Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
You can follow along, if you want...

Sunday, March 31, 2013

March junk drawer

Welcome to the junk drawer, part of a series of monthly posts in which I dump all the stuff that I couldn't develop into full blog posts this past month.  It's a goofy, eclectic sort of junk drawer this month, I'm sure you'll agree...


Let's start with two more minor "little things" sort of suggestions for the game.  First, an easy one: with all of the drone buffs over the last several months, drone damage is finally coming into its own as a viable fourth option for EVE Online damage.  But one piece is missing: a key-bind for the "launch drones" command.  Every other weapon type can start applying damage with a single key stroke.  As it is, drones need a right click, a left click, then a key stroke.  A key-bind would reduce this to two key strokes.

The second one is a bit more goofy, but sure would be handy.  Real life AEGIS missile destroyers and cruisers, when operating as a group, can throw all of their available missiles into a single "basket" which is then managed by a central fire control authority.  In much the same way, it would be handy if corp members that stay docked fairly close to home could throw manufacturing, science, and other industry slots into a single basket to be managed by a corp "industry officer" or the like.  That would be a nice buff to industry corps of all kinds, particularly those in null-sec.


Two James 315 notes.  First was this, courtesy of the Declaration of War pod-cast, which just made me laugh.

The interesting thing about James 315 as a CSM candidate is that he totally bought into both the "you can't vote against me" and "all publicity is good publicity" mechanics.  Given that, it would have been quite interesting to see how he had done in the actual election.  I'm sorry that he's not running.


This month, I wrote a post that in part examined the Pandemic Legion "financial audit" for 2012.  In particular, I thought it was kind of interesting that a lot of the expenditures were put into individual PL corps and was curious where that ISK was going.  And I was also interested by the fact that the "audit" only looked at expenditures.  Revenue was not included in the audit, nor was it examined where the revenue was coming from.

Well, there was a follow-up piece on themittani.com this month confirming that this audit was the real deal.  It also explained what the individual corp expenditures were about: ammunition, jump fuel, and like expenses.  That makes total sense.  Guess what was missing from the follow up piece, though?  Yep, you got it: any explanation of where the revenue comes from.  Not really surprising, I guess, but if there was an opportunity to answer the biggest question about this audit, that was it.


This, from Elmnt80, made me smile this month:
[06:46:08] Elmnt80 > more then one rote, time to run away!

So did this, from splatus:

Thanks to both of you.


This one's come up in a few conversations that I've had lately.  Now that Caldari Prime is on fire, is it time to go ahead and repair the Ishukone station in Malkalen?  The place has, after all, been on fire for several years now.  Maybe it's time to go ahead and put it out, then repair the station.


And I end with a particularly strange one.  Dernarius Starariur likes to share his theories of the workings of New Eden with me from time to time, and this month he came up with a particularly amusing one.  In the in-game lore, PLEXes are "pilot license extensions" that are produced by CONCORD that are consumed by capsuleers when they are used.  Therefore, are they like drugs?  Does CONCORD put an addictive chemical into PLEXes that makes capsuleers crave them every month?

It's a fun theory.  ;-)  Thanks for sharing, Dernarius!


And that's all for the junk drawer this month.

COTW: Violence inherent in the system

Comment of the week honors goes to a number of people who have been chiding me on various media about about weaker candidates on the list of CSM8 candidates that I endorsed yesterday.  Chief among them are DSJ, who put it this way:
It doesn't make any sense to ask people to vote for a slate you know will lose. Unless the reasons that the 1-14 are going to win are reversible everyone voting your slate has to ask why they are doing it? As strong as your instincts might be toward actual integrity in journalism publishing this list prior would be a mistake. This is related to your earlier post on Transparency and being transparent. It makes particular sense if instead of considering yourself the boss you consider yourself the employee in this instance --- coming from your example. Voters that want to vote for you don't want their candidate predicting a loss.
And it's a fair criticism.  As I've already said, much of the list of candidates that I endorsed is somewhat political.  Know what?  Every other endorsement list you see is going to operate the same way.  Here's why, from my perspective.

The alternative to pointing people at good candidates who are likely to lose is to strengthen the bloc vote, something that it would be a dumb idea for me to do.  Let's say I endorse some good bloc candidates (and there are some).  The way STV operates, if people follow that suggestion and vote for those good bloc candidates, that reduces the number of bloc votes that those good bloc candidates need to get on the CSM.  The bloc votes that would otherwise go to them instead flow directly to bad bloc candidates (and there are some), increasing the likelihood that they'll be on the CSM, too!

It is therefore a dumb idea for me to endorse bloc candidates -- even good bloc candidates -- for two reasons:
  1. I reduce the chances that good candidates that are not bloc candidates get on the CSM; and,
  2. I increase the chances that bad bloc candidates -- that otherwise would not be elected! -- get on the CSM in their place.
Weird as it sounds, even if I were not running for CSM, my endorsements would lean in the direction they leaned for this reason.  Endorsing good candidates -- even weak good candidates that are going to struggle to be elected -- is a smart move for me.  When other endorsement lists come out -- particularly the bloc ballots -- read them with that in mind because that's how they're all going to work.  This is one of the few weaknesses inherent in the STV system.

Thanks to everyone who is considering my CSM8 endorsement list!

EDIT (4/Apr/2013): There has been even more controversy about non-bloc candidates refusing to endorse bloc candidates.  This includes Xander Phoena who did the absolutely heroic interviews of all the candidates.  So I want to expand on my answer a bit:
For myself, I didn't endorse a bloc candidate because of the way STV works. The bloc candidates on the high end (mynnna, for instance) are going to get ALL the bloc votes: he'll have Mittens's 10k votes and then some if he needs them. Therefore, the votes mynnna *doesn't need* (like any high-sec player that votes for him) will filter down to less impressive bloc candidates.

So non-intuitively, every non-bloc vote that mynnna gets doesn't do
anything at all to improve mynnna's chances and doesn't go to mynnna. Instead, it improves the chances of these second- and third-tiers and goes to them.
Remember how I said the bloc votes would work the same way?  Sure enough, it looks like they're going to.  Here's what mynnna himself had to say about the issue (in the comments of Xander's blog post):
Maybe everyone playing political games from all sides will cancel out and we'll get a decent CSM composition.
And somewhat ironically, I think that might just be possible.

Less precise

Know what my #1 and #2 favorite ships to fly right now are?  First place, Talos.  I love its mix of DPS, speed, agility, and tracking.  Second place, Ashimmu.  It's not a well-known ship, but I have a solidly-tanked one I love flying in armor HAC small gangs.  The new Armor Honeycombing skill and its associated agility buff makes it a joy to fly and to apply its double webs and neuts.  The thing that the two ships have in common are precision.  Both are precision tools that require careful, thoughtful flying and in the case of the Ashimmu, a lot of cooperation from its gang.

This is why I'm rather amused that CCP is trying to turn these flying scalpels into clubs.

First up is this post by new ship balancer Kil2... aka CCP Rise.  It was very predictable that the attack BCs would be getting nerfed after what happened to the combat BCs.  What wasn't predictable was how they would get nerfed.  Remember, in their original iteration, the attack BCs were intended to be smaller, thin-tanked ships that could successfully take on bigger targets thanks to the agility to avoid their fire.  Their primary defense was their ability to mitigate damage by dodging fire.  They were intended to be extremely vulnerable to frigates and other light ships while applying strong DPS to larger targets like battleships, capital ships, and super-capitals.

In their new iteration, attack BCs have been judged too agile, too fast, and possessing a too-small signature radius.  ...WTF?

I absolutely agree that a nerf was incoming and that a nerf was even needed, but the area where attack BCs have been too strong has been in their ability to attack smaller targets.  The nerf I was expecting was to reduce the effectiveness of their guns when attacking frigates and destroyers.  Already quite thin-skinned, their only defense has been to be where incoming fire wasn't.  Only now large chunks of this defense are being stripped away, particularly with sig radius increases of between 10 and 15%.  Given that virtually all of the attack BC fits out there are shield tankers (which will multiply the effect of these larger sigs), this increase is going to be very significant.  It will be interesting to see how effective battleship guns in particular are at sweeping attack BCs off the field.

The other advantage attack BCs have had is their ability to GTFO under duress.  But this is also being reduced, particularly against the Naga.  Those who fly this boat already know the Naga was none too agile to begin with.

So... yeah.  To quote Sirius Black, the ship balancing team has "applied their keen and penetrating intellect to reach the wrong conclusion" about what was needed with these ships.  I'm not a fan of these changes.

Let's get to the changes to Tracking Enhancers and Remote Sensor Boosters, starting with the TEs.

Make no mistake: the TE nerf is aimed squarely at shield-tankers that rely on TEs for damage, not range.  So those of you out there in sniper Nagas, Oracles, Rokhs, Tornados, and like ships are not going to be affected or are not going to be affected all that much.  Most of these ships rely on low-slot damage enhancement and Tracking Computers for their effectiveness, not TEs.  And I note with quite a lot of interest that TCs aren't being touched this go-round.  We'll get to that.

Sure, these ships might sacrifice a little bit of range if they use a TE in a low due to CPU constraints -- I'm looking at you, arty Tornado -- but it's not going to be a serious consideration.

