applied Knowledge draped in a silver robe embroidered with the school's logo, preceded her. “Good luck to you, Investigator,” said the ancient envoy. “It is a disturbing thing that has happened.”

Nikol bowed. Two more capsuleers had been found before she left Todaki VI. The situation’s had been identical. Her search had unearthed a dozen more, scattered around the Caldari systems. All had been at the schools that had originally accepted them for training after their ascension to capsuleer. All of them had been found in the same, catatonic state. Now she had a list of questions that only grew longer every time she opened the file. Something was happening and there was only one place that held broader knowledge of what was going on with the capsuleers.

Nikol could not shake the feeling that she should not be involved in this. She was a human investigator, recently elevated to monitor the school. It was a starter post. One used for centuries for investigators. No one, as far as she could find, had a situation like this happen. Biomasses? Sure. Capsuleers were still human at their core and it was the only true death left to them. Even they sometimes got tired of their lives.

A skimmer had arrived and Nikol found herself enroute to the security office. More natural, and sleeker, a dizzying array of plantlife flickered by under the skimmer. A bird or two called from taller trees, their bright wings flashing and flickering as they avoided the skimmer lane. "How are they not hit?" she asked the driver.

"They are the descendents of the smart ones," he responded with a laugh. "Genetic engineering at its most basic." She laughed with him and watched the  birds wheel overhead. It was peaceful and simple in a way her life had not been for years. She had never been in a station that vibrated life in the way this one did. Thick green branches draped across coordinators and streams bubbled along mossy rocks under arched bridges. Yulai might belong to CONCORD but it spoke vividly of its Gallente origin and age.

“Investigator Onis,” a young man greeted her. “I am Lieutenant Scrix.”

“Lieutenant.” She shook the young man’s hand. He was slim and wiry of build. For some reason she had expected a more generic, super trooper look from a CONCORD officer. He was relaxed under her inspection and waited until she was done. “It is good of you to meet with me.”

“Of course,” he answered. “Your report was quite useful,” he said as he headed towards one of the drop tubes. “We’ve been getting piecemeal reports in for a few weeks. But your investigation tied everything together. Quite neat, it was.”

Nikol felt herself glow a bit under the cheerful praise. It was unexpected. “Do you know what is going on?”

He looked at her. His eyes were a dark brown that she would call warm at any other time. They belied his youth. His eyes were experienced. “Yes. Some of it.” The good cheer left his expression for a moment. “If you will come with me?”

They walked across the gold star within a star mosaic of the CONCORD logo. Nikol felt odd as she walked. In the academy they had a symbol of the School of Applied Knowledge that no recruit was allowed to walk across. They must respect the symbol. Those memories surfaced as they walked. Her feet wanted to skirt the symbol.

“Of course.” Nikol followed Lieutenant Scrix past the entrance to the Concord Investigation Archives.

“As I said earlier, you’re query came at the right time.”

“I do admit, I expected a bit more resistance.”

“I know that Concord has a reputation.” He smiled at her. It was remarkably open and did not match the severe uniform. “It is both founded and unfounded. I don’t work in diplomacy. I work with cases. Anyone who can help us with answers is welcome in my investigation.”

“It is some hybrid of their education tech. We are not sure where it comes from. We have people trying to reverse engineer it, but it is a nasty piece of work,” Scrix’s voice was grim.  “What do you know about capsuleers, Investigator?”

Nikol paused for a moment. “They are people. People who have been able to survive moving their conscious from their original bodies. It changes them. Death is a technical barrier instead of a physical fact.” Her position had not often put her into contact with capsuleers. Few of them committed crimes or infractions that would come across her desk. “The ones in the academy are normally new. They seek education.”

“Capsuleers as we know them have only been around for twelve years, Investigator. YC105 was the year of the capsuleer. Your society and that of all of the empire’s has radically changed in that time. It feels as if it has been forever, but it has been a scant number of years when we look at it. That means we are still learning. Only, what we know isn’t static. Capsuleers are people. That makes them unpredictable.” He laced his hands behind. “Aspiring. They dream and hope and want. Capsuleers are inspiring. They are why I joined Concord.”

Nikol looked out the window into a vast bay that opened up to space. In it hung a detached set of massive engines. Long cables snaked from backs of computers and connected into them. Suited figures hovered beside it.  “Engines?”

Scrix stopped to admire the scene. “That is also why I joined Concord. Impressive, are not they? A new proposed capital propulsion engine. We are the only bridge between capsuleers and the empires that is somewhat neutral. The goal is to keep both sides as honest as we can.”

“I wouldn’t expect you to care about the politics of capsuleers.” She stood beside him. Cool gray uniform besides dark blue black and gold. The wall did not mirror their reflections but instead let them overlook the cold, dark depths of the disembodied engines.

“We don’t. But, those ships carry more than capsuleers. They also pilot them in neutral territories and unsecured space. We may not be able to respond everywhere, but we can try to put in some failsafes to stop some idiot from overloading their dreadnought and taking out a station.”

“Or some idiot from building in the overload?”

“You understand, Investigator.”

“I hope.” They walked. Nikol had wondered why they did not take a lift or ride a skimmer. Yet, as her feet covered the broad, well lit hallways, she realized that Scrix was helping her. He was letting her move past her awe of CONCORD as he gave her an informal tour at the same time. By the time they stopped in front of a triple plated door, Nikol was ready for her curiosity to be satisfied.

In a structure of impressive arches and doorways, the one they came to was simple. “Answers, Investigator,” said Scrix. Nikol stepped inside the door and stopped. Across the room, a woman stood. She was tall with long, wavy brown hair. Bright silver eyes caught the light and seemed to shine. She was lovely if severe but there would have been something engaging if her face had held any expression.

Nikol stared at herself.

***

Lieutenant Ha’al Scrix relaxed his grip on his blaster. It was a small, compact weapon, almost innocuous. Inside, it packed half a dozen hybrid, plasma charges. For such a small weapon it could rip a hole through light armor. It would certainly have stopped Capsuleer Nikol Onis. She would not have been the first Capsuleer he had terminated. However, the situation looked stable at the moment.

“That is me,” she said. Her voice, so soft barely rose above the hum of the filtration system. “Why is there a clone of me?”

“You left her here.” Capsuleer Onis looked stunned as she stared at her clone. A clone that she had left at this very station two years ago. A clone she did not seem to have expected. Six months ago you left her here, after we dropped the standings requirements. You then left for Todaki VI.”

“What are you talking about?”

