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...

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Kill of the Week: Honor and death

Hm, two weeks of kills to choose from. But the winner has got to be this high-sec carrier killed in Amarr... TMC has the story on this one but it's actually pretty straight-forward. For unknown (and dumb) reasons, the player in the carrier either accidentally or on purpose accepted a duel from another player in system flying an Ashimmu. Perhaps figuring he could kill the Ash in short order then redock, he apparently didn't figure on the guy's corp-mates showing up to:
  • keep him repped;
  • feed him cap; and,
  • bump the carrier more than 300km off station and keep it from warping out.
Whoopsie! The pilot involved in the duel switched ships twice ending up in an Armageddon to neut out the carrier's reps (thanks to the neutral cap transfers). The carrier pilot ended up rage-logging and missed his own explosion, apparently not even trying to evacuate the enormous treasures in the ship's various bays. The fight ended up going more than three hours. Nice kill!

PL had this "kill" the same day, but I'm pretty sure I don't believe it. It's not verified on either zkillboard or eve-kill, so it might be (probably is) a troll.

While I'm on the subject of PL though, here's a couple of quick fun kill-mails that involved them the last two weeks. Here's a run-of-the-mill shield Oracle killed by the new drone ship of choice... take one guess what it is before you click the KM. And here's an interesting experimental PL Proteus fit I was pointed at. It's yet another drone ship but taken to extremes. For a while, PL was using allies as cannon-fodder and tacklers for super-long range rail Nagas and like ships. It seems they're moving to similar doctrines using Sentries.

Let's continue the honorable mentions with three quick dumb people, this person, this person, and this person. To the first person: I hope that was a joke or a troll or something. To the second person: oi. That's not how you try to keep a PvE Raven safe. I thought w-space people were smarter than that... To the third person: where oh where oh where did you think that Rattlesnake was gonna be safe?

Speaking of dumb people, I keep saying that PvE ships need some buffer. Proof number 836 is this mission Golem, brought down by four -- count 'em, four -- Tornados. Profit to the aggressors? Four billion ISK each assuming they got the drop. Enough for 30-odd replacement gank Tornados each.

Finally, this one just struck my funny bone. It's obviously an attempt by Brave Collective to claim the insurance value of a Moros hull that they couldn't get out of a C3 wormhole. But it's hard not to wonder if this might have gone faster with a simple self-destruct...

Fight of the two week period goes to this brawl in w-space between Disavowed (and others) and Kill It With Fire (and others). When I personally think of "big, epic fight" this is the kind of fight I like: four or five hundred people in total, relatively equal sides, expensive losses on both sides, something at stake in the conflict. So many fights in EVE are just not this that it's really refreshing to see one that is. TMC has the full story on it and a pretty good video.

Number of dead super-caps week before last: 3

Pretty slow couple of weeks!

The fun starts with this hysterical little Wyvern kill, caught and "killed" in low-sec by a probing ship and two hictors. EN24 has the full story on this one, and it's amusing and pretty basic. A known Wyvern pilot had sold his character so someone who knew and tracked the character was curious about what had happened to the Wyvern. Answer? It had been transferred to a "super mule", an alt used to hold supers so that one's main can continue training without logging the super in. Trouble is that a lot of mules don't have the basic skills needed to fly the super in question, including the ability to fire smart bombs or use the projected ECM module super-carriers can be fitted with. So it was here: the mule couldn't do anything with the ship, the player figured death was inevitable, so he self-destructed the ship. So a pair of HICs and a Buzzard share the KM. Nice, hee!

Two days later, this Nyx went down, also in low-sec. This time, it was a travel-fit super. I haven't been able to find the story on this one. If you know what happened here, please share it in comments! The ship that got the final blow is pretty amusing...

Next day, another Nyx, also in low-sec, apparently on a station. This one smells a LOT like someone warped this Nyx to a station intending to dock it up while the character involved trained the skills needed for his new toy. If so, I wonder how that worked out for him? I use Chardelaine myself as a staging system from time to time and it would be no surprise at all to me to learn that PL had all of these caps staged either right there in Chard or a gate-jump or two away.

Number of dead super-caps last week: 1

And only one Christmas week, this Nyx killed the day after Christmas, this time in Scalding Pass by a mixed CFC dread fleet. Remember how I said that last year some over-confident people used their supers during quiet periods to do some structure shooting? Yeah, that. In this case, an AUTZ FraternityDOT FC called for supers to shoot some TCUs onlining in U-IVGH. The FC even did the right thing by having a decent-size support fleet to kill dictors and HICs. But Goons came in anyway, killed or drove off the support fleet, and primaried one of the supers. The pilot panicked, got neuted out and died before reps could save him. On the modern super battlefield, super pilots carry passive hardeners in cargo and swap out their actives for passives in this situation using one of the nearby friendly supers as a refitting point. This guy didn't have the mods to do the switch, so... Anyway, EN24 has a few more details on this one.

And that was it, just four supers dead in two weeks. Hopefully things will be more active in 2014!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Drone assist needs to die (redux)

Actually, now that I think about it, I don't see much reason to be coy since the topic isn't NDA'ed and is being discussed broadly by EVE players. The CSM has started a thread on the CSM-CCP private forums about sentry drone assist, bringing up the issues we see with this mechanic and a few of our suggested solutions. As you can imagine, lots of CSM members have strong opinions on this subject gathered from EVE players right across the spectrum of New Eden.

"The opinions of Garth are not the opinions of Jester (unless they are)" goes the disclaimer on Garth posts, notably this one. But here's my opinion on this topic, taken straight from my post to the forums (slightly edited):
I've been thinking about this subject a lot and my overall position remains unchanged: drone assist needs to die.

In particular, trying to limit it by squads or ship types or whatever isn't going to do a thing. It just means that instead of one person per fleet needing to play EVE, one person per squad needs to. The rest -- the bulk -- can continue to go AFK. Players will still front load sentry damage by assisting it to a small number of fast-locking ships and this so-called "finger of God" tactic won't go anywhere. It will just mean that a few more people will need to follow primaries but nine out of ten will not.

Once drone assist is removed, a lot of the other issues go away. I have no particular problem with sentry drone damage -- I think it's more or less balanced with other equivalent damage. I have no particular problem with carrier profusion of drones; it only becomes an issue when carrier storage capability is mated to fast-locking platforms.

I'm also not overly concerned with the loss of drone assist in PvE. The mechanic was chosen because it was the most efficient way of dealing with certain problems -- notably, the jamming ships in incursion sites. Without drone assist, other solutions will very quickly manifest to deal with the same problems. They'll be 2% less efficient, I suppose, but the incursion-runners will have to muddle through.

That leaves the use of drone assist in small gang PvP and the major place where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth is associated with assisting of light drones to deal with fast ships attempting to break through gate camps or crash back to gate. This bothers me even less than the PvE issue: again, if gate-campers are serious, they'll apply new tactics to deal with this issue.

Short version: drone assist needs to die and nobody has yet shown me a downside of it dying that overcomes the enormous upside of killing it.
I suppose some of you out there will accuse me of caving to the Goon position of claiming an in-game mechanic is broken because they can't figure out a way to break it. That's your right. But in this case, I stand by my position: people should not be playing EVE by landing on grid, launching drones, right click-left click-go AFK. I realize there's very slightly more to these tactics than that, but that's the gist. At least when I was in sov-war and I was getting blapped off the field by 250 Maelstroms, they all had to lock me first.

And God knows I do enjoy watching a particularly good incursion drone bunny work, but they'll figure out another method to take out jamming rats quickly in HQ sites and such. RLML Tengus might be an entertaining thing to try, for instance.

But hey, I'm more than happy to listen to more player feedback on this issue. Is there some upside to the drone assist mechanic that outweighs my urgent need to see a stake put through its heart?


CSM8 Status Report: Week thirty-three-four

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, this one is standing in for week thirty-four as well. As I also mentioned, it's going to be very very short.

My prediction about the minutes not coming out this year is looking pretty good despite a last rush effort by CCP to get them out in 2013. They might be out tomorrow... they might not. At this point, I just don't know. That I know of, there's literally nothing stopping them from being published. I'll be very very happy when they are, but besides the obvious reason I'll get into the other reasons why I'm happy once they're in front of your eyeballs.

Other than that, almost nothing happened in the last two weeks. Just before I headed off on vacation, I sat down with the guys from the Cap Stable pod-cast! Feel free to give it a listen. Lanctharus and the rest of the guys were very gracious. Questions on this one were very newbie-friendly stuff (they run a more newbie-friendly pod-cast). So if you're looking for a single interview to point someone at who knows absolutely nothing about the CSM (or if that description matches you), this is the pod-cast to listen to. Matter of fact, I'll probably point at it again when the CSM9 elections start and for the same reason. Thanks to Cap Stable!

