Friday, 21 October 2016

Effects of the Gambling Ban on the EVE Community

Originally I wasn't planning to write a second post on this subject. I covered it briefly in my previous posts and I was planning on leaving in there. But I've been catching up on podcasts and seeing what other bloggers, forum posters, Reddit posters and tweets have been saying and I've decided there still some points that I'd like to make.

Oh, that Gevlon!
Before I jump into the topic though I just want to take a quick moment to reflect and laugh at one of the more comical sides of the gambling ban. Over on the Greedy Goblin, when this was announced it seem Gevlon decided that since he posted a ticket 5 days prior to the announcement, the gambling ban was his doing. In his comments, he clarifies his position claiming he made CCP act now, rather than in several years time. I mean he may have a point if it weren't that it would likely take considerably longer than 5 days to rewrite the portions of the EULA and get them checked over by legal, or that this discussion over the legality of EVE gambling has been going on on the forums and Reddit for weeks. It's even been covered by The Nosy Gamer back in September. The truth is, he's still a bit mad that Lenny swooped in and stole the victory over the goons from him, so taking the credit for this make him feel like he took down his new enemy. Anyway, on with the real content.

The gambling ban and the community
So a lot of the comments around the gambling ban are focused on the ISK that used to be used for community projects and websites no longer being available. Some players have even gone so far as to suggest CCP should intervene and start paying out to streamers, news sites and events to replace the lost funding. Notably, the people being most vocal about how bad it tends to be the same people that write articles for organisations that were sponsored by gambling sites. Personally I don;t see it as a problem, In fact, I'd go so far as to say that this is a positive change for EVE community websites.

To get an idea of why I think it's a positive change, it's important for you to understand what I believe makes up the community. There's a lot of different people with different views, some who think only players with the most positive opinions of EVE are the community, or for some, it's only groups of people who drive conflict and the other arbitrarily labelled "content creators". For me, it's pretty simple. Do you play EVE? Yes? Then you're part of the community. It doesn't matter if you love creating thousand man space battles, or if you want to play it like it's a single player game and just do your own thing. Everyone playing EVE is a part of the community.

This is where I feel the gambling sites had a negative impact. The problem with those sites is that they pooled money into a very limited number of wallets, then the owners of those wallets got to pick and choose which parts of the community they wanted to promote and which parts they wanted to ignore. This creates an imbalance, as if a site, event or player doesn't receive the funding they are automatically at a disadvantage and will find it difficult to compete. Now sure, there are other sources of income that create a similar effect, notably Imperium News (formerly TMC) where the ISK is sourced from Goonswarm, but those tend to be much more limited in effect.

On the subject of EVE media, Ashterothi made a point on the Talking In Stations podcast that while people will still write, the payments brought writers closer together, and that without that funding writers might split up and become harder to find. I would tend to disagree here. Sure, writers may split up so there won't be as many writers pooled into the big sites, but people will still want to read EVE articles and people will find them. If anything this will simply help ensure that smaller writers who are currently left out of the big sites will get even more focus (except me because I write like a *insert derogatory term here*). Media aggregators like Eve Bloggers by Steve Ronuken and hell, even the disaster that is r/eve will become more important, but the articles will be found.

Additionally, as noted in my previous post, I tend to think the players that really want to deliver content for EVE will do so out of their passion for EVE and not a paycheck from a shady gambling site. Those that do feel the need to generate income can still do so by asking for donations from players or working out private deals with wider arrays of in-game groups. Nobody can claim to know what the true overall effect to community media and events will be until it's seen first hand but I absolutely believe that we'll see a better and more diverse selection of websites and projects come out of this and I believe the community will be vastly improved by taking this journey.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

You want ISK? Well you can't have it!

It's an exciting day indeed for EVE online,exciting enough for me to actually come back and put up a blog post after nearly a year of moving to a more casual approach to EVE. Apologies in advance that this is a bit rough and rambly. That's it, I'm not excusing it, just apologising.

Now on to the exciting news! CCP have announced that along with the Ascension update in November, a pretty significant EULA change will be going ahead. Specifically in the "Selling Items and Objects" section of the EULA they are adding the following line:
"You may not use, transfer or assign any game assets for games of chance operated by third parties."
That's right folks, EVE gambling sites are done!

