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...

Monday, September 30, 2013

Kill of the Week: There was a plan

There's really only one thing I can pick this week, and here it is:

The story on this one appears straight-forward.  The pilot in question, a member of SOLAR FLEET, was probably caught in this station with his Archon when SOLAR lost control of this system and its station back in July.  The player probably had a jump clone in the station, though, and so formulated a plan: "I shall jump to my jump clone, load my Archon with everything left in this station, undock when the system is quiet, and be off before anyone notices.  I can't lose!"

So, the plan goes forward, the pilot jumps to his clone, loads his carrier, chooses just the right moment to undock... and apparently Vbou undocked with him in a Scythe Fleet Issue.  And then pointed him.  Now the Archon pilot has a problem with the plan.  The station in question is a safe undock, so getting pointed usually would not present a problem... only this is a hostile station now which means that the Archon can no longer dock.  The plan has failed.  He can't jump away because he's pointed, and the Scythe begins plinking away with small guns.  At this point, the Archon pilot has no good options.  He can try to kill the Scythe, but that means aggressing on the station which means his probable death.  He can hardly call for help.  So given the amount of damage on the Archon at the time it died, it's most likely that the pilot just chose to self-destruct to end the pain as early as possible.

Bringing solo back.  ;-)

Anyway, had the carrier just immediately jumped away the moment he could have, he probably would have been OK, but he probably activated a mod or something which gave Vbou just enough time to get the point applied.  Very nice work, Vbou, and congrats on an awesome solo kill!  And thanks also to the several alert readers that sent this one to me.  Ian Stanley got it to me first.  Thanks, Ian!

Fight of the week is the CCP dev roam which ended up in Amamake.  The kill report takes a long time to load.  You'll note CSM member Ali Aras dead twice in the melee, and Mangala Solaris either dying once or reshipping mid-fight.  Wish I could have attended myself!  I hear at least one of the unreleased monocles was in the CCP loot somewhere.

Honorable mentions this week start with this Charon, apparently belonging to a drone region renter alliance.  Look in the cargo and you'll find one of the rare "station eggs" that when planted before downtime becomes a new null-sec outpost after downtime.  Back in the day, Caldari stations were regarded as nearly worthless for most applications.  Has that changed?  Because the alliance in question did go ahead and get another one and plant it.  In the meantime, that's quite a rare kill!

It's not often you find a pod intended for a super outside of a super... unless you've killed the super, of course.  This one was an Avatar clone being used in an Archon but was definitely overkill for that application...  I assume the fleet in question caught the Archon in the midst of refitting which is why the kill-mail looks so strange.  Because if not, that's a pair of really silly losses.

Incursion-runner ganks were picking up this week, with several interesting ones to choose from.  This Nightmare and this Vindicator were typical.

Number of dead super-caps last week: 3

Super-cap slow burn continues this week, and starts with this PL Aeon caught in travel mode in Derelik low-sec by a monstrous Black Legion dread fleet.  "Well, I guess all 12 spies were asleep," some wag humorously noted, referring to the number of spies PL rather famously has in that particular alliance.  Here's the video of the loss, which happened on the Ammatar Fleet Assembly Plant station.  From the FC chatter, it looks like he might have been baited into aggressing?  Not a smart thing to do while travel fit, if so.

Big kill of the week was this NCdot Erebus, also killed by Black Legion, also with a video, which took place only an hour after the Aeon kill.  This one appears very straight-forward: an awoxer with POS roles in the target corp appears to have shut off the POS shields...
Wicked Princess > vince is obviously an idiot to leave my alt in corp with pos roles for a year
...with the titan inside.  From there, it's a pretty easy kill.  Congrats to Black Legion on the double super kills!

EDIT 1/Oct/2013: TMDC has more detail on both of the two kills above if you're interested.

Last to die this past week was this Nyx, caught in Metropolis low-sec by a mixed group of dreads, one super, battleships, shield hictors... sort of a trash fleet, really.  Looks like this guy decided to log his super into an unscouted system.  That's never a good decision.  All in all, it's probably for the best: had the Nyx lived, he would have had to rig it.

That's it for last week, though today a Wyvern died.  That'll be in next week's report.

CSM8 Status report: Week twenty-one

We were busy.  It's almost as if there was some major community marketing push last week that was badly bungled.

Seriously, we were pretty busy with that.  I wrote a long mid-week update on what the CSM was doing about the SOMER Blink promotion, so if you haven't already please feel free to read that.  As a result, the rest of the weekly update is going to be pretty short.

With regard to the minutes, things continue moving albeit slowly.  We've sent a large batch of minutes to CCP Dolan to be checked through for the NDA.  But of course Dolan as a Community rep was just as much caught up in the SOMER Blink thing as we were, as were his superiors.  So no word yet on whether those sets of minutes are cleared or when we can expect to see them published.  In the meantime, not much change from last week.  Of 24 total sessions:
  • Trebor Daehdoow has written four sessions (PvE, CSM as Stakeholder, Security, Future Plans);
  • I've written four sessions (Introduction, Sales and Marketing, Team Kuromaku, Team Game of Drones);
  • mynnna has written two sessions (Reasonable Things, Team Superfriends);
  • Ali Aras has written one session (EVE Economy);
  • Mike Azariah has written one session (Art);
  • Mangala Solaris has written one session (Language Support and the CSM); and,
  • James Arget is still finishing one session (Launcher).
There are ten sessions left to do:
  • State of Balance (being worked on by Chitsa Jason);
  • Team Five-0 (being worked on by mynnna);
  • Projects One, Two, and Three, which are currently heavily NDA'ed;
  • Team True Grit (being worked on by Trebor);
  • DUST 514 Link (being worked on by Mike);
  • User Interface (being worked on by Ali);
  • EVE Valkryrie (being worked on by James); and,
  • the Hilmar meeting, which might or might not get a set of minutes devoted to it, since it was pretty short all in all, but I'm working on that one.
Feel free to poke the CSM representative of your choice that's working on one of these sessions and tell them to get busy.  ;-)  Project One can be pulled from NDA protection before too much longer here, at which point someone will probably get the opportunity to write about it some.  Trebor's already made one call for people not actually working on one of those ten to release them if they've "claimed" them.  We originally split up the responsibilities based on who X'ed up for what.

It's turning out there might be better ways of doing this.  Sigh.  I wish it were going better.  But that's how it's going.

Both the Skype channel and the private forums continue to be busy with short items: "CSM, please look at X."  "CSM, please check this thread and give your thoughts."  Really quick and dirty stuff, and really just coming down to little tweaks here and there.  The major efforts for Rubicon are firming up nicely and it looks like everything that we were told would happen is going to happen on schedule.  Credit the planning of CCP Seagull and the execution of CCP Ripley, plus all of the teams and programmers and devs working, of course.  I'm pleased to see it's going smoothly.

We also had another stake-holder meeting this week with Team Five-0 and their work is shaping up very nicely indeed.

Mangala Solaris did something this week that I thought was really clever: he opened up RvB Ganked Mumble for a public chit-chat about the Rubicon features announcement as it was happening.  I was really impressed by this idea and I hope it gets repeated for future live video blogs about future expansions, if CCP decides they like the effect of this one.  I heard that something like 13000 people watched this one, so they have to be pleased with that!  So hopefully, this might become a regular thing.  Kudos to Mangala for thinking of it, and I wish I could have participated myself.

And that's all I can think of for this past week.  The current week promises to be a bit quieter, so I can get busy cracking the whip on people to finish those last six or seven or nine or ten sessions (depending).

September 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.  September was so busy that the junk drawer really only has a bunch of small stuff plus two somewhat bigger items in it.


Here's the small stuff, one paragraph per item:

Here's a quickie from Ory iXo that should have made it into the little things list, but didn't: right click on ship while docked, insure ship.  It's probably complicated for some reason I don't understand but it should be thrown on the next little things list anyway.  ;-)  Thanks, Ory!

This made me smile, EVE ships in the traditional colors of various U.S. football teams.  Just the sort of thing I think of when I see CCP Seagull write (emphasis mine)...
...Imagine capsuleer corporations, rising in power and capabilities, flying their own colors...
Don't you agree?

How is it that I've never read the Wikipedia entry for the word Naglfar before?  Go read it and glory in how weird Norse mythology is.  ;-)  How does someone even think of that?  Iceland is weird, et cetera.

There's a Skype channel open to both CCP developers and CSM alumni that's kind of fun to watch sometimes.  This past month, someone asked in there how evil an EVE developer could be in trolling players.  Here's the response, which made me laugh.  Just something to keep in mind: EVE players have nothing on EVE developers for pure evil.

After long years writing for the Star Trek franchise, when Ron Moore got the reboot for Battlestar Galactica green-lit and became the show-runner, he specifically wrote a scene in the early episodes of the series that took place in a lavatory.  Joking about Star Trek's apparent lack of lavatories and making possibly the worst pun in the history of sci-fi, he joked that BSG was "going where no one had gone before."(1)  Well, it turns out Star Citizen is apparently following Ron's fine example...


