Friday, February 24, 2012

Two Titans

Whether Titans should be nerfed or not I do not know, but when I encountered these two humongous ships,  a (Minmatar) Ragnarok and an (Amarr) Avatar yesterday, I was duly impressed.. Enjoy the view!

And, see that little ship under the Avatar..? It's a carrier, a Thanatos. Looks tiny when compared to the Titans, does it not?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Jita cam - the proposal

I know this has been discussed before, but I'd like to mention it once again: the Jita cam. Between the matches of the last Alliance Tournaments, CCP streamed a live view of the undock area of one of the busiest trading stations in Eve Online, as a backdrop for the commentators discussing those matches. Many pilots enjoyed the view! All sorts of ships coming and going, piloted by real players going about their business (literally, often); occassionally you would see laser fire.

I would really like to have this as a permanent live cam! It could be a nice screensaver, it could be displayed on a tv, or be used as a backdrop for Eve Radio. It would certainly beat my mother's fireplace DVD (it has a special feature, an interview with the director.. go figure)

It would be even better if the Jita Cam would change positions every now and then. Stations in trade centers such as Jita, Amarr, Dodixie, Oursulaert, Rens, Hek, or the busiest star gates along the trade routes between them, could provide enough interesting scenery.

But let's take this one step further. From a technical point of view, I'm not sure what's required to produce the imagery, but I imagine it requires in game recording: something (a ship?) needs to be in game, in the camera position in order to acquire the images being transmitted. If that is true, couldn't that ship move? What if the stream could be hooked up to a Polaris frigate, piloted by an ISD volunteer? CCP is often aware of large battles about to take place (for instance because it has been reported in order to have the server hardware node reinforced in time); wouldn't it be interesting if Jita cam could provide live imagery of these battles? This was more or less done when CCP pilots staged their own 'incursion' in November 2011, which ended in a battle near Tama; live footage of the event was broadcasted via eve radio, where it can still be viewed.

Ideally there would be a few 'streaming enabled' clients available to CCP and/or designated ISD volunteers. CCP would stream either a live feed of the aforementioned undock areas of the busiest stations in New Eden, the traffic at star gates, or if possible live footage of ongoing battles. Prerecorded visuals of interesting locations in New Eden, and reruns of previously acquired imagery of interest could also be used.

From experience I've learned not to say "it can be done easily, and it's cheap!" when it comes to implementing new ICT related stuff, but I'm sure it can be done in this case. I'm just not sure about the cost, and of course there has to be a benefit to CCP as well. That benefit is probably in the area of marketing: it would allow CCP to advertise live, dynamic content (scenery, events) from within New Eden, to those outside of it. Of course Youtube clips offer somewhat the same, but those are often player made and CCP doesn't have much control over how Eve Online is presented in those.

Knowing the Eve Online player base, I'm pretty sure there would be some entertaining 'emergent gameplay' surrounding these camera vantage points or ISD reporter ships, too. What would be more cool than to have your kill recorded by the ISD Jita Cam operator! Or attempt to kill that operator, of course :)

Anyway, did I mention I'm volunteering for the position of ISD Jita Cam operator..? I'd happily spend time flying around New Eden (in a Polaris frigate of course) to gather the footage :-)

Monday, February 20, 2012

An unhappy pilot

“There’s two level of paranoia: total and insufficient” (Dave Kern, IBM, at a conference in 2006)

As I have mentioned on this blog earlier, No Fixed Abode (NOFAD) is currently recruiting. For the first time we are running an open channel (No Fixed Channel) and it’s quite interesting to see who drops by! One of those who contacted us there has joined NOFAD a short while later; in the past weekend he has scored more kills than I usually do in a month (..or two). A good start! There were time zone issues with a few other potential members, one of which I knew from the blogs and tweetfleet, and another one was referred to an US TZ corp in our alliance.

An interesting thing happened last Friday, when our open channel’s member list suddenly listed a pilot with a negative standing. A guy from a hostile alliance, trying to join us..? We struck up a conversation, trying to get an idea of what was going on. He related his tale: he had been a mercenary or pirate for most of his Eve career, resulting in a current security standing of -8. His employment history was very, very long, although for the past year he’d mostly been in two corps, hopping from one to another and back again a few times, apparently for deployment reasons. His alliance does a lot of dirty jobs, deploying all over the cluster to execute contracts, harassing or griefing here and there. This often required redeploying on short notice, mandatory operations et cetera. He had also done his fair share of infiltration and spying, something he confessed forthright.
But after years of this, he grew tired of it; having a few young kids and a job is not really compatible with that kind of lifestyle. Time to settle down, find a group of like minded guys to talk football and rugby, have a bit of pvp every now and then with a bit of ratting on the side to generate the necessary ISK..

