Friday, March 28, 2014

Of Policy and Precedent

The Latest Dev Post has been put up. And that's pretty much the best I dared hope for. These episodes have happened before and will happen again. They have a policy in place not to discuss the details of disciplinary actions. And that is a very good policy. If they did, it would serve only to publish precedent that can be hidden behind by bad-faith rules lawyers in the future. 

It seems a lot of people are not happy about CCP's refusal to define how they will handle similar incidents going forward. I have trouble imagining a legitimate reason for this. Some misguided reasons would be:

-You have been sitting with your popcorn watching the forum drama and you don't want it to stop.

-You want to track exact precedent in order to defend yourself when CCP approaches you over bad behavior of your own, as if that would even work.

-You want to go all student council and campaign for your rights in a closed world where you have already signed them all away. 

I think we've all seen sporting events where the referees somehow lose the plot somewhere along the way and the game descends into bad, bitter feelings. The best way for that to happen is for the referee to be seen making arbitrary calls in order to shape the game, or to make up for a bad call earlier. CCP wisely has this policy in place to prevent just that. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Well done, Diablo III

I'm sure everyone has heard that Diablo III got an expansion on the PC. As a special bonus, they got rid of the auction house for the base game too, and reworked the loot system to (gasp!) drop level- and class-appropriate items. Also, the game (gasp!) automatically scales the bad guys to your level, and the difficulty levels just amp them up from there. It just (gasp!) works.

The auction house broke the game, plain and simple. Trying to create that revenue stream completely buggered every piece of the game experience that it touched. 

Much kudos need to go out to Blizzard for doing the right thing once they had exhausted all the alternatives. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

On the Solkar Thing

That ain't right. They went over the line on that one. I'm not even linking to it, it's that gross. I used to get bullied some as a child. It isn't funny, sorry.

CCP needs to swing the ban-hammer. We'll see.

Funny that it happened the day after my last post about REALLY bad PR headaches. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

If you date yourself, you'll probably be easy

This is expanded from my comments on a Post on Jester's Trek.  

To summarize, Jester is concerned that a cataclysmically bad press event like an EVE player committing suicide over in-game behaviour, which would be yucky all on its own, could also have severe financial repercussions for CCP. His go-to example is the Dungeons and Dragons devil worship scare in the nineteen eighties, that itself was catalyzed by one fellow murdering people and another offing himself in a steam tunnel. And they just happened to like DnD. 

When that stuff went down I was a young teenager who was very into the game. If I were more social I would probably have run into some backlash from people not understanding my hobby. Which would have been funny, because this alarmist expose probably best reflected my experiences around the gaming table.

The whole brouhaha has been credited with the eventual downfall of TSR, the outfit who was publishing Dungeons and Dragons at the time, but I see it differently. It shouldn't take a scandal a whole decade to kill a company, in my experience. I'm given to understand that a lot of research has gone on regarding the decline and fall of Tactical Studies Rules. My favorite interview on the subject is the one Fear the Boot had with Ryan Dancey, the man who, almost accidentally, brokered the sale of TSR to Wizards of the Coast. 

That aside, the worry that some poor, disturbed kid would hear HTFU too many times and whinge about it in a suicide note is vivid enough sometimes to make it seem likely. EVE seems, however, to have a couple major characteristics that inoculate it from this sort of thing. Firstly but tangentially, CCP is well-known as a force for good in their home country. TSR, by contrast, was spearheading a new hobby known only to the players and their teachers. 

Second, and more important, the graphics in EVE Online aren't all that visceral or inspiring to most people. Bear with me, this will make sense.

When people heard that DnD had the devil worship thing going on, there was the Monster Manual with Demons Type I through VI all laid out with (for the time) vivid and weird pictures thereof. A lot of those illustrators had a penchant for occult symbols that did actually have dark meanings familiar to those who already felt paranoid about the occult. So people are watching the news, they tell them about devil cults in a game, and they show the picture books. Holy carp! There's infernal imagery in there! 

By contrast, you might hear about diabolical imagery in World of Warcraft. The news shows pictures of the game, but all they've got is the cartoony, bright-colored Azeroth we all know and loathe. The demons are kind of comical, really. Not much of a story there. The imagery doesn't do a good job of lending visceral confirmation to the viewership's suspicions.

So let's imagine that rumors start regarding EVE being a den of devilry. You see the news report, and they show you...spreadsheets in space. I'm sorry, that's just not going to get the public's blood up. Thank god, really.