It wasn't quite quote of the week material but this forum thread contains a rather intriguing... well, plea, I guess.  I'm not sure if it was aimed at CCP or the CSM, but Leigh Akiga was asking "what must be done to generate conflict in 0.0 once again?"  Malcanis -- quite easily the meanest member of CSM8 -- absolutely destroyed the question by pointing out that large sov wars are both extremely expensive and hard to organize logistically before adding with not a small amount of snark:
Meanwhile, how about you make a massive resource and time investment in giving us something to read about?
The discussion then continues from there and is actually surprisingly insightful for a thread that's -- you know -- on the EVE Online forums.

The only reason this thread didn't become a full post around here is that the null-sec alliances, counter-alliances, and relationships have become so intertwined and convoluted that I'm not even sure what I think about null-sec right now.  Later in the thread, Malcanis correctly stated...
Space that can be rented is the new Technetium.
And as I pointed out earlier in the month, renting space is something that scales quite easily.  Goonswarm spent the past month or so proving it by taking over literally half the map and preparing their rental empire.

Go read the thread because I found the back and forth really interesting.  People playing this game say "fix null-sec!" all the time... but at this point I don't even know what that means any more.  All I know is that I'd kind of like the map to look like Scalding Pass and Wicked Creek... but increasingly it looks like Deklein and Vale of the Silent instead.


I caught a hell of a lot of heat in late 2011 for describing Clarion Call 3 as -- here, let me look it up -- as...
...garbage.  It is arrogant, windy, over-hyped, under-edited, over-narrated, hugely over-long, and other than nine minutes late in the proceedings that actually shows a fight, it is dull dull dull dull dull.
With this in mind, I refer you to Lord Maldoror's latest windy, over-blown masterpiece.  Your first view of a spaceship in a six minute video is more than three and a half minutes in... and it's a titan.  At least the guy's sticking to form.

I'm reminded of the frequent joke made regarding the Final Fantasy video games, made most cuttingly by Yahtzee from time to time: "Why can't gamers see that we want to make movies, not video games?!"  Likewise, I'm pretty sure Lord Maldoror wants to make art-house films, not play EVE Online.


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

(1) This is the same man that wrote the following exchange in an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
"Lions and Geigers and bears."
"Oh my."
He therefore has also written the worst word-play in the history of sci-fi, too.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Point of no return

The name, I must admit, makes me a little nervous.  And no, it wasn't shared with the CSM in advance.

As a history buff, the phrase "crossing the Rubicon" very much invokes in me a feeling of passing a point of no return.  Had Gaius Julius Caesar not been victorious during his civil war, he would have been executed and the history of the world would have been very different.  And of course his victory changed the very tenor of a successful, slowly advancing and conservative Roman Republic into a vibrant, fast-growing, but chaotic Roman Empire.  So while I recognize that the name of the next EVE expansion is mostly an in-game lore conceit, it's hard not to see the subtle out-of-game message.

...if there is one.  I might be seeing something that isn't there, of course.

Anyway, the announcement of EVE Online: Rubicon was supposed to be a bit of a victory lap.  This is an expansion that CCP Seagull has quite literally signed her name to, the first expansion in a series of expansions to launch her long-term vision of space colonization and player ownership of space.  I felt rather bad to see it disrupted by the furor over the SOMER Blink.

Some wag even joked a little meanly that CCP would be announcing the expansion to be called EVE Online: Blink.  Whoops.

Anyway, this video stream came about partially because both at a meeting with Seagull a few weeks before the summit and at the summit itself, I and the rest of the CSM made a case for Seagull to get out in public a bit more.  This is something that CCP Unifex did to great success a few times as Executive Producer: he was at the center of a video dev-blog introducing the next expansion, talking about the overall sorts of things the expansion would include... that sort of thing.  It was always short, not much more than a quick appetizer, really.  But it did a great job of putting all of the follow-on dev-blogs into context and start to get players excited about the new expansion before it was released.  This was something that I and the rest of CSM8 urged Seagull to do and she agreed that it was a good idea.

Something to keep in mind which isn't NDA: in none of the past video dev-blogs was the whole story of the next expansion told.  They were just intended to let you know some of the things you'd be seeing, not all of them.  With the background stuff done, I wanted to chat a bit about the Rubicon features from what was presented.  In a couple of cases, I'll be writing full posts about these once the relevant dev-blogs are written.

New Anchorables: Siphon Array, Tractor Beam Platform, Depot, Cyno Jammer.  I love this one and a couple of them -- notably the Depot -- have the potential to be quite literal game-changers.  I was making arguments for the ability to push combat refitting down to the small-gang level back in 2012.  The Depot addresses the same problem but with a completely different and really clever mechanic.  Needless to say, I'm going to be carrying around one of these quite a bit and have been spending some time coming up with interesting use cases for them.  It's also tempting to think of the tractor platform as strictly a PvE conceit... until you remember that some of those PvP wreck fields are pretty big.  ;-)

Those of you who think of the new anchorables as the first step toward modular POSes are forgiven for doing so.

Ship Balance: interceptor, marauder, interdictors, EAFs.  The march continues.  I for one have been using CSM influence to make sure the re-balance train moves through the ship classes pretty rapidly because we still have a lot of really important classes to go...  Of the four classes, I'm most excited about the EAF changes so far.  It's been so long since I could reasonably fly my Kitsune or my Sentinel.  I'm personally least-excited about the marauder but that's because I was hoping for a real fast-attack PvP battleship and I don't think the marauders fit the bill.

Warp Acceleration Change.  I love love love this one.  And I might even get to take a certain small amount of credit for it.  There's a funny story about how I think this one got rolling: one of my first days in the CCP/CSM Skype stream, I offered a bottle of brandy to the dev that could make this change happen.  I've been thinking about it since all the way back in January, long before I knew I was gonna be on CSM8...
If I am elected to CSM8, know what the very first thing I'm going to mention to CCP Soundwave and/or CCP Fozzie and/or whomever will listen to me?  It's silly.  But it's just the first thing I'm going to mention: why do all ships accelerate to warp at the same rate?  17 times out of 20, this means that two ships that align and warp away from one gate to another gate will arrive within one or two seconds of each other.  Doesn't matter if one is a battleship and the other is an interceptor.  If the distance between gates is under 20AU or so, they'll arrive at the next gate at the same time, forcing the interceptor to keep up the chase in the next system.  This is silly to me, and easily fixable.
And so it was one of the first thing I mentioned.  ;-)  I'll wait to tell the rest of the story until after the dev in question gets to take credit in a dev-blog for his hard and awesome work.  And yes, I will absolutely be paying off during my winter trip to Iceland.

But leave it to an EVE player to see an unexpected downside:
CCP is killing bio breaks on long warps! This is outrageous!
gg, Sarmatiko, gg.  I laughed.

High-sec POCOs under player control.  I'm going to be watching this one closely in the coming months.  I'm a tiny bit concerned about certain large null-sec griefing alliances coming in and taking over all of the POCOs within a few jumps of the market systems, then "defending" them by hiding behind the enormous cost to war-dec their alliances.  I've raised this concern with CCP.  A representative from a certain large null-sec alliance who was sitting next to me at the time said that I was over-reacting.  We'll see.  ;-)

The SoE exploration frigate and cruiser.  I'll have more to say about these ships when stats are released.  For now though, you can rest assured that their resemblance to ships in certain other sci-fi properties was noted by the CSM during the Art team session in Iceland.  That said, they're not the first ships to resemble or flat-out copy great-looking ships from other properties, nor are they likely to be the last.

Certificate system revamp.  I think this one is important but it again will get its own post when the dev-blog is released.  At that point, I'll have lots and lots to say about it.

That's all for now, I think.  As the devs in question get their dev-blogs out, I'll write about each in turn and of course after the expansion is released I'll be giving my favorite and least favorite features for Rubicon from all of its features...

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Feast and famine

OK, let's get back to what I wanted to write about this week, because I'm now once again way behind.

I last looked at Snapcount data back in April and as the Odyssey data started to come in, it was clear that I was going to have to give it some time to mature before any conclusions could be drawn.  The data was really odd you see, and... well, let's just look at the graph to start:

For the second time in a row, I've put the 30-day trend in front of longer term trend because I think the short term trend is more interesting.  Each little spike in the 30-day graph represents a weekend, where EVE players tend to log in in larger numbers.  This graph picks up where the April one left off, with the release of the Retribution expansion on 4 December.  At that time, I noted that we were in the midst of a historic spike of logged-in players and in danger of finally breaking out of the 30,000 logged-in player rut that EVE has been in for years now.  However even in April you could begin to see the dip in the graph as players burned out on Retribution's features and were looking forward to the next expansion, Odyssey.