“A month ago, you walked into your old office on Todaki VI. You sat down to work as if you had never left. As if you had no knowledge that two years ago you took the ultimate risk and killed yourself to become a capsuleer.”

“What type of sick joke is this?”

“A joke, Capsuleer Onis? CONCORD has many habits but joking is not one of them. When you arrived at your post with no knowledge of the two years you had been gone, you office contacted us. We told them to keep track of you. When you slept, we put in a selective neural block so that you would not notice your own sockets.” Her hands groped the back of her neck and she recoiled at the touch of warm metal under her collar. “Somewhere along the line, Capsuleer Onis, you have had everything that made you a capsuleer ripped out of your mind.”

She seemed rooted in her place. “What?”

Scrix was grim.“We are pretty sure that you did this to yourself.” In his right hand was another weapon. It gave a short, soft bark and Capsuleer Nikol Onis collapsed to the floor. “We have to make sure you are not doing it to anyone else.”

Behind him, the door cycled over. “Dramatic, Scrix,” said the broad, powerful man that strolled in. “I should nominate you for something.”

“A bit,” he agreed. “I needed the shock value. She has been functioning smoothly so far. Capsuleer tech did not startle her. The investigation did not change anything. Maybe, confronting herself would do it.” He looked down at the still body on the floor as the medic team swept into the room. “I think not. We do have a problem, Sir. Someone is leaving capsuleers empty husks.”

“You suspected her?”

“She has been the best lead so far. A plant, perhaps? I’ve monitored her traffic for the last month. She has been genuinely investigating this situation.” He watched the medics load her onto a gurney. “She’s very good. It’s a shame she took the leap.”

“It is probably why she took the leap. She isn’t a fellow lawman anymore, Scrix. Keep it together.”

“I never lost it, Sir. Something is stripping their minds bare. I wish I knew what.” He followed the medics out of the room. Behind him, the clone closed its eyes.

***

“The status report for Capsuleer Onis, Sir.” Lieutenant Scrix stood at attention before a long, simple desk that curved across one corner of the room. Viewscreens hovered around the desk. The screens that had blocked the front of the desk faded into transparency. Behind it, more screens showed splashes of light as capsuleer ships exploded.

“Report.”

“Capsuleer Nikol Onis has been released from suspended animation. A neural remap was executed in an attempt to reconnect her to some of her capsuleer education. It has been partially successful and she is currently on a reeducation program. Extensive review of her contracts reveal an unfamiliar item noted as a trans neural packet. She purchased it from the NeX. A capsuleer only exchange. We don’t have a full analysis of all of the items advertised through this market.” One of the screens flickered and changed to a long list of numbers.

“She did this to herself, then,” was the murmured response.

“Yes. For quick ISK she pulled out a portion of knowledge for a direct transfer. Instead of detaching a small set of skills it cleared her mind of all of her capsuleer knowledge. The memory loss was a simple result of damage. Once confronted with what happened she began to reaccess her damaged memories. I expect that she will recover.” In a way, Scrix had liked Onis. Or, he had liked pre-capsuleer Onis. She had been passionate about her investigation. What made her leave her humanity behind when she had been so human? He, like every other member of Concord was medically disqualified from making the change.

“Your thoughts on this.”

“This will not be the last of this. Although damage has resulted across all cases we have studied, how will we know who has been successful? Somehow the capsuleers are trading skills or accelerating their education without the current educational feed.”

“That is unfortunate.”

“Yes, sir.” Lieutenant Scrix stared at the view screen of a slowly exploding Avatar. “I believe it will change everything.”

Friday, October 30, 2015

Eve Vegas 2015 - Capital Round Table

This was well attended and well recorded. My notes are notes as always. Scrawled at full speed. I suggest you watch or listen to the Capital Session that preceded the round table. I missed some stuff. There were a staggering amount of questions.

Please visit the dev blog: Reworking Capital Ships.

From what I understand CCP is putting together a focus group similar to their one for tech 3 destroyers. It is not a CSM project. The CSM was going to put together a similar focus group before CCP decided to do so. That will allow us to share some ideas and potential participants if CCP wishes to accept any of those parties.

I arrived early because I wanted a good seat. It had the side effect of allowing me to listen to the conversations in the room from other early arrivals. I wrote a list of complaints that I heard. Most held a frigid, bitter quality to them that was reinforced by a bit of posturing. “Oh! We have killed you forever!” says one group to another. It taints their conversation and after a while I stop listening. The bit that i did pick up wound up being answered during the course of the talk.

CCP Larrikin is leading the Capital Rebalance. CCP Punkturis was also there to answer questions about the new fighter system. CCP Nullarbor was also there in case there was a cross over into structures. This caused a bit of confusion as someone asked why only Larrikin was answering most of the questions.

As I wrote my notes I did not understand some chunks of what I short handed. With the recordings available and the notes, hopefully super capital knowledgeable people can create the full discussion. It may come to bite me in the ass for admitting my ignorance of the fine details of super combat. I decided to leave in the pieces that confuse me, with a note of my confusion for those who understand the context where I do not. As I often say when listening to people discuss the movements of null sec life, “I understand all of these words but have no idea what they mean.”

Q: Super capital hunting before downtime will be affected by the cap changes of the doomsday.
A: The regular doomsday is not getting the drain so head shotting is not going away.

Q: Dreads have siege. Auxiliary will have triage. Can carriers have something for their resists maybe?
A: Right now, no

Q: signature resolution for XL guns for regular dreads. It is like Titan guns?
A: Yes

Q: The amount of damage these guns produce should be higher than 2k
A: We have been thinking about that. The numbers are not set yet

Q: Can you carry more fighters?
A: Yes. You will have extra in your cargo hold. You manage them through your inventory.

Q: Logistic capital skills?
A: Have not decided

Q: Looking like the XL guns will not hitting webbed things? (I believe this was about Vindi webbed subcaps still not being targets)
A: Yes. What they can shoot is based on the sig

Q: This question was a concern about sub capital fleets in wormhole space
A: We think there will be some interesting gameplay related to this

Q: Faction and capital mods. Current officer mods that are only used for capitals will need to be rebalanced
A: Some things are turning into capital mods
(NOTE: I did not fully understand this question as I heard it as that I’ve never even personally sniffed an officer mod and I have no idea what it takes to fit a super/titan)

Q: Will the costs of the ships be the same?
A: Yes

Q: The capital cargo bays need to be increased so that they can carry more than 2 capital modules
A: We have not decided.

