Category Archives: Meta

Jam the Radar!

This is my first post on some more game theory-ish topics.  I play games for fun, but sometimes I’ll dig into the numbers behind the game and try to figure out better ways to play.  This is an example of a games-theory concept that I encountered a lot in Warmahordes that I think has become extremely relevant in 8th edition 40k, with the rise of melee, hordes, and the ability of units in melee to affect vehicles during their own turn.

Jamming is a big part of some games, in others it barely makes the lexicon.  Traditionally Warhammer 40k has been one of those games where it is a rarely used tactic as it is incredibly hard to do with any sort of efficiency.  Well 8th edition has changed that in a big way.

jam

Land Raider About to be JAMMED

So first let’s talk about what jamming is in a wargame.  Jamming is when you use a relatively unimportant unit to deny an enemy the ability to move, shoot, or pick his own charge target by charging into him.  The benefit of jamming is it can give you a lot of board control, while saving you from a substantial amount of fire.  The downside is, unless the unit doing the jamming is a really good tarpit, they are probably dead as doornails.

The biggest target for jamming in 40k right now is vehicles.  Vehicles often have a very high damage output, and are extremely hard to destroy quickly.  They have too many factors making them very hard targets to be destroyed without a massive concentration of firepower.  However all it takes is 1 model starting its turn within 1″ to block the vehicle from shooting.  A predator has the weapons loadout of a devastator squad, with more mobility and far more toughness.  It can’t take cover as well, vehicle cover rules basically meaning vehicles don’t get to take cover, but it can inflict a lot of damage in a very short period of time, and removing those guns takes a lot of effort.

However one stormboy with a choppa disables all those guns for at least one turn.  And he does it for pretty cheap.  Jamming into a tank does three things.  It reduces my firepower, it forces me to fall back and disrupts my gunline, and it forces me to find another unit to engage the jammer, either with enough firepower to destroy them or to charge into melee itself, and if my opponent picked the right unit to do so, it’s a unit he can afford to lose while I have multiple units dealing with them.  If he has multiple, small units available to jam, or if I mess up and he can charge multiple units with the same unit, he can turn my shooting phase from the height of my turn into a really frustrating exercise in trying to do more with less.

Now let’s say he gets a small unit of stormboyz into melee with my predator.  Maybe he knocks off a wound, maybe he doesn’t.  Now I have a predator pulling back, I have a squad of tacticals coming over to shoot, and probably charge them to finish them off, and I have nothing shooting at the deff dread rolling down on my battleline trying to keep it from getting its claws on my precious marines.

On the flip side of the tactical coin is horde armies.  Boyz mobs, genestealers, hormagaunts, all are incredibly powerful if they crash into your army and get off the first attack, but they have to be unengaged to charge, so you have to lock them up.  This can be tricker, and you have to break out the Mathhammer to figure out how best to do it.  Let’s take a unit of genestealers that I have to delay for a turn.  20 stealers of course, attacking MEQs, first we’ll see what happens if the ‘stealers can charge.

80 attacks, 54 hits (I’m going to round up because I’m a pessimist.  Similarly armor saves will be rounded down) 9 wounds at AP-4 from rending claws, 18 wounds at AP-1.  On generic marines that’s 9 wounds just going straight through, and 9 more after armor saves.  That’s almost 2 squads of tactical marines, or nearly 1 full squad of intercessors.

That example is worst case.  Let’s look at if I charge them (without shooting) with my trusty 10 man tactical squad.  My typical squad is 10 marines, combi-plasma, plasma, and Heavy Bolter.  So they charge in, 11 attacks, 2 from the sergeant, 9 from normal marines.  7 hits, 3 wounds, 2 dead genestealers.  Not exactly great, but it does clip a couple of wounds off the return attack.  Not enough to save a normal tactical squad from being summarily destroyed, but it does help a bit.