No, this nerf is aimed at shield Taloses, Oracles, and 800 Nadoes, with Tempests and Cynabals also badly nerfed but likely considered acceptable collateral damage.  It's also going to badly hurt my beloved Vagabond but that doesn't matter because hardly anyone flies them any more.  These are ships that, by and large, fight within fall-off range instead of optimal range.  All gun ships in EVE do 100% DPS to targets that they hit out to optimal range.  Then, as you fight further and further into fall-off, your DPS drops dramatically.  Here's the current DPS curve for a dual-TE Talos firing Null ammo:

Fit this way, this boat has a 16km optimal and a 28km fall-off, but Taloses nearly always fight in fall-off.  Thanks to its thin tank, a Talos that gets in close is a dead Talos.  As you can see, DPS is maximized at the edge of optimal (about 875) but is cut by almost two-thirds at the edge of fall-off (340 DPS at 44km).  At point range, DPS is about 800.  With two of the new TEs, range is nerfed to 15+24.  This cuts DPS at point range by about 70-80 DPS.  "This change will be somewhat painful for many ships that rely on TEs for range," CCP Fozzie says with his characteristic understatement.  ;-)  Yeah thanks, Fozzie, got that.

But in the very height of irony, know what statistic of the Tracking Enhancer isn't getting nerfed?  Yep, you got it: tracking!  Other than the range nerf, the ability of shield-tanking attack battle cruisers to attack frigates and destroyers is completely unchanged.  I repeat: WTF.

Armor Oracles, which typically don't fight in fall-off, aren't being nerfed.  But in addition to the Talos, you guys that like flying red ships are pretty badly boned here.  Tornados and Tempests each lose 60-70 DPS at their combat ranges, and Ruptures, Cynabals and Vagabonds lose about 30.  Armor tanking, which recently got a very nice buff due to Armor Honeycombing skill, just got a second very nice buff with this change.  From other comments in Fozzie's post, we can infer that both of these changes were the intent.  Minmatar is out as FOTM for a while, and all you armor ships using TCs to do this same sort of thing are safe from these changes.  Amarr victor.

That brings me back to my Ashimmu.  One of the reasons I like them in small-gang armor fleets is that a Remote Sensor Boosted Ashimmu is nearly inescapable on gate.  It's long been known that the Linked Sensor Network meta2 RSB has been the best choice for this sort of use.  Ridiculously cheap and common, the meta2 RSB gives the same bonus to scan res boosting as the much higher CPU-needy tech2 version.  A few of these fitted to one of your command ships is good for a 2000+ scan resolution on an Ash.  That's sufficient to nab most frigs and all destroyers, where the Ashimmu's 90% webs and close-range neuts makes them easy prey.

About this, Fozzie has to say "This has contributed to the growth of insta-lock camps that are in our opinion are a bit too easy nowadays."  OK, fair enough.  So we're going to see two changes here.  The maximum scan res bonus is being reduced by almost 20%, and the meta2 RSB is now going to be just as bad as every other meta2 item, pushing people toward much harder-to-fit T2 RSBs.  In my opinion, both of these are reasonable changes for low- and null-sec gate camps.  But it also nerfs suicide ganking in high-sec, where insta-locking frigates and shuttles carrying small valuable cargoes has been a lucrative profession of those in the know.  Expect to see fewer many kill-mails for shuttles carrying dozens of PLEXes and the like.

Don't kid yourself thinking that this was collateral damage to the change.

As for my Ashimmu, I have resigned myself to many fewer calls of "point, double web" against small, fast-moving targets when our roaming gang stops for a few minutes on a gate.  Low-sec in particular just got a little bit safer, and some of the tools in the small-gang PvP tool box just got a little less precise.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

My endorsements for CSM8

OK, welcome to CSM8 campaign season!  In a few days, the full election for CSM8 commences.  As I've said the last couple of days, after much thought, I've decided to endorse a full set of 14 candidates for CSM8.  However, I cheerfully admit that this list is quite political.  I've only endorsed a pair of "bloc" candidates and the chances of my full slate of endorsements being elected is exactly zero for that reason.  In fact, it's pretty likely that CSM8 is going to be made up of a majority of bloc candidates with only a few non-bloc members.  I'll talk about that both in my next CSM post, and in my post about who I think is likely to win seats.

When it comes time for you to fill out your ballot, you will be given the opportunity to rank up to 14 candidates in order from #1 to #14.  This endorsement list is written in the same way.  If your #1 choice doesn't need your vote to be on the CSM, your vote will pass to #2, #3, and so on until either your vote is needed to put that candidate on the CSM, or your vote passes through all of your choices without getting anyone elected to the CSM.  For that reason, it is in your best interests to list as many candidates as possible on your ballot.  The only thing listing fewer candidates on your ballot does is make it more likely that your vote will be wasted.

For my endorsements, I've chosen candidates that would not only be excellent CSM delegates, but candidates that add needed experience to the group in terms of their play style, their community outreach, their writing, or their real life experiences.  Remember that CCP has complained that past CSMs have been a bit too "one-sided" in the perspective that they can provide CCP.  At the end of the day, a homogeneous CSM serves neither CCP or the players.  The most valuable CSM possible will be the one that has the widest possible experience.

So, when it comes time to fill out your ballot, I hope that you will fill it out in the following order.  Starting with...

1. Ripard Teg
I'd like to be on CSM8, please.

2. Malcanis
The simplest way to make a decision about who to endorse as my #2 pick was to ask myself, "If I am not elected to CSM8, who would I like to have elected in my place?"  Put that way, answering the question was very easy.  Malcanis is experienced, smart, practical, a good writer, a hard worker, and well-respected by the EVE community.  He would have received at least one of my votes any time in the last three years had he run for CSM.  That I potentially have the privilege of serving with him on CSM8 is a delightful prospect.

3. Trebor Daehdoow
But it just as easily could have been Trebor, and for the same reasons.  His play style is not my play style, to be sure, and he and I don't agree on everything.  But he's an experienced CSM member with great contacts into and the respect of CCP, a great writer, has relevant real world experience, has a unique perspective on the game, and can work with a wide variety of personalities.  He's a great transition member between previous CSMs and this one.

4. Ali Aras
This one may be a surprise and I spent a lot of time thinking about who to choose next.  But the most important question CCP faces this year is how to expand the player base.  With that in mind, my #4 and #5 choices are aimed squarely at this issue.  You may not know Ali, but she (yes, she) has a terrific perspective into the new player experience, and has come a long way in a short while in New Eden.  She also brings to the table something that no other CSM8 candidate can: she is a woman who quit the game, then returned to it.  This is something that CCP must replicate several thousand more times in the coming months and I'm positive if elected, CCP will want to talk to Ali about it.

5. Mangala Solaris
Very similarly, Mangala Solaris of Red v. Blue was another very easy pick.  I've expressed my admiration for everything RvB does many times in this blog over the years, and Mangala is a terrific representative for them and for new player PvP.  Making EVE fun for the new player is a supreme concern in the age of League of Legends, World of Tanks, and like games.  CCP has to carefully adapt their game to attract more players of this type.  Mangala's experience can not only help CCP answer this question, I like his perspective on how the CSM should operate.

6. Nathan Jameson
There are five wormhole candidates running this year.  Of them, I like Nathan the best.  He's not only experienced in wormhole life as the executor of the largest alliance in w-space, he's the best generalist candidate among the WH five.  He brings discipline, hard work, and terrific communications and player outreach skills to the table.  This is on top of his wormhole experience; he seems to be well-respected by a good cross section of w-space dwellers.

7. Korvin
There are only a few Russians running for CSM this year and of them, I like Korvin the best.  He has solid prior CSM experience as a member of CSMs 4 and 5 and so can help me with my own ideas transitioning the things that worked about these "old school" CSMs into the latest one.  I also really like his perspective into the social aspects of the game.

8. corebloodbrothers
core is, with Ali, one of the two "Provi-bloc" candidates but is an excellent prospect in his own right.  What I like most about core is his real world experience: he's a software developer with experience with LEAN methodology and scrum development techniques.  He'll be able to convert a lot of the technical language that CCP is likely to throw at the CSM into words the rest of us can understand.  ;-)  But on top of this, he's also got terrific PvP and veteran player experience.

9. riverini
riverini is controversial, no doubt about it, but he has a huge advantage as a potential CSM member: he's plugged into lots of the most influential and knowledgeable people in the game.  His information network probably rivals the GIA's and is likely a lot more broad since it also covers areas that the GIA doesn't care about, like botting.  Anyone who can single-handedly raise up one of the most respected and visited websites in EVEdom cannot be dismissed out of hand.

10. Roc Wieler
Roc surprises me every year because he's one of those guys that -- ironically enough -- often doesn't play to his strengths as a CSM candidate.  Sure, he's a role-player and loves to play up that aspect of his persona.  But he's also got terrific faction warfare experience and even better real life experience in both technical disciplines and EVE community outreach.  On top of this, he's a great writer and artist, disciplined, and a proven hard worker.

