Friday, December 2, 2011

Decapitated pilots

Just a quick note on something I hoped I wouldn't see in Crucible anymore: decapitated avatars! For some reason, parts of the avatar sometimed don't load, with this as the result:

As you can see, the avatar is really hollow; the black and grey background is visible when you look down the neck of this poor decapitated pilot!

 I know that WiS features aren't high on the list these days, but this is something that should be fixed I think, as it defeats the whole purpose of Walking in Stations.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The first taste of Crucible

Yesterday, upon returning from work, the first thing I did: launch Eve Online, to download the latest patch, Eve Online Crucible. CCP was good enough to warn us beforehand about the download size: 1.5GB is quite the patch.. Containing new nebulae and new Captains' Quarters, this wasn't really a surprise but still. I remember people complaining about the 25MB download size for Second Life back in 2006, 2007 and obviously broadband is now much more widespread, but for some of my alliance mates - in civilized countries like Canada - downloading this patch took a few hours. Luckily we have 50 MBps download speeds here, so I had it in 10 minutes or so. Installing went well (on all three PC's I might add) and so far, Crucible has been a smooth ride for me.

I absolutely love the new nebulae (or nebulas?) and the sense of direction in space they provide. Same with the stargates: they now actually point in the direction you're supposed to travel! For a game environment, it all looks and feels surprisingly real. This snapshot for instance shows a regular piece of space, nothing fancy, but it really looks like a picture of our own milky way at night. I didn't think changing the nebulae could enhance the level of immersion, but it does for me.

Speaking of immersion: the new captain's quarters are a good, if incremental improvement over the first (Minmatar) one. And now that the UI allows you to switch easily between hangar and captain's quarters, I find myself using them more, too. A step in the right direction, I'd say. My wife likes them too, as you can see in the snapshot.

Other 'Flying in Space' features I am quickly getting used to: right click on a remote stargate in overview and select 'jump'; warps you to the gate and jumps you through. Very neat. Same with selecting a station from your asset list and select 'destination': autopilot will now bring you to that station and dock you. Again - very useful. The 'loot all' button is a boon when ratting or missioning, less mouse clicks!

Another feature that makes me happy: if your ship does an emergency warp (usually caused by an unintended disconnect from Eve: network failure, power failure, PC crash..) then your drones will attempt to return to the drone bay before your ship warps off. I've lost quite a few drones due to emergency warps, hopefully this will help! Plus, when you forget your drones out there (and who hasn't) the Crucible client will let you reconnect to them once you return to the area you left them in, so they don't get lost that easy.

I realise I'm supposed to sing the praises of the new battlecruisers, but the truth is I haven't had a chance to look at them properly, let alone buy or fly one. And as soon as I get my rusty Dominix out in space for a level 4 mission, I may be able to judge the positive effects of the buff to hybrid turrets; so far no experiences there either. And a myriad of other small fixes I haven't testedyet..

So far, I like Crucible; kudos to CCP for getting this out of the door. 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Alliances fail - but why?

To fail..
Late in 2010, NOFAD was part of Saints amongst Sinners, a 500+ pilot alliance living in Querious in a -1.0 truesec dead end system (in other words - a real sanctum heaven), safely under the umbrella of the IT Alliance. A few months later, under intense pressure from enemies, IT Alliance is all but dead, Saints amongst Sinners lost sov in some of the key systems and is in full retreat to NPC nullsec and lowsec. At that moment, SaS is bleeding members and morale is at a low point. NOFAD initially redeploys to Solitude as ordered (while most alliance members just move to highsec), but the alliance seems to fail and in March 2011 we - reluctantly - leave SaS. Now, not even a year later, SAS has 5 members left; the last real corps left on November 10. Sic transit gloria Mundi and all that.

Or not to fail..
At this moment, NOFAD is part of LEGIO alliance, as part of the Against All Authorities (-A-) ecosystem. We've endured a full on assault from DRF, lost sov, lost a few corps. Several NOFAD members, with the memories of SaS's failure still fresh, didn't think LEGIO would survive. It was all too familiar! Deja vu, been there done that.. However, NOFAD decided to stay with LEGIO,as we don't want to be one of those corps that leaves at the first sign of trouble; NOFAD is committed to the alliance it joins. So we redeployed to LGK-VP as ordered, and tried to make the best of it. In the weeks that followed, the red wave crashed over Catch and then - slowly - retreated, and while we might not be out of the woodwork yet, it seems we'll survive. -A- did not fail cascade, and neither did LEGIO.

..that is my question
I'm still digesting what has happened, trying to come up with an explanation as to why SaS failed and LEGIO didn't, under roughly comparable circumstances. First, I'm looking at some external factors, and then we'll take a look at what happens within the alliances.

IT Alliance died; Against All Authorities didn't. That's one big factor, right there. As soon as IT Alliance was no longer able to defend Querious and Delve, the whole ecosystem (intel channels, ship replacement factories, jb network, supporting supercap fleet etc) collapsed. SaS was on it's own, and under those circumstances unable to defend it's space. Against all Authorities didn't die, they just retreated to Stain as they'd done before, and survived even though they lost some (important) corps. The -A- ecosystem survived and continued to support the alliances, corps and pilots belonging to it. An important difference I think.

Internal - leadership
For it's day to day operations, SaS heavily relied on it's CEO, Felix Sidius. Pretty much nothing got done without him, and his alts did much of the hauling too. Felix is a friendly, nice guy; I don't think he likes to say 'no' and for such a fast growing alliance, there were just too many tasks in his hands. Perhaps he should have delegated more than he did? And then, at the critical 'make or break' time when SaS suffered, he became a father for the first time, too! Obviously that did put some strain on his ability to be online and lead the alliance :) So even though Felix did his utter best under the circumstances, (in my opinion) the leadership structure of SaS was not mature enough to withstand the pressure we were under at that time.
LEGIO, on the other hand, has a much more diverse leadership. The CEO, Urkrathos Ulnor, without doubt calls the shots, but much of the practical management work (forum permissions, ts permissions, web site mgmt etc) is done by Scozzy. Still others run the mining/industry division and other separately defined parts of the organisation. All in all, there's much more shared responsibility, strenght and flexibility (and hence coherence, too) in LEGIO as an organisation, than there ever was in SaS.

Ironically, pretty much the same goes for IT Alliance versus -A-. IT Alliance, while not completely run by SirMolle, was definitely his, while -A- doesn't rely on one such figurehead. Perhaps a warning to all those alliances out there that do rely on one strong leader!

Internal - the pilots
Of course you can't blame a failure on just the leadership. It's also up to the pilots to step up and do what's necessary, as best as you can under the circumstances. Within SaS it seems, there were a lot of pilots who were there just to graze, so to speak. Harvesting belt rats and Sanctums for hours on end they made off with billions of ISK, but when they had to reship to combat fitted vessels and defend their place, many left, soon, without even properly saying goodbye. In short, they were not really committed to SaS. It was both surprising and sobering, to notice how many familiar voices on TS just vanished after a few weeks of hardship..
In LEGIO there was one corp opposed to following the -A- strategy to retreat to Stain and fight from there, and they left LEGIO. Ironically, that corp died pretty soon afterwards as their members couldn't agree on what to do next. Still, as was the case with SaS, not all those who remained with LEGIO followed the redeploy orders; some rarely if ever showed up in Stain. But overall, there was more pilot commitment to remain loyal to LEGIO and fight for our survival.