This dip is typical and is nothing to worry about.  Most EVE expansions are characterized by this large spike after the release of the expansion followed by a slow fall in the number of players.  It's one of the reasons that I measure the success of EVE expansions as I do, by looking at their logged-in user count both 30 days after the release of the expansion and 60 days after its release.  Does positive word of mouth about the expansion spread, getting more players to log in (Incursion, Crucible)?  Or do players look at the expansion, say "eh" and go back to playing other games (Tyrannis, Inferno)?

Then I look at the long-term: does CCP do a good job of selling the next expansion to try to retain and build the player base?  Incursion was a good example of this one as well, but we'll get to that.

As I looked at the data, it was pretty clear that Odyssey was going to be another "eh" expansion, and once we were past 60 days, that was confirmed:

RMR/Bloodlines  T2s, Carriers+4.6%+7.0%+11.9%Success
Revelations IInvention, rigs  +4.3%-0.1%+17.6%Major success
Revelations IISov changes+0.8%+6.4%-2.6%Failure
TrinityNew graphics+2.4%+29.0%+19.5%Major success
Empyrean AgeFaction war+0.5%+7.1%-8.5%Major failure
Quantum RiseNano nerf+18.5%  +30.5%  +24.7%  Major success
DominionSov changes+13.6%+13.5%+6.4%Success
IncarnaCQ+0.3%-0.2%-10.7%Major failure
CrucibleIterations+7.7%+14.6%+20.4%Major success
InfernoMissile GFX-8.3%-6.9%-10.2%Major failure
RetributionCrimewatch+17.0%+24.6%+20.4%Major success
OdysseyHacking sites+2.5%-6.0%???Failure

Minus six percent at 60 days.  Minus nine percent at 90 days.  Ouch.

People are logging off in large numbers and there isn't even a dip associated with the release of another MMO that I can see.  There is a pretty good dip at the end of the Fountain campaign and that is arguably not CCP's fault.(1)  But overall, we've got 6000 fewer players logging into EVE on a daily basis than when Odyssey was released and that's got to hurt.  But I'm writing this post now since Rubicon was just announced and its features laid out a couple of days ago, so we can see if that starts the trend curving upward again.

In the meantime, let's look at the long-term trend:

As I stated above, we're still more or less firmly trapped in the 30k logged-in player rut that EVE has been in for five years now.  I've highlighted four expansions in particular since they represent two attempts by CCP to break out of the rut.  With the release of Incursion in late 2010, we saw a content-driven expansion bring in thousands of new players logging in only to see that momentum dashed on the rocks of Incarna.  And now we see the player-driven expansion Retribution and its fantastic Crimewatch system not followed-up or capitalized on effectively in Odyssey.  The curves look different; people were asking "where the hell are the spaceships?" pretty frequently in the run-up to Incarna.  But the effect is the same: in both cases the 90-day logged-in player trend -- the thick green line -- starts at nearly exactly 30k both before and after these periods start and end.

What's it going to take to blast out of this rut?

We'll see where CCP is going with it and of course as a member of the CSM I've heard a few -- but definitely not all! -- of the plans.  But in public, the goal seems to get players to accept and embrace a long-term vision where each expansion builds on and capitalizes on the strengths of the expansion before it.  If the strategy succeeds, the data will show it starting now, late September 2013.  With that in mind, most long-term trends in my future Snapcount posts will start from where the problem started, with the release of Apocrypha in March 2009.

It's time to break out of the feast and famine cycle.

(1) You could make a meta argument about moons not being conflict drivers any longer, but I personally think it's far too early to make any judgments on that score.

The five concerns

CSM8 has issued a public statement giving our position on the controversy regarding the giveaway being run by SOMER Blink on behalf of CCP.  I reproduce it here in full:
The following is a summary of CSM activity over the last few days regarding the SOMER Blink promotion.

The CSM was not consulted in advance about this promotion, so it was just as much a surprise to us as it was to the community. Our reaction was broadly similar to that expressed in the forums.

On Thursday the 26th, we received an update on the situation from CCP Dolan after our regular Stakeholder meeting with Team Five-0. Later in the day, we got a second update from CCP Dolan and CCP Manifest.

During those meetings, we outlined five areas of concern that we felt CCP's response should address. These were:
  1. Reintroduction of historically important or unique ships.
  2. Favoring one community fan site over others.
  3. Trusting a community fan site, and more particularly, a player, with the task of selecting the winners.
  4. Forcing players to use SOMER Blink in order to enter -- which may have legal consequences in some jurisdictions.
  5. Providing direct benefit to a for-profit gambling fansite.
CCP Navigator's announcement on Thursday of changes to the prize structure has addressed (1), and details of the method of selecting winners (which we urge CCP to make public) leaves the CSM reasonably confident that the actual drawing will be fair, addressing issue (3).

Issues (2) and (5) are business decisions that CCP has the right to make. We think they are a mistake, and hope that the uproar over this issue will cause CCP to re-evaluate these policies for future promotions. Supporting groups that have a clear educational/public service focus in-game is one thing; supporting a group that is distinctly for-profit -- and one that can use the ISK it generates to secretly support in-game groups -- breeds distrust for CCP in the community.

However, the requirement that one must be a member of SOMER Blink in order to participate remains, and for a lottery with such significant prizes, is very troubling to us. Furthermore, the structure of the lottery, which encourages and rewards extensive use of SOMER Blink, may raise legal concerns in some jurisdictions. For example, in the United States, commercial lotteries cannot require the purchase of a product or service in order to receive an entry.

For this reason, we strongly suggest that the entry mechanic be adjusted as follows:
  1. Members of SOMER Blink are automatically entered into the lottery and receive one ticket, regardless of how much they use the site.
  2. An alternate method (such as posting in a particular thread) be used to allow people to enter who do not wish to become a member of SOMER Blink.
We further recommend that procedures be put in place to sanity-check future promotions to ensure that they are acceptable to the community.

On Friday morning we sent this statement to CCP for their comments, and on Friday evening David Reid (CCP Pokethulu, CCP's CMO) replied to us as follows (reproduced with permission):
Thank you for your thoughtful feedback, and for the opportunity to review your statement in advance of publishing it to the community.

We acknowledge that we rushed this event, and we are certainly learning from it now.

Your statement strikes us as factually correct and appropriate to publish, and there are a few further details we want to share with you also.

First, we are developing a program to allow all 3rd parties the opportunity to apply to participate in these kinds of events and promotions with CCP support, and we will have news on that shortly. In general, we believe CCP should foster the activities our players enjoy, and it is clear these kinds of activities have a lot of support in the EVE community, much like we see in other games.

That said, we recognize it is imperative for CCP to remain impartial with respect to which 3rd parties receive CCP support for these kinds of activities. To that end, we will develop a clear policy on how we plan to conduct future events, including how we will determine which 3rd parties and which events will receive CCP support, and we will develop that policy in consultation with the CSM.

We also want to assure you that we are working closely with CCP's legal team to ensure all legal concerns resulting from this event, and future events like it, are addressed.

If you wish, it's fine to let the community know in your statement that CCP has informed you we are working on a clear 3rd party program for future events and that we will consult with you on this program as we develop it, but there's certainly no requirement for you to include this in your statement.

Thank you again for your feedback here and we welcome your further thoughts.

The CSM will endeavor to keep the community informed as there are further developments in this issue, and as always, your input is most appreciated.

The Members of the 8th Council of Stellar Management
CSM8 Chair Trebor Daehdoow gets CSM MVP of the week honors here for the writing of the statement, though I have to give myself credit where it's due as well.  I was the one that came in as CCP Navigator's statement was being drafted and pointed out that just changing the prizes only addressed one area of concern, and then I noted the others.  Those became the five concerns that are at the core of the statement, and after I'd listed them, the CCP employees we'd been working with (fortunately, and to their credit) admitted that all of them were factual and valid.

So this isn't over yet, though it's not stopping the SOMER Blink giveaway.  CCP will just hopefully have to get this right for future giveaways.  I myself expect to be issued a Jester's Trek branded Talos or Vindicator to give away to a lucky reader, since my love of "green and covered with blasters" is well-documented.  CCP, take note.  ;-)

Two interesting things about CSM8's handling of this compared to past CSMs:
  1. We made it clear to CCP right from the get-go that we were going to issue a public statement about this and exactly what it would say.  At each stage, we shared the text with CCP executives and were clear about what was going out and why.
  2. And those same CCP executives did an absolutely terrific job of staying in communication with us, responding rapidly to our e-mails and our concerns both through that medium and Skype.
If nothing else, after CCP had thoroughly shot themselves in the foot with an elephant gun -- again!  for the second time in less than a month! -- the CSM's ability to respond to this was a model for CCP-CSM communications.

Gods, do I hate slapping CCP's hand so hard on this.  Because in theory, CCP working more closely with their community sites over the last year has been really really good.  You don't have to look much farther than the Syndicate Competitive League to see that, for instance.  But it really illustrates that the brains behind this promotion really should have checked it with more people.  The situation this past week was totally, completely avoidable.  And it did a terrific job of disrupting what should have been a CCP victory lap day -- more about that in a couple of posts.

