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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Mosaic Update - Coming 28th April

Yesterday CCP released a dev blog announcing the changes coming in their latest update which they are calling Mosaic.  These have all been public and being talked about for a while, and it looks like a pretty good update as far as they go.  You can view all of the updates on the new EVE Updates site but you can find a brief overview of the bigger features below:

Ship Skins
We'll be seeing ships skins arriving in this update.  I'm not really one for caring much about ship skins, but with this being a cosmetic change and one I know a lot of players have been passionate about for a very long time, it's great to see this coming in.  These will be usable and bound to a character (and sold with the character if they are sold) allowing you to place the skin on the appropriate ship whenever you want forever (or for a certain time with time-limited skins, which can be found as drops in-game).  This is a better option than the one-use skins we've seen up to now, as it will mean there's no reason not to fly your skinned ships into battle.

Null Sec Ore Rebalance
This is a big one.  Ore across nullsec will be getting shaken up by changing the composition of the top end ores.  They will all be designed to focus on one primary high end mineral, so Arkonor will no longer produce Zydrine but will produce more Megacyte, Bistot will produce less Megacyte and more Zydrine, Crokite will produce less Zydrine and more Nocxium, you get the picture.  The ore anomalies in null sec will also be changed so the volume of each ore available will change.  In addition to this, the Zydrine and Megacyte consumption of all blueprints in the game (minus a couple of exceptions) will be doubled.  Full information about this can be seen on the forum here.

3D Starmap
This has been in beta for a little while and is a vast improvement over the old map system.  Takes a little bit of getting used to but it looks much nicer, feels much nicer and has vastly improved features, not least of which the ability to view it in a window so you don't go blind when using it.  This gets fully rolled out with Mosaic.

Assembly Effects for Structures - And Forcefield Effects
Another graphical update, and again very cool, this changes the way structures in space deploy with a cool light show.  A picture is worth a thousand words, so here's a picture.  If you take a trip over to the dev blog about this you can see this picture amongst others and a demonstration video for your viewing pleasure.  The forcefields for control towers will also be getting an update.  I'm certain this has been done a number of times now, so you have to wonder how much they can keep updating a sphere.  That said it does look pretty nice.

Opportunities System
The is the new tutorial system for new players, which is now being rolled out across the board, where previously it was being split tested to make sure it was ready to go.  I've not had a chance to play around with this yet but have heard from friends that have that it has vastly improved on the old system.  A good question around this though is what happens to the old career agents?  I'm really not sure if they are staying or going and it's only just occurred to me to consider them.  I'll make a note to find out about that.

Skill Queue Imports
This is going to be an awesome time saver.  After April 28th, you'll be able to copy and paste skill lists straight into your queue to train them.

Two-factor authentication using Goole Authenticator (or email if you can't/won't use that) will be coming out for EVE websites and account management.  At this point the game won't be using it, but that will likely come in the future.  This is a long awaited security step which I'm glad CCP are finally taking (though every time I try to log into any service which needs it makes me go "GAH!", but I'll be using it anyway).

Confessor and Svipul Rebalance
So the T3 destroyers were overpowered.  Following this update they will not be so overpowered.  They are pretty cool ships but anyone that's used them had to have known this was coming (plus they mentioned it at fanfest).  Hopefully this will bring them down to a more reasonable level while keeping them popular.  It'll be interesting to see how the new destroyers fit in power-wise too and whether or not they too will roll out too strong.  Their new stats were released on the forum at the beginning of April.

New Role Bonus: +50% Small Energy Turret Damage
Highslots: 6 (-1)
Turrets: 4 (-2)
Powergrid: 62 (-18)
CPU: 180 (-10)
Max Velocity: 235 (-45)
Mass: 2,000,000kg (-400,000)
Inertia: 2.7 (+0.55)
Shield Recharge Time: 800s (+175s)
Capacitor Recharge Time: 320s (+20s)

New Role Bonus: +50% Small Projectile Turret Damage
Highslots: 6 (-1)
Turrets: 4 (-2)
Powergrid: 59 (-19)
CPU: 205 (-10)
Max Velocity: 230 (-60)
Mass: 1,500,000 (-400,000)
Inertia: 3.5 (+0.85)
Shield Recharge Time: 800s (+175s)
Capacitor Recharge Time: 240s (+15s)

Corporation Roles Interface
This interface is being updated to be a lot more user friendly and simpler to use.  It's not the massive overhaul to the entire corporation management system we've begged and pleaded after for so long, so corporation management will still be a nightmare, but it's definitely a step in the right direction.

Damage Control Icon
Saving the worst for last, the icon for the damage control is getting changed.  The reasons for this I do not know, but what I do know is that the little suitcase will be going.  o7 little suitcase.