LEGIO doesn't have the rich, perfect -1.0 space SaS had; perhaps therefore LEGIO didn't attract the uncommitted, profiteering, 'grazing' kind of pilot. And we're better off for it: more commitment, less dead weight.

Your thoughts?
I'm interested to hear your opinions and experiences, too! Have you ever been in a corporation or alliance that failed? Any ideas why?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Eve Online - more eye candy

After losing a Drake to a roaming gang a few minutes ago, I feel the need to present you more eye candy from the Singularity test server.. just to forget the loss ;-) I've made these snapshots on a trip from DSS-EZ (Stain region) to HY-RWO (in Catch), in my somewhat rusty Harbinger battlecruiser. 

(Disclaimer: the snaps were made on a laptop with a severely outdated gpu.. it should look even better on about any other PC)

YHN-3K, where the sun looks shrouded in clouds

See more below the fold..

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Eve Online - the new nebulas

Of course I'm very interested in the new nebulas, now visible on the Eve Online Singularity testserver. My opinion: New Eden  looks more realistic than it does on Tranquility, with a much darker space and a milky way like band of light. I like it! The nebulas themselves are clearly modeled after the Hubble space telescope pictures such as this one or this, and as such, they are more in line with what a wider audience might expect to find in a scifi universe. Personally I think they need to blend in more: right now they appear as clearly defined bright blobs in an otherwise dark sky. I'd like to see them fade out at the edges, so that you can't really tell where they begin or end.

But other than that: it looks gorgeous. I want the winter expansion - badly. Have a look at the snapshots!

(Disclaimer: the snaps were made on a laptop with a severely outdated gpu.. it should look even better on about any other PC ;-))

Junsoraert, Everyshore (highsec)

The new, clearly unfinished Raven model in Stain (nullsec)

See more below the fold..

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Catch me if you can

Ever since the DRF started attacking -A- in Catch, we expected to lose sov and end up exiled somewhere in highsec. Yet -A- hung in there, and so did we; and after the DRF said they had achieved their goals and their attack lost it's vigor, we were able to recoup our lost sov and get back to 'business as usual'.

Although business is still far from usual; it's much better than that! There's still tons of reds and neutrals roaming through our neck of the woods, and there's plenty of opportunity to shoot at them.

And shooting them we did, yesterday! When I logged in, around 21.30 eve time, several corp and alliance mates were fleeted up and looking for trouble, trying to catch the neuts and reds zipping through HY-RWO and it's surroundings. Our scout reports a 12 man gang nearby; it looks promising but a little too much for our kitchensink fleet; their Scimitars would have been hard for us to overcome. But with an -A- gang also nearby, who knows.. What happens next, is some sort of intricate dance. They jump in; we safe up. They leave; we move back to the gate. Scouts report an -A- gang moving in; reds move out; we join forces  with -A-, but finally decide to stay at the gate, in case they try to escape through it. It's like chess, like wild animals circling each other, looking for that weak spot, for that little mistake that will get someone killed. Catch me.. if you can!

After some fifteen minutes of this, our scout suddenly yells out on TS: the -A- gang has finally caught up with the 12 man roam we're shadow boxing with, and the fight was on. Go go go! Scimitar is primary! Go! I feel an adrenaline rush and my heart is beating, we move as quick as possible, eager to score some kills, but to no avail. As soon as you hear the scout change his language to past tense, you know you're too late! -A- had done a proper job: the enemy gang was decimated before most of us landed on grid. Good job for -A- and some of us actually got in on a killmail, but most of us missed out. GF's all around in local.

So we moved back to square one, camping the gates near HY-RWO.. and what do you know. Our scout reports a lone Vigilant on the other side of the gate! Will he...? Quickly our bubble is up and yes, there he is! We lock him, drones are unleashed, the FC asks for webs, our loudmouth Dutch pilot yells to 'BUMP, bump the f&cker away from gate'.. We get him in deep armor... come on, come on.. almost there, almost there.. and then he's gone, jumped back through the gate. Crap! Of course all of us had engaged him so we couldn't pursue. And  then, suddenly, the scout yells out on TeamSpeak: RED SPIKE, safe up safe up!

Immediately we switch back from 'post fight relaxing' to 'get out asap' mode: we align to safes, to station, away from gate while the scout urges us to get the heck away. I am still en route to my safe spot, when one of our pilots says ON ME! ON ME! He's at the V-3 station where, unexplicably, a lonely red Abaddon hangs idly in space. We lock, we shoot.. no response. He must be dc'd, AFK or something like that. We expect him to dock any minute, but his ship and pod are killed without him ever moving. According to his eve-kill stats, this pilot had 15 losses for 117 kills.. this one must have hurt.Oh and that red spike? They moved out via another gate, we never saw them.

By this time it's 01.00 AM and I am as tired as a newt, so I dock up and say goodbye. My mates haven't had enough, yet, and in the following our they manage to score a few more kills: a Purifier and a Rapier. Both pilots are podded too.

All in all we had a great night. This is where Eve Online really shines. This is what I come back for!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Eve blog banter 29: I was there! With them!

Today I received an email from Freebooted's Seismic Stan, regarding the next Blog Banter topic:

"EVE Online is renowned for its depth. Its backstory, gameplay and social aspects are all qualities that draw players in. What does immersion in EVE Online mean to you?"

A subject near and dear to my heart, as it was immersion that originally drew me to virtual worlds. After a while though I needed something with more action, a virtual world with game elements, preferrably scifi themed - and via a banner ad I found Eve Online. 

Alien indeed
As an experienced virtual world inhabitant, though, Eve Online proved to be a much more alien environment than I expected. I did not customize my 'avatar' during account creation, because I assumed I could tweak him later.. this turned out to be false, as the original avatar had no function whatsoever. It was utterly meaningless, and definitely not 'me'. Upon logging in for the first time I found myself in something called a 'Velator', in a large cavernous space, in a system called Bourynes.. again, no avatar in sight, no human figure anywhere. In Eve Online, "you" is the ship you pilot. This is a steep barrier to achieving any kind of immersion, at least as we know it in other virtual worlds. At that time I knew several people who crossed over from Second Life to Eve Online, and I heard a lot of complaints about this issue. 

Of course this is all changing, now that Incarna is slowly unfolding in New Eden. For all it's faults and issues, the basic idea of Incarna still appeals to me, for pretty much the same reasons mentioned by The Mittani. If (ever) properly implemented, Incarna should provide the fundamentals for a full fledged virtual world simulator, both in and out of station, with a much higher level of immersion. I still want to sit at the window of a space bar near a busy undock ramp! And after reading Hillmar's devblog, I think I can say we will see that - one day. 

Incarna in a ship, a pos..
Taking it one step further: I would love to be able to walk through my ship as well. They are supposed to be anywhere from a few dozen meters up to several kilometers long, staffed with dozens or even hundreds of people. Wouldn't you like to have a look at the interior? Even if it's only a captain's bridge? Or, housing modules for a POS, again with windows?

Currently I don't think CCP can pull stuff like this off, given their trouble with getting the basics of Incarna right, and the immediate need to appease the 'Flying in Space' related wishes of their subscriber base, but it sure would enhance immersion. It would also appeal to the Star Trek fans, probably.  