CSM, working for you, et cetera et cetera.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Something in the air

Just a quickie.

Find the thing on this Blink page that makes me wonder what has gotten into the air-handlers at CCP headquarters.

Trebor Daehdoow designed a little CSM logo that shows the six stages of being a CSM member, starting from the 2 o'clock position and then going in a counter-clockwise direction.  For the most part to date, I haven't been much past facial expression #3.  But this makes me jump straight to facial expression #6, the classic face-palm.

What the hell was CCP thinking here?  I wish I could tell you, but I can't.  It's pure :awesome:.  And no, this was not shared with the CSM in advance.  I assure you had it been, we would have jumped up and down all over it.

EDIT 26/Sep/2013: Mat Westhorpe has written a lovely short piece that covers some of my concerns.  Go read it.  He gives several good reasons why this shouldn't happen without even going dark side.  Now briefly remember that there are EVE players involved in this.
EDIT 26/Sep/2013: Irony, thy name is CCP Goliath.
EDIT 26/Sep/2013: CCP has addressed one of my four concerns with this promotion.  The other three remain.  They are:
  1. showing favoritism toward a particular fansite over others;
  2. giving trillions of ISK in give-aways to a for-profit gambling site that one must join in order to participate in the give-away; and,
  3. putting control over the give-away of a unique ship that will not be available in any other way into the hands of an EVE player, no matter how apparently trust-worthy.
I'm glad that CCP is listening to my and the rest of the CSM's significant concerns about this give-away and are adjusting their strategy.  And I realize it's probably too late to abort the give-away.  But this was and continues to be a bad move on CCP's part.

Just wanted to make my position on this clear, in case you were curious.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Fit of the Week: Odyssey Ishtars

And HAC month wraps up with the best HAC in the game, the Ishtar.  There is almost no bad way to fit this ship as long as you keep its bonuses in mind.  It does sooo many things ridiculously well.  There are lots and lots of fairly standard fits out there so instead I'd like to highlight a couple of goofy one-off uses.

Let's start with something fun for missioning, ratting, and other light PvE work:

[Ishtar, Rats Missions Shield]
Drone Damage Amplifier II
Drone Damage Amplifier II
Beta Reactor Control: Shield Power Relay I
Beta Reactor Control: Shield Power Relay I
Beta Reactor Control: Shield Power Relay I

10MN Afterburner II
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Large Shield Extender II
Large Shield Extender II

220mm Vulcan AutoCannon II, EMP M
220mm Vulcan AutoCannon II, EMP M
220mm Vulcan AutoCannon II, EMP M
220mm Vulcan AutoCannon II, EMP M

Medium Sentry Damage Augmentor I
Medium Sentry Damage Augmentor I

Garde II x5
Ogre II x5
Hammerhead II x5
Hobgoblin II x5
Vespa EC-600 x5

Let's start with the fun bit: 850 DPS.  From a cruiser.  Before faction ammo.  Squeee!  This is just crazy good.  Land, drop the sentries of your choice and start devastating cruiser and larger rats.  Meanwhile, the 220s are remarkably good at smiting down frigates as they close.  If you have fitting issues, feel free to trade them out for Dual 180s which are even better for frigate work.  Once the big stuff is dead, you can drop smaller drones to mop up if you need to.  But try to stick with sentries where you can: the rigs support this damage as does your best ship bonus.  However, the heavy drone bonus is also pretty nice.

Meanwhile, mitigate damage by burning around at 625m/s with good resists.  If you're fighting laser-armed rats, you'll probably have to trade one of the Invuls for an EM Ward.  Otherwise, you can probably just stick with double Invuls.  The Shield Power Relays will allow you to tank pretty well but really the important things are your small sig radius and your speed.

The last few utility slots in your drone bay are up to you.  If you're going to use this for ratting, carry EC drones.  If you're going to mission, salvage drones.  And of course, set your drone type to match the rats you're going to be fighting.  You're also going to have to keep a fairly close eye on the drones to make sure they don't take too much damage as they're wiping rats off the map.

EDIT 26/Sep/2013: Two other things: first, you can also carry some repair drones to keep your attack drones repaired between missions.  Second, don't be afraid to scoop your attack drones real quick if they get into trouble, particularly sentries.  Just order them back into the bay then fly into the cloud, pick them up, wait five or ten seconds for their shields to regenerate some, then put them back out.  Rinse and repeat.

There really isn't too much more to say about that goofy little fit so as a bonus, here's one that's even goofier:

[Ishtar, Damptar]
Damage Control II
Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II
Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II
Energized Explosive Membrane II
1600mm Reinforced Steel Plates II

Experimental 10MN Microwarpdrive I
Phased Muon Sensor Disruptor I, Targeting Range Dampening Script
Phased Muon Sensor Disruptor I, Targeting Range Dampening Script
Phased Muon Sensor Disruptor I, Targeting Range Dampening Script
Phased Muon Sensor Disruptor I, Targeting Range Dampening Script

Drone Link Augmentor II
Medium Unstable Power Fluctuator I
Small Unstable Power Fluctuator I
Small Unstable Power Fluctuator I

Medium Trimark Armor Pump I
Medium Trimark Armor Pump I

Bouncer II x5
Curator II x5
Berserker II x5

This is arguably the best damp ship in the game.  And it works really nicely with smaller armor HAC fleets.  The tank is a very solid 66k EHP before links or other bonuses with strong all-around resists.  Fit this way, you've got a very slight cap problem so mitigate it with the passive explosive resist module.

Once the fight starts, hang out next to the friendly logistics ships and ply your main trade: damping out enemy logi and e-war from a rather unexpected platform.  The fun thing about this ship in this role is how subversive it is.  Get someone to fit a few of the suddenly not-that-terrible Information Warfare links to boost your effectiveness.  This works particularly well if you can talk the same person into buying one of the Imperial Navy mind-links, which includes the bonus for InfoWar link effectiveness on top of Armored warfare bonuses.  Your full-strength damps even without bonuses are good at 54km with decent effectiveness right out to the extent of your lock range.

The main competition for the title of best damp ship in the game is the Celestis, which easily out-ranges you, but has half your tank.  The thing that your Ishtar brings to the party that a Celestis definitely can't is very acceptable damage of right around 400 DPS.  Beserkers are particularly amusing to use with this ship.  With the Drone Link Augmentor fit, you can just assist the Berserkers to your FC then concentrate on damps damps damps while you rack up kill-mails on both ends of the spectrum.  Alternately, launch the Bouncers or Curators and assist those to the FC instead.  As I said, your control range with this fit is beyond ridiculous.

As a result, this ship is providing an armor HAC fleet with three great advantages: a solid bait tank ship, great e-war, and quite acceptable damage that's always being applied where the FC wants it.  Can't really go wrong there!

Your neuts are strictly defensive to be used against anything that tries to tackle you but as long as you stick fairly close to your rep ships you should be OK as long as the rest of the fleet is doing well.  You're tankier than most HACs and this fit responds really well to reps.  Keep your MWD off as much as you can to keep your sig low and capacitor high.  Carry X-Instinct booster and Mindflood booster to increase your natural advantages.

There are lots and lots of great Ishtar fittings out there right now, so feel free to experiment!  As long as you focus on either sentry damage or heavy drones, there aren't too many ways you can go wrong.  In addition to being the best HAC in EVE Online, this is far and away the most versatile ship in the game right now.

Have fun!

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.

CSM8 Status report: Week twenty

Minutes minutes minutes!  As promised, here's where things stand.  There were 24 total sessions during the summer summit.  We believe 14 of them should survive with minimal NDA interference, six with moderate NDA interference, and four with heavy NDA interference.  We're currently concentrating on the first group of 14, with a few toes being dipped into the second group.  As of today...
  • Trebor Daehdoow has written four sessions (PvE, CSM as Stakeholder, Security, Future Plans);
  • I've also written three sessions (Introduction, Sales and Marketing, Team Kuromaku);
  • mynnna has written two sessions (Reasonable Things, Team Superfriends);
  • Ali Aras has written one session (EVE Economy) and is working on another;
  • Mike Azariah has written one session (Art);
  • Mangala Solaris has written one session (Language Support and the CSM); and,
  • James Arget is close to completing one session (Launcher).
So that's 13 sessions done or very close to done so far.  Needless to say, Trebor and I are playing the "old guys rule" card pretty frequently attempting to motivate our younger colleagues...