Friday, 20 March 2015

EVE Trailer - Fanfest 2015

During the keynote yesterday CCP released their latest EVE trailer.  In this trailer they highlight sleepers as a threat, show that Caroline's star content is coming and confirm the newly exposed structures are part of this.  They also mention Jove space going dark.  From a lore perspective the trailer is pretty good, but it doesn't really explain what is going to be happening from a gameplay perspective, so that's still a question.  For example, is it going to be like incursions, a full outright war between NPCs and players, and what areas of space will it affect and how?  Ah well, all questions aside it's a pretty god trailer, so give it a go.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

EVE: Valkyrie Trailer - Fanfest 2015

This morning, a new Valkyrie trailer was shown at Fanfest which I thought really shows off what the game will be capable of quite well.  While it's difficult to put across on a 2D screen what you would see in a VR headset, this video goes a long way to achieving that somewhat as it's all in-game footage.  It's certainly captured my interest in Valkyrie a little more.

CSM X Results - Announced

The CSM X results have just been announced in the EVE Online Keynote at fanfest. With 75 candidates to choose from (a record number) and over 36,000 votes (a significant improvement on last year) the CSM voting for this year seems to have been better from both candidates and players points of view.

The two CSM members with the highest number of votes and thus the permanent attendees are:
Manfred Sideous
Sugar Kyle

The other successful candidates are (in alphabetical order):
Cagali Cagali
Chance Ravinne
Jayne Fillon
Mike Azariah
Sion Kumitomo
Sort Dragon
Steve Ronuken
Thoric Frosthammer

Congratulations to all of the above. We will hold you to high standards, so don't let the players down!

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

It's Fanfest Time!

So today I've arrived in Iceland for fanfest.  For the first night I've decided to take it easy.  Had a few beers, ad great burger and am chilling out to a movie for a while.  Tomorrow I'll do the majority of the sightseeing part of the trip, as I'm attending the Golden Circle Tour.  I didn't do this last year so am very much looking forward to it.  After that of course I plan to consume far too much alcohol.

For Thursday, Friday and Saturday, I plan to continue the drinking and burger eating while attending as many of the events as I can.  Interestingly I've decided that I might give the Sovereignty 5.0 event a miss.  It really should be one that I attend, but I'm sure I'll be able to swiftly catch up on what was said there and I really want to attend a couple of the player driven events, and the ones at that time seem to be pretty interesting to me.  I've pretty much made up my mind what the Sov changes mean to me personally anyway, and other than deciding how I want to proceed with that understanding there's not much more I need to hear about the changes.  That said, I will be attending one of the Sov round tables as I'm very interested in seeing what other players want to say following that event.

So all in all, my plan is as follows:

All Day - Golden Circle Tour
Later - BEER!

12:00 - Opening Keynote: Welcome to Fanfest and the Future of VR
13:00 - A Brutor Guide to Empyrean Health
13:25 - Pro Space Truckers
14:00 - Game Design Panel
15:00 - Null Sec and Sovereignty 1
16:00 - Cap Boosting Your EVE
17:00 - EVE Online Keynote
Later - BEER!

11:00 - Community Fansites
12:00 - Totally Awesome 3rd Party Dev Info
13:00 - Survival Guide in Legacy Code
14:00 - Ship and Module Balance
15:00 - CSM Panel
16:00 - Data Science
17:00 - Worlds Collide
21:00 - Pub Crawl

11:00 - Confessions of an EVE Trillionaire
11:25 - Free time
12:00 - EVE UI
13:00 - Future Vision of Structures
14:00 - Future of PvE in New Eden
15:00 - New Player Experience
16:00 - CCP Security - Better Safe Than Sorry!
17:00 - Closing Ceremony
20:00 - Party on top of the world

Morning - Blue Lagoon
After that - Going home

I may not attend all of those, or perhaps may just leave some early as there may be times I want to just wander, grab some food or whatnot, but that's the plan I'll be sticking relatively close to.  If you see me about (I look like a less cool, less muscular version of my avatar with fuzzier hair) feel free to say hello.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Response to GRN Open Comms Show 25th Feb

This is a response to part of a podcast over at The GRN Show I started writing some of this as a comment but it grew a little too large so I decided to write it as a blog post.  Now to get it out clearly to being with, I have in the past used ISBoxer.  I am not however a current ISBoxer user and neither was I an ISBoxer user when the EULA enforcement change was announced.  I do though understand why ISBoxer users are upset with the way that CCP has handled input multiplexing changes.

The part in the podcast I am responding to is from around 1:48.  I have a lot of problems with the way the Open Comms Show was conducted.  First and foremost, it sounded like an ambush on shadowandlight rather than a constructive discussion, and this was highlighted by the overuse of the word "mong" towards the beginning of the segment.  (edit: for clarity, as Dirk MacGirk has rightly pointed out, he did shut this behaviour down quickly).

Now I don't disagree that shadowandlight suggesting that CCP are steering the game towards 1 player 1 account is pretty ridiculous.  While it might be something that some devs would prefer, the game has progressed too far to be able to realistically do that, and CCP know that fully.  I do however disagree with a lot of the arguments put against him.  I absolutely hate the repeated notion that a "manual multiboxer" is somehow a better person for doing just that.  Too much throughout this whole argument I've heard "well, I only use the EVE client and no tools to control me and my alts", as if that's deserving of a medal or something.  I don't care if you choose to use tools, or not use tool, or if you play the entire game 300 feet away from your computer using nothing but McDonalds straws taped together to push buttons on your keyboard.  Everyone has a different style and everyone has different skills.  I'm a long time gamer and a competent programmer by trade.  I can fire off input at a ridiculous rate compared to a 50 year old small time computer user who has chosen to use EVE.  Should that mean they should be awarded because their computer skills suck and yet they fight through adversity to compete in the same game?

