Monthly Archives: March 2012

It’s not that bad. It’s worse

So yesterday Greyscale had a pretty rough day on the forums and blogrolls.  On a day that could have been downright triumphant he instead is probably looking at the forums and maybe a few blogs going… “C’moooooon it’s not that bad.”

It is that bad.  The community that draws people into EvE isn’t the solo mining community.  In fact these people are the folks most likely to try EvE out for a few months and then quit.  Mining isn’t rewarding mechanically or financially, and can be endlessly frustrating solo.  If this doesn’t lead you to try new things or find friends to mine with, you simply aren’t going to enjoy EvE.  Period.

Even if you stick it out, your impact on the community and game will be limited.  Mining isn’t even the fastest way to gather minerals, so your impact on the market… not so hot.  You are excluding yourself from the community, rough times there, and even if you try to expand your impact with a blog/podcast/youtube channel, who wants to WATCH or LISTEN to mining.

CCPs marketing lead got up and talked about how we do his job for him.  The players who do horrible things to other players create buzz.  He referred to “The Heist” which is ancient history, but look at My Loot Your Tears, or the fall of BoB, or the destruction of northern coalition.  Those people aren’t asking for help.  They are asking for their mechanics to be left alone.  They are well-known, they are well-documented.  Players who want to be a part of EvE and not just play it are quite capable of joining and avoiding stupid losses.

So I say to buffing solo miners – go the other way.  Buff group mining.  Let the solo miners go hang.  Include in the tutorials information on just how much more efficient mining is in groups.  Already you get a 33% boost just being in fleet with a max orca booster (no implants) Make mining interesting.  Make it the best way to gather minerals.  Don’t protect discard cans.  Don’t turn “suspects” into “sheep”  It’s the first step for many on the rocky road to piracy, myself included.  If a miner can’t get his corpmates to come along and fry the guy messing with his cans then maybe he needs to work harder at something other than shooting rocks.

Today Greyscale has backed down somewhat:

We’re extremely keen to pin down a design where you’ll always be able to defend yourself from aggression without getting CONCORDed. I’m not going to promise anything because I can’t actually predict the future. -Greyscale

I don’t think he is that far from having a good system.  Having crimes organized by “tiers” e.g. petty, low-level and high with each having it’s own set of flags might be a better way than the currently suggested system.  Let me look at how I’d go about it:

  • Petty crimes:  Crimes against “insignificant” properties.  Things to which the claim of the capsuleer is indirect at best.  Discard cans, mission wrecks etc.  Flags only against the corp/player in question.
  • Low Crime:  Crimes against property solidly belonging to a capsuleer.  Ships, secure containers, POS towers.  In High-sec these result in a criminal flag, loss of sec status, CONCORD etc.  In low they result in a minor sec hit, if any, possibly gate gun aggro, but on a shorter GCC timer.  Unless of course the target is itself GCC or flashy red, in which case you can possibly recover sec status by shooting reds.
  • High Crimes:  Podding.  Lotsa sec loss, big time GCC, fast way to flashy red.

If a pilot gets shot at he should always, always, always be allowed to return fire.  Period.  It’s one thing to expand flags to a wider arena, from corp/personal to all for a period of time, it’s another to take a non-GCC flag and turn it into a lockdown on a pilot that dooms him to a helpless death for an action that frankly doesn’t harm the offended pilot to any great extent.  If a pilot wants to destroy a ship he should put a ship at equal risk.

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CSM 7 Results are IN!

Raw info HERE

Mittens, Two Step, Elise Randolph, Greene Lee, Trebor, Kelduum, Seleene

UAxDEATH, Hans, Meissa, Dovinian, Issler Dainze, Aleksyev Karrde, Darius III

So in an expansion that will focus on Low Sec and Wardecs, the people currently involved in those two are… not going to Iceland.

/me sighs

Bloc voting works well when the blocs are relevant.  Right now if Hans or Aleks wants their voice heard they have to trust in CCP listening to the members they never have to face, and trust that the nuances of their communication come through, without the benefit of face-to-face meetings.

To me, these results represent success for EvE and failure for CCP and the CSM.  Only EvE could build blocs so powerful that they aren’t capable of recognizing their own self-interest.  However when CCP and the CSM sit in Iceland the members traveling to  Iceland will by and large NOT have any stake, nor much knowledge in what they are talking about.  At best they have second or third hand information regarding high sec, or low sec mechanics and their effects on people that actually live there.  By having candidates all lumped into one “category” CCP denies itself the expert information they need to make informed decisiosn.  And we wonder why Greyscale can come up with such crackhead ideas.

