Monday, April 28, 2014

EVE Ascended?

~or, “To be a Star Citizen, or One of The Ascended?”

Like many of us, I am interested and excited by the idea and potential of “Star Citizen”, a new MMO in development by Chris Roberts (developer of “Wing Commander” et al.). This is an MMO aimed at the Space SciFi crowd same as EVE, but with Roberts ideals of avatar (not ship) based characters, FP flight and combat modes and multiplayer ships for a few. Roberts is not trying to out EVE, EVE, Star Citizen is a persistent virtual world unto itself, just one that is also set in a far futuristic science fiction based 'verse with space flight, combat and industry with a player driven market.

I am intrigued by “Star Citizen”, but… I am not an easy gamer to please, and I am not ‘sold’ on all of the concepts in Star Citizen based on what I have read and seen so far, interested yes, sold that it will be as immersive and fascinating as EVE, not yet. What I want does have some of his idea’s though… character based avatars with (what we in EVE call, WiS) Walking in Stations, maybe even multiplayer ships. But his vision sounds to me, less immersive. Star Citizen will consist of two main components: First Person Space Combat (Squadron 42) and Trading (Star Citizen) in an MMO persistent universe.

For me, though some of his ideas are right up my alley, the one’s that increase one’s ability to suspend disbelief and get really immersed in a virtuality. For me in EVE, there are many immersion breakers… warping through planets and moons and stations… being automagically ‘tractored’ (IE transported) inside stations on landing at the correct range… IE Poof!, and yet, ALL of us being forced to undock from the same location, no matter the size or number ships involved… and one of my least favorites… weird Asteroid Belts that aren’t belts at all… just a very small arc of rocks that are not connected in any way to the actual physics of real asteroid belts… AND these automagically ‘reappear’ after they have been used up, over and over and over again.

Well… I don’t know if I am behind the curve here and everyone already knows about this but, I recently saw this article on Massively, “MMObility: Age of Ascent hopes to beat EVE Online's battle concurrency record” about “Age of Ascent” another space based MMO currently under development. Well, as an EVE player there is no way to not read something with that title, now is there? This, of course led to going to the website and checking this out a bit and what caught my eye the most are not the ways in which it is similar to EVE, of which are many… but in the ways in which differs from EVE… ways which are very exciting to me.

- Direct-piloting combat
- Free-to-play without pay-to-win
- Map derived from real world star catalogs:  more than 120k star systems!
- Skills to be a combination of Real Time AND Player Experience

These are a few of the design goals for the roll out product, the direction Llyriad Games wants to go after that though, now THAT really grabbed my attention…

- Ship and hull classes (science ships, support ships, drone carriers, weapons platforms, minelayers and minesweepers, stealth recon)
- Multi-player options for co-operative capital ship flying (!)

Multi-player co-operative capital ship flying? “…capital ships – carriers and ships of the line – that require crew to fly. Crew will initially come from specially skilled NPCs, but as an early stretch goal we will allow multiple players to fly the same capital ship simultaneously, occupying different positions and working together, acting in positions such as skipper, navigator, shields and damage control, engineering and power, weapons systems, manning turrets and so on.” OMG!

They also envision a Player-led Economy, very similar in concept to EVEs but…

- Multiple currencies which have a dynamic existence
- Using the Periodic Table of Elements as the basic construction building blocks for everything in the game… and
- Resources that won’t renew. You may find a system where it takes two years to mine all the goodies, but once they’re gone they’re gone. How can they do this? you ask, “…with more than 120k star systems to play with…” that’s how… uh, WOW.  Now THAT’s Immersion.

In a nod to the PvP-adverse players the core systems will be run by a variety of NPCs, and if you stay on their right side, they’ll try and keep you safe and, just maybe, they’ll offer you technologies and trades you won’t see elsewhere.  Which sounds to me like an open sandbox ‘verse similar to EVE, but with skill and or module based increases in ‘protection’ from non-consensual PvP… But you have to work for it, not you are safe just because you are in “X” system or some such. And, with 120,000 star systems, you actually would have a chance to go “Where no player has gone before, and none may find you in for a long long time to come…” or at least for the first few years.

They also are working to build multi-threaded, multi-outcome PVE missions. Missions that “change dynamically, according to local circumstances and which can have the scope to change entire regions of space depending on what players do and how our AIs respond to that activity.

