June 18, 2017

Mind Clashing over Theomachy

I've been listening to Mind Clash ever since it started being syndicated on the Crossing Zebras RSS feed.  So when I logged into Theomachy and saw Kael Decadence had an open invite for an informal little team, I joined right in.  When it was all said and done Kael was kind enough to invite me onto the Mind Clash podcast, so you can hear our thoughts on Theomacy in Episode 40.

The Theomachy team put in a huge amount of work here, and CCP has really stepped it up with the Thunderdome server.  We were actually there for Theomachy at the same time as other folks were practicing for the AT, so there was probably extra load than it was designed for as well.  Unlike SiSi, Thunderdome is not replicated off of Tranquility.  Your account is there, but none of your characters and assets.  So the first thing you do is create your character and use a command to grant yourself all Vs in everything.  That meant that Theomachy had a wide range - had they chosen to there could have even been Titans on field.  However, it sounds like they'd experimented with capitals and up before and kept it toned down.

Since you can spawn anything, there was also some question about whether or not they could enforce the rule of having no implants and boosters.  When we first logged in it sounded like that rule might be waived, so I spawned myself a full high-grade Snake set with a bundle of other +6% implants just in case.  It turned out that they were able to handle that, so we all ripped out implants back out.  Talk about feeling rich for a little while.

Basically they had us all Titan bridge to a target system, set our medical clones there, and then podded us to remove implants.  There was a bit of a hold up as it turned out the Titan didn't have the right isotopes handy, so the overall event was running quite a bit late.  All these are learning lessons that the Theomachy team is taking to heart, so I have confidence things will run even better next time.

When you arrive in system in your pod and the event starts, you dive towards the empty ships and try to grab one.  I did have a bit of a glitch when I first arrived - regardless of what ship I got into, my HUD remained stuck on pod.  I received permission from the organizers to log out and log in, and after that I was all good.

And after this I didn't take any more screenshots because I got wrapped up in actually flying and not dying (bad blogger!)  You can see the recording twitch streams (Meerdudd and Kael Decadence).

I wasn't sure if the ships were going to be crazy fits or not, but all of the ones I got into seemed generally reasonable.  I ended up in a string of destroyers and cruisers for a while, which was good for zipping around but with so many pilots on field it is pretty likely that one of them that just blap you in you're in a frigate (especially given RLMLs).  For a while I got into a Exequror, which was a good complement to Meerdudd and Kael being in battleships, but one of the other groups probably decided it was too good a complement and primaried me.  A solo Exeq running an overheated Ancil doesn't last too long, even at full AB speed.

For our comms: Meerdudd and Kael were streaming and I was able to speak to them through their Discord.  However, I could only hear them through their twitch stream.  That meant there was a delay between when I heard them and when I could reply.  It was maybe only 30-60 seconds or something, but it felt like forever.  It meant I had to anticipate their calls, or just join in late.

I was surprised how often I was able to reship, even when there were bubbles around.  People were probably much more wrapped up in their individual combats in large part.  If you go into Theomachy thinking "I probably won't last 10 minutes" you'll be surprised.  It's great fun and for a good run to.  I'd recommend trying to get into the largest ship you can, as speed doesn't end up really playing well in such a large mob scene.  It's no surprise that the winners were all in Marauders last I saw.

Eventually I did head back to reship and got caught in a bubble and podded.  It felt like a good end to the whole thing after a long series of fights.  I'd highly recommend it, so look out for it next year.

May 25, 2017

Hype for a Roam

I managed to catch a Kirith Kodachi Sunday night roam, which often doesn't happen just because of RL scheduling.  I logged on after the fleet had already departed, so when I heard it was dessies and down I fumbled around my hangar and pulled out a Wolf.  It was a terrible choice for a fleet, even one that only had a single frigate logi, but even moreso when I realized it was pretty much all armor ships.  The Wolf... really not so much.

After a couple empty systems we found a Moa, killed it, and then found a much blingier Moa... killed it.  A couple frigates were in the wrong place at the wrong time, a Talos (no, double webs weren't enough to slow down small targets), and a Stork.  The Stork was a challenge because he was burned way out in a medium plex, and Open Graves had to run him down and get a scram on him to slow him down enough for me to get my arties on him. Or perhaps more importantly, get a scram on him without dying.

Have I mentioned the new stars are pretty?

Anyway, then we went on and found a Hurricane and buddies.  I remember seeing people trying to use double-web Hurricanes to fight small-hull gangs, but this wasn't that successful (and only had a single web).

The real capstone of the night through was when a wild Hyperion appeared.  The triple-rep held out pretty nicely, and people were starting to talk about whether they had any big ships nearby, but apparently he just plain ran out of cap boosters.  Kudos to Nyaruko Wu for bringing the Hype out to play - there were GFs in local and it sounded like he brought it out knowing it would die.

For lowsec being dead and all it was a pretty action-packed roam.  Thanks to Kirith Kodachi for leading it out!

May 8, 2017

Content Drivers big and small

There have been some great new content-driving events coming in Eve Online lately. Two of them are driven by things that came straight from CCP announcements at FanFest. Notably the Blood Raider engineering complex and the promise of the blueprints that will come from it's destruction. The second is the player outposts being turned into faction Fortizars as they are removed. The third content comes from player origins and embodies the sandbox that is Eve. Outside of this, we all keep looking for our own content too.

There have been plenty of people speculating on how the Blood Raider event sites being in Imperium controlled space might lead other people to invade that space. PL/NC of course comes to mind for just about everyone as the only force that is actually big enough to threaten the Imperium in their new home. It seems unlikely that all of the groups that came together for World War Bee could be gathered together with this motivation.  For many the point was made when the Imperium crumpled, and for others it was a once-in-a-lifetime event that simply doesn't feel the same when repeated. I don't know much about the great power balance between PL/NC forces compared to the Imperium but it seems unlikely that even PL/NC would truly be able to shake loose the Goons hold on that space. It seems far more likely that they will threaten to hot drop an operation on these Blood Raider sites but not leave any truly lasting impact. In the end it will then be a question of how efficiently the Imperium can farm these sites, but there's going to be a significant learning curve it seems.

The conversion of players outposts is an unexpected value proposition for content, but one that people started running the numbers on as soon as mentioned at FanFest. The spectulation is that these faction citadels will be greatly in demand and thus whoever holds control of them at the flip point will be able to pack them up, move them to market, and resell them for a tidy profit. I have heard one quote of 12T ISK for all of the outposts in Providence, for instance, but there's obviously a lot of speculation behind those numbers given that final stats haven't been released yet. But the promise is enough to make some people start eyeing their favorite starmap.

That ISK making opportunity may be at least part of what is behind the third content source that we are seeing right now. The Anime War, as it has been dubbed is truly player generated content. For the origins of this "war" all you need to do is travel to reddit, though I've linked above to the PCGamer article because it's impressive that it's gotten attention from beyond the silly world of reddit. But the bottom line is that Provi Block and their allies have been attacked by PL and fam perhaps because for the eventual ownership of the outpost mentioned above. Whether or not that is the cause is almost irrelevant in the sense that it is something that has captured the players' imagination. For such a diehard group of nerds as we Eve players are, a battle over freedom for anime (or freedom from anime) just makes sense.

In my smaller corner of cluster the Gallente Militia have moved on to attempt to invade the Amarr side of factional warfare. This is pretty much entirely because the Caldari suddenly disappeared from the war in any effective sense. When I last found that my interest in Eve was waning I took a vacation in my Stratios. I came back because there was of the sudden rush of the Caldari against our war zone, and I felt motivated to help defend my friends at arms in the militia. Now as I look at how things are moving in terms of content it seems unlikely that should I go on another vacation there will be a new content source such as that to pull me back. I also found that it was difficult to find individual targets for a solo roamer, or perhaps I just didn't look long enough and enough places. This may also mean that I just need to bring an alt, even if not well-trained, to help me take slightly riskier odds when in strange places. As much as the wars in Providence sound like they could be fun i'm not sure if being the in +1 number of a nightmare fleet would really be that much more motivating. It also seems like most of the content there is concentrated in the European time zone.

