09 September 2013

No Fun Allowed?

CCP has updated the Terms of Service agreement for EVE Online. The full article is located here, but the meat of the post is that this sentence was added in:
You may not impersonate or falsely present yourself to be a representative of another player, group of players, character or NPC entity.
Needless to say, there are some out there who are going to be pretty upset by this. Recruitment scamming is a popular way to separate hapless newbies from their hard-earned ISK, and while I personally think scamming is a pretty reprehensible thing to do (with the possible exception of against declared war targets - economical warfare and PSYOPs, anyone?), I do fully recognize that it was allowed under EVE's ToS. And, technically speaking, scamming is still allowed; you just can't claim to be an out-of-corp Goon recruiting officer, for example, unless you actually are one.

As I said, I am not a huge fan of bilking the newbies, so I'm not too concerned about this sort of thing one way or the other. In fact, I think that setting some lines down on player behavior is long overdue - I am literally the only one of my friends who plays EVE, and that's mostly because the game has the not entirely undeserved reputations of "spreadsheets in space" and "home of psychopathic asshats." While there are arguments in favor of both points of view, honestly, it's the second one that, as a community, I think we need to start trying to shed as much as possible. I'm not asking us to turn nullsec into a big blue donut (despite what happens over on Serenity) and I'm not saying that we need to completely stop all scams and ganks in hisec and make non-consensual PVP impossible there. But things like EVE University should be much more commonly known than they are, IMHO. Folks that help newbies figure out how the game works beyond the very basics of flying in space should be lauded, not mocked.

In any case, I can't say that I'm particularly bothered by this change. My particular brand of fun - watching spaceships (more often than not my own, to be honest) explode in nullsec - remains untouched.

31 August 2013

Well, I finally did it...

I am now a member of Dreddit and TEST. (In related news, ohai there spais!) I picked TEST for a few different reasons.

One: They're established. I'm not talking about space or in-game infrastructure, I'm talking about metagame infrastructure. They have established (albeit reorganizing) leadership, training programs, out-of-game systems of all sorts on their website including a wiki, Jabber, Mumble, an intel map, and so on.

Two: They're rebuilding. Now, some people would look at that as a bad thing; a sign that TEST is in a crisis. They point to membership numbers on Dotlan (slopes for the slope throne!). They point to many experienced TEST FCs leaving. They point to the fact that TEST moved to the Testagon/Soliara/Somalia instead of NPC nullsec. At the risk of using a cliche, I'd point out that the Chinese word for "crisis" uses the characters for "danger" and "opportunity." Yes, TEST is going through a rough patch. Yes, they have issues that they need to work out, and they know it. Yes, TEST lost a lot of good people and kicked out many more. But at the same time, that means that there's room for a relative unknown to potentially step in somewhere - combat leadership, training, diplomacy, who knows? Also, I'd point out that Booda has emphasized that TEST's movement to lowsec is a temporary measure - TEST will be back in nullsec, and back on the sov map Soon(TM).

Three: Despite previous comments, I actually like Reddit. I've said before that I disliked the idea of having to join a forum (much less pay to join one, cough cough SomethingAwful cough) that I was unfamiliar with and wasn't sure if I'd even use much just to join an EVE Online group. Well... turns out there's actually a lot of stuff on Reddit I do enjoy. Who knew?

So while I'm not getting into space as much as I'd like (hooray retail wage-slavery and working late hours!) I've found myself a new home. Now all I need to do is start training for all these new doctrines...

16 August 2013

And so it begins... again.

So, I just pulled the trigger on resubscribing to EVE. While I'm not planning on doing anything immediately besides logging in and picking something to start training (whee work in a couple hours!) I do want to start thinking about what I want to do.