Q: Can you give an idea of the HP differences?
A: We do not have exact numbers yet. That will be part of the capital focus group

Q: This question I have written as, “With the change to weapons systems. Looking at the damage of the Leviathan”
A: Sounds good
(Note: This is one of those questions that super users will understand. It was a much longer question that went into the Leviathan’s damage ability vs other Titans. It was long, it was said quickly, and I am again not knowledgeable enough about Leviathan damage potential.)

Q: Are there scripts for the new Doomsday damage types
A: They will be modules not scripts.

Q: Bastion gives a weapons timer for PvE
A: That has come up and we are going to have to look at it

Q: Scripting AOE Doomsdays?
A: Not yet

Q: Will Auxiliary's get remote assistance in triage?
A: Nope. No reps or cap in triage/siege

Q: Will logistic ships get weapon timers?
A: While in triage you can’t refit. But refitting is fun. Maybe they will gain the weapon timers.

Q: Fighter bombers. Plans to make flights into light or heavy or reimburse?
A: They will be transitioning over into the new type. The new type will also be built.

A short discussion about them. Fighters don’t behave like drones. Different AI. Different UI.

Q: Have you thought of new ways for the ships to manage their cap better?
A: Interesting question
Note: This was a suggestion said quite fast so I did not catch all of the pieces. It was about allowing more flexibility of capacitor depending on modules instead of straight positive or negative increases.

Q: Are you changing the grid
A: (CCP Larrikin looks at CCP Nullarbor. CCP Nullarbor has been examining grid sizes as part of Citadel development) We are looking at the grid size. It turns out there is not a reason for them to be small. We are investigating it due to other reasons. We are investigating the lock range, camera, and adding more UI to control at distances and such.

Q: Dreads and Titans only have three locks and with the new guns and all...
A: There is no reason to leave them stuck to three targets. They will also lock faster

There is a wide range of fighters coming in. They will be in the double digits. What you assign to them will be what they can do. It will be more of a mix and match and create your perfect groups.

Q: Combat . Have you considered cutting down the timer?
A: No? (To the room)Should we consider it? (Mixed responses)

There was a discussion about making the beam wider and slimmer so people could choose its size. CCP Larrikin said that while it sounds cool, everyone would make it wide. Then they’d just jump in one Titan after another and it would be a min/max situation at all times.

Q: Size and mass?
A: New dreads are similar in size and mass when it comes to Wormholes

Q: Are supers losing their logistics?
A: Yes

Q: Are the Auxiliary's going to be individual enough?
A: They will all be unique and match their race.

Q: Will the AoE stuff hit cloaked things?
A: No

Q: Does the 10 minute Doomsday timer count as a weapons timer for refiting?
A: Not sure. That is an interesting idea. (Comment here about people stripping and refitting their Doomsdays to avoid timers being a factor)

Q: Are Jump freighters in the HP Rebalance
A: Not sure

Q: WIll the Rorqual have industrial restrictions?
A: We are looking into relaxing that and allowing them to use their bay freely

Q: Manufacturing: Anyway to build supers in station?
A: You can build them in assembly structures. Not in Citadels. Sov restrictions are staying
(Note: This player was quite unhappy and ended by saying that “PL and the Imperium will still have super building dominance then)

Q: Will there be a way to have better hull reps?
A: CCP Fozzie loves hull reps per CCP Larrikin. However, nothing is promised.
(AUthors Note: Unrelated to Eve Vegas. There has been some discussion over how to make hull reps better and more combat viable. Potential improvements would probably roll over into capitals)

Q: Big grids would be fun. How do I alpha ships that can warp away?
A: Friends? Specialized e-war fighters?

Q: So putting dreads in a fight is still a guarantied bil in the trash
A: We are giving more options. I’m not against caps dying

Player Comment: I believe siege mode dreads should still be able to get cap.

Q: Any plans of combat dreads with no jump ability?
(entire room stares at him)
A: Nope

Q: Dev blog?
A: Later today

Q: Existing or new Doomsdays vs CItadels
A: (CCP Nullarbor) Yeah, why not? No bombs or smart bombs however

Q: Will fighter squads be able to be tackled or neutered?
A: Well they don’t warp. But webbed, and jammed. Damps may not be useful.

Q: New Doomsdays act as a cap neutralizer for subcaps?
A: Yes. They may cap a capital but not as much as a fleet of rifters.

Rebalancing hitpoints. Looking at reps. Looking to do changes to scan rez. No drone deploying in triage.

Q: Give dreads reps in siege?
A: We have not decided

Fighter squads must be launched in groups. You can’t send out more members to fill a hole to a partially damaged group.

Q: Shadow Cartel uses a refitting tactic. Why do you think that subcaps should lose this tactic when you are adding it to control caps. When we have a mach fleet we can refit to counter.
A: It is an interesting combat choice. We want consistency instead of special exemptions.

Q: Fighters: Will they keep doing their command or will you have to tell them each time?
A: Depends on the ability
There was a bit of discussion about how some things you want done over and some you don’t and that they will have a UI that helps you manage them better.

Q: Capital Smart Bombs?
A: No

Q: Bumping and capital positioning. These are problem areas for anyone trying to move a fleet of capitals.
A: No changes are planned at the moment. It is a known problem

Q: Slow cats. Their ability to put out tons of drones is one reason they were such a  problem. Will there be any iteration?
A: Carriers would launch drones. Fighters are going to be the new things. Currently they are playing with how many the ship will be able to hold and launch.

Q: Stacking penalties. Reps and resists. Looked at addressing reps with fall off.
A: Yes. There are technical issues. Also counters that create weird things when it comes to resits.

Q: Carriers and supers - can you set way points for the fighters?
A: You will be able to give way points for movement.

Q: Can we get a notification of when the fighter arrives at the way point or target?
A: There is new UI. Play testing will let us know if that is what we want it to be

The T2 cap skills will need level 5 cap skills to train.

Q: Can we lift cargo restrictions on ship maintenance arrays?
A: Will check with people.

Q: Planning on putting in new high slot modules?
A: Yes. We are not read to discuss it

A player had the opinion that supers should be restricted to null only. There are two large low sec groups that are oppressive with their supers.

Q: Why was the Rorqual put to the side?
A: We know it needs attention. We have ideas. We have ideas we are not ready to share yet.

Q: Super capital logistic ship?
There wasn’t really an answer that I caught.

Suggestion: Put a jump drive in the Bowhead? (Followed by T2 Bowheads calls)

Q: Modules that apply damage to sub capitals. What is the point of sub capitals in a capital fight?
A: KIlling capitals. Sub Capitals will have a larger impact in capital fights with the changes.

