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...

Saturday, March 31, 2012

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 month...


Two step, member of CSM6 and now CSM7, has written an interesting little piece about the amounts of ISK entering and leaving the EVE economy.  His information is based on a lot of projections of data provided by CCP Diagoras in his frequent "stat tweets".  For instance, in several cases, he tweeted the amount of ISK that entered the economy in a single day of rat bounties, for instance.  Two step then projected that figure to a full month.  As a result, the figures can't be regarded as anything but very raw estimates.  Interesting nonetheless, though!


It was also kind of interesting to me how CCP got their thunder stolen when someone pulled the models for the new missile launchers off Sisi and then made a Youtube video of them.  In particular, the missile launcher models have "reload" animations, something the turret models don't have that I've ever noticed.  Kind of makes you wonder if reload animations will be added to the turret models...

As I've already said, the team that developed the new missile launcher models did an incredible job, and should feel very proud of themselves.

Incidentally, I really like the new bomber models, too.  They're nice work done in a very short period of time.  The bombers had to be changed to fit the new bomb launcher model (which is unrefined awesome).  When I saw the unauthorized preview of the bomb launcher on Youtube, the first thing that occurred to me was "how are they going to fit all those interior details on the Hound?" (which famously has absolutely nowhere to hide its ammunition and cargo, much less interior details). The Nemesis didn't occur to me since I've never flown one, but it has the same problem.

The art team is going to have to work hard to make those torpedo launchers not look ridiculous on the bombers.  We'll see how they do.


What happened with Mittens wasn't the only controversial event that happened at Fanfest.  CCP is keeping it rather quiet, but apparently there were problems with the "Sisters of EVE" tour this year.  One of my alliance-mates came back with a tale of an over-turned four-wheeler and some of the people on this tour having to be checked out at the local hospital...  I hope everyone is OK!

In addition, word also came out during Fanfest that CCP Dropbear was let go.  This one turns out to be a false rumor: Dropbear voluntarily quit for personal reasons, and it happened well before Fanfest.  The responsibility for in-game live events is passing to CCP Goliath.  Hopefully we'll have more of these very soon!


Three more CSM items that don't really rate their own posts.

I'll have more to say about this in two posts over the next day or two, but Seleene, Two step, Trebor Daehdoow, and The Mittani appeared on EVE Radio yesterday to talk about the Alliance Panel debacle and its aftermath.  The part of this story that doesn't deserve its own post is that what remains of the CSM had a long discussion with CCP Xhagen this week, where several things were decided:
  • CSM7 will start with 13 people.  Korvin will not get the 14th seat; and,
  • there will not be a revote, nor will there be any extraordinary measures taken regarding redistributing Mittens's 10,000+ votes; and finally,
  • who the CSM chair will be was apparently decided.
It was made very clear that this last point is under NDA until it's announced by CCP (possibly on Monday).  Trebor mentioned that the solution "is consistent with the White Paper and with past precedent."  That's not an exact quote, but it's very close.

Second, almost forgotten in Mittens's participation in the Alliance Panel was his participation in the CSM Panel.  Something that happened during the panel Q&A that I found very amusing was that one of the questioners stepped up, and while looking straight at Mittens, bemoaned the fact that the he believes the same people get elected year after year after year.  Mittens had to gently explain to him that he'd only been on the CSM for one term.  The response: "Really?"  Hee!

Kind of ironic, in retrospect.

Third and finally, the CSM Panel video isn't up on Youtube yet, but when it does go up, watch it.  While you're doing so, you'll note that the director alternates between close-ups of the person answering a question, and wide shots of the entire CSM that was present.  When things go to a wide shot, ignore the person answering the question and check out the body language of the other CSM members.  It's really quite enlightening.  Example: pay attention to the rest of the CSM when Meissa Anunthiel answers the question about wormhole stabilizers.


A quickie: I went to fill in a bug report and I could not for the life of me find the bug report web page in the new EVE Online website (and I tried).  I ended up Google searching "EVE Online bug report" to find it.  For reference, here it is:
Should be easy to remember.


Finally, a really interesting one that doesn't quite merit its own blog post here, mostly because I wasn't involved.  Still, I find it fascinating.

One of the tricks that POSs can do is tell you their exact distance in space from other POSs owned by the same corp.  The purpose to this functionality is to make building jump bridges easier.  Jump bridges have a range of 5 light-years and as a result, the functionality was included in the POS information so that you can tell if the two POSs you're thinking about linking are close enough.  These days, I suspect most people just use the dotlan EVE maps to design their jump bridge chains.

But the functionality exists in-game, and that's nice too.

Some very smart people decided to use this functionality to try and determine how far wormhole systems are from each other, and from known space.  This is something they called Project Compass and it was very, very clever!  It's been known for quite a while now that w-space systems tend to cluster, both with each other, and with common systems in k-space.  But this was the first attempt to try to "map the network."

CCP caught word of what they were doing and removed the functionality of mapping distance from w-space POSs in Crucible 1.5, so Project Compass had to be shut down.  I think Poetic Stanziel probably has the best overall write up of the project and its aftermath.

Why did CCP remove this functionality?  There are all kinds of theories from simple "dickish behavior" to more complex "they want to retain the mystery of w-space."  Certainly, nobody from CCP has said anything about this.  One of my alliance-mates brought up a very interesting theory.  Don't know if it's original or not, but he surmises that wormholes don't take you to another place, they take you to another time.  Specifically, wormholes take you to the past, before the arrival of the first human colonists to New Eden.  Therefore, CCP took out the POS distance functionality because the distance calculations are not possible: the two POSs exist in different timelines!

He brings up a lot of lore to back this theory up, and frankly, I don't know enough about the lore myself to know whether this theory holds any water or not.  Sure is an interesting possibility, though!


And that's it, junk drawer is yet again empty.  :-)

Friday, March 30, 2012

Kill of the Week: Polish the sneaker

It takes a lot to get thrown out of TEST Alliance, but this pilot apparently managed it:

Every pilot in New Eden has a different idea about how much ISK you should spend on fitting out a hull after you've assembled it.  I've seen really expensive interceptors lined with faction and dead-space gear.  I've seen bargain-fit Machariels.  Still, if you were to distill all of these choices down to an average, I suspect you'd find that most EVE players agree that you should spend about as much to fit a ship as it cost you to buy it.

Did you spend 150 million on a Guardian, or 200 million on an Abaddon?  Then pump some money into faction hardeners and Tech2 rigs.  Did you plop down 350 million ISK for a Tengu hull and subsystems?  Then sure, a trio of Caldari Navy Ballistic Control Systems are a good call.  Bhaalgorn leave your wallet a billion ISK lighter?  Then pimp that fit out some because that's a hull that deserves it.  On the flip-side, though, you don't go nuts covering a Tech1 cruiser in all Tech2 hardware; it probably won't live long enough to enjoy it.

And you don't fit 400 million ISK in hardware to a 40 million ISK Drake.  Just... just don't.

Remember, all that high-end hardware works on base percentages.  And if your base percentages aren't all that good, then multiplying them by a few more percent is simply not worth the ISK... or the risk of loss.  In this case, 75 million ISK purchased another whole 1000 effective hit points.  Or about a fifth of second (really!) under that gank squad's DPS.  And that 300 million ISK in faction BCSs gained this pilot a whole 20 DPS... 80 fewer DPS than what he would have gained from firing Tech2 missiles using plain old Tech2 BCSs instead.

No matter how hard you try, you can't polish a sneaker.  Save the expensive hardware for a higher end ship.

Ten minutes after losing this ship, this pilot was kicked out of his corp.  There are limits to what even the most "no shits were given" alliances in EVE will accept.  ;-)

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't mention this bit of idiocy:

This is an Erebus.  It uses hybrids.  Hybrids like Magnetic Field Stabilizers.  If you don't know this, then you have no business with a titan.  Donate it to me.  ;-)

Comment of the Week: Busy week

There have been 280 comments written on the blog so far this week, by far a record.  Thank you to everyone that's written for your thoughts!  I'm not interested in starting a forum around here, but sometimes it feels like I have one already, heh.  ;-)

I try to read every word of every comment, and I respond to many of them.  Comments are moderated here because I receive enough hits on the blog that I'm a constant target for comment spam.  Other than the spam, I've only not published two comments.  One was a one word comment with no value.  The other was a direct private message to me.  Everything else gets published, even if the comment calls me names or tells me I'm flat out stupid.  ;-)  Some comments get published faster than others, and for that I apologize.  I try to get comments published every couple of hours if I'm awake, and from time to time, I miss valid comments that get flagged by the spam filter and there's a longer delay on those.(1)

Anyway, in a very busy week for comments, I liked this one the best.  In my "Hats" post, I essentially went to bat for Mittens and argued why he shouldn't be removed from CSM7.  This Anonymous comment gave the most succinct reasoning why the commenter felt CCP's actions were correct:
The point is that [Mittens] should not have been discussing RL suicide in game, at all. There was no way for him to know, at the time, if the player in question was or was not actually suicidal. [Mittens] should have reported the player to a CCP GM and discontinued the in game convo. [Mittens] is simply not qualified to make such a judgement call, esp. when drunk.

