Monthly Archives: January 2012

His Name was Brian Flores

It seems pithy to write about the loss of a friend, and trusted comrade on an EvE blog.  There is a reason for it and it’s one I’m sure he wouldn’t mind.

Known as Hairlessharry to those he flew with, Brian was a loyal friend, a fierce enemy and a wise and judicious leader whose judgement was valued by everyone who knew him.  He opened his house to friends he had never met, offering them the comforts of his hearth and home.  I met him only twice in person, briefly both times, and probably spoke fewer than a hundred words to him other than over voice clients.  Yet I had a standing invitation to his house, and I was not alone in this.

So many of his friends only knew him by his moniker.  They didn’t know his face, barely knew his voice unless they’d been in leadership councils with him.  They knew him nonetheless.

He made few decisions, and took stands only in crucial matters.  I suspect many of us would have trouble finding a decision he made.  We trusted him nonetheless.

He would stand up for you, even against his dearest friends if you were right and they were wrong.  He had moral courage by the bucket, and integrity by the mile.

He scored his first kill in EvE in April of 2009 near as I can tell.  Losing a faction-fit Prophecy to kill a Cerberus.

He scored his last kill on January 8th of this year.  It was a doozy.

Brian was a good friend to all those lucky enough to call him so.  Harry was a fearsome foe to his enemies.  He is gone too soon from this life, and my heart aches for his family, for those close to him, and for those who will never get to know him.

Why do I write this here?  For his friends.  While I am sure we will have a memorial for him in-game for those who knew him only as Harry, I wanted his friends to know more about him outside the pod.

MMO Players’ Bill of Rights

This post was inspired in part by Ripard Teg’s “Influence” post and my own ruminations this morning on the T20 scandal.  Yeah I’m old.  Get over it.

As gamers we should have rights to knowledge beyond the bare facts in the EULA.  This summer EvE players fought the good fight and won considerable concessions in the area of game development priority from CCP.  It didn’t have to come to that, and while the CSM seems to have dumped enough new sand on an old fire to smother it, I worry that the embers still lurk beneath.

As a player, especially in a sandbox game, but also in the theme parks, you are a stakeholder in events taking place.  As a player of EvE I do not just pay to run incursions, pvp, do whatever.  I create content.  Players who join my guild or alliance have opportunities because of me that they wouldn’t otherwise have.  In my case this is very small scale.  Someone like Ripard Teg, Mittani, Helicity Boson, or any major alliance leader can make a serious argument that their activities add so much to the game that EvE would lose significantly more than 15 bucks a month per account if they quit.

More specifically, if Mittens quits many goons will quit either immediately or over time due to reduced activity, he is a key leader and a vital force that adds to the gaming experience of EvE simply by doing what he does.  To a lesser degree every single player adds a lot to the game simply by getting on and doing whatever it is they do, whether it’s the PvP FC who leads fleets day in and day out, the logi pilot holding his friends up, the can miner providing targets to fancy hats, or the industrialist / market guru who only undocks haulers moving my beloved Barrage M to market so I can blow people up with shiny ammo.  CCP has more or less acknowledged this with its “Butterfly Effect” and “Causality” trailers.

As such I think we have certain rights, or at least we should have certain rights, that naturally flow from our status not only as paying customers, but as content creators within CCP’s game.  To start with there are a few dealing with Devs playing the game, that should have already come from past events, like the T20 scandal.

  1. How many Devs play the game, broken down by hours in game
  2. Which corps/alliances have CCP toons in them
  3. What Dev Team has members in what alliance
  4. Open Communication with the CSM under a less restrictive NDA on how Devs interact with their alliances

#1 is pretty self-explanatory, and it lets us know as stakeholders just how invested CCP folks are in their own game.  #2 is a disclosure of information aimed more or less directly at the T20 scandal.  For those who don’t remember it, look it up, one summary found here.  #3/4 could be critical.  Let’s say Team TANSTAAFL forms up and starts working on wormholes.  We find out that TANSTAAFL has 5 members in a small wormhole alliance, that exclusively farms Cataclysmic Variable systems.  I am willing to trust to some extent that the integrity of most people is such that they wouldn’t deliberately cheat just to help out themselves and their buddies, however “Trust, but Verify” will be written on all of my tombstones I leave behind in EvE.  And there’s been a few.  By providing reports to the CSM with not just the understanding that they can be reported on more freely than typical CSM reports, but with the EXPECTATION that the information will be distributed, CCP will have to monitor its employees more stringently.  In this case let’s go with the happy ending and say that the report from TANSTAAFL is all lollipops and rainbows and that their only work on CV systems is to replace EWAR effects that were discovered to be working incorrectly a while back.

Next we have some future development information that simply must exist.