Opinion: Wormhole capital mass should be flattened like the DPS to give more game play options.

Q: Wormhole capital escalations in this new age of capital changes?
A: We are aware of the way the changes will affect wormholes. Watch this place. (lots of people made “Oh” noises)

Q: Rebalancing local capital repairs due to the triage changes?
A: Yes. We are looking at this

Someone did not like the name of the new guns. This called for CCP Larrikin to explain where it came from. Nit picking ensued.

Q: There is now no defense for wormholers. They will now die in their sites.
A: CCP Larrikin did not agree and said that there was more to come for wormholers.

Q: Decrease the time it takes to build them.
A: Maybe

Q: You have to bring down the cost, time, and components. More will die. Not enough will be able to be built to replace them. We will run out of capitals.
A: We have looked into the numbers. It has come up. We are not planning to bring down these numbers for now.

And that is that. I’ve done my best to faithfully reproduce the questions and answers. They are often short handed versions..

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Eve Vegas 2015 - PvE Round Table

I'm old fashioned and write notes for sessions. I noticed that there were all sorts of recordings at Eve Vegas. TMC had an entire recording stage out. CCP was recording some things. Players had cell phones and recorders on hand. I felt positively archaic. This was far from four years ago when I was one of the few people interested in recording what happened at these events.

But, that didn't stop me. I didn't worry about getting the information out as fast as before. It takes me around two hours to transcribe the fast written sloppy reminders. I try to capture as much as I can. If I cannot understand what I wrote or cannot remember something, I skip over it. So much happens that it is easy to give credit and weight where it is not due.

All told I attended the following round tables: Capitals, little things, structures, PvE, and the CSM. I understand that there was a last minute round table for skill training. It was not well announced or I would have attended it. For the sessions I did attend, I wrote notes for all of them. However, I'm going to start with the PvE round table due to some bitter comments I have been seeing on my blog about PvE.

The PvE session with CCP Affinity was at 1100 on Sunday. I had promised that I would be there. I've been a (hopefully loving) thorn in CCP Affinity's side since I joined the CSM. I have this belief that improved PvE means a better game of Eve for everyone, even those who never wish to engage directly in the PvE activity. This has been echoed in my CSM activities for the past two years.

Eve has the one PvE team. I'd like for there to be more, but for now we have one. That does not mean they do 100% of the PvE things. CCP Fozzie for instance made the burners and CCP Bettik has the future of drone sites and drone faction modules on his plate. They however, are the main ones working through the content so CCP Affinity had a table for eight speakers to herself. She pulled her chair forward and made the talk a bit more intimate with the crowd.

The first question I'm going to list was asked about halfway through. Someone requested a road map of the PvE goals for the next year. CCP Affinity said that she would be posting a blog soon and another one probably in January and another one potentially in March. While, during the course of the talk she discussed a two year plan, she noted that her road map is very flexible and changes a lot. Because of that, she doesn't want to push any promises out more than six months and we shouldn't expect to see dev blogs that go beyond that time period.

CCP Affinity: There is more PvE coming in the next year. Let's start with the new tribute system.

The tribute system is Concord giving players an extra thank you for doing what they normally do. It is based on you doing what you like to do. Most cases it is completed in your first piece of content. There are five levels of tribute and they are completed all together. If you complete a level five type (currently incursion, FW missions, high level anoms, level 5 missions, higher WH sites) you will not only get the level five tribute but also levels one-four.  So there is no grinding low level content just to get the tribute.

NPC patrols are coming to FW. You will get LP for them. Patrols and NPC activities are coming to all areas of space.

Q: Will we have these in sov null?
A: Yes. Null sec as well.

We are working on NPC behaviors. NPC's will dock at your citadels. When you attack some of these NPCs they will follow you. They will follow you from system to system. They will follow you through wormholes.

Q: Will they effect WH mass?
A: No. They won't effect the mass.

Q: Will it cause holes to appear?
A: Yes

We are looking at drifter convoys that will come to the aid of sleepers.

Q: Cap escalations will be even harder?
A: We will have a dev blog about capital escalations.

This is also why we are looking into nerfing drifters a bit. Their super weapon will not work against transversal. Basically, going fast at an angle in a small ship like a frigate will make you immune.

Q: But we are in capitals in sleeper sites
A: We are trying to have this not radically change your ability to complete a site. See the future dev blog.

Q: Will drifter convoys be drifter battleships?
A: There will be more drifters. Next year drifters get their own capital ship. Plus logistics. After all, who goes out to fight without logistics? We're working on the AI in this areas. You will see this in the Drifter vs Amarr events.

Q: Is this system available in missions?
A: Some will be.

CCP Affinity goes on to discuss that they know they need to add more missions and they will be working on that.

Q: Will the patrols cause standings hits?
A: Yes. There will be standings hits.

CCP Affinity goes on to discuss goals with new NPC activities. That there will be NPCs that move things around. She wants to turn the current peddlers and trader NPCs that move from station to station into real convoys of multiple ships that trade from system to system. If you have standings with them they would move stuff for you. However, they can be scanned and attacked as well so hunting them has a place. It isn't just a free to safely move.

Q: Player comments that there are not a lot of bonuses for standings
A: We want to do more with standings in the future. Things like change interactions. Maybe limit how many good standings you can have. You can't be friends with everyone. At the same time that would mean if you are good here people are hostile over there.

Q: Can you steal from interbus that moves things from the Citadels?
A: Not now. Maybe in the future.

Q: If Drifters hate me will they chase me everywhere through empire and hound me forever?
A: The Drifter storyline will advance and things will make more sense.

CCP Affinity goes on to discuss that they want to put in a procedural generation system. Right now everything is static. The procedural generation system will move triggers, items, and NPCs around. Fleets would increase with the number of players. It is not something that will be done any time soon and they are looking at hopefully two years to get it implemented and in the game.

Q: Will Drifters drop different loot?
A: That is the goal. Also, I'd love to see drifter skins and ships dropped.

Q: What are you doing for the scourge of high sec incursions?
A: This was a short discussion about high sec incursions. CCP Affinity said in her opinion it doesn't make sense for Sansha to continue incursions forever and maybe they should change a bit in the future.

Q: Faction and Faction standing. There needs to be a more intuitive way to repair them.
A: We have to revisit the standings system in the future. It needs to be ripped out or completely redone. It is not on the list of things for right now

Q: Drone sites still don't drop faction loot.
A: We are aware of that. It is on CCP Bettik's backlog

Q: How are burner missions doing?
A: Quite well. They have influenced the current NPC AI quite a lot. Burners do not use the new AI but we've watched player interaction and used a lot of that to make this AI better and more fun.