11. Psychotic Monk
Take James 315 and subtract the rampant insanity and the cult following, then add a heavy dose of practicality, and you get Psychotic Monk.  ;-)  I wasn't lying when I've said that I'm sympathetic to the concerns of people who enjoy non-consensual PvP.  He'll do a terrific job representing this segment of the community while also understanding a broader base of EVE players.  I questioned him on his campaign thread about his views of high-sec war-decs in particular and I like his take on the subject.  It retains the cold harsh nature of EVE while also being realistic.

12. James Arget
In my opinion, James Arget is the strongest wormhole candidate in terms of wormhole knowledge.  He's not as good of a general candidate as Nathan but his knowledge of the topic of w-space cannot be denied.  He's done the best job of holding together the w-space community, did a terrific job during the wormhole candidate debate, and is outspoken and passionate about EVE Online.

13. Unforgiven Storm
One of my two wildcard endorsements, I feel kind of bad for Unforgiven Storm.  CSM8 needs an industrialist delegate and I see myself fulfilling a lot of that position, but I'm not a sovereignty industrialist and Unforgiven is.  However, his alliance tag -- Goonswarm -- definitely hurts him with any potential industrialist voter base and the CFC seems fairly unlikely to include him in their ballot because he's not "important enough".  Despite being in the same alliance, Mittens didn't even mention him in his latest CSM election piece.  But Unforgiven's knowledge of his topic cannot be denied.

14. ProGodLegend
My other wildcard endorsement, ProGodLegend doesn't need my help to be elected to CSM8: his N3 constituency will probably get him there.  But of all the bloc candidates, he's the one I'm most sympathetic to.  I met ProGod ages ago when both of us were part of the Atlas Alliance coalition in the east.  At the time, he was a small-gang FC given to derping fleets humorously and raging about it.  ;-)  He's clearly learned a lot about the game since then and I'm sure CCP would appreciate his experience helping build a small corp into one of the most important entities in New Eden.

That's my list.  I'm hoping that CCP provides some way for me to send out a voting link as a single URL.  That way, if you're inclined to trust my endorsements, they'll all be filled in for you in advance, right out of U.S. "machine" politics.  ;-)  Still, if it doesn't go that way, I hope you'll consider supporting some or all of the candidates on this list.  And obviously, I hope you will support me and list me as your #1 choice for CSM8.

But whomever you support, please get out there and vote!  The more players that vote in this election, the more influence the CSM is going to have with CCP.  And the more players you list on your ballot, the more likely your vote will have a real impact.  It's important.  Thanks for your time and your participation!

Next up in this series: some of the other key candidates, and what I think of them.  After that: the list of the 14 people that I think will win, and why.

Enough with the preliminaries

Hi everyone, I have a request.  As you all know, to pass from the preliminary stage of the ballot to the final ballot, you need 200 "endorsements" on the CSM web voting application set up for this.  Well, on Friday, CCP Dolan quietly revealed that there had been a small number of "false positives": people who were told that they had 200 endorsements and really didn't.

One of those it turns out, was riverini, editor of EVE News 24.  He's understandably a little annoyed, because he thought he had passed the threshold, told his supporters that he had passed the threshold, and told his supporters that they didn't have to endorse him any more the same way I did.  Now he's been told that he hasn't passed the threshold.

Let's make no mistake here: the primary system as it is is pretty freakin' dumb.  The main election is going to decide who is on CSM8 and who isn't, and anyone who can only pull together 200 votes isn't going to make the cut regardless.  For that reason, I opposed the primary process and have said so in public here and in other places.  But anyone who is willing to do all of the work and make the sacrifices that come with the initial application process for running for CSM8 should be allowed to... you know... run for CSM8.  More candidates is better for the process, simple as that.  More candidates bring in more voters, more voters bring in more awareness, and more awareness is only to the good of the CSM, CCP, and the game we all love.

For that reason, if you have endorsements remaining, I encourage you to send them riverini's way.  Here's the link to do so.  Whether you agree with his views or not, I think it's the right thing to do.  He deserves a full shot, the same as me.  And if there is virtually any other candidate who has not yet hit their 200 or that were also sent "false positive" e-mails, please feel free to make yourselves known in comments.(1)  I support virtually every candidate getting past this first stage and moving on to the main event.  At that point, let the players decide.  It's how the system should work.

EDIT (30/Mar/2013): Oh, and for those asking: I wasn't one of the false positives.  I received a second e-mail from Dolan saying that I was qualified for the main election, as did most other candidates.

EDIT (30/Mar/2013): I have learned that Sgurd Battersea is also below the threshold, and might choose to withdraw from the election because of it.  Please endorse him as well if you have the means to do so.

(1) I'm not all that chuffed about Fon passing or not passing the 200, but perhaps even he deserves to get his day in front of the players.  I'm certainly content to let EVE's players decide his fate, and I'm quite confident they'll decide his fate properly.  That's how EVE works, and how the election should work.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Warning: politics ahead

So here's one of those geek philosophy posts that I write sometimes that will give you some insight into how my brain works.  Don't say you weren't warned.

Last year, when I wasn't running for CSM, talking about the CSM candidates was pretty easy.  It was doubly easy because among the "serious" candidates that I felt had a shot, about half of them were CSM6 members running for reelection and the other half were new voices that I thought stood a good chance.  So last year, I wrote three posts on the matter:
  • a post with CSM6 members that I endorsed for reelection;
  • a post with new voices that I endorsed; and,
  • a post where I listed who I thought would win that didn't necessarily correspond with the first two posts.
And that system worked just fine and didn't produce any conflict.

This year, things are quite different.  Only two CSM7 members are running for reelection -- Trebor Daehdoow and Greene Lee -- and talking about them will be very easy.  I don't think Greene Lee should be reelected based on his CSM7 performance, he's unlikely to be reelected because his power base is gone, and he didn't do enough outreach with the players during the year he had to give himself much of a shot.  Trebor's the exact opposite, as I've already covered.

I still want to write a post about who I think will win, and I still want to endorse a slate of candidates.  But this year, there's a little logical split happening in my head.  After much agonizing, I've come to the conclusion that it's in both my best interests and the CSM's best interests if I endorse a full slate of 13 candidates, plus myself.  And that's what you'll be getting from me on Monday or so: a "voting guide" that includes the names of 14 CSM candidates that I hope you will vote for.  But, in between who I'm going to endorse and who I think is going to win is another group of 14 CSM candidates that I want to win and that I think deserve to be there.  Let's lay it out visually:

At the top, CSM candidates that I think will win.  At the bottom, CSM candidates that I'm going to endorse.  Some of the people I'm going to endorse, I unfortunately don't think are going to win.  But I'm going to endorse them because I believe they have an important perspective on the game.  Ali Aras is an excellent example.  Unfortunately, I don't think she has much of a chance of winning, but she's got a terrific perspective on EVE's new player experience and the experiences of new players in general.  So I want her to win and will endorse her for that reason.

At the opposite end of the scale is someone like Banlish, TEST Alliance's candidate.  He's almost certain to win no matter what I say or think.  Sure, he's got great in-game experience and if we both win I look forward to working with him.  But he's not campaigning or doing player outreach; he's just coasting.  Fine, he has that right.  But it doesn't mean I have to endorse him.  ;-)  Other candidates are equally easy.  I'll endorse Trebor, I hope he wins, and I think he will.  Easy.  I don't think Fon Revenhort is going to win, I hope he doesn't, and there's no way in hell I'm endorsing him.  Also easy.

The complicated group is that little pink sliver in between.  mynnna is assured a CSM8 seat if anyone is, and despite some holes in his EVE knowledge, I hope he wins.  He'll bring a very valuable voice to the group, he's got some fantastic experience, and in a term that's likely to be dominated by economic concerns in New Eden, CSM8 will be lucky to have him.  But should I endorse him?  You have to be kidding.  He doesn't need my help. 

Therefore, there are 14 candidates that I want to win.  There are 14 candidates that I intend to endorse.  But these two groups are not the same.  mynnna's presence in that little pink sliver logically means that there is at least one candidate that I'm going to endorse that I don't want to win.  This is called "politics", and it automatically gives anyone whose brain does not operate in channels this complicated permission to laugh at my discomfort.  ;-)

There are two solutions to the dilemma, but politically, both are poor choices:
  • I could just endorse mynnna.  But this is foolish because the top two vote-getters in a separate STV election get two "permanent" seats in Iceland.  mynnna has a good shot at one of them, and politically it would be very foolish of me to endorse him for this reason.  This is also why you probably won't be seeing Trebor's name on the CFC ballot, even though The Mittani likes Trebor personally and probably secretly thinks Trebor should be re-elected.
  • Or I could endorse 12 candidates instead of 13.  But this is foolish because given the way STV operates, it's a smart move for me to endorse a full slate.  If I don't endorse a full slate, there's a small chance that my votes and the votes of others that are nice enough to vote for the slate I endorse will be wasted.  That would obviously be bad.  The more votes go to actual winning candidates, the stronger the position CSM8 will be in.
So, I'm in quite a little dilemma here, but politics is politics and I'll deal with it.  And as I've implied, I'm not the only one in this position.  Mittens is too, and likely, so is riverini.