Let’s say they pour some fire into the stealers.  I’m going to assume they moved during their turn, because in order to get a charge in on genestealers you practically have to, so here we go.  7 rapid fire bolters:  just over 3 wounds on average.  1 combi weapon bolter adds about 1/3 of a wound, combi plasma adds enough that with the bolter fire we’re calling it 4 wounds already.  Heavy bolter – just under another wound.  We’re being pessimistic so, 4 dead stealers, charge in, kill 2 more.  Now we’ve removed 24 attacks from that incoming salvo.  Still not enough that the basic tactical squad will survive.

That’s how nasty hordes are this edition.  14 Genestealers coming back with 4 attacks is 56.  37 hits, 6 automatic wounds, another 6 or 7 normal wounds.  Still a dead tactical squad and the surviving stealers can move up and charge in their own turn.  Remember, moving 9-11 inches for normal troops is trivial this edition, and genestealers can start 18″ away from you and reliably get a charge in so you HAVE to burn them down, or keep them at arms range.

Now let’s look at something I’m looking at very hard, the intercessor squad.  One thing I didn’t mention is that my tactical squad only costs about 2/3 of a genestealer mob, Intercessors cost just around 5/6 of a genestealer mob.

So, the bolt rifles, 10 of them with no special or heavy weapon, 4 wounds.  Charging in these tough bastards have 2 attacks, the sergeant has 3 (and a power sword).  That’s another 5 wounds (combining average extra wounds from shooting and melee) leaving the Genestealers with 11.  44 attacks.  29 hits, 6 wounds that go right through armor, 11 other wounds.  That leaves the sergeant and 1 other marine holding on.  That’s not enough to be comfortable that the genestealers would be stopped during their turn, but I could divert some fire from another unit to increase that margin a fair bit.  While it’s not the topic of this post, I have to say Intercessors are looking better and better in comparison to basic marines when it comes to objective play.  The only thing they lose out on is heavy firepower.

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In the Bloody, Grimdark, Future, There is Only Testosterone

To be a man in such times is to be one amongst untold billions. It is to live in the cruelest and most bloody regime imaginable. These are the tales of those times. Forget the power of technology and science, for so much has been forgotten, never to be relearned. Forget the promise of progress and understanding, for in the grim dark future there is only war. There is no peace amongst the stars, only an eternity of carnage and slaughter, and the laughter of thirsting gods.

-Rogue Trader and damn near every main rulebook ever.

So writing any fiction in the Warhammer 40k universe has some issues for me.  It’s a stretch.  I like writing about diverse characters, men and women, strong and weak, outgoing and introspective, noble and degenerate.  You really don’t get that a lot in the grimdark.  The heroes are intolerant, “noble” in the harshest of senses, the villains are far more interesting running the gamut from the truly and bestially depraved to, well, heretics like you and me.  No, I’m not kidding.  We’re heretics to them.  PURGE YOURSELF!

The tech of the grimdark is very interesting, especially when you deal with the arcane mysticism that has swum up around it.  It’s amazing, highly powered, high tech stuff, and no one has really any idea how it works, it’s all the machine spirit.  There’s some interesting writing to be done there.

Even the battles are problematic.  Marines are organized into chapters of 1000 marines.  The Battle company I listed has a little over 120 marines.  Let’s say I throw them into a huge battle and get tabled.  That’s 1/8th of the Dark Angels!  It’s really over 1/4 of their active strength as 4 companies are reserves, 1 is a scout company, and the Deathwing/Ravenwing are mixed with the Battle Companies to such an extent that they really just build out the 3 Battle Companies and stretch them a bit to 4 or 5 deployable forces.  So how do I write these battles up?  I mean I can have a lot of lightly wounded and good treatment, and Marines are quite hardy, but it’s going to take some creativity to keep them from dying in job lots to the kinds of weapons you run into routinely in the 41st millenium, and it takes 8-10 years to get a replacement ready and up to speed.  Years.  Even the British Regulars didn’t take that long and I can lose 25% of their deployable force in a long, awful Sunday.