The discussion moved back to the procedural system. It will see ships and not just fleet numbers. Drifters are the test bed for the better AI responses.

Q: Data sites - They are nearly worthless. Have you thought about maybe adding scripts or something for the future Citadels for them?
A: CCP RedDawn is doing the first step in the Data site rebalancing. We are going to let that happen and see what it does before we take the next step.

Q: Standings. I like to attack people in Faction Warfare but it gives me bad standings. I think that standings should be decoupled from PvP.
A: I do not see how that makes sense considering that those players have been hired by the Militia and you are killing them.

Q: What is the roll out?
A: Current plans are: Tribute and Data sites around Christmas. NPC Patrols in March. Drifter capitals next summer.

Q: Procedural Generation?
A: Two years away maybe. But we have a lot of dramatic plans to shake it up next year.

Q: More holiday things?
A: Maybe. We want them to fit into the story line. No Sansha Claws.

Q: Please don't make NPCs safer
A: We are not planning to

Request for expeditions to share across the fleet so that everyone gets the location and bookmark.

That is the summary of the notes that I took and what I remember. I grabbed most of what happened. I'll work on the others.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Eve Vegas 2015

This hotel room looks over the Bellaigo fountains.  At this time of night they go off every fifteen minutes. The larger shows where the foutnains shoot up high enough to top the hotel peak also start.


It is a beautiful view. I just crawled out of a tub where I soaked my tired and sore legs and feet. Eve Vegas is over and unlike other times, I did not come home in the evenings and blog. Instead, I came home and curled up with my husband and slept. There was some debate to hang out until the late hours of the night but I decided not to. Fatigue does not feel particularly good.

Last week I logged out of Eve and decided not to log back in for a while. Tonight, I have no way to log in but feel myself wishing to do so. I savor that thread desire. It means all is not lost and the negitivity and bitterness that has swamped me for weeks has not corrupted me to the core of my game play.

Even at seven hundred tickets the event feels intimate. There is a tangable excitment in the air. People greet people and ask them who they fly with. So much of the clicquish feel that was present at the first and second Eve Vegas events that I attended is gone. My note taking is no longer unique. I feel replaced by recordings, recorders, and live streams. I still wielded my notepad and my pen. Just as I still retreat to my blog to ponder events.

I can say that I needed the positive vibe. My own depression was evident. I wish that no one saw that I was worn down and exhausted., Yet, discussing it I realize that I had promised to represent things and share what the CSM was like. I didn't promise to be a cheerleader and pretend that every moment was created in utter perfection. I do wish that the bad times and exhausting times didn't happen. But, they do and to hide it creates a level of falsehood I don't want to be a part of.

It was nice to have people tell me that they appreicate the time that i've put into the CSM. The every day is more often filled with negitives than positives and it becomes easy to drown in it. I'm embarassed that my vision becomes blurred and my energy sapped by it. It will be odd when it is gone but not completly unplesant. For now, there is another six months worth of time to complete projects and set up others to finish. I have a bag full of well wishes to help me not get lost in all of the dark comments.

Not everything is happy, excited energy. I've ease dropped on conversations. There is an underlying unhappiness there. Vegas is a gritty city that is made beautiful by vast archatcture and stunning neon lights. In many ways, I am reminded of the city as I watch players enjoy the event with tight lipped smiles. It was a mixture of enjoyment and unhappiness as they processed the changes while meeting friends old and new.

As for me, I have decided to put aside my efforts to understand parties full of loud music and alcohol. I watched the fountains from the party on saturday, and admired a street preformer with three hulahoops. I waited for the apiffiny to strike where I'd find the party to be amazing and full of memorial events. I wound up leaving as the music level reached unbearable volume and going off to have dinner with Dire and Vov.

I look forward to next year. There will be no CSM to loom over my head. I will have disolved back into the primordial soup of nothingness. The old adage to be careful of your wishes has been true for me. I think obscurity is where I belong.

As I was finishing up, my husband asked me what I was writing. I told him that I was writing about why I had not written. He looked down and looked back up and said, "I didn't write because I didn't want to. The end." I guess that's the TL;DR.

Bast and Anubis say good night.


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Pod and Planet FIction Contest YC117

Telegraph Sam has returned for another fiction contest. It has just started and ends November 19th, 2015. Go check out the rules!

For those that ask, this is a legitimate contest. I've entered each year and plan to do so again. Or, at least I will after Vegas. I have three stories that have been bopping around in my head and hopefully I'll be able to produce them all.

As always, just give it a try. Don't spend a month fretting and wondering if you should or can. Just try it. There are multiple categories so you can write anything from lore to an amusing anecdote about one of your favorite moments in Eve.

I like this contest because it pushes me out of my comfort zone with my creative writing. I don't think that it is my strength to write Eve fiction. It is a struggle to stay inside of someone else's rules and story. However, that struggle I believe improves me over all. I may never have won a grand prize but I do think that I've been improving each year.

This contest has taught me a lot about how Eve's story and its players don't sync up. It is something that has importance. We live within the game world but we are detached from it as well. With the new work that has gone into the game's story and breathing life back into it I hope to see that particular hurdle lowered.

But for now, time to write. I'm going to put some time and energy into this so no promises about my general activity for the next month.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

CSMX - Post Some number or another

I guess things happened this week.

The next release is November 3rd. There are changes coming to the sovereignty system. In those changes, we get some quality of life pieces that the sovereign owners have been waiting for. It also brings the first round of jump fatigue changes with a new maximum cap.

At the top of the list, CCP released a design outline for a skill trading system they are looking into implementing. It has spawned a threadnought on the forums, one on reddit, and blogs and tweets and such reactions. Currently billed as a replacement for the character bazaar the reactions have been varied and loud. I'm not fond of the system. It will change a lot of Eve I do not think it is newbie friendly as is often suggested.

The fact that the character bazaar is there has helped some people come to terms with it. "Why don't you have a problem with the character bazaar?" is a frequent question. The reason is because if CCP had not sanctioned character sales people would have taken them to eBay and third party sites and done it anyway. It is not that I am in love with the character bazaar. I'd prefer CCP to regulate character transfers that people will do in back alleys anyway.

The next question I have been asked is, "Did the CSM know about it?" Yes. This was proposed to us at the summit. It has been asked if that summit session can be released. We have been told not at this time. The current plan is a bit changed from the original presentation but the core is still there.