I want to say again how dry and cold the process of writing the minutes is.  I knew it was going to be difficult.  But particularly finishing the Team Kuromaku session was even more difficult.  How does one decide how much to self-edit?  How much does one let the NDA get in the way even before CCP sees the text?  How does one decide whether to include off-shoot discussions, tangents, discussions only half-heard even if you were in the room when the session took place?  I can see why Trebor decided to troll a bit with a past set of minutes writing about every cough and sniffle.(1)

Anyway, I'm not satisfied with our progress here, unfortunately.  We've sent the first batch of minutes to CCP Dolan for the NDA pass, but I wish we were much farther along than we are.  Frankly, I think this is our CSM's first dropped ball since taking office.  We could have, and should have, gotten this done faster.  We're continuing to work it.  I myself am determined to keep up with Trebor so I'm deciding which session to claim next.  Hopefully the results will be in front of your eyeballs soon.

Two meetings this week!  Both, unfortunately, I consider heavily NDA'ed.  The first one, I can't even tell you the subject of without breaking NDA, I suspect.  Both relate to long-term projects within CCP.  And I missed both of them live -- that work project I'm in the midst of is still taking away a lot of my time.  But the nice thing about using Lync for these meetings is that CCP Dolan is recording them so I was able to catch up with the first one.  That was really nice.  Note to self: ask Dolan if there was a recording of the second one.  Our next stake-holder meeting is this coming Thursday.

Activity on the private section of the EVE Online forums is really heating up!  There are new threads almost every day to read through, and I'm doing my best to respond to them daily, since they usually relate to things that the dev in question is working on right then.  CSM7 promised 48 hour turn-around on these kinds of queries and CSM8 is trying for 24 hours.  That means checking the forums daily.  I almost have enough time to do it.  ;-)

One of the things that the CSM was shown in Iceland has now gone public.  It's the security presentation that CCP Stillman presented during the Security session.  It's a really interesting pitch in its own right and if you have some time and are interested in the topic, go have a look at it.  The stuff about botting analytics around page 45 was particularly interesting to me and I asked a lot of questions about it at the session.  The frequent puffins in the presentation are representative of the particular group that Stillman gave this presentation to (it's their mascot).

James Arget was silly enough to start an "ask me anything" thread on Reddit.  Go give it a read.

I mentioned this as an aside in a blog post last week, but consider this the official notice: I'll be going to EVE Vegas this year, starting October 18!  You can look for me by the Valkyrie display most of the time, I suspect.  ;-)  Mangala Solaris is also attending or so he tells me.  Another note to self: see who else from CSM8 might be attending this.

EDIT 25/Sep/2013: Forgot to mention, Mangala is also doing a "Watch the Winter Expansion Announcement with Mangala" event tomorrow.  Feel free to attend!

And that's all for this week, I think!  Time to start nudging a few people about summit minutes again...

(1) I maintain that even though he says I asked for this, I never did.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Kill of the Week: Viking funeral

A ton of silly stuff died last week, so let's get started.

For kill of the week, there are lots of fun options, but I'm going to go with this:

I could hardly pick anything else, what with players leaving EVE being on my mind lately.  Rainbow Dash Friends CEO FuzzyButt elected to quit EVE this week and did it in high style by selling off lots of ships and characters, buying a ton of expensive tank mods, and fitting them to a Naglfar.  Intended purpose?  Die gloriously to anyone who felt like coming out to take a swing at him.  This mostly turned out to be a mix of Snuff Box and Brave Newbies.  As with any prominent EVE player committing suicide in this manner, of course some will spend all their DPS on the target and others will spend all their DPS on things shooting the target.  So a goodly amount of stuff died with Fuzzy's Nag.  He also sacrificed an expensive Thanatos.  For those not familiar with his work, here's a link to get you started.

Starting the pile of honorable mentions, Snuff Box also nailed a somewhat amusing PL carrier kill in low-sec...  Look at it closely.

I've been mentioning for a while now that every big incursion fleet has one or two ships in it that are stupidly expensive.  It's quite surprising to me that they aren't targets more often because incursion fleets often sit at incursion gates waiting for the next site to start with people AFK using the restroom, getting beverages or food, and the like.  You'd think it would be child's play to warp in, scan a dozen or two ships, note down names and fittings, then come back later and have a little suicidal fun.  Hell, you could probably sneak into an armor fleet itself and use a mids for a Ship Scanner and scan ships as you make ISK.  Is the typical incursion-runner going to notice one ship in fleet targeting him for a few seconds?  Maybe, but probably not.

With this in mind, I present you this Paladin loss.  Oh, and also this one, worth way more...  The latter pilot is a incursion Vanguard FC who runs eight to ten hours a day during the EUTZ.  TMDC has a short story on the loss.

This Tengu just made me laugh.  Thanks to mynnna from CSM8 for pointing me at that one.

Finally, if the Nag or the Paladin wasn't KOTW this week, this Sabre would have been.  You just can't trust haulers any more...  The pilot died in his own bubble.  Anyone remember when haulers were helpless targets?

Number of dead super-caps last week: 4

Four supers dead last week, two of them titans!  First up was this Nyx that I briefly mentioned last week, killed in Domain by Black Legion.  This one's yet another super that died of dumb if the story about its death is to believed.  Short version: this guy cyno'ed in at a planet, warped to the nearest moon at 50km and cloaked.  A ship saw him warp to the moon, warped there at zero, then flew back toward the nearby planet to find the guy's cloak spot and bumped him to keep him from warping off.  Meanwhile, BL apparently found the guy's exit cyno and killed it, preventing it jumping long enough for a heavy interdictor to land.  Dead Nyx.  There's a couple of videos of it if you like.

Next up was the first titan of the week, this Erebus killed by Shadow Cartel in Essence.  This one also died of dumb.  EVE News 24 has the story.  Short version: this guy tried moving his titan into an occupied system right at downtime, but he timed the cyno incorrectly and a ship was able to warp to it.  In a panic, he decloaked and warped to the sun with the DT catching him in mid-warp.  All might yet have been well had he just forgotten that he had a titan for a week or two, but instead he logged back in a few minutes after downtime.  But a few minutes was plenty of time to get scanner ships into the system and they caught this guy landing after his emergency warp.

This Nyx died the same day, amusingly one of the Shadow Cartel supers that killed the Erebus.  This was actually a somewhat planned engagement.  Dead Terrorists baited this Nyx with three Archons on a POCO.  A cloaked heavy interdictor was nearby in case Shadow Cartel escalated to supers, and this one was unlucky enough to get caught.  EVE News 24 has the longer story on this one, too, as does TMDC, if you want to read one of them.

Finally, this Leviathan died on Sunday, also to bait.  In this case, a Revelation shooting a POS was the bait ship.  The Lev came in for a "drive-by doomsday", but Darkspawn alliance was ready for the tactic and the Rev was tanked nearly entirely with kinetic hardeners.  The titan being stuck after its drive-by was the signal for the trap to be sprung.  Ouch!  TMDC has the story on this one.

Not a "busy" week, as such, but certainly busier than the last few!

Monday, September 23, 2013

God's justice be done

I apologize in advance: this is a long one.  File it under geek philosophy, big time.

Between writing summit minutes, other CSM stuff, work, and my RL move, I haven't had a whole lot of time until today to keep up with last week's news, so it's time to catch up.  One of the "other CSM stuff" I have been keeping an eye on are the TOS changes, so I thought it would be interesting to look at the situation that most believe caused the TOS changes in the first place.  Here's the story out on TMDC.  Go read it, then I want to talk about it.

OK, the scammer in question was permanently banned from the game.  The key question: did CCP do the right thing?

Let's start with the basic basics for those who might not be familiar with them.  When you are selling something expensive in real life it is typical to work through an escrow service.  In its most simplistic sense, if I sell a house I give the escrow service the deed to my house and the buyer gives the escrow service the agreed-upon price for the house.  If the buyer agrees that the house is as advertised when the escrow began, the escrow service makes the trade: they get the deed, I get the money.  In EVE, these services are also available -- provided by players -- but are simply called "3rd party" services.

Three of the most-used 3rd party services are run by characters named Chribba, Darknesss, and Grendell.  In the article, these are referred to as the "C" name, the "D" name, and the "G" name.  So, in part zero, our hero manages to scam 24 billion using traditional methods (i.e., actual work).  In part one, though, he inserts a character name into EVE Wiki pages for the three recognized 3rd parties above, listing his own character as their alts.

In terms of ethics, in my opinion, this has already passed the line of "acceptable" EVE behavior to a level of being ethically wrong.  To put this in perspective, I could change one of my EVE guides to give new players false or misleading information to benefit myself.  I don't because that is ethically wrong.  This is the same thing.  There's a difference between listing yourself on a Wiki page listing EVE services, and modifying someone else's page to benefit yourself.  This action clearly crossed that line.

But is it a ban-worthy offense?  CCP seems to think so already at this point, but we'll get back to that presently.

At this level of behavior alone, our hero had scammed 150 billion ISK from six victims.  At that point, Chribba discovered the fakery on his wiki page, edited it, and locked it.  But apparently, Chribba did nothing else.  Had our hero stopped here, he would have been some 175 billion ISK the richer and he probably could have walked away.