I am looking forward to meeting these challenges.  It’s an interesting universe to write in and having such one-dimensional characters to begin with make writing them in a more nuanced fashion a challenge.  Too much nuance and I’m far out of canon.  Too little and it’s just testosterone filled blood and guts.  Should be interesting to walk the line.

FOR THE EMPEROR, again

Pretty sure I’ve used that title before.  Getting back into 40k.  Currently it seems like the Dark Angels I’ve been fiddling with for a while will be fun.  Getting used to detachments will take time, and currently I have a big enough grey horde to make Leman Russ jealous, but I think I can manage that.

Also working on D’s Eldar.  We have her up to around 1k points.  Almost exactly 1k actually and with a pretty clear path to 2k.  It’s interesting and educational to see how things look from the standpoint of another codex.  It’s also eye opening to realize just how glaring many weaknesses are.  Try finding anti-air in a Dark Angels list.  Eldar may not be great but they at least have a little.  DA?  Woof.  Monstrous creatures?  Does a Land Raider count?  Not saying DA is weak, it has a lot of 2+, great bikes.  Really great bikes.  REALLY REALLY great bikes.  And T5 is pretty good in the current meta.

So I’m going to try to necro this blog with a bit more hobby flair.  Alternating between a meta/battle report post, a hobby post, and some fluff fiction fun from my battle company.  And I need VERY little in the way of additional troops to get the whole battle company on the field.  Mostly assault marines.  I think I’m 15 assault marines and 4 heavy weapons from having a full battle company; but which one do I make.

not-doing-it

Not doin it!

So, 3rd or 5th?  I can do 5th very easily just doing the slash across the shoulder plate and knee pads, but with my planned lists almost always having (very, very good) bikes, and terminators… It’ll be nice to have all the colors mixed in on my tac squads.  So…. probably doing 5th.  Still leaving 3rd open as an option though.

One of the things I like about the detachments is it lets you take org charts like that one above, and put it into an actual army list.  I can build a Lion’s Blade Demi Company that splits a Battle Company right down the middle.  Double up on that, add a Ravenwing support team to one half, a Deathwing support detachment to the other and you have a REALLY fun, neat army that has a full battle company at its core.  So right now I’m looking at that.  Here’s the list I’m looking at now.  Priorities are:  Transport for the 3rd tac squad, possible weapons changes for the termies.

listish

LotRO Raids Aren’t Easy

Ok so last time I talked about how Turbine had decided to trash raiding because there aren’t any raiders to do them.  In itself that probably isn’t completely false.  It does ignore that the reason for these raiders being so rare is that the raids are dated, buggy and generally poor in quality.

There’s even another layer to this.  Making raids for LotRO isn’t easy.  I’m going to give a brief overview of the classes, starting with the tanks, then the DPS, then the healers, then the troublemakers.

There’s two classes that are primarily tanks:

  • Guardians – Traditional Heavy Armor tanks.  High morale, high mitigations, lots of taunts.
  • Wardens – Medium Armor tanks.  Over the course of a fight they build up very high mitigations, and have a bewildering array of self-buffs, self-heals, and shenanigans that make them easily capable of soloing three-man content.

Primary DPS Classes:

  • Champions – Melee blenders.  Heavy armor.  Great close range area of effect, and very good single-target damage.  Ok mitigation.
  • Hunters – Nukers par excellence.  Orlando Bloom would be jealous.  Serious heavy sustained damage in multiple flavors.

Primary Healing Classes:

  • Minstrel – Medium Armor, lots of buffs, lots of heals, some bubbles.

The rest of the classes are troublemakers.  In other words 4 of the 9 classes make a challenge for the traditional paradigm of tank-dps-heals.  Let’s look at why.