The next day, after I was no longer able to use a microphone, Xander Phoena interviewed Mike Azariah and was quite a bit tougher on him...  ;-) No points for guessing what Xander wanted to talk about. Thanks for taking the bullet, Mike!

Pretty much everyone at CCP has been on holiday the last couple of weeks so describing the Skype channel and the private section of the forums as dead is understating by a good deal. Still, the CSM has started a private thread about a new issue that's sure to come up at the winter summit. We also started putting together a list of the topics we want to talk about there. The announcement on that should be very soon.

Which brings me to the task I will be looking to complete this week: scheduling the next CSM Town Hall, which I'd like to take place the weekend before the summit. Expect an announcement very soon!

That's all for now!

Sunday, December 29, 2013


In the three years I've been writing this blog, I can only remember a small handful of posts I've written about stuff that I'm training on Ripard or how he's doing as a character. This just ain't that kind of blog. Still, I passed an interesting milestone while out on the holiday break and it seems fitting to share it:

Ripard is now more or less nerf-proof.

He now has:
  • Level 5 training on every T1 sub-cap hull class for all four races: frigates, destroyers, cruisers, battle cruisers, and battleships.
  • Level 5 training on every primary combat T2 sub-cap hull class: assault frigates, command ships, covert ops, EAFs, HACs, interceptors, marauders, and recons.
  • Level 5 training on every primary T1 sub-cap weapon system in the game: all sizes and types of gunnery, missiles (except for auto-targeting), and drones.
  • Level 4 specialization training on every T2 sub-cap weapon system in the game in all sizes of guns and missiles.
  • Level 5 training in every significant support skill, including all 20 subsystem skills, except for rigging where he has Level 4 in every rigging skill.
  • Level 5 training in virtually every leadership skill.
In terms of being a sub-cap combat character, the only things he's missing are:
  • Level 5 skill in interdictors, heavy interdictors, logistics, and black ops; and,
  • he's only got Level 4 in a couple of missile support skills and one gunnery support skill.
All in all, a pretty significant milestone! Ripard's currently sitting at 114 million SP. It's been quite a long road! Here's what his SP graph looks like at the moment for those of you that enjoy them...

Point of interest a few of you might find amusing: Ripard has 26k SP in resource processing (24k of them in Salvaging), 250 SP in production (not 250k, 250), and two skills trained in Science (the namesake skill and Graviton Physics). Ripard isn't exactly an industrial character...

By early summer, I'll have closed the gaps in the few support skills and support ships he's missing at which point I'll have a pretty significant choice to make: branch him into capital ships (I already have three heavy-skilled capital pilot alts at this point), expand his support skills to include things like blockade runners (ditto), or start selectively training some really specialized stuff to level 5 (such as Medium Railgun Specialization and Heavy Assault Missile Specialization, for instance). So far, I'm leaning toward that third option but I have until June or so to decide.

Anyway, just a one-off that I thought I'd share. Bring on the next Alliance Tournament; Ripard can fly anything! ;-)

Saturday, December 28, 2013

QOTW: EVE is notorious

Final quote of the week honors for 2013 go to Hilmar P├ętursson, who had this to say about EVE and Valkyrie...
EVE is notorious for being the game you love to read about, but now you can play Valkyrie -- just a little sample and maybe it leads you into the rabbit hole... [laughs]
...aheh. It was published in a short interview with him Wired UK published on Christmas Eve. Seems that someone was saying just that thing just the other day. I love that unspoken implication that EVE is more fun to read about than to play. I hear that from potential EVE players all the time...

Thanks to an alert reader for pointing me at this interview! Oh, and I'm back. Hope your holidays were as cheerful and drama-free as mine were!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Where's Jester?

As is usual for me this week every year, I will be taking a bit of a break from the blog to celebrate the holidays with my family.

I hope that you have the opportunity to do the same, and wish you a safe, happy, and stress-/drama-free holiday season! Come back rested and relaxed 'cause I have a feeling 2014 is going to be a critical year in New Eden...

I do want to take a quick moment to throw out a few more pledge drive thank yous. Thank you to Nimrodion (who joked he sent "coal for Jester and ISKies for Garth :P"; the coal turned out to be a lump of Carbon, hee!), Blackbird Orlenard and IronSpam (both of whom sent me fun toys), Raphael Celestine, Lucas Padecain, Jaenen, Cernetat Kirin, and Eralimm Asques (who was very genrous, thank you!).

I might have a few things to say this week depending on how things shake out, I might not. But the regular posts will definitely be on hold this week. I'll catch up with fun kills and fun super-cap kills next week.

One last thing: the members of CSM8 got a very interesting surprise in our Inboxes today, which ended up causing a pretty busy morning for me! A little rant from myself to the contrary, chances are actually pretty good that you'll be hearing about this e-mail yourselves in the next day or two...

Expect me back in harness in a week or so. Happy holidays! o7

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Best of 2013: 1

As I do every year, I want to wrap up the pledge drive week by saying thank you. Whether you contributed or not, all of you out there reading, commenting, agreeing with me and arguing with me, sending me EVE mails to encourage me or teach more more about this game... all of you are why I do this. Thanks for reading along with me in 2013!

But a particular thank you to everyone who chose to help me out this year! I had to all but shut down my industry play in 2013 to give that time over to CSM duties so pretty much 100% of my income this year has come from syndication ISK and donations. That and my savings are all that's keeping me going right now so it was truly wonderful to see that a lot of you appreciate what I do enough to send me some of your hard-earned ISK. Your support means a lot to me, particularly those of you who are newer players. Personal thanks today go out to Steven Kurson, Ennor Odunen, Kyria Shirako, Aurora Madri, Tas Exile of Pilgrim in Exile, Dersen Lowery, mattceza, Guumba, Noslen Nosilla and finally... to everyone who wished for their donations to remain anonymous. Thank you so much to all of you!

There will be one more "thank you" post before the end of the year.  I sent out some EVE mails to contributors asking if they wanted their contributions to be public or not, and some of those EVE mails haven't yet been replied to.

This is the last post of the pledge drive, so there will be no further shaking of the tin cup after this. Of course, any time you want to send contributions to Ripard Teg, I won't say no. ;-) Again, thanks very much to those of you that have contributed! To those and the rest, thanks for reading, and I hope you'll continue to do so.

My favorite post of the year is rarely hard to choose, and this year was no exception...

#1: Riley
...but it had nothing to do with EVE Online or any other MMO. Sometimes this blog is about life. And when the elder of my family's two dogs passed away in March, I was heart-broken and could think of little else. Into the night, I remembered his life and as I did it seemed perfectly appropriate to celebrate his spirit in the same place that I write about so many other things. And in further proof that EVE players aren't nearly as nasty as the rest of the gaming community makes you out to be, dozens and dozens of you generously shared your condolences and your stories of loss of your own family pets over the years.

Riley was an important part of my life and my family's life for almost a decade, I still miss him, and he was a welcome interruption from spaceships. I'm happy I was able to share a little piece of him with all of you and I can't reread this piece without being flooded with the same emotions of that day. So that pretty clearly makes it the strongest piece of writing I did this year. Even if it had very little to do with a game made by a bunch of Vikings on a rock in the middle of the north Atlantic.

I sometimes catch heat for doing these little introspectives, but I enjoy them. Based on the hits some of this year's list is getting, for a lot of you this is the first you've heard of some of these posts so I hope they were interesting to you! I do this every year so if you'd like to look at last year's list or the year before, just look for the posts tagged "Pledge Drive".

Thanks for reading in 2013 and I look forward to writing more for you next year!

Game of spreadsheets

While I was rereading the Penny Arcade Report piece about new players in EVE the other day, a paragraph caught my eye that deserves special mention:
There are other misconceptions about the game too, but Helicity [Boson] often dismissed them out of hand. He barely had anything to say about the common idea that EVE is a game of so much complexity that it requires Excel spreadsheets to keep track of, adding only that he'd never used a spreadsheet in all his years of play.
Uhhhh... yeah. This statement deserves a bit of review.

It is completely impossible to play EVE Online without spreadsheets. If you think you are doing so, you are dead wrong. Some of us have spreadsheets to tell us which mineral is worth the most to mine. Others have spreadsheets to keep track of what they should be manufacturing this week. But you know what? When EFT tells you that you should fly a Cynabal instead of a Vagabond, the numbers that it generates to tell you this come from a spreadsheet. When EVEmon tells you exactly when you're going to have to drop a new skill into your skill queue, that's a spreadsheet too. There are spreadsheets to keep track of when 14 different structures will come out of reinforced, spreadsheets to keep track of corp and alliance members (or their moons), and other tools that look just like spreadsheets that fleet scouts use to report exactly how many logistics ships the enemy fleet has.