  1. Roadmap to the Future
  2. Priority List of Iterative Content
  3. Priority List of minor Issues
  4. Formula Table
  5. What have you done for me lately page
  6. Community Page listing blogs, fansites, possible even with endorsements for sites or specific posts that ring true with CCP

#1 is something every MMO should have.  It would be a page listing the “Jesus Features” in broad terms.  I realize this runs the risk of giving away trade secrets, but frankly they will copy your shit eventually anyway, have confidence that you will do it best, HTFU or GTFO.  This would be best with some dates, and should at least have the broad strokes of the next two patches with a crystal ball view of the third one down the road.  And yes this sucker needs to be kept updated.

#2.  Again this needs to happen, CCP knows they need to iterate and seems to be taking it more seriously as they have admitted that they probably won’t do many major features for the next patch or two.  Fine, let us know where our particular niche is on your priority list, again no details need be mentioned, but is WH/T3 ships ahead of FW?  Is FW significantly ahead of or behind general lowsec improvements?  Where do docking timers and balance issues come in on the chart?  This will be a BEAST to set up, but both as an internal referral to guide resource management and a PR tool to tell gamers where their issue stands I think it offers an enormous boon to the game.

#3.  Bugs, Glitches, Lag, maybe even the docking timers and balance issues.  This is the “What order we take out the trash” list, and again is not as big a priority as the lists above it.

#4.  Let’s get a page with all the formulas on it.  Please.  For the love of God.  I know they are all out there but I don’t want to have to hunt through the EvE wiki for each individual formula.  One Page.  Everything.  I can use Ctrl-F to find the specific one fast.

5.  Give credit where it’s due.  Let the teams brag about what they have done when they do it.  Heck let the players have some input towards rewards for teams that consistently make great changes!  You say you value our feedback, give your guys a reason to REALLY find it!

6.  We value YOUR feedback too.  If you want to see how important it is go to the SW:TOR forums and look at how many people are DESPERATE for information from their dev team.  We also want the opportunity to micro-analyze the blogs you like follow your breadcrumbs to see what kind of information CCP is looking at to see which way the wind is blowing.  And of course Ripard wouldn’t mind scoring some accolades there ;)

Ok that’s the first 11.  In my dream world it would happen, and happen fast.

What do you think sirs?

 

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Dread Empires Fall

Today I did the second Fancy Hats – EvE Gate roam.  This is one of the greatest sightseeing tours in EvE, and covers an area of space with a lot of history to it.

When I started pvping in 2009 this area was more or less sewn up by Chain of Chaos (NAWTI) which was a huge, powerful pirate alliance that maintained a death grip on Antem, a highsec entry point and also the first system on the road to EvE.

Today we passed through and there were 12 people.  Chain of Chaos, now a shell of a holding alliance, was nowhere to be seen.  We traveled quickly to the EvE Wormhole, stopping to take a few pictures.

Our other scout was a bit off on his warpin.

Making an Entrance

We headed through Dead End to the Monolith.  No good pictures there sadly.  Still a very fun sight to see.

Passing through the depressingly empty area around Antem was like walking through a ghost town.  Here a great, thriving community stood, and for all it’s issues and for all the problems they had and caused, even among friends, they were a great edifice, a microcosm of EvE.  Now they are shattered remnants, spread over a myriad of nullsec and lowsec alliances, or striking out on their own.

EvE changes.  It doesn’t change with the suddenness of a Cataclysm, even new patches that introduce new content or features rarely alter the game with the rapidity of other games.  Apocrypha was, in many ways, the biggest expansion since the advent of nullsec, and it took months and months for people to really begin to cover every activity and nuance of wormhole space.  EvE changes are not typically fast, but they move with the majesty of the seasons, alliances form, break up, reform, and people often find themselves allied with people they have shot a dozen times, or fighting in pitched battle against trusted friends.  Delve used to be an impenetrable fortress held by Bob Kenzoku Goons Who the fuck knows these days.  Northern Coalition was utterly invulnerable.  Until they weren’t.  Some changes have happened fast, others not so much.  What they all have in common is a certain “Irresistible Force beating the Immovable Object” quality.  In retrospect the Immovable Object looks so fragile when broken to it’s shattered fragments that we often forget what force it was that broke it.

The EvE gate is the starting point of EvE Online.  In the story of the game it is the point from which all events flow.  In the books it is mentioned with regularity.  Right now it sits in an abandoned backwater, filled with the bones of yet another empire.

This will change.  Someone will take over Antem as it’s a fun spot to camp, it protects a constellation that can be used for POS farming, and lowsec will improve… someday… maybe even CCP will make a patch to increase activity at the EvE Gate, to make it more approachable, or open other gates similar to it.  For now I will look at it and think of Empires that Fell.

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Ethics? WTF is that?

So my new SW:TOR blog has a category that is conspicuously absent from this one.  Ethics.

Huh.