So expect three posts from me on this matter:
  • a post about who I endorse, and why;
  • a post about other candidates that I don't endorse and how I think they'd do on the CSM; and,
  • a post about who I think is going to win.
All three will appear over the next few days.  For those of you supporting my candidacy, thank you!  For those of you sick of politics, I'll be back to a more normal set of topics next week.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

New players represent

First, my apologies.  This is going to be a full-on CSM-related political post.  You're probably gonna get a lot of these around here for the next couple of weeks or so.  Sorry about that, but it's the nature of the beast.  ;-)  Still, my normal posting will also continue in between all the politics.

I've been asked several times lately what my position is on new players and the new player experience (NPE).  Of course, I've written about this a lot before but my opinions are kind of scattered across a half-dozen blog posts.  Therefore, I think there's some value to be had in writing a full post on the subject that pulls all of these threads together that I can point people to when they ask me this question.

Ready?  Here goes.

As my readers know, addressing the new player experience and attacking the learning cliff has been a big part of my blogging for the last two years, and to help guide CCP in their efforts to bring in new players without breaking the game is one of the most important reasons I'm running for CSM8.  In particular, I favor removing or flattening needless complexity in the game.  One suggestion I've made, for instance, is that attributes should be removed from the game.  What do they add to the game, after all?  Alternately, if attributes are not removed, I've mentioned the idea of setting them to maximum values for the first six months of a new player's life and only at the end of that six months would the player be asked to do their first attribute remap (after they understand what it means).  In this way, veteran players would not be affected and the richness of EVE Online would be preserved... but new players would have an easier time of it in their early career.

To further assist new players, I've written more than 40 guides to playing EVE Online as well as dozens of "fits of the week" aimed at newer players to teach them to fly their ships more aggressively and well.  I've also written extensively about the NPE on my blog.  For instance, in my post "Strangled in the crib", I talk extensively about the struggle of a new players to break into EVE's mid-game.  In my post "You got skillz", I bemoan CCP's work in widening the skills gaps between new players and veterans.

In short, I feel that I'm one of the friendliest -- if not the friendliest -- CSM candidates to new players and I welcome both the support of new players in my campaign and questions from new players in any area I can help them.

Regarding the larger question, CCP's challenge with attracting new players in the coming two years can be made on two fronts.  First, it's my belief that CCP has tipped the balance of iteration versus new features too far over toward iteration in the last year or so.  Iteration is fantastic, don't get me wrong, and I've argued for it in the past quite extensively.  But it needs to be balanced with exciting new features to draw new players into the mix as well.  In my recent post "Fractional warfare", I pointed out that CCP's most successful expansions have been the ones that pushed the envelope -- Apocyrpha and Incursion, for instance.  As I put it at the time:
I'm all for iteration.  But it's a diet of bread, water, and vitamin supplements.  It'll keep a person alive for a long while, but it's not particularly nourishing.
It's time for some real nourishment and to his credit, CCP Unifex sees that.  I think we'll see the first aspects of that in Odyssey.  The next CSM can assist by helping CCP as a focus group with their ideas regarding Odyssey and its winter follow-on, and with a poke here and there toward ideas that will appeal to both new players and bitter-vets.

The second front, as I've already mentioned, is making the early game simpler for EVE players.  In addition to removing needless complexity, I would also encourage CCP to develop more functional, enjoyable tutorials that truly guide new players through the difficult concepts in the early game.  The current tutorials simply aren't getting the job done in this regard.  I feel a much better model are the early steps in a player's advancement in Guild Wars 2, which I wrote about extensively.  I think CCP should shamelessly steal a lot of the concepts from early GW2 play that were so ground-breaking for their own game.  ;-)  Again, the CSM can guide them in this regard, particularly players like myself who are still relatively close to our early days in EVE...

All in all, as long as the character of New Eden is respected and maintained, I support bringing thousands of new players into the game.  They're good for everyone: more people buying ships, more people losing ships, more people to shoot at.  But how CCP treats new players has to change.  In business, we talk about retention of staff and it's important because training a new staff member is expensive.  Finding new customers for your business?  Equally expensive.  High retention is preferred.  EVE's new player retention stinks, and must improve.

Thanks to those who asked the question!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Fit of the Week: Old School Golem

Next month is going to be battle cruiser PvP month on the FOTW: I'm going to talk about my favorites among the re-balanced combat battle cruisers the same way I did last year with the cruisers after they were rebalanced.  So I thought I'd end the current string of FOTWs with an old school PvE mission Golem straight outta 2010:

[Golem, Missioner]
Caldari Navy Ballistic Control System
Caldari Navy Ballistic Control System
Caldari Navy Ballistic Control System
Ballistic Control System II

Caldari Navy X-Large Shield Booster
Phased Weapon Navigation Array Generation Extron
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Dread Guristas EM Ward Field
Shield Boost Amplifier II
Shield Boost Amplifier II

Torpedo Launcher II, Mjolnir Rage Torpedo
Torpedo Launcher II, Mjolnir Rage Torpedo
Torpedo Launcher II, Mjolnir Rage Torpedo
Torpedo Launcher II, Mjolnir Rage Torpedo
Small Tractor Beam II
Salvager II
Medium 'Arup' Remote Bulwark Reconstruction

Large Warhead Flare Catalyst I
Large Warhead Rigor Catalyst I

Hobgoblin II x5
Hammerhead II x5

First, set aside some ISK to buy this monster.  It's going to put you back some 1.5 billion ISK at current market prices, about 800 million for the ship itself and another 325 for the faction BCSs, 125 million for the XLSB, and the rest in the various other fittings.  It's not a cheap ship, but you get what you pay for and what you're paying for is some of the best PvE DPS around: 1400+ with good skills... and that DPS requires Marauders I, not Marauders V.

Remember how I said you want 1000 "tank plus gank" to do a L4 mission?  The tank on this monster is almost superfluous.  For short range missions, use the fit above.  For longer-range rats, pull off one of the SBAs and fit a T2 afterburner and go to town.  If you do have a good level of Marauders skill, Rage torpedoes of the needed type for the missions you're doing will pay off big dividends, particularly rigged for attacking smaller targets as this one is (some people like double Rigor rigs instead).  Those rigs, your Target Painter, and a high Guided Missile Precision skill will ensure that even cruisers feel the full wrath of the torps.  You can fit a fourth faction BCS if you care to, but it doesn't really add very much to your DPS and makes you more gank-worthy, so I wouldn't bother.  Your drones are out there strictly for clean up.

As long as CCP gave this thing seven mids, you may as well fit a tank.  The faction EM Ward helps with the CPU problem caused by the T2 torpedo launchers.  The rest will give you nearly a 1400 DPS omni-tank.  You can tank for the specific rats if you must, but it is unlikely to be necessary.  You only have about 90 seconds of cap endurance on the shield booster, but that should be more than sufficient if you pulse it carefully and only when needed.  If you're concerned about cap, pull off the tractor and salvager and replace both of them with medium NOSes, then use them on the rats of your choice.

As with all missioning ships, the armor repper is there to provide on-field reps for your drones.  You can fit a tractor and salvager if you like but honestly the day of that kind of fitting has probably passed.  Get a cheap alt in a Noctis and go with the dual NOS route instead, or perhaps a Drone Link Augmentor.

Not much more to say about this boat: it torpedoes missions quite rapidly and as long as you're smart about keeping your hardeners on-line and keep an eye out for gankers, this boat will in due course pay for itself and any number of other ships.  In particular, keep an eye out for Tornadoes and other volley ships because a Golem base tank is none too thick!  Still, Golems are rarely gank targets, and this fit isn't expensive enough to justify a gank for financial reasons.  As long as you fly smart, you'll be fine.  Missioning is unfortunately a boring -- but fairly effective -- way to make ISK in EVE.

And given how popular Marauders were in the last few PvP tournaments, the ability to fly this class of ship might make you very popular with your PvP friends come the new tourney season.  ;-)  Cross-train for Gallente and Minmatar battleships.  Ripard himself starts training Marauders skill in a couple of days...

All Fits of the Week are intended as general guidelines only.  You may not have the skills needed for this exact fit.  If you do not, feel free to adjust the fit to suit to meet your skills, including using meta 3 guns and "best named" defenses and e-war.  Ships can also be adjusted to use faction or dead-space modules depending on the budget of the pilot flying it.  Each FOTW is intended as a general guide to introduce you to concepts that will help you fit and to fly that particular type of ship more aggressively and well.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Final message from Luminaire

Finally, for anyone who wants it for role-playing or historical purposes, here is the log of Luminaire Local on the day of the live event from 1220 EVE time through about 1900 EVE time, courtesy of CSM8 candidate Nathan Jameson.  Thanks, Nathan!

Luminaire Local log (right-click to save your own copy)

The meat obviously starts around 1600 EVE time.  Watch for references to the "Hospital Ship Salvation", which was apparently a role-player in an Orca.  Guess what happened to him.  ;-)  Nathan tells me he was on the KM which hasn't appeared on eve-kill yet, which is why it wasn't a big honorable mention KOTW...

And that closes out Luminaire day around here!

Luminaire scary math

I thought it would be fun to play around with the :scary math: associated with the fall of Shiigeru into Caldari Prime.  Don't worry, I'm not gonna go all "Reel Physics" on you and spout a lot of formulas, just conclusions.