At this point, we can only assume CCPs reasons for doing this, but anyone with an eye on the current state of gambling in the online gaming sector could have guessed this was coming. Recently there have been charges raised against the operators of a Fifa coin gambling site and there's been trouble around CS:GO skins too. The law is catching up with in-game assets being used to run unregulated gambling sites, and I think it would be a fair assumption that CCP is trying to get ahead of this.

There is, however, another part of this that may have helped force their hand. Within the same announcement CCP have stated that gambling sites have until the 8th November to sort themselves out and shut down, with the exception of two. IWantISK and EVE Casino (the two sites associated with 1ronbank) have been shut down with immediate effect. Unsurprisingly IWantISK has been shut down for... wait for it... RMT. Like there was anyone that didn't see that one coming.

Many of us have been against EVE gambling sites for a long time and so this announcement is being met with a healthy mix of excitement and smugness which will last for a while. From the side of the gambling site operators, feelings are mixed. EVE-bet, for example, has announced that they will continue operations throughout the alliance tournament and ensure everyone is paid out, and while obviously disappointed they are taking it in their stride. The IWantISK guys, on the other hand, are crying about how CCP Peligro does not care, and vowing to work around the EULA to continue gambling operations.
"I will develop IWI 1.0 into a P2P website with no central bank or central hub which means CCP will not be able to ban our system and you, the players, will receive YOUR ISK from other players using a mass pay and honor system.(P2P). We will get you your ISK."
As you can imagine, this will likely not work as from the EULA wording given by CCP the transferring of ISK for the purposes of gambling is banned, so even in a P2P system, players transferring the ISK would be vulnerable and certainly, any site encouraging the breaking of the EULA would find itself in trouble. I have a feeling though this is part of a knee-jerk response to the sudden change in policy.

As can be expected, some of the Imperium (and ex-imperium like me) are erupting in celebratory with showers of smug all round, and that's going to annoy a lot of people, but too bad. The reality is that IWI being involved in systemic RMT was claimed by the Imperium and evidence was handed over, but due to CCPs level of secrecy around these matters and the apparent lack of action, it was widely declared that it was being made up. And now here we are with CCP stating quite clearly that RMT was why they were shut down.
"The third party service IWANTISK has been shut down in game, and all ISK and assets have been confiscated after extensive and exhaustive investigation has brought forward compelling evidence of large-scale Real Money Trading. Permanent account suspensions have been issued against those involved."
Now there is a downside to these sites being shut down. Other areas of EVE media were sponsored by some of these sites, and so them being shut down cuts off revenue streams for sites like CrossingZebras and EVENews24. This does potentially mean that there could be a loss of some of these sites. To me though this should be a minimal problem. If a site is big enough to require a solid ISK revenue stream it should be able to get that from players, and if it can't survive without ISK injections from large gambling organisations, we're probably better off without it. Personally, I hope to see an increase in the smaller independent media which doesn't need funding, as I've always preferred reading blogs like The Nosy Gamer, TAGN and even Greedy Goblin (back when he posted about EVE) rather than the monolithic news sites like TMC and EN24.

How it will really affect the landscape though is anyone's guess.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Fountain War Book - The Kickstarter

Unless you've been hiding under a rock for a while, you should have heard of the Fountain War Book which is currently seeking funding on kickstarter.  There's a lot of opinions being thrown around about it, though less on reddit now that there's a ban on discussing it following a load of vote manipulation.

The criticisms pretty much boil down to one of two things:
1. It's being created by The Mittani (in collaboration with CCP and written by Jeff Edwards) therefore is bad - the "Grr Goons" argument.
2. The funding goal is $150,000 therefore it is bad.

Now the "Grr Goons" arguments barely needs a mention.  Anyone with an ounce of sense knows it's not only irrational, but quite literally retarded to take the fact that you hate a group in game and use that as your reasoning for keeping the EVE Online universe out of a novel.  Jeff Edwards has made it clear that he has creative control over the book and that he's looking to get as much input from non-goon groups involved in the war as he can.