This is probably a good time to point out that 175 billion ISK is more money than most EVE players will have in one place their entire career.  It's enough ISK to play EVE for 25 character-YEARS.

But it turns out EVE players are greedy.  Our hero proceeded to part two: create a false version of the "Shops and Services" page linked above, this time listing Chribba, Darkness, Grendell, and a fourth recognized 3rd party, Wirox Crotikus.  Only this time, he added his alt as a fifth option.  To this page, he added a little "locked" graphic and this text at the bottom, highlighted in white on blue:
Please note: Contact ISD Rex Apollyon if you have valid proof of handling super capitals in the past, Anyone without proof will not added to this list
This combination of factors created a false impression that all five services were endorsed by ISD, which is a volunteer player group endorsed by CCP.

That word "endorsed" is about to become important.  We'll get to that, too.

Now at this point, in my opinion, we're well past "wrong" in terms of ethical behavior in EVE Online.  Our hero has this to say on this point:
At this point I am sure I have a fair share of malcontents waiting to denounce my methods, but my intention was never to get banned. Push the limit of what is allowed by trying something no one had done before, yes, but not to lose my accounts in the process.
Speaking as one of the malcontents, I do indeed denounce his methods and it's for the reason above: it is ethically wrong to use a site intended for sharing of valid in-game information to display false information intended to mislead players.  That alone is ethically wrong.  Doing this simply to enrich yourself is even more wrong.  But again, the question here is whether it's ban-worthy, because people do things that are ethically wrong in EVE Online every single day and don't get banned for them.

The question becomes one of ethical behavior versus acceptable behavior.

In part two of the saga, our hero makes another 200 billion ISK, enough ISK to play EVE for an additional 28 character-years.  But this time, someone complains on the forums about his specific methods.  The jig is up and our hero is permanently banned from the game.

Before we examine part three of the saga, let's skip right past the legal shenanigans our hero trots out in his own defense.  EVE is not a court of law in any country in the world and EVE players have few or no legal rights to anything in the game.  As has been established many times both on this blog and elsewhere, nothing in the virtual world of EVE Online belongs to you.  You are just borrowing your ISK, ships, characters, corporations, and alliances.  Likewise, any claims of the application of ex post facto law are also groundless: EVE is not a court of law so these concepts do not apply.

The simple fact here is that EVE players are often smarter than EVE developers when it comes to unethical behavior in the game and CCP can declare such behavior ban-worthy at any point after the actions occur.  Your recourse if you disagree is to vote with your wallet and play another game.  If a large enough base of players all disagree at once, perhaps CCP will reconsider their positions and that's where we are with the TOS changes.  But even if those TOS changes are rolled back, that is not going to mean that our hero gets his accounts back.  That ain't gonna happen.

So let's consider: I think our hero's behavior was ethically wrong.  But again, EVE players do things that are ethically wrong every single day.  Was this ethically wrong in an acceptable way?  CCP can spin reasons out of the TOS for the ban and sure, I might agree with those reasons but I am results-driven.  Let's look at the results here.

And in my opinion, what was done here was unacceptable player behavior, for a relatively simple to understand reason: our hero took hold of something that was created by CCP and subverted it to his own ends.  If one player scams another player, that is destroying trust that exists in the virtual world and eroding a construct created by a player, not by CCP.  But when you cross the line and destroy trust and confidence in a structure that CCP has built, you've crossed the line and you deserve to get banned.  Had our hero subverted the EVE University wiki, for instance, I wouldn't have anything to say on the matter of it being ban-worthy.  Subverting the E-UNI wiki is ethically wrong, but is not ban-worthy.

But in this case, again in my opinion, our hero did something that is not all that different from modifying the EVE client, real money trading, hacking the EVE Online forums, or passing himself off as a CCP employee.  He took hold of something built by CCP and subverted it to his own ends, for nothing more than fiscal gain.  And he did it twice over, passing himself off as a member of the ISD and modifying the official EVE Online wiki.  That these actions are ethically wrong, I have no doubt.  But I also believe they were unacceptable behavior and CCP did the right thing here: this person should never be allowed to play EVE Online again.


Friday, September 20, 2013

Solipsist assistant to the Quote of the Week

GM Grimmi delves into philosophy with his latest post.  I reproduce it here in full because it amuses me quite a bit:
Hello everyone,

I just want to clear up one little misunderstanding here once and for all.

You cannot impersonate yourself.

Telling others that you’re an alt of a character you own or telling them what other characters you own is not a EULA/TOS violation and will not get you banned.

With the possible exception of using your own alt to mimic your character using spelling trickery in order to trick people into accepting duels with a high skill monster when they thought they were going to duel with puny noob or something like that, and possibly some extreme weird and outlandish edge case we haven’t thought of yet – you cannot impersonate yourself. The example above would not even be self-impersonation as much as it would just be a simple spelling trickery type of deal where it doesn’t really matter who owns the characters in question.

Impersonating yourself does not follow good logic since you are yourself and that is not a violation of any policies we have.

Thanks for reading.

Lead GM Grimmi
Happy now?  And still more coming on this topic.  But at least the solipsists will calm down, I hope.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Assisted suicide

And now an important message from Jester's evil twin, Garth.  The opinions of Garth are not the opinions of Jester (unless they are).

Time to make some fuck-wits cry.

CCP Falcon is upset because EVE players are EVE players:
Customer Support has been made aware of the use of a specific defect as a tactic in combat. The defect has to do with assigning drones to another pilot and then moving into the safety of a forcefield without having the drones deactivate or return to your dronebay.
Tell you what.  How about we fix this exploit by just removing drone assist from the game?  How would that be?

Drone assist is only used for three damned things worth talking about anyway:
  1. Making it stupid-easy to multibox PvE.
  2. Making it stupid-easy to kill-mail whore because your lock time is slow.
  3. Making it stupid-easy to alpha shit right out of space because you can't be arsed to press F1 yourself, you lazy fuck.
Each of those tactics has one thing in common: they're stupid.  You know that it's stupid even as you're doing it.  And those of you using #3 certainly know that it's stupid, even as you cackle insanely as your Slocats make things disappear while you pig out on Cheetohs instead of touching your keyboard while you "play" EVE Online.  There's probably more than one "and when I got back from making my sandwich, the enemy fleet was dead and I had 50 kill-mails" story that should have made it to the list of the True Stories of EVE.

Torfi, we'll need an artist to paint a neck-beard spaceship nerd with an orange-stained Minmatar Hurricane t-shirt and orange-stained fingers leaning back in his chair made from crushed Pepsi Max cans to be hung in the Museum of Modern Art, please.

So let's just fucking get rid of it.  Those of you that like to harvest tears should be entirely with me on this one, right?  More tears will result from this change than from removing ice belts.  We haven't had a really good unbelievable nerf to this game for a while, so I say we're due.  Drone assist needs to die die die.

That is all.

The preceding has been an important message from Jester's evil twin, Garth.  The management apologizes to any and all whom Garth may have offended.  Garth had a good idea once, but he couldn't find a toaster, so he took his bath without it.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Fit of the Week: Odyssey Muninns

The very first FOTW on this blog, more than 2.5 years ago, was a Vagabond.  There's not all that much that I'd change about it today.  I'd replace the PDS with nano, or maybe a Damage Control.  I'd replace the T2 MWD with the meta version.  I'd stare hard at the rigs (maybe a Polycarb?) and I'd upgrade the neut to the meta4 Unstable.  But all in all, it's a solid fit.  It's outshone by the Cynabal, of course, but there's still absolutely nothing wrong with a good kiting Vaga.

It's certainly still my favorite Minmatar HAC.  But I don't really feel it's necessary to do another FOTW for it quite yet.  That leaves the Muninn.  Oh dear Heaven, the Muninn...

I want to like it.  I really do.  But this is a ship that's nearly impossible to love.  At the SCL this past weekend, I asked CCP Fozzie if he thought we'd see more new combat ships in the coming months.  He answered in part that they want to be careful about that because the addition of the attack BCs pushed many existing ships out of preferred roles.  The Muninn is one such ship.  You'd think it would be a near-perfect skirmisher but it's so completely outshone by virtually every other ship in the same niche.