That's part of my problem with this whole argument.  The argument is always put forward "oh, if you use ISBoxer, you are more efficient".  That's not a given, it simply isn't.  Sure, if you have 100 accounts, the likelihood is that using ISBoxer is going to be more efficicient simply because others can;t run that and switch between controls that fast, but there are maybe a couple of users with the hardware setup that would actually support that and, to be quite honest, if they want to put all that together and chuck CCP a grand a month, good on them.  For most ISBoxer users, 20 accounts is pretty much the limit.  Now I've seen players mining with 20 accounts with no software, and believe it or not, it's far more efficient than using ISBoxer.  ISBoxer is dumb, it can't make decisions such as "how much ore is left in this asteroid, and thus at what point should I cancel and cycle my lasers again" which you can if you are manually multiboxing.  ISBoxer isn't more efficient at mining than manually controlled characters; it simply takes less human input and in return throws out blind commands.  Even players using ISBoxer to mine tend to use broadcasting only to get out to the belt and move ore into a hauler, saving them clicks, not making it more efficient.  You're far better off not broadcasting and just manually running each miner in response to their individual circumstances.

Now the point raised by shadowandlight which I most agree with is that this is a game mechanics issue, not a EULA issue.  This is because whether you use ISBoxer or not, you can get a ridiculous level of efficiency doing things like mining, ganking, bombing and even incursions simply because the mechanics involved in those are far too passive.  Go grab ISBoxer, run up 20 accounts and go do multiboxed exploration.  Now working out for you?  How about missions?  Broadcast those buttons.  Wait, what?  The NPCS are all over the place and the mission objectives are completely different and thus input broadcasting isn't working out?  Fine, let’s try trading.  Oh crap, I just sold some tritanium on this account and accidentally sold a stack of PLEX for 6 isk on that account.

The problem is that if game mechanics being used by ISBoxer are so ridiculously simple that you can just mash your face into the F1 key and successfully complete those activities, then those activities is far too simple.  EVE players will game any system and minmax everything they can to benefit as much as they possibly can, and reining that in should be done by restricting what the game will let you do, not by banning people when you feel they've grossed some invisible limit.

The biggest problem with treating this as a EULA problem is that players can be (and as far as I am aware have been) banned without actually using any form of multiplex, or even without using input multiplexing at all.  If you are fact enough manually multiboxing you can find yourself in trouble.  You can definitely find yourself in trouble if you are using programs like Voice Attack, which when combined with both mouse and keyboard input can make you ludicrously efficient.  Yet as it stands, Voice Attack is allowed.

My next issue with it is communication.  CCP have failed to communicate with the very people they are banning.  They are purposely being vague and then people are surprised that players are pissed off that they don't know where they stand.  How would the ganking community feel for example if CCP said "you can't gank people too much or you're banned" and that was that?  With no line drawn, they would have absolutely no idea where they stand.  There's clearly perfectly valid questions put forward, and they aren't answering.  This is further highlighted by the fact that I have to refer to it as a change to EULA enforcement, because it's not even a change in the actual EULA.

As shadowandlight stated on the podcast that buying PLEX and using software like Evernus or Elinor are also ways to give yourself an artificial advantage over a "normal" player, to which the response was "but that's not against the EULA”.  Neither was ISBoxer!  It was completely allowed, not just accepted but petitioned to GMs and DEVs and classified as allowed.  Now that it's suddenly not, people just expect ISBoxer users to lie down and not kick up a fuss, even though their gameplay is being destroyed pretty much because a load of people not doing it whined about it expecting that to mean they will get more of the highsec ice.

At the end of the day, the complaint that third party applications like ISBoxer that grant theoretical benefits over other players, yet others don't simply because of "input" is disingenuous at best and retarded at worst.  I'm a trader and an industrialist.  There is no way I could do what I do in the hour before I go to work without the use of the custom marketing tools, databases and reports, even if I had all day to do it.  I simply couldn't work through that much information and put feed that much data back into EVE if I didn't have those, so how is that not third party tools granting me a benefit over a manual player, yet ISBoxer is?

Finally, while it might come across as such, I'm not pro-ISBoxer.  I'm fine with CCP deciding they don't want it, but I think they need to be a heck of a lot clearer with what they are banning and why they are banning it, and I think that if third party tools are a problem that we need to look into a whole host of other applications too.  If it's not OK for a player to use tools to be able to gain a benefit another player doesn't have, then we need to understand what benefits are OK and why.

I'd honestly like to hear a reasonable discussion over this, which isn't either a bunch of players yelling over the top at each other, or a group of players all on one side of the argument casually agreeing with each other that the opposing side is wrong.  I'm beginning to think that increasingly unlikely however.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

CSM X Candidate Analysis: Sabriz Adoudel

Sabriz is the CODE CSM candidate for this year, so highsec is his primary area of operation.  It's quite surprising that CODE is actually putting forward a serious candidate considering their history, but supposedly he's being serious about it.