The funding goal argument confuses me.  Some people are saying "They want $150k, therefore I'm not going to fund it".  But they don't want $150k from each player, and it's not like getting the book itself as a reward is expensive ($10 digital, $15 paperback) so their total is irrelevant to you as a potential backer.  The total is purely what they need to achieve to make it worthwhile for Jeff to stop working for the time it takes to research and write the book.  That's like saying "I won't spend $500 on this TV because they are selling 1000 of them!  $500,000 is ludicrous for some TVs!".

My position is this: I'm in full support of this book.  I'm in support of any new forms of media being pushed through about EVE (as long as they've gone through the correct channels for CCP approval) because it's good for EVE.  The real question you have to ask yourself is "If this kickstarter fails, what's the chance that someone else is going to be able to release quality media based on he EVE universe".  Honestly, I see this as a test for the community.  If we can't successfully back a novel being created by a best selling author, the most famous player in EVE and CCP themselves, then it's unlikely we'll ever see the EVE universe continuing to branch out beyond the video games that CCP throw out.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Aegis Sovereignty 1.0

As of 14th July, the new sovereignty system dubbed Aegis Sovereignty (formerly Fozziesov) has been out in null.  We've all had a decent chance to take a look and see how it works, and it's pretty clear that on a whole it's failed to achieve what it set out to do.  From the feedback people have been giving, the vast majority are finding it quite boring to play with, and many are choosing to opt out as much as they can.  That's not to say the entire concept of the system is broken, but there's some serious work that needs to be done to get it working right, and that needs to be sooner than later.

Problems
The #1 goal of Aegis Sovereignty is
"As much as possible, ensure that the process of fighting over a star system is enjoyable and fascinating for all the players involved"
This is where the system has mostly fallen down.  Fighting over control of a system is now done using an entosis link.  This is essentially a mining laser that get fired at structures.  It's a dull enough mechanic that most people will choose not to do it wherever possible.  This means that especially with the bigger groups, very little is happening in the way of fighting over space.  It's much more entertaining to simply hold the space you have and go out on roams as they always have and effectively ignore as much of the new mechanic as they can.  This reduces conflict and increase stagnation, pretty much the opposite of what we need the sov system to do.

That leads on to the next problem, which I'm still shaking my head as to why it's a problem since it was pointed out as a flaw in the system long before release.  That's the concept of a trollceptor.  This is an interceptor fitted for speed with an entosis link It's designed to fly into systems and contest sov then run away when opposition arrives.  With their natural bubble immunity they are nearly impossible to catch while travelling, and with their speed they can run from most players when engaged.  If they do get caught, which is quite unlikely, the ships are cheap enough to replace instantly and shrug off the loss.

Now that's not to say they can't be stopped from taking sov, a ship showing up with sensor dampeners can stop them from contesting a structure, but since the people using them don't want to take the sov, they just want to waste the time of the defender, then causing a ship to fly out to them is a win.  If nobody shows up, they create a timer which again requires a response or ultimately costs the defender their sov.  In effect it guarantees a positive outcome.

Solutions
I think we're a long way off from a complete solution.  It's going to take a long time for them to get the system balanced right so it encourages conflict and is entertaining to those taking part.  But there are certainly ways to resolve some of the problems with the current system.  I propose the following changes to the current system to make it far more likely to generate conflict.

  1. Entosis links should be limited to ships that are cruiser sized or above.
    • This prevents most near-unstoppable ships from flying around contesting sov with no interest in actually taking it, which remove a lot of the time waste parts which make it so undesirable to take part.  T3s would still be able to fly through, but then that's the benefit of having a far more expensive ship.
  2. When an entosis module is active, if the ship using it moves out of range of its target, the module should burn out.
    • This is like when you overheat too much and burn out the module.  It's still there but need to be repaired at a station, and the cost of doing so should be about half the cost of the module.  This makes it far less appealing to attack sov when you know full well that you'll have to run away, and means that doing so is limited as you need to keep going for repairs.
    • It should be noted this would also happen to defenders, so they too would need to repair if they tried to disengage early.
  3. With a high defence index, multiple entosis links (not too many, 3-4 at the most) should be required to start the process of contesting sov.
    • This give an additional benefit to working up a defence index by providing more passive defence and requiring more commitment from the attackers.  Note that this should only be to start (or restart) the attack.  To sustain the attack only one would be required, and once it's reinforced, it would remain as in the current system.
  4. A system that is reinforced but then not followed up by capturing the command nodes should reset within 48 hours.
    • This is to prevent systems remaining reinforced for long periods of time.  If the attackers don't actually want to take it, there's no reason the defenders shouldn't keep it until someone does take it.  If they aren't using it, one cruiser would be enough to take it anyway.
The idea behind all of these is to encourage attackers to commit to attacks without forcing them to need megafleets like in the old system.  I feel Aegis has gone too far the other way and now too little commitment is required.  It feels like they've looked at the system from the point of view of an individual, when it has to be remembered this is an alliance level mechanic, not something one player should be able to accomplish alone.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Blog Response - Going full Gevlon