My wife, immersed
I was there! With them!
Obviously, the lack of basic immersion didn´t drive me away from Eve Online. What kept me subscribed, was two things: emotional and social immersion. The emotional immersion is, in my opinion, caused by the sandbox nature of New Eden. There's always the risk of something unexpected, always the chance for an adrenaline rush, exhilaration, joy, raw anger and disappointment, great achievements and monumental losses.. See this forum post for a telling example. 

The second one, social immersion, happens when you find a nice corp and some good people to fly with. They become friends; some of my current corpies I have known for years, I know of their personal situations, I trust them. 

The emotional and social immersion of Eve Online: I was there, with them!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Why remove local in nullsec?

It's that special time again: Eve Online's pilots are speculating on what might happen to their beloved game, after CCP Zulu posted a short and cryptic devblog earlier today. Currently, these speculations tend to revolve around a few important issues, with the coming nerf of the (currently overpowered) supercapital ship class and the redesign of nullsec space featuring most prominently.

Something else that's frequently mentioned, usually as part of the nullsec redesign, is that nullsec space should not have a local channel. For those unaware of Eve Online's workings: the local channel is essentially a chat channel, showing you who's in the same solar system as you. When you're flying through nullsec, you'd be wise to keep an eye on said channel. Being aware of enemies or neutrals in your area of space can be a real lifesaver!

Until Apocrypha, all solar systems in New Eden had a local channel. But the wormhole systems that where added with Apocrypha, did not. The lack of local intel means it's much more dangerous to live in wormhole space, as anyone could descend on you, guns ablaze, without any prior warning whatsoever.

Of course, there's ways to work around this limitation, but only partially, by using the directional scanner or scan probes. But those either give you incomplete information or are cumbersome to use, and not easy to combine with belt ratting or running anomalies. As such, for pilots involved in these PVE activities, removing the local channel is a major loss of available intel.

Earlier this year, nullsec PVE got nerfed: from that moment on, the occurrence of the most lucrative anomalies/complexes is limited to only those systems with the worst security rating available: -0.9 or -1 truesec. The rest of nullsec has to make do with less valuable targets to pursue, and many pilots have since moved back to highsec where level 4 missions bring in copious amounts of ISK in exchange for very little risk. So, nullsec has become less rewarding, and many systems are really quiet these days.

Would removing the local channel fix this? I don't think so. PVE in nullsec would become even more risky, and may not be worth the hassle anymore unless you happen to live in one of those rare systems with that low truesec of -0.9 or -1. Some regions don't even have those!

Cloaked ships can't even be scanned down, and their pilots already have a huge advantage over regular pilots, even when they go AFK for hours on end: there's no way to track them down, they are essentially invulnerable. But, at least you know they're there! Now take away local, and the picture gets even worse: there's  no warning whatsoever of their existence anymore. A cloaked stealth bomber could be near you, and there would be no way for you to find out, until he bombs you into oblivion. Not exactly 'leveling the playing field' if you ask me, especially when you keep in mind  that most regular PVE areas (complexes, anomalies, asteroid belts) in Eve Online are easily scanned down or otherwise easily available and accessible to anyone.

Removing local, without providing viable alternative ways of protection for (solo) PVE pilots, and/or increasing incentive for PVE pilots to remain in nullsec, would turn even more of the available space into deserted wastelands. I'd hate to see that happen!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sleepers, awake!

When the Apocrypha expansion hit Eve Online, lots of us eagerly jumped into the nearest wormhole to start exploring. And many of us overenthusiastic pilots lost their ship, either because we were unable to find our way back out of the wormhole, or because we got killled en masse by the Sleepers, the mysterious guardians of old Jove complexes in wormhole space. 

When you're used to the regular NPC enemies in Eve Online - the belt/mission rats - Sleepers can be a nasty surprise. Their AI is more advanced, they are less predictable, making them harder to beat.

As it stands now, regular PVE in Eve Online highsec could use a bit of spicing up, and last night I wondered: perhaps it's time for the Sleepers to aggressively respond to the ongoing infiltration of wormhole space. Let them come out of their hiding, let them infiltrate regular space, let them get some revenge! Eve pilots can enter and exit wormholes.. why couldn't Sleepers do the same? If a wormhole spawns somewhere, Sleepers could appear from the wormhole and spread throughout the system, infecting belts or complexes, harassing pilots near gates or stations, perhaps even invading deadspace mission areas.

The nice thing about this is that it would create a level of uncertainty for (PVE) pilots. When you go out ratting or on a mission,  you (should!) know what NPC rats to expect: each system in Eve Online has only one documented and well known type of belt rats. In missions, the type of mission rats is predictable as well, with their logo featuring on the mission description, and more explicit descriptions available on sites such as eve-survival. With this knowledge, you can fit your ship accordingly, with optimal resistance against the types of damage those specific rats do, and the appropriate ammunition that is known to be most effective against them. But if you encounter a Sleeper instead of a regular rat, things change. Sleepers do all known damage types, and therefore require a different ship fitting, and perhaps you'd need other weaponry or ammunition too. And given that wormholes come and go, seemingly without a pattern, you never know when or where you might encounter the Sleepers spawning from them.. Suddenly, the same ol' fitting for the same ol' belt ratting may not be cutting it anymore.. A lot of uncertainty would be injected into a now essentially stagnant area of Eve Online.

As for the Eve Online story line, this 'revenge of the Sleepers' could set the stage for a greater role for the Jovian race in New Eden. Eventually it could even lead to a full blown Jovian themed "Apocrypha II" expansion, featuring Jovian incursions via wormholes, or the opening of (parts of?) Jovian space to Eve Online pilots for instance.

An added bonus.. the spawning of less predictable Sleeper AI in PVE areas of Eve Online might be an extra hurdle for the botters out there, as their programs would have to take into account a much less predictable environment than today.

(blog entry banged out in response to this Kirith Kodachi blog entry)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Eve Online: ISKing in highsec

This weekend I spent some time in highsec, for the first time in a couple of months. Ever since moving to Catch, I have remained there, apart from jumping back to a highsec clone to get some skill books. This weekend, however, after consolidating some assets in highsec I decided to go back to Junsoraert and take a lvl4 mission there. The agent made me a nice offer - Recon - so I checked the fitting on my Navy issue Dominix, loaded up some ammo and the right drones and off I went.

Now if you haven't run a highsec mission in a while, there's some stuff you have to get used to again. First: local is full of neutrals. The nullsec habit of continuously checking local doesn't help in highsec, there are neutrals everywhere and they are - most probably - not out to get you. Still, I don't feel comfortable in highsec anymore! To me it feels like a densely populated, run down part of downtown, with groups of shady looking types loitering on street corners. It's most definitely not 'home' anymore.

Second: the amount of damage the mission enemies (NPC enemies) do, is minimal compared to what you can expect in nullsec if you run into the wrong people. Being orbited by a couple of battleships in the Recon mission isn't anything to get worried about, if your Dominix fitted right. But in nullsec, a couple of battleships can chew through your tank in no time. In other words - these lvl4 missions aren't that dangerous, and hence not that exiting either.

The rewards, on the other hand, are plentiful. Yesterday I ran four missions (the three Recon episodes and an Angel Cartel Pirate Invasion) and I earned roughly 36 million ISK, which includes the 4 million I earned with the sale of some expensive salvage. That is 36 million ISK for an essentially risk free excercise!