  • Captain – My current main.  One class can fill three roles.  Tanking?  Decent.  Heals?  Decent.  DPS?  Decent.  Most importantly it adds heavy buffs to the list.  Every raid will have a captain.  They add a solid character in any role, even if they are a bit behind the top rate at any position.  Their buffs take other classes into the stratosphere and make them a requirement.  They also mean that balancing requires you to take into account that a well played captain is going to break metrics.  A raid set for a group without a captain will get crushed by a raid with a captain.  A raid set for a captain would be impossible without one.
  • Burglars – A really good DPS class to begin with.  They add debuffing, and crowd control.  WoW Rogues drool with envy.  This class can cripple enemies and deal with dangerous adds with contemptuous ease.  A well played Burglar is nearly indispensable in some fights.  While not as raid-breaking as a Captain, they add another flavor to balancing that certainly makes things rougher.
  • Lore-Master – Not your daddies cloth caster.  A 2nd tier DPS choice, that adds debuffing, healing and ridiculous crowd-control.  Oh and Power (mana) regeneration.  For everyone.  They also add pets to the party.  This class is simply a requirement.  It’s easy to game for something everyone is going to bring, but still the kind of power a good Lore-Master includes means that raids are going to have a pretty hefty difficulty.  A good LM can keep everyone fed with power in a 12 man raid.  Imagine running a 10 man dungeon in WoW without ever worrying about mana.
  • Rune-Keepers – This one is challenging for everyone.  A very good RK can jump between damage and healing mid-fight and provide high quality (not quite top tier) performance at both roles.  A merely good RK can provide elite levels of either DPS or Heals with nearly contemptuous ease.  The ability for really good players to swap roles mid-fight makes this class difficult to deal with when tuning different phases.  DPS races and healer intensive phases just mean the good players are swapping back and forth.  This class is again not as game-breaking as the cappy, BUT that the presence of them, especially multiples of them, can potentially make any challenge phase much less of a challenge.

These four classes make raid design an incredible challenge.  WoW and most of its clones have traditionally dealt with this by simplifying their class structure.  Turbine has not followed this route.  They have kept the classes diverse, with controllers, buffers, debuffers, and the traditional trinity.

None of this excuses the buggy messes.  The poorly thought out mechanics, and the severe gating of radiance had nothing to do with the problems of class balance.  While Turbine has its work cut out for it in developing raids, they cannot blame that for the problems that have traditionally plagued them.  The simple fact is they don’t have the wherewithal to develop raids that are current, that work, and that are interesting in the modern MMO paradigm.

Turbine has a fiscal issue.  They have to prioritize their spending and that’s fine.  They need to recognize that by saying “You guys don’t play raids so we won’t make raids” to an educated audience burns bridges.  The raiders left in the game keep waiting for Turbine to support them.  Now Turbine is blaming them.  Sure they don’t make up a large part of the game, but they make up a far larger part of the community.  Turbine is stabbing them in the back and you would think someone as savvy as Sapience would know better.

Well That’s a Big Hole to Fill

Ripard Teg has laid down his pen.  Wow.  I have logged into EvE all of three times in the last month but I have kept abreast of the news and this has been huge, and bigger than some people realize.  The EvE blogging community is not as big as it once was, having been largely supplanted by sites like EN24 and TM.com, and many of the big names in the blogging community aren’t active, or aren’t doing a whole lot these days.  Part of the reason is traffic is down.  There used to be sites that would direct readers to blogs, like the old EvE Blog Pack, or Evebloggers (which seems to be kinda back) which could help a fledgling blog get some traffic.  Now you can pimp yourself on Reddit or hope for some publicity from forums or search engines, but there isn’t a lot of incentive to crank out a couple thousand words a week if only 4 people read them (and one is Bex who convos you in game to explain the big words).

Ripard had become the biggest supplier of hits to my site (after Reddit) by a long shot.  He represented nearly 1/3 of my incoming traffic over the last year, not counting Reddit.  His removal at a blow takes the dead center of the blogging community and removes it.  Now the structure is missing it’s strongest pillar and I wonder how long it will be before the roof caves in.  Independent bloggers don’t always add a lot, but their voice, and their unique bias makes them valuable.