The thing that ties all of these things together is that some of them are spreadsheets today, and the rest were once spreadsheets. And the tools that aren't spreadsheets still look like spreadsheets. That's been forgotten but it doesn't make it less true. Every single EVE app in use today is just a spreadsheet made a little bit prettier.

When I first started playing this game, ship fitting was done primarily with huge annoying spreadsheets that had the information for mods, ammo, ships, et cetera. EFT and its follow-on apps were built on these bones, but those spreadsheets are still around if you look. Here's a little screen-grab from one I used in 2008. I won't post the whole thing because it's 48 megabytes...

And where the guides players used weren't spreadsheets, they looked like them or were direct copy/pastes from spreadsheets into graphics files:

A lot of us are still using tools that look like this today. Here's a Google spreadsheet with a handy reference to the names of most every ship in the game (it hasn't been updated with the Stratios or Astero yet, nor the recent hauler renaming). Here's a spreadsheet from last year with the names of lots and lots of supercap pilots. And many of us (including myself) have their personal spreadsheets with which we use to track a zillion and nineteen things depending on personal preference. And most of these spreadsheets and all of these external tools have the nastiest possible :math: behind them. Here's the formula for the acceleration of a given ship based on inertia and mass. I use it to this day; I used it recently to do guesstimates of how fast a plated Stratios would get into warp(1):
Velocity after t seconds =
(top speed) * (1 - (e^(-t * (10^6) / ((inertia modifier) * (mass)))))
But of course, once the EFT files for the Stratios were available, I used those instead. Because EFT is a much more user-friendly spreadsheet than a spreadsheet is. EFT will always be there to calculate the grid and CPU costs of mods as we insert the lines for each mod into the little spreadsheet-like rows and columns the tool is built on. And I assure you if we didn't have EFT and Pyfa and EVEHQ, we'd all still be using plain old-fashioned spreadsheets for everything.

And I didn't even mention the spreadsheets in game.

Anyway, keep it in mind the next time someone tries to make a claim that EVE isn't a spreadsheet game. I defy you to play this game without them. ;-)

(1) Inertia modifier for Stratios: 0.47. Mass for unplated Stratios: 9,350,000 kg. e = 2.71828. Top speed of Stratios: 182m/s. Therefore, it takes an unplated Stratios a little over 6 seconds to reach 75% of top speed. Now add plate mass and/or skills. For bonus points, do this :math: without a spreadsheet. I dare you.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Best of 2013: 5 - 2

I'm combining a "Best of 2013" retrospective with a good old-fashioned pledge drive.

If anything you've read on this blog this year has made you smile, made you laugh, saved your ship, gotten you a ship fitting you like, made you some ISK, or otherwise gotten you through a boring work day, gate camp, structure bash, or fleet op, I'm here asking that you throw a little ISK my way. It doesn't have to be a lot; just whatever you can afford. Alternately, if you have assets or experienced characters scattered around that you have been too lazy to get rid of or don't want any more, those are just as valuable to me. Contract them over or contact me about a character transfer and I'll find new owners for them or I'll put them to work myself.

Either way, send your contributions or your contracts to Ripard Teg in game. And let me know in an EVE mail if you want the fact that you contributed to be public or not. Thank you so much to those of you that have contributed! Public shout-outs to Kyburscha, Captain Amos Trask, and Kartoc Delunn (all of whom were very generous!), Vhalasedai, and Schizomania. Your contributions really mean a lot. Sometimes writing this blog is a little thankless...

I'll be shaking the tin cup until tomorrow in the "Best of" posts, concluding with what I thought was my best post of 2013 tomorrow.

#5: PvP 201: Basic Ship Fitting Theory

I think the Overheating Guide that I wrote last year is the best player guide I've ever written. But I think this one is #2. It's about a subject that I've never seen addressed before. Instead of covering how to fit a specific ship, or even a specific class of ships, it gives you the tools to understand the underlying theory of how people who are good at ship-fitting approach the topic. Needless to say, it's also one of the longest and most complex guides I've ever written and got a lot of positive responses. I'm quite pleased with it! As I said a couple of days ago, player guides will be a priority in 2014.

#4: Fractal
This one was one of my first tent-pole pieces of the year. It was also what in journalist terms is a "think piece" on the nature of finding avenues for newish players in EVE Online. But in the process of writing about newer players, I also extended the discussion to newer corps and alliances, which tend to be smaller than the giant monsters now roaming low- and null-sec. This piece has the distinction of being the first one in which I used the United States-Germany-Iran analogy when talking about how I'd like null-sec to operate: with big coalitions, medium-size alliances, and small corporations being able to co-exist in null. As it is now, the United States conquers the entire northern hemisphere and then rents Iceland back to the locals for a couple billion a month.

#3: The money barrier
I wrote a lot of posts this year looking into CCP's business decisions, and none were more widely read than the ones in which I looked at CCP's addiction to hiring executives from Electronic Arts this year. This particular post looked at Sean Decker, hired mid-year as their SVP of Product Development. Hundreds of EVE players immediately spun up the "CCP is going down the road to micro-transactions and hell!" I tried to react a bit more moderately. And in this post I looked at Decker's background, both the negative of micro-transactions and the potential positive of common development environments. It was a contentious but popular piece.

#2: Well, that escalated quickly -> Did things just get better or worse?
Finally, in the last double-feature on the list, I looked at how CCP very quietly and with no fuss at all did their best to drive a stake through the moon goo method of alliance funding. If they had a dream of reducing the size of alliances by taking away their income streams had to be short-lived, though. Goonswarm briefly looked into taking over every single moon in the west half of New Eden, then instead responded by breaking a long-standing tradition of making fun of slumlords and becoming one. These two posts looked into the economics of why.

Tomorrow:  #1, what I thought was the best piece I wrote this year.

Duke of Vvardenfell

I mentioned a couple of weeks back that I'm starting to get enthusiastic about the Elder Scrolls Online MMO, which prompted a lot of reactions from a number of people. These were probably encapsulated best over at the Hardcore Casual blog. Short version: why oh why am I buying into an over-hyped generic theme park game?

Answer: lack of options, really. ;-)

No seriously, I'm going to be giving the game a shot for three reasons, all more or less compatible:
  1. I'm an Elder Scrolls fan-boy from way back; and,
  2. I've got an itch to try some new things lately; and most importantly,
  3. there's a chance, however small, that ESO is going to fulfill a need that I'm definitely not getting right now from EVE.
One of the things that drew me to EVE Online in the first place was Verite's influence map. I was quite intrigued by the notion that one could lead a group of gamers and quite literally make a mark on the map of the game. Once I was in EVE and joined a null-sec sov alliance, I found the fights that led to the taking or losing of sov quite engaging. Of course, this was 2008 and those fights tended to be 200v200 or so. For me, those were fun fights! But those days in EVE are clearly over. Sovereignty in EVE has pretty well solidified to a game for groups where you and your 9999 friends can play, but anyone smaller isn't welcome.

But that doesn't mean that five-year-old itch is gone.

Those days for EVE might be over... but they might just be starting in ESO. If I can have a 200v200 fight over a castle there that makes me Duke of Vvardenfell or whatever and there's an ESO influence map that shows that? ...yeah. I might endure a little bit of theme park to get that kind and size of game play back.

So yeah. Gonna give it a shot. Bring on April 4!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Best of 2013: 10 - 6

I'm combining a "Best of 2013" retrospective with a good old-fashioned pledge drive.

If anything you've read on this blog this year has made you smile, made you laugh, saved your ship, gotten you a ship fitting you like, made you some ISK, or otherwise gotten you through a boring work day, gate camp, structure bash, or fleet op, I'm here asking that you throw a little ISK my way. It doesn't have to be a lot; just whatever you can afford. Alternately, if you have assets or experienced characters scattered around that you have been too lazy to get rid of or don't want any more, those are just as valuable to me. Contract them over or contact me about a character transfer and I'll find new owners for them or I'll put them to work myself.

Either way, send your contributions or your contracts to Ripard Teg in game. And let me know in an EVE mail if you want the fact that you contributed to be public or not. Thank you so much for all the contributions! Public shout-outs to CreamCoffee Patrouette, Ashred Evanalan, Viktor Markov, Caroline Grace, Alexandra Thiesant, Este DeStirr, Handy Jay and Sarisa Scherwil (who was very generous! thank you!). Thank you again for your support! I'm really humbled by it.

I'll be shaking the tin cup over the next two days in the "Best of" posts, concluding with what I thought was my best post of 2013 on Saturday.