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Quickie: In character even!

Corelin slipped through his old haunt, Tash-Murkon Prime.  Systems on his trusty Ishkur poking for loose cans.  Finding one he spins into warp and dives into the belt where Greyscale’s hulk waited.  Happily chugging ore into jetcans.

Undaunted Corelin starts transferring ore and calling in corp for haulers for the rich bounty.  “Mining is easy” he thought “Just get other people to do it for you.  It’s not even boring!”  Suddenly his overview lit up.  Dozens of ships warped in and started pointing and webbing the tiny ishkur.  Greyscale opened comms.

“You’ve done it now Mr. Haberdasher.  I’ve made it so everyone in EvE can shoot you for 15 minutes!”
“Do you expect me to fight all of EvE?”
“Why no, Mr. Haberdasher.  I expect you to die!”

And on cue the guns of the dozens of denizens of TMP opened fire.  The ishkur disintegrated, vomiting forth it’s pod.

Corelin started in his pod, waking from the most dreadful dream.  I hope.

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No Really. Do you guys play your game?

So CCP Greyscale took time from Fanfest to drop this steamer on the carpet.

“Can-flipping as-is will be impossible once the safeties are added. People should be able to choose to do dumb things, but they should also have the information they need to figure out that the thing they’re doing is dumb.” – CCP Greyscale

I wonder if Greyscale has ever noticed that there is a module that reduces the odds of getting your can jacked.  The Giant Secure Container.  Seriously, it’s a real module.  Already implemented in-game.  You can put these in your hauler, take them out, anchor them near the rocks, fill them and then empty them out safely without worrying about can-flippers!  Jet Can mining has gone from being an unintended consequence of the jettison can itself, to now apparently being this sacred cow that CCP will protect at the cost of it’s player-base.

Wait there might be consequences?

Greyscale says people in EvE can do dumb things if they choose.  I agree.  I just wonder what exactly his definition of stupid is.  Jet Cans are unsecure.  You can ask anyone.  There are options to secure your ore.  Orcas if you hug them, giant secure containers, your own cargohold.  Heck have a hauler right there so you can use a jet can as a transfer can.  No one bothers with that anymore.

Let’s look at the term “Jettison” for a second.  From Dictionary.reference.com

jet·ti·son

[jet-uh-suhn, -zuhn]  Show IPA

verb (used with object)

1. to cast (goods) overboard in order to lighten a vessel oraircraft or to improve its stability in an emergency.
2. to throw off (something) as an obstacle or burden; discard.
3. Cards . to discard (an unwanted card or cards).
Boy they must really want those rocks to throw them overboard, discard them even!
Let new players learn to play.  Encourage them to join corps to teach them proper mining.  If CCP finds that can-flipping is a problem, the solution is education.  Fancy Hats has provided that for years.  Don’t try to bring the mountain to Mohammed if you make this easier they will scream all the moreso when someone steals their can in a noob frigate and then a hauler takes the ore off safely.  What then?  You cannot protect people from their own stupidity.  You can try to educate them, or let them suffer.  Insulating them just makes it hurt worse in the end.

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All this has happened before, and all this will happen again

So for those of you that haven’t been paying attention… 2009 called and they want their fleet doctrines back.

I’ve got a million of ‘em.

Seriously though, snipe fleets seem to be back in a big way.  In 2009 the only real doctrine was one flavor or another of snipe fit BS, that could tank the old AoE Doomsday and hit targets out to 140 km or so.  I can’t remember exactly what it was just brought a bunch of Rokhs and Megas to null and facerolled my keyboard on the targets the FC broadcast.  Fleets would be anywhere from 50-80 up into the 200s.  I even got to use a Titan Bridge!  I was sooooo cool back then!

Now I like to pretend I understand things a little better.  CoW was fun, but hardly a major factor.  Even combined with Primary. and Gentlemen’s Club it wasn’t exactly the A-team.  In fact Atlas and -A- were the “A-team” and even they weren’t that hot.  Or even warm.  Anyway the Tier 3 BCs bring snipe fleets to a whole new level.