And I haven’t even talked about Ripard’s voice.  He was the most prolific, the widest reaching, the most successful, and the 2nd most insightful blogger out there.  Mord Fiddle gets #1 there.  His voice on EN24 gave Riverini a real heavy stick to use to convince people that EN24 was a real deal.  Certainly far more credibility than I ever lent him, or Poetic (who I do hold in high regard).  If I had to make a top 10 or top 50 list of influential or must-read EvE posts my first question would be “How many Jester’s Trek posts can I use” because the top 10 would be JT and Fiddler’s Edge and the top 50 would have maybe 10 from other sources.  Most notably Evoganda, Mabrick’s Mumblings, @gamerchick42, and Nosy Gamer out of the current group.

Ripard Teg owes us nothing.  He has given freely of his time, of his insight and of his prolific writing to the entire community and he has made EvE a better game by his efforts.  Still and all it will be a lesser game, and blogging a lesser community for his absence.  I hope the bug bites him again, and I will now go off in search of a new default “What’s up in EvE today” blog.

I'm using it every time I can

I’m using it every time I can

 

$ensational(ism)

So a lot of people in the media have been talking about the $300 battle.  This is both true, and disingenuous.  If I were to throw down 300k in cash on Plex, and convert them into ISK, assuming I managed to not crash the market, I would have enough ISK to buy the ships that were lost in the battle.  I could not, however, take the ships that were lost in the battle, and sell them for ISK, convert them back to PLEX, and sell them for real money.  The mechanisms and rules of the game don’t allow it.  I could probably sell some of them for real money, I think we all know or at least believe this to be the case.

Today I heard NPR’s Marketplace interview The Mittani.  Mittens does a good job selling the concept of the $300k battle.  He mentions that there were people who spent money out of the game to buy ships in game.  Now this is not necessarily accusing people of RMT, although he certainly implies a degree of condescension towards the practice of using real money in any way to buy ships, by specifying that he knew that people on the losing side had done this.  I think no one even vaguely familiar with Goons would be in any way surprised to find that there were several people in goons who’d PLEXed for ships; and there’s nothing wrong with this.  Hell I’ll be doing so later this month.

The Mittani and CCP both have become victims of their propaganda, and the long-term prejudices of MMOs.  RMT is bad.  This is a very simple, and generally true statement, but not all RMT is bad.  EvE has a lot of grinds and the game allows you to buy game time, sell it to other players, and buy whatever they want with the proceeds.  This does far less damage to the economy than wholesale, unregulated third party RMT.  It does permit “Wallet Warriors” to bling out there ships and do a hell of a lot, but due to the incremental increases in capabilities offered, it doesn’t give massive, overwhelming advantages to people using this (beyond the ability to bring the bling time and again, but frankly that’s just wealth redistribution against the wrong enemies).  The only time the advantage does get truly oppressive is when it is played out on the macro scale.  Were PL to drop a truly mammoth amount of cash to replace their whole fleet, only more so, and bring in other folks to do the same to tilt the balance, it would certainly be possible to do so, but… well… I doubt how sustainable it would be for them (if they can sustain it, more power to them, maybe they can fund some better expansions).  This is the trap of the prejudices of the MMO industry.

EvE has built this article of faith that everything is worth money.  That the money in game is directly tied to real money.  The connection is tenuous, it goes only in one direction, and it can very quickly change, so that this battle, that today represented roughly $300k in a very indirect way, will next year represent a much smaller figure, and in a few more years represent an even smaller figure.  The wars of EvE have a context, and the context isn’t the wealth destroyed, but the bonds broken.  The creation and destruction of alliances and coalitions, the betrayals, and the battles.  Not the almighty dollar.