Sabriz's campaign is focussed around conflict, though I'm not entirely convinced he's clear on how.  In his campaign thread and his CSM page, he lists conflict as being inherent within EVE.  Everything you do is conflict, be it mining, missioning, trading, or any other activity.  As he puts it, "Every interaction in EVE is about conflict".  The problem arises however though his ideas.  Many of them are about driving players to have to shoot each other, primarily by incentivising shooting back, and punishing evasion.  This is at odds with his prior statement about everything being conflict, as clearly this indicates that the conflict he wants to drive is shooting.  If he wanted to drive all conflict, then there are much better ways to encourage it rather than pushing people to play in ways they have no interest in playing.

Now I'm not against people shooting each other, it's definitely something that EVE needs a lot of, but I can't help but feel that many of his ideas are geared towards encouraging players to offer themselves up as content to groups like his own.  You can shower a PvE group with as much isk as you want, but that's not going to make them good at PvP, and so fighting back is almost always going to be futile.  All in all, a lot of his suggestions seem to be about feeding CODE members content, but then that's probably not a surprise considering what CODE thinks of the majority of the highsec community.

Now in addition to pushing a PvE group to engage with a dedicated PvP groups being a pretty one-sided battle, it also undermines the entire playstyle of the PvE players.  They play, unsurprisingly, to engage in PvE.  They don't want to engage in PvP.  Sure, you can go and blow them up and that should always be an option, but why should their benefits only come from shooting back?  That would be the equivalent of encouraging a PvP group to mine rocks when they are attacked by offering them increased yield.  Sabriz seems to have a hard time understanding that PvE players really do enjoy their playstyle.  They aren't playing the game wrong just because they aren't engaging with PvPers in direct combat.

Much like Tora, Sabriz seems to want to push for benefits to his group at the detriment of other players, and proposes token changes which would realistically have little effect.  For example he suggests altering the way concord works so that gankers can be freely attacked with a higher sec status.  This is pretty much irrelevant, since using alts to scout, insta docks and undocks, and dirt cheap ships, you're almost never going to get caught outside of a gank, and very rarely are you going to care when you do, so it's an idea he can offer up to appear to be balanced in his views without endangering his playstyle.

During his Cap Stable interview, one thing that struck me was when he stated that the majority of CODE members would like to live in lowsec if it were viable.  Now while I don't believe that to be entirely accurate, I do wonder what exactly it is that makes stops it from being viable.  Plenty of players do in fact live in lowsec, albeit less than anywhere else, so why is it something just can't be done, and perhaps making it more viable should be more of a focus than trying to scrape together some easy to kill fodder from high sec corporations to shoot at.

Another was his response to the awox changes.  He seemed to believe that these will have a huge negative effect on wormhole space, and clarified this by saying:
“It’s the indirect effect of increased safety in highsec, because right now someone that intends to run incursions or missions in high sec has to worry about the potential of an awoxer and as a consequence that’s one vector though which they’re unsafe.  Mission runners are very difficult to attack in any other means at the moment and so this will dramatically increase the safety of mission runners and as a consequence will just simply make the isk/hour better in high security space than wormholes currently are because in wormholes you do lose ships frequently and so I think you will start to see as I said the trend of people leaving wormholes and coming back to high security and running incursions will become worse with this change, and that’s why I think it will do so much damage to the wormhole community.”
This strikes me as a particularly large warning sign, as it fundamentally misses the mark.  There's absolutely no reason to assume that a highsec incursion runner would need to be in a normal highsec corporation and more often than not is in their own corporation where no recruiting will ever be done.  With no recruiting, there is no awoxing, and therefore the awoxing change would not increase incursion income vs wormhole income at all.  Even before the awox change, if a wormhole player wanted to get their income from incursions, they could have done so with no worries about awoxing.  So there would be no impact on wormholes.

The one thing he had going for him in the interview was that he sounded fairly well spoken and educated.  He tended to run on a little, but don't we all at times?  Overall though, I don't think Sabriz would be a good fit for most players.  If you're a ganker in highsec he's probably your ideal candidate as he wants to promote that playstyle, but anyone else will probably want to look elsewhere for a candidate that either suits their needs or is objective enough to serve a variety of players without the underlying desire to serve themselves.  If you're a highsec player who enjoys any level of PvE playstyle, you'll definitely want him off of your list.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

CSM X Candidate Analysis: Steve Ronuken

Steve Ronuken is one of the CSM IX incumbents running for re-election in CSM X.  His platform this year is much the same as last year, with his main focus points being Industry and Third Party Development.

Steve is a highsec industrialist, running mainly T2 production with a little bit of trade, so his main expertise is in highsec.  That said, he has a wide ranging understanding of industry in EVE Online.  If you've had any serious interest in industry, chances are you will have stumbled upon Steve's website, Fuzzwork Enterprises and if you haven't stumbled on it, bookmark it now.  Fuzzwork is a site which has a vast array of tools to help with industry, general PvE and third party development.  With each new release of the static data export, he also offers up conversions of that from CCP's formats to various other formats (like MySQL and PostgreSQL) to save people the chore of doing that (thanks Steve).  Oh and he also runs EVE Lexicon, so you can better understand EVE speak, and EVE Bloggers which is an easy to use site which combines feeds from a plethora of EVE blogs, and he seems to have a lot of love for Twitter's bootstrap.