Right now, some of us are gathering up the feedback and creating categories of reactions. Even if I am not against it, this isn't just about my reaction. A lot of people I respect are fine with it. It may be that Eve to succeed becomes a game that will not be as appealing to me in the future. I don't know. At the end of the day CCP has to keep the lights on and at least look into changing things, even if those things seem to me to be core pieces of the game.

Eve Vegas is around the corner but that has not stopped CCP Fozzie from letting a big cat out of the bag. He decided to make a YouTube video. For those that like to watch things, go see. It also comes with a big rebalance push for December. There is also a thread up for the navy ewar frigates that are being designed. The event is not being live streamed by CCP. I believe a few player groups are looking into that. However, there are supposed to be development blogs and YouTube uploads of the main talks available as quickly as possible.

For those who read the e-mail and are puzzled about the dresscode. I mentioned it because last year, while standing in line, the bouncer guys where commenting on the dress code to a puzzled audience. Amazing in my jeans and batman t-shirt I had no idea there was a dresscode. After all, everyone was there for an Eve party, no? Well, the venue is a 'club' and while I have no idea what club's do when there are not Eve players to hang around with, I vaguely understand that they care about what people wear because they are shallow and somehow that is classy. Heaven forbid you wear shorts. It makes someones over priced drink not sit well with them. Last year they kicked us out when our time was out. This year, if one is dressed somewhat nicely you get to stay instead of having a stern faced man herd you out and tell you to leave because you don't look good enough and that is important to people. Heaven forbid you don't wear a button up shirt. So, the notice is there not to piss people off but to try to cut down on the surprises when standing in line on Saturday night. Also, bring your event pass.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Conflicted

Halycon said it quite well in a comment he left about the skill point trading proposal for skill point changes. He is conflicted in many different ways.

So am I.

Somedays, I don't want to be open minded. I do not want to see other points of view. I want to not like things and not feel good about them and it be okay. That is something that is denied me for now. I've stated my opinion about the first round of proposals to trade skills.

I don't like them.

That isn't good enough. I have to answer why. Others do not like it as well. I cannot escape over to their side and be unhappy with them. I am dragged away and challenged about my distaste.  Some of the people I like most think the change is good. Other's think it has little meaning. They want to know why I don't like it.

When this was proposed at the CSM summit, I swiveled my chair and asked if they realized that they were undoing the basic structure that characters and game progression worked under. They said that they did. I tried to wrap my head around it. Things would change, meanings would be different, and a shift that feels gradual but enormous would happen and it would carry with it changes that we could not foresee.

I guess I am an old, and bitter person. I enter into games expecting to not have much. I then putter around gathering resources or experience, leveling up as I see fit. I've discussed often that I am not a min/maxer. I am not competitive. I don't care about winning. I figure someone will always be better than I am and I do not compare myself to them. I don't expect to enter a game and have instant access to everything in it.

Maybe, I am too old fashioned for this change. I have seen a steady progression of belief from various players that someone should enter into Eve and instantly be competitive. I don't understand why this is but it exists. I do understand some of the fundamental basics attached to this. Eve has long, long points where we lose players because their next marked point of progression is weeks away. There are other points of progression that they can obtain but those are not going to have the tangible results of Aura saying, "Skill training completed," or entering a new ship.

I know that something needs to change because players have changed and we lose them because the intangible nature of Eve is hard to grasp and for some it is not fun.

Maybe my confusion exists down in the layers of myself that have caused me to create the little niches and adventures in the game. I've failed at being a corp mate that brings value to their corporation. I've not become particularly rich nor am I suitably poor. My skills are not special in any way nor have I created a great space empire. It may be that I am flawed and grasp the familiar because it feels good and safe.

But, I don't care for the change. Yet, tasked within my distaste is the fact that my distaste doesn't matter. I'm one person with one opinion and have a responsibility that is greater than my own self interest. As the discussion has continued about these changes I have tried to be constructive and productive. If this is going to come, let me do the best for it that I can.

One of the strongest things about this is that the skill points are not made out of thin air. The time has gained a tangible value. One that can be traded between characters. I could start to enter into the uses for it. The big, structured groups will be able to set up their new players in brilliant fashion. There will always be those newbies who like me will just scrape their way through the game. I don't think that will go away.

But, I do not believe that characters will be the same. And maybe that is me, with my hand pressed against a dusty glass staring at my avatar's closed eyes. Maybe I am the only one that feels so strongly about my individual character and everything that they mean. Because, in this new world, character meaning will change. I'm told I am supposed to accept that because there has always been the bazaar. That feeling of stepping into someone else's body never pulled me in. My failings and my faults have been my own. They are what I am and the full sum of me.

There is still no love from me at the idea of this change. I struggle to see how the value will not be so skewed by the economy that we love and hate. In that, it will be like the bazaar. I do not think this change is for newbies. Not the newbies that I have taken under my wing and tried to help get started. But, perhaps there is a greater number than I know waiting to be allowed to fly as they sip deeply of well of unallocation.  After all, I have read accusations of bitterness and not being flexable, of wishing to deny others things and standing upon a pedestal of experience to sneer down at newer players because they cannot catch up as time. It seems I am this person. Stuck, nonsensical, and bitter in their hatred for change. I did not think so of myself before but I have read that as what I am today. What a bitter cup is scorn.

In this proposal, time is monetized in a larger, more accessible way. Some say it is no change. Other's only wait for the day.

So, I will try to listen and hear what I can hear. I will try to understand points that make little sense to me. I will not fall into a frothing range. After all, my own reaction is so blurred and mixed that I cannot define it. I struggle with an overwhelming sense of wrongness that others I have spoken to do not share.  But no matter what lays in the path of emotion, the true goal is to gather reaction, thought, and consideration.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Mastery and Investment: A Ramble

Scanning is on its fourth major iteration (unless I have missed one). The original scanning involved some type of complex triangulation. The second one created an easier to use interface. The third was released with Odyssey and supported with the Discovery scanner that automatically told you where sites where. The fourth is underway as part of the new star map. It is very similar to the third.

The first scanning interface I cannot speak to. It was complicated and like many of Eve's early features geared towards mathish folks. Much of that was on the back burner with the second change that improved accessibility. The second one, which I did use, required some knowledge. It required knowledge of where to even look for sites and combined information such as what signatures various sites had. That knowledge became irrelevant because the discover scanner told you where to look. Scanning became a matter of getting the exact coordinates and not so much looking for sites. Combat scanning required you to look for the ship still. Now we are only the fourth major overhaul and along the way people have become disenfranchised with scanning as it became more accessible.