The good news is that heading into what could be a quiet period in the game we are seeing content coming from both CCP and from the players themselves. What I need to figure out for myself is where I could get into content, or if I need to make a stronger attempt at generating my own content. With the currently limited amount of time I spend in game I would need to have a means to get to content that fit that budgeting of my time. The alternative is something that plenty of Eve players do, but I have not yet done myself, which is to take a break for these warm summer months and let my other hobbies have more of my time. If I follow that path certainly know Eve will never be too far away since discord and other channels will always be there.  You can logoff, but you can never leave...

(Most of this article was "written" by voice-to-text on my phone, which led to some hilarious and hard to recognize changes.  If there are any still left, my apologies.  See also "for action for desires", and "set Adele")

April 23, 2017

Looking back on Fanfest, with lots of pictures

Fanfest was a great experience.  It's one thing to hear people say that every Eve player should get to Fanfest or one of the other big events, but it is another thing to be there are surrounded by all of your fellow Eve players.

Kyonoke Inquest propaganda postings
Inquest attendees hard at work puzzling through the data

I was particularly impressed with the Kyonoke Inquest event, but I won't say more here since I wrote three articles about it for Crossing Zebras. (Will Eve Players RP?, Op Success?, and Wrap-up).  I even got a chance to talk about it on my first podcast appearance ever, Crossing Zebras 68: Fanfest.

I'll be looking for more on the Kyonoke Inquest and its consequences from The Discourse.  The actors from The Company P really adapted well and held the whole things together.

While I'm an (amateur) photography buff, I didn't end up taking a huge number of pictures of FanFest itself, and left my DSLR in my room.  My new iPhone was pretty nice for the casual shooting through.  One little thing I did involved a tiny stuffed animal, Oorg, that my daughter sent with me to keep me company.  On impulse I asked a few people to pose with Oorg and the results were great.  I only wish I'd done more of it.

Max Singularity and retinue
(I should have gotten their names too)

Ariel (amongst other names)

Cyrillian Voth.  I love his puzzled look.
Of course there were panels and presentations to attend
And of course wherever you go there are Eve Players, including as you walk around Reykjavik.

I think that in the end the presence of the community is what draws a lot of players back to FanFest.  Going to The Laundromat Cafe and sitting down with Eve players, or if you're not feeling so sociable, perhaps you just smile at the shirts and badges that you recognize.  I'm not sure if you can get this kind of density of Eve players in the other events (Eve Vegas, Eve Nottingham, Eve Down Under, Eve Amersterdam, etc.) like you can in Iceland.  For me seeing Iceland was astounding as well, and I'm looking to bringing my family one of these days... preferably when I can manage to get in another Fanfest.  Whoever is reading this, I hope I can see you there some day as well.

(Sorry for the layout - Blogger isn't exactly a sophisticated image presentation system.)

March 24, 2017

Preparing for Iceland and Fanfest

So my time and Eve has been shortened lately. And it's going to be even shorter over the next week as I prepare the final details of visiting Iceland for FanFest.  Appropriately enough as I finish up writing this, CCP Falcon has posted the Eve Fanfest 2017 Megablog.  So let's talk about seeing Iceland, and not just the inside of the Harpa and nearby pubs during Fanfest.

I'm going to be arriving early so I can do some sightseeing around the beautiful country. I am an amateur photographer so I am very much looking forward to the fantastic geography that Iceland provides. Honestly, the beautiful images I've seen are intimidating - the place looks so beautiful I would hate to take photos that don't do service to it.  I'm not going to be trying to haul too much in the way of gear.  I think that the real trick for packing will be getting the tripod along without having to pay for another bag just for it. 