Anyway, enough with getting side-tracked, back to the subject.  Steve's previous work on the CSM has helped push forward the third party development side of EVE, with CREST having plenty of updates and improvements over the last year.  As I'm a developer by trade and just love digging into APIs and chucking together little tools on the weekends, this is a big plus from my point of view.  Steve is one of the only if not the only CSM that has such a focus on third party tools, which is crazy since I imagine most players have used third party tools in conjunction with EVE, such as EVE-central, EVEMon, EFT, Pyfa or JEveAssets to name a few.  This year he plans to continue that work to help make CREST as useful as possible.

Outside of that, Steve wants industry further iterated upon.  Changes in recent times have made improvements but he wants to see more work on further refining it down, and working on things like industry corporations which right now are more often than no one guy sitting in a corp of alts.  On mining, Steve also has some ideas.  From his campaign post, he states:
"I'd (still) like to see more activities added to mining. I don't want to take away the 'target rock, turn on laser, wait' method, but I want to see the ability to mine in a faster, but less efficient fashion (asteroid chunks flying everywhere). I want to see a new way to find the asteroids in the first place. And finally, I want to see the ability to claim the asteroids you find for your corp, so someone mining them from under you, becomes a legal target for you."
This is a sentiment I am very much on board with.  I'm of the opinion that active gameplay mechanics are far better for the game than passive ones, and that players being able to retain as much efficiency as they do while AFK is a problem point for the game.

Steve's interview on the Cap Stable podcast was very good.  He came across well-spoken and intelligent, and is a confident candidate answering the questions with very little hesitation.  Much of what he covers in his interview is contained within his campaign post without too much variation, which is a good sign that his campaign is solid, and not likely to change at a moment's notice, though you would expect that from a CSM member having already served a term.

Overall I'm 100% behind Steve's campaign and he'll likely secure the top spot on my vote list.  I know as a nullsec member I'm supposed to be voting for all things null, but I'm a developer and an industry player first, and let's face it, enough focus goes into nullsec.  You should definitely check out Steve's campaign and see how it looks to you.  As with most of the candidates, he'll be happy to answer any questions you have in his CSM campaign thread.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

CSM X Candidate Analysis: June Ting

Next up for review is June Ting.  June is currently the Executor of the alliance Of Sound Mind, an alliance which is part of the HERO coalition.  She operates along the same lines as Ali Aras, and is running this year because Ali has decided to step down and wants those ideals to remain represented.

June's main campaign focus points are small gang warfare and mentoring new players, which is what she currently does in Of Sound Mind.  Importantly, June wants to ensure that as sov mechanics are changed, small gangs are given the opportunity to make meaningful claims to space for themselves.  With all indications pointing to that being a primary focus for the next CSM, that's an important consideration to have.  One part about that that worries me (and I'll be clear here, it's a very tiny worry) however is that while at this time there's no indication of whether June is to be a bloc candidate, if she does get pushed as the HERO bloc candidate then there might be conflicts between HERO's needs and what small players would need.

June has listed the following as overall principle on her campaign:
- EVE's challenge comes from making meaningful choices. Ishtars online and supers online do not make for interesting content. Everything should have a counter.
- Newbies are the future of EVE. If something would hurt incumbents, but make it easier for newbies to get sucked into EVE, I will advocate it every time.
- Smaller objectives make for more interesting content over 'big bang' once in a blue moon 10% tidi lagfests.
From a broad perspective I can agree with two of these outright.  I'm a big fan of action and choices being meaningful, rather than some mechanics we currently have which just are because they are, I'm behind getting newbies into EVE as I think the current community is stagnating and turning quit toxic because of it.  I can't fully agree on the third point however, as I think a good mix between small and large objectives is needed.  While the systems used certainly need to be looked at as tidi is pretty horrific, plenty of people love the enormous battles and they make good news.  One of my biggest worries over the sov changes is that they will completely drop the large scale battle in favour of more small-scale and passive methods of holding sov, which I think would be quite a blow to the game overall.

Listening to her on the Cap Stable interview, June sounds like she's quite professional and detail oriented, however she speaks quickly and from that limited sample seems to run on a little in places but is certainly eager to communicate, which overall is a good thing, and she readily summarises key points.

In her campaign thread, I was a little taken aback by her claims that her experience as a software engineer in the MMO space would allow her to "determine whether something is realistically possible for CCP to implement, or whether it would suck time away from more important development work for comparatively little gain".  As a software developer myself, I'm well aware with how varied codebases can be and how much that can affect the ease of predicting how long a given change will take.  With EVE's codebase, we're talking about a mix of code of different ages sitting on a very old core.  Changes which should be relatively simply aren't, and without actually seeing the codebase I find it hard to believe anyone could determine the difficulty of a change easily.