#10: Conflict of interest -> COTW: Ganking isn't PvP and never was
Holy crap, did this pair of posts get me yelled at. It started with a basic analysis of what appeared to me to be a philosophical reexamination of the nature of EVE Online itself by the EVE developers. The genesis was a simple question: "What if some players just want to be left alone?" And from there, my piece ranged all over the damn place looking at the various aspects of this question. One particular paragraph still rings loud and clear today:
"EVE is a sandbox," we're told again and again, usually by an EVE player right before they inflict some deliberate horror on someone.  "It's a dark cold universe and I can play EVE however I like, because EVE is a sandbox.  You have no right to tell me how I can play this game.  If I want to hurt this guy, he's in the sandbox and I can do that."
Only the problem is, it's usually the gankers telling the PvEers how they should play the game, not the other way around! Even as they describe the game as a sandbox! When I went to clarify that position by chatting about one of the hundred or so comments this post drew, I only made things worse (he said with glee). I didn't write enough posts like this in 2013. I need to fix that next year.

#9: If you're gonna do something dumb...
In this post, I cheerfully pointed out that He Who Shall Not Be Named lived in a country where very few PLEXes sold... right after he bragged that he'd sold dozens and dozens of PLEXes on eBay, exactly when he'd sold them, and exactly how he'd disbursed those PLEXes. I pointed out this behavior was not-so-smart and a lot of people ended up agreeing with me, including CCP Stillman. And the person in question says the CSM has no influence...

#8: War never changes
Back in March, Shadoo was pointing out how absolutely everyone really hated the idea of a massive sov war between TEST and the CFC. As an alternative, he proposed setting up a -- wait for it -- thunder-dome in Cloud Ring. People would deliberately move to this region of space, pick a side, and the various players would go after each other in PvP fights except there wouldn't be any structure shooting. I spent about 1200 words explaining how ridiculous I thought this idea was. Needless to say, TEST is still firmly entrenched in that part of New Eden because everyone continues to hate huge sov wars-- owait. Also, I'm reminded that I want to do a post about high-sec war-decs sooner or later. It's on the list.

#7: Overwhelming force
I was really pleased with how this one came out. As a history buff, I've been dying to invoke the Battle of Leyte Gulf as an analogy for EVE sov warfare and this post finally gave me an excuse to do it. In the process, I made what I think was a pretty damn strong case for introducing the concept of terrain to EVE Online using both that battle and the old Homeworld series as philosophical examples of how it could be done right and what the advantages would be. People came out of the woodwork to tell me how much they enjoyed this piece, which I was thrilled to hear! We'll see how influential it ends up being, if at all.

#6: Backfire
I get a kick out of when people call me a CCP shill because not a month goes by where I don't rip CCP devs a new one over something I think they could have done a better job with. This is probably the most flagrant example this year. If I think something is almost right, I'll try to be gentle. But if I think something needs a lot of improvement, I am afraid I go into full-on autopsy mode, as I did in this post about the ghost site introduction live event. Boy, did this post get me some virtual dirty looks. There's likely a Community Team member or two still poking pins into a Ripard effigy. I'm pretty sure this was the most commented-upon thing I wrote this year. A lot of people were... ummm... upset.

Tomorrow:  #5 through #2.

Gateway drug

I'm going to dance along the :nda: line for a bit, hopefully without touching it.(1)

When the members of the CSM got to Iceland for the Summer Summit this year, we wanted to get a few minutes of Hilmar's time. I in particular had three questions that I wanted to ask him and I cheerfully admit they were kind of loaded questions. As you know, I have a strong interest in increasing EVE's logged-in player base, something that I've advocated for the last couple of years and something which CCP has had a very notable lack of success doing. Sure, the subscriptions are going up, the fights are getting bigger, but I feel like we're an increasingly large army of alts rather than a diverse, thriving, growing community.

I might be totally wrong -- I hope I am! -- but that's my impression.

Question number one for Hilmar was basically "At Fanfest last year, you made a heartfelt plea for EVE players to help you market and sell the game. We learned at Fanfest this year that the marketing efforts are primarily aimed at DUST 514. Are you giving up on marketing EVE to new players?"

I've found over the years that the more thoughtful an executive is, the safer it is to ask him or her a yes or no question, and asking a yes or no question is also a good way to pick up on whether a given executive is thoughtful. One that isn't will answer a yes or no question in a 30-word sound byte. One that is more thoughtful will give a more nuanced answer. I was pretty confident Hilmar would go the latter route and he definitely did not disappoint me. I wrote up the whole session with him and hopefully it will survive the minutes editing process. But I think it's NDA-safe to say that if I had to sum his answer up in two words, those two words would be "No, but..."

EVE is a hard game. We all know that. It's hard to learn, hard to master, hard to explain, hard to teach. A lot of you positively glory in how hard this game is, and a few of you out there get disgusted at any discussion of making the game a little easier to teach and learn.

So it's kind of interesting to read Mabrick's attempt to read the tea leaves of recent CCP executive statements in one of his posts the other day. His key question: is CCP giving up on EVE as an "entry level" New Eden experience, and shifting to marketing EVE as a advanced option for players that outgrow DUST 514 and Valkyrie? Put more simply: are the latter two games going to be pushed as the gateway drug that gets people to move up to the strong stuff, i.e., EVE Online?

It's a really cute way of looking at the problem. Go read his piece. But I'm pretty sure the first two words of the answer would be "No, but..."

I never really gave the Penny Arcade Report the credit it deserved as a analysis website. I read it pretty frequently and they did some really interesting pieces about EVE and other games. Now that it's shut down, it seems a little strange to link one of their pieces, but this piece they did on new players entering EVE featuring some commentary from Helicity Boson was quite interesting. Helicity tried to make the point that there were simpler avenues for slowly easing into the EVE experience. But at the time the piece was written I couldn't help but smile at the tone. "No, EVE isn't hard. All you have to do is follow this eight step guide to your first couple of months in EVE..."(2)

Meanwhile, I watch friends in Rote Kapelle playing Warframe and vaulting to near end-game play in those same couple of months. More and more of the MMOs coming out lately seem to be "throw-aways", something you spend fifty bucks on for boosters or a gold tank, get three months of fun out of, and then abandon. Just in Rote Kapelle, just in the last six months, there were aficionados of Warframe, Mechwarrior Online, World of Tanks, War Thunder, Airland Battle, Chivalry, and Guns of Icarus, as well as the near-ubiquitous League of Legends. The games come and go like a winter wind. Hell, for Chivalry alone, people were playing it for about five days, I said what the hell and bought it on Steam and -- literally before I had finished installing it! -- Rote members had moved on.

I once described DUST 514 as having the potential of becoming the tail that wagged EVE's dog. The Playstation Network has millions of people logged into it. If only 1% of them had become regular DUST players, those numbers would have quickly dwarfed EVE. That's clearly not going to happen now. Eight months ago, I said that if DUST's logged-in player count was 5000 players, that would be a disaster. That disaster is here now and doesn't seem to be going away. So the idea of DUST 514 being a gateway drug for EVE is one that I don't believe has any traction. If anything, CCP might have some luck going the other way around. "This whole space thing not for you? Well, we've got this other game, it's a shooter, and..."

That leaves Valkyrie. Will Valkyrie be EVE's gateway drug? I do think it's gonna sell a lot of Oculus Rifts, certainly! And I think it's going to be successful. But hey, I thought the same thing about DUST 514, too.

Short version from me? Even if it happens and Valkyrie players looking for a deeper experience try out EVE, I don't think CCP should rely on it. If it happens, fine. It's a nice bonus! But as a primary strategy, EVE needs to be its own gateway drug and needs to have its own marketing strategy. So I'm going to continue to advocate for a simpler, easier-to-teach, easier-to-learn new player experience, and I'm going to continue to advocate for CCP to try to sell the game that's making them successful. I continue to think that's the way forward with the highest likelihood of success.

(1) The title of this blog post is pretty much guaranteed to get me a lot of blog spam, but it's too good not to go with.
(2) I make light of this piece but if you have ten minutes, go out and read it. It's worth your time.

Quote of the week: 3200 word update

A CFC diplomatic update written by Draghkar was leaked to FHC yesterday. It's a really interesting, well-written post covering nearly every conceivable player in the on-going war going on in the south. Certainly it's written from the CFC perspective and you have to filter for that but if you have some interest in null-sec politics but are not quite sure who's who in this massive fight, it's very much worth ten minutes of your time to go give it a read. You won't be an expert on null-sec politics afterward or anything but at least you'll know who all the players are.

Following the post itself though are various reactions from the FHC crowd, including a few disparaging comments about the (rather lengthy) list of allies in the CFC sphere and explanations of what each is doing for their side of the war effort. To these comments, FHC poster Tetsuo sarcastically and profanely replied:
Oh come the fuck on guys, who among us hasn't been in an alliance with so many fucking blues that we needed a 3200 word update to keep track of who they were?

Anyway, just something that made me laugh this morning.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Best of 2013: 15 - 11

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm combining a "Best of 2013" retrospective with a good old-fashioned pledge drive.