From Brittannica.com: Aurora borealis over the Snaefellsnes peninsula, western Iceland, March 2013
We'll be just at the end of the time period for aurora borealis, as I understand it, but it would be a nice bonus.

For all that I've heard about Iceland being well ... icy ... it amuses me that it is warmer there than it is in my home right now near Boston Massachusetts.  Of course I've also heard that the Iceland climate is highly variable so it's best to plan for it to be colder.  I can only imagine what the wind coming in off the North Atlantic is like.  I've heard some negative comments about tourists trying to hike over glaciers in their jeans certainly so I'll make sure to bring some heavier clothes and snow pants.  A layer of thermals sounds like a good plan too.  If it is so cold that thermals, flannel lined pants, and snowpants doesn't cut it then I probably shouldn't be outside anyway.

If you're considering getting some sightseeing in while you're at Fanfest, and not just the CCP scheduled Sisters of Eve tour, I'd recommend checking out the blog I Heart Reykjavik.  It has a nice sense of humor about it along with some very practical, non-salesy information.  There are a lot of options for seeing Reykjavik and Iceland, particularly since tourism has been a huge part of Iceland's recovery from the banking crash that practically took out the country.  Unfortunately it sounds like tourism has been so popular that there is a bit of backlash (see "Is Iceland Overcrowded with Tourists").  If you've ever lived in a tourist spot, you probably know how they feel.  So, my fellow Fanfest attendees, please represent yourself, your country, and Eve players by treating Iceland and it's people well while you're there!

I'll be arriving on Saturday 01 April (no joke!) and then leaving on Sunday 09 April.  I'll be renting a little 4x4 from Cars Iceland for the touring part of the vacation prior to Fanfest.  The first day I've got a walking tour of Reykjavik lined up with I Heart Reykjavik, and i'll be catching How To Become Icelandic at the Harpa at night, which sounds hillarious.  Then it's off to the south coast to Vik, then Hof (note: not the same as Höfn - made that mistake during planning at one point), and the Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon.

Image from theplanetd.com

Wow, right?  All of these places are theoretically only two hours or so apart from one another on the highway.  (yeah, "the" singular highway)  However, there are so many cool things along the way that it's going to be slow forward progress really.  Add to that the possibility of weather issues.  Check out this google map of places to see on a southern route, courtesy of I Heart Reykjavik.  I'm really back and forth between a tendency to want to plan all my details of each place and playing it by ear.  The fact that work has been really busy has helped discourage me from too much overplanning though.

If you're planning on sightseeing prior to Fanfest, feel free to drop me a line.  I'm fully planning on enjoying doing this solo as a decompression prior to the chaos of Fanfest, but I'm all for sharing notes or getting together for a coffee / beer / brennivin.

March 13, 2017

CSM 12 - That snuck up on me

I'm not sure if the period from the opening of candidacy for CSM to the actual voting opening was any different this time, but it sure felt that way.  Most of that is how busy my RL has been, but it's also because my podcast feed wasn't full of CapStable interviews.  Crossing Zebras has taken a shot at it between Ashterothi's interviews and the Declaration of War panels (yes, the tags on CZ weren't consistently applied, so just look around), but it's definitely no replacement for the massive amount of work that the CapStable guys put into this in the past - and which probably burned them out from doing it again this time.  A big thanks to all of the media folks who got CSM interview information out there.

By the time I realized it was well underway I wasn't going to do my usual summary of the candidates (all 64 of them), particularly since information was spread over the meta.  I don't have as complete a picture of the candidates at all, but it's time to get that voting in.  I hate being under-informed about this, but I realized this was going to have to be a time-boxed exercise.  So here are my top five candidates - arguments are welcome and may sway my vote by the time I get around to plugging them into the interface.

Scylus Black: I'm glad to see him getting out the word about factional warfare.  Even if FW isn't coming up soon on the roadmap, having someone to advocate should help CCP understand the impact of their new features on FW.  Perhaps it will even help get FW on a  future roadmap.  I'll be at Fanfest, hoping to hear good news.