Overall, I think that if you are a newer player, a nullsec small gang player, or someone that believes in supporting small groups breaking into sov then June is a pretty good candidate for you.  For me being a large group null player who runs highsec industry and trade on the side, she's a bit hit and miss but will likely find a place on my ballot as I broadly agree with much of what she has to say.  Her campaign is definitely worth a read and some consideration whatever you do and wherever you call home.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

CSM X Candidate Analysis: Tora Bushido

This year, Tora Bushido, leader of The Marmite Collective has thrown his hat into the ring for CSM X.  Marmite is a highsec wardec corp, and so it follows that Tora's campaign is primarily highsec focussed.

Tora's campaign has changed over time.  Originally it started out as effectively a "balance highsec" campaign.  This included ideas such as making gankers have to be in player corps, not be able to dock for 30 minutes, and to reduce loot drops on ganked ships to 25%.  At some point he then decided his campaign was now "EVE is evil", where he will be on board with pretty much any idea, no matter how ridiculous, as long as it's evil.  His nerf-ganking-to-death idea then morphed from what it was to a "hideout" mobile deployable which allows players with a criminal timer to hide from CONCORD to reship, while ticking their criminal timer down twice as fast.  So effectively the change has gone from "reduce ganking and make it less profitable", to "improve ganking and make hyperdunking easier".  That's a pretty big swing considering the CSM application period hasn't even closed yet.

Another idea suggested was a slot machine minigame for miners and a "click me every X minutes" notification for AFK in space players to make them be more active, which has varied over time. His ideas all range vastly in the areas they affect, and change direction rather rapidly, with one underlying feature being that he wants beneficial changes to his playstyle - for example the introduction of dreadnoughts into highsec, or the increase in low-end war costs to push smaller corps into paying more to wardec each other while only minimally affecting his bottom line.

One of the biggest problems I have with Tora's campaign however isn't even the type of ideas he produces, it's the way he thinks of the CSM.  He seems to be more about throwing ideas out there rather than giving feedback himself.  The CSM is about representing the players, and it's important to show in the candidacy period your skills related to that, not to show people how many mechanic ideas you can come up with.  If you want to throw forward ideas for consideration by the CSM, you can do so by posting them in the Assembly Hall section of the forum, you don't need to run for CSM for that.  He also seems to believe that the CSM will have the power to simply reject ideas, preventing CCP from pushing through a change he dislikes.  This is again not the case.  And for campaigning he believes running around forums, blogs and local chat posting up his "Vote Tora" banners like this is some kind of high-school election is the best way forward.  Maybe it is, maybe that will win him a seat, I doubt it, but time will tell.

The way he responds to criticism is also an issue.  He tries to turn it into a joke, or he throws insults about, or he simply starts blocking people.  I've been quite critical of a few CSM members since the beginning of these campaigns, and Tora is the only one that has gone out of his way to ignore me, even going so far as to block me on twitter from reading his feed.  CSM members get criticised.  It's going to happen a lot, and it's going to be considerably more critical than I have been.  If a CSM member can't even make it through campaigning without "losing one's sh*t", then what chance does he have of holding other people's needs forward if bombarded with criticism as a CSM member?

Listening to his Cap Stable podcast interview he also sounded quite confused for the most part, likely related directly to his rapidly changing campaign direction.  One notable point was when asked about the NPE and the upcoming awox changes, he responded with the following:

"That's part of EVE.  I'm in a big large mercenary alliance.  We do security checks, but if somebody looks fine and his killboard looks fine, and his skills look fine and he joins my corp, he could also awox me.  I've been playing for 5 years so that's always an issue.  It doesn't really matter how young old you are."
Now this misses the mark for a number of reasons.  First off he's in a merc alliance, full of PvP players.  The chances of him being picked for an awox are slim anyway.  Secondly, his SP criterion is >20m SP last I checked, with another requirement of a good KB, both things that also keep newbies out.  So his corp is displaying the exact problem CCP is trying to address.  CCP don't want people to be rejected because they haven't played much or don't have a decent amount of SP, and so they are making sure you don't need a player to have enough info and playtime to be vetted.

Overall, I don't believe either Tora or his campaign are mature enough to be considered for a CSM position.  If you are in a merc group, you might consider voting for him on the grounds that he will want changes that benefit that playstyle, but I'm not sure he'll have the staying power if people push against him.  Other highsec players will only benefit from him wanting to keep their playstyles relevant enough so they remain in game and continue to be the fodder to feed his alliance.  Perhaps next year if he's back with a cooler head, a clearer campaign, and a good idea of what the CSM is for, then I'll look at his campaign more favourably.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

CSM X Candidate Analysis: Jayne Fillon

The second post of my CSM X posts is about Jayne Fillon. Jayne is a player I've not followed very much in the past.  He ran for CSM 9 with a fairly broad and underdeveloped platform and did not manage to secure a place.  This year, he's looked more into what the CSM does, how they work, and what specifically he bring to the table.  His new platform is incredibly strong.

He's primarily an NPSI (not purple, shoot it) player, having founded Spectre Fleet, and as you would expect his main focus is on mechanics which support that playstyle.  That's not to say that's his only area of interest, and he's shown he's willing to comment on other areas of the game with.  He's fully supportive of the upcoming changes to corporation and alliance structures and has a good understanding of why corporation roles suck beyond the telling of it.  That's an important subject for a CSM candidate to consider, as it's likely to be in play when CSM 10 gets started.