Many of Eve's features are fiddly. They tend to lack documentation. Some knowledge is handed down by players that hide under waterfalls atop tall mountains. You must apprentice with them for half a decade before a kernel of knowledge tumbles from their ancient lips. That leaves a satisfactions when the skill is mastered. A satisfaction that is lost when current progress removes that mastery by getting rid of steps and stuff that exist just to be there. It is always not about accessibility. Sometimes, certain things didn't make sense. But, what does that do to our investment in ourselves and our gaming abilities as players?

My belief is that time investment is very important for a player. It is an important part of how we shape our view of ourselves and how we define the meaning the game and things in the game have for us. As CCP moves forward with making things accessible, I'm curious about how this will change the culture of those using the product.

Skill points, for instance, have been changed. This is not the first time this has happened. This is not even the highest that starter skill points have been. Some say that it is not enough. Players should start ready to play the game at a competitive level from the moment they log on.

There is a value in the time it takes to learn a skill. Skill points and skill in game are not the same thing. However, that argument that I am fond of can be turned around. Now, it can be said that having skills doesn't mean they have skill but it lets them earn skill in a more fun way.

That is why I'm pondering investment. I am very invested in my characters. Sugar defines me in Eve. That investment comes from time. Would I still be as invested in her if I had it all instantly? I'm not sure. It is a question that I would ask for those who came into the game and purchased an advanced character to skip directly to the content of the game. How long did it take them to become bonded to their character? Are they even bonded to their character? Does that matter to others as it does to me?

And there is the question of mastery. There is a lot of Eve to learn but not everyone is going to be interested in learning all of it. It leaves a delicate balance. I often listen to people lament that they have mining skills trained on their accounts. I doubt preaching to them about becoming maxed out miners would give them a coveted goal.

Things often feel formless. What are we learning? What are we mastering? What are we in the game? It is easy to attribute it to the nature of the sandbox. In many ways it is. But, Eve is a bit looser than many other sandboxes. In Skyrim, I'm always dealing with being the dragon reborn. But, CCP has embraced the living nature of Eve's gameplay and it brings challenges along with it.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

CSMX - Post #31

A lot of stuff has filled this week.

The roadmap is now built into updates.eveonline.com. There are tabs at the top and dates at the bottom. Give it a look. Its visually very pretty and has a bit more detail here and there. Just don't fall in love with dates. These are goals but the entire 'don't push it out broken' means there is always the chance of flexibility. I am going to continue to stress this point becuase I do not want anyone to be brokenhearted at a release delay.

How about that new launcher? A lot of people are in love with it and problems are being fixed by the moment. I advise you to read the thread before you play with it. Your settings will need to be copied over. An optional delay has been added so that computers don't die starting all 46 clients at once while screaming like courting bull moose. It is in beta but with a bit of setup work I'm hearing a lot of positive things. I have not converted over because I am lazy and the old launcher doesn't bother me.

Scanning changes are coming to a test server near you. CCP Golliath has laid out the latest round of changes to the scanning UI based off of feedback. Everything is changing in good ways. I'd suggest you look at it. Tucked in the bottom he reminds everyone that a dscan button also means a dscan hot key for your future, paranoid checking. He is interacting on the official forums and reddit as well.

One question that appeared on reddit was from White Orchid:
"Maybe I'm alone in this, but is it possible to have somewhere that remembers your 'ignored' sigs when jumping out of and back into a system again? So it doesn't completely reset."
This is a very common request. CCP Goliath responded:
"Not for our team, sorry, and possibly not at all. We're a UI/UX focused team and that's a weighty technical issue to do with how session changes work."
CCP Fozzie noted that the insurance prices for T3D will be adjusted. This was a complaint that Gorski has worked on and I've supported as well. Their insurance payout was ridiculously high. High enough that most of the ship's price was covered in the insurance payout. Now they will pay out more like T2 ships do. A token payment and that is all.

I've been asked about CCP Fozzie's focus group selections. A few others have also received messages expressing dissatisfaction. CCP Fozzie's focus group project belongs to him. It is not a CSM run project. People keep asking for developers to interact with them. CCP Fozzie has chosen this path. While Gorski applied and was accepted I believed Mike requested the ability to view the discussion but not participate.

Let's talk about policy and game rules. Back in December I commented that access to policy is bad. Basically, at the September Summit in 2014 I begged Customer Service to create a condensed policy page. I wrote a forum post about it as well a bit before the summit. I begged, I pleaded, and I did it again in January. The start of this was during the banning of pilots for bumping a Titan out of a shield not using the scatter cyno bumping trick. It had been declared an exploit some years before and the declaration of the exploit was in the Eve Online News section of the News Section of the News. That section also has dev blogs, patch notes, and the in game news. While the complaint at the time was about a ban, I saw the problem was access.

I'm a rules following type of person. I don't care for shady activities that skirt the line of what is and what is not allowed. Everyone isn't like me. It's easy to stand on a moral high ground and say they should have known better and if you have to work that hard to defeat the game mechanics you shouldn't wonder what it is an exploit. That, however, is not a productive place to be. The problem was that things had been declared against the rules and players didn't know where to find them. They where sometimes on the forums. Sometimes they where on the news. Sometimes in development blogs. In my opinion, if people were going to be punished for it, they needed to have a central area that they could inform themselves of what may not be the best idea. Hence, a condensed policy page was needed to create a reasonable expectation of player knowledge.

At the September Summit for CSMX, Customer Service revealed that they had developed that exact thing as part of their new help desk. They dug up the exploits and put them in an area people can see and find in a way that is reasonable. I am delighted.

Eve Vegas's schedule has been announced. One of the notes in the topic is that it will not be streamed. I was surprised by this and went to check with CCP Manifest to see if it was true. He said that it was but they had back up plans to get the content from the event to the rest of the game. From tweetfleet slack:

"We're recording  sessions and will put the stuff up on YouTube (should be quicker than last year for YT). Keynotes are obviously of particular importance and will be prioritized. Right now we're not planning on livestreaming  BUT will make sure social media is filled with proper information about announcements, pretty pictures, and devblogs when appropriate--all in a timely fashion."
There is a lot of expectation that the event will be streamed. Hopefully, this helps as an early warning that it will be twitter and reddit that announce most of what happens, first. I gave up live blogging after my first attempt and I will stick to evening summaries of the days and roundtable notes as I have done the past three years.