Gevlon Goblin
Been a while since I've posted, mainly because I've had very little time to play much EVE, but some things just demand a response.

I'm not normally one to respond to blog posts by Gevlon Goblin, as they amount to little more than trash, but a post from yesterday has spurred a response.  This post is a follow up to a part of a post he made the day before about an article posted on TMC late last year.  He's posted a ticket to CCP demanding the removal of Sion Kumitomo claiming that Sion has breached both the NDA and the ToS in his article.

The Article
Sion Kumitomo
The TMC article is about the fallout following the vandalism of the EVE monument in Reykjavik last year in May.  In it Sion explains what happened publicly as we are all aware, and then goes a bit further into what happened behind the scenes.  He states in his article that the players who defaced the monument were members of Goonswarm and goes on to explain that CCP Falcon went to great lengths to keep Goonswarm's name out of the articles following the vandalism, and even apologised to Goonswarm when they were implicated.

This is Gevlon's attack.  He claims that Sion is suggesting that CCP Falcon displayed favouritism, which he claims is a breach of the ToS, and that the release of the information surrounding the ban was a breach of the NDA.  The way he sees it, if CCP ban Sion then he has got a Goonswarm member off of the CSM, and if they don't, they must be confirming favouritism.  The reality is that nothing will come of it because no rules are likely to have been broken.  The only rule really in question is the NDA, which we'll get to in time.

The Favouritism
In the article, Sion does claim that CCP Falcon kept the fact that the vandals were members of Goonswarm quiet, however he did not make any claim of favouritism, so even if that were a rule under the ToS (I don't believe it is) the accusation is false.  Beyond that, what he said doesn't even display favouritism.  For starters, for it to be favouritism there would have to have been a time when individuals that were members of another group performed a real world crime such as this and were publicly shamed.

Primarily however, any rational person understands that the actions of individuals do not represent the actions of the group. If you work for company X and you commit a crime, that company does not need to be (and generally isn't) dragged through the mud because you happened to be an employee.  In the same way, CCP didn't want Goonswarm to be subject to articles claiming it was them as a group that were responsible for scratching a name off of the monument.

Gevlon however is not a rational person.  He's driven almost entirely by emotions, with his deep seething hatred of anything Goonswarm related leading the charge.

The NDA
This is the only part that is questionable, but to be truthful I'd be very surprised if Sion had released this information without running it by CCP beforehand.  The article comes across as a way to explain to the community what actions were really taken following the vandalism and why those actions were taken as well as shedding some light on the process.  In short, it's exactly the type of post I'd expect to see from a CSM member.  Furthermore, had he released it without permission then I'd imagine CCP would have seen it before, in which case you would expect him to have already been removed or denied his application to the latest CSM.  Neither of these happened so it's fairly safe to say that this was not an NDA breach.

Gevlon
It's plain to see what is going on here and why you are doing this.  You're upset that CCP Falcon insulted your blog, even though he was well within his right to say it (since let's face it, it's 40% lies, 40% misunderstanding and 20% PVA glue mixed with saliva) and you want to get your own back.  You see your action here as having one of two outcomes, both of which you would like to see; either CCP Falcon gets into trouble or Sion gets booted from the CSM.  What you've missed is the third and most likely outcome, which is that you received the standard "We're looking into it, can't tell you anything, ticket closed" and then nothing further happens.

Honestly though, I think you should take a step back and assess yourself.  You're obviously emotionally tied into the game on an enormous level, since you spend the majority of your real life attempting to defame and insult a made up group of players.  It's unhealthy for a game to get you that worked up, and at some point you need to ask yourself if a made up cause really is worth wasting your life.