If anything you've read on this blog this year has made you smile, made you laugh, saved your ship, gotten you a ship fitting you like, made you some ISK, or otherwise gotten you through a boring work day, gate camp, structure bash, or fleet op, I'm here asking that you throw a little ISK my way. It doesn't have to be a lot; just whatever you can afford. Alternately, if you have assets or experienced characters scattered around that you have been too lazy to get rid of or don't want any more, those are just as valuable to me. Contract them over or contact me about a character transfer and I'll find new owners for them or I'll put them to work myself.

Either way, send your contributions or your contracts to Ripard Teg in game. And let me know in an EVE mail if you want the fact that you contributed to be public or not. Contributions started coming in last night, and I've been really humbled by the response.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed so far! Public shout-outs to Freelancer117, minorfreak, Kestrel Swainson, Msia Boleh, Xurr and Mark Zhepron (both of whom were particularly generous! thank you!), and MrTheGeoff, who sent me a couple of ships, one of which is in G-0Q in Curse. Sigh... that brought back memories. I haven't been in Curse in far too long. Thanks to everyone who's contributed so far!

I'll be shaking the tin cup over the next four days in the "Best of" posts, concluding with what I thought was my best post of 2013 on Saturday.

#15: Best in class 2013
This one's becoming an annual tradition, and it's kind of fun! Every year, I go through every class of ship in the game and I pick what I think is the best ship in that class. They're always really widely-read posts, they draw lots of comments, they're fun to write, and it's great to get the perspective of other players on my choices. So win-win-win. This year, I mixed it up with an obvious add-on: what I thought were the worst in each class in 2013. That one drew nearly as many comments, and they came from everybody and I do mean everybody... CCP Fozzie wanted to argue a few of my choices with me. ;-)

#14: Don't get too attached
When I first met Hilmar and was introducing myself, I joked "I'm the guy that blogs about how you run your business." This piece was an example... it focused on the GM team and how they make their decisions and the (lack of) visible oversight and process associated with those choices. These are some of my favorite posts to write and this one was a particular treat. It combined interviews with a lot of people, pulling player opinion and data on the matter, plus a slight dash of opinion that resulted in a nice tight journalistic piece. I was really pleased with the response it got.

#13: Inside your own head
I was impressed by Valkyrie at Fanfest when I tried it there but when I got to EVE Vegas this year and had time and leisure to really get into an improved version of it, I was completely blown away. This is the killer app for the Oculus Rift as far as I'm concerned. It certainly convinced me to buy the hardware when it's available! Valkyrie is going to be a quite literal game-changer. This post where I gave my impressions was one of the most-read things I wrote this year.

#12: CEO update hack
I was really pleased with a post Garth wrote earlier in the year, but when the last couple of Goonswarm CEO updates started to look to me like something written by committee, Garth came out and demanded satire with the sarcasm dialed up to 11. The net result was the most popular, "Garthiest" post of 2013. There are lots of people that wished for more Garth this year; one prominent group in the community offered me a weekly highly-visible column... if Garth would write it. I had to politely decline. ;-)

#11: Things could be worse
This post came out of a promise made to EVE player Marc Callan, who asked me to give a direct response to the proposals of James315 during his CSM run early in the year. Originally, I wasn't going to do it. I'm actually not in the business of doing take-downs, by and large. But as I read more and more of his proposals, the idea grew on me because James was directly attacking some of the support columns on which EVE rests, but using populist pandering and hypocrisy to under-emphasize the game breaking elements of those proposals. The net result is one of the pieces of writing I'm most proud of in 2013 and something I've referred to frequently when people ask me how I really feel about high-sec. I'm convinced this post went a long way toward driving James315 out of the CSM8 election.

Tomorrow:  #10 through #6.

Mainstream commercial nihilism can't be trusted

Just a quickie.

Dabigredboat perpetrated a pretty epic troll today, making EVE News 24 and others believe he had been banned from EVE Online for supposedly ordering CFC fleet members to take actions during this week's DY- fight that caused the affected node to crash.

Here's the tweet of his announcement, and here's the text of what he put into Pastebin to prove it. It fairly instantly jumped to the #2 or #3 thing being talked about on EVE's Reddit sub-channel:


It is my sad duty to inform you that your accounts have been banned from our server for attempting to cause a server node to become unstable by use of exploit mechanics.

This is a breach of our EULA.

See section 6. A. of our EULA, Specifically Restricted Conduct:

"Your continued access to the System and license to play the Game is subject to proper conduct. Without limiting CCP's rights to control the Game environment, and the conduct of the players within that environment, CCP prohibits the following practices that CCP has determined detract from the overall user experience of the users playing the Game."

(1) "You may not take any action that imposes an unreasonable or disproportionately large load on the System."

See also our Suspension and Ban policy, section 1: Exploits

"An immediate permanent ban of an account may result if:
D. A player has engaged in activity that intentionally causes others to lose connection, suffer latency issues (lag) or to crash to desktop (CTD).

Best regards,
Senior GM Nova 
EVE Online Customer Support
The fun bit? If DBRB wasn't banned today, he should be soon. Section 8 of the EVE Online Terms of Service makes it quite clear that you may not impersonate a CCP employee. I would be quite surprised if this does not qualify.

That said, it might be a short ban.

Fit of the Week: Gate camp Hyena

Let's continue with Rubicon rebalanced ships, and go with something right out of my hangar. I swear this fit is not a troll!

[Hyena, Start Paddling]
Internal Force Field Array I
Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II
400mm Reinforced Rolled Tungsten Plates I

Limited 1MN Microwarpdrive I
Warp Disruptor II
Fleeting Propulsion Inhibitor I
X5 Prototype Engine Enervator

[empty high slot]
[empty high slot]
[empty high slot]

Small Ancillary Current Router II
Small Targeting System Subcontroller II

When I first started PvPing, I had a love affair going with EAFs, particularly the Kitsune and Keres. I was pretty sure I wasn't a good enough pilot for the Sentinel. But the Hyena, I flat-out dismissed. Webbing people? Target painting them? What freakin' good was that going to do?

I've learned a few things about this game since then. ;-)

The Hyena is now my favorite and most-used EAF. Oh sure, the Kitsune is still stronger, a tackling Keres is great, and I'm still not sure I'm good enough to fly a Sentinel -- that thing is bad-ass. But the Hyena is a working man's fleet tackle frigate extraordinaire. With a point, two webs, and a MWD in the mids, you can now call "point, double web!" on things to almost 30 kilometers range (overheat your point!). That's with no gang bonuses at all. Add some gang bonuses, and those ranges extend out to 40km... 50km if you overheat the webs!

That means if you center yourself up on a gate, you can tackle someone on pretty much any type of gate, including most regionals. Those two webs will knock a 2000m/s burn back to gate down to about 500m/s. That means if your fleet brought DPS, you're now sitting in almost the perfect gate-camp tackler. It's insane how effective this ship is at its job now and the long range of its webs means that in a high-speed high-transversal burn you're quite survivable against whatever is trying to scrape you off them.

Just be careful: your webs are effective and longer-ranged than your point. Put the point on the target first! If you don't, you might do what's called "web them into warp." A pair of webs against a ship attempting to flee into warp will not only greatly reduce the ship's speed, it will greatly reduce the speed needed to get into warp. That means this ship has a fine utility use as well as a PvP use: use it with a pilot in the same corp to get freighters and jump freighters in high-sec into warp much more quickly!

The rest of the fit supports this ship's primary mission. A T2 ACR rig allows you to fit a 400mm plate, greatly increasing survivability and pushing the ship's tank up to 7500 EHP. That's quite good for an EAF! It comes at a cost, though: you'll only have the CPU to fit an IFFA, and those are expensive. Grimace and fit the thing. It's worth it to have the range of the T2 point. The EANM buffs your resists nicely and makes you a decent rep target but you have a hell of an explosive hole so be very wary of Warriors. Fortunately, Warriors won't be able to alpha you so if you see this threat coming, call for reps right away (if you have them) or warp off.

Your working speed is about 3400m/s which is quite good against anything but a dedicated tackler and your webs provide excellent self-defense against those. Align time is five seconds, which is sufficient to keep up with cruiser gangs which is what this ship works best with. And the T2 Targeting System Subcontroller reduces your lock time on most targets to under two seconds. Not very much is going to get away from you...

Want to really be effective in terms of lock time? Talk someone in the fleet into bringing a Remote Sensor Booster with a scan resolution script and pointing it at you. ;-)

Even with the sig radius bonus, X-Instinct booster is a good fit with this ship. Unfortunately, your sig will bloom to 200m while under MWD which is pretty substantial. I usually go with a Standard X-Instinct and pray for the armor penalty not to hit. But even Synth X-Instinct will help a little. It's critically important to keep that transversal up regardless, though! If you have the ISK for it, Quafe Zero instead of X-Instinct is a great choice: both the extra speed and the faster lock time will directly support your primary mission.