I’ve been doing this over a year now… and I don’t have an ethics category.  Kind of telling about EvE as a whole, especially given that morality, or a certain lack thereof, is a defining characteristic of the game and its players.

In EvE morality is assumed to be absent from anyone.  Indeed I won’t give much trust to anyone unless I can drive to their house and punch them in the face.  Even then it’s dicey.  In an MMO like SW:TOR I assume someone is going to act in my good interests because it is in their BEST interest to complete content smoothly.  In other words I can pick up random people, go into a dungeon or a PvP arena and fight it out without worrying too much about backstabbing because they get rewards for the same thing I get rewards for.

EvE is not like this.  In EvE you can make a lot more money a lot faster by hogging and acting selfishly in the short run.  Whether its joining a corp with the express intent of robbing it blind (why I like knowing where people live,) or even blowing up random haulers and taking their stuff, anti-social activities are highly profitable in EvE.  Certainly a steadier income is gained through income, but trust comes hard and ethics are much more rigorous in EvE.

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You Farging Iceholes

Go ahead and start this while you read.

I spent half my day at drill today thinking about a column I was going to put together on EvE’s music (Yes EvE has sound)

SNIPED

This.  When it comes to quality of life and improvements that would add to the game without eating too many resources that should be used for FiS stuffs.  In fact those of us that recall HTIDRaver’s incursion fleets, you know, the Screaming Meerkat’s guy who pissed off the BTL and TDF guys so bad, might recall him playing his own dubstep over voice comms during long mothership flights.  You knew when bommas spawned because the beat dropped.

Plenty of EvE Players play their own music, it’s easy to do with EvE, and the music is still an attractive feature to newer players, but it fades into the background very quickly, along with nearly all EvE sounds.  I don’t even have them on unless I want them for a video I’m making.  Of course I’ll usually turn sounds on and then not run FRAPS, but I’m not bad at this for nothing!

Now for the bit that will piss people off:  Walking in stations is coming.  In fact I bet we can walk in some of the same areas as Dusties.  This will take music.  Heck I don’t want to sit in a silent room myself, why would an immortal space avatar not want music to ease his musings?

Oh and yes I’ve had that song going through my head all weekend and I realize what it means meatbag.  Bonus points if you know where the title of this post comes from.  And no googling you miserable cork-soakers.

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Biggest Change Evar

Let me preface this by saying I’m not going to get into the politics, demagoguery or the asinine way that the individuality of the CSM candidates has been hidden by “The CSM”

I blow ships up.  Sometimes.  And when I see some things it makes my eyebrow raise.

Source:  http://www.eveonline.com/council/transcripts/2011/CSM_CCP_Mettings_7-9_12_2011.pdf

The Drake: The CSM and CCP both acknowledged the need to rebalance the Drake, which ‘does
everything too well’. CCP is considering giving it a more offensive role like a Raven or Caracal where
it would lose the shield resistance bonus and the 5% Kinetic damage bonus and instead gain a rate of
fire bonus and a missile velocity bonus. The CSM vehemently approved of this idea. CCP and the
CSM also agreed that this possible change to the Drake would help add more uniqueness to the
Nighthawk, which is presently overshadowed entirely by the Drake.

I am on the record as a man who does not like the drake.  I respect it.  Don’t get me wrong.  But it’s the easy button ship.  While some people find failfits for the thing, there’s so many cookie cutter fits that I’d have to link every letter after “failfits” to get them all in.  Currently it boasts a battleship-like tank, with both buffer AND regen given its native stats.  This makes it eminently suitable for solo and fleet PvP without refitting.  For a ship that rarely costs more than 50 million isk it represents a swiss army knife that is often better on paper than other ships in nearly any category you care to name.

While modern tactics and methods have been developed to reduce the domination of the Drake it still remains a staple and an easy break in to PvP.  This change would abruptly end that.  The drake would no longer be a simple easy ship to use in any PvP situation and pilots would have to be far more intelligent about their tactics from the outset of using this ship.  I am in favor of this change, but not without reservations.

First off it would make HAM Drakes very powerful gank boats.  With a ROF and Range bonus it could easily reach to almost 20 kilometers with HAMs and do really good damage with ANY damage type.  The trade off is kthat resistances and hence tank would plummet.  EHP would stay respectable.  If I’m doing the numbers right my HAM Salad fit would have around 50k ehp, but EM and Therm resistances in the low 60s.  No Bueno compadre.    Damage would remain high.  In the 500-600 range with ANY T2 missile instead of just Terror.  I am a fan of that.  It would also make other Tier 2 BCs more popular and I love me some canes, and Harbingers.

On the PvE side it would change the mission progression path.  No longer would Drakes be the first ship a pilot gets that can tank L4s.  Without its resist bonus it won’t be capable of that anymore.  Now if you want to tank an L4 you will need a Raven.  Or a dual-rep Domi but no one listens to me.  Except my beloved readers of course.