In Catch, on the other hand, ISK wasn't that easy to make. Of course you could run the Hidden Dens, the Ports etcetera, but bounties were rarely so rich as in these lvl4's. The risk, on the other hand, is very real: losing your vigilance for 20 seconds can mean that, all over sudden, the Port you're soloing is crawling with reds, and you'll be sent home the shortest route possible: by being podded.

Occassionally, you can strike it rich in these nullsec anomalies, by getting an NPC faction enemy, sometimes with nice drops such as BPO's or other expensive stuff. But on the average, I'd say that the risk/reward ratio is currently skewed towards highsec. Need ISK? Run lvl4 missions for a week, virtually risk free, and you're good to go.

Of course, after the anomaly nerf a while ago, many people were saying this, but doing these two missions really showed me, how easy, risk free and - frankly - boring the ISK making process in highsec really is. And how well it pays, to boot..

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Eve Online: a tale of two evacuations

Almost a year ago, we founded our corp, No Fixed Abode, and found ourselves a perfect place to live: we joined Saints amongst Sinners alliance and moved to B-7DFU in Querious. We had a good time there, learning much about living in nullsec, PVP, roams, gate camps.. Then things went downhill: IT alliance came under siege and fell apart in quite a spectacular fashion. We had to evacuate our holdings in Querious: everything had to be cyno'd out. Some corp members, having amassed dozens of ships, had to do their utter best to salvage whatever they could before we lost sov. Some cyno pilots flew many, many hours to get the job done.

Fast forward a few months later. We left SaS after a while because we didn't agree with the alliance's post Querious long term strategy, and we're now part of LEGIO alliance. LEGIO owns four systems in Catch, as part of the -A- ecosystem. Of course we settle in our new home, we get to fly through HED-GP, scene of famous battles and generally have a good time in nullsec once again. And then the Russians show up. The DRF takes HED-GP, and again we begin to evacuate. And again, some members have gathered dozens of ships out there! And a Rorqual which we want to save, of course. And a POS which has to be disassembled and shipped out. Again we have to work like mad, lighting cyno's and losing cyno frigs left and right.

I have learned my lesson: from now on, I am going to 'travel lightly'. Get the ships you need, but not too much. Gather the stuff you need, but transfer valuable stuff out to highsec or NPC nullsec when you have a chance. In Eve Online, the lines on the map shift every day, and no one in nullsec can be sure they will be in the same location six months from now. Having lots of posessions in nullsec can quickly become a burden..

Sunday, June 26, 2011

CCP: bad luck and derp

I am employed in the IT sector, and have been building and maintaining a mission critical, internet facing transaction application for about five years now. Back in the day I helped configure the first servers and today I'm still involved in maintaining and expanding the system.

Over the past five years, we've seen intense debates between us the IT guys, project management and the business. We (IT) would demand that existing bugs be fixed first, we would wave with Service Level Agreements and point out we really ought to improve stability and performance, right now. The business guys, on the other hand, would claim that new feature 'x' was crucial in getting the important (read: lucrative)  customers on board; their sales guys were complaining about losing those to competitors who already had feature 'x'.

It's a good thing that our customer base is unaware of the nature of these discussions. Whatever is decided, something's got to give! If we fix existing bugs first, users have to wait for that all important new feature 'x'. But if we build 'x' first, users will have to cope with that sluggish, unstable, buggy part of the application a little while longer..

After CCP's internal newsletter 'Fearless' was leaked to the media earlier this week, one of the first things that went through my mind was: I am just so happy that none of the brainstorming we do at our company, has hit the street like this! It would make some headlines for sure, and could have grave consequences to our company. No customer likes to read how their concerns and interests (never mind the money they are paying us!) are - sometimes cynically - being balanced against someone elses', especially not if they end up on the losing side of the equation.

My point is, that behind company walls each company discusses stuff they would never ever share with their customer base - at least not in the way it was originally phrased or written, for an internal audience only. As such I'm feeling sorry for CCP that an internal piece of communication, intended to get a discussion going, got leaked at this unfortunate time.

A while ago, several of our customers grew increasingly irritated with us, when performance and stability issues manifested themselves more and more (and yes, feature 'x' got built first). Guess who got to go and visit them? Why, yours truly of course! During those sometimes tense meetings I have discovered that it's almost always possible to clear the air by being open. Acknowledge any justified complaints without presenting weak or far fetched excuses, be honest and fortright about what's going on. Of course you have to strike a careful balance, you can't disparage the company or your own colleagues - but be as honest as reasonably possible. Almost always, the relation between the company and the customer will improve as a result.

In this area, CCP has shown remarkably little competence over the past week. After 'Fearless' leaked, they could have disarmed the whole ticking time bomb within an hour by simply restating their previous promise - done only a week ago - that microtransactions would not be allowed to disrupt existing gameplay, and that this opinion piece was just to get an internal discussion going. Even an announcement of when we could expect an answer would have helped, but all we got was silence. They waited for what, more than two days? And then they published a dev blog which totally failed to address the most pressing issues. An astounding case of self inflicted PR wounds, if you ask me; I cannot for the life of me come up with a sane reason to explain CCP's behaviour in the past week. No mature company would act like this, faced with a looming public relations disaster of this magnitude.

Sometimes we tend to forget that companies like CCP and Second Life's Linden Labs are still quite young, as an organisation. I wonder how mature they really are? They grow rapidly, venture cash pours in, offices abroad are opened, staff comes and goes, and at the same time they get go cope with a large, critical and vocal user base within a few years' time. It's hardly a surprise that, under these circumstances, a derp of epic proportions occasionally happens. But, in times of turmoil and massive customer dissatisfaction they will quickly learn the lessons they need to learn - the hard way - or they will not survive. Like my father says: 'growing up sometimes hurts'.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Two minutes hate: not unique to Eve Online

Before I started playing Eve Online, I was a Second Life resident. I got quite involved, too, reading blogs, forums and such. I was blogging, too, and in January 2008 I wrote this item: The Bitching Base. A few quotes:

One of the things that's really wearing me down, is the incessant bitching that can be found in certain parts of the SL userbase. Whatever Linden Labs does or doesn't, there's always complaints - usually quite vitriolic, and there's no boundaries to the ignorance or malice that will be ascribed to Linden Labs.
Either someone is complaining about ancient graphics, or someone is complaining about Windlights' greed for grapics computing power, is only about 'pretty' - or how a skin doesn't look perfect in it.

Either someone is complaining about how LL suffocates freedom in SL by instituting more and more rules, or someone else is complaining about how the lack of law enforcement or oversight enables fraudsters to steal thousands of Lindens from gullible residents.

Linden Labs always communicates too late, too early, not explicit enough, too explicit, at the wrong location, to the wrong people, didn't invite the right people, invited everyone but meeee, doesn't care about Second Life they only care about ... On and on it goes, often in the comments to blogpost at Second Life as well.
Read 'Eve Online' for 'Second Life' and 'CCP' for 'Linden Labs' and we have the exact same story in the Eve Online community, a few years later. There are really quite a few parallels between the introduction of 'Windlight' to SL and now Captains' Quarters in Eve. In both cases, the release of an improvement deemed critical by the game studio, infuriated an already dissatisfied part of the userbase. And later, in 2009 when Linden Labs changed the rules on prims and tier, again the user base exploded with rage against a developer accussed of 'not caring' and 'being after the money'- much as a part of Eve Online's userbase now says about CCP.