First, let's look at the constants involved.  Caldari Prime itself is a fun little impossibility.  The in-game information on the planet reports its radius as 30217 km and its surface gravity as 10.3 m/s2.  For reference, the two figures for Earth are 6371 km and 9.8 m/s2, respectively.  A terrestrial planet with a much higher radius than Earth would normally have correspondingly higher gravity due to higher mass.  However, planetary density plays a part as well.  Earth is quite dense as befitting a planet with a high concentration of heavy metals and an iron-nickel core, but terrestrial planets without heavy metals are quite possible.(1)  To account for her relatively comfortable gravity, we must assume Caldari Prime is quite poor in heavy metals, and much less dense than Earth with a silicate core of some kind.

In any case, knowing these two figures gives us a mass of Caldari Prime of about 1.4x10^26 kg.(2)

The mass of Shiigeru is 2.43x10^9 kg, and is 18km long, 2.7km wide and 4.2km high.  Doing some back-of-the-envelope calculations results in a density of the ship equivalent to a modern U.S. aircraft carrier or typical ocean liner.  This is not a contradiction: the interior of Shiigeru is mostly air, after all.  The mass figure quoted is for the hull itself; presumably the fittings also have a mass equivalent and the fuel certainly does, so I will be assume the total fueled mass of Shiigeru is around 4.0x10^9 kg.

We know (from Luminaire Local chat) that Shiigeru started the fight in an orbit 325 km above the surface and was attempting to maintain a stationary position over the city of Arcurio.  To maintain this position would have required an enormous expenditure of energy, a powered orbit.  Given the radius of the orbit and the mass of Caldari Prime, we can calculate the normal velocity needed to maintain this 325 km orbit: 17.5 km/s.  This speed would allow Shiigeru to maintain a stable orbit over the planet, but Shiigeru isn't trying to do that; she's trying to maintain a fixed position over Arcurio.

That requires a reduction in speed.  We don't know how long the day is on Caldari Prime -- it's not included in the in-game information for the planet that I could find -- but let's say it's 24 hours.  That would mean Arcurio moves at around 2.2 km/s around the circumference of the planetary sphere so that's about the speed Shiigeru needs to match in her own orbit.  That accounts for Caldari Prime's day as the surface rotates.  To stay over this fixed point on the surface, Shiigeru has to reduce her speed to that and then maintain it.  The only thing a longer day does would be to further reduce that speed.

And that reduction in speed is what causes Shiigeru to fall to the surface after losing power so CCP got that part exactly right.  Since she didn't and couldn't maintain the required higher orbital speed to maintain orbit, down she goes.

From the excellent chronicle by CCP Abraxas "After the Fall", an eye witness indicates that Shiigeru breaks in half before falling.  For fun, let's assume that it's the front half he sees; that seems to be consistent with the visual DUST 514 map.  For more fun, let's assume that the rear half including the engines and most of the power systems is destroyed and falls to the surface as debris.  That is both consistent with our eye witness account and consistent with multiple impact craters visible on the surface.  Now fortunately, Shiigeru isn't made of solid rock like a meteorite.  As noted above, most of her is, in fact, air with a very low density.

Still, four billion kilograms falling on your planet is nothing to sneeze at.  The destruction of Shiigeru disintegrates only a very small portion of her total mass.  The rest falls on Caldari Prime.  We know from follow-up in-game news items that the debris fell about 700 km away from Arcurio.  This is also fairly consistent with Shiigeru's velocity at the time of her destruction and her debris would have maintained this velocity before being accelerated straight down toward the center of the planet.

Based on her velocity at the time of her destruction, the surface gravity of Caldari Prime, and some assumptions about the density of Caldari Prime's atmosphere and how the front half of a Leviathan would tumble in atmosphere (very little), I calculate that it would have taken Shiigeru and her debris very little time to strike the surface after her engines were shut down at her destruction: something between four and five minutes if my math is accurate.  CCP also gets this part right: the impact and debris field is relatively compact, all things considered.  Shiigeru came down very much like a spear.

And in the process, she and her debris would have released one petajoule of energy per second into the planet's atmosphere and surface, likely punching a hole right through the planet's crust on impact.  That's a one and fifteen zeroes.  CCP gets this one right again in today's in-game news item which says the crust in the area is destabilized.  Too right!  Put another way, Shiigeru bathes the impact zone with one trillion kilowatts of energy as she hits.  Yikes!

The debris field is described as encompassing some two million square kilometers.  This is consistent with a circle with a radius of some 800 kilometers, putting Arcurio within the blast zone.  Energy of this type dissipates in an inverse square relationship from the center of the impact point but there's an enormous amount of energy involved.  Those within 200 kilometers of the impact point would have been subjected to approximately 10 kilowatts per square meter of radiated energy.  Those in Arcurio itself would have been subjected to about 750 watts per square meter.

Full noon-time Sahara sunshine on Earth is rated at about 1000 watts per square meter.  But this is nothing like a little extra warm sunshine, oh no.

If you were within 200 kilometers of Shiigeru's impact point, you were subjected to some 200 degrees Centigrade of heat.  If you're not a DUST 514 soldier in a space-rated drop-suit, you're dead, regardless of any shelter you managed to find.  Even DUSTies would have required shelter from the blast wave.  Those standing outside in Arcurio when Shiigeru came down who were not wearing sunblock of at least SPF 300 are extremely unhappy and had their lungs fried as the temperature increased some 50 to 60 degrees Centigrade for a period of several minutes.  The temperature differential and blast wave almost certainly would have created a sizable pressure wave manifested as gale- or possibly hurricane-force winds across the city for several minutes as well.  In short: those who stood outside in Arcurio to gawk were killed.  That said, people in shelter away from windows or doors, or underground, would survive the effects as long as a collapsing skyscraper didn't fall on them or the building they were in didn't collapse.

Coincidentally, the asteroid that landed on the Yucatan peninsula on Earth 65 million years ago is also believed to have been nine kilometers long.  However, Shiigeru's front half is mostly air, not rock; she has a much lower mass than a nine kilometer long asteroid.  Much of the damage done to Earth 65 million years ago is believed to have been done through pulverized rock and debris exploding back into space and then falling across half the planet.  Shiigeru's lower mass and the greater radius of Caldari Prime protect her from this fate.  Depending on the radioactivity of her power systems and engines, this was not an extinction level event.  In addition, the latest news item mentions "intense atmospheric decontamination" happening on a planetary scale to prevent this sort of ecological catastrophe, so CCP doesn't have to change Caldari Prime to a Barren type planet just yet.  ;-)

One last fun bit of scary math.  The initial chronicle "After the Fall" describes Shiigeru as a "scar" across the sky.  That set me wondering how big a Titan would appear from the surface of a planet.  That's another easy calculation.  At 325 km away, an 18 km long object would have crossed 3.2 degrees of the sky, or a little over six times the size of a full moon when viewed from Earth, or about the size of your fist when held and viewed at arm's length.  That's big enough to be described as a "scar", I guess.  ;-) I know (from a player that was there) that Shiigeru's 325 km orbit was significantly planet-ward of her normal static position, by some several thousand kilometers.  At 2000 km away, Shiigeru's size shrinks to 0.5 degree, or about the size of your thumbnail held at arm's length.  At 10000 km away, Shiigeru is just a moving dot.

But it's probably safe to say that Shiigeru occasionally dropped to that low orbit to make a visceral point to the Gallente citizens on the planet, so that's probably what our unnamed story-teller meant when he used the word scar.

Anyway, hope you've enjoyed this bit of :scary math:.  Hopefully, most or all of my calculations are correct but if you want to challenge some of my math in the comments, go for it!

(1) The in-game reported density of Caldari Prime is the grossest possible fiction and must be ignored.  The game reports 2907.7 g/cm3, when 2.907 is probably much closer to accurate.
(2) The in-game reported mass of Caldari Prime is also wrong, but not by quite as much.

OK, this is pretty damn awesome

Pull up Caldari Prime in planetary interaction viewing mode.(1)  Then wheel the planet around a bit.  You'll eventually find this:


One more post from me about this battle later today.  I thought it might be fun to apply some :scary math: to it.  In the meantime, brav-fraking-o CCP.  That's pretty damn awesome.

(1) Bring up the Map.  Search for "Lum".  Right click "Luminaire"   Select "Show Info".  Click the "Orbital Bodies" tab.  Scroll down to Luminaire VII.  Right click on Luminaire VII (Caldari Prime).  Select "View in Planet Mode".  Wheel the planet around until you can see what's in the images above.

I have news from the world of Gozer

The CSM primary is now live, with 35 candidates!  Now that there's an official candidate list, I can work on my final endorsement list.  For the purposes of the primary, though, I and everyone else need 200 votes to move on to the main election starting next week.  You can vote for me in the primary here:

EDIT (26/Mar/2013, 1630 EVE time): And now it's un-live again.  Turns out it wasn't working with Chrome or Internet Explorer, only the in-game browser and Firefox.  gg, CCP.  So, there will be another day of delay.  I've suggested that we just skip this step and go straight to the main event.

EDIT (26/Mar/2013, 1730 EVE time): And it's reported to be working again.

Click the bright yellow "Endorse" button and that's it.  I'll update this post as soon as I pass 200 "endorsements" so that you can endorse other candidates if you wish.  I myself hope that all 35 candidates pass this stage and there's really no reason why that shouldn't happen.