And, he certainly should not have exacerbated his mistake by encouraging this sort of behavior from other players in a public forum.

Plain and simple, [Mittens] violated the EULA/TOS - twice, if you want to be technical about it (the first time in game, and the second time at the Alliance Panel). He was stupid and he got called on it.

[Mittens] was just lucky that the player in question was *not* suicidal, or he might be under criminal investigation now, for real.

Role-playing is not an excuse. Being drunk out of your skull is not an excuse. CCP was rather lenient; a court of law would have been much less so.

And yeah, I have to admit that's a really good way of putting it, and makes a quite valid counter-argument.  The same commenter, in another comment, made it clear that:
What he did was not only "morally reprehensible" but also illegal in many countries represented in the player base. Using communication technology to harass, offend, bully, gets people jail sentences. A student jailed last week for 2 months for a drunken rant on twitter in the UK for instance.
Yeah, that too.  Thanks for your comments!

(1) I still haven't figured out how the spam filter works, or why it flags the comments that it does.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Washing lettuce

Like a lot of GenX EVE players, two of the first multi-player games that I played seriously were StarCraft (released in 1998) and Homeworld (released the following year), a space RTS very similar in its way to EVE.  One of my favorite tactics in both games was related.

In Homeworld, I liked to rely for home defense on a unit called the Attack Bomber.  The bomber was thin-skinned and slow, but had a heavy forward weapon that was quite good against enemy capital ships, and it was cheap to build.  I'd devote my cheap bombers to taking out ridiculously expensive enemy Heavy Cruisers, which were the biggest units in that game.  In StarCraft, when playing Zerg facing Protoss opponents, I would nearly always devote about 10% of my economy exclusively to the production of Scourges, a one-use anti-air bomb that was quite good against Protoss Carriers.  I'd place cheap little blobs of them behind my lines, each blob the exact number needed to take out one Carrier, plus one for insurance.  Sooner or later, I knew I'd need them.

Dear Heaven, did these tactics get me yelled at.

That said, the thing about both of these units is that they're essentially defensive.(1)  There's no real offensive doctrine around using a Homeworld Attack Bomber or a StarCraft Scourge.  Try it, and you'll find they're no better than cannon fodder and aren't going to kill much of anything.  So, while they're cheap, they're essentially one-trick ponies.  Didn't matter to my opponents, though, because I was using a mass of cheap quick-to-build units to take out a big, expensive, time-consuming-to-build unit.  That was obviously clearly unfair.

Which brings me to the last point I wanted to make this week about titans.

There's a fun little conversation in the movie Coming to America.  In this flick, a prince of a fictional wealthy African country, played by Eddie Murphy, travels to the U.S.  For his own reasons, he wants to remain incognito.  He hides his identity and goes to work at a fast food place.  While mopping the floor there, he has a conversation with Maurice, another employee of the fast food place:
Maurice: Hey, I started out mopping the floor just like you guys.  But now... now, I'm washing lettuce.  Soon I'll be on fries; then the grill.  And pretty soon, I'll make assistant manager, and that's when the big bucks start rolling in.
The hidden irony of this line of dialogue is that the person it's being spoken to could buy the entire restaurant many times over.  But he feigns being interested, and casually mocks Maurice for his goals without obviously appearing to do so.

On the titan topic, I'm feeling increasingly like Maurice, busy washing lettuce.  I'm obviously just really bad at this game.  ;-)  Seleene said in the Voice from the Void podcast that I mentioned yesterday, "I lost a Titan to Russians.  But then again, who hasn't?  That's something everyone needs to check off when they play EVE."  The statement has a remarkably Marie Antoinette feel to it, and to be fair to Seleene, he nearly immediately realized it and back-pedaled.

But Elise Randolph, on the show with him, makes no such distinctions... has no such concerns.  Later in the pod-cast, he's casually chatting about how EVE players facing enemy titans can counter them.  He lists various possibilities, wrapping up with fleets of Tengus, then says, "I guess Tengus are a bit expensive, but alliances are rich these days."

Er.  OK?  Which alliance is passing out free Tengus, please?

But if you have a thought about killing titans with those Tengus, forget about it.  Elise lists all of these "counters", then clarifies that you can counter Titans with sub-caps... but you can't actually kill them or make them go away.  But you can neutralize them while you try and kill their sub-cap support fleet, so there's that.

What.  The.  Hell.

These are two of the voting members of CSM7.

It comes down to risk.  Seleene doesn't come right out and say he feels the same way in the podcast, but he does.  When I specifically asked during the CSM campaigning "should fleets of Rifters be able to tackle titans?", his answer was:
"No.  Because of No."
Keep that in mind, because that's why the "high warp strength" proposals that you see bandied about to replace super-cap mid-slot e-war immunity will never get anywhere.  If you don't own a titan, a "fleet of a thousand Rifters" catching, tackling, and holding down a titan sounds awesome.  It sounds like a news story that would make the gaming news websites and be something that EVE players would talk about and dream about happening to them.

But while I was allowed to kill a Heavy Cruiser in Homeworld with a fleet of Attack Bombers, or a fleet of Protoss Carriers with a swarm of cheap Scourges, you and I don't get to do that to a titan.  Because of No.

We're EVE players, so that means we all love our spreadsheets.  There's lots of discussion on the forums about what titans should and should not be allowed to do... what role they should have at some theoretical future time.  In the meantime, at the 70 minute point in the pod-cast, there's a very casual revelation about exactly how PL used their spreadsheets to determine mathematically what they could use their titans to kill and how many volleys it would take to kill one ship versus another under various scenarios.  That's an amusing way to look at risk-reward balancing, I guess.

These are quite often the very same people saying that there's not enough risk to how the rest of us play EVE while we're mopping floors and washing lettuce and dreaming of an assistant manager position, by the way.  ;-)

"[CCP] set the scan radius to five and then moved on to making the Bellicose worth a shit," Seleene complains about the proposed (and now rejected) titan scan res nerf.  At the risk of sounding like a 99%'er, Seleene... I can afford a Bellicose.  I can fly a Bellicose.  It would be nice if it was worth a shit.  As badly as Seleene put this, though, I do know where this comment is coming from.  EVE doesn't have a naturally defined end-game, but this line of thinking just naturally assumes that a titan is the end-game that all EVE players want.(2)  Seleene wants that end-game to be something worthy to aspire to.  This is already a fallacy; I said before what you should think about people who tell you what your end-game is.  But let's assume that is indeed you: your end-game is a titan.

The natural assumption seems to be that once you have that titan, you should never ever have to worry about losing it to scrubs, and you should have endless hours of hysterical risk-free gaming enjoyment out of blapping countless numbers of said scrubs.(3)  The scrubs shouldn't be able to kill you, or make you go away, but they can fly around you and envy your giant space penis while you kill the dumb ones in their midst.

And they can dream about having a risk-free space penis of their very own.  In the meantime, there's lettuce to wash and floors to mop.

(1) I got quite a reputation for my effective use of defensive tactics in StarCraft, but that's probably a subject for another blog post.
(2) At one point, there's discussion about titans giving mining bonuses, or there being "industrial titans" or something.  I was too busy choking on my drink to hear this part clearly.
(3) Unless of course, you're outside of PL, in which case you should immediately lose the titan because you're stupidly sitting in a POS to which a PL awoxer has the password, I guess.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

So they made me their chief

Can't seem to be left alone to finish my day of titan ranting.  ;-)

If you haven't heard by now, The Mittani has decided to forgo the position of Chair of CSM7.  Here is his official statement on the EVE Online forums, and here is the companion e-mail he sent to the Goons.

What this means, in essence, is that Mittens will be "just another CSM member" with exactly the same power that he had this morning.  What he's giving up is the bully pulpit of the chairmanship and the media attention that goes with it.  It won't be Mittens being interviewed by the gaming media or put in front of a camera in Reyk if something goes wrong, it'll be someone else.  But he'll still have the same ability to influence events and would retain the option of flying to Iceland for the May and December summits.

We'll see if CCP allows him to keep this post but again, I see no particular reason why they wouldn't.

EDIT (28/Mar/2012): CCP has issued an official statement, and it is an extremely hard-line response.  See the epilogue at the bottom of this post.

You might be asking: what happens now?

Believe it or not, there's actually a formal document that outlines how the CSM is supposed to operate, the CSM White Paper.  I read it in detail before I ran for CSM6.  It is, for the most part, a fluff sociology paper of very little interest.  Still, once it gets past the fluff, it does lay down process and procedure for a number of situations, one of which is what happens if the CSM Chair resigns, steps down, is removed, or declines the post upon being selected for it.  It is this last case that is obviously of interest to us now.