So, at this point, I've pretty much narrowed it down to two things: FW or getting back out into nullsec. Pros and cons of both:

  • Nullsec
    • Pros
      • I've done it before, so I have a legitimate idea of what's going on.
      • I've been active in Reddit for a while, so (once they reopen recruitment, anyway) I could join Dreddit with relative ease. As TEST is currently in a rebuilding phase, that would also give me a good opportunity to start getting deeper into the nullsec lifestyle - FCing, for example. (Or I could get a firsthand look at a failcascade, depending on whose propaganda you choose to believe.)
      • Honestly, I really do feel like null-sec warfare is where the game really shines, and I enjoy looking at the high-level strategy elements to it.
    • Cons
      • I've done it before, so there won't be as much "ooh, new stuff" to think about as there would be in FW.
      • TEST is, according to some propaganda, failcascading. Personally, I would wait to withhold judgement on that, as they themselves said that they would be doing a purge of inactive personnel and some corps anyway. If they continue to show a slope on Dotlan after, then maybe I'll believe it. Maybe.
      • If I don't go with Dreddit/TEST, then I have no idea where I'd go to find a home for this (former?) bittervet who wants to scratch the internet spaceships itch.
      • I have no idea what the doctrine meta is like right now. I know Drakes used to be cool, and sniper Rokhs used to be as well. I suppose it doesn't really matter, as I could just start training whatever, but I'd rather not have to wait around while I wait on skill timers.
  • Faction Warfare
    • Pros
      • Never done it, and doing new stuff is always cool.
      • Major ISK faucets, which is not a minor consideration.
      • Not completely focused around PvP, which means I can do it whenever I can get on, not just during peak hours. Also, if I base out of low/null, no hellcamps. I will always be able to get out and find something to do.
    • Cons
      • Would need to learn a whole new meta, guaranteed.
      • No idea of what corps/alliances are out there.
      • No idea of doctrines.
      • No idea of how FW works.
All in all, I'd say I have some thinking to do. If anyone wants to offer their thoughts on these options, or pitch a different option to me, feel free to do so in the comments.

08 August 2013

Why I Don't Believe In "Gudfites"

Okay, that's not entirely true. I do believe in roaming gangs just looking for a fight. But in the main, I tend to discount the concept of fighting just for fighting's sake. A case in point: my previous post. On Reddit (seeing my blog on Reddit at all was a bit of a shock, for the record) it was pointed out that TEST may have decided to fight for Delve simply because it was a "good fight," even if it was one that they might not win.

And here's why: I don't believe in simply fighting for fighting's sake as it relates to the strategic scale.

Now, I figure at least half (so, you know, two or three of you) are wondering what the hell I'm smoking here. Well, I'll try to explain. This may be a holdover from my Army days, but, when I'm envisioning tossing fleets around in space, I tend to think first and last in terms of investment; how many ships, supplies, and lives am I willing to pay in return for whatever the objective is? I realize that, in EVE, the ships and supplies are pixels on my screen and bits of data on CCP's server. But even so, I feel that, as a (notional) fleet commander, it's my responsibility to ensure that any losses are sustained for a good reason. If I lose the fleet and incur all those losses for something that wasn't worth - either directly or indirectly - all those millions of ISK, then I feel like I've failed as a commander.

Maybe this means that I'm not cut out for being an internet spaceships fleet commander. Maybe I'm just doomed to forever fly the spacelanes as one more face in a crowd of a half-million others. If so, fine. But I just can't convince myself that the objectives of a campaign should take a backseat to any other consideration. To me, warfare in EVE just doesn't break down that way.

And yes, I know I'm in the minority and probably taking this way too seriously. I just wanted to get this off my chest a bit.

30 July 2013

Post #100 - Back to analysis.

100 posts deserves some fireworks, doesn't it?