In 2009 you would warp somewhere close enough that they couldn’t warp straight to you, but far enough that you could track them, and open fire with max range ammo.  If you got targeted you tried to warp off.  I was high enough in the alphabet that I ended up warping a lot.  Yes targets went alpha by name back then that’s how old it was.  If you got bubbled or pointed you MWDd around to try to gtfo.  In fact one of my proudest achievements was extracting a trimarked mega from the midst of a hostile fleet during the dreaded “2 snipe fleets warping to the same tac” boo-boo.  I managed to keep transversal on virtually the whole fleet long enough to get away.  I felt like a pimp.

Now fleets dance around POSses, POCOs, Stations, Gates, even safespots using many different doctrines.  You don’t need to tank the obscene alpha of a titan DD anymore so much more agile and fragile ships are being used, like the T3s.  Helicity Boson’s T3 cruisers are GO shows the perfect way to use them, humiliating the much weaker Mayhem in a POCO fight back in Dec.  More recently I got to have some fun against General Tso’s Alliance, with the help of Bondage Goat Zombie corp.  I have to mention that the Fancy Hats were on the field with General Tso’s and Bondage Goat Zombie making this the most epic collection of names on the field at once.  Our battle was sloppier, from the tackling to the fleet comp to the terribad video I made video being I am remaking as I write this.

The agility of T3s and the other fleet doctrines out there make it more of a ballet than the grid-burying slugfests of 2009.  In fact if I may remake the BSG comparison, it’s rather like the sluggish and awkward looking special effects of the 70s series compared to the drastically improved and smoother graphics from the modern series.  I will be interested to see what other tactics rear their head again.   I will be interested to see what innovations come, especially in the face of the “ship roles” system CCP seems to be aiming towards with it’s potential for sandbox wrecking changes.  Still it’s fun when something from my “youth” in EvE comes back like this.

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HALLE-FUCKING-BERRY-LUJAH

from Scarus:

7 – Handing in Officer/NPC Tags for Security Status boosts. AMAZING. Since you can buy tags off the market, you would essentially be paying for sec status increases, which I really like. The downside? The current plan is to have these boosts nerfed for people below -5. Not a huge blow, though, as it would probably make the most efficient route to rat to -5 and then turn in tags the rest of the way (which is the hardest stretch when it comes to regaining sec status). Marc’s Rating: 5/5

At the end he comments on how there’s nothing else going on with Lowsec.  Between this, changes to docking games, sec status for killing criminals and changes to the criminal system I’d say there’s plenty for now.  This is more love than lowsec has gotten since FW started.

I’m not saying I wouldn’t like more in lowsec, especially for moneymaking.  I am saying that this is a VERY manageable set of tasks that CCP has set to go along with a very broad-based expansion that I think represents a very hittable goal.

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lolRP

Most MMOs have some sort of RP community.  EvE is no exception.

Everyone plays EvE with some expectation of enjoyment, whether from “fun” or “accomplishment” or whatever source they expect.  To some extent we all engage in a certain detachment from reality to play EvE.  We hold different morals, we take part in actions that would otherwise be impossible for us.

The RP Community tends to stretch things a little farther.  The folks I’m most familiar with are Mike Azariah, the unlamented Aralis,  Tech 4 news, and the Arek’Jaalan project.  Mike has a very entertaining blog called “A Missioner in EvE” where he writes from the standpoint of his main and puts a summary at the bottom for those (like me) that don’t want to work our brain muscles out to get the point.  It seems to me that Mike has a solid grasp of the game and understands that his narrative is subsumed in the greater narrative “written” by other players and he takes reverses to it in stride.  For example the BTL split and logi griefing in incursions.

This stands in stark contrast to Aralis who seemed more and more disconnected from EvE as time went on.  He could not adjust to the fact that he did not define the narrative and that things would not automatically go in the course he wanted them to happen.  As such he drove CVA into the ground repeatedly and refused to act even in his own interests until finally resigning in disgust at what “had been done to EvE” and how unfair it was to him.

Tech 4 news is a group of people who report on a plethora of issues in an in-game format.  Unlike the EvE Tribune or EN24, they stay in character and report on issues that the in-game media would cover, including out of game issues that provide some (non-canonical) insight into the universe of New Eden.  They write entertainingly and are worth checking out.