The story above came to light in bits and pieces, over the course of the evening. Frankly I didn’t know what to make of it, but he sounded honest all right. Were we being misled? Is he doing some intricate social engineering on us? We're a small corp in a sov holding alliance and we're recruiting, so we might be a target for infiltration. Our older GMT pilots liked the guy, probably because he was so similar to them (football, rugby, beer, wife, kids..). Googling his pilot name I couldn’t find much of interest: some innocuous posts on the forums and lots of killboard entries. He had been largely inactive for about a month or two prior to contacting us, which was uncommon for him (his killboard stats go back years without interruption) but in line with his story. Someone from alliance leadership informed us that the negative standing was caused by a few roams his alliance did through our sov, the previous year; nothing to worry about, really.

Yet, after much deliberation and discussion, his past turned out to be a showstopper. There were objections from alliance leadership and from within NOFAD itself, and in the end we had to decide not to admit him to NOFAD. A shame, really, as I think he would have fit us quite nicely given his age group, family situation and TZ. We informed him and he took it graciously, even though clearly disappointed.

So here we have a pilot with 70+ million skill points, a killboard efficiency of over 90% - and he can’t find a decent place to stay, as his corp history and security status deny him entrance to most normal (non mercenary or non piracy) alliances. I really feel sorry for him.

Which brings me to the 'lessons learned' part: carefully consider what you do with your main pilot, if you're attached to him or her (that happens, especially when that main is your first avatar of sorts).Whenever you decide to become a mercenary, a pirate, make sure you use a throwaway character for it. Or, be prepared to end up with a highly skilled, but virtually unusable character in a few years time.

Come to think of it, when Jenny Twotone first explained to me, back in 2008, that I shouldn't run too many missions against Caldari, I didn't really understand of believe her - until I had to repair the bad standing towards Caldari and Amarr.. 

In closing, let me say that in my opinion it speaks volumes about the depth of Eve Online, that we're discussing multi year plannings for your character development!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Eggs for breakfast

A few days ago some of us were patrolling the pipe between V-3YG7 and U-QVWD . It is one of the busier parts of the area: we often see traffic from HED-GP to GE-8JV and further to LGK-VP in Stain, or to Curse via 0-SHT. CVA for instance uses O-SHT to enter the Catch region when they are looking for PVP, so you might say it’s a lively neighbourhood.

Anyway, one of our pilots called for help in U-QVWD; an enemy that had been camping one of our systems tried to leave the area via that route, and our pilot was trying to hunt him down. A couple of us switched ships and headed that way asap. Pretty soon however it became clear we weren’t going to catch this red: he was cloaked somewhere in system. Right about that moment, we noticed a neutral pod coming down the pipe. I believe we tried to catch it but failed, as a pod is usually fast to warp. You really need a bubble if you want to have a good chance at catching them. And then another one came.. and another one..

At the same time our intel channel lit up with requests to bubble the gates in V-3YG7 or the system behind it, B-3QPD . Soon enough we found out why! A mixed gang of enemies, consisting of CVA and allies, had gotten a beating at the hands of a Cascade Imminent (FAIL) and Against All Authorities (-A-) fleet. The surviving pilots tried to get out of Catch as soon as possible.. through the pipe we were camping.

We bubbled the V-3YG7 gate in B-3QPD, and just sat there waiting for the pods to come through. It was a weird experience.. one by one we cracked the eggs, whose pilots must have been cursing behind their screens. Your pod, pointed, scrammed and webbed in a bubble, in hostile territory, with a dozen enemy ships locking on to you.. At one point a dozen or so enemy ships jumped in and started shooting my Drake, so I burned out of the bubble and warped off. Just when I hit warp, part of the the FAIL/-A- fleet that was pursuing them entered and destroyed what was left of them. And back to the turkey shoot we went. An alliance mate who just logged onto TeamSpeak was informed of what we were doing, and he remarked.. 'Ah, so you guys are having eggs for breakfast!'

Longtime LEGIO pilots particularly enjoyed the evening, as LEGIO and CVA have a history. Once allies, now bitter enemies: there's little love lost between oldtime LEGIO pilots and CVA.

In the end, we killed about nice pods and some ships. Could have been more, but of course FAIL and -A- took their share as well, plus we missed a few pods when they first started to come through. Best catch of the evening: this one billion pod. Thanks CCP for showing implants on killmails!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

"Recruitment is open.."

No Fixed Abode is still a small corporation. We have a dozen active members, a few alts and a few inactives, all in all less than 20 pilots on the member list. We are a group of old friends, and most of us will probably be playing eve in the foreseeable future, but still: some growth would be beneficial, and perhaps necessary if we want to remain a viable corporation in the long run. You will lose people, one way or another, so you need new corp members every now and then. 

Forums, Corp recruitment
So recently, I have been looking at recruitment. Whom to contact, whom to offer a position? Whom can I ask without endangering the relation with their current CEO or corp? It hasn’t been easy, as many corps we once had friends in have gone dormant in 2011. 
Yesterday I posted an advert via the Corporation menu in the Eve client. The text space is limited, so I had to be brief in my description of No Fixed Abode ("we shoot reds, rats and ‘roids"), assigned corp colleagues Alexander Weitgereist, CEO Dadellus myself as recruitment officers and listed our open No Fixed Channel as recruitment channel. I wonder how many prospective pilots get to see it, if at all.. there’s no way to see how many hits or reads this kind of advert gets. It will be interesting to see if it draws any responses.

For the past few weeks I have also been reading the Eve Online recruitment forum. What’s notable there: many nullsec and WH corps asking for new pilots, but only a few individuals looking for a corp! If I take a look at the pilots ‘LF’ a new corp and filter out some basic requirements such as a suitable timezone and play style, there remain only a handful of matching applicants for us. Apparently, fresh blood is hard to come by.

"I think we have what you’re looking for!"
Pilots who offer themselves on the recruitment forums, often get a lot of replies. If you’ve read through a handful of them, you’ll notice the same recruitment officers replying again and again to each and every ‘LF corp’ post.  Usually, they paste the same happy “I think we have what you’re looking for!” in every reply, even when their offer clearly doesn’t match what’s being requested. These guys seem to target just about everyone, apparently not very concerned whether the prospective member will be a good fit for their corp. Doesn’t inspire much confidence, does it?

On the other hand, pilots - knowing full well they have a choice, here - aren't shy to post their demands either. Of course they should list their requirements, but some pilots are not above showing a little attitude or arrogance when they do. Of course they'll still be hired because someone really does need them, but I steer clear of these guys. I want to have fun in Eve Online and don't feel like dealing with prima donnas.  

Hard to get
Amusing are the corps who announce they are open for recruitment. Between all the corps vying for new blood on the forums, would the mere, bland announcement ‘ open for recruitment’ result in a lot of applications? They make it look like they are providing you with a rare opportunity to get in, playing all ‘hard to get’. Perhaps there really are lots of people waiting for just this advert from this specific corp, I don’t know, but I have a feeling many of these posts won’t have much effect.

Where are the new pilots, anyway?
But why is it so difficult to find new pilots in the first place? Corps looking for players in the recruitment forum, tend to be nullsec or WH corps, looking for new PVP pilots. As for WH corps, I understand it can be difficult to attract new pilots. Almost by definition they lead a somewhat secluded life, sneaking in and out of their wormhole, preferably spending their time in lockdown if possible. And how are you going to find new friends if you never meet anyone?

But nullsec corps.. shouldn’t they be overflowing with applicants? It is supposed to be ‘the endgame’ for Eve Online, the goal, the thing to aspire to. Many new pilots get drawn in the game after reading about epic battles involving thousands of pilots, after all. Why, then, are so many nullsec corps struggling to find new members? There must be thousands of pilots languishing in highsec who could really use a stay in nullsec to spice up their Eve life.  
 We all know about the famous learning cliff in Eve Online - many pilots don’t make it past trial or a few months of subscribing. For those who do, moving from PVE dominant highsec to the PVP territory that is nullsec, may be the second barrier to overcome.. And it does seem that many never make it past, given that most Eve players live in highsec. Now there’s a task for CCP! And perhaps the nullsec dominant CSM too: think about ways to get these highsec players to try out nullsec. Could be a nice topic for a blog banter too.

In the mean time.. Yes, No Fixed Abode is ‘open for recruitment’ ;-) Here’s our advert on the forum: You’re welcome to contact us if you'd like to fly with us!