You don't have the fitting space for guns so if a drone cloud comes after you, call for reps and/or warp off! But an extended battle is not really what this ship is about. This ship is for guaranteeing that a gank fleet or a gate-camp fleet will pull down targets. And for that it's effective and great fun!

Point, double web!

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, December 17, 2013

Kill of the week: Friday the thirteenth

There's not much else I can pick...

The story is out on TMC and is realllly entertaining. GSOL, the logistics arm of Goonswarm, had been moving this freighter around with the intent of anchoring a station egg in Catch as a staging point for the continued CFC war effort there. However, they knew the freighter had been spotted and scanned by PL. So the GSF leadership was hesitant about trying the anchor without good control over the target system (it wasn't cyno jammed, for instance). "Let's listen to our intuition here," The Mittani says in the chat included in the article, "we can wait until we get the TCU and the jammer up." Another member of the leadership team has a different idea:
(1:17:27 AM) kcolor: get it into system, then make the decision
(1:17:46 AM) Innominate: if we dont have sov when we drop the egg, aa sov fuckup can mean losing the whole system
(1:17:51 AM) the_mittani: i've made the decision. we wait until we have the jammer. today feels wrong
(1:18:13 AM) the_mittani: let's not throw an egg after 13 rus supers
Only we know the story. Four minutes later, GSOL lights the cyno, the freighter goes in... surprise! PL hot-drop.

As a communications professional, this exchange makes me giggle. It's a pretty classic case of two people talking past each other. kcolor is saying "let's get the egg into the target system, then make the decision." I haven't talked to the man but from context, I think he means "let's get it into the system then decide whether to anchor it." Mittens, meanwhile, thinks he's being clear about ordering the freighter to stay where it is. From my read, kcolor saw the decision as "move the egg, don't anchor it." Mittens saw the decision as "don't move the egg." But critically, he never came right out and said "Safe log off the freighter now, we'll worry about this later."

Needless to say, the trolling started almost instantly. Happy Friday the Thirteenth!

Honorable mentions? Only a few this week.

Brave Newbies sometimes has fun with amusing concepts. This one made me laugh. The fitting that did it (it died a couple of hours later) has a certain ridiculous charm.

Know what the armor-tanking e-war tech3 strategic cruiser of choice is for all applications these days? Tengus. And it doesn't matter much if you want a jamming ship or a damp ship. The Tengu is still the best decision. This one kind of made me chuckle...

Finally, I cannot express how much this triple kill made me laugh. The Ishtar pilot was literally AFK making a sandwich and came back to see "gfs" in Local and three wrecks nearby. He doesn't seem to have even seen the fight. Ishtars too strong...

Number of dead super-caps last week: 14 (17?)

First up is this ratting Nyx, caught by a black ops drop in Feyth while ratting. It seems pretty routine all in all. Word has it he was AFK at the time, not that it would have helped him a whole lot. Here's a free tip: if you have a super and don't have a Mobile Depot (or three, or four) in its cargo bay, you are doing it incredibly wrong.

Remember how last week I said last year at this time was quiet for super kills, but those that did happen happened because someone somewhere thought quiet weeks would be good to drop supers on structures and kill them? ...yeah. A unsupported super bash -- on Friday the thirteenth! -- on an on-lining POS started the kill of these 11 supers, 10 Nyxes and a single Aeon. (Or it might have been 13. Or 14.) Here's the EN24 story with the details. Short version: unsupported supers killing structures, tackled, everyone in the world rushes toward the system to kill them, RUS doesn't respond quickly enough, server hiccups, dead supers. The only question is exactly how many died.

Next up is this entertaining Erebus lost by frequent Rote Kapelle opponent Clockwork Pineapple. This one fell to a baiting done right (and wrong). The system contained a Wyvern in a POS, so Cynosural Field Theory tried using a bait Phoenix hoping the Wyvern would leave its place of safety to kill the really bad dread. Instead, suddenly Erebus... that didn't have enough fuel to light the doomsday device. Of course, the Phoenix pilot's friends were ready for their bait to be swallowed and were charmed by the better-than-expected prize. There's a perfectly hilarious perspective from the killers on EN24.

Finally, a few hours before the deadline, this Nyx from one of my old corps Senex Legio died to a Shadow Cartel gank. I wasn't able to find any details on this one. Anyone know the story?

That's all for this week!

Best of 2013: 25 - 16

As I stated earlier today, I'm combining a "Best of 2013" retrospective with a good old-fashioned pledge drive.

If anything you've read on this blog this year has made you smile, made you laugh, saved your ship, gotten you a ship fitting you like, made you some ISK, or otherwise gotten you through a boring work day, gate camp, structure bash, or fleet op, I'm here asking that you throw a little ISK my way. It doesn't have to be a lot; just whatever you can afford. Alternately, if you have assets or experienced characters scattered around that you have been too lazy to get rid of or don't want any more, those are just as valuable to me. Contract them over or contact me about a character transfer and I'll find new owners for them or I'll put them to work myself.

Either way, send your contributions or your contracts to Ripard Teg in game. And let me know in an EVE mail if you want the fact that you contributed to be public or not.

I'll be shaking the tin cup over the next four days in the "Best of" posts, concluding with what I thought was my best post of 2013 on Saturday.

#25: OK, this is pretty damn awesome
As a blogger, you can always tell when you've been listed on EVE's Facebook wall. This was one of those throw-away kind of "picture of the week" posts I like to do when a little graphic tells a story better than any of my words ever could. Some careful playing with the PI interface allowed me to show EVE players that weren't aware of it the permanent impact of Caldari titan Shiigeru on Luminaire. I cropped the pictures to make the progression cool, posted 'em, went on with my life. And then tens of thousands of people used the link as a reference, aheh. This one was an important post because I saw a spike in daily readers after it.

#24: Fit of the week: Blockade runners
I posted 50+ fits of the week this year, most of them heavily PvP-favored, and ironically and by far this was the most popular. Talk about being used as a reference! I think pretty much every industrial alliance in EVE must have pointed their members at this post, or found it themselves with a Google search. I don't think it's my imagination that I saw a marked drop in poor BR fits after this was posted while looking for kills of the week. Still, I think this is a really good reference to the subject if you have one.

#23: PvP 101 Fundamentals
I didn't write nearly as many player guides this year as I wanted to this year -- my New Year's resolution for 2014 is to get back on that horse because I have a whole set of them I want to write. This is the one area where CSM duties definitely did interfere: all of my big, complex writing assignment time went either into minutes or CCP "homework" of one type or another. Still, this is one guide I did this year that I'm really proud of. I stand by it as a great introduction to the topic of EVE PvP.

#22: Go tell it on the mountain
My little "Snapcount" app continued to run this year, pulling logged-in player counts from the API from which I continued my annual tradition of analysis of the relative success of various EVE expansions released in 2013. This particular one focused on the Retribution expansion, by far the most successful expansion "of 2013." It was actually released in December of last year but managed to carry a tidal wave of new logged in players well into the spring thanks to some well-implemented point releases and a lot of promise.

#21: QOTW: Stop being poor
I didn't do nearly as many quotes of the week this year as in past years, for reasons which I'll cover in a second. And the Fountain campaign of mid-summer between Goons and TEST is already slipping into EVE legend. Which is a shame because the defining moment of that campaign -- an internal awox costing TEST some 130 billion and making them a figure of fun across sov null-sec -- was just so very EVE. Unfortunately, it was a pretty straight road from there to TEST becoming irrelevant as a null-sec power, which has made the remainder of sov null-sec quite a bit more boring. One last note: at the end of this post, I asked "were Slocat Chimeras ever a thing?" Thanks to them doing half again the DPS of their Archon counter-parts and instantaneously landing shield reps, they're about to be.

#20: Twice as expensive, 25% better
My first year writing this blog, this kind of post was my favorite: take a really esoteric bit of background EVE development information and dig into the meat of "what it all means." It's not a post I've been able to do as often the last couple of years because the devs are so much more open about their motivations. Make no mistake: this is a good thing! I realllly appreciate devs sharing their background thinking with players on the forums, in interviews, and such. But this piece looking into the background behind the long-term balancing of T2 ships versus their T1 counter-parts was a lovely example of this type of post.

#19: Feature-relevant election
This post was a little bit similar (and five months earlier): a close-up view of the CSM STV voting system, the CSM primary system, and various other associated announcements about how CSM8 would operate. Looking back on it, I'm really pleased with this post. Most of my predictions about how things would shake out from these changes turned out to be accurate (particularly my prediction that successful CSM8 candidates would have to "fleet up" with other like-minded ones). This is one of the last posts about the CSM that I could write from an outsider's perspective.