The Arek’Jaalan project might be the most amusing and serious of the groups to me.  Their Project Compass was an attempt to map Wormhole Space relative to the known New Eden cluster.  I find this amusing because they were doing some serious math  to get this information.  Sadly CCP changed how certain mechanics work to make their task impossible using those methods.  They took it in stride and are adapting.  I find it serious because the long-term result of all this could be staggering.  Currently the EvE Universe covers ~8500 light years on a plane.  This gives a radius of ~50 light years.  Assuming it’s a circle and giving me a decent margin of error.  The wormhole cluster (according to the information AJ gathered) was indicating 1250 or so light years away.  Some smuggler stargates can cover excessively long distance, but even if they stretch them to 25 light years / gate, that is 50 jumps one way.  That’s a long way.

Eventually New Eden will be expanded again, with new regions added, and possibly changes to the current ones.  Someday there may be mechanics to explore non-wormhole areas that you could build your own gate in, and develop your own regions.  Back in 2009 there were talks about this, and plans about this.  Not in any detail I’m guessing, but certainly at some level.  Imagine some day being able to expand new eden all the way out the wormhole cluster, maybe even beyond.  I think it would be cool, even if it started with a a bunch of lolrpers.

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Hawt blogger on blogger action

Ripard Teg and his Rote Kapelle buddies came out to play last night.  They played hard.  They did not like Fancy Hats one bit either.  I got neuted out hard and popped, Orakkus got webbed down and ripped up by the Lokis.  We had numbers and falcons, they had logi and shinier ships in general.  They probably brought more DPS to the fight than we did and our ECM was not terribly well coordinated, but we at least managed to salvage some honor from the fight, and had fun doing it.

Good fight, good night!

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Crystal Ball and Tea Leaves

Predicting CCP is a lot easier when you realize that they have come a long way from the freewheeling pirate-accountant image they had reminiscent of the Monty Python gag.  Today CCP Games is a business, not a perfect one by any stretch, but certainly one trying to improve the balance sheet and make as much money as possible.

With exactly 1 product line to work with, and nearly all of it’s revenue from 1 source, CCP has to nurse EvE, while making it as profitable as possible.  There are three directions they have to juggle.

  1. Find new monetary sources within EvE (NEX, Gold Ammo Exchange, merch)
  2. Expand the EvE playerbase (improved NPE, features to attract lapsed accounts)
  3. Maintain the current playerbase (features)

PvP is one of the most contentious issues facing CCP.  The current playerbase generally enjoys it, and while a vocal minority doesn’t they haven’t quit yet either.  Let’s look at ways that CCP can make money in each of these arenas.

1.  Is the simplest and most danger-ridden.  Gold Ammo will find buyers.  It will also drive swathes of people out of the game completely.  CCP isn’t going to try anything along these lines without a clear mandate from the playerbase.

2.  There’s a lot of options here.  Simplifying the item naming conventions, as they are currently doing, pushing corps and alliances that do PvP for the sake of doing it (RvB anyone?) and taking advantage of other institutions that make a concerted effort to train players (EvE-uni) is a great, low-cost method to get new players in the game and let them see more of what is available to them.

Rebalancing ship classes, eliminating the tiered system and moving towards ship “roles” will be a popular feature, and can easily be a draw to return lapsed players, especially if it comes with more re-skinned/redesigned ships.

Finally changes to the mechanics to either encourage or discourage PvP will have a huge effect on the playerbase.  Say PvP becomes more difficult in highsec with wardecs becoming more restrictive and difficult to start, and CONCORD becomes more of a police force and less of a punitive force, this will draw more players into the “shallow end” of the PvP pool.  I am not necessarily advocating this, but it might be interesting to see.

At the same time changes to GCC, Sec Status, Faction Warfare, and the general travesties of lowsec life to encourage PvP in the periphery of empire space bring more life to the area and a huge number of resubs.  Possibly even celebrities like Mynxee would come back ;).

While I’m on the topic of FW, there’s an issue with CCPs perception of it.  Right now the noise has been CCP using FW to test nullsec sov war concepts.  FW has been pushing back with “If we wanted Sov we’d move to null” CCP seems to be torn between creating a linear path of progression, from the Highsec “shallow end” of pvp to the nullsec “deep end” with faction warfare being a training ground for sov war both for players to learn the ropes and CCP to develop them.  I think this is a mistake and I hope that Hans Jagerblitzen and his godawful portrait can convince CCP to continue the sandbox.  Create diverse environments and encourage a wide variety of people to come out and play.  Turning FW into Sov Lite won’t work and certainly wont fix the issues FW has.  Talk to Hans, listen to Hans, and take his suggestions.  Healthier FW will make for more EvE players, as will healthier lowsec in general.