Speaking on the Cap Stable podcast, Jayne also discussed the social group mechanics that are currently being discussed by CCP.  He describes how in contrast with corps and alliances have terribly designed role mechanics, social groups simply have nearly no mechanics.  The only in-game tool most NPSI groups rely on is a chat channel.  The problem with a channel is that anyone with operator privileges can hijack the entire channel, including the removal other operators.  Beyond that, most NPSI communities rely on third party tools, like, to do everything else.  The social group mechanics could change that, bringing the management of those communities in game.  For that reason it's vital for those NPSI communities to make sure they have people who understand their playstyles in the CSM.

It must be noted that Jayne made it clear that he doesn't expect social groups to replace corporation and alliances, they won't be there to encourage people to avoid joining corps, they will be there to supplement them, and to provide a way for players who would otherwise stick to what they know to venture out into other playstyles and try them out without having to commit.  Spectre Fleet works much like that now.  You can join up, go on a fleet and if you don't like it, go try something else, no harm no foul.  Done right, these mechanics could really help give people that nudge towards group play that we've needed for a long time.

One point in his interview where I confirmed Jayne was a candidate I'd vote for (as a non-NPSI player), was when he was asked: "If you could remove one mechanic from EVE what would it be?" his response was "Wardecs, I want wardecs to burn in a fire."  He then went on to clarify his position with the following:

"Wardecs themselves, the concept is fine.  The ability for corporations to interact with each other in a sense of conflict is very important in the game. Currently, and in my opinion - only my opinion - wardecs are used more as a griefing tool, for basically shooting people who have no idea, they don't know any better, and we're just killing these people without any chance or any expectation of return fire or defense."

He the pointed out that there are no really serious highsec corporations doing things like incursions.  He also raised Red Frog as a prime example.  Red Frog operates out of NPC corps, and the entire reason they do that is constant wardecs.  If they attempted to operate as an alliance, they simply wouldn't survive.  The only highsec corporations or alliances you hear of are wardec corporations because they're the only ones that can survive.  I agree with all of that.  Wardecs don't really provide content for more than the relatively small groups who dish them out in waves, and the cost of that is degrading the experience of corporation experience in highsec.  He's likely to get a fair bit of flak from the wardec corps and groups like CODE over that, but let's be honest for a minute, what those groups want is more targets to shoot regardless of how it affects anyone else.  I'm all for finding ways to make wardecs actually mean something, but as they currently stand the wardec mechanics are just a way to turn off concord so that a handful of corps can prey on less combat experienced players.

Overall, Jayne is a strong candidate with a wealth of knowledge, and he's an absolute must have on your list if you are at all interested in NPSI communities.  He's not someone I've followed in the past, but I certainly will now, and he will be very high up on my vote list when the time comes.  If you've not been in NPSI fleets and want to try some out, Jayne has also put together a forum post that lists various NPSI communities, which can be found here.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

CSM X Candidate Analysis: Mike Azariah

This is the first of my posts about the CSM X candidates.  I'm leading off with Mike Azariah, as he's a player I've followed for a while now and a CSM member who is currently on his second term.  Mike is primarily a highsec candidate, who describes himself as a casual highsec carebear.  While this means he will take on issues relating to highsec, he's proven over the last two terms on the CSM that he is willing to not only listen to players outside of his area of expertise, but to strive to get a better understanding of other playstyles.

While I'm not a highsec player for the most part, with the extent of my highsec activity being some industry and trading around the major hubs, slinging some ISK to red frog to move assets about from time to time, I have in the past been a heavy highsec player, and if you follow me on the forum at all can be quite outspoken about the way highsec players are and should be treated.  When listening to Mike talk about what should be done with highsec, I rarely if ever disagree with anything he says.  One of his main points about highsec is that highsec players like it, yet there are many players who would like to tear it down to add more forced conflict, claiming to be wanting it to be more dangerous.  To be clear though, this doesn't mean what he wants is a safe highsec.  There should be danger in highsec, but it should be supportive of the highsec player base.

In his Cap Stable podcast interview, he notes his resistance to a player’s proposal to stop concord from protecting T2 ships as an example of players wanting to change highsec in this way.  He points out that what most players like this really want is more targets for them to shoot that won't shoot back.  I wholeheartedly agree with this.  Highsec is not the place where you can just fly around and shoot everyone you see with no response.  Remove or reduce that too much and you've just got lowsec.  Most highsec players don't want that, which is why they play in highsec, and forcing them into playing in a different way is just as wrong as forcing a player to PvE when they don't want to.  That reminds me of a post Mike made a while back about the idea of a "peace dec", the opposite of a war dec.  Anyone reading it knows it's ludicrous, which is the point of it, to get you to see things from a different perspective.  Nobody likes to be forced to play a game they don’t want to play.

During his Cap Stable interview a very interesting analogy was made for EVE and the way many players try to force more combat into highsec with no regard for the players who live there.
“Everyone keeps saying ‘but EVE is a PvP game’.  No Eve is a space simulator in which PvP can happen and does, but it’s like a rec centre.  There’s a swimming pool, there’s hockey, there’s a library, there’s a weight room and there’s a squash court.  Now just because the hockey players like to do body checks does not mean they get to freeze over the swimming pool then laugh at all the people freezing their asses off in bathing suits.”