Steve Ronuken:  Look, does anyone ever doubt this guy should stay on CSM as long as he can stand it?  He's probably the one CSM everyone agrees on.

Commander Aze: I didn't rate him highly last time around, but he's stuck with it and has been improving his message.  I'm also feeling a lot of sympathy for the highsec folks, while feeling the nullsec bloc folks don't need my vote.

Jin'taan: The exception to that preceding sentence.  I've been hugely impressed by his work to improve the communication coming out of the CSM.  As a members of the Declarations of War podcast he has consistently asked candidates what they will do to make the CSM better.  This is the change in mindset that we need and I'm hoping he'll continue to help make happen.

Suitonia: He's clearly got a great understanding of the details of ships used in small gang work (which is where I like to play).  Having at least one such CSM is probably good, though it sounds like he's been able to make a lot of contributions via direct contact from CCP as well as the focus groups.  One note though - if you're going to link your blog from your candidate page, it's probably best if you've actually posted within the past twelve months.

After I get through those five I'm not really finding many other candidates on the list that compelling.  Maybe Vic Jefferson (3rd time running, not much new info from my negative review last time)?  Maybe Kalen Tsero (he wants to support lowsec but doesn't know FW mechanics and people?)  Who else am I missing?

March 3, 2017

BB80: Is it feasible to have a FW representative on CSM 12?

BB80 asks if CSM12 will be dominated by null-sec with no voice for hi-sec, low-sec, and WH players.  I think there’s a chance for low-sec this time around if FW can show that it pulls together and votes in a candidate such as Scylus Black. But how good is that chance?

CCP Seagull encourages you to get involved in CSM12 and put your name forward to be a Space-Politician. On his blog Neville Smit noted that CSM11 had done a good job with minimum of drama. However he said he’d not be covering CSM12 like he has in previous years as he sees no point. The power-blocs will vote on who they want and unless Steve Ronuken manages to get on CSM12 it is almost certainly going to have every seat taken by the big null-sec blocs.
Is Neville right? Is the CSM moving more and more into just a voice for 0.0? Is this a bad thing? Are the hi-sec, low-sec and WH players going to lose out badly or is it really not an issue as it's the same game? Could a totally null-sec dominated CSM 12 give a balanced voice for everyone?
I’d like to agree with Kirith that it is possible for a FW candidate to make it onto the CSM.  Let’s take a quick look at the numbers.  According to some analysis from Fuzzy Steve the threshold for getting on the CSM is at #voters divided by seats plus one, plus one.  If we have about the same number of voters as CSM 10 (i.e. before the big disappointment of that CSM), that threshold is about 3364. If we stay at the historically low number of voters that voted in CSM 11 then that threshold is about 2045. So how many Faction Warfare players are there that are engaged enough to vote?

I’m going to stick my neck out and say that if you’re in FW but you aren’t active enough to be considered an active PVPer by zkillboard, then you’re probably someone’s farming alt or not engaged enough to vote.

Total 3,936

Ouch on those numbers for the Minmatar.

So that’s not terribly promising.  We have enough people in Faction Warfare that if all of the active PVPers voted their #1 slot for the same FW candidate (such as Scylus Black) then they’d get on the CSM, assuming turnout numbers like CSM X.  On top of that, we have to discount those numbers by how many people in Faction Warfare are Alphas, and thus ineligible to vote.  If turnout was down to CSM 11 numbers, then we probably should discount our raw player counts for the same reason. We could hope that FW players have more than one active account (and thus more votes) but that may means they have more than one active PVPer in our counts as well. Those are some pretty big IFs.

That tells me that Scylus Black not only needs to make the rounds with all of the Factional Warfare corps, but also needs to broaden his pitch to include other lowsec residents (aka pirates).  The good news is that we in FW are already pretty well acquainted with them via the vigorous pew pew that happens every night.

But he’s got his work cut out for him.