Now for my misgivings.  Without the resist bonus this ship goes from the top Battlecruiser in the game for low-skilled players to just another BC.  What, then do I tell my nooblets to get into?  Really this almost removes shield tanking as an option for advanced, logistics supported PvP.  At my perch high up on the skill mountain (Skillpoints AND skills) I can’t see the path to get to where I am very clearly.  I try to train new people but I’m out of touch with the issues they have.  Until now I could at least say “Get in a Drake” when people ask what to bring.  Now their path is more obfuscated than before.    Still, I like a challenge.  BRING IT CCP!

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Blog Banter 32

“A quick view of the Eve Online forums can always find someone complaining about being suicide ganked, whining about some scam they fell for or other such tears. With the Goons’ Ice Interdiction claiming a vast amount of mining ships, there were calls for an “opt out of PvP” option. 


Should this happen? Should people be able to opt-out of PvP in Eve Online. Should CONCORD prevent crime rather than just handing out justice after the event? Or do the hi-sec population already have too much protection from the scum and villainy that inhabits the game?”

If you know anything about me you can see this coming a mile off.  If you don’t, and judging by the number of people I have coming from Ripard against older readers, you might not, I am a bit abrupt on this topic.

You can already opt-out of PvP.

Click on This and PvP is in Your Future!

If you don’t hit that button, they can’t blow up your ship.  Whine all you want, EvE is a PvP game.  Everyone vs. Everyone.

Of course your market orders will still get undercut, you will fall for scam contracts. Your spreadsheets won’t predict the spike in prices of the commodity you dumped, in short, if you don’t want pvp in any form:  Click Here.

P.S. if you like that game let me know, we really do want to review it on my podcast on Don’t Stand in the Fire.

Story

Story has become a bit of a buzzword lately.  SW:TOR has led the charge on it and it has made other games look at how they do things.  WoW has recently said they want Panderia to be less linear.  SW:TOR shipped with hundreds of hours of material.

EvE ships with thousands.  But with a caveat.  In a theme park you drive the story.  In EvE often as not the story drives you.  Not everyone can kill Deathwing.  Not everyone can be a Jedi master.  In EvE sometimes you are the train and sometimes you are the track.  Only one person gets to be Mittens and drive the narrative for tens of thousands of people.  Only one person can be Ripard Teg or Mord Fiddle and wow the community with incisive and clever writing.  Only one person can be Lord Maldoror and repeatedly provide endlessly entertaining videos for me to watch over and over.

EvE doesn’t place you on the throne in a train running endlessly over the same track.  EvE places you in the drivers seat.  Whether its a jalopy or an Aston-Martin you got there on your own and it’s YOUR story.

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My PvP Really is Better than Your PvP

So I’ve been playing SW:TOR a LOT lately.  Rather like many I suspect.  I have fiddled with PvP.  Normally I don’t PvP in Theme-Park MMOs.  A few times in the deep, dark WoW days.  Never in LotrO.  Once in Chamions.  Never in City of Heroes.  You get the idea.

So I have thus far departed from my normal “Why Bother” approach mostly to see what it’s about.  It’s not actually bad, despite what the forums say.  But there’s something missing.  Consequences.  NOTHING happens.  In world PvP, there is literally no point at all to killing someone, except to keep from getting killed.  You jump some Jedi on Tattooine he’s going to respawn and call his buddies.  Take a wrong turn on Belsavis and you are a re-spawn away from continuing your adventure.  Apparently on Ilum (the end-game planet) the objectives are simply captured in turn by each side to let people finish their daily quests and get more gear.  PvP is actually discouraged because it keeps people from accomplishing their quests.

Well that’s just silly.

In EvE keeping you from doing what you want to do is not only a regular occurrence, it’s practically a fact of life.  Denial of resources has even caught some major press lately, such as the goons “Mittens Shrugged” campaign.  In addition when you kill someone in EvE they lose something.  When you take a series of objectives, especially in a WH or Null, they are taken until someone else kicks you out.  None of this “Good Game, see you next round Imperial Swine!” garbage.

Even SW:TOR pokes fun at itself with it’s huttball gameplay.  Huttball is a game kind of like Football.  More like Blood Bowl actually.  Two teams, one ball, two end zones, lots of traps.  Flames come from the floor, acid pits.  If you have a pull and a stun up you can usually kill someone REAL fast.  The goal of the game?  To provide a big fat beast some entertainment in it’s basement.  And the Hutt enjoys it too.  I’m sure there was absolutely no satirical intent in the creation of huttball, but it does seem rather a side shot at a LOT of MMO players, and at the PvP community especially.

That’s not to say it’s bad per se.  However PvP in SW:TOR is rather limited to a hobby for most people I should imagine.  EvE is where the hardcore PvPers will stay.  After their holiday.

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