As I said, there are 35 candidates and we now officially know how many from CSM7 are running: two.  That'd be Trebor Daehdoow and Greene Lee.  Trebor seems a pretty easy lock to be re-elected.  Greene Lee?  That seems quite a bit trickier.  He ran as a straight bloc candidate from Against ALL Authorities last year, and didn't do much of anything to expand his audience all year.  -A- is down to about a quarter of its former self and if Greene Lee doesn't get himself a few allies, he's likely to be a footnote in this election.

The rest of the "undecideds" from CSM7 aren't running, and that includes UAxDEATH and professional CSM member Meissa Anunthiel.  The full list is in my post from January.

Other interesting and/or surprising candidates or non-candidates:
  • riverini, editor of EVE News 24 is running again.
  • The official TEST candidate appears to be Banlish; but,
  • Sort Dragon is also running (he's the new leader of the HBC).
  • progodlegend is the official Nulli Secunda candidate (the first time they've had one).
  • Unforgiven Storm is "running as an industrialist" but has a Goonswarm ticker.  It isn't that Goons aren't industrialists; it's more that Goons spend a lot more time blowing up industrialists and I'm sure they remember.  ;-)
  • Bloggers Roc Weiler and Mike Azariah are running again.
  • As is Korvin from CSM4 and CSM5 (he'll deserve a serious look).
  • Marc Scaurus had to pull out of the proceedings, unfortunately.
  • And finally, it's definite that The Mittani isn't running.  I was curious if he'd surprise us all.
Anyway, the full candidate list is up, including statements from all candidates.  Let the voting commence!

EDIT (27/Mar/2013): I have now met the endorsement threshold and will be in the full election.  A big thank you to everyone who has supported me thus far!  On to the main event in a week or so.

If you were holding an endorsement waiting to see if I made it this far, please feel free to give that endorsement to someone else. I fully support all 35 candidates moving on to the main event. Everyone who has been willing to go this far should be given that opportunity.

KOTW: Northern Coalition Reloaded

Kill of the Week honors this week goes to The Retirement Club alliance, that's for sure.  But I can't quite decide which I like better: this Tengu...

or this freighter.

Both kills make me smile for different reasons.  Let's call the Tengu KOTW since it's almost heroically bad and features my old friends SpaceMonkey's Alliance.  That Tengu has to be the worst ratting fit I've ever seen that thinks it's a good ratting fit.  For the reocrd, 100MN afterburners don't work with those low slots or rigs.  It also helps to have Loki links in system and I'll bet money this one didn't.  And those blasters?  Oi.  A plain old boring Heavy Missile Launcher Tengu does more damage at greater range and is far less expensive.  That it was crushed by bombers is a mercy.

But the freighter is fun, too.  A reader was kind enough to send me the story on this one and it's exactly what it looks like: a freighter warping unscouted from moon POS to moon POS.  The gang anchored a bubble at the station, waited patiently for the freighter to head for home and caught him there despite the fact that they weren't even camping their own bubble at the time.  Freighters are slow.  That's the kind of patience and determination that I admire.  Thanks for the pointer!

Both kills make me smile for a personal reason.  Back when I lived in the north, I got my solo PvP jollies by taking a Taranis around and seeing how many camping bombers I could kill, particularly bombers going after freighters in the old NC's logistics chain.  My record was killing four bombers in one fight, a fight that still ranks more than two years later as one of the most fun evenings I've ever had in EVE.  From time to time, I'd invite friends in other frigates along to bomber-hunt.  These Retirement Club gangs would have been just the sort of target I would have loved to see, but I guess NC Reloaded is a bit too busy to defend their holdings.  So I wish TRC all the best in their hunts!

Number of dead super-caps last week: 2

There were 100% more super kills this week than last week, and that started with this Verge of Collapse Nyx on Monday.  EVE News 24 has the full story on this one, including some very pretty art.  Short version, this is one of three VoC Nyxes that have been hot-dropping ratters in Insmother.  So, Red Alliance set up a bait Archon, sweetened the deal to five bait Archons when their one Archon was tackled by an unrelated gang and bingo, a wild Verge of Collapse cyno appears.  Unfortunately, the RA gang only managed to snag one of the two Nyxes that swallowed the bait.  Ah well.  One is better than zero.

Two of two was this Nulli Secunda Aeon, crushed in their new staging system MTO2-2 in Perrigen Falls by a massive Goon/Black Legion armada of attack BCs and battleships.  I'm trying to understand why one puts a T2 Remote Repair Augmentor on a super carrier.  Does that even work?  EFT says it doesn't.  There doesn't seem to be an official story on this one that I could find, but there is a video.  Between that and the cargo, it looks like the pilot was in the process of moving in to the staging system, jumped at warp range from a Nulli staging POS, and the poor bastard was caught and bubbled there.  A sub-cap battle then ensued to determine the fate of the Aeon but it looks like Nulli wasn't willing to commit any more supers with a 4-1 or more disadvantage of numbers in Local (I wouldn't have either).  Result: dead Aeon.  That might not be the real story, though.  Anyone know the real story if this is wrong?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Transparency v. being transparent

This is going to be one of those posts that touches not only on EVE, but on life.  I've defined transparency on this blog once or twice before, but today it's time to really get into it.  It has to do with the difference between "transparency" and "being transparent."  The first is a common business term.  The second has more to do with business management.

Non-intuitively and despite sounding the same, the two phrases have opposite meanings and connotations.

Transparency in business is usually good.  It's defined as open communication and accountability in the information being communicated.  When your business has transparency, you are removing barriers to information and are allowing your customers or colleagues to make informed business decisions about the information that you're presenting.  As I've put it before on this blog...
Put simply, a clerk at a check-out counter ringing up the purchase of your groceries is being transparent: you know exactly how much each item costs and can make business decisions based on those costs whether you really want to buy those bananas or not.  An appliance repairman presenting a non-itemized bill for $300 to fix your dishwasher is not being transparent: you don't know how much the parts are costing compared to the labor or how that amount was arrived at.
Transparency in business is a good thing and in real life you should hesitate to do business with anyone who is not willing to operate this way.  Lots of organizations in EVE operate this way too, from Red Frog Freight to Goonswarm.

A business manager being transparent, conversely, is a bad thing.  There's a interesting scene in the movie Apollo 13 that demonstrates being transparent that's sometimes used in business management seminars.  In the scene, Ken Mattingly (expertly played by Gary Senise) has been scrubbed from the mission by NASA's flight surgeons because he's been exposed to the measles and has no immunity.  Jim Lovell (Tom Hanks mostly in affable mode) has been given the job of breaking tne news by their mutual boss, Deke Slayton.  Lovell objects to the decision strenuously to Slayton but is overruled.  In the following scene, Lovell delivers the bad news.  Did the scene play this way in real life?  I don't know.  But in the movie, Mattingly understandably objects and makes it clear that he's sure Lovell has been ordered to give this news (which is true).  He wants to argue with Slayton himself.  Lovell responds: "This was my call."

Now that's a lie, but the price of telling the truth is being transparent.  Being transparent -- and exposing your boss to criticism in doing so -- is a bad thing.  Mattingly can certainly escalate his concerns to Slayton and cause all sorts of drama.  Know what it would accomplish?  Not a damn thing!  The decision will still stand but now there will also be bad feelings surrounding the decision, or more bad feelings if there are already bad feelings.  Being transparent works in the other directon as well and is just as bad that way.  Lovell could share Mattingly's distress with Slayton but again there's nothing to be gained by doing so except to add drama and increase bad feelings.

Being transparent is nearly always a bad decision.  There are times it must be done, but if you must do it, understand what you're doing and why you're doing it.  Have a good reason for making this decision.  Because otherwise, you're causing drama and bad feelings for no good reason.  The difference between transparency of business data and business decisions, and being transparent is subtle, but important.

Why do I bring this up now and feel the need to write a long blog post about it?  Because there are two situations going on in EVE Online right now that brought the difference between transparency and being transparent to mind.

First, there's a lot of drama right now surrounding one of EVE's largest and most well-established incursion communities.  The parties involved in the drama know the details, and it's not really my place to share them at this time.  But the person at the heart of this drama could have prevented much of the issue by offering his (now former) partners more transparency in the information he provided regarding his decisions within the community.  By offering more transparency into his decision-making process, he could have avoided the situation that he finds himself in.  Meanwhile, his former partners are doing a good job of not being transparent in disclosing individual player concerns as the drama unfolds.  They could create a lot more drama around this situation, but they're not doing so and as a result, the rank-and-file within the community are being protected and there's a minimum of bad feelings being created.  That's smart.

Second and in a similar vein, as Montolio resigns as leader of the TEST Alliance and its associated coalition, he's doing a very good job of offering transparency around his decision but at the same time is also not being transparent about the decisions of the people he's working with and who are replacing him.  Montolio (or indeed, any leader in his position) can do a great deal of damage on his way out the door by being transparent.  But they can do just as much damage by not offering transparency around their decision to leave.  In my opinion, Montolio is striking just the right balance.

And it's a very tricky balance to strike.  Anyway, just something for all of you out there to think about in your own careers, whether in EVE or in life...

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Revealed at PAX East

So, sirunidan was on-the-ball enough to take pictures of the display screen at PAX East during CCP Unifex's presentation on what we can expect from Odyssey.  Here's the first six pages.  Here's the second six.