It's a strange phenomenon which I have now witnessed a few times: a critical, vocal user base who, provoked by a game studio's actions, goes into full rage mode. What follows is a stampede of anger, a feeding frenzy of hate and verbal violence against the developers of their game.

Like I wrote in 2008, it's perfectly possible that the complaints themselves are justified, that's not the point here. It's the seething anger which I don't get.

But I am working on that, I have a 'Dr. Phil' theory! Often the most vocal users are the ones who are the most passionate about the game. They are deeply involved, they care, it is a big part of their life. But in the end, they are just users like everybody else - and the developer can, if they so chose, do whatever they like to the users' beloved game. Users who deeply care, who are committed, are - in the end - powerless to stop a development they deem (very) objectionable. There's a lot of potential for frustration and anger there, as impotent users rail at a game studio who really can't be stopped.

Second Life survived the turmoil of 2008 and 2009 and turned 8 years old recently. According to their own claims, Linden Labs had the best quarter in their company history in 2011. It's going to be interesting to see whether CCP can survive the current onslaught of community anger.

(edited for spelling and clarity - Sered)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Eve Online: Fighting the Darkside.

On June 20th, prime EU TZ, a lot of roaming gangs were going through our part of space . It was clear we couldn't do anything against them without assembling enough pilots and get them organized properly. Pretty soon we arranged what was needed, and we were ready for a fight!

We started camping one of the gates leading into our space, and soon afer, a sizeable Darkside. alliance fleet jumped in. Those of you who have followed recent Eve Online Alliance Tournaments, know that Darkside. is a very capable PVP alliance and to be honest, I wasn't all that disappointed when they returned to a neigbouring system after bouncing off our station :)

But then something weird happened: another hostile fleet - don't remember who, to be honest - met the Darkside. roaming gang in that neighbouring system, and did a bombing run on them. After taking some losses from the bombers, the Darkside. fleet returned to us and of course they wanted to exit via the gate we were camping..

At first a lonely Darkside. ship warped to the gate and started burning away from us. He got locked, webbed and scrambled soon enough and died in a hail of missiles and drone damage. One kill! Yay! As soon as he died, however, the rest of the Darkside. fleet landed on the other side of us, and our fleet commander started calling primary and secondary targets, concentrating on their logistics ships first. For those of you who don't play Eve: logistics ships are capable of repairing the damage you do to their companions. As such you really want them dead first!

Now our corp, NOFAD, has been fighting Darkside. fleets in Querious before and I remember this: it proved very difficult to break their logistics tank. Same thing happened here: assuming we all followed the FC's orders we should have been throwing impressive amounts of damage to their logistics, but the impact was almost negligble. They, on the other hand, succeeded in killing our logistics!

This was when ee started dying: the fact that we couldn't break their logistics while they successfully destroyed ours tipped the battle in their favor. After some hectic fighting, the other hostile bomber fleet arrived as well and we were forced to leave the field. At this point I was scrammed and couldn't get out fast enough,  so my Drake was toast as well.

All in all I think we scored one kill, but lost about a dozen ships, perhaps a bit more - but it's hard to reconstruct, given that our alliance killboard has been offline for a while now. Painful of course, but we fought organised and prepared, like we should have. There's not much more to do than analyse the losses, learn from them and do better next time.

Incarna: full body avatars in Eve Online

On June 21st, CCP released their next expansion called 'Incarna', which - after talking about it for years - allows New Eden's pod pilots to get out of their ships and stretch their legs. Full body avatars in New Eden, finally! Of course I took my women out for a walk:

 Eve Online: Incarna 1.0

Eve Online: Incarna 1.0

Eve Online: Incarna 1.0

To be honest, I also have snapshots of my male characters, but the women just look better! More pictures available here on Koinup.

Functionally, Incarna is quite limited at the moment; there's not much to do in your captain's quarters, besides watching the news and accessing some ship functionality. But as a first step towards a full blown virtual universe - with avatars living and fighting in space ships and stations, but also on planets - it is a very important release nonetheless.

In the hangar, ships are still spinning! Obviously it isn't the same as the old 'ship spinning' that capsuleers used to do, but for me this is sufficient: you can stand on the bridge of the captain's quarter and see your ship from all sides. 

Improvements to Incarna could be made, of course, and I expect they will. Camera movement, although praised by Kirith Kodachi, is counter intuitive to me: I want the camera to turn with the avatar. As a human, you also tend to look in the direction you walk, and's weird that this does not happen in Incarna. The lighting is still missing a bit: it's too dark in my quarters, to my taste. But, I have to admit the dark atmosphere does fit - visually and mood wise - in Eve Online. Finally, CCP succeeded in delivering a vastly better tuned Captains' Quarters when compared with the previous test version on Duality: this one is actually playable on my laptop. But I suspect more improvement in this area is still needed: the performance is not what it should be, yet.

I am happy with this first step, and I look forward to the coming Incarna releases which will hopefully fix some issues but also expand the number of accesible spaces. I still want to visit that seedy space bar!

Oh - before I forget.. I am aware that there's a lot of controversy between CCP and a part of their customer base, surrounding this release. Some pilots just hate Incarna on principle; others are angry because of the way microtransactions are currently implemented (too expensive); others are raging mad about stuff said in a PDF that may or may not have come from CCP.  For now, even though some of the microtransaction stuff worries me - no game changing mt please! - I'm not going to wade into that lynch mob until I have heard from CCP themselves.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

New Eve Online Incarna test on Duality

Duality, the still new test environment for Eve Online, is once again open for a new round of testing, and, as before, we get to try the new Incarna feature 'Captain's Quarters'. Yesterday I spent some time on it, and while I am happy to finally see more of Walking in Stations Ambulation Incarna, it doesn't look like it's finished yet.

On the first login, my avatar was awkwardly positioned with his arms wide. Walking didn't work, he more or les slid over the floor. Logging off and on fixed this!

The second session proved to be better, as my avatar worked as expected. As I walked towards the bridge, I noticed an issue with camera movement. Usually, in other virtual worlds, the camera moves with you (the avatar), meaning that if you turn to walk in a different direction, the camera point of view also automatically moves. The camera is, at all times, automatically looking in the direction where you (the avatar) is moving or facing. That doesn't currently happen on Duality! This makes walking a bit awkward, until you manually switch the camera point of view again. I wonder if this will be fixed when Incarna goes live.

Visually, the whole environment looked distinctively grainy. It was like watching an old color tv, at times! An other tester advised me to set the graphics setting for the interior environment to 'low', and this indeed fixed it. With the grainyness out of the way, I have to say the captain's quarters themselves looked better than the previous test run. There was more light, and more little details that made it look like someone was really living there: random stuff strewn here and there in the room. And, compared to the previous Duality test, the ship sizes in the hangar have been adjusted. Even a frigate is now a real presence in the ship hangar.

Eve Online: Incarna - the ship...

Very nice: the holograpic menus which appear when you click on the holographic ship models. We've seen similar menus in CCP trailers for quite some time; good to finally see them playable on Duality:

Eve Online Incarna: new menus

One of the other things I noticed, is that the Duality client is quite the memory hog. I am using an ATI HD Radeon 3800 series GPU on a Windows 7 machine with 2 GB RAM, and the Duality client maxed out at 995 MB RAM.. mainly because I simply didn't have more RAM available. Other testers reported seeing memory usage of up to 2 GB. I know very well that the current Duality release is not optimized yet - as CCP has repeatedly stated - but if they want to release this on June 21st, they have a lot of optimizing to do in this regard.

Finally, there's still some work to do on the avatar themselves. Especially in the neck and face, sometimes the textures show. It may have to do with a memory shortage though.

There's real progress visible on Duality today, but CCP still has a lot of work to do. Incarna should be released on June 21, which is in about three weeks.. My guess is some CCP devs will be burning the midnight oil before then!

All snapshots of this second Duality tests can be found on my Koinup page.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Eve Online Agents: now with 25% less annoyance!

..and why this is actually a bad thing, in my opinion.

For the most part of my Eve 'career' (2008-2010 actually) I have been a highsec mission runner. I didn't like mining or courier stuff, nullsec was impenetrable (or so I thought) so I remained in highsec, gradually working my way up the agent standings ladder, shooting Serpentis and such. Every now and then, I'd run out of suitable missions, as my favorite Gallente agents provided me with missions against Caldari or Amarr which I rejected in order to keep a positive enough standing with them, or mining missions which I rejected on principle.

In some ways, this was a good thing. Not having a 'Damsel in distress' to run, forced me out of my comfort zone into trying new stuff such as exploration, trading, or joining corp mates for more difficult missions or complexes. New Eden is a harsh and often unpredictable, volatile universe; suck it up and try something else!

Now that agent divisions will be removed, however, pilots such as myself around 2009 can remain safely and snugly within their comfort zone, running the same missions over and over again without surprises. And reading from the earlier devblog on the subject, I gather that the payouts may even become slightly higher as well, so permanently cuddling up to that special agent of yours is looking more and more attractive. So - more predictability and less surprises, less incentive to change and evolve, and higher rewards.

In the short term, this may look like a positive development for the PVE pilots, but with one incentive to change your habits every now and then removed from the game, boredom might become a real issue, real fast.

Where I live in nullsec, there's no Sanctums, after the last nerf. We're still doing ok, but there's a real loss of income for some. And highsec just became a much more predictable, with stable sources of income guaranteed.. To be honest, I'm not sure what CCP is trying to accomplish here.

Thursday, May 12, 2011


It's been a while since I mentioned my whereabouts here. After leaving Saints amongst Sinners alliance, NOFAD went searching for a new place to stay. Highsec is fine as a temporary residence, but nullsec is where we want to be! It took us a while and we contemplated several options and offers, before we applied for membership of LEGIO: the Legio Astartes Arcanum alliance, which is part of the -A- environment.

NOFAD has never been much of a politically aligned corporation, although it seems most members are no big fans of the NC or DC. In Querious we belonged to the IT bloc, and here in Catch we are part of the -A- ecosystem - we don't really mind. The weird coincidence is, that our old stomping grounds in Querious - B-7DFU and surroundings to which we lost access when IT fell apart - are now again blue to us!

Life in Catch is different from Querious, but we're having fun and are happy to be out of highsec again!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Eve Online: leaving SAS Alliance

Our corp, No Fixed Abode, has left the Saints amongst Sinners alliance – SAS – last weekend. When we were looking for a spot in nullsec, they generously provided us with one in Querious. We were welcomed, gear was cyno’d in, guidance and instructions were given and alliance chat/TS was friendly. I felt welcome, at home! Of course the ratting was great: in a few months’ time, I made over a billion ISK in bounties, loot and salvage even though I’m only a modest solo belt ratter, occassionally doing a Sanctum or Haven with other pilots. 
But I also liked the excitement of PVP, scrambling to the gate to intercept an incoming roam of reds, frantic instructions on TS and the SAFE UP! warnings in alliance chat to all miners out there, accompanied by exhortions to get in the home defense fleet, grab a pvp ship and join the battle. It was a good – and sometimes dangerous – time to be in Querious.

SAS was there as an IT renter, and when IT failscaded, we were on our own. By that time we were IT allies, not just renters anymore: just before IT bowed out they upgraded us, and for a while we held nullsec sov without paying rent. But pressure was mounting, and after some painful losses the number of pilots in alliance chat already started to drop- slowly but steadily. The miners and industrialists vanished to highsec and several of them dropped out altogether, and pretty soon there were only a few dozen stalwarts left in B-7DFU to defend the place. The downward trend was partially masked by Querious nullsec corps joining SAS, which we absorbed when IT collapsed, but it was real nonetheless.

It became obvious we couldn’t defend the entire constellation we had sov in – not with Goons, Atlas., -A- and PL knocking at our door. After some diplomatic efforts and leadership deliberations, alliance leadership announced a complete evacuation of our Querious holdings. In hindsight, I’m not sure that was the right thing to do. Of course it’s easy to say that now, but even at the time some of us thought we should try to hang on to B-7DFU a while longer. It’s a dead end system, with a truesec of -1 and a station in it, and hence easier to defend than most systems. Why not make a last stand, try to keep it as long as you can, and go down in flames if everything fails? It could have taken weeks to clear us out of B-7DFU if we’d hadn’t given up. The political situation changes so fast – you never know what could have happened in that time.
..And looking at Evemaps, it seems B-7DFU is deserted at the moment. It has plenty of sites to run - havens, sanctums - and plenty of belts with battleship class rats.. and now, on March 17th 2011, only 5 NPC kills in the last 24 hours? Is that the best you could do, C0nvicted? Really, we shouldn't have left our Querious home..
But, when alliance leadership tells you to evacuate, you evacuate, and SAS ended up spread out over the entire cluster, waiting for what’s next. And then, SAS leadership decided to go back home, to the place SAS became what it is today: the lowsec triangle in Solitude, consisting of Aeter, Sarline and Harner systems. Of course other people live there, but it was decided we’d fight them.
NOFAD consists of what is called ‘mature players’; we even discuss our teenage kids’ exploits in corp chat ;-) We have played together for several years, we are not likely to switch alliances easily. But, I have written enough about Lowsec a short while ago.. suffice to say NOFAD didn’t like being in Solitude. We would never have contemplated leaving SAS if there had been a plan to go back to nullsec in the foreseeable future, but at the time of our leaving, it was unclear whether SAS would attempt another shot at nullsec in 2011. In New Eden, planning something three quarters to a year from now, is really a long time, it’s an eternity! We didn’t fancy spending that many months of game time in lowsec. And so, over the weekend, we left SAS. We wish them well; they really were the best thing that could have happened to us and for that we are certainly grateful.

In the mean time, we are evaluating some offers we received for other nullsec places to stay. Highsec has lost its charm, its no longer a permanent residence for us. We loathe lowsec; its nullsec we want to be, and thats where were going again.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Eve Online: Lowsec doesn't make sense

As I mentioned here before, I have spent most of my Eve career in highsec empire space (2008-2010), and the last six months in nullsec. After leaving Querious, however, we (temporarily) relocated to lowsec. I have now, for the first time in my eve career, lived in lowsec for a while, and boy it sucks. It's like nullsec without the advantages of sov; it's like highsec without the advantages of Concord protection. Allow me to elaborate..

If you're looking for PVP, lowsec is not the best place to be, as shooting someone brings a hefty security standings hit - unless the other side engaged you first. And yet, if that happens - someone engages you -  there's no Concord protection, at least none to speak of. These factors combined lead to a situation where the only ones freely engaging in PVP are lowsec pirates: they don't care about security standing and the lack of Concord protection suits them just fine.

If you're looking for some ratting, lowsec isn't the best place to be either. Sure, there are some battleship class rats here and there, but generally it's still just frigates and cruisers, with poor bounties. Earlier this week I even found myself looting a Civilian Shield Booster module from a cruiser sized wreck.. For shame! For crying out loud! I have seen one belt rat with a 1.1 million ISK bounty, in the past few weeks. There's quite a gap between nullsec and lowsec in this regard, even though some lowsec systems have a truesec that's quite close to some nullsec systems.

If you're looking for mining, lowsec may have something to offer - as I don't mine I can't really tell. I haven't taken a thorough survey, but as far as I can see it's mostly just the regular space rocks around here: Veldspar, Plagioclase, Scordite, Omber.. To be fair, according to Dotlan there should also be some Jaspet and Hemorphite around, but I am not sure how much and how valuable that is. According to a miner friend of mine however, in terms of isk/hour it's more profitable to mine Veldspar in highsec. Especially given the added risk of mining in lowsec. if you decide to do it, you need to have some sort of guard around: unless you have essentially cleared out the area and maintain some kind of protection, one of those dratted pirates might pop you at any moment.

The same is essentially true for running missions and complexes in lowsec - you need to be very alert, because you may be attacked at any moment. An added risk, when you could be doing pretty much the same missions in highsec?

Now that I mention them - complexes - that's another chapter. I've scanned down four, and they were either laughingly simple (frigates with a cruiser or battlecruiser as 'endboss') or impossible to do on your own (think 10+ battleships shooting at my lonely poor Drake). There didn't seem to be much of a middle ground.

So - PVP impeded by a security standings penalty but no Concord protection to compensate for that; ratting generally not impressive in terms of excitement and/or isk earned per hour; complexes questionable and seemingly a bit out of balance; mining risky and not really worth it according to those in the know.

Tell me - why would anyone want to live here? If you do, what's your motivation? What have I missed?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

EVE Blog Banter #25 - Size does matter

Welcome to the twenty-fifth installment of the EVE Blog Banter , the monthly EVE Online blogging extravaganza created by CrazyKinux . The EVE Blog Banter involves an enthusiastic group of gaming bloggers, a common topic within the realm of EVE Online, and a week or so to post articles pertaining to the said topic. The resulting articles can either be short or quite extensive, either funny or dead serious, but are always a great fun to read! Any questions about the EVE Blog Banter should be directed to Check for other EVE Blog Banter articles at the bottom of this post!

This month's topic comes to us from @Tetraetc - " Tetra's EVE Blog " - who asks: " Have Alliances and the sovereignty system limited the amount of PVP and RP potential in Null sec? Imagine a Null Sec where anyone could build outposts wherever. Would the reduction of the alliance game mechanic, and the removal of the sovereignty game mechanics (or the modifcation of it from Alliance level to Corp level for that matter) force more PVP into Null sec, or would giant power blocs like the NC still form themselves?"

I don't feel like an expert on this topic, to be honest. But having just spent six months in nullsec, it's of interest nonetheless, so here are my thoughts.

Alliances - good
Nullsec without alliances.. not going to happen. Whether the game mechanics support it or not, there will always be groups of pilots 'with an understanding', there will be blue/red lists on forums. You can't remove that from New Eden, whether you like it or not.
Alliances in itself aren't a problem, really. I have found it very useful to be in Saints amongst Sinners alliance; our corp couldn't have entered nullsec without their help. Alliances are a great way of introducing pilots to nullsec and maintain some sort of stability in a certain area of space.

Large alliances - not so good..
It's this 'certain area of space' that is becoming a problem in my opinion. The large power blocs (consisting of a multitude of alliances and corps) with powerful (super)cap fleets are often able to project power across large parts of the cluster, by utilizing cynos and jump bridges. They can be on your doorstep, kill your POS for lolz, if they so desire - and unless you have an equally powerful cap fleet, there's not much you can do but keep systems cynojammed 24x7, which is a nuisance in itself. Even without supercaps, the large power blocs have accumulated so much wealth they can keep throwing stealth bombers and conventional fleets at you, without bleeding dry anytime soon.

No viable nullsec sov for smaller entities
In other words, a smaller corp or alliance can't really claim sov somewhere, and build it's POSes or stations, unless they are aligned with a large power bloc, either as pet, renter or ally. If they tried going it alone, they would probably not survive for long, unless perhaps, the space they claim is strategically utterly unimportant or worthless from an economical point of view. But even then someone will try to collect rent, because 'region x belongs to them'.
This is where the large empty swathes of nullsec Helicity mentions, come into play. These mostly deserted systems could easily support a number of smaller alliances (read: thousands of pilots) but as long as all nullsec space is divided between the large power blocs, there's not much chance of that happening. Nullsec won't be better occupied or developed as long as these large dominating blocs exist.

Break the bloc
Alliances aren't the issue in nullsec, the power blocs (basically anything the size of IT in 2010 or with 'coalition' in it's name) are. Their very existence keeps nullsec in a stranglehold, driving smaller alliances and corps either out of nullsec or in a perpetual state of pet/renter, which isn't doing anyone any good.
And now that IT alliance is (pretty much) history, you'd have to wonder what the future of nullsec is - a handful of (non-CCP!) alliance leaders get to determine what's happpening there... ? This can not be the intention of CCP, and unless something dramatic happens, I wouldn't be surprised to see some Icelandic intervention sooner or later. For nullsec to become alive again, the large blocs must fall.

Goons, unpredictable as ever..?
On the bright side.. after Goonswarm defeated BoB a few years ago, they lost their purpose, their goal. They became complacent and stagnant, and very nearly died; their current leadership has learned some valuable lessons then. Therefore, I can't see Goonswarm fall back to just maintaining the status quo, divide space with a few other guys and act as a landlord to renters. It's just not in their best long term interest. I would suspect them to pull off some sort of stunt in the near future - if nothing else of interest happens. Think an invasion, a standings reset.. remember, you read it here first ;-)