Specifically, the White Paper says:
If the Chairman decides to step down or rescind his responsibility at any time for any reason, a vote must be held among Representatives to elect another Chairman – should the Chairman voluntarily step down as one he is still eligible for the position during the vote for a new Chairman.

The use of the word "Representatives" here is interesting.  The White Paper makes a specific distinction between Representatives, which are (at that time) the nine voting members of the CSM, and Alternates, who are non-voting members.  The nine Representatives were also those that traveled to Iceland.  The new model for CSM7, however, altered this structure such that it was the top seven vote recipients that would travel to Iceland, not the top nine.  If asked, I would therefore interpret this situation to say that the top seven are likewise the Representatives that will receive voting rights for this decision.

tl;dr: A vote should be held among the top seven vote-getters to decide who the Chairman of CSM7 will be.  Six people are eligible: Two step, Elise Randolph, Greene Lee, Trebor Daehdoow, Kelduum Revaan, and Seleene.  Those six people receive a vote, and The Mittani receives a vote.

Positions eight and nine are held by UAxDEATH and Hans Jagerblitzen, respectively.  If they chose to push a strict interpretation of the White Paper, they could argue that they should not only receive a vote in this matter, they should be able to put their name forward as a candidate for Chair.  Still, I suspect CCP Xhagen (who manages this process for CCP) would agree with my interpretation and they will not be eligible either for the position, or to vote for the position.  The White Paper is clear that the remaining CSM members are both ineligible for the position and ineligible to vote, though of course they can make their opinions known.

So, that's what happens next, and CSM7 has until April 11 to choose its officers.  You're caught up.

EDIT (28/Mar/2012): As I was finishing the final editing of this post, CCP issued an extremely hard-line official statement, and a follow-up to a previous statement issued earlier today.

Calling The Mittani's actions "morally reprehensible", the statement acknowledges his apology, but says the following:
The panelist has subsequently posted a public apology as well as a private apology to the victim of his attack. He has also resigned from his position as Chairman of CSM 6 and has forfeited his right to serve on CSM 7.  As per our policies, this candidate may be eligible to run at a later date subject to candidacy review.
Emphasis mine.  If this position stands, then The Mittani would lose his seat in CSM7, would not be recognized as a CSM representative for the term beginning April 4, and UAxDEATH would be elevated to the seventh representative position.  As such, UAxDEATH would receive both a vote for who the new Chair would be and would be himself eligible to be selected as the Chair by vote of the seven representatives.

The previous statement also has several interesting things to say about CCP generally, which I will cover in a follow-up post.  Needless to say, I will be delaying my final titan rant blog post until tomorrow so that I can follow developments.

Wow!  Stay tuned.

Too busy ratting to post a Quote of the Week

A bonus titan post.  The longer one will be published in a few hours.

So, CCP Diagoras is back to posting semi-random statistics now that Fanfest is over, and this morning, he posted this one:
The top killer of NPCs killed 3,472 of them yesterday. #tweetfleet
That, naturally, led me to jokingly ask if that account would be banned today, since that number of rats represents 2.5 NPC kills every minute for 23.5 hours straight.  In short, I assumed that the account might be a bot.  Diagoras stunned me a bit by setting me straight:
The character was also a titan pilot. In fact, several of those in the top 10 killers of NPCs yesterday were titan pilots.

It's quite important to remember that the scan-res nerf doesn't only impact PvP titan pilots.  It affects their ratting brethren as well.  This is particularly true because often, these people are one and the same.  A good portion of the forum rage about this issue almost certainly came from people objecting to losing their titan ratting backbone.

Let's put aside for a second the notion of bot titans (if they're not out there already, they're coming).  Rather nonplussed, I asked Diagoras if he could share the total bounty value of those 3472 rats.  He hasn't, but really, we don't need him to.  Some quick back-of-the-envelope calculations will suffice just fine.  And let's keep in mind an important number: 80 billion ISK.  This is the amount of ISK tossed around lately as the budget for a new titan, including a combat fitting, blap fitting, Slave implants, et cetera.

Let's assume that the titan pilot is doing Angel Sanctums, and just to balance things out a bit, we'll assume that it's the "station sanctums" that are being done.  "Ring sanctums" are more profitable, havens are less profitable, but the station sanctum probably represents a nice compromise between the three.  This sanctum is worth about 35 million ISK in bounties before you take into account the occasional escalation or faction spawn.  A station sanctum also represents about 50 ships or so, not counting frigates, which a titan pilot could either safely ignore or handle with a second support account with a drone-heavy ship.  Either way, it's not going to be the titan shooting the frigs, which means that Diagoras's number almost certainly represents 3472 cruisers and larger rats.

In other words, this titan pilot did about 70 such sanctums yesterday, with a pay-off of 35 million ISK each.

That's just under 2.5 billion ISK, or enough money to rack up the 80 billion ISK for a second titan in about one month.  That's just one titan.  Remember, "several of those in the top 10 killers of NPCs yesterday were titan pilots."  That means that several titan pilots made 2.5 billion ISK or close to it yesterday, each.

Yesterday was Tuesday, putatively a work day.  Just for fun, let's look at it another way.  A PLEX is about $17.50 U.S. for about 500 million ISK.  On those rare occasions I did sanctums myself, last year at this time, at my best, I could finish a sanctum in about seven minutes.  That was with about 3000 DPS at my command.  A titan puts out between two and three times that amount.  Let's be conservative and say those sanctums were done in six minutes each, including scanning and warping time.  That's seven hours to complete 70 of them.  In that time, the titan pilot generated five PLEXes, or $87.50... or put another way, he made $12.50 per hour yesterday.  More if he could do the sites faster.

I think there's a lot of people out there that would sign up for that.

One more post on this topic today, then I'll move on to other things.

Picture of the Week: Surprise sex

Going around the EVE-o-sphere today:

Needless to say, I'm quite amused.  Check out the prosecutor's face.  Check out the judge (harder to see).  It needed Elise's face shopped in for Mr. Erebus's defense counsel, tbh.


In the midst of the outcry over The Mittani's actions this past Thursday, CCP Greyscale has quietly dropped a post into the Ships and Modules section of the EVE Online forums announcing that they are neutering the only upcoming nerf to Titans that really mattered.  Titans will be retaining their insanely high Scan Resolution values.  The scan-res will not be reduced to a 5mm base as previously announced

Of course, a typical combat Titan doesn't have the 200+ scan-res of the blap Titans in my previous post.  But a more typical combat Titan will still have a scan res of 150mm or more, gained through a combination of expensive Sensor Boosters and the Quafe Zero booster.  In short, Titans will continue to lock targets faster than battleships.  I'm sure this is a relief to the few hundred pilots that are affected by this; the thread announcing the change had grown to a 134-page threadnaught and clearly models the way for how to deal with CCP for all future nerfs.  Simply stamp your feet and refuse to go away, collectively posting several times a minute until CCP has no choice but to capitulate to your endless bitching and whinging.

Frankly, I think I preferred it when CCP would double down on unpopular policies when challenged.

Goons, you'll need to rename the station in CCP-US again.(1)  And needless to say, I find the timing rather amusing.  Mittens was of course a major champion of the Titan nerf and displayed his smug for all to see when it was announced by Greyscale.  Now that Mittens is under threat of losing his position, the issue he championed suffers with him at the same time.  I'm sure it's just coincidence.  But just in case, someone photoshop a picture of Mittens lying on his back like Arwen Evenstar in Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, with Elrond seriously intoning "His fate is bound to the Titan nerf now" over his shoulder.

I'm going to have a lot more to say about the Voices from the Void podcast featuring Elise Randolph and Seleene later today.  But I was extremely pleased that Dani, one of the hosts, directly linked the Titan nerf to the Sanctum/Haven nerf announced last year at this time.  Both Elise and Seleene were on the CSM at that time, but neither spoke out about "kicking the can down the road" about that issue.  Unless I'm mistaken, the CSM was completely silent when that happened.  Unfortunately, Dani didn't think to call them out on this and the two of them were content to let the comparison go by unremarked.

Iterations are so out this season.  Instead, we don't implement change until we can completely re-engineer the Titan's role in the larger context of its future battlefield role.

If only that had been the philosophy in 2011.  Certainly, the entire balance of risk/reward regarding 0.0 ratting, incursions, and L4 missioning in high-sec should be addressed in a top-down perspective looking at all elements.  And certainly, I think both Greyscale and the CSM would agree that this is the case.  But at the time, this iteration on sanctums and havens was done, and it was adjusted in a second iteration later in the year, and will almost certainly be the topic of future iterations.  But it's fun to think about where we'd be today had CCP folded on the sanctum/haven nerf bitching the same way they're folding on the Titan nerf bitching.