#18: Shake your money-maker
Once I was on the CSM, I was often accused of being a CCP shill. And that was despite pieces like this where I'd absolutely and brutally take apart some beloved CCP developer idea. I just couldn't win sometimes. ;-) In this particular post, I listed everything I think is wrong with Rubicon's marauders and I assure you it is (and continues to be) a long list. I'll be one of the first to advocate making this class one of the first "second balance pass" targets.

#17: Hobbit birthday -> SOMER of rage
The first of three paired posts on the list, this was pretty much an example of me saying something, players coming out of the wood work to explain in balanced, reasoned commentary why I was wrong, and me thinking about it and then changing my stand based on these arguments. I'm still kind of pleased with the original post -- it shook a lot of people up and got a lot of opinions out in the open. I'm accused of being a troll all the time and every great once in a while it's true: I'll write something just to get a rise out of people and get their honest reactions. What I wasn't expecting was to be swayed by solid, well-reasoned arguments. How CCP treats and motivates community sites will be a major topic of discussion at the Winter Summit.

#16: I can't love people in slices
Finally, there weren't as many QOTWs this year quite frankly because there weren't as many people talking about EVE. This was a really bad year for losing player voices with EVE personalities from TeaDaze to Azual Skoll to He Who Shall Not Be Named going silent. In this post, I invoked my occasional need to do a "Here's the news, here's why it's important, here's what I think" piece about one of those silent voices, that of Arydanika. Dani was controversial, so it was a fairly contentious post...

Tomorrow:  #15 through #11.

Pledge drive kick-off

Yup, it's that time again!

For you newer readers out there, every year during the last two weeks of December, I mix up my normal posting schedule with a little bit of old-fashioned begging. This blog doesn't have advertising, I let you use your blog-readers without restriction, and I spend a LOT of time thinking about EVE and then writing about EVE instead of playing EVE... which is where all this stuff you're reading comes from. So as I did the last couple of years, I'd like to have an old fashioned pledge drive.

'cause writing this blog every day isn't making me very much ISK. ;-)

So, if anything you've read on this blog this year has made you smile, made you laugh, saved your ship, gotten you a ship fitting you like, made you some ISK, or otherwise gotten you through a boring work day, gate camp, structure bash, or fleet op, I'm here asking that you throw a little ISK my way. It doesn't have to be a lot; just whatever you can afford. Alternately, if you have assets or experienced characters scattered around that you have been too lazy to get rid of or don't want any more, those are just as valuable to me. Contract them over or contact me about a character transfer and I'll find new owners for them or I'll put them to work myself.

Either way, send your contributions or your contracts to Ripard Teg in game. And let me know in an EVE mail if you want the fact that you contributed to be public or not.

As I shake my tin cup under your nose, I'm going to list what I think were my 25 best-written, influential, or generally favorite blog posts that I wrote here this year. They're mostly intended to remind you of why you visit and give new readers a chance to catch up on interesting older stuff. But again, there's lots more new content coming this week as usual.

CCP Unifex teased me at Fanfest this year that he was very curious how being on the CSM would affect output around here. Looking back at 2013, I'm pleased! I think I've kept up both quantitatively and qualitatively.

And if you don't want to contribute, it's all good. I write here because I enjoy writing. A little ISK wouldn't hurt, but I'm also happy with contributions in comments: arguments and praise show that I'm having an impact and that's what it's all about for me. If you just want to stop by and read (and argue), great! Thanks for reading in 2013, and I look forward to writing a lot more next year!

Monday, December 16, 2013

CSM8 Status Report: Week thirty-two

Let's see if I can say this without it becoming a full-on rant.

There are almost certainly not going to be any minutes published in 2013. Over the last few weeks, the CSM was repeatedly assured that the minutes would soon(tm) be ready to go, and we were given today as an absolute worst-case scenario for when they would be ready for publishing. Not only will the minutes not be published today, the CSM has not even received a draft of the changes that CCP would like us to consider for minutes which we put on their desk months ago. What we have been told about what changes we could expect in such a CCP-edited draft is so discouraging that I don't even like obliquely referring to it.

And if that were not bad enough, not only have we not received any drafts, not only have we not received any updates on any drafts, we have not received any updates on when we can expect to receive updates for ten days now. Nor do we expect any soon: by the time you're reading this, it's a good bet CCP Dolan has started his holiday vacation. Don't get me wrong: he deserves it. But it means that nobody's going to be pushing on this until he gets back. That means 2014 at the earliest for minutes, more than four months after the summit.

I'm going to stop mincing words now: This. Is. A. Disgrace.

Absolutely granted, I'm sure the Community team was busy setting up the PLEX for GOOD stream last weekend. And that was a great success, and I'm thrilled for CCP for it. Absolutely granted, I'm sure more and more of CCP are heading out on their holiday breaks. That delays things because the very people that need to approve the minutes aren't there to do so. Fine. But at this point, I am personally done accepting excuses. Many of the rest of the CSM feels the same way. This should have been completed weeks ago. The fact that it wasn't means that someone -- somewhere -- is purposefully sitting on the minutes hoping we'll just give up and forget about them.


*cough* Onward.

As I said, more and more of the Reyk office is emptying of CCP employees as they head out on their holiday breaks. Although we have a stake-holder meeting scheduled this week, I personally don't expect it will happen. With the exception of a few devs here and there chatting with us, Skype and the forums have gone pretty much dead silent and I expect that to continue through the next couple of updates. CCP Fozzie stopped in for a while and gave us some info on his EVE Down Under revelations. CCP Rise was on today to chat about some stuff. And a few CSM members had a good chat with a few members of Superfriends. But overall? Not a lot going on.

I mentioned last week that if you're thinking of running for CSM9, now's the time to start laying groundwork. I'm pretty sure that prompted this post from Neville Smit of EVE University. Don't get me wrong: Neville would make an outstanding CSM delegate. But reading his post, I'm reminded of one of my favorite lines from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan:
Kirk: Don't mince words, Bones. What do you really think?
Hee! Neville, you running or not, man? You're never gonna get anywhere with a CSM run if you won't stake a position on something. ;-)

And I think that's all for this week. Not much, but there isn't much going on. Expect next week's update to be even shorter...

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Escape with treasure

Just a quickie... kind of a tip, really.

One of the potential gifts from the Yule Lad Pot Scraper today is a pair of Warp Core Stabilizers.

Here's the tip: don't be in a hurry to scoop those out of your redeeming system, particularly if you're a PvP'er. There may come a day when you're chased into or trapped in some distant station with enemies just outside. Wouldn't it be handy to be able to log out, log back in, redeem those stabs, claim them, fit them to your docked ship, and get out of harm's way? And all of it courtesy of CCP!

Granted, there's probably an end-date before which those items have to be claimed but in the meantime, you'll have a handy "get out of station camp free" card.

Consider it a freebie. Happy Monday!

CEO update hack

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

Dear friends and paragons of evil, you will probably not be surprised to learn that Jester's computer is not the only one I can break into from time to time at need. Others there are that my fell vision can penetrate. A recent sojourn across the internet into the computer of another may interest you. I present it for your amusement: the true interface into Goonswarm's central systems as recently seen by The Mittani himself.

Welcome, The Mittani.

. You are currently receiving: moon income (ISK)
. You are currently receiving: rental income (ISK)
. You are currently receiving: themittani.com writer income (ISK)
. You are currently receiving: themittani.com advertiser income (RLC)
. Your ISK transfer bank account is currently on file and verified.
To enter ISK transfer options, at the main menu, type "ISK".

. You have 13 unread updates.
. You have 2 upcoming calendar entries.
. Currently due calendar entry: MONTHLY CEO UPDATE

(To see all menu options, type "MENU". To change to standard mode, type "STANDARD".)

(To see all menu options, type "MENU". To change to standard mode, type "STANDARD".)
Displaying current template...


As you all know, we are currently fighting for our very survival in (1)___ and (2)___. In the war so far, we have sustained some really embarrassing losses due to our outmoded (10)___ fleets, which have been overwhelmed by the enemy's use of over-powered (9)___s. While (18)___ have had some limited success in cooperation with our allies (17)___, we've been lucky. (7)___ are unlike any foe we have faced before and their campaigns in (2)___ have been successful. We have had some luck destroying them when they rely on (11)___ fleets, but now that they have switched to (9)___ en masse our (10)___ fleets can no longer keep up.

We are therefore in serious danger of losing the war in (1)___ and must adjust our tactics. Our overall strategy continues to be (4)___, of course, and we will continue to support (17)___ in their efforts. But we must all support the new doctrine of (5)___. Get trained for one now and get one shipped out to (3)___ immediately.