For my hundredth post, I wanted to get back into the analytic game. It was one of the big reasons that I got into EVE blogging, and one of the things I've missed most besides the explodey bits. And so, while doing some reading to try and refamiliarize myself with the greater strategic picture in New Eden, I came across a post from Poetic Stanziel over at Poetic Discourse which asked the question of why TEST was falling back to Delve when all the valuable moons are held by Pizza. Now, I should note that before I googled to find out what "Pizza" was my first thought was a nullsec pizza delivery franchise had set up shop in Delve, which sounded awesome. Then I found Confederation of xXPIZZAXx and discovered their killboard has to be the biggest affront to human eyesight ever. Of all time. It is literally painful for me to look at for any length of time, and I have no idea how they stand it. But I digress.

Poetic Stanziel points out that not only has TEST yet to show a major post-6VDT-H victory over Pizza (in fact, when they initially arrived in Delve, Pizza was ready with guns hot and scored several kills), but in fact they TEST are making a serious tactical blunder by leaving themselves vulnerable to being besieged inside the very stations they want to protect. Further, she argues that all of TEST's successes in sov space have been due to efforts by their allies, and that TEST has yet to mount a successful campaign on their own, either on offense or on defense.

So I decided to try and answer the question of why TEST is trying to fight for Delve at all. Personally, I agree that it might be better, on the strategic level, for TEST to fall back to NPC nullsec to sort themselves out. It's happened to other alliances before, and it will happen again. But this article isn't about what TEST should be doing, it's about what they are doing right now.

I suspect a combination of factors. In no particular order:

The honor of the flag. In 17th and 18th century naval combat, when a warship from one side was unable to escape from a superior enemy, what captains would sometimes do is fire a single broadside - usually on the side of their ship pointing away from the enemy so as to not cause the enemy to return fire - and then quickly strike their national colors in signal of surrender. In essence, this is very similar to the final TEST welpfleet that showed up and threw themselves against a single CFC dreadnaught, killing it at the cost of all 200 ships that had been in the fleet. I suspect TEST leadership recognizes, even if they only admit it to themselves, that at this point Delve is a losing prospect. In such a case, we could see them trying to put up a delaying defense while any major remaining assets were evacuated from Delve to NPC nullsec. "Make the Goons pay cash for each system they take," in other words.

They may not be willing to give up. Hubris can be the downfall of anyone. This is no less true of TEST leadership than it is of CFC leadership, myself, CCP, or real-world leaders. TEST may believe that they can retake the moons they need to finance the maintenance of Delve. Whether or not that's accurate really depends on too many imponderables - how much is left in TEST's warchest, how fast they're draining it, how much of an effort is CFC going to make to take Delve, what support from N3 and Pandemic Legion can TEST count on, either in the form of men or materiel. However, if Pizza continues to be able to fend off TEST attacks, and especially if the CFC keeps pressuring TEST's borders, I can't see TEST being able to fight off CFC, oust Pizza, and pay the sovereignty bill all at the same time.

TEST may have a morale problem, and TEST leadership is trying to motivate the troops. This one is a little twisty, but bear with me. TEST, to my understanding, has had issues recently with getting pilots in space. I point to the fact that they ceded space superiority to CFC in the hours before the battle in 6VDT-H. Both sides knew the timer was counting down, TEST had cancelled ops in preparation for defense of the station, but the CFC showed up... and TEST didn't, which meant that TEST would have major issues for most of the fight getting reinforcements in-system. Combined with the losses handed to them by CFC in that battle, and then the ones inflicted by Pizza as TEST retreated into Delve, and you've got a prime situation for low motivation and morale. TEST may be trying to counter this with the aforementioned "make the Goons pay cash for each system they take" strategy, instead of abandoning sovereignty entirely, while their troops are under the impression of being sent running out of sov space with their tails between their legs. An orderly, planned, and controlled withdrawal would do much to abate that impression, and could mean fewer pilots abandoning the alliance when the inevitable move to NPC nullsec happens.