For Titans, though?  Not so much.  No touchie until a high-level top-down review of their entire battlefield role is performed.  A comparison with a really bad movie comes to mind: Chancellor Valorum in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, asking Queen Amidala if she will table her request about the invasion of her planet pending a fact-finding mission to Naboo by the Galactic Senate.  In this version of the tale, Amidala meekly says "sure, sounds good", goes back to her quarters on Coruscant, and eats bon-bons for a couple of years while she waits.

And while we wait two years for our fact-finding mission on Titans, blap-blap-blap-blap-blap-blap...

(1) Yes, I know it was already renamed.  It needs to be renamed again, again.  ;-)

Fit of the Week: Blap Titan

Welcome to Titan Day at Jester's Trek.  We're going to be talking Titans today, with three dedicated Titan posts, starting with this one.  I thought to celebrate Titan Day, we'd have two "blap Titan" fits, courtesy of Elise Randolph of Pandemic Legion:

[Erebus, Really Hilarious Blap Titan]
Federation Navy Magnetic Field Stabilizer
Federation Navy Magnetic Field Stabilizer
Federation Navy Magnetic Field Stabilizer
Federation Navy Magnetic Field Stabilizer
Republic Fleet Tracking Enhancer
Republic Fleet Tracking Enhancer
Republic Fleet Tracking Enhancer

Federation Navy Sensor Booster, Scan Resolution
Federation Navy Sensor Booster, Scan Resolution
Federation Navy Sensor Booster, Scan Resolution
Federation Navy Tracking Computer, Tracking Speed
Federation Navy Tracking Computer, Tracking Speed
Federation Navy Tracking Computer, Optimal Range

Limited Mega Ion Siege Blaster I, Guristas Antimatter Charge XL
Limited Mega Ion Siege Blaster I, Guristas Antimatter Charge XL
Limited Mega Ion Siege Blaster I, Guristas Antimatter Charge XL
Limited Mega Ion Siege Blaster I, Guristas Antimatter Charge XL
Limited Mega Ion Siege Blaster I, Guristas Antimatter Charge XL
Limited Mega Ion Siege Blaster I, Guristas Antimatter Charge XL
Aurora Ominae
Jump Portal Generator I

Large Trimark Armor Pump II
Large Trimark Armor Pump II
Large Trimark Armor Pump II

[Avatar, Really Hysterical Blap Titan]
Imperial Navy Heat Sink
Imperial Navy Heat Sink
Imperial Navy Heat Sink
Imperial Navy Heat Sink
Republic Fleet Tracking Enhancer
Republic Fleet Tracking Enhancer
Republic Fleet Tracking Enhancer
Damage Control II

Federation Navy Sensor Booster, Scan Resolution
Federation Navy Sensor Booster, Scan Resolution
Federation Navy Sensor Booster, Scan Resolution
Federation Navy Tracking Computer, Tracking Speed
Federation Navy Tracking Computer, Tracking Speed

Dual Modal Giga Pulse Laser I, Blood Multifrequency XL
Dual Modal Giga Pulse Laser I, Blood Multifrequency XL
Dual Modal Giga Pulse Laser I, Blood Multifrequency XL
Dual Modal Giga Pulse Laser I, Blood Multifrequency XL
Dual Modal Giga Pulse Laser I, Blood Multifrequency XL
Dual Modal Giga Pulse Laser I, Blood Multifrequency XL
Jump Portal Generator I

Large Trimark Armor Pump II
Large Trimark Armor Pump II
Large Trimark Armor Pump II

How do we know about this fit?  Elise described it to Voices from the Void podcast as a "blap Titan".  You can pick him up about 49 minutes in.  He describes a blap Titan as needing:
  • three Sensor Boosters, "so you can lock pretty quickly" and "aren't Cormack's Sensor Boosters but whatever";
  • two Tracking Computers (the Erebus had an extra mid, so I gave it three... more on that in a second);
  • four "damage mods"; and,
  • three Tracking Enhancers ("you just shove more tracking stuff" on).
Just to make things as "fair" to the Titans as possible, I haven't fit a single officer mod.  All the mods I've fit are cheap (for a Titan pilot) faction mods.  The most expensive mods are those Tracking Computers at 370 million ISK each as of this writing.  You use this fit when "you're pretty sure there's zero chance of you getting counter-dropped", after you've put up a bubble at a game and the fleet you intend to blap is in warp to it (and will land in the bubble).  Your ideal range is "about 40km" and then you "blap blap blap."  I also assume that every Titan pilot would also consume a Standard Drop booster and a Quafe booster.  Both are cheap and highly useful for blapping sub-caps.

Before we talk about what these ships can do, let's talk stats.

Volley: 66000+, DPS: 15000+Volley: 65000+, DPS: 16000+
Scan resolution: 209mmScan resolution: 185mm
Range: 36km optimal + 24km falloff            Range: 31km optimal + 40km falloff
Tracking speed: 0.012Tracking speed: 0.016

I gave the Erebus an additional Tracking Computer with a range script to get closer to that 40km optimal that Elise talks about.  Now, let's talk comparison ships.  Our comparison ships will be a standard Geddon Navy Issue and a standard Megathron Navy Issue. I'm not going to bother posting the fits; trust me when I say there's nothing unnatural about them.

Armageddon Navy IssueMegathron Navy Issue
Volley: 2664, DPS: 1029Volley: 3913, DPS: 903
Scan resolution: 137mmScan resolution: 190mm
Range: 17km optimal + 13km falloff             Range: 6km optimal + 20km falloff
Tracking speed: 0.042Tracking speed: 0.09

Pay particular attention to the scan res: both Titans lock just as fast or faster, compared to our battleships.  The Avatar, in particular, locks 50% faster than the Neddon.  Our test target will be a micro-warping Sabre (more on that in the next post).  The Avatar and Erebus lock this ship in four seconds.  The Armageddon takes almost six.  Unlike the battleship guns, the XL blasters have no problem hitting at the exact same range as the XL pulse lasers.  Tracking currently peaks at about 30% of the battleship gun tracking.  But remember, I haven't fit a single officer mod.  Ironically, that's not realistic; in actual fact, I suspect there are a large number of officer mods on Titans out there.

Volley damage is twenty-five times higher at 2.5 times higher signature.  Four damage mods "make a pretty huge difference" to Titan guns, according to Elise.

Two primary targets of blap Titans are Drakes and Maelstroms, usually running under MicroWarpdrive.  Both of them have signature radii of more than 1000m (Drake: 2162, Maelstrom: 3331).  As a result, both ships will take full damage from the Titan guns.  The Sabre's sig radius is 573m, which means it's going to take one-quarter damage: only 16500 hit points from a single volley.  A typical Sabre's EHP is 8600.  Blap.

And those volleys can be delivered every six seconds or so -- the Titans can lock targets faster than they can volley them.

How do these ships get used?  Let's go straight to Elise:
What happens is, when there's a roaming gang, and you're pretty sure there's zero chance that you're gonna get counter-dropped, you take these blap-fit Titans, and you cyno them in while someone's in warp to the gate, and they land in a bubble.  You're like 40 kilometers from them.  And you blap-blap-blap away.  And it's really hilarious!  Because you can pretty much track cruisers and battleships really well.  And any idiots that don't understand how transversal works... they'll burn directly back to the gate, so they're at zero transversal to the Titan.  Which means no matter what the tracking is, you'll always be able to hit.

So that's what blap Titans are.
Sounds like fun.  Where do I sign up?

Blap away!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


By now, you've almost certainly read one or more stories about what happened at the Alliance Panel on Thursday, Fanfest Day One.  If you haven't, then I strongly recommend Liang Nuren's excellent summation of the facts.  As is my custom on this blog, I will give you some background, then summarize what happened Thursday in my own words.  Then, the opinion part.  Why yes, this is a long post.  ;-)

The Alliance Panel is a Fanfest tradition: it is an extremely M-rated event where six or seven representatives from EVE alliances are given the opportunity to brag on themselves for 8-10 minutes each, usually while drunk.  Alcohol is a big part of the Alliance Panel, as is biting humor, sarcasm, and satire.  Names are named.  People, corps, and alliances are mercilessly mocked.  It is -- by far -- the most EVE-like part of Fanfest, where people bring their in-game personas and leave their real selves at the door.  A CCP employee is present as an ornament, but usually has little impact on the proceedings.  All they can do is smile and hang on, because the least nice people in EVEdom -- alliance leaders -- are in the driver's seat.

The Alliance Panel is always roundly hysterical.

And truths are told.  Oh my yes, truths are indeed told.  In vino veritas.