As I've said before, I am fundamentally onboard with the notion that CCP's desire to grow EVE's marketshare in a sustainable way is going to conflict or collide with its extremely entrenched user base and cutthroat game mechanics. I'm with Malcanis, however, insofar as Jester is barking up the wrong tree on this post in the series. CCP has much bigger priorities than this.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

BB #54: My heroes have always killed cowboys

The current Blog Banter comes via Diaries of a Space Noob and other sources:

Quick post. I was listening to a song and a question occurred to me. Where are the EVE heroes? Against a dark background surely all we have are anti-heroes? A lot of mockery is aimed at any who attempt to be white knights. EVE is a dark place and yet pretty much all other MMO's try to place the player in the role of some form of hero, boosting the ego and taking the player out of the humdrum 1 in 7 billion that is RL. Why have I fitted into EVE? Did I never want to be that? So I guess my question is:
Do classic heroes exist in EVE? Is such heroism even possible in EVE? How would you go about being one without opening yourself wide open to scams? Is the nature of the game so dark that heroes can't exist? How do you deal with that irony? What effect does this have on us and the psyche of new players coming in from other MMOs? Is it something special that we don't have classic heroes, or should we? Are our non classic heroes more genuine?

Life is pain, and we have eternal life. We are all immortal, so there can be no harm. Let's play.

We are capsuleers, strange homonculoids of flesh and machine. We were once human, and we fight to preserve what is left of ourselves in the face of gargantuan temptations. The temptation to destroy. The temptation to steal. The temptation to shame and humiliate. The temptation to abuse and torture. 

Death takes away everything you love so that you needn't worry about it anymore. We capsuleers are denied that final insult. It makes us restless and hungry. The memories of all these ultimately painless injuries embitters us and alienates us. We want to know death again. So we keep trying to inflict it on each other, to know what we're missing. To stay human. It is a race, a race to be the last to lose touch entirely.

We don't have heroism in EVE. We have something better. I've always been one to rogue about New Eden, as if EVE were a marginally slower-paced Diablo III meets Grand Theft Auto. It's almost like checkers, even, provided we're talking about the part where I make the wrong move and get jumped.

The closest to heroes I have would be the movers and shakers of low-sec. If I look up to them it's as I fire up my guns and try to kill them, as if a kill mail with their name on it will give me a permanent elevation in status, like if Hector were to turn to his Trojan comrades and brag "I killed Minerva Zen!"

Other times we revel in a shared feeling of accomplishment and camaraderie in our virtual Valhalla after a hard day's work to have a cold dark mexican beer together and shoot each other up. I see those I have shot and who have shot me and feel a glint of respect for them. They have something in common with me. We are all EVE players.

We have wound up with different choices and their diverse consequences. In many MMOs, They may make different character builds, but they all grind the same content. Not so here. I have chosen to do Faction War. As a result of that, many parts of the game are things I hear about but only remotely understand or don't have the stomach to do. 

You might call my first answer the more in-character one. Or rather the one that I play with in my more reflective moods, thinking of what the single shard universe all means.

Verb all the things

I like the new Dev Blog and its take on one of my favorite memes. I have an intuition that this is big and will be talked about at length. I only wish I had a better grasp of these macroeconomic things.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Fly Naked

I usually don't have any implants when I fly. I tried equipping a reasonably priced, sub-100mil set for a while, but it did not seem to mean more or better wins or reduce the losses. And every now and then I'd still get podded. The squids like to do that, you see. They get LP for it. 

I also have a rule not to spend more than 10% of my savings on one ship. And I usually spend far less, about 1.5% for one of my faction fits. The cost of implants, however, I find hard to rate on this scale. It seems I'll go weeks without getting podded, get confident and implant up, and then get podded within a couple hours. I should keep track and write this stuff down like Richard Feynman used to advise and make sure that's not just my paranoia talking. 

Part of the reason I like frigates so much is that even the pirate faction frigates are within my budget every now and then, so I can enjoy the whole ship class. I also think that perhaps I will learn the difference between them better if implants aren't skewing things. 

Frigates can also slip through most gate camps. Most. One of the region's hard-working, insta-locking gate camps scrammed and blasted my Firetail, plus pod. Twice as I flew at it from different directions. Good effort on their part.

Navy Comets are selling nicely, go figure. They are, however, not quite as expensive as they were about two months ago during the throes of GalMil Tier 1 fail. My practice, since it is the most expensive navy frigate these days, is to sell most of them and buy the other ones I like. That's mostly Firetails, you may have guessed. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Keeping score: EVE's ethical crisis

In his recent post COTW: What's changed?, Ripard Teg (CSM member, prolific blogger, international man of mystery, cardmember since 1992, DJ, NBA superstar and child psychologist) continues to go into how EVE is headed for an ethical crisis. It makes kind of tortured reading, because he's really trying to be real, and some of the commenters are trying to be real too, but all the competing priorities make me forget why we're all talking so loudly. So I'm posting my attempts to clarify the debate for myself, and everyone can follow along.

Executive summary of the OP's position: 
EVE's famous culture of blame-the-victim, laissez-faire griefery has always been a double-edged sword for EVE's subscription numbers. Many are attracted because of it, and arguably just as many are repelled once they experience it first hand. It has become steadily worse over the years, and CCP will be forced to crack down on this culture it has built in order to make sure it does not undo all the work they have been putting into the game to attract more customers. 

What the commenters seem to be saying against it, with my own take following: 
It's not actually getting worse. The ISK values of the losses sustained recently are inflated versus those suffered earlier in the game's history. The inflation argument is, fortunately, something we can tackle with sufficient accounting and maths. My gut feeling is that it's right. But it's kind of irrelevant, given that the only numbers really at stake are subscriber numbers. Intangible things can affect that, too.

The increasing toxicity of EVE gamer culture merely reflects the increasing toxicity of gamer culture, internet culture, and/or real life culture. This is a contributing factor, but it is not the only factor. 

Grrrrrr Goons, Blue Donut, Null sec is wrecking EVE, et cetera. It seems intuitive that a more peaceful null-sec means that predators will come into high-sec and predate people there, like bears into a mountain town. Analogies are seductive. I give my cautious agreement on this one. I'm not married to it. 

Teg is cherry-picking egregious cases. Another variant of this opinion is: Those who ridicule their victims are more vocal than other kinds of EVE players. Their vocality is distorting perceptions of the supposed problem. Also: Internet media has changed, and its instantaneous ubiquity amplifies their voices. Basically, some sort of noise and/or bias is infiltrating the channel and we're not getting a true picture. I can accept the idea, but it can cut both ways. It could be that the vocality of the griefers serves to legitimize their viewpoint such that the problem looks less serious.

You actually got to admit to some of these recent scam victims have been a special brand of stupid. Agreed, but this is begging the question. We're talking about whether blaming the victim makes EVE suck worse than it otherwise would. These types of comment are really saying they don't want this debate to be happening at all. 

Overall, I think: 
Increasing toxicity of EVE Online's culture, if it exists, is an intangible, uncountable thing. And I think it's why this argument seems to attract so many disparate and tangentially-relevant viewpoints. Some people see it happening, and some don't. 

One time in college, the mayor of the town came to one of my classes to discuss a classic political work of literature, probably The Federalist Papers. He said one very sincere thing: he had never quite got used to just how much people simply want what they want when they want it, and no further thought is required before they start campaigning for it politically. 

Ripard Teg's posts are going to be a really exciting read. I think, in principle, that he is right: the current ethical standards of EVE will eventually come to blows with CCP's business goals for the game. I have quibbles here and there with the fine points, like how much of the player population agrees with or gets hurt by the ethical standards as they now exist. Or whether it will all explode at once or just go down in several teapot-bound tempests. But Ripard's take on the trends seems fundamentally correct to me.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

My Lucky Day

I've flown a freighter exactly once.

One day a few weeks ago I was plexing and had three faction frigates shot out from under me in about an hour and a half. And they weren't even close fights. It happens. So I thought to myself: This must be my lucky day. Let's try lo-sec hauling. 

I flew back to Dodixie and found the Iteron Vs to be a nice, cheap 2 million. Wow, I didn't know that. I thought the V was all leet or something. I fit it with shield tank (Couldn't fit a Large Shield Extender; 3 Mediums would have to do!) and Warp Core Stabs. I loaded it with half a billion ISK of faction ammo and a Firetail (gotta have something to get blown up once I get there, que non?).

It's 10 jumps to Nenn; we have a full shield tank and warp stabs, and half a billion ISK in cargo. We've never done this before. It's dark, and we're wearing sunglasses.

So I set a course and hit it! All went pretty well. The agility rigs seemed to be working alright and aligning me tolerably fast toward the next gate. There was even a three-man gate camp half an hour earlier that had conveniently disappeared for me. 

And then, in the middle of me aligning to warp to Nenn station, a pirate fleet landed on grid. They had at least 15 Wolf assault frigates with EWAR and logi support, all flashy red in my overview like Christmas morning. 

Phew. If I had come through a second and a half later...I shudder to think. 

Now if that ammo ever sells, that'll be another story. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Tristan on Tristan action

One of my favorite things to do is to plex in marginally busy systems and wait for the gudfites to happen. They're releasing a new model for the Tristan today-ish, so I figured it was time to take the Fat Man out for a last hurrah. 

The Tristan has a lot of options, because its high slots are kind of meh to most people. Two guns with a minor tracking bonus; what to do with the third high? I was on Failheap Challenge looking for good Tristan fits, at least something that might be better than mine. 

Some people actually skip fitting anything in the highs in favor of massive speed and drone boosts. Another classic trick is to fit 3 neutralizers, which can cap a frigate out in something like 20 seconds. Bad news if you get close.

I found one of those. I had just happened to fit my Tristan to orbit 12km with 75mm rails and faction iridium. He was afterburner fit too, but with no nano and armor tank, he couldn't quite catch me. He seemed to realize he was doomed as his ancillary armor repper was going to run out, and he redirected his drones at my drones; I could, after all, conceivably slip up and not reinforce them or not have any replacements at all. In retrospect, he may have had a better chance if he heated the afterburner. I had to in order to stay away and he would have outlasted me until he could get the neuts on. I tend to assume everyone carries a web, but he did not. Or he would have heated it and got me at 12km anyway, come to think of it. I think I'll change to Spike and orbit 20km going forward.

He popped. GFs exchanged. No one seemed to be coming, so I scooped loot, finished the plex and returned to base. 

Shield-tanked rail Tristan, orbiting at sufficient range, kills triple neutralizer Tristan. Alert Anderson Cooper. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

What B-R looks like to faction warriors

B-R5RB happened about six weeks ago. The Teginator and others have noticed statistical data and plentiful anecdotes that new players have come in for good fights and are largely not disappointed, thanks to good instigators like Brave Newbies and some courageous souls in Faction War even, who have taken it upon themselves to actually bash iHubs to flip enemy systems when they become vulnerable. Quel concepte!

The veterans start chiming in and trying to channel them. And the newbies have been good sports about it. I think this is working as intended, and it's a good thing socially. It elevates militia chat above bad dick jokes. 

Sometimes, though, it seems as if the veterans are still trying to control their Isk/LP ratio, even at the expense of these new eager recruits that want to raise our Tier. They will try to talk said newbies out of bashing certain systems for what look to me like not-strictly-strategic reasons. And I get pugnacious over that, because for once in the last three months in GalMil, we're making progress. 

Faction war is not a war simulation, is it? It's a war profiteering simulation. I guess the profiteer and the soldier have different ideas of progress.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Plex Banter

We've all had this happen. You're about to cap a plex and a new guy comes in, sees that you're almost done, and decides he's safe to stay and get some of those sweet, sweet Loyalty Points at your expense.

Last time that happened I locked him up. He didn't leave. Time to huck some missiles and teach him some healthy suspicion for his Militia mates. Then he leaves.

Minerva Zen > and stay out, christ
Red Acted* > sad face
Minerva Zen > it's bad manner to vulch plexes

Same night. It happens again. You'd think we just hit Tier 2 warzone control or something. Same story. Locked him up,

Minerva Zen > 10 seconds

I had to huck missiles before they left. I am thinking in the future I should not further jeopardize my security status just to chase someone off.

This time, though, I ran into the same fellow later. I warped into HIS plex right as it was finishing up. I acted fast and warped off.

Minerva Zen > o7
Ubi Sub Semper* > Minerva Zen  thx
Minerva Zen > it's what is done :)

I'm guessing that's got the better chance of changing someone's mind, presuming he recognized my name.

* Not real names. Maybe they're free for yet more alts!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Another EVE blog, WHY?

Many reasons.

1) So I can have my picture next to my responses to Ripard Teg's posts.

2) So I can attract unwanted attention to my in-game activities.

3) To highlight my playstyle, which is apparently wacky. I am in Faction War (FW), and I pursue objectives (farm plexes) with a combat ship, waiting for fights to happen. I have a kind of brain trauma or something, where I look at a game and play it the way its presentation suggests. This is probably why I suck at EVE. Also, I love frigates of all kinds and specialize in them. 

So hey! Maybe I'll see you around.