The meat starts on slide five where we're told that the mechanics and the UI of "discoverable sites" will be changing, as will "rewards".  What kind of rewards?  We don't know, but there's some hints.  On page eight, we see pirate tags, the in-game symbols for a number of moon-goos.  The first almost certainly refers to the "Tags-4-Sec" already revealed in the December CSM Summit Minutes.  The latter has some interesting implications, I'm sure you'll agree, particularly in light of the fact that page seven refers to "relocating resources"...

Let's hope the resources being relocated are moon-goo-shaped ones.

Page six (reproduced above) has a few teaser graphics of what the new exploration UIs might look like.  There's an intriguing rumor/speculation going around that the bit on the far right refers to a hacking mini-game of some sort.  Page nine references "new ships" and we have confirmation from EVE News 24's source that this -- at a minimum -- refers to a new set of Empire faction combat battle cruisers: Navy Drakes, Harbingers, Brutixes, and Hurricanes.  Here's some pictures.  My favorite ship class is getting one hell of a buff!  Can't wait!

Does this mean that CCP Fozzie will be putting off battleship re-balancing for a bit in favor of re-balancing faction frigates and cruisers first instead?  If he's looking for opinions, I'd be in favor of that...

Whether the Gnosis Jove/SCT battle cruiser is also included in this isn't mentioned, but I'm sticking to my prediction that the Gnosis is going to be the official EVE 10th Anniversary present to all capsuleers.  We are promised a special give-away for that date, which happens on 6 May 2013.  CCP Unifex: "You want to have an account subscribed on that date."

It also looks very likely that there are going to be a number of big advances on the POS front, including -- potentially -- personal hangars for individual corp members.  That alone should go a long way toward quieting down the angry wormhole contingent, though it's just a first step rather than a solution.  The EN24 article has a really funny quote/story from CCP Dolan on this issue...
CCP Dolan told us how the POS code was constructed, in very loose terms. CCP is somewhat forgiven for their lack of progress on it, it sounds like staring into the unblinking eye of an Elder God, fueled by drunken Icelandic programmers. He discussed it as an inverted pyramid and the top of it was rat AI, better known to us as Skynet. Yes, the POS runs on the same NPC AI as pirates and faction police. I shit you fucking not.
Since POSes have to independently shoot at people from time to time, I guess this makes some kind of sense... oh wait, no it doesn't.  Yikes.

CCP Unifex also had an interesting message: "If you've been in a big really well-established alliances... watch out."

More minor stuff: upgraded graphics for stations, supers, and other in-game assets including what most of us see when we're docked.  There's 1400 people coming to Fanfest, and there will be an HD stream for everyone who couldn't make it (twitch.tv will be handling that).  DUST 514 seems to be ready to come to null-sec.  And there's a hint that there might be "new space" or perhaps even some new systems introduced to New Eden.  That one seems a bit more speculative.

Anyway, here's CCP Unifex's full presentation on Youtube:

EVE Online: Odyssey will be released 4 June 2013.  72 days and counting.  Looking forward to it!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Battle of Caldari Prime

So, that was interesting.

I want to start with the time zone issue.  All things considered, it was probably the least important part of this live event so I want to get it out of the way first.  The event started around 1645 EVE time, and from what I can tell was over by around 1930.  That means that if you're USTZ, unless you took the day off work or school you missed all the fun.  I'm told by sources that I trust that CCP will eventually have something to say in public about this.  I know that the people that ran the event for CCP feel terrible and they feel unfairly criticized over this.  Fair enough.  But it is an issue.  When the event started, I was watching #tweetfleet on Twitter.  David Reid, CCP's Chief of Marketing, had this to say:
hey guys, what's going on? Am I missing some party? #tweetfleet #eveonline #dust514 pic.twitter.com/IIHT2Bk9EA
I immediately responded:
@CCP_Pokethulhu Yes, you and what, about a third of your customer base? 40%? :P ;-) #tweetfleet
That's my issue here.  From live events to dev fleets to mass tests, virtually every interaction CCP has with their customer base happens at 1700 EVE time.  That effectively disenfranchises a solid percentage of their customer base.  If your customer base feels disenfranchised, they can't build up enthusiasm for your events or your product.  They can't tell their friends who are on the fence about EVE, "Hey, go watch this it's pretty cool!"  As a Marketing effort, the budget for this event should have come out of the Marketing department.  If that means overtime so the event can happen on a Sunday and awards and recognition for the CCP employees that sacrifice time with their families for it, then that's what should have been done.  End of rant.

Let's get to the event itself.

First, I'd like to lay down the storyline and lore behind the event for those not familiar with it.  The Caldari Navy titan Shiigeru has been in orbit of Caldari Prime for about five years.  Caldari Prime, the former home world of the Caldari people, was invaded just before that time and conquered despite it being well within Gallente space.  Shiigeru itself was left in orbit as a sort of "insurance policy".  When the planet was conquered, there were still tens of millions of Gallente citizens living there.  These were forced into "containment districts" with Shiigeru orbiting overhead.  The threat was that should the Gallente attempt to retake the planet, Shiigeru would bombard the planet killing tens of millions of Gallente.  The Battle of Caldari Prime was -- in essence -- a surprise attack on Shiigeru by the Gallnte to remove this threat to their people.

As a marketing and storyline event, I'd classify the Battle of Caldari Prime as a success.  The twitch.tv stream peaked at a little under 9000 viewers.  Given that the New Eden Open peaked at about half that, that means this was an unqualified win.  Did the people watching the stream get a good show?  That, I am not qualified to say.  TiDi in the system stayed pretty steady at 11-18% for most of the event, so time was running much slower than normal.  This has the effect of making the game appear less dynamic than it would for the typical EVE player.  But, since the fight shown on twitch.tv was more in line of a Star Trek sort of fight: lots of enormous capitals and super-capitals on field attacking each other viewed at range with little dynamic motion or need for such dynamic motion.  So, to someone unfamiliar with EVE, the event might very well have appeared majestic and epic.  I've been playing EVE myself too long to judge.  ;-)

The only downside to the "epic battle" theory was when Shiigeru was finally killed, it simply vanished off the field without exploding.(1)  Then about 15 seconds later (TiDi, remember), the wreck appeared.  Whoops.

During most of the event itself, the population in system was limited to about 1500 (it started at 1000, was raised to 1500, and eventually raised to 2000).  On the ground, there were about 1700 DUST 514 players involved.  All in all, that's a good number of players.  A lot of players sat on gates trying to get in, but a lot of players were able to participate.

Let's move on.

One of the biggest points of contention of the battle: was the outcome of the fight decided in advance?  And therefore, did player actions have any effect at all?  This is a tougher issue.  The answer to the first question is clearly yes, the outcome of this fight was decided in advance.  Shiigeru was doomed before the day began.  Here's the DUST map showing the wreckage:

I assure you that CCP wouldn't create that without intending to use it.  I also assure you there was not a version showing wreckage of Nyxes or the like to be used if the Caldari had won.

It's been made clear to me from a number of sources that could participate (and it's shown on the video above) that the players involved were saving the titan.  Its shields stabilized at around 40% and were holding for quite a while.  At that point, additional Gallente Moroses were brought in by CCP to tip the balance.  Those Moroses began sweeping throug Caldari Chimeras and Wyverns destroying one every few minutes before turning on the titan itself.  With the rep ships out of the way and a lot of players involved wanting to get on "a titan kill-mail", Shiigeru became easy meat.

EDIT (24/Mar/2013): CCP Fozzie assures me on Twitter that more Moroses were not brought in but instead they simply switched targets to Chimeras to break the reps.  Thanks, Fozzie!

So, the outcome was preordained.  But in terms of the story-line of the game, is that such a bad thing?  I realize some Caldari faction players are upset about this but realistically, the Caldari Militia kind of got its ass handed to it over the course of a year or more of faction warfare.  That happened because of real player actions.  It can therefore be argued that the death of Shiigeru was mandated by the actions of players themselves!  But yeah, I understand that may be hard to hear.

From my perspective, the most interesting part of this aspect of the battle, the Gallente were clearly victorious in space.  But I'm told the Caldari were victorious on the ground.  But this game has consequences and CCP's long-term goal here is that events in one will affect what's happening in the other.  It would have therefore been very interesting to me had the Gallente Navy immediately turned on the fight on the planet below and began cratering Caldari DUST 514 loyalists with orbital bombardment.

Maybe CCP and DUST isn't quite ready for that yet.  ;-)

Finally, the event was not without its bugs and quirks.  We're apparently not going to see the kill-mails on eve-kill for any of the supers destroyed, particularly the titan.  Since the final blows on these supers were inflicted by CCP devs and since those devs won't provide the API verification of those kills, it's likely they'll never see the light of day on eve-kill.  Perhaps they will appear on battleclinic at some point; perhaps they already have (say so in the comments if so!).

In addition, the mechanic for making the system a free-for-all was not without its quirks.  During the fighting, every player in system was suspect-flagged, meaning that every player could shoot at every other player.  From a story-line perspective, this happened because CONCORD attempted to intervene in the early fight between the Caldari and Gallente navies before the lead CONCORD ship was destroyed by the Caldari Navy.  This caused CONCORD to "throw up its hands" and declare everyone in the system suspect.  However, as CCP became mroe confident in how TiDi was holding, they allowed additional people to enter the system.  When Shiigeru came under attack, the limit was increased from 1000 to 1500.  When Shiigeru fell, the limit was increased again from 1500 to 2000.