Fairly legendary among the Alliance Panel presentations is the one given by Darius JOHNSON, at that time CEO of Goonfleet (now CCP Sreegs), at Fanfest in 2009.  He showed up very late, in a ridiculously bad costume, obviously drunk and/or stoned out of his mind, and without speaker notes.  And then, off the cuff -- and after describing The Mittani as a pseudo-intelligent douche-bag! -- delivered one of the funniest and most memorable presentations ever done at that panel.  It is the source of the famous Goonswarm mantra: "Our goal is not to destroy the game.  At the end of the day, our goal is to destroy your game." as well as the meme "Giant dicks are cost effective."  And then he dominated the entire Q&A session.  Nobody seemed to want to talk to anyone else.

Think it bothers Mittens -- who prides himself on his ability to present and communicate -- that the most memorable Goonswarm presentation ever done at the panel wasn't done by him?  Bet you he'd deny it and say that he's just happy that it was a Goonswarm presentation that's most remembered.  Also bet you my left thumb he'd be lying when he said this.

So that's point number one to remember: the Alliance Panel is alcohol-driven, but it is also ego-driven.  Every alliance looks to outdo the ones that have presented before.  Enough background.

What actually happened Thursday afternoon?  The Alliance Panel at this year's Fanfest opened casually with a presentation from EVE University, but then jumped into a pair of excellent presentations by a pair of wormhole-based alliances.  Without getting into a lot of details, the first was well-organized and -presented, and funny as hell, but more or less traditional.  The second was entirely a series of unusual "ransoms": recordings of the national anthems of a half-dozen countries, sung by EVE players who were told that if they sang, the ship or system being threatened would be left alone.  In both cases, names were named, and individual EVE players were subject to ridicule.  By the end of it, the audience was rolling.  A great deal of alcohol was visible on the table throughout, and Mittens (who was to present last) didn't drink lightly.

At several points, he was heard to say to each presenter after the W-space guys, "There's no way we're beating that."  Still, Gentlemen's Agreement did a pretty fair job, and TEST's MB3 did a fine job.  The pressure was on.

Last year, Mittens presented at Fanfest 2011 for Goonswarm.  Let's be clear: his presentation wasn't bad.  But it was extremely pedestrian and unfunny.  It was also... gasp... a serious examination of Goonswarm history!  No alcohol was in evidence!  Yes!  At the Alliance Panel!  Believe it or not, if you're looking to learn the history of Goonswarm, this presentation is the best place to do it.  But it sure didn't fit with the format or the audience.  It made an impression, but that impression was negative.

Mittens was definitely looking to improve his performance this year.

He gets a lot of mileage out of forum porn on his Ten Ton Hammer column and on kugu, and obviously decided to bring that to the Alliance Panel this year.  Alcohol would be consumed.  Names would be named.  Truths would be told.

Really, there was only one problem with The Mittani's performance in 2011: The Mittani didn't show up.  Instead, a guy named Alex showed up.

Want to annoy Mittens?  Want to really annoy him?  Refer to him by his real name on the Internet.  He'll never, ever admit this, but it drives him wild.  You see, there are actually three people at war with each other in this situation.  Three personas, if you will:
  • The Mittani, former spy, who is the fearsome and scary head of the Clusterfuck Coalition, the largest mass of EVE players ever to play the game, and the largest mass of griefers and gankers in EVE history;
  • Mittens, the almost-but-not-quite fuzzy, cuddly friendly Chair of the CSM; and,
  • Alex.  He was a lawyer at one time.
Make no mistake: these are three different hats.  And they don't go well together.  They clash terribly.  As a matter of fact, they may well be incompatible.  After all, by definition, the Chair of the CSM has to be a player advocate... a nice guy... a champion of the people.  The leader of Goonswarm has to be a dick... someone who wants to grief and gank the people.

On Thursday night, The Mittani showed up to the Alliance Panel.  Oh my yes, he did indeed.  And you know, what?  It was perfectly appropriate for him to do so, you see: The Mittani leads Goonswarm.  The Mittani is not the Chair of the CSM.  Back to what happened.

During the presentation, The Mittani presented a great deal of forum and chat porn while outrageously mocking those that produced it.  It was damned funny, but it was also quite mean, almost savagely so.  During the presentation, one such bit of EVE mail porn centered on a player that had lost a large number of Mackinaws to Goon gankers, and said he was upset because he had recently gotten divorced and ice mining was the only thing that relaxed him and settled his mind.  As humor, this was borderline stuff.  Mittens was visibly pounding back J├Ągerbombs and at one point commented that he was not drunk enough yet to present this material.

Alex was objecting, and possibly, so was Mittens.  We've seen a kinder, gentler Mittens this year.

The Mittani was having none of it and pressed on.

Now, do not get me wrong: I am not saying there was any level of schizophrenia here.  At all.  I'm simply saying that The Mittani persona came out, got drunk, and gave a very Goon presentation.  It was borderline, but savagely funny.  It couldn't have been any more different from 2011.  The problem came at the Q&A session.  The Mittani didn't just cross the line.  In the immortal words of John Roarke, he lept over it that day.  I briefly quote Liang Nuren's transcript of the event:
The Q&A is where all the interesting parts are anyway (@1:11:30):
  • Questioneer: Just something about the guy with 22 accounts.  I think he moved to the Drone Regions and now he’s got kicked out of there as well.
  • The Mittani: Incidentally, if you want to make the guy kill himself, his name is [name]. It's [spells the name].  He has his own corp.  Find him.
What we have here at this point is not The Mittani naming names.  What we have here is him directly encouraging EVE players to harass a potentially mentally-unstable individual into a rash act.


Mittens claims to have no direct memory of the event until shown a transcript, and I believe him.  He also says that he despises people who use the words "I was drunk" as an excuse, and I believe that, too.  He has abjectly (and I believe, sincerely) apologized.  He has made an act of contrition toward the pilot affected, saying he's given this player 10.7 billion ISK in compensation, and the player in question has apparently confirmed the gift.

And Mittens has quietly offered to "resign", though whether that means "resign from the CSM" or "resign from being the Chair of the CSM, but not from the CSM itself", he has left open to interpretation.

If you've read more than a few posts in my blog, you know that I love quotes from movies, particularly quotes from bad movies.  The one that sprung unerringly to mind in this situation is from a little flick called EdTV.  Made years before the first reality show, it tells the story of a man who is hired by a network to put his entire life, 24/7, on TV.  Late one night while nervous on a date, Ed (the star of the show) is spontaneously making out with his date on a dining room table when -- in the throes of passion -- he rolls off the table.  A pained cat's meow is heard on Ed's landing and the date ends with Ed transported to the hospital and the cat to the vet.  On live TV.  Commiserating later, one of his buddies offers some sympathy:
John: Look, Ed, you put anybody on television sixteen hours a day, and sooner or later they're going to fall off a table and land on a cat.

Mittens feels awful about what's happened, and I believe that completely.  You put anyone in the spotlight for this long, and sooner or later, they're going to fall off a table and land on a cat.  It's now happened.

And it happened to the CSM Chair.

But not while he was wearing the CSM Chair hat.  This is critical!

Remember, this incident happened in the context of The Mittani's role and duties as the leader of Goonswarm.  The Chair of the CSM was not present.  "Jester, you idiot, they're the same person!" you say, and sure, yeah, that's true.  But kinda, not really, too.

Here's the truth of the matter, kids, and pay attention, because this is important: people are human.  Even smart people.  They make mistakes.  People occasionally do really stupid, dumb-ass things.  There's no "save game" button in real life, and no check-point that you can roll back to.  And if you jump immediately to "fire him" every time someone makes a mistake, you're not going to have very many people left around you.  If you do something stupid, all you can do is apologize and try to make it right.

The Mittani dropped character, became Alex, and is doing that.  And I sincerely believe that he means it.  Does that mean The Mittani is gone?  Hell no, he'll be back.

Bad pennies always turn up.

But Alex is back there trying to make this right.  Let's talk consequences.

Should Mittens lose his position as CSM Chair over this?  My feeling is no, he should not.  His offer to resign is noble, but not warranted.  There should definitely be consequences from this, and the act of contrition and the ISK are a great start.  But he should not lose his CSM position nor his Chairmanship over this in my opinion.  Smart people do dumb things.  Bill Clinton performed a sex act with a woman not his wife in the White House.  No one has died here, been harmed, or been publicly humiliated in real life.  There's a blue dress here, sure.  I doubt Mittens will be wearing a wizard hat or drinking to excess again any time soon.  And an EVE player nobody knew has been thrust into the spotlight, but he doesn't currently seem to be in any danger of suicide.  In fact, aside from a little bit of apathy (which I'm told by someone with reason to know is actually a bit troubling), he doesn't seem overly impacted or troubled by this at all.  I've looked at the EVE Terms of Service, and it would take a real dick to try to argue that they've been breached.

At least, not any more than Goons breach them routinely.

Will Mittens resign from the CSM, or from the Chairmanship?  He very well might.  As I said, the hat that the leader of Goonswarm must wear doesn't fit well with the hat that the CSM Chair must wear.  You might even argue that to be good at one job, you are by definition being bad at the other job, and vice versa.