This is shockingly accurate for the EVE forums.  Players often want to force more PvP combat onto the highsec player base, and they often use the "EVE is a PvP game" as a reason for why highsec players should just accept changes to force them to be someone else's fodder.  EVE is not a PvP sandbox, it's just a sandbox.  What you do and how you play is up to you.

The new player experience is something Mike is also very supportive of.  He petitioned to get put back into the Rookie Chat channel (which you automatically get booted out of once you've played a while) so that he could help out newbies in there, and he also runs a project called Operation Magic School Bus, which is a project to give new players PvP fit frigates and put them with players who will take them out into the game and guide them, to get a taste of the rest of the game.

Overall, Mike Azariah is an excellent candidate.  He constantly communicates with the player base, being a highly active member of the community and is often willing to go on podcasts to talk with players.  When it comes to communicating, he's well-spoken and confident which is vitally important for a player that you are expecting to express your thoughts and concerns to CCP.  He understands that the CSM is designed to facilitate communication between CCP and the players, and to give views to CCP on the changes they put forward, rather than come up with ideas the individual CSM member likes.  I'd definitely recommend reading Mike's platform thread and sending a vote his way.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

CCP rules on "Hyperdunking"

Recently in EVE a discussion has come up around the idea of "hyperdunking".  For those unfamiliar this is a method of executing a solo gank on almost any ship whcih has in theory been possible for a long time, but has been thrust into the spolight with the addition of the Bowhead freighter which makes it easier to pull off as it store so many more ships.  It works approximately as follows:

  1. Park a bumper and an Orca/Bowhead full of catalyst at a gank location.
  2. Bump a freighter.
  3. Send in a gank catalyst to attack the freighter.
  4. Get blown up by concord.
  5. Dock pod.
  6. Undock in rookie ship
  7. Get blown up by concord.
  8. Warp to Orca/Bowhead, get in catalyst.
  9. Go to 3, repeat until Freighter is dead.

When this was recently done to a bowhead freighter it was reported and the ganker in question was reportedly banned while CCP investigated.  Following that investigation, CCP have released this statement:
Since the introduction of the Bowhead freighter, we’ve become aware of a tactic that has been introduced which has become known as “Hyperdunking”. This involves leaving a grid where a criminal action occurs to draw away CONCORD and reshipping to continue shooting at a target. There’s been much discussion among members of the community regarding this tactic, and whether or not it is considered legitimate gameplay.
After meeting with members of the game design and customer support teams and discussing this in depth, we have come to the consensus that due to the fact no rules are being broken and any ship that is involved in a criminal act is being destroyed by CONCORD as intended, that this tactic is simply an unintended but legitimate use of new game mechanics, and is not in breach of the rules. Tactics similar to this have been used with previous hulls before the Bowhead was introduced, and have been considered perfectly legitimate in the past.
With this in mind, at this time we do not consider this tactic to be in breach of the game rules, and as such our customer support team will not be offering reimbursements for hulls lost in this manner.
Players are also reminded that if someone is criminally flagged, they are fair game to be attacked in self-defense. Feel free to use this to your advantage.

Now I have three main issues with this

  1. It feels very much like getting around mechanics that are there to stop exactly that.  Perhaps it's not, and it certainly seems that CCP is claiming it's not, but it always seemed like the criminal timer was there to put a time between ganks, so a player could only "be bad" once every 15 minutes.  Now that's officially not the case, and the criminal timer seems pointless.  Once concord has destroyed the first ship it becomes effectively a suspect timer, but red.  A ganker could in theory work with multiple bumpers, ganking one ship with a hit landing every minute or two, then seamlessly move onto the next target with the Orca moving between targets while the ganker moves concord.
  2. It makes tank irrelevant.  If a player can simply reship in the Orca as many times as they want, then no amount of tank will save a ship.  The entire claim that tanking your ship is a necessity is now obsolete.
  3. It further reduces the difficulty of ganking.  Ganking is already incredibly easy.  An empty freighter is killboard green.  Using T1 catalysts, it would cost around 60 million (30 ships) to gank even the most tanked Obelisk, or 210 million (21 ships) if using T2 catalysts.  The argument the gankers have always put forward for this is "but we need so many players, getting that many players is difficult".  That argument was sound, but is now irrelevant, since any freighter can now be ganked with 3 characters no matter how many catalysts it takes.
As you can imagine, within minutes of the post appearing, with people weighing in on both sides the usual crowd came in with their usual posts of "popcorn", "the tears", and other such constructive posts.  Supposedly people are not allowed to hold opinions if they oppose making ganking even easier and cheaper than it already is.  The EVE forums have seemed particularly toxic of late and this post has got CODE players frothing at the mouth with excitement.

I'd like to say I'd be very surprised if CCP held this ruling in place without changing the mechanics before too long, but honestly this seems like one of those rulings CCP will stand by no matter how unbalanced it may be.  If you live in highsec and you're not a trader or a scammer pretty much the easiest playstyle is now ganking.