We are completely terrible at this game. Our previous incompetent attempts to fight the enemy's (9)___ fleet in (10)___s has shown that we clearly don't know what we're doing. Had we continued with using (10)___s, our humble outnumbered forces would clearly have been crushed. Therefore, after much thought and deliberation we have concluded that (5)___ is key to our survival. We must fight (7)___ in (1)___ or we will surely be fighting them in VFK.

We have faced these deadly threats to our very survival before in (15)___ before and survived, even though we were overwhelmed by the forces of (12)___. Just as in Syndicate, just as in Delve, just as in (15)___, we have been driven back due to our terrible play and due to CCP's mistakes in making the enemy's (11)___ fleets too over-powered for us to overcome. However, just as before when we spit in the eye of (12)___ and (13)___, ensuring our survival against these existential threats, just as we showed CCP their game was terrible in the enemy's use of over-powered (10)___ fleets, we will overcome the forces of (7)___ just as we did (14)___ in (15)___.


We and (18)___ have had some success in attacking (11)___ fleets in (2)___. But their (9)___ fleets are unlike anything we have ever faced before. This shit is real. Our normal terrible play will no longer cut it here.

While our (10)___ fleets were effective during the (15)___ campaign, they are shown to be hopelessly outmoded in today's ~elite PvP~ combat. While our current strategy of (4)___ may sound like this is not a serious war, we are fighting for our very survival and must adapt to today's strategies. CCP has clearly shown through their inept development of this terrible game that (9)___s are over-powered. But we have found a way to overcome: the (5)___.

This fleet relies on (6)___ as its primary ships and a combat doctrine that is quite different from our previous (10)___ fleets. We have already been successful fighting when the enemy relies on (11)___, but the (10)___ doctrine is overwhelmed by (9)___. You should fill your training queue with skills that will get you into a (6)___ as soon as possible. Fortunately, the skills you previously developed training for the (8)___ fleet are very applicable and will mean that you should be able to get into a (6)___ with just a few days training. We are manufacturing these ships in bulk so you have no excuses. Get your training queues sorted or the victories that we previously achieved against (12)___ will seem a happy memory and our enemies, (7)___, will be writing our epitaths and laughing at the death of our alliance as they rat in VFK.

The tl;dr version? Get a fucking (6)___ and get it staged in (3)___.


We cannot allow our enemies (7)___ any rest or respite. Just as when we fought (12)___, this enemy has declared unending enmity upon us and will not rest until we are destroyed. We cannot allow these smug bastards -- all of whom are really just the dregs of (13)___ risen up again to try to drive us from our homelands -- to win. This is total war. (18)___ have already shown us the way forward with their shining example, using an early version of (5)___ to assist (17)___ during a recent skirmish in (2)___. This has clearly shown that (6)___ will work against the enemy's (9)___ fleet.

Once we are properly staged, we can move through (1)___ like a plague, destroying (7)___ (9)___ fleets wherever they stand against us. No prisoners! No mercy! We will not stop until (1)___ and (2)___ are conquered and the enemy lies bleeding and broken at our feet, added to the great pile of bodies that includes (12)___ and (14)___. Just as in (15)___, we shall be victorious!

Using (5)___, we will crush our enemies! See you in (3)___!

(To see all menu options, type "MENU". To change to standard mode, type "STANDARD".)
Entering data entry mode for CEO Update...

(1) Enter current war front primary region.
(2) Enter current war front secondary regions, if any. When done, type "DONE".
(3) Enter current war front staging system.
> G-0
(4) Enter current war front troll tag-line.
(4) Default currently set to "HONOURABLE THIRD PARTIES". To accept default, type "Y".
> Y
(5) Enter this month's preferred doctrine name.
(6) Enter this month's preferred doctrine high SP ship class.
(7) Enter current enemies.
(7) Default currently set to "N3. NCDOT." To accept default, type "Y".
> Y
(8) Enter most applicable low SP ship class from previous doctrine.
(9) Enter enemy's preferred doctrine high SP ship class.
(10) Enter last month's preferred doctrine ship class most like (9).
(11) Enter enemy's preferred doctrine low SP class.
(12) Enter previous hot-button enemy.
(12) Default currently set to "BAND OF BROTHERS. RAIDEN. REIKOKU." To accept default, type "Y".
> Y
(13) Enter previous hot-button enemy special instructions, if any. When done, type "DONE".
(14) Enter previous enemy.
(15) Enter previous war front primary region.
(16) Enter previous war secondary regions, if any. When done, type "DONE".
(17) Enter current favored primary allies.
(18) Enter current favored CFC cannon fodder. When done, type "DONE".
> CO2

Data entry complete.

(To see all menu options, type "MENU". To change to standard mode, type "STANDARD".)
CEO Update data entry complete. Template confirmed. Ready to publish.

Publish to forums (Y/N)?
> Y
Processing... please wait.

Publish to themittani.com (Y/N)?
> Y
Processing... please wait.

Your themittani.com balance has been increased by: 100 million ISK
Transfer to ISK transfer bank account (Y/N)?
> N
Leaving CEO Update mode...

(To see all menu options, type "MENU". To change to standard mode, type "STANDARD".)
Have a Goony day!


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 has multiple personalities, but they are all identically stupid.

Friday, December 13, 2013

COTW: Three approaches

I got lots and lots of really good comments on my tent-pole post last week, Overwhelming Force. And I was really pleased that a lot of you just GOT it. The post was necessarily a little bit subtle -- well, as subtle as a post full of WWII references can be -- but a lot of the comments I've gotten particularly via EVE mail and on Skype, really got the heart of what I was trying to say. Darkwater wrote (and it's the comment of the week, edited slightly):
Perhaps Null should just be left alone for those who like to play that style of game. It sucks, but apparently a lot of people enjoy that type of gameplay.

The new space they plan to open up though, that might be a great way to introduce new and better mechanics to a section of EVE space for those who enjoy the type of tactical gameplay that you enjoy. There is absolutely no reason that CCP just just copy/paste systems and mechanics that already exist into the new space they are opening up. They could literally change all the rules when it comes to it, and invent lore to support it.

It's a golden opportunity for them to shake things up and open the game up to new and different play styles, require all players to relearn how things work, ect. Think of it almost as EVE 2.0, without actually making a brand new game.
And yeah, I have to admit there was a certain amount of "there's no fixing the current kid, so let's make sure the next kid is perfect" in my thinking. ;-)

Lots and lots of you brought up the idea of cool-down timers to try to fix the current kid -- er, rather to deal with the current ludicrous fleet mobility -- and it's something that I've wrestled with from time to time particularly when the cool-down timers are attached to ships. What's to prevent rich alliances from just switching supers/dreads/carriers/whatever like the Pony Express used to switch horses? So when these suggestions are thrown at me to reduce mobility, I always respond "Well, if it's a cool-down timer, how about putting the jump cool-down timer on the pod?" Nobody I've presented that to has been able to come up with a major downside to the idea. Can you?

But a comment that I really want to highlight is the alternative view, written by Abdiel Kavash of FCON. It's long -- really long, practically a blog post in itself! -- but if you're interested in this topic, it's worth your time. Call it the counter-point to my post. The whole thing is worth reading, but I want to focus on one particular bit:
...there is one coalition in the game that values strategic victories more than masturbating over killmails. That coalition is right now leading an offensive in no less than three distinct fronts in an effort to separate enemy fleets and lure their forces away from strategically important objectives by chasing killmails of some marginally relevant alliances. (Reminds you of something from the post?) How well this will work we will see in the following days and weeks.

That same coalition in not so distant past captured two regions by using nothing but fast stealth bombers, running in circles around enemy fleets and never putting our significant assets under the danger of enemy supercapital Overwhelming Force. This is pretty much the definition of guerrilla warfare taken to the extreme.

You mentioned logistics and supply lines. Some time ago, in the middle of a typical back-and-forth sovereignty struggle (I'm sorry, I'm bad at remembering details, I couldn't tell you which battle or which system this was in) a sudden call went out for one particular outpost timer. A broadcast storm so massive one would think VFK was under attack. Why was this timer so much more important than anything else in that war until then? Our spies found out that the enemy alliance was keeping all of their SRP replacement ships in one station. Dozens of billions of ships, now inaccessible due to our station capture and lockout. This was a turning point in that war, unable to replace lost ships the enemy quickly fell.
Now, dig into this wall of text and you -- or at least I -- realize that he's right. What IS the CFC southeastern campaign except a massive diversion of enemy forces away from where those enemy forces would rather be fighting? This gives an entirely different spin to the idea of overwhelming force. The classic horror of warfare is the idea of fighting on two major fronts simultaneously, but the CFC has now grown big enough that they can do it if they have to... but they can often prevent having to do it through diplomacy... simultaneously! It was a really interesting way to think about the on-going war.

"Nerf diplomacy" I believe the saying goes...

So thanks to everyone for all your comments! Really interesting stuff!