Still, there's no question that Mittens has been a fine CSM Chair and an excellent player advocate.  I might grumble at his methods and his arrogance, but there's no question that they've been effective.  Hell, I'd argue that we need him in that Chair.  As I've already said and will elaborate on in the coming week or so, this is going to be an important year for EVE players... maybe the most important year in EVE's history.  We need a strong advocate.  Mittens is the right person, in the right place, at the right time.  He might feel the need to resign his CSM Chairmanship over this, but I sincerely hope he doesn't.

And this is me saying it.  ;-)  I've had my reasons to be skeptical of Mittens, but I was wrong and I don't mind admitting that.  He's made a believer out of me.  Mittens, I hope you'll stay on.  I like Two Step, but we need you.

We do need to see how CCP (and possibly just as important, Sony) react to this.  As I write this, the work day is just starting in Reyk and in London.  We'll see how it plays out.  The next 12 hours or so are critical.

Should there be further consequences?  Yes, there should, in my opinion.  Mittens was acting as a representative of Goonswarm in this matter.  I suggest a hefty fine, and a ban from the Alliance Panel at Fanfest 2013.  Goons have presented the last three FFs anyway.  Let them build up some more stories and present again in 2014.  And the fine will be a deterrent to another alliance trying to push the boundaries next year.  But the Alliance Panel itself should also continue, and in more or less its current form.  David Reid tells us EVE Online is hard-core and is going to remain hard-core.  Let's not make him a liar, CCP.  The Alliance Panel is one of the most popular events at Fanfest for very good reason.

Whew!  This has been an outrageously long post, but important, I think.  Probably get grilled for it, too, but that's no different from all my other posts.  What do you think, Dear Readers?  Burn him on a spit?  Or accept Mittens's act of contrition?  Discuss.

Monday, March 26, 2012

One more thing...

Am I going to weigh in on what happened at the Alliance Roundtable?


After the drama level dies down a bit to mere human levels.

In the meantime, Mittens seems sincere in an offer to resign if that will quell the controversy, calm the waters, and protect CCP and the CSM.  Short version, though (even if this gets me flamed): that's noble, but I personally do not feel that it's necessary, or warranted.

More tomorrow or the next day.

EDIT (26/Mar/2012): As I put it on Twitter:
I feel an offer by to resign from (if sincere) is noble, but not warranted. An apology, though? Definitely.  
There's a difference between the person and the persona. This situation clearly shows that.
And indeed, Mittens has apologized.  That's a lovely start.  Again, I'll have more to say about it tomorrow, but what's above is the gist of my opinion.

Scramming chads

I wanted to do a final wrap-up on the CSM7 election, now that I've had a couple of days to think about the results.

First, fair warning: anything that I write against any given CSM candidate is automatically going to piss off between 250 and 10000 people.  I accept that.  But please keep in mind, these are just my opinions about the individual candidates... what they did well and what they did poorly.  If you feel the need to defend your chosen candidates, go ahead, but recognize that these comments aren't intended as personal attacks on you or your choices of who to vote for.  ;-)

First, let's talk about Mittens.  Mittens ran alone.  It will be tempting for a lot of people to say "Why did The Mittani run as the solo Goon candidate?  Goons could have easily gotten two people into the top seven, the same way they did last year?"  In particular, if Mittens did have good exit polling data about how many votes he was receiving, he presumably easily could have directed those votes where he needed to.

These are just guesses, but I think there were three reasons behind why there weren't two Goon candidates:
  • Mittens wanted 10,000 votes.  Call it vanity, call it whatever you like, but he wanted to hit that nice round number.  But honestly, I suspect this was the least important reason.
  • Mittens guessed that -- given that there were fewer candidates -- that there would be more votes per candidate, particularly with the more popular candidates.  As a result, I think he was concerned that if he split the Goon vote, someone might pull the Chair out from under him.  Can't have that.  And finally...
  • I think Mittens was concerned that having two Goons out of the top seven on CSM7 would be self-defeating in the long-term.

That last one deserves its own paragraph.  It was quite possible in this election -- even likely! -- that six out of the top seven seats could have been held by large-alliance 0.0 candidates: Mittens, Seleene, UAxDEATH, Elise Randolph, Dovinian, and Greene Lee... with Trebor, Hans, Kelduum, and Two Step all fighting over that last, seventh seat.  Had someone made this prediction for the top seven seats, that prediction wouldn't have been thought at all unlikely.  And had that happened, I don't think CCP would have been happy once the first summit started.  When CCP is collectively unhappy, their first instinct is always to over-react.  And an over-reaction on this would have been an over-reaction directly against large-alliance candidates holding too many CSM seats in the future.

Mittens definitely didn't want that.  So "loading up" would have worked against his long-term interests, and I think Mittens knew that.  That's probably why there weren't two Goon candidates this time.

One final note on Mittens: he did a great job staying "above the fray" for most of the election.  He could have used his more or less invulnerable position to stomp on a lot of candidates he didn't like.  And for the most part, he resisted.  Sure, he launched a few ad hominem attacks early in the proceedings, but he later backed away from that tactic and actively deleted a post he made in that direction.  Compared to last year when he actively slung a lot of mud around, he didn't feel the need to do that this year.  n1

Moving on.

Two Step ran a fantastic campaign.  In my previous post, a WH resident is congratulating the WH community on boosting their candidate so high.  I don't think that's what happened at all.  Sure, WH residents were a big part of Two Step's voters but I also think that he did a great job of broadening his audience to people who play the game in a similar way.  I was telling people myself "If you can't bring yourself to vote for Leboe, vote for Two Step.  He's the best ally small-gang PvPers have among the strong CSM candidates."  I'm sure other people were advocating him for different reasons.  Overall, he did a great job expanding his appeal.

Seleene lost about a thousand votes compared to how he did last year.  It's interesting to speculate about how that happened.  The easy answer is that he had a lot of -A- voters last year that he didn't have this year since Greene Lee was the -A- candidate.  But is that true?  Maybe.  We'll never know.  But I suspect a big part of the vote loss was the new alliance name.  Seleene's in Pandemic Legion now, and seems quite happy to be there.  But I strongly suspect it hurt him when people walked into the virtual voting booth and saw it next to his name.  A lot of people feel very negatively about PL for a variety of reasons and I believe more than one person, given the choice to vote for a PL candidate -- even one they otherwise liked -- didn't.

UAxDEATH also lost about a thousand votes.  I think those vote losses were a lot more personal.  ;-)

I've already talked about how I feel Dovinian's failure to get into the top seven is a failure on TEST's part.  I had a lot of people tell me, "But Dovinian was a douche.  That's why he didn't get voted in."  OK, fine... but how does that negate TEST's responsibility in the matter?  If Dovinian was a douche, why pick him as the official candidate?  Why not pick someone who can represent the alliance, and someone alliance members feel comfortable voting for?  Several hundred TEST votes went to Mittens, for instance -- probably enough to get a better TEST candidate to Iceland.  So... yeah.  Still a failure on TEST's part here, and something they'll have to look at next year.

Aiden Mourn over at finders & keepers has an interesting perspective on Darius III.  Without bringing up the election at all, he says in essence that Darius is a champion for people who want to make EVE suck for everyone else: griefers, gankers, et cetera.  I'm not sure I agree, but the perspective sure is interesting!

I don't really have anything to say about any of the other people that won, so let's move on to the people that didn't.

Starting with Prometheus Exenthal.  Compared to last year, Prom's vote count fell by 400 votes.  Those 400 votes would have allowed him to take the last alternate seat.  What happened?  I'm going to get beaten up for saying this, but Prom talked himself out of his CSM seat.  Before Leboe jumped into the race, Prom could have easily claimed much if not all of the Rote Kapelle vote.  How did Prom lose the Rote vote?  By telling Rote what we wanted, instead of listening to what Rote wanted.  It's really just that simple.  On FHC, talking directly to Prom, I put it this way:
The comparison with Trebor is apt because Trebor listened to what his constituency wanted.  You told your constituency what they wanted.  Now you seem surprised that they rebelled against you.
Had Prom listened to his constituency, fewer of them would have chosen to run against him and he would have kept his seat.  As a result of his choices, Prom split his voters with Leboe from Rote, Fon Revedhort from Darkside, and likely Aleks from Noir and Elise from PL as well.

I respect riverini's work.  But riverini also talked himself out of a CSM seat.  Hell, every time the guy opened his mouth, he lost two votes.  ;-)  If you're going to run for CSM, you have to try to avoid specific positions.  A specific position will rarely -- if ever -- get anyone to vote for you.  But taking a specific position will sure give people a reason not to vote for you!  riverini made that mistake with virtually everything he said and everything he did.  As a result, he turned what could have easily been a few thousand voters based on name recognition alone into a few hundred.  Whoops.