I'm using it every time I can

I’m using it every time I can

Case in Point

Ok, this is just fucking embarrassing.  Seriously who the HELL let this one through.  I’m gonna quote it in its entirety because… well… it’s not a lot.

EVE Online is known for its epic battles. Not only did last Monday see the biggest EVE battle to date, but the developers and players have already started work on a monument to remember the event.

The Bloodbath of B-R5RB, as the battle is now known, will be commemorated in game with the Titanomachy monument, constructed from the wrecked models of the brand new Titan ship introduced with Rubicon’s 1.1 release (coincidentally right after that battle). The permanent monument site will live around the seventh planet in the B-R5RB solar system and is already expected to be a pilgrimage destination for many players.

You can read a complete recap of the Bloodbath of B-R5RB on the most recent dev diary, and be sure to tune in today at 19:00 UTC (2:00 p.m. EST) for a developer livestream discussing the event and Rubicon 1.1’s release.

First a bit of a quibble.  Developers are doing the work on the monument.  Players don’t exactly have a ton of input beyond some suggestions from the CSM.

Let’s look at the real lowlight:

constructed from the wrecked models of the brand new Titan ship introduced with Rubicon’s 1.1 release (coincidentally right after that battle).

So wait.  The monument will be made of the wrecks of the brand new Titans.  The ones introduced in 2013’s Rubicon expansion.  Not the Titans from 2005’s Red Moon Rising expansion.

There’s two possibilities here.  The first is that Shawn Schuster simply doesn’t play EvE, has no experience with it, and is unaware that Titans have a tremendously long and infamous history in-game.  This would seem to have some weight to it because, well, 74 Titans got blowed up in and around B-R, which would be really awkward if they were introduced the day after the battle.  Second that he or his editor changed some words around and instead of talking about the new wreck models, put the word new in front of Titans.  In which case the editor should be fired.  Out of a cannon.  Into the sun.

Even more than Brendan’s tone-deaf rants, characterized by an even narrower scope and vision than my own toilet-paper roll view of EvE, this kind of writing goes beyond “Stringer” and into “Silly String”.  Gamers tend to take their games seriously, and having someone who simply knows nothing about the game write about it (which I believe to be the case judging by his writing history with Massively) is unacceptable.  I’m not saying that Shawn is a bad writer.  It’s actually a bit hard to judge him based on what he seems to be called on to write, but asking him to write about EvE does him a tremendous disservice.  It’s like sending a blind man to explore a mine field.

If Massively is going to rely on Copy/Pasting links and writing 150 word summaries they can at least spend another 5 minutes to provide ACCURATE 150 word summaries.

I'm using it every time I can

I’m using it every time I can

The Issue With Numbers

So we had another big battle, this time in HED.  The good news:  Numbers were great and the node didn’t crash.  The bad news:  Soul Crushing Lag.

Solving this problem has to happen.  I see three ways to do it, and I think all three should be implemented.

First I’m going to do the inane thing and talk about why real life battles don’t turn into the Command & Conquer blob of Mammoth Tanks overrunning the objectives.

First: there’s logistics.  EvE doesn’t worry too much about these, but in real life the supply “tail” behind a potent force in the field, or even a not-very-potent force is often as large, or larger, than the force actually in the field.  All the fuelers, armorers, maintenance, admin, command, supply, cooks, and medical personnel represent a much smaller wedge than in EvE.

Second: In real life you have to worry about area of effect weapons.  Especially if you are against us.  Whether it’s DPICM, JDAM, or any of the menu of cluster munitions NATO forces can use, putting a bunch of tanks within a 300m area… not smart.  Clustering infantry in the open?  The gunners are drooling.  Even the insurgents came up with some innovative ways to punish allied forces when they got too predictable.  EvE has smartbombs, but these only work well up to a certain point.  Really all they do is murder support, and even Battleships can usually escape to wreak havoc.  Not to mention the server lag caused by these tactics.