Also the floating Nyx has gone on pre-order and costs almost two thousand USD. That was an ouch. When the idea of a large model of the ship was first shared, I was thinking something I could maybe put on the wall. The floating aspect sounded cool but I didn't have a place for it. The price is to high for my casual budget. It does bring back a regular discussion that CCP needs to get us real items with normal prices that we can casually buy with little to no justification and fill our lives with game reminders. I'm still waiting for my key chain.

One of my on going goals during my CSM time has been to share with my voters what I do on the CSM. I'm not sure if I have accomplished this as well as I envisioned. I'll keep trying. As part of this task, Ive shared a bit of how I think and process information. This started last week when I wrote a post about Developing High Sec. It is a post where I try to get answers to the statements  people often make to me about CCP ignoring/hating high sec. The response was overwhelming so I decided to grab all of that information and see what came from it for future discussion.

This is one of those non-sexy CSM tasks that I don't really have to do and isn't defined anywhere. I would probably have done it if I was not on the CSM and had a response like I did. But, I believe in picking up as much as I can carry. I'll add, there is no conspiracy going around. I'm not hinting at a future I know.

However, when I discuss the future I was asked what happens after the Spring during my Open Q&A last week. The answer is, I don't know. The current list of things will run up to the end of my term. We have a lot on the plate and still see in release cycles. I'm sure, before I leave office, we will get a glimpse and have a discussion into the future beyond the Spring. But for now, the spring is keeping my plate full.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Looking at the Taboo

Last night I switched over to pen and paper.



What I did was walk through the thread and take the themes out of it. I would add a check mark for multiple requests. Some subjects are near to each other. Those, I'd tend to break down into separate categories because they wandered in different development paths.

At first I was going to skip the things that are not development from high sec. I started the post with the intent on finding out what high sec development was in the eye of the reader. Yet, nerfs and suggestions to get people to leave high sec kept coming up. They were so constant and discussed that I decided to add in two more sections. 

High Sec Development - Condensed
  • Dynamic - Mission, mining, and the world.
  • Group - Group missions, tasks, and building great things loosely co-op
  • Solo Content - Both missions and automated processes that are fiddly and easy to drop in and out of
  • Exclusive - Changes that are only for high sec
  • Creation - A job or mission maker
  • Choice - Allow NPC corp choice. Choice over who I hang out with while I am in a NPC corp.
  • Meaning - Security standings with NPC corporations
  • No! - Don't develop high sec or just destroy it because it is destroying Eve
The second section I called "Make High Sec". This section was not about development but I kepot seeing ideas and concepts come up

Make High Sec - Condensed
  • Nerf - Until people leave to other areas. This can be done through carrot or stick depending on the suggester
  • Basics - Able to afford a plex, rewarding, options
  • Force - Make people interact/Don't make me interact
  • Dynamic - It should be fresh, individual
  • Stable - Steady progress. My projects should be there the next day
The third section was about why people where in high sec. There was a lot of honesty here and that is valuable.

I Like High Sec Because - Condensed
  • Time management
  • Quiet
  • Relaxed
  • Split attention
  • I can be alone
Two questions I wrote across the bottom of the sheet scream at me
  • Is Risk vs Reward a valid view of Eve Online's development?
  • Don't remove the old content for the new
I then went and made a word cloud to see if it told me anything.


After that I went to the forum thread that was spawned. It was a very different beast let me tell you. One reason was that the original poster presented a question about what would you redesign or introduce to high sec? It created a different attitude.
  • Redesign security status
  • Allow players to take on NPC positions of attack/defense (IE Faction Police/Concord)
  • Dynamic - PvE to be more Dynamic
  • Aggressive - Many suggestions of movement into PvP for PvE players
  • War Decs - Change them
  • Missions - Harder, more, dynamic, created, flexible, interesting, player created
  • Trade Routes - Alternate ones
  • Immersion - The story, the world, the missions, things matter
  • Competitive - Missions, world, tasks, events, rewards
  • PI - Redo it, expand it, improve it
The forum thread also had several conceptual states that stood out.
  • People should be incentive to move. Move did not mean leave high sec. It meant move around the game, leave high sec, stay in high sec but not be static through various discussions.
  • High sec is not a newbie zone.
  • High sec is a newbie zone
  • Allow people to choose where they want to live
  • Ganking keeps players
Major themes that came through both of these reviews.
  • High sec should be treated independently
  • More missions
  • More missions
  • More content and some missions
  • War decs, war decs, war decs
  • Dynamic content
  • Co-op abilities
  • Nerf high sec
  • Don't forget the solo player
  • Don't take away content even if stale
The very last bit that stands out is control. Control is a major theme through this topic. Control of oneself. Control of others. Control of the environment. Control of our company, our choices, and our interactions.

I've also had several blog posts spawn that go into details and ideas and concepts. This is just my general break down and thoughts into what I've seen and read over the last week from the players that have taken time to participate. I know that this is not a representative group of the entire game nor is every single idea presented here. I wanted to touch on the over arching themes that stood out to me.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

What to do with Taboos?

On Sunday, I put together a question that I'd been thinking about over the weekend about developing high sec. I didn't expect the response. As I write this I have eighty nine comments, three other blog posts, and a forum post chugging along.

With this much energy, I've avoided writing anything else to detract people. The type and breadth of feedback has been amazing. I even went into the eve online forums and wrote what the goal of the original post was about to help people giving feedback to stay on topic if that is what they wanted.

This is what I'm going to do with it.

The CSM gives me the unique position of not having to let things fall into the void. When the comments started spawning and the forum thread burst into existence, I tapped the PvE team about it. Because, what else do you do with unexpected situations like this? They've read some of it and I've read all of it. I'm putting together a list of what is being said. Suddenly, work.

We have a lot of themes here.
  • What people believe high sec is.
  • What it should be.
  • What people think development goals are.
  • What they think dead ends are.
  • Nerf high sec.
  • Get people out of high sec.
  • Let people stay in high sec.
  • I want more missions.
  • Please some more missions
  • Okay if not missions group content?
The list goes on for a bit. There are very strong themes in these comments. Themes of control are strong. Controlling an individual game. Controlling other peoples game. Freedom for each sector of space. Sectors locked into each other. And that's just casual.

A few times people have limited me for narrowing the concept of the discussion. When I narrow topics down its because I am trying to extract information that can potentially be used.

An update and an explanation of my silence for my regular readers.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Taboo Questions

Let us talk contentious things.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CSMX - Post #30

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 2, 2015

Immersion vs Information

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hullo Weekend

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

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

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

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

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

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

I shall report in as to how I do.