I was sorry to see how poorly Leboe did, and how poorly small-gang candidates did in general.  Part of this was voter fragmentation, as I talked about for Prom.  The small-gang alliances are going to have to rally behind a single candidate next year if they expect to be represented.  In the meantime, how we play the game is going to continue to be marginalized, and perhaps even directly attacked, if Mittens and other reelected incumbents get their way about disabling station services on NPC stations in 0.0 and low-sec.

I'm rather surprised how poorly some of the fringe candidates did.  Mintrolio tops this list, but it's also worth naming Mike Azariah, Roc Weiler, and Skye Aurorae.  I don't know why, but I was expecting each of these candidates to top 500 votes.  Only Mintrolio did, and he only barely.  But all four had pretty good name recognition going for them but weren't able to parley that into an alt seat, even if their votes had been combined.  If you're going to run as a fringe candidate, it's important to channel your base, and none of these four candidates did that.  Scott Manley has almost a thousand Youtube subscribers, for instance, but could only convert that into barely 250 votes.  How does that happen?  By not channeling your base.  It'll be interesting to see if Mike and Roc run again next year.

And I think that's it.  CCP Xhagen said this election featured more "space drama than we’ve seen in any election so far".  I disagree.  This election was actually pretty low-key and relaxed in my opinion.  It was great to see the increased participation in the process.  It was even better to see the lack of negative campaigning that stained the process last year.  Let's hope that's the start of a trend.

Congratulations again to the winners of the CSM7 election!  Represent us well!

Quote of the Week: Human interaction

The Quote of the Week, unsurprisingly, comes from Fanfest:
The founding principle behind EVE is maximizing human interaction.
This is from Reynir Hardarson, CCP Creative Director and one of the founders of EVE Online.(1)  Ironically, the quote comes from the World of Darkness presentation that happened early on Day Three of Fanfest.

And the more I think about it, the more it's interesting to me how many of the presentations at Fanfest had this as a subconscious theme.  Virtually all of the presentations brought it up in one way or another: "More people! Bigger fights! More people! Bigger fights! More! Bigger!"

Those of us that actually like smaller-gang battles might be in trouble, of course.  But the smaller-gang stuff has never particularly been what EVE has been about.  EVE's main selling point and its competitive advantage has been in the ability to bring a couple of thousand people into the same system and let them fight it out.  CCP Veritas did an excellent job of selling that the two times he presented.(2)  The message was pretty clear: keep EVE's existing customers happy, and let as many of them as want to get into the same system and shoot each other.

What was missing from Fanfest this year from a lot of presentations was an appeal to add to the EVE player base,(3) except through what was almost my Quote of the Week:
The focus of this Fanfest is DUST 514.
That one's Chris McDonough, World of Darkness Senior Producer, during the same presentation.  And yep, most of the presentations had this as a subconscious (or flatly overt) theme as well.  Fanfest was a Dustapalooza.  CCP seems to be pinning the bulk of their hopes on DUST.  Nowhere was this more blatant than in the framing of the keynote speeches.  "Yesterday, we showed you CCP's past and present", the announcer said before the Saturday keynote.  The implication: what we're about to show is the future.  And what was shown?  The focus was clearly on DUST 514.  The strategy for 2012 seems to be "let's get a lot of new DUST players, have EVE players bomb them from orbit, and then hope that the DUST players want to participate in that bombing from orbit part themselves."

"We don't need to make EVE something it's not and we don't need Jesus features to get new players," David Reid said during his own presentation on Saturday, talking about keeping EVE a hard-core game.  Not in EVE, anyway.  DUST wasn't mentioned.  ;-)

Tail, this is dog.  Try not to wag him too hard.

The most interesting indicator of all?  Seven thousand people were watching the DUST 514 keynote on EVE TV Thursday, Hilmar said when it began (I was one of them).  And, oh by the way, he also mentioned, very casually, no big deal -- really, it's not very important at all -- but several hundred thousand were watching the keynote on the Playstation Home network.

Several.  Hundred.  Thousand.

In other words, there were probably more people watching on Playstation Home than there are EVE players... total.  Remember what I said last year about order of magnitude jumps in customer bases?  Reid wants to make "EVE + DUST the world's largest game universe." That's maximizing human interaction, all right.

Stay tuned.

(1) Technically, I think his last name is actually spelled Har├░arson.
(2) He's also emerging as one of CCP's strongest presenters, and by far their strongest presenter on purely technical matters.
(3) Remember Hilmar last year, almost pleading with EVE players to help CCP introduce EVE to new players?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Picture of the Week: Twins

I wasn't going to post this, but it went public, so now I'm going for it.  ;-)

Check out this picture, taken at Fanfest:

The person on the left is Mittens.  The person on the right is one of my alliance leaders, Bacchanalian.  Or is it the other way around?

It's kind of hard to tell.

Needless to say, Rote Kapelle and Veto membership had a lot of fun with this...  So far, Bacch has scammed a third-party transfer of a super-carrier (and pocketed the money), promised docking rights in VFK to Raiden, encouraged Gents and two other alliances to invade Intrepid Crossing space because they'll get Goon help, told 137 pubbies that he'd sponsor their entries into Goonwaffe, and subtly threatened a CCP employee that he was going to get beaten up at the CSM May Summit.

And of course, everyone... everyone in Rote Kapelle and Veto walked up to Mittens and said "Hey Bacch!  How's it going?" or something like it.

Even CCP Punkturis apparently had some fun with it.



So, the CSM7 results are in.  Congratulations to the winners!  How did I do with my predictions?

All in all, pretty well!  I correctly predicted 12 out of the winning 14 CSM7 members.  I didn't predict Issler Dainze in my 14, nor did I predict Darius III.  My predictions were riverini (who came in 16th) and Prometheus Exenthal (who came in 20th).  I predicted five of the top seven CSM7 members would be bloc candidates; in actuality, four are in the top seven are (I do include Seleene in that category this year).

Things I got right: The Mittani would be Chair.  Duh, easy.  Two Step, Greene Lee, and Seleene would join him.  Alekseyev Karrde's good campaign would allow him to sneak in as an alternate.  Meissa Anunthiel would be an alternate.  Kelduum Revaan's position would be a little unpredictable.

Things I got really, really right: I predicted the vote tally would come in around 61,000 total votes.  The actual total was 59,109, so I was within 3%.  I said that about 41,000 of those votes would be cast for winning candidates.  Actual total for winning candidates: 44,296.  A bit of the difference here can be racked up to Mittens's voters gaming the system; I'll have more to say about that in a second.  I also said that it would take 2675 votes to get a top seven seat this year.  That, I got exactly right: every candidate with more than that got a top seven seat; every candidate with fewer didn't.

Things I got wrong: I predicted Hans Jagerblitzen would make a very strong showing.  Didn't happen.  The FW corps did not vote their best interests this year, and they're going to pay for it at the May Summit.  Likewise, I predicted Dovinian would get a top seven seat.  The fact that he didn't can only be regarded as a massive failure on TEST's part.  I don't know where they screwed up, but they've clearly got some work to do if they want to be represented in the top seven next year.  It sends the message that Mittens carried White Tree last year.

I predicted Elise Randolph would be in the bottom seven, but Mittens himself set me straight on this one: Elise ran as a NC Reloaded sponsored candidate, and that worked just fine for him.  I didn't realize he'd have such strong bloc representation behind him.  And I predicted that Mittens would fall short of his 10,000 vote goal, which obviously didn't happen.

Overall though, I'm very happy with my predictions!  I did much better this year than I did last year.

There were two big surprises for me this year.  First one was Darius III making a CSM7 seat over riverini and Korvin.  This has a very amusing parallel for me compared to last year.  Darius III bragged on FHC that he had used scamming EVE players to beat better candidates.  He did it again this year.  Will CSM7 even let him get involved?  At all?  Smart money says "no": he'll continue to be frozen out of the process.  Given that there are six alternates ahead of him this time instead of four, the likelihood that he'll be able to parley the alternate slot into another trip to Iceland is also roughly zero.  So, if you voted for Darius, that was a true wasted vote.  Shame on you.

Second biggest surprise for me was this graphic:

I had a reason to visit the Goonswarm website during the election.(1)  When I did, I was bounced to an interstitial that asked me how I had voted in the CSM election, and what corp and alliance I was part of.  Needless to say, I smiled and ignored it.  Still, it was kind of funny to run into the Goon "exit polling."  One of the most frustrating things about running for CSM is that you have no freaking idea how you're doing until the results appear.  You could be getting a few hundred votes, you could be getting a few thousand votes.  You just don't know.

This graphic comes from the EVE News 24 article predicting the results of the elections.(2)  So there's no way to know if this graphic was an accurate representation of the information coming off the Goon exit polling... or simply an attempt by the Goons to troll EN24.