For instance, you can try to arty-fit it with 720s:

[Muninn, Armor 720]
Damage Control II
Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II
Armor Explosive Hardener II
Armor Kinetic Hardener II
1600mm Reinforced Rolled Tungsten Plates I
Gyrostabilizer II

Experimental 10MN Microwarpdrive I
Tracking Computer II, Optimal Range Script
Tracking Computer II, Optimal Range Script

720mm Howitzer Artillery II, Republic Fleet Titanium Sabot M
720mm Howitzer Artillery II, Republic Fleet Titanium Sabot M
720mm Howitzer Artillery II, Republic Fleet Titanium Sabot M
720mm Howitzer Artillery II, Republic Fleet Titanium Sabot M
720mm Howitzer Artillery II, Republic Fleet Titanium Sabot M
[empty high slot]

Medium Ancillary Current Router II
Medium Ancillary Current Router I

Hornet EC-300 x5

If you want a plate, a full set of 720s, and a MWD, you're going to need two fitting mods, one of them a T2 Ancillary, or you sacrifice a low for an RCU2.  The former gets fairly expensive but is not that uncommon for HACs.  But the pay-off is a 58+36 optimal range with 220 DPS and a 1900 alpha.  There's a half-dozen ships that can better that without even getting into an attack BC, starting with an alpha Hurricane.  And an alpha Hurricane is nobody's idea of a good skirmishing ship in the modern EVE.  Brave Newbies do more alpha than this with a couple of Talwars!  Eagles will eat you alive.  I guess it would be forgivable if it tanked better, but you're getting about 50k EHP off this fit.  It's hard to recommend.

If you want to go for kiting range instead, a couple of tweaks of the above fit gets you to here:

[Muninn, Armor 650]
Damage Control II
Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II
Armor Explosive Hardener II
Armor Kinetic Hardener II
1600mm Reinforced Rolled Tungsten Plates I
Gyrostabilizer II

Experimental 10MN Microwarpdrive I
Warp Disruptor II
Tracking Computer II, Optimal Range Script

650mm Artillery Cannon II, Republic Fleet EMP M
650mm Artillery Cannon II, Republic Fleet EMP M
650mm Artillery Cannon II, Republic Fleet EMP M
650mm Artillery Cannon II, Republic Fleet EMP M
650mm Artillery Cannon II, Republic Fleet EMP M
Small Energy Neutralizer II

Medium Trimark Armor Pump I
Medium Ancillary Current Router I

Hornet EC-300 x5

This one increases DPS to 300 and increases tank to 56k, but decreases alpha to 1663.  Tracking is about 0.05, around double that of a rail-fit Eagle that fights at about the same range.  But the Eagle out-DPSes you by about 1.5 to 1, out-ranges you by about the same amount, and out-tanks you at 67k.  So you're going to lose that fight, too.  And again, the Eagle is nobody's idea of the ideal kiting ship.  The 650 Muninn fit is probably the strongest of the two arty possibilities but its significant weaknesses make it really hard to recommend.

That leaves an auto-cannon fit, which is actually kind of intriguing:

[Muninn, Armor 425]
Damage Control II
Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II
Armor Kinetic Hardener II
Armor Explosive Hardener II
Gyrostabilizer II
1600mm Reinforced Rolled Tungsten Plates I

Experimental 10MN Microwarpdrive I
Warp Disruptor II
Fleeting Propulsion Inhibitor I

425mm AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP M
425mm AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP M
425mm AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP M
425mm AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP M
425mm AutoCannon II, Republic Fleet EMP M
Medium Unstable Power Fluctuator I

Medium Trimark Armor Pump I
Medium Ancillary Current Router I

Warrior II x5

Overall, this strikes me as the best use for this ship right now.  You sacrifice one of the two HAC bonuses, that for optimal range.  But you gain some really entertaining options as a close-in anti-tackle support ship for armor gangs of various types.  DPS is 382 out to scram range, or 305 to point range with Barrage, and your tracking is quite good at 0.13 for Barrage which rises to 0.18 with high damage ammo.  The tracking at least is quite a bit better than comparable anti-tackle options, and though your DPS is lower, it is both tunable and you come equipped with a medium neut, which virtually all of the comparable ships lost during their most recent re-balancing.  To that, add your drone damage or a flight of Hornet ECs.

So the fit bears some thinking about.  Carry some Drop booster to enhance your tracking still further, and some Mindflood wouldn't go amiss (and you can safely ignore even the most severe penalties inflicted by the latter).  Tank remains 56k with good all-around resists and the ship responds well to armor reps and like all Minmatar ships is nearly impervious to lasers.  If you come under other types of fire, overheat the hardeners.  You can even think about a T2 Trimark.  At present, they aren't too expensive.

If you're willing to sacrifice a kilometer of range and some speed, you can downshift to 220mm Vulcan AutoCannons, take off the ACR, replace it with a second Trimark, and even upgrade the plate to T2.  Your excellent tracking improves still further.  Speed dips to from 1492m/s to 1382m/s before heating but tank increases to 68k EHP.  There are certainly thinner ships in EVE Online.

Not very many Muninns sell per day, and those that do probably tend to go toward specialized doctrines.  Of the two Minmatar HACs, I don't think the Muninn is ever going to be my favorite.  Overall, I think it's my least favorite HAC, but something had to be.  However, there are some interesting gaps that it fills so keep it in mind if one of these three possibilities seems workable to you.

Trust in the rust...

EDIT (19/Sep/2013): I've covered this once or twice before with other FOTWs, but let's cover it again: if your particular alliance or corp has a doctrine built around a specific ship, you should fit to that doctrine.  I do indeed recognize that there are workable shield Muninn fittings, for instance, and for the alliances and corps using specific doctrines based on those fits, more power to you!  And from time to time, I do cover specific doctrines in posts outside the FOTW.   But the FOTWs tend to be more generalized; I don't cover doctrine fits on the FOTW generally because to make a doctrine work, your entire corp or alliance would have to buy into the doctrine.  Someone should start a "Doctrine of the Week" on another EVE blog out there...

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, September 17, 2013

CSM8 Status report: Week nineteen

Minutes!  Writing minutes is about as much fun as PvE grinding, maybe about as much fun as structure grinding.

Well, nah.  It's not that bad.  But it is a very structured sort of writing that eats a lot of time and is technically demanding.  It's a bit like writing a book report, only you have to accurately report everything that every character says.  Fortunately, we've got the video recordings of most of the sessions.  Unfortunately, it's most and not all because of all the technical issues that we had at the summit.  I myself had to write the minutes for one session this past week where no video existed at all!  Fortunately, I kept really good notes in Iceland during the proceedings so I was able to reproduce what happened.

Anyway, the process of writing the minutes this time started with long back-and-forth chats with CCP Dolan about what we could and could not write about.  Out of what I call 24 sessions, four of them were flatly NDA'ed right at the outset so those get pushed back to the last set of minutes that gets published.  That's a pity because I'm really hip to write the minutes for one of those sessions, a project I'm really kind of excited about.

After that, we set up a list of the sessions that needed documenting and people started signing up for the sessions that interested them.  And then, unfortunately for several people who volunteered the process stopped cold right there.  I'm not naming names yet, but as of the time that I'm publishing this, only four of the fourteen CSM8 members have written one or more sessions, and only two -- Trebor Daehdoow and myself -- have written more than one.  Yes, I'm cracking the whip.  But no, I'm not ready to name names quite yet.  Fortunately, enough has been written at this point that we can send the first batch to Dolan for review, and hopefully from there to in front of your eyeballs soon.

Official meetings have started back up as well, with two this past week.  The first was a meeting about "project 1" that we were briefed on at the first day of the summit.  The CSM had significant concerns about one small part of this project and CCP Fozzie was on vacation during the summit itself.  So he graciously agreed to meet with us outside of the normal cycle to listen to our concerns and hash them out.  I think it's fair to say he did a great job of addressing those concerns and we're feeling a lot more comfortable with the plans for this project.  Overall, I think EVE players are gonna be really pleased with it and I can't wait to start writing about it.  "Project 1" has a chance of being a quite literal game-changer in a lot of ways.

That was Monday.  Thursday was the day for our regularly scheduled stake-holder meeting with Team Five-0.  Owing to another round of the Icelandic death flu going around, this one was sparsely attended.  Still, we covered a lot of ground, including some follow-up information about "project 1" from the Monday meeting and a couple of more minor items that Team Five-0 is also working on for winter.  Everything's going smoothly and the CSM members present were able to provide feedback on the various items being worked on.

Discussion then turned to EVE Vegas, which Fozzie is going to be attending with CCP Rise as well as other CCP'ers.  I can't remember if he let it slip here or at the SCL that same Saturday, but I think he managed to share a bit of information that will be the tipping point to get me to Vegas as well...

Other than the minutes and the meetings, normal CSM activities also continue.  We're up to five major Skype channels with CCP now, an informal chat channel, a PvE-focused channel, and open dialogs with three of the four feature teams (with the fourth one coming soon, we're told).  So kudos to Dolan there!  He's really hustling to get CCPers communicating with CSM members and vice versa.  Activity on the forums is also spinning up.  So, plenty for CSM members to do, no doubt about it!

Externally, Trebor did an interview with the Down the Pipe podcast and Ali Aras has resumed regular Space Hangouts.

EDIT (18/Sep/2013): Updated with the link of Trebor's interview.

The focus in the rest of the week is going to be getting more minutes sessions written and getting them cleared, then learning how these things get published.  Stay tuned!