But not all of these new arrivals were declared suspect.  This meant that a number of players managed to CONCORD themselves.  Later on in the video, CONCORD ships can be seen on the stream implying that not everyone that died in system died to other players.  ;-)  In addition, anyone hoping to jump capitals into the system or light cynos or covert cynos were out of luck.  You had to get into system in a subcap, and you had to get in the old-fashioned way.

But like the time zone issue, these were relatively minor quirks on what in my view was ultimately a successful event.  All in all, I believe The Battle of Caldari Prime was a success.  First, hopefully we'll see some kind of kick-ass trailer around this... perhaps even something used as a commercial for the game?  And CCP will hopefully learn from the event and we'll see more events like this in the future... hopefully spread across various time zones...  ;-)

EDIT (24/Mar/2013): Footnote: someone got the Shiigeru loot and has the video to prove it.

(1) And certainly without exploding with the required ring-shaped explosion that is de rigueur for this sort of thing.  ;-)
(2) Source library for first image above: http://imgur.com/a/7kLK6
(3) Source library for second image above: http://imgur.com/a/e805j

Quote of the Week: Dozens of changes

So I'm going to have a little bit of fun with this week's QOTW and take it completely out of context.  The name of the new expansion for EVE Online has been announced.  It's going to be called Odyssey.  There's also a feature website that's up, and it has this gloriously taken-out-of-context quote:
Continued development towards raising accessibility without removing functionality will bring dozens of changes to player-owned starbases...
Hee!  The full quote includes a comma, then "game UI and beyond." but it's much more fun to focus on that first thing said, isn't it?

The expansion itself is interesting to me for other reasons, though.  We've known for a while that CCP Unifex has been fascinated by the Apocrypha expansion for quite some time.  He made this fascination particularly clear in the CSM December Summit Minutes, using it as a benchmark in several discussions, most frequently when the topic of EVE's more successful expansions came up.  Reading the list of features planned for Odyssey, it's very hard for me to think of this expansion as anything other than Unifex's response to Apocrypha.  Check out the feature list.  Pull back just a little bit and you'd be hard pressed to say which of the two expansions the list describes.

New visuals in space?  Check.  New scanner?  Check.  New types of ships?  Check.  New sites to explore?  Check.  New types of loot?  Check.  Aimed in particular at veteran players?  Check.

Does this mean I think Odyssey is a WH expansion?  No, absolutely not.  Quite the opposite, in fact: the features list makes it clear that these new exploration sites will be scattered across space, "from highsec to nullsec".  But the way the expansion is being sold is the same.  Even the visuals of the ad graphics themselves suggest mysterious wormhole-like space.  And I find that extremely interesting.

More to come today.  I'm running a bit behind after the events of yesterday.

P.S. For those of you wondering what types of blog posts would be affected by me winning the CSM8 election?  This type.  ;-)  This post would likely never happen were I under NDA.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Expert opinion

So The Mittani has weighed in for the first time on the CSM8 election and to a lesser extent on CSM7 and the CSM in general, and his piece is a doozy.  Go give it a read.  It's worth your time.  I'll wait.

First, let's get the fun bit for me personally out of the way: I'm mentioned by name in this piece not once, not twice, but three times.  Mittens allows as how I might get elected, which is nice.  He also allows that I'm "fairly well-known", which is also nice.  But in an amusing touch, he simultaneously says that the "core" of my votes will come from Rote Kapelle and that to win my votes will have to come from my readers.  But he opens by specifying that my blog didn't carry me through the first time  I ran, so why should it work this time?  It's kind of hard to be this dismissive of a mere human without being a demi-god or a Fortune 500 CEO, but Mittens manages it.  ;-)  I guess we'll see how I do.

Second, we also finally know how he feels about CSM7's choice of Chair.  Last April, when they made the choice, I said this about how Mittens might feel:
Mittens came right out and endorsed Two step as Chair in his various remarks.  He basically was telling his constituents that "Two step as Chair is OK with me."  The subconscious message that someone else would not be OK with him lingers.  And Mittens, not in the least shy about giving his opinions, has made no attempt to endorse Seleene that I've seen.
Well, Mittens has finally given his opinion.  Here it is:
Whether or not you're a fan of CSM7, its members suffer a perception problem: they have been seen as do-nothings, with Seleene being afk for much of the year after seizing the Chairmanship from Two Step.
Aheh.  Ouch.  ;-)

Now before I talk specifically about the rest of the piece, let's put it into context.  TMC and Mittens asked their readers if they should even cover the CSM election and unsurprisingly the answer was "yes".  The question itself was kind of amusing given that TMC is a gaming news site and the CSM election is unquestionably news.  The major question would be who from TMC's staff of writers would cover it?  Mittens is an obvious choice given that he's been twice elected to the CSM, of course: this is roughly analogous to having a former U.S. Senator be a news organization's Congressional correspondent.  In short: it's a no-brainer if Mittens is willing and able to do it.  He could skip the whole thing, of course, by simply saying "Got a whole alliance to run here, far too busy, sorry."  It would have been very understandable.

But now that Mittens is writing the pieces, he's TMC's expert on the process.  The pieces don't necessarily have to be in the site's News section (and indeed this one is not), but they do have to come off as two things: informed, and relatively unbiased toward what is good for EVE's players... or at least that subset of EVE's players that are TMC readers.

This is why it's so interesting how uninformed Mittens comes off on the CSM8 election's STV process.  Mittens doesn't seem to have the first clue how the system works.  In particular, he trots out the idea that his 10058 votes in the CSM7 election would have been good for four CSM7 seats, which is sorely mistaken.  This idea has been brought up several times and proven false each time.  Assuming they coordinate their votes perfectly, the null-sec blocs will take as many seats as their percentage of total votes.  Given that Mittens's 10k votes were one-sixth of the total CSM7 vote, they would have given him two seats, not four.

Was this deliberate obfuscation?  It's entirely possible.  Trebor Deahdoow, in his own response to Mittens, seems to be leaning that way.  I myself am not so sure.  I'm not the only person Mittens entirely dismisses, for instance: he dismisses the WH vote in its entirety, which is crazy!  Given that there are going to be several thousand WH votes and given that those voters are all but certain to vote four or five WH candidates as a bloc, it's also all but guaranteed that one of the five WH candidates is going to be on CSM8.  The only thing left to decide is who.  Organization becomes irrelevant; the WH bloc is going to have just as much or more power than they did when they gave Two step the second-place finish last year.

The article also mentions "alt slots" several times.  As informed CSM-watchers are aware, for all practical purposes, there hasn't been any such thing as an alt slot for almost a year now.  The new version of the white paper doesn't even mention the concept.  You're either elected to the CSM or you're not, with the only differentiation being for the CSM's four officers all of whom may now be freely elected from any of the fourteen people elected to the CSM.  Yet here's Mittens mentioning this or that CSM8 candidate as being likely to get one of these mythical alt slots.

In short, very ironically, Mittens has some homework to do before he can come off as an expert on this subject.  Let's move on to bias.

...because there's a ton of it.  Pride of place in the article is given to seven named and two unnamed "bloc candidates" and the written assumption is that all of them are going to be automatically elected without them having to do a thing.  This is after Mittens writes that the most important thing to do is whipping of votes (which I agree with).  mynnna in particular is (accurately) described as not having to do anything to get elected.

Of the remaining 30 or so candidates, only two are mentioned at all -- Trebor and myself -- and we're mentioned in tones that make it clear that there need to be a couple of seat-warmers so that the CFC and HBC CSM members don't have to sit next to each other in Reyk.  ;-)  Granted though, Mittens then says there will be follow-up articles about "who has a shot."

Something that I've danced around a bit on this site and when talking to Marc Scaurus is the tendency of TMC to speak to a specific audience of EVE players... a rather Goon-shaped specific audience.  At these times, Marc is always very quick to say that anything I care to submit for publication will not only get a fair hearing, it will probably get published.(1)  In short, TMC is limited by the writers and editors on staff and what they're writing.  But the more their pieces are aimed at a specific subset of EVE player, the more that the writers and editors they attract are going to be members of that specific subset.

This is how catch-22s are born.

But if TMC is going to cover the CSM, sooner or later they're going to have to cover the CSM in a piece in the "News" section rather than the "Feature" section.  This is going to require that the amount of bias toward the opinions of the writers -- no matter who those writers are -- is going to have to be damped down, at least somewhat.  While it might be entertaining to run an EVE version of Fox News or MSNBC, is this what The Mittani wants?  I get the impression the answer is "no".

So where does he strike a balance?  For the purposes of his own opinion, during the election at least, he's likely going to be motivated to promote nine bloc candidates over two non-bloc candidates.  But if he wants to run a balanced news site, sooner or later he's going to have to extoll the virtues of CSM candidates whom he thinks will actually be good for the game.

It will be interesting to see when or if that starts.

(1) I'll likely take him up on that sooner or later, assuming he retains his TMC position (more on that another time).