Sunday, 31 May 2015

A wild scambling website appears! Again...

Recently on the EVE-O forums a player called YourSherpa popped up with a thread announcing yet another scam gambling website under creation.  This one is called EVE-Summit, and it's looking to become a news site with gambling.  The owner isn't beating around the bush with this one and has outright stated that the goal of this website is financial success, which in my eyes means that it's operating as a business running in-game activities, so will be in breach of the EULA from the moment it launches.

Now don't get me wrong, I have no problem with fansites trying to recoup some or all of their running costs, nor do I have a problem with scams (which these gambling sites inevitably are), but I do have a problem with players looking to draw income from in-game activities and items, as whatever way you swing it, that is RMT.

Essentially these sites all work the same, they get players to cycle ISK though on their game while they shill out winnings on disposable shill accounts.  They then funnel that ISK back in as "prizes" to bring in more players to increase their profits.  While it's difficult to prove it's also widely believe that these types of sites funnel a significant amount of ISK to illegitimate RMT sites, and with the number of players tending to use them it's difficult to separate actual winners from shills.  They all differ in how they give out their ISK and how they generate their income, but the outcome is the same.

I'm hopeful that CCP is moving to a position where these types of sites are stopped sooner rather than later.  Somer BLINK got away with it for some time, but following their closure the rules have been much tighter, and with iwantisk recently receiving a block from the in-game browser there's definitely signs that these types of sites are not being received very well.  As a playerbase, we can do our own part by refusing to sign up for these sites and encouraging others to avoid them too.  Don't subscribe to their channels or streams and don't visit any of their links, especially without an ad blocker.  Visiting on your in-game browser with trust or signing up is a definite one to avoid since that will provide them with both your IP and character names allowing them to build a database of who is an alt of who, something they may choose to leverage later.

As was to be expected, when I raised RMT concerns on their thread I got the standard response where this one is different, though these guys were much more open about the fact that this is for cash, not just for adding content supporting the game they love.  It's no surprise though, YourSherpa's history is hardly that of an EVE fan.  He played a few years ago for a couple of years, left, then seemingly returned now that he thinks he can grab some quick cash from EVE players.

While posting I was listening to their stream and hearing them trying to rally the players they've collected so far into some kind of defense which never materialised.  The best part though was when they started talking about Somer, fundamentally misunderstanding why Somer were banned.  They also claimed that rather than shutting down Somer should have started legal proceedings!  CCP can actually ban people for no reason if they like, completely legally, so I can't imagine a site blatantly violating the EULA would last very long challenging a ban through the legal system.

All in all this is just another RMT scammer site and should be avoided.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

CCP PLEX for GOOD

CCP have once again started their PLEX for GOOD campaign rolling, this time to help people in Nepal following the recent devastating earthquake there.  If you don't know what PLEX for GOOD is, it's a great way for you to turn your in game riches into real world donations to help those in need. More information on how it works can be found in the official dev blog, but the most important part is:
To make your PLEX for GOOD donation:
  • Contract one or more PLEX to the "CCP PLEX for GOOD" character on a 14-day item exchange contract.
  • Contracts will be accepted within 24 hours of submission, though usually sooner than that.
Please ensure the receiving character is the one named above, and double check the character is in the C C P Corporation to avoid contracting PLEX to the incorrect character. CCP cannot guarantee the return of PLEX contracted to the wrong character.

Additionally, if you don't have the isk to buy and donate PLEX, and want to donate in smaller amounts, several people run operations to pool isk which gets converted into PLEX and donated towards the end of the campaign.  Notably, Chribba is running such an operation, details of which can be seen on his thread here.  It's important to note that any scamming involving the PLEX for GOOD campaign results in a permanent ban, so don't do that, and report it if you see it.  As CCP Falcon put it:
I will reiterate that any scamming relating to PLEX for GOOD will result in the offending parties being quite literally removed from existence in EVE Online.
This is a worthwhile campaign which helps real people in need, and allows you to do what you do in game to help them.  So get ratting, get mining, get trading, get your pew pew on, and get that PLEX to the people that need it.