Hand in the cookie jar

Here's something that's fun strictly from a meta perspective.

themittani.com has been banned from posting links to their articles on Reddit.  The reason?  They were rather publicly instructing their people to up-vote TMDC articles posted there in every sub-section for games they cover.  That is a blatant violation of Reddit's rules.  Even more so, I'm told by people who have knowledge of this that TMDC was doing it in the most obviously detectable way possible... a way so obvious that the evidence itself points to four TMDC accounts that got automatically banned for gaming the vote by the Reddit system that watches for this sort of thing.

The thing that makes this most amusing from a meta level is that I'm sure there's more than one Goon out there asking him- or herself "what's the problem?"  After all, Goons in EVE have been gaming votes for years now.  From giving The Mittani his 10000+ vote victory in CSM7 to taking control of the top two "true stories of EVE", Goons have never been shy about throwing their weight around in the meta-game any more than they are within the game itself.

Only this time they've been caught with their hand in the cookie jar, by someone that doesn't appreciate the practice.

The fact that it happened on Reddit, virtual home of a community-born EVE corp that opposes Goonswarm, just adds to the meta amusement.  One blog post this week even joked "Booda sends his regards."

Anyway, damage control is in full swing at TMDC, with multiple sources telling me only 2% of new visitors come to the site from Reddit.  No word on how many of those visitors are returning, nor any word about how much ad revenue may be lost through the loss of references.  Damage control might insist on calling this a minor hit.  But is a gaming "media empire" named after an EVE player going to be a go-to site for new MMOs without the ability to direct Redditors to the new sections?  I guess we'll see.

In the meantime, I have to admit I appreciate the karmic justice on display...

Quote of the week: Rough but insightful

Just a quickie.

QOTW honors goes to one I found in this TMDC article about TEST Alliance's continued troubles.  It isn't even the most recent article that TMDC has written on that subject for some reason.~  This particular article is about a TEST jump freighter logistics wing member stealing the assets given to him for transport.  Even by the standards of scams and theft in EVE, that particular one is pretty low-class and never fails to annoy me when I hear about it.  It's more or less the same as taking money out of a buddy's wallet while he sleeps off a bender on your couch.

But the quote included in the article is amusing enough, and comes from a new TEST member (and one victim of the theft), Victor Necrova.  I've edited it slightly for clarity.
I joined Dreddit/EVE the day before the Fountain fight. Retreated twice. Lost all sov. Half my assets scammed. It's been rough, but... insightful.
Heh.  "Rough but insightful."  Yup, sounds like EVE to me.

The Anti-Jester

There's a funny scene in the first Lethal Weapon movie that seems appropriate here.  Riggs and Murtaugh have just attempted to interview a person of interest at her home, only to arrive and have the house nearly literally explode in their faces.  During the aftermath and attempting to find witnesses to learn what happened, they find that the only credible witnesses are a small group of young children.  While trying to interview them, the attention of the kids is drawn to Murtaugh's service revolver.  "Do you shoot people?" he's asked, and he carefully tries to explain that he only shoots bad guys in the leg... just to stop them.  In the midst of this, another kid states with utter confidence "Mama says policemen shoot black people!"

"Is that true?" one of the other kids asks, and suddenly all of them are asking it in a chaotic chorus: "Is that tr--" "Yeah, is tha--" "Is that tru--"  Like I said, it's a funny scene.  But I can't help feeling a bit like Roger Murtaugh right now.

A number of you have asked for my opinion and feeling about Poetic Stanziel's recent announcement that he's going to stop blogging and/or stop playing EVE Online.  And given the number of accusations leveled at CCP in this announcement post, I suppose it's not too surprising that many of you want my take on them.  Poe says CCP shoots EVE players!  And just maybe also CCP Sreegs!  Is that true?  ;-)

So, let me apologize right away: this is a long post.  But Poe brings up a lot of stuff.

Let's start with the easy bit: how do I feel about Poe leaving EVE?  I've said this before a number of times, but every person reading this right now is at some point going to lose faith with EVE or the EVE developers.  If this hasn't happened to you yet, then you just haven't been playing this game long enough.  Sometimes people just need a break, and that's what this feels like: I think Poe will be back.  That said, I am sad to see him go.  Even though I've described him as the "anti-Jester" and even though I disagree with a high percentage of what he writes, he both occasionally writes some really winning stuff and he's a valuable voice in the community.  I follow what he writes and I know a lot of you do as well.

In the big picture, we've lost at least four player voices this year I wish we hadn't: Poe, Jadefalcon, Azual Skoll, and Arydanika.(1)  But new player voices and content creators pop up fairly constantly.  Some catch on, some fade away.  Poe's departure creates an opportunity for someone else to step up.

Next easiest is Poe's accusation that CCP Sreegs left CCP because CCP wouldn't let him fight the war on bots his way.  I can tell you from experience that I'm occasionally sent stuff by readers that is unsubstantiated rumor presented as fact.  I've learned not to trust anything that's single-sourced and to go out and look for backing evidence.  Too many of you charming people love to troll bloggers into publishing something that isn't true for me not to be pretty careful.  Even so, I've had to issue a few retractions over the years.  Am I saying that's what happened here?  Let's just say that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

About Poe's reaction to the ToS changes, I will say again that I think the player reaction here is -- with a few exceptions here and there -- an over-reaction.  Yes, I'm concerned!  Yes, I'm still watching it!  But I honestly think this is a case of CCP unintentionally shooting their own foot with an elephant gun.  I do think the GMs involved do think they were simply clarifying a position that they've taken for years and weren't actually intending to actually change much of anything.  The unexpected player reaction was then fueled by GMs making poorly-worded public statements without properly vetting those public statements in advance.  Players took those public statements as gospel and here we are.

I continue to believe that we're going to see a much better explanation from CCP about what they meant by these changes and their intent is not to ban you for impersonating you.  When that explanation comes, it will come from a higher level than the GMs themselves.  But yes, I think Poe is over-reacting.

Regarding the hacking mini-game, I'm going to tread very carefully around the :nda: mine-field here.  Speaking as a player and not a CSM member, I honestly feel like the mini-game is an attempt by CCP to do two things simultaneously:
  1. make one small part of the PvE experience more interesting; and,
  2. increase the risk to players participating in the PvE experience.
So many of the PvE experiences in this game involve watching little spinners spin or watching timers count down: ore mining, ice mining, salvaging, complexes.  Hacking was once just another of these little spinners.  I suspect CCP came at this part of the game with a question: can we make this more interesting?  Can we set it up such that player skill matters?  That's where the hacking mini-game came from, I believe.  We've been asking for the same kind of thing for mining for a couple of centuries now and this struck me at the time as an interesting low-risk experiment.  Has it been successful?  That's too hard to say just yet.  I've brought up my own criticisms of it on this very blog.  But it had the added bonus that people hacking previously had nothing to do except look at their directional scanners.  They don't do that any more, which has gotten me some entertaining kills.  ;-)

But comparing the hacking mini-game to Valkryie is ridiculous.  EVR as displayed at Fanfest was a technology demo, not a game.  Games need to be secure enough and stable enough and intuitive enough to put them in front of hundreds of thousands of people without a lot of hand-holding.  Don't get me wrong: EVR is fantastic and Valkyrie looks even better... but it's nowhere near that level yet.

Poe is disappointed with the last few expansions and says...
I blame it on CCP's short development cycles and their unwillingness to stretch feature development across cycles. Thus we continually get features that fit into four to five month development windows, which means we continually get features that are light on actual features.
And while that was once a valid criticism, I've said right here on this blog -- with good evidence -- that CCP recognizes this issue and is moving forward with a lot of long-term planning and thinking and development.  And Poe should know this.  Heaven knows he's been told enough times by enough people.  As we follow CCP Seagull's three-year road-map, you're going to see more and more of this become self-evident.  Hell, on this very blog I let slip that one of Team Five-0's major projects "for winter" is actually set-up work for a follow-on expansion.

He brings up disappointing EVE PvE in general, too.  Am I disappointed with EVE's PvE?  Obviously, I am.  I bring it up often enough as an area where EVE needs the most improvement.  I sat in a chair in Iceland and flat-out told the CCP developers responsible for PvE that if I want to do PvE, I go play another game!  Doubt many of you have the stones to do that.  ;-)  Trust me: the devs in question are not blind to EVE's faults in this area.  Know that they need to make it better?  One of those long-term multi-expansion projects that Poe claims doesn't exist, but which CCP Unifex made clear in January before he left the EP job were going to be the cornerstone of EVE development going forward.

Anyone remember this graphic?  I invite you to examine what's on it, other than POSes and exploration and ship balancing.

So.  To sum up, I am sad that Poe is stepping back from EVE Online.  But this particular post is unfortunately a mix of misinformation and over-reaction, with a dash of flat-out wrong mixed in for flavor.  It's precisely the sort of post I mean when I say I disagree with a goodly percentage of what Poe writes.  Any other questions on this subject?

(1) A couple of them may or may not continue playing EVE, but they've stopped creating content for and stopped talking about EVE.