3.  A lot of these have already been covered.  Especially Faction warfare, the main point here is that a nerf in pvp anywhere will hurt the playerbase.  As I’ve said in the past, buffs are popular, nerfs aren’t.  Changes to pvp in one area will be a nerf and a buff.  For example lets say a change to CONCORD makes them instantly spawn a jamming ship to improve the frequency of “saving” ships from ganks.  This will be a huge buff for miners and haulers etc.  It will be a huge nerf to gankers.  (not that huge due to tornadoes but you get the idea)

CCP has to walk a fine line, but since I’m reading the future here is what I see happening in PvP:

CCP continues to push back against PvP in highsec, while trumpeting the fact that wardecs are now harder to dodge, they also make them harder to create and more restrictive in general.  Wardecs only work in certain regions, as they represent bribes to local CONCORD officials, and while they stick to targets even as they cycle alliances and people jump in and out, they also don’t go beyond the jurisdiction of those officials and Empire-Wide wardecs quickly become a thing of the past.  Interestingly enough the commissioner of the Forge becomes the richest man in EvE from the bribes.

Changes to lowsec in turn make pew pew in low orders of magnitude more popular.  Reduced circumstances for GCC flags, reduced timers, and reduced sec hits make low the “to go” locale for casual pvp.  Faction warfare gets massive buffs, with programs designed to increase accessibility and sites becoming pvp arenas, not pve missions.

Nullsec Receives an occupancy based sov system.  That is a system has to have activity to belong to someone, and the strength of that activity will determine who it belongs to.  This drives recruiting for alliances to fully exploit their bases and at the same time erode their enemies support base by denying them the ability to maintain an active stance in their base.

In the long-term I see highsec PvP diminishing to a small fraction, mostly ganks and a few harassment decs around Jita, and the persistent, consensual wars of groups like RvB.  This safer area brings in many, many players, and allows others to fund their accounts through missioning, mining, incursioning even in the face of rising plex prices.  Lowsec becomes the wild west blending into NPC 0.0 and creating at least some progression in learning the mechanics of PvP.  Nullsec benefits as well, as the influx of players begin moving to nullsec for the moneymaking (Incursions being rather harder to find with a greater playerbase) and reduced rents offered to increase occupancy and numbers grants them the leverage to offer even larger battles and better services to their players.

This is assuming they don’t make missteps and the players like the changes at some point.  Obviously there’s a lot of potential missteps.

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What is the point of PvP?

What I’m fighting for is to prove I’m a better man than the others. There’s many a man worse than me, and some better.
– Sgt “Buster” Kilrain, Gettysburg (The movie)

So I’ve been ruminating on exactly what is the point of PvP.  I’m not a hardened PvP monster in other games, I barely engaged in it at all in WoW, never bothered in LotRO, dabbled in it in SW:TOR, and don’t particularly enjoy it in games that focus on it like Aion, or Rift.

I do dabble in World of Tanks, and I will probably fiddle quite a bit with MWO:Mercs.

I do a little bit of PvP in EvE as you may have seen.

Theme Park MMOs define PvP as fighting other players to improve yourself.  You grind PvP kills or warzone wins to gain access to better gear.

World of Tanks works in a similar fashion.

EvE is a bit different.  While there are places to run PvP for self/faction improvement (Faction Warfare, Sov Battles etc) and you can try to make a living off of it (Piracy and metagaming) a huge portion of PvP, probably even the majority of kills, certainly the majority of fights, take place just for the hell of it.  To pew pew and see who wins.

There is very little PvP in other games that is pointless.  One of the major complaints PvPers had in SW:TOR was that “Open World” PvP (or PvP for PvPs sake) had no rewards.  While I cannot say that this is truly equivalent to EvE, we get killmails and sometimes loot, I can say that whining about getting nothing isn’t exactly in the spirit of PvP.  In EvE when I win a fight I get the satisfaction of beating someone.  I get bragging rights, and I get a pretty killmail to post on my killboard.  If I’ve helped a friend, I get to call on them in the future (or they can call on me again) but material gain is usually pretty limited in EvE.

Tomorrow I’m going to break out the crystal ball and see what CCP has in store for PvP in the future.

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