Either way, though, we know that Goons have conducted exit polls of their members the last two elections.  It's a remarkably organized approach to the elections, and it wouldn't surprise me at all if some of the other power blocs started to emulate it just to take the uncertainty out of the process.  The interesting thing is how these exit polls could be used to game the system: Mittens probably knew all through the election how close he was to hitting his 10,000 vote goal.  For that reason, I think this image is legit.  I think it might have even been used to encourage Goon voters to get him there.  "3000 votes to go!", et cetera.

Anyway, congratulations again to all the members of CSM7!  You guys have your work cut out for you this year, I think.  Last year, I envied the CSM6 members their seats a little bit.  This year?  Not at all.  Not even a little bit.  From what I've seen of the Fanfest presentations, this is going to be a "be careful what you wish for" year for EVE players.  There are about three dozen minefields that the CSM is going to have to help navigate CCP through this year, and far more ways to do it wrong than ways to do it right.  Seriously, they've got their work cut out for them.

More on that over the next week or so.

(1) I wanted to see if Goonswarm Shrugged was still running during the election.  It wasn't.
(2) I beat riverini's predictions pretty handily, hee.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Kill of the Week: Stalking the wily Titan

Really, there's only one kill I can choose this week:

Lots and lots of people have written about how this PL Titan died.  Best coverage of the actual gank is probably from First General at Wolfsbrigade.  Take a moment to go read his description, and you might even watch the included video.  Best coverage of the background behind the gank is probably from @GamerChick42.  Very very tl;dr version, though: a team of faction warfare corps, observing that PL liked to gate-camp with their Titans in Amamake, made a conscious decision to stalk, hunt, and kill one of these Titans with a large fleet of insured glass cannon dreads along with a support fleet of hictors and battleships.

The original intent was "gank and run".  The "run" part was blocked by the fact that PL had a super fleet within striking distance to counter-drop.  Pity that CCP still hasn't addressed the ability of a large super fleet to project power, but what can you do.  Ironically enough, apparently the planners for this op got some of their ideas on ship fittings and tactics from PL's forum dump to kugu last year.  Props to them for the interesting use of this data.  ;-)

So, I'm not going to talk about the kill itself.  It's been covered.  Instead of talking about the kill, I'm really more interested in talking about "what it all means."

The response by PL to this Titan being killed has been enlightening to say the least.  Mr Blue registered on FHC to report (edited for clarity):
Not to boast or anything, but the [PL] supercap fleet is almost running 12-14 hours a day, so it's kinda hard to avoid hitting anything without having PL supers in gang somewhere closeby...
Aheh.  Wow.  In other words, hit anything owned by PL anywhere, and you're going to get counter-dropped by a PL super-cap fleet.  That's... ummm... impressive.  I mean, sure, EVE players by and large believed this was true, but to have it blatantly stated like this was a little bit jarring, at least to me.  The smug didn't stop there, though.  Mr Blue and Kalorn basically called Odda, the Titan pilot that was ganked, "not so smart" (the r-word came out, but I won't use it).(1)  And sure, you can kinda divine that from his Titan fitting.  But then Raivi jumped in to say:
Was a good kill. You FW guys did what all of nullsec has been failing to do by actively hunting and killing one of our titans.
Count on PL to give such a left-handed compliment while simultaneously subtly insulting 20% of the EVE player base at the same time.  ;-)

Presumably, PL will now be expanding their spy network to include some faction warfare corps, particularly since FW is getting some attention this year and will be the first location where DUST 514 orbital bombardment will be available.  I'm sure the FW corps have been easy to overlook in this regard the past couple of years, but I think it was that ability to fly under the radar that allowed them to assemble enough dreads to get this kill.  It's not a mistake that PL is going to make again.  FW corp CEOs, take note.

On the flip-side, "The Ents are going to wake up and find that they are strong," as Gandalf said in Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.  As GamerChick correctly notes, the FW corps now represent a pretty significant power in today's EVE world, without seeming to realize that's the case.  I think we'll get our first indication of that tomorrow when we see where Hans Jagerblitzen lands in the CSM7 voting.

The original plan apparently called for representation on this op from all four faction militias.  Had that happened, it's fun to wonder what would have happened.  PL dropped their supers into that situation pretty casually, without the intel about the first Titan-ganking op.  Suppose the faction warfare militias had all been gathered, and prepared to counter-counter-drop PL's supers?  Like I said, it's fun to think about.

Again, we'll learn if the FW militias can come together in their own best interests when we see how many votes Hans picked up.  There are some that are saying it might be Hans giving Mittens a run for his CSM7 Chair money this year.  I'm not sure I believe that, but if he's a strong second, gaining more votes than the other bloc candidates?  Yeah, I think that'll wake some people up.

Last but not least is the consideration of what it took to kill this Titan.  40-odd dreads were gathered.  As I said the other day, when you tackle a Titan, you can nearly always expect a large super-cap support fleet to come in and try to save it.  Hell, even before the counter-drop started, there were a couple of carriers providing support for this Titan.  "If he hadn't been in a [stupid] fit - he almost certainly wouldn't have died," Kalorn says.  I'm forced to agree.  Luck played its part here.  Had luck not been on the FW side, not only would the Titan not have been killed, but the FW corps would have lost tens of billions of ISK trying.

This is what it takes to try to kill a Titan in EVE today.  This is why further balancing of the class is still absolutely required.  But more on that in a day or three.

Congratulations to everyone involved in this kill!  You did a great job!

(1) Odda's bio (he's Norwegian) now jokes:
"smart norwegians" are next to "german humor" and "swiss navy victories" the 3 thinest books in the world-" Wladomir jed
Wasn't me that said it, and I apologize to anyone who's offended.  Would just like to make it clear that Odda's presumably getting trolled pretty hard by his alliance-mates.

Style sheet

Just a quickie.

I'm not at Fanfest this year.  Wanted to be there.  Couldn't.  But I went ahead and bought myself a copy of the HD stream and I'm keeping up as best I can through that, bloggers and alliance-mates who are there, dev-blogs, and forum posts.  Maybe next year, I can show up in person.

In the meantime though, standing at a distance, it's interesting to me how Fanfest 2012 seems like a merger of the personalities of Fanfests 2009 and 2011.

Last year at this time, I wrote a commentary on those two Fanfests.  In it, I pointed out how virtually everything shown at Fanfest 2011 was something almost immediately deliverable:
First, something that we didn't see at this year's Fanfest that has been a recurring theme at past Fanfests is a lot of over-hype.  In previous years, CCP had become quite good at making long strings of promises that there was no way they could deliver on, and certainly not in a year.  This year, CCP stuck to making promises about things that they could actually do, and actually do in fairly short order.  That's a very positive step, and reflects that a healthy dose of reality has taken hold in Iceland.  There's nothing wrong with getting people excited, and they did a great job of that with the EVE Forever video.  But they made it clear that EVE Forever is a vision, not an upcoming release.  It's not set in stone and a ton of things can change.

Ironically, with them showing off planetary bombardment yesterday, this means that virtually everything shown at last year's FF has been implemented in the year between that blog post and this one.  And that's with this past summer's crises.  I find that completely remarkable.  Other CCP observers said that it would be completely impossible.  Yet here we are a year later, and it's almost all been done.  Even more, the presentations themselves were rather low-key: relaxed... almost blithely confident.  There was a marked lack of theatrics.

Now, compare and contrast with Fanfest 2009, which was a much more "pie in the sky" sort of experience (again, when viewed from afar).

Lots and lots and lots of "upcoming features" hyped at Fanfest 2009 still aren't implemented: treaties, comet and ring mining, Tech3 frigates and modules, Jove interaction, player-owned Incarna establishments, in-game gambling, "transparent" communication in and out of game, ship formations, DUST 514's release (remember, it was demoed on stage 2.5 years ago!).  And "hype" is the right word.  Presentations were larger than life, noisy, and there was an expectation that players could and should get really excited about all of these soon-to-be released improvements.

Now we have Fanfest 2012 and it's a been an interesting merger of these two styles.  On one hand, we're definitely being shown things that will be implemented or released in the next couple of months: DUST 514 (for sure this time), missile launcher turrets, new Stealth Bombers, a new API, changes to the character creator, et cetera.  In the middle, we're being shown things that are "sorta" thought through: crime watch, faction warfare changes, mercenary defenders for war-decs.  And on the outside edge, we're also being shown things that might or might not ever be released.  A good bit of that will apparently be at tomorrow's keynote, but we've already seen some of it: mining asteroids for moon goo, POSs (again), dropping ship tiers for ship roles and the new skills required for that.

And we're back to a somewhat "larger than life" presentation style, most notably when an actor playing a Gallente DUST 514 foot soldier handed Hilmar his weapon yesterday.  I felt kind of bad for Hilmar: the script obviously called for the crowd to spontaneously cheer at the vision of CCP's CEO with an assault rifle in his hands, but the cheering didn't come...

Anyway, I'm not sure I have a conclusion to this, but this merger of styles sure is interesting!  Maybe, being 4300 miles away, I'm just imagining it.