Third:  Economy of Force, there’s always competing objectives.  There’s a need to protect your own supply lines, your centers of power, strategic terrain that threatens your forces, if you stack up your entire force, the enemy can do massive damage to your own forces and or infrastructure without even engaging your combat elements.

One of these (Logistics/Divisional Wedge) doesn’t really apply in EvE.  Almost any nullbear can fly something useful in a fleet and isn’t busy running munitions, fuel, other supplies etc to the front.  Back in the dark ages you used to have to warp off grid to the logi tower where all the logis hugged up and topped up your armor and sent you back in.  Yes this was a thing.  Even that rudimentary tail has been eliminated (thankfully, I can’t IMAGINE how dull that must have been).

We’ll replace that one with hardware/software upgrades that bring CCP closer to being able to handle battles like this.  This won’t actually fix the problem, because as soon as it happens more players will fight in these battles and the problem comes right back, but we can keep running on the wheel a bit here.  This is also probably the most straightforward leg of the solution.

Area of Effect weapons that threaten overly concentrated fleets.  Whether it’s better smartbombs, nukes a la Battlestar Galactica, Dr. Device, or something similar, the solution to the blob is a weapon aimed at the blob.  Hell let titans script their doomsdays.  Maybe not the full grid demolishing AoE, but a smaller, more concentrated (say 20km) area of death.  Like 200k of damage death. Oh you have your whole fleet anchored up on one guy?  STBY brah.  Oh 20 carriers in one little cluster?  The titans just salvo’d them into structure for the support to finish off.  Good luck.  Sure this will cause spikes of lag on the server, but it will make FCs think twice about bringing every asshole who can only anchor up and F1.  It might force them to bring in fleets in waves.  They might find entirely different ways of operating.

Finally:  Competing objectives.  Make it possible for defenders to force additional objectives in that system or neighboring systems.  For example the TCU, IHUB and Station all have to be down at the same time, and all run on the same timers, rather than in sequence.  Or if you take a system in a constellation, you can only do it once a week/month, whatever, BUT you can take as many as you want as long as they come out of reinforced within 24 hours of each other.  Something to incentivize spreading out.

I'm using it every time I can

I’m using it every time I can

 

We’re Not That Bad (For People Who Plan to Shoot You in the Face)

Over at The Ancient Gaming Noob, Wilhelm Arcturus posits that EvE has A Horrible Community, but no more horrible than any other

I’d say we aren’t bad.  We’re just drawn that way.  In actuality EvE has the most helpful community you will ever see.

Wilhelm argues that we will:  Scam you, Steal from you, Suicide Gank you, shoot you for any reason or none at all, taunt you, torment you, and generally treat you with absolute disdain.

Which, of course, we will.

We will also educate you, give you free stuff, provide resources of critical importance to your success, mentor you, train you, and help you to not only meet your goals, but figure out what the hell they should be to begin with.  Often while shooting you in the face.

Look at organizations like EvE University or Brave Newbies.  Find me an equivalent in WoW.  If you’ve never seen how Goons treats their newbros you really should.  What they lack in consistency they make up for in enthusiasm.  Look at resources like EvE-HQ, Evemon, EFT, Aura, The ISK Guide, Dotlan, Evewho, Eve-central.  The list goes on.  Most games have a talent builder, maybe a (Developer provided) character viewer, maybe some 3rd party forums.  A handful of blogs.  The amount of content provided by and for players is astounding.  Especially when you realize that, with 5% of World of Warcraft’s playerbase there is far more in the way of resources, tools, organizations, and general help available to get people playing the game and enjoying it.

Part of that is the fact that there is a demand for it.  EvE wouldn’t exist if not for the efforts of the players to provide essential resources and services to the playerbase.  Frankly if another company left this much undone in their game, the game wouldn’t exist.  EvE needs a lot of this support, not all of it, but most of these resources are offered for no cost.

This isn’t to say that EvE is a united front of hugging and cuddles.  Horrible things do happen, planned with malice aforethought, but that isn’t the community, it’s the game.