They also describe something very near and dear to my heart “…modularly designed – space stations, jumpgate networks, trade-lanes, weapons platforms, manufacturing and mining centres, minefields, and every single thing that the pre-designed NPC zones of control has in them.

There is a lot more and it all reads like a dream wish list for a Space based MMO… now THAT’S what I’m talking about! I just hope they can make it as beautiful as EVE… AoA is a browser based game, and that may be, for me, its downfall…

Because ATM the graphics in AoA, in comparison to EVE, leave very much to be desired… AoA looks an awful lot like Vendetta Online TBH, and while I liked playing VoL, I have been ruined for space games with lesser graphics than EVE… and as it stands now, that’s ALL of them.

Fly Wreckless and see you in the Sky  =/|)=

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

CONCORD, now The Consolidated Nullsec Cooperation and Renter Command…

~or, “Risk vs Reward is Broken.”

[Empyrean Empires Part 2]

In my previous post, I stated that due to the strengths, capabilities and agreements the Large Nullsec Coalitions have made Nullsec “safer” for their members than any Hisec system and how the latest changes are all aimed directly at enhancing Nullsec. This is based on the, no longer valid, idea that Nullsec is the highest Risk space in EVE.

What I realized during the writing of that post is that the Large Nullsec Coalitions are, for all intents and purposes, the CONCORD of Nullsec, and this fact has BROKEN the Risk vs Reward balance in EVE Online.

As I am a strong proponent of, “If ya dunt like it, do YOU have a better idea?” Well, yes actually, I do.

Reward should equal Risk, but ‘Risk’ no longer equals the ‘System Security Status’… so what should it equal? Why… the real risk of course.

I know the argument FOR changes that enhance Nullsec income is the “Risk vs Reward Philosophy”. This is one of the foundation principles in EVE, the higher the risk, the greater the reward and that Nullsec was originally designed to be the ‘highest risk’ space in the game, IE no CONCORD or any other game mechanics against any form of aggression. And that used to be true, until the advent of the Coalitions.

The Coalitions are groups of Alliances that have formed cooperatives similar to how Corps can create Alliances… only Coalitions are not a built in the code game mechanic, they are meta-agreements made outside of the game client that define ingame Rules of Conduct between the member players, corps and Alliances in a Coalition.

The System Security Level is based on CONCORD's response and consequences to unprovoked/unpaid for aggression. In Hisec CONCORD responds to aggression with deadly force on a decreasing time scale with a Sec Stat hit (reduction in your personal Security Status). In Lowsec there is no CONCORD fleet response but there are gate and station guns and you take a Sec Stat hit, and in addition in High and Lowsec several very powerful aggression modules, IE Smartbombs, Bubbles, HICs, etc. are to varying degrees restricted by game mechanics. Nullsec however, was designed to be truly lawless space, no CONCORD at all, no consequences for aggressive acts, and ALL aggression mods allowed.

So, ‘Risk’ was defined by ‘System Security Level’, IE the consequences of CONCORD’s responses to aggression.

But… we now have a Nullsec that is owned and operated by Coalitions that make Sov Nullsec far far SAFER (less real risk) for Industry/Mining/Ratting than Hi, Lo and most especially, Negsec (W-Space)... The power that the Coalitions have, Jump Freighter services, Jump Bridges, Power Projection, sheer Manpower and the internal rules and external agreements they have ensure far safer gameplay for all these activities than anywhere in the rest of the game.

You see In High and Lowsec, the consequences of CONCORD are in response to unprovoked aggression… In Coalition run Sov Nullsec, the Coalitions are proactive… not responsive. If you don’t believe me, jump into Sov Nullsec with 50, or 20 or even 10 of your friends in fleet and see what happens… CONCORD waits until ‘after’ you have broken a law, in Sov Nullsec, just entering their space is breaking their law. I find it telling that all those who argue that null is soo much more dangerous than the rest of the game always avoid these particular and embarrassing little facts.

All of this has brought into existence an emergent effect CCP did not foresee… With the consolidation of Large Coalitions of Alliances in Nullsec, the actual Risk Level of a system is no longer tied to the original System Security Status of a system.

Hence as WE the players have once again changed how the game actually works, I propose that CCP needs to rebalance Risk vs Reward such that…

The “Risk Level” of a given system needs to be separated from the arbitrