Monday, 14 December 2015

All the kings' hubris

TheMitani, TheMitani sat on the wall,
TheMitani, TheMitani had a great fall;
and all TheMitani's ships and all TheMitani's yes men
couldn't put TheMitani's empire back together again.

Ah dear reader, this is not a post about the imminent demise of the Goons - that would be premature.

Nor is it indulgence in schadenfreude - for that would be unbecoming of a gentleman such as myself. In addition if the words of the demise are premature, so would be the freude not?

No, no - this is in fact a post about the hubris of men and mice Goons.

All of EVE's a stage and all of us merely players. We have our pods and our blogs and hubris is found in us all.  Of course all are not equally newsworthy blogworthy.  And like the force, the hubris is not equally strong in all of us.

Currently Goons however seem to exude both characteristics in spades.

Pay special attention dear reader for hubris of this magnitude is rarely seen outside of the laboratory.

As if the world was in need of yet another example, the Goons went and proved Joseph Goebbels correct (again!) in that “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

As with all the dark arts though, there is always a toll to pay.

Whereas Goebbels for all his faults were a master of the craft, the Goons proved to be mere middle management.  In this instance they failed to read the caveat buried in the fine print: Care should be taken by the feeble of mind lest you yourself come to believe the Big Lie...

Not only this, they also missed the very important qualification to the Big Lie right there in the main text:
"The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie."
I.E. not in RL

And boy did that come back to byte them.

I find the rate of change of sentiment in favour the grrr Goons camp astounding.  The primary driver of this of course is the failed larger than life wtf were you thinking kickstarter.  

Somehow big fishes in the small pond of a niche MMO intergalactic spaceship game, thought that their influence and power transcended the ether and extended into the realms of real life.

The same real life where the subscriber base of EVE-online are cowboys and doctors and lawyers that actually practise law and such.  Subscribers with lives and dreams, mouths to feed and bills to pay.  Subscribers that might have funds for a kickstarter, but not a kickstarter like that.

Very telling was the reaction of the Goon (and TMC) leadership.  As resentment built, clumsy marketing attempts gave way to equally clumsy damage control tactics thinly disguised as "opinion pieces"

This culminated in TheMittani's final capitulation in which he superficially took personal responsibility but sought to lay blame on anyone and everyone except he himself. Actions that did nothing endear him to the community.

To add insult to injury prior insult, the inimitable Sion Kumitomo not having learned his lesson waded in with a narrative as to who is or who is not a community.  

As if the self same real life subscribers that rejected all his prior spin regarding the kickstarter of hubris would suddenly do an about turn and give a damn as to whether he thinks subscribers should be allowed to read eve reddit or not!?  

 This after he came out with gems like:

Yes I agree dear reader, truly bizarre.  In this instance I offer some advice courtesy of the Iron Lady (even though I doubt it would take...)
 "Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.'
~ Margaret Thatcher

One wonders if there can ever be any comeback from this. As befits reasonable people reaction was swift, and a host of blogs kindly pointed out the error of their ways.

Players are leaving Goonswarm, Corps are leaving Goonswarm, so are sky-marshals.  

I'm not advocating that this is the end of Goonswarm.  I do get the feeling that this is the beginning of a decline though.  Actual demise?  Not so sure.

Even here I am ambivalent.  They do provide fabulous entertainment to us all and "sermon" material for the rest of us hubristic bloggers...

It would befit us all though to realise that there is a divide between my Absence_gets_podded_every_day_and_comes_back_for_more EVE fantasy and my ugly middle aged 08:00 - 17:00 man must work to eat reality.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

BB69 - Nitpick about lore or delve into core philosophy?

Blog Banter 69 - Because of Space-Magic

Because of Space-Magic

CCP sometimes get stuck between a veldspar 'roid and a hard place when they try to blend realism with sensible game mechanics in our sci-fi simulator. Sometimes they create a scientific answer such as 4th dimensional drag to explain our 'submarines in space'. Other times, not so much. When a null-sec Citadel is destroyed players 'stuffz' is to be magicked to another station. Why should a citadel be different to a titan? Should CCP ensure that 'space magic' always has a plausible explanation or do we need just to say "Well, its only a game!" and engage the willing suspension of disbelief? How should it work when a citadel goes boom, how do we balance risk with reward, and how should any "space-magic" be explained?

TL;DR I'm not too concerned about the lore.  I am troubled by the philosophy and can only answer that it depends...

At its core I am not certain whether this months banter is about lore or about the risk reward philosophy in EVE (specifically citadels cited here).

The lore part I find fairly easy.  At its heart EVE is a fantasy space ship game and as such not realistic from a current scientific frame of mind.  I like the lore, and the lore makes the story, but once you accept that it is a video game with certain amount of fantasy you accept that you have to make some allowances towards mechanics that may seem fantastic.  I am ok with that.  

If one wanted to, there are a lot of holes to be poked into the lore - everything from the fluid mechanic model of our flight, the shooting (and warping) through structures.  The crew of our ship (btw are they all in pods too?).  

But ultimately this type of thing makes me think of the video below on how the Lord of the Rings should have ended:

No mess no fuss, logic and straight forward right?  

Right.  And no story either.  So it is with EVE - logic and straight forward as far as possible, but rigid logic would leave us only with things that are currently possible - like lets say Call of Duty, or some kind of flights sim, with the caveat that once you get shot, or crashed that is it.  You are dead, no more - because that is reality.

So I can let it go.  Yes lore is nice.  Lore is the story.  And please lets explain everything with lore as far as possible.  Citadels and your stuff is easy - some smuggling corp smuggled your stuff out for a 10% fee.  Many explanations will do.  Consistent if possible, but if not for the sake of the story I can let it go.

Where the philosophy is concerned I have to admit that I am stumped.  When a citadel goes pop do you or do you not keep your stuff.  Should you or should you not.  

Yes I'd like to keep my stuff.  Heck who wouldn't.  But I have had stuff trapped in stations that I did not have access to.  Annoying as heck.  I have taken part in fights where my coalition deadzoned some other poor guy's station.  Satisfying as heck.  Wormholers lose their stuff all the time (no rewards for guessing where these guys' votes go!).  

In some risky situations I had to pull stuff out.  Logistical nightmares.  Some situations I only took what I really needed. Fair?  Unfair?  Nice?  Not nice?  Or is that just EVE?

Does the possibility of losing your stuff make you fight harder?  Does the possibility of losing your stuff stop you from entering into a venture?

I don't know.  I like the idea of a safe haven where I can extract to, but at the same time I also like that everywhere is not safe.  Safe havens are essential (to me!) for when real life forces lengthy absences or prolonged periods of little possible activity.  

Unsafe space is essential to me because otherwise we might as well just have highsec.  

In the end I will go smack bang in the middle - a cop out if you will.  Should you lose your stuff when a citadel is destroyed?  

It depends on where it is.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

BB68 - Show me yours and I'll show you mine

Eve Blog Banter 68 - This is My Rig.

This is my Rig, There are Many Like it...
What do you play Eve on? I'll show you mine if you show me yours! Are you pew-pewing on a laptop? Plotting universal domination on a 12 monitor set up? Mining away on a 50" TV? Is your set up located where your other half can speak to you or do you lock yourself away for hours in your Eve themed shed? How do you play your important internet spaceships?

TL; DR; The executive summary-pictures will save you a thousand words:

Obsolescence cycles of PC hardware dictates a functional but sane mid range type build summarized to the left.

Not much to add here - not shown is the Gigabyte Z97N Wifi Mini ITX motherboard and 2 x 1 terabyte spinning disks (non raid).

Went with Kubuntu 14.04 here for the LTS - my first Debian based installation at home - favoured Red Hat based up until now.

I still run Fedora 21 on the laptop, but will probably also reinstall this soon.

The graphics card is the only somewhat above average item in the build (or was at the time of purchase).

At that stage there was a possibility that we might have to explore GPU processing at work and I used that as an excuse to convince the wife.

GPU processing didn't pan out but the graphics card stays.

When I travel I "play" on a laptop.

An older 15.6 inch ASUS K53S machine set up for work, not gaming.

Intel i7-2670QM CPU @ 2.2 GHz running Fedora 21.

8GiB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce GT520MX (1GB) graphics completes the package.

The side-on view of  the techni-coloured mini ITX case with some of the paraphernalia exposed if you are into that sort of thing.

800 Watt PSU because at peak the GeForce GTX 780 draws 42 Amp and resulted in brownouts when I only had a 600 Watt PSU.

In normal EVE sessions I play on two 23 inch Samsung SyncMaster S23B300 monitors running 1920 x 1080 resolution @ 60Hz.

Cheap Logitech K120 keyboard and matching mouse.

It is just the wife and I in our household despite me being in my early forties and my wife in her middle-late thirties.

In our previous house my "office" was set up in a spare room but this meant that we were often separated when I was working late or playing EVE.

In our new abode, the computer workstations are set up in the open plan living space.  The laptop on the left and the Swiss ball are hers not mine.  When things get really serious and I need another screen/client I will squeeze my laptop into the space where the coffee mugs are in the picture.  

The boss is a sports scientist and does not play eve.  Calls us nerds.

She does understand a fair bit about the game though.  In addition, she can see and hear everything that goes on on my side.  Boy did I cop an earful when I went ganking the other day...

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Need to Feed

Whilst the title sounds evocatively EVE-esque (and we get to that) I have to lead with real life.

Your author has to work to eat.  He doesn't qualify for any meaningful social safety net and the recent groundswell of calls for a universal basic income has not as yet materialised into something tangible.

Until such a time as it does (if indeed it is even practical) your author works. As it happens, he is snowed under.

Your author plays the systems game.  His current gig is electricity.  More specifically payments, metering, monitoring and control of residential electricity.

Now I am aware that you don't tune into this blog to while away the sands of your time on the days of your authors' life - so without more ado I will tie this little trivia to two points very much related to the post.

The first is the nature of the service provided and the customers the system is serving.  Electricity happens to be an important commodity and our system provides that to tens of thousands of residents. In addition indigent citizens get Free Basic Electricity allocated on the first day of the month.  This in a country where service delivery protests frequently end up like this (or any of these).

When you make substantial changes to said system and the first of November is looming those images serve as a grim reminder of the possible consequences of your actions.

Now in all honesty your author does not work at the coal face any more - in fact for the time being he resides on another continent. He himself would not be in any physical danger, but he is cognisant of the fact someone, somewhere, just might be.  Nothing like actual real life violence and death in the literal sense, to really focus your attention to the job at hand.

Extra time has to be allocated to this pursuit, and the very nature of time is such that is finite - in order to allocate more time to one pursuit it has to be cannibalised from another.  In your authors' life EVE related pursuits is always the first victim.  Always.  The sacrificial lamb to be slaughtered.

Thus ends my first point and pathetic excuse apology for the radio silence on this blog.

The second point relates to the systems game, the basic income grant and related strategies like free basic electricity that is already a widespread reality in at least one country.

Technology is making more and more people obsolete.  What's more systems perform better than the now obsolete humans ever did.  The onslaught is relentless and more and more people will eventually share this fate.  If this guy is to be believed even software and systems will be obsolete in about 15 years:
I see coding shrinking as a widespread profession. Not because software is going away, but because the way we build software will fundamentally change. Technology for software creation without code is already edging toward mainstream use. Visual content creation tools such as Scratch, DWNLD and Telerik will continue to improve until all functionality required to build apps is available to consumers — without having to write a line of code.
~ CRUNCH NETWORKCoding Academies Are Nonsense

I had never really liked social security and welfare.  In retrospect it stems from the vantage of the "have" vs the "have not".  For the "haves" social security is just an expense.  Money showered on the undeserving lazy.

Of course when one is confronted with the idea of obsolescence yourself new respect is given to the view of the "have nots". What would one have social security look like if one was one of them?

Even if obsolescence was not an issue - what if the basic income grant (BIG) ever came to be?  Is it practical?  Is it even possible? Would I still hold my stressful job or would I quit and go on the long holiday?  What would you do?  Will you while away your hours with EVE?

Of course all that is just speculation, ifs, butt's and maybe's.  Much more practical to concern ourselves with the here and the now.  In the absence of a BIG, we are left to use what we've got.

Due to circumstances I have struggled to play.  Things are however looking up.  I have access to my desktop computer again. I can scan.  I can run two clients simultaneously. Final (work!) systems testing will happen today or tomorrow.

I am not totally out of the woods yet.  The SO might feel a little bit neglected and someone has to mow the lawn, but I am getting there!

Just like real life one's EVE existence needs a bit of sustenance.  There is no BIG in EVE and precious little charity.  The Lai Dai Corporation is not unionised. Except for rookie ships nothing is free.

My lengthy spate of neglect have brought about significant rot and decay.  I have survived by cannibalising assets.  Selling stuff.  I have drawn down my balance sheet and ISK to the point where a vigorous injection of ISK is needed for me to have fun in the game.

This unfortunately means some sort of PVE grind is in order.

I still have a 3 billion ISK incursions vindicator to my name (I'm not that poor yet ;-)).  Of course the only character that can fly that now has kill rights against him, so park that idea (for another 15 days at least!).

Instead I have decided to take a look at the COSMOS missions.  I heard about some lucrative implants to be had...

In addition I am looking into higher end wormholes.  Wormholes is an area that I have never really explored - only been in and out, never lived in one.  Heard good things about C5/C6 cap escalations as well.  Of course dependent on finding a good wh corp to join and the result of the COSMOS missions as per above - this requires some expensive hardware!

I am also aware I still owe readers some info regarding ganking avoidance.  In this context I have skilled (well semi skilled up - takes a long time) up a character for mining, and hope to get to this sooner rather than later.

Always the humble servant, I will endeavour to report on my findings - all in good time.  Until then - happy feeding!

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Never the twain shall meet

This just by way of a quick follow up on the previous post where your author went ganking...

I promised Agent Liek DarZ I would run the post by him for comment.  I convo'd him in game and asked him to take a look at the preview.  Unfortunately he was a bit busy and did not get around to it until the post went live (unintended - I played around with schedules and failed...).  There goes all my professional journalistic integrity...

I screwed up and seeing that he paid me the courtesy of replying to my email with the important things he considers omitted, I feel it is only right that I post them - even if he insists that I do not have to:
"Found it went live anyway already ;-), but just my short impression:
almost looks flattering, kind of, as it is often about me, but that is probably because of the close, personal perspective. 
Something I would not consider an omission, as we did not talk about it, but you mentioned it yourself - the treatment of gankees/other players (even before being ganked). There is no need for you to add it, as, like I said, it did not come up really during our conversation, but just to state it towards you:
I never dig for tears, and will gladly explain all the mechanics of ganking (and thus also how to avoid them) to whoever is interested. Especially new players often are open to that part - as they are still learning and probably do not take "This is mine" as a given. 
Yet, of course once people start to threaten me with non-consensual intercourse into inappropriate orifices of mine, they lose all of my sympathy, and yes, I start collecting their rage then. If they make a choice of (mis)treating an individual (me) like that, they are in it by themselves. 
OTOH, in the rare cases I kill true newbies, I will gladly throw some millions their way and tell them to pick a Procurer, for the saviour's sake. It is all about what they WANT to learn, or if they rather insist on getting a safe theme park game where EVE is not designed that way.  
Take away from me personally - I have developed a routine, and I do not have any sympathy when being raged on, but I am not a cold-hearted killer ;-) As you saw, I explained everything to you that may have interested you. 
All the best, and have a nice EVE, 

Now personally I find I am too much of a softie to be a successful ganker.  My conscience bothers me.  So I have to confess that my sympathies probably slant towards the "gankees"

As Turamarth Elrandir pointed out in the comments section yesterday - miners and industrialists have a point. He clearly doesn't care much for the narrative of CODE, or gankers in general.

His is very much a live and let live mentality viz a viz the philosophy of playing EVE.  Playing the way you want to, and NOT being forced to play according to another players' vision or imposition.

Have a look at the blog roll to the left - CODE is listed under role playing and as far as I can tell that is accurate.  This is an important point to remember - EVE is a game.

Liek in this respect raised some valid points of his own - one theme is that gankers are people too.  Most of them happen to be nice guys.  Threats of real life violence, comments about one's mother and so on are just not on - even if you were ganked.

What is clear though is that ganking is a very sensitive subject - emotions stir up in a way I have rarely seen - just have a look at the comments section of any post on the Miner Bumping site.

Even guys like Turamarth who as far as I can tell, are very inclusive (and has not been a victim of CODE to my knowledge) get plenty riled up:
"Well, anyone with guns, knives and bats can beat the piss out of anyone who is unarmed and cannot fight back... and as your friend said, ...He ship scans his targets beforehand to ensure that he brings enough dps to guarantee a kill... So yeah, not something I'd ever do and feel even a trace of pride in."
In the end I have no solution as to what is right and what is wrong - and in truth this debate has raged longer than your author cares to remember.  The cases of both sides presented by people far smarter than himself.

In the end one can only change what you yourself do within the game as it is.

Despite misgivings by Turamarth likening my action to tilting at the windmills - in an ill considered attempt to "...bring justice to the world, under the name Don Quixote." - I will take up Liek DarZ' offer and do a follow up on some advice on how to avoid a gank - inclusive of your authors' own dastardly twists on it, that probably does more harm than good....

Monday, 12 October 2015

Gone off the reservation

Another day, another dollar, another whiner in local.  If you don't know what I am on about read this first.

In order to judge whether ganking is as easy as they say it is, I joined forces with the resident CODE agent around Osmon - Agent Liek DarZ.  Yes in a moment of miner whiner driven insanity, your author went rogue.

One quick email to agent DarZ and a little while later I am on my way to a gank.  Now in truth, this is not the first time your author went ganking.  But seldom as slick as this.

Get your ass to xx station.  Trade window goes up as I dock.  Accept T1 destroyer.  Get in ship.  Message to undock at count of 0.  2... 1... 0... undock.  Take fleet warp to gate with instructions to jump on contact.  Take fleet warp to another gate, jump on contact.  Take fleet warp.  Message to overheat and activate guns. Targets name gets posted in fleet.  Land at optimal, lock... and the rest happens automatically.  I was slow, so I get the kill mail.  Also I am too slow to target the pod.  Warp to station.  Undock in rookie ship to "pull concord".  Dock again and wait out aggression timer.

While we wait I chat to Agent DarZ.  He has been at this for a very long time. Look at his kill board.  No seriously, go and take a look.  Way more losses than kills (you get shot by CONCORD twice for every gank - once with the gank, and once when you undock your rookie ship per above).  ISK efficiency of course the inverse.  The asymmetrical nature of that stat of course the chief bone of contention.
Name redacted to protect the guilty

I ask if I may post my observations in this blog and offer to run it by him first.  Sure he says - I can do that, but he doesn't care to censor me in any way.  There is nothing secret about what he does.  Too true. Every step we took in our gank is documented.  Everything from basic catalyst training and fitting, to advanced catalyst, thrasher and vexors.  There is even a nice section on "managing" CONCORD.

We chat about the philosophy of CODE.  The complacency of care-bears.  Anti tanking.  Whether or not he thinks ganking is too easy or not.

The way he does it, certainly makes it seems ridiculously easy, but your author has been around the block enough times to know that is not the case.

What we have here is an individual that has put an enormous amount of time and effort into perfecting his technique.  Intimate knowledge of his environment as well as his targets.  In short, a player that has done the hard work, put in the time and should be rewarded for his efforts.  Whatever your opinion about the philosophy of ganking - at least lets have respect for that.

In Agent Darz' case he runs 4 clients.  Most of his targets are identified with D-Scan (he only rarely uses probes).  He has perches for most of the systems around Osmon and can scan any system easily.  He ship scans his targets beforehand to ensure that he brings enough dps to guarantee a kill, and get gets the warp in pretty much spot on every time.

When the gank goes down he normally controls 2 dps characters - and snags the pod in the vast majority of the cases.  In addition he usually scoops the loot with a 3rd.  For the uninitiated - this requires a certain amount of coordination across multiple screens - something your dimwitted and slow deliberate author has trouble pulling off.

If that still seems all to easy, well then the below is posted especially for you...

Agents of CODE are cowardly you say
and only in it for the easy prey
they care not about the ISK
dishonourably they enter the fray.

In PVP, not so easy the fight will go
in a tournament they might not even show
In miner space grief they sow
always land the final blow

Regarded as the most dastardly clan
in all the realms of the LAN
If ganking is your plan
an agent from CODE is your man

Where CODE is concerned most of the targets happens to be industrials or miners, but as Agent Darz points out - a target can be anything - he links a Caracal kill as an example of a "moving" target of opportunity, although those happen less often.  In passing he mentions that he doesn't really care about the ISK.

He has been ganking for a long long time - I ask him what keeps you coming back and not getting bored?  "Some people actually start to be cautious, so there is challenge. But there is also new ones all the time" he says.  He continues that he just needs a target : "The harder to kill, the better"

Of course the ganker is but one side of the story.  Your author is only too well aware of the ostential reason for his roguishness - miner whining.  Well in this case not a peep.

In fact when I tried to contact marian64 Sukarala the convo gets rejected.  A second try sees me permanently banned from contacting him.  A pity as I really would have appreciated his perspective. I take a cursory look at his and his corporations' kill boards - as far as the corporation goes, not too bad (lots of losses but at least a good number in low/null/wormhole space).  As far as marian64 himself goes - could be a noob with a good couple of highsec losses.

This is the point your author realises he will never be CODE agent worth a damn - his conscience gets the better of him and he refunds marian64's 30 million ISK loss

Forgive me Agent DarZ for I have sinned...

As part of my redemption I send an email to his CEO - with an apology and an offer to sacrifice a tanked ship to marian64 and the rest of the corp in highsec if they so choose (gets rid of the kill right too).  In truth I'm struggling to figure out what the character of the corp is - no idea whether that would appeal or insult.

So does this mean your author has turned around and slunk back to the care-bear den from which he came?  Not quite.  With kill rights against him waiting to be activated PVE is out of the question - who knows what he will get up to!

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Oh, for crying in a bucket!

Your author has lamented his real life situation before.  He is relegated to high sec for the moment.  Bouts of skill queue online and lvl4 missions to keep the ISK ticking over.

This is how he came to spend a lot of time in business with Lozdod Pousel, the Sisters of Eve agent in the Osmon system.  Now Osmon is a special place.  Close to Jita, a lvl 4 SOE agent, and it spawns ice anomalies.  What's not to like?  All this attracts miners, mission runners, and CODE.

Now your author has nothing especially against miners/mission runners (care-bears from now on).  Or CODE.  He does however wish he could have one loyalty point for every time a care-bear whines about a gank in local - he would not have to run another mission. Ever.

Please note that I am not anti care-bearing here - for the time being, I am one.  Well sort of.  Maybe.  More about that soon...

If you are the kind of care-bear that takes losses in stride - move along, there's nothing to see here.  If however you are the other kind please for your own and your authors' sanity listen up.

There is no point in whining about a gank in local.  It hurts my ears.  You get no sympathy - on the contrary - it just ticks people off.  We've heard it all before, and we are sick of it.

You are outraged.  You lost an expensive ship.  It hurts.  Ganking is too easy.  Bla bla bla.

You have a number of valid points. We get it.  But, here's the thing:  The rules of engagement are what they are.  Ganking is a fact of life.  It is up to us to deal with it.

Ganking, like mining or missioning is a legitimate play style.  Last time I checked these guys also paid for subscriptions.

The sooner we get to this realisation, the better of we will be.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Neck on the block and skin in the game

A comment on an earlier post got me thinking about opinions and criticising of others's opinions. There is an asymmetry in the situation.  I for instance find writing a blog post a lot more challenging than merely commenting on a point in the blog of another writer.

The same holds for actions.  Pertinent to this blog, the actions of CCP developers and the criticism thereof by players and bloggers.

Criticism I find is easy - being the originator of a semi coherent and even vaguely interesting topic/game feature is much more taxing.

That is not to say that we should not be criticised for what we write (or the game feature's we implement). On the contrary.  Your author is all too well aware of the need for criticism - he is wrong more often than not. Until his wife recently (and lovingly!) pointed his short comings out to him, he was totally oblivious to the true state of affairs.  Who knows, had she not done so, he could have been blissfully unaware of his foolishness for many more years!

This is why criticism should be welcomed - in the words of Scot Adams (the creator of Dilbert cartoons):

"Realistically, most people have poor filters for sorting truth from fiction, and there’s no objective way to know if you’re particularly good at it or not. Consider the people who routinely disagree with you. See how confident they look while being dead wrong? That’s exactly how you look to them."

I am a big fan of comments. In the (anonymous) comment a lot of value can be gotten. It is within this distant relationship or the safety of anonymity that the real truth often emerges. This more than anything is why I would like to keep the comments section on this blog open and anonymous. *

Besides that, criticism should be allowed for the entertainment value. Whether it is in the comments section - or one blogger responding to another.

I found the recent interchange between Talvorian Dex and Gevlon totally fascinating. Not to say who is wrong and who is right but fabulous entertainment - especially when digging into the respective comments sections as well.  Both Tal and Gevlon are very active in interacting in their comments section - good on you both sirs!

Another slightly more tongue in cheek exchange was that by Neville Smith trolling ok, it was a troll with Rixx Javix regarding warp core stabilisers.  If I had enough energy for trolling the good fight I would counter Rixx with a campaign to remove warp scramblers/disrupter's if he wants to remove warp core stabilisers ;-)

Of course this can be used for good and for bad - an example of good use is that of Sugar Kyle in her recent blog series starting with taboo-questions - dealing with highsec and changes people want to see.  What a wonderful initiative - kudo's to her and all the responders (94 comments!) alike!  Double kudo's to her for doing the extremely hard work of distilling all that information into something useful.

Which brings me to the real point of this bog post.

Criticising is good when you believe someone is making a mistake. Trolling is good when you do it in a nice way for entertainment (of all a la Neville above).  Being constructive is best of all, but also happens to be infinitely harder to do. This is what puts your neck on the block and your skin in the game.  This opens your up your efforts, to scrutiny for all to tear apart or praise.

If you happen to fall in the last category - for whatever it is worth, respect to you from this humble author - whilst he is not bright enough to achieve much himself, he likes to think that he is (just) bright enough to appreciate constructive achievements when he sees it.

* Open and anonymous comments can be abused - where this blog is concerned all I can say is so far so good.  Only a handful of very pleasant comments were posted. Maybe I am naive and it is merely because this blog is not that widely read, but I hope it keeps.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Not ready to make nice

Aegis Sov.

Some love it, some hate it.  Your author is in the latter camp - weird, for his personal circumstances are such that he cannot partake in null sec battles of sov. Be it entosis trolling or whacking the mole.

In truth he does not understand it.

 "But Absence that can be said of a great many of things", you point out.... " and just because you don't understand it does not mean that its not a valid mechanism to control sov" you continue.

You're right, and you're right. Don't get me wrong, I get the mechanics.  It is the why I do not get.

At all.

To me it is just an incident pit of bad thinking, bad planning and panic.  Your author is of the solemn opinion that Aegis Sov is an explicit product of Do Something Syndrome.

Yes dear reader.  Doing something for the sake of doing something because some vocal minority has shouted hard enough for long enough.
"We all have moments where we fall victim to the curse of Do Something Syndrome. In fact the modern organization is full of do something syndrome. The key is to try and realize when we are doing it and back away"
Shane Parrish on The Farnam Street blog
Because your author is by nature a lazy bugger it is easy for him to subscribe to the concept of Primum non nocere. That and the fact that he lacks the wherewithal to figure out what to do in even the simplest of calls to action means that he in fact does very little. A trait that has served him well.

I have said this before - Aegis sov feels rushed.  Incomplete.  Figure-it-out-as-we-go like.  CCP is coming around to tacitly admitting this.
"Long story short, we have had long meetings about the structure attack system, and came to the conclusion that, while Entosis Links do indeed achieve our design goals for the Citadels, they are not actually delivering an experience we are satisfied to provide."
By Team Game of Drones
We have seen this too, with first the speed nerf on entosis ships and reducing command nodes, then removal of entosis links on trollceptors.

Sure the quote by Team Game of Drones is in connection with citadels and not sov, but to my mind it is equally valid where Aegis sov and entosis links are concerned.

"But Absence, this is just a result of listening to players and adjusting accordingly - surely a good thing!?" Ah, yes surely it is, except for the fact that all of those problems were identified before Aegis Sov came to be.

And you're right.  There are the proponents of Aegis, and those that like it.  And sometimes one cannot know how things will turn out before you actually try them out - I am sure there are a whole slew of predictions relating to Aegis that did not come true. Lamentations that were merely swept under the carpet as insignificant mistakes - forgiven because the critics happened to be a whole lot less prominent than a CCP dev.

And what exactly is CCP to do?  Am I now one of those people that you can never please? And yes, this subject is OLD.  I should let it go, but I cannot.

To paraphrase the Dixie Chicks - your author is not ready to make nice.  He's still mad as hell and unable to forgive and forget.

Aegis to him is fatally flawed.  It is a system that does not even fulfil its own stated design goals. It represents wasted effort (in his opinion...).

This perhaps is the most fascinating aspect of it all. Exactly why this should continue to matter.  The conclusion your author comes to is that he still cares. For a while there he had to do some serious introspection regarding himself, EVE and bitter vet syndrome.

In this it seems I am in good company - I presumptuously hold as evidence a candidate I would never have though capable of bitterness - the inimitable Sugar Kyle:

I have refused to fly Hurricanes since the nerf almost three years ago because I refused to add to any stats that said Hurricanes where being used as often as pre-nerf. And I've whined about them a lot since then. I couldn't even go, "I'm done talking about them," because really I wasn't. I was bitter and mostly bit my tongue because frothing bitterness wasn't going to make things go back to how they used to be
This in context of the latest battle cruiser buff.  What a nice example of a personal protest (and it worked too!! ;-)  ).  If only I was smart enough to think of that.

Now where Aegis is concerned, your author will have to move on.  It is a fait accompli and by the looks here to stay.  And he will.  It is however to him ok to protest against it some more ;-)

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

The price of everything and the value of nothing

Last week a special Awful Lost Of the Day entitled ALOD: CREDIT CARD WARLORD surfaced. As it happens the ALOD covers more than just the one loss and spans more than a single day.

Superficial reading suggests that Dagbog Fokin was remarkably persistent in losing expensive ships with questionable fittings.  As the losses mounted he seemed more and more determined to somehow bolster the fits with faction and officer modules.  At the time of writing his "kill" board included 27 losses in all to the tune of 14.35B isk.

I'm not writing this to  indulge in schadenfreude - on the contrary, this is the kind of verve and firmness of purpose that your author admires.

I do wish someone will assist this guy.  Looking at the kill board, the majority of his losses had no CONCORD involvement, indicating Dagbog actively engaged in fights - duels/shot at suspects, whatever.

He even managed to whore on one kill.  For such a new character he shows remarkable willingness to engage.  In that respect, kudos to you sir!

Normally I would take no heed of the apparent pay to win strategy of Dagbog or Jalrek (made famous by the bonus room saga) - the money was theirs to spend and the game theirs to play however they choose.

Except in this case it hits a little bit close to home.  You see your author is in the (space) poor house. In order to fully justify his pathetic excuses explain, a bit of background.

Due to RL circumstances your author is relegated  to little playtime and to playing on a 15' (work) laptop (going on eight months).  He can run the EVE client, but he can't scan (sucky graphics card).  He cannot multibox (PC gets really hot). So no scouting, no probing.  No exploration, no wormholes.

With limited options, he resigned himself to a bout of light highsec work and playing some skill-queue-online (learning clones!)

Which brings him full circle back to the credit card, the poorhouse and the problem.

In order for a EVE to remain a game I don't want to have to excessively grind ISK, so I fund my first two accounts with real money.

Any additional accounts has to be funded by PLEX (with in game ISK) and would lapse if no ISK is available.  This also holds for any additional multi character training certificates.

With the price of PLEX now at 1.2 billion ISK, am I tempted to fund multi character training with the credit card?  Certainly.  At that price I am tempted to buy a couple of PLEX to sell in the market.

But no.

In order for a game to matter, stuff has to mean something.  Losses should sting.  Officer mods should be fitted with care.  A shiny ship should be just that - a shiny ship for a special occasion.

To me the value of an in game item is tied directly to the in game effort I have to expend to acquire said item.  Any short cuts in any way only serves to erode that value and by extension my ultimate enjoyment of the game.

This more than anything else is my wish for messieurs Jalrek and Dagbog:  I hope that they will stay in the game long enough to eventually be able to appreciate the value of the ships that they fly and the modules that they fit.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

The games people play

I grew up with PC games.

First the monochrome arcade style games.  These were not as nice on my rudimentary PC as they were in the arcade, nor was my keyboard as nice as the "real" controls. But at least once the initial game was paid for (you bought your games right?) playing was free.

Then adventure games.  I was an ace janitor in Space Quest, the knight of King Quest, Guybrush of Monkey Island.... you name it, we played it.

With the advent of Doom, soon followed by Quake and Unreal Tournament we all switched to first person shooters.  Sadly I sucked (too slow).  Champion at typing insults in the chat window though  ;-)

It was strategy games that finally made me a complete addict.  Starting with Sid Meier's Civilization and progressing through the Warcraft's and StarCraft.  Command and Conquer,   Notable exceptions here is World of Warcraft (phew!) and StarCraft II - SCII only came much later and I never really played it.

There was however always a kind of unsatisfied feeling with all these games.  They started, you gathered resources and built.  Then you did battle and either won or lost.  Fragged or got fragged. The next map you get to do it all over again.  You never got to keep any of that gold, or lumber or BFG's (my greatest regret!) or whatever.  There was never that continuity.

Enter EVE.  And a continuously growing character.  Hour after hour, day by day my skill points build.  I can do more and more.  As long as my subscription is running, I am making progress.  From flying a frigate to a destroyer, a cruiser, battle cruiser and ever the under achiever, much later a battleship.

Starting of as Caldari progressing to Minmatar (still Winmatar at the time), to Gallente (drone buff!) and finally Amarr - because, completeness and also nerf proof.  Besides lasers are cool and you get to scoff at non Amarr uni-racial corpies that have to go on humiliating ammo runs during POS shoots... Scrubs! ;-)

In reality EVE goals are much easier to achieve than those in real life.  Just go out and try to fit a spaceship in RL - come on - I dare you!  Ever enrol for a degree in Electronic Engineering?  EVE "me" graduated cum laude level V in a month.

Of course skill points is just part of that equation - player skill also comes into it, but as your author has reconciled himself with the fact that he is but a moron and a slacker, he will dance past that particular minefield and skip to the rich player experience instead.

EVE really does offer fabulous entertainment for the cost of 15$ per month. Yes I pay with real money - which part of moron and slacker did you fail to understand!?  I digress.  That brings me to the second thing I like about EVE.  The endless possibilities to amuse.  To entertain.  The sandpit.

In a sense you get to do it all over again.  The arcade game (have I mentioned lasers?). Ever been in a massive fleet decimating another fleet in what can only be described as a turkey shoot?  Yes! Ever come out ahead in a 1 vs 4?  Ok me neither...

Quests are now exploration.  Strategy games - the gathering of resources and loot, through missions (maybe) and mines (hell no!) - soooo much cooler than lumber or that barbarous relic gold!

EVE is the shooter game with a permanent killboard for all to see.  Just in case you are wondering, your author still suck at that... and he is still a master at insults in local chat private chat, as his clone station was 40 jumps off in highsec.  Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

At every twist at every turn your author is reminded that he is but a noob.  And he is OK with that.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

What you know for certain that just ain’t so

It ain't what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.
     - Mark Twain

There are many, many things that the EVE players and opinion makers know for sure, that just ain't so. And there are many, many things that the EVE players and opinion makers know for sure, that are in fact just so.

The trouble is in reliably distinguishing the latter from the former.  In the absence of a proper metric, who's to say which is wrong and which is right?  Concerning matters of opinion right or wrong often depends on who the judge is.  Worse still there may be no right or wrong, but merely difference.

But what of the cases where there is a metric?

          Which is a long winded way
          for your author to say
          he takes issue with beliefs
          that he sincerely believes
          just isn't so.  ;-)

Naturally he comes armed with borrowed data (without permission), that he may be using out of context. Further more said data is only connected to the points he wishes to argue via weak arguments. Of course you dear reader are at liberty to say, but Absence... that just ain't so.  And that too is OK.

First up is the Blue Doughnut

Now this blog is not the first to contest the idea of the blue doughnut, but the distinct impression your author has is that it remained widely accepted.  Arguments of proponents of the blue doughnut largely hinged on the non invasion pacts and lack of daily wars as proof.

Opponents of course argued that EVE is a game, one can only war so much.  Pacts were needed to build.

In the end arguments of pacts and wars or the lack of did not sway. What did, in this instance, was the numbers from the very unlikely source of Greedy Goblin.  He did a series on the the kills of 2014.

Now your author is but a simple man and the data may not say what he thinks it does.  In addition Gevlon compiled it with a very different aim in mind.  Never the less, reading those numbers, there sure seemed to be an awful lot of killing and dying in null sec.  The blue doughnut was anything but.

Next is "EVE is a PVP game"

If you haven't heard this you probably haven't heard of EVE.  This is the often repeated mantra of what this guy refers to as "chest beating knuckle daggers".  Of course this also depends on the judge of the argument and who sets the parameters of what exactly PVP is.

I recall a discussion where self styled PVP'ers proclaimed that undocking in EVE is PVP and therefore all of EVE is PVP. Q.E.D.

I was ecstatic. I was a PVP'er!

Except, I was not. I had played EVE for years.  I was a slow starter (this was before null sec) . I had undocked thousands of times.  I had 3 kills and 8 deaths.

Forward a year or two and what do you know,  CCP comes out with this keynote.  Watch it if you want, but Blastrad does a nice job of breaking it down for us.  8% of players are true PVP'ers.

Damn, I was but a scrub again.

Now I know what you are thinking.  But Absence... why bring this up now?  With the collapse and withdrawal of many large alliances from null surely your first point is moot?  And even if you are correct on your second so what?

Ahhh... you see now, there is the rub.  The problem is not the statements themselves.  Or whether they are correct or not.  The problem is that they were widely held beliefs that may have been incorrect.  Beliefs that drives decisions that shapes the game.

I believe belief in the blue doughnut and the furore it caused pressured CCP into Aegis sov. Aegis sov feels rushed.  Incomplete.  Figure-it-out-as-we-go like.  Maybe I'm wrong.  But possibly if someone had debunked the blue doughnut myth in time, things could have been easier for all of us.

And you're right, that horse has bolted, BUT maybe there is hope for the future.  Maybe the PVP mantra can be dialled down as a driver to pressure CCP.  Maybe metrics can be used to manage expectations.  I have a feeling CCP is getting around to doing just this.

Of course it doesn't stop at doughnuts and PVP.  There are a number of looming questions.

What to do with capitals.  What to do with battleships and battlecruisers.  What to do with links and logi.

It's nice when someone comes up with the numbers.  Numbers debunk myths.

Instead of merely claiming a certain frigate is overpowered, crunch the numbers.  Ditto cruisers. If you disagree with that, bring your own.  Bring substance not rhetoric.

I know CCP is doing this.  I have seen graphs of ship types in use.  Graphs of gun types being used. Just not recently (drat - See Edit 1 below).

There is a lot of speculation about subscription numbers and alts.  Of course CCP is under no obligation to provide this, but it would be nice.  Even if it is bad news I think the EVE community will survive.  Not knowing however only drives frustration and speculation.

Edit 1:  This post was compiled on Friday 11 September and scheduled for publishing on Monday 14 September. In between the initial writing and the publishing, CCP brought the numbers. Thank you guys! With the edit I thought I might as well release it today.

Edit 2: There is also dev blog regarding sov, signed "Team Five 0".  In keeping with calls not to play the man but the ball so to speak, I have decided to drop the term Fozziesov in favour of Aegis sov. In a company like CCP one would expect that decisions like sov would not be left to one person.  

Sure, it may be that one person's idea's mainly drive it, but that is not necessarily so - we don't know how big a hand CCP Fozzie had in the Aegis sov system.  What I do know is connecting the PERSON to the sov system in a game produced by a COMPANY makes for an environment where said person may be unnecessarily maligned.  That does not mean that we have to like the Aegis sov system.  Or stop criticising contributing to it.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Discontinuity discontent: In defence of the Bitter Vet

A long long time ago when I was still a semi noob I joined my first serious corp.  A pvp oriented corp and as it happened shortly after I joined a decision was made to move to 0.0.

The main decision was between NPC null or joining one of the big alliances.  There was lots of discussion and naturally not everyone agreed.  There was the small gang/solo super heroes that was very pro NPC space and anti "pet" space.

On the other side was the core of our "veterans" that favoured joining an alliance.  High skill point players that had done it all.  From high sec war dec's and piracy, to faction warfare, low sec piracy. They have been to -10.00 security and back.

As far as they were concerned, they had reached the end game - except for capitals.  In the end this is what swayed us when it came time to vote.  What most peeps realised was that the game of capitals, dreads and super capitals was a game best played in an alliance.

On the flip side all the other solo/small gang activities were still possible for us less ambitious members.  Indeed one could argue that we had better solo/small gang/sub cap fights against the NPC residents as part of the null sec alliance, than we would have had as NPC residents against the null sec alliance.

In addition a whole new world opened up for us - having players with capitals was great.  We had to scout, we had to do sub cap support, we learned how to move a capital ship, we died in droves as cyno bunnies.  We got fighters assigned to your Naga's when we were poor and had to run havens...  We were ecstatic when we killed an enemy capital or dread, less so when one of the guys lost one.  Above all we were all richer for that experience.

In time even my humble self skilled into a suitcase Archon - never dreamt of taking it into battle - just for flying my sub cap ships around when we deployed.  Even so one had to have several months of training in navigation alone to fly even a suitcase carrier semi properly.

And then jump fatigue hit.

The primary stated aim of jump fatigue as nerfing power projection.  I have no idea whether nerfing power projection specifically intended nerfing the use of suitcase carriers or whether they were merely collateral damage.

I was not against jump fatigue per se, it did however add friction to my and others'  deployments.

Now don't get me wrong I could still get around.  We still sourced ships.  It was just more difficult. A difficulty that I think stifled content - surely not an aim?

Whether the demise of suitcase carriers was intentional or not - either way represents a discontinuity.

I had invested significant amounts of time, skill points and isk to acquire and fly one of these ships - within the rules and with a reasonable expectation of a return.

And just like that, there was none.

My disillusion however is nothing in comparison to the guys that skilled into carriers and dreads with the intention of actually doing battle with them.  Millions of skill points.  Months of training.

And with Fozziesov, that too was gone.

Capitals were worthless.  I  am not against Fozziesov itself nor am I condoning Bitter Vet Syndrome, but against this backdrop of wilful disregard , I can understand it.

I know there were cries for change, but what about the principle of Primum non nocere?

Maybe CCP felt pressured into "doing something".  Maybe they do have a road map for capitals. Somehow I think they would have shared it if they had.  Either way, that horse has bolted.  We live and we learn.

The reason I address this now is that there are pressure coming through for new sets of changes.  Changes that will again affect higher skill point/niche players.

The first deals with logi.  Also here.

The other deals with links.

At least other calls for taking it slow are starting to come in.  Above all I hope the Vet's keep hanging in there.

I serves well to stress here that I am not against change - without change there will never be improvements - all we can ask for is considered change.  I do think we are making progress.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

A simple biased hypocrite

Hi my name is Absence and I am a simple biased hypocrite.

I did not intend to start out this blog in this fashion.  Life is not perfect and you use what you're given.

What prompted this incipience was a convergence of themes in media that I frequent.  Chief amongst these is the often vicious nature of comment and opinion on the internet.  Everyone can blog.  Heck even I can blog.  Everyone can comment.  Sometimes anonymously.  

The first writ that caught my eye was a real life a news site closed it's pages to comments and one of its authors argued that turning off comments protects writers from abuse.

Along similar lines and more pertinent to EVE FearlessLittleToaster featured in defence of CCP Fozzie.  Rixx Javix chipped in with the eloquent and  propitious post titled the great divide.

There is one golden thread connecting all these sources, and that seems to be that they all got sick of the negativity, hate and criticism.  To a varying degree all of them want "some" people to disappear, welcome contributions from "the right kind" of people.

It is a very melancholic moment for me.  Are they wrong or are they right?  I would argue yes.  And I would argue no.  Situations of this nature always makes me think of this skit of Steve Jobs answering a very antagonistic question from a gruff and denigrate person.  Steve Jobs had his faults, but I thought he handled that quite well.

There was every opportunity and justification to put the uncouth inquisitor down, but he chooses to rise above that.  There's a lesson there somewhere.

Along the lines he reiterated some important truths.

  • You can please some of the people some of the time.
  • Even the uncouth inquisitor was right in some respects 
  • You've got to start with the customer experience, figure out what they want and deliver that, NOT what the engineers want.
  • Mistakes will be made, but they will be fixed, and he will support his team.
  • Despite everything some people will still not like it.

If I was CCP I would circulate that skit internally everyday.  But heck, CCP does not need me to tell them that. They probably do it anyway.  As an aside, I would paste that skit in answer to every irrational critique I got if I were them...  Heck, I should paste that skit in answer to every irrational critique I get...

Which brings me full circle to comments, censure and contributions from "the right" people.

All the referenced sources at the top have a point.  Comments and criticism can be toxic and destructive.  I suspect that this is what broke Jester's tank in the end.  Hate and insult certainly cannot be condoned and should not be endured.

But there is a flip side.  You see fundamentally we all have our biases and if Jonathan Haidt is to believed, we are all self righteous hypocrites.  If this is indeed true, and nobody was allowed to point it out to us, how would we ever know?

Tuesday, 8 September 2015


The contents of this blog will primarily be about EVE-online, interspersed with some real life truths, delusions, lies and rants whenever the fancy strikes me.

Although my newly created character Absence of Substance serves as the public face of this blog, I am by no means new to EVE (although still a noob).  As such many of the stories and anecdotes will be borrowed from other characters.

This is my very first blog.  I am bound to make mistakes (please be patient and kind).  Let us hope that I can go the distance and not succumb to Effort Shock, the pesky urgencies of Real Life, Wife Agro, Bitter Vet Syndrome or any other real/imaginary ailments!