I'm using it every time I can

I’m using it every time I can

A Matter of Degrees

So after reading Ripard’s most recent this morning, I think he’s “walked back” a bit too far.  I tend to agree with him that walking back is better than doubling down, which I’m just freaking tired of, but I think he’s backed up a bit too far.  He says that boiled down to it, what the gifts represent is CCP providing an in-game advantage to Somer.  And that it is wrong for them to do so no matter why they did.

Let me break it down how I see it.  Somer has, for years, spent a lot of time and effort building the biggest lottery in EvE. They have certainly enriched themselves, which I have no problem with, and they have also spent considerable time and effort supporting other folks ventures whether it’s EvE Vegas, an in-game tournament like the Frigate Free For All or whatever.  In recognition of this community support CCP rewarded them with the Ishukone Watch Scorpions, and concealed the fact.

Now I’m going to go onto a bit of a non sequitur.  I’m going to talk about Pandemic Legion.  Pandemic Legion has won 4 Alliance Tournaments.  I believe they were 2nd in 2 of the ones they didn’t win.  They busted their buts, they worked hard and they provided a ton of entertainment for the community.  They also provided CCP with some marketing punch in the highly publicized tournament streams and videos.  For this they have gotten a LOT of ships from CCP.  These rewards were announced up front and they were well publicized.

Both of these organizations did something that was good for the game.  They both provided something above and beyond what the normal schlub like you or me does to the game.  They both give a small, but measurable, competitive advantage to the organization receiving them.  There are a few key differences.  Number one The AT rewards are well publicized, announced in advance, featured in vids even these days, and they are potent, potent ships, whereas Somer’s was cloaked in secrecy.  Number two the AT is a highly structured event.  Only so many people are allowed in, and only so many have a real chance at participating.  The Somer giveaway was completely unstructured, with no fixed criteria at all.

I have a problem with some of the specifics.  Somer’s reward should NOT have been secret.  Ever.  That it was even conceptualized that way is problematic enough.  That it actually entered the game secretly was a disaster.  It should have been a public reward, with a very open “Job-Well-Done” specifying the reasons CCP chose to reward Somer.  I like the sandbox, but it’s not a pure sandbox and it will never be a pure sandbox.  If CCP wants to reward behavior I think we should welcome it as long as everyone understands how it’s going to work.  It doesn’t have to be a specific set of rules and competitions like the AT.  That handcuffs CCP from recognizing acts and events that are meaningful that don’t involve CCP from start to finish.  Here I’m thinking about groups like the Angel Project, which certainly wouldn’t mind a bit of help from CCP.  EvE University, which has already gotten some support from CCP although nothing as material as a battleship flotilla.

It has to be open.  CCP needs to put out a devblog saying “From time to time we can choose to reward individuals and groups who have gone above and beyond in service to our community.  These rewards will take the form of ___________ and follow a general criteria of _________ although we reserve the right to recognize outstanding contributions to our community wherever and whenever we choose to offer them.  This is not a goalpost, don’t call us saying ‘we’ve done this and this and this now hand us our ships’ it’s merely a statement that we can and will be rewarding those whose contributions to the community are truly above and beyond greatness.  These will be freely given gifts, no strings attached, and they will be publicized as we see fit (and by that we mean not kept secret at all, I mean front page, maybe login screen)” only, you know, not written at 6AM by someone still half asleep and struggling to formulate full sentences.

What CCP needs to bring is structure and transparency.  Not as much as with AT, but more than with “Somergate” (or “IshukoneWatchScorpionGate” for the masochists out there) to give an idea of roughly what the process is, and what kind of gifts we can expect to see given out.  For the record I think the idea of re-skinned ships for prizes is great and cannot wait for CCP to start throwing them at bloggers to shut us whiners up for 5 minutes.

 

I'm using it every time I can

I’m using it every time I can