  1. CrazyKinux's Musing: EVE Blog Banter #25: And by Alliance you mean.....?
  2. BB25 What sov changes will come? | A Mule In EvE
  3. Confessions of a Closet Carebear: Alliances and Sovereignty
  4. Blog Banter 25: Nerfing Nulsec « OMG! You're a Chick?!
  5. Have Alliances and the sovereignty system limited the amount of PVP and RP potential in Null sec? | Nitpickin's
  6. Blog Banter #25: Alliance and Sovereignty Limiting PvP in 0.0? | Sarnel Binora's Blog
  7. Blog Banter #25 - Mad Haberdashers
  8. Alliances and sovereignty | Eve Online Focus
  9. ...Shall we not Revenge?: BB 25: What if the Alliance vanished?
  10. Blog Banter: Alliances and Sov
  11. EVEOGANDA: BB25: Sov 'n Go!
  12. » TBG:EBB#25 – Alliances and Sovereignty To Boldly Go
  13. Freebooted: BB25: Leviathans of the Deep
  14. Wrong Game Tetra ~ Inner Sanctum of the Ninveah
  15. EVE Blog Banter #25 – Human nature what art thou? | Way of the Gun
  16. Who cares about Sov? - Hands Off, My Loots! ~ well sorta like an entry! :p
  17. The 25th EVE Blog Banter: Alliances and sovereignty - The Phoenix Diaries
  18. Achernar: The space commute
  19. Wandering the Void…my EvE musings. – Blog Banter: Alliances and sovereignty
  20. (OOC) CK’s Blog Banter #25: How To Break EvE. « Prano's Journey
  21. Captain Serenity: Blog Banter #25 - Crappy mechanics
  22. Helicity Boson » Blog Banter #25 Nullsec and sov.
  23. BB #25 – “With whom lie the advantages derived from Heaven and Earth?”
  24. Boom! Hull-Shot?: It's the End of the Eve as We Know It
  25. Sered's lives: EVE Blog Banter #25 - Size does matter
  26. 25th EVE BB – Medieval Solutions to Spaceship Problems | Inventions of a New Eden Industrialist
  27. Eve Blog Banter #25: “Have Alliances and Sov Limited PvP and RP in 0.0?” « Align Outbound
  28. Banter 25: Sovereignty, Alliances and Power Blocs | TheElitist
  29. Blog Banter 25 – But I just left all that! « A Scientist's Life in Eve
  30. Nobody likes losing « One capsuleer against all
  31. >>>Vigil Ant: Alliances and SOV by Munny's eyes.
  32. Latro's Bunker: Blog Banter 25 -Nullsec and Sov
  33. A "CareBears" Journey » Blog Banner #25: Alliances and Sovereignty, and their affect on PVP and RP
  34. Blog Banter #25 – Unstoppable « Roc's Ramblings

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Eve Online: sov lost

For years I rummaged around Gallente highsec, running missions and doing some smalltime trading, usually as a member of corps with the same group of pilots I’ve known for years. Finally, bored out of our skulls, a few of us created a new corp (No Fixed Abode - NOFAD) and joined Saints amongst Sinners alliance in Querious. For the first time I was part of a sovereignty holding nullsec alliance! With the plentiful beltrat bounties, the havens and the sanctums also came the CTA’s, gatecamps, roaming gangs and skirmishes. I scored my first solo pvp kill, got killed too and generally enjoyed it thoroughly. If there’s one thing I regret, is that I didn't do this earlier!

But all was not well. We were in Querious as IT renters, but, unbeknownst to us IT was on the verge of a failscade. Pretty soon it looked like IT wasn't able to repel the assaults directed at Fountain, and when IT needed more support, they upgraded us from renters to allies and gave us the entire constellation instead of just our home system B-7DFU. But for IT, it really was too late to turn the tide and it became clear we were on our own.

For a while, we were able to withstand the annoyances of Goon cloaky SB pilots (true, that wasn't the hard part) and the occassional roaming gang of reds. But when IT caved in, we soon encountered other enemies at our doorstep. We fought off Atlas. a few times - including their cap ships, I might add. We gate camped, scored kills, destroyed a number of SBU’s, but in the end we couldn’t withstand the combined pressure of –A-, Atlas. and Pandemic Legion. After we lost a few key battles, most of us evacuated our goods to either NPC nullsec or into Khanid and bade farewell to a part of New Eden that served us well.

For the past few weeks, –A-, Atlas. and PL have been duking it out in KFIE-Z, which is a dozen or so jumps away from our former home B-7DFU, and as long as PL has the ability to hotdrop –A-/Atlas. fleets in the region on a whim, I'm not sure someone else will claim sovereignty there. The -A- guys have had their butts kicked painfully, a few times, and I don’t see things changing in their favour anytime soon. In other words: unless Pandemic Legion gets curb stomped unexpectedly, it holds the keys to who’s going to have sov in our former home in Querious.

The impact of IT's once powerful cap fleets being able to move quickly throughout New Eden via their jump bridge network, has allowed them to project power across a large expanse of the cluster, more or less allowing us to find a nice and relatively safe spot under their protection. But when IT caved, the same mechanics allowed large enemy cap fleets to knock on our doors in no time. It still seems that holding sov in nullsec is a large alliances' game; you need the cap fleet and, preferrably, the backing of a large coalition if you want to establish a long term presence.

But then.. what is long term, in Eve Online nullsec? The biggest changes on the map have often happened in very short time frames, sometimes even overnight.. remember to pay that sov bill, guys!

So, as for Saints amongst Sinners: after a turbulent time in late 2010 and early 2011, we now find ourselves in a much different place. We are reorganizing in NPC nullsec, and will be preparing for a next stab at sov in nullsec. Stay tuned :)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Eve Online: weird graphics stuff

After the recent Eve Online: Incursion patches, I have had weird graphics effects on this laptop, which sports a ATI Mobility Radeon HD2300 GPU. It's not an impressive gpu, not by a longshot, but it's still supported for the current Eve client.

The first nuisance is this weird darkening issue with ATI cards on Windows 7. The solution is to upgrade to the latest Catalyst stuff, which I can't because it's not available for my hardware. Just my luck :)

The other issue concerns screenshots. If you press the printscreen button while in Eve, a snapshot is saved - by default as a .bmp in the C:\Users\username\Documents\EVE\capture\Screenshots directory. After the latest patch, there's some truly strange coloring in my screenshots:
Eve Online: weird graphics gli...

The Windows photo viewer does not show these artefacts at all, but Picasa does. Uploading to Koinup didn't work either, this resulted in a format error: "the file you provided seems to be invalid". If I copy the picture to .jpg, the strange coloring is preserved:
Eve Online: weird graphics gli...

Luckily, I am still able to get good copies of these snapshots, by opening them in Picasa and saving a copy, this time as a bitmap again:
Eve Online: a home in space

Perhaps this is solved too, by installing that Catalyst 10.12 package, but first I need to find a way to get that to install on my laptop!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Eve Online: developments in Querious

By now, my alliance has been in the Querious region for quite a while, and we joined them there about four months ago. Much has happened since then! IT alliance is struggling to cope with a relentless assault, mounted by Goons and other enemies, and the political landscape of our part of New Eden could change at any moment. Who knows what will happen!

Only a few days ago, we expected a huge wave of reds (enemy pilots) to wash over us; we expected to die a violent death any moment. We defiantly braced for impact, preparing to 'go down in a blaze of glory', THIS IS SPARTA!, Alamo, and all that.

And then - nothing really happened. The last big battles in the region sort of petered out, and except for a few stealth bomber cowards and the incidental roaming gangs, no big red waves were spotted anywhere near our home. Perhaps it had already broken?

Our home in Querious - may it long be 'our house' indeed:
Eve Online: a home in space

So here we are, mentally and physically prepared for battle. We don't know if the current quiet is just the quiet before the storm; perhaps the enemy is merely taking a breather before trying to wipe us out. Or perhaps they are too busy pursuing other goals, to worry about us. Things change fast out here, these days; todays' enemy may be tomorrows' ally, reds become blue and blues turn red..

For a recovering carebear like myself, this is a great time to be in Querious. You are continually challenged: deploy to here, station yourself there, patrol this system or camp that gate, get this ship fit.. There's no time to become stagnant, you have to adapt rapidly, and you don't know today what will happen tomorrow.

It's also a time where you have to decide whether you stay and fight to defend your place in nullsec, or if you perhaps sneak out, tail firmly tucked between your legs, to hide out in highsec.. Even though this is just 'an internet spaceship game', it does feel like a real test of character vis à vis your corp and alliance mates. Obviously, I am staying, even though my PVP skills aren't that great yet.

For now, we'll be alert and ready, waiting for that red wave. It may yet come..