As I said, I think Poetic Stanziel made excellent points, and that a TEST withdrawal from sov space is coming, perhaps sooner than TEST may want. They need the downtime to rest, refit, rebuild their resources, and recruit and train new pilots to replace the inevitable losses after a move like that. Short of CFC suddenly stopping and offering TEST a cease-fire and non-aggression pact (which I would be absolutely floored if it actually happened), I can't see a scenario here where TEST is given the time they need to concentrate on ousting Pizza from their moons so they can hold Delve. I predict we'll see TEST withdrawing from Delve, especially if they can give CFC a bloody nose or two on their way out. That will give them fuel for their internal propaganda machine - "we left on our own terms, and made CFC fight for what they took from us" - and surely would be the more strategically sound choice than fighting for every belt, moon, and outpost in Delve.

Wiping down the windows

So I've pretty well decided I'm coming back. I have no idea where I left my character, what ships I had, what I was doing, what I was training for, nothing. I don't have any of the training trackers still on my computer, so I have no skill plans sitting around.

Right now, insofar as what I want to do, I've narrowed it down between trying to get back into nullsec or trying out FW. I enjoyed my time in null before - I like making things go boom - but if faction warfare is in better shape than it was when I left about a year ago (it wouldn't be too hard, from what I recall), I do think I'll be giving that a good hard look. Either way, I have some time to think things over. I would tend to figure a final decision will come once I get my bearings again. I've resubmitted this blog to the fansite listing; we'll see how that goes.

So, to-do list:
  • Get money to support my habit - in progress, just gotta wait until that first payday.
  • Learn to fly again so I don't seem like a total noob.
  • Redownload EFT/EveMon/PYFA/insert-current-training-and-fitting-tools-here.
  • Start putting out feelers for a potential home in nullsec.
  • Check out current state of faction warfare and potential homes there.
  • Make a decision so I can get the hell out of Caldari Provisions for the nth time.
  • ???
  • Space profit.
So. Anyone want to take bets on where the Demon Murphy will make his inevitable appearance on that list?

29 July 2013

Blowing off the dust

In case nobody noticed (which wouldn't surprise me at all), things around here have been pretty silent lately. I dropped out of EVE due to lack of interest (and funds, though ironically it turns out that that wasn't nearly as big a deal as I'd thought it had been because of the fan-site program, albeit I found that out too late!), and despite some vague intentions on taking this blog into more of a general-gaming direction, I ended up letting it lie fallow, thinking either Blogger themselves would delete it for inactivity, or it was possible that I might start playing EVE and writing about it again. Looks like the latter scenario is happening now.

Anyway, as you may have heard unless you live under a rock, CFC and TEST (and friends) ended up setting a new record for the biggest fight in EVE history (and quite possibly in gaming history) with 4070+ ships in 6VDT-H slugging it out through 10% TiDi. The battle even made regular news media sit up and take notice, with Huffington Post, CNet and the BBC even taking note of the goings-on. Twitch feeds from both sides were up and running (albeit on a delay for operational security, which I wholeheartedly understand and approve of), and a post on the battle making the front page on the gaming sub-Reddit.

I ended up watching for a bit, and I started to feel the itch to sling my own ship through space. Mind you, I've been having a decent time playing other, free games, but this... this was different. Nothing I've done in any game has given me the same adrenaline jolt that flying a ship in EVE could give me. Understand, I've never been in one of the major nullsec alliances. If memory serves, my time in null was with a renter of Atlas (which I suspect shows how far back it was) and we really never did any major combat ops. We'd do the occasional POS smash, which usually happened unopposed, and we did do a deployment to go help out some allies when the Goons were attacking their space, which ended up with us sitting around for four hours waiting for a fight that never happened.

I don't know what I'm going to do when I get back in. I might look for a missioning/incursions corporation. I might look to get back out into null - hell, I might even look into Dreddit, given that in the time between now and when I left I started using Reddit a surprising amount. I might volunteer my services to pull security for an industrial corp. I might see if Red vs. Blue is still kicking about. I might end up doing something completely different than what I'm thinking about right now.

I've got a couple weeks to think about it and to start poking around to see what's new and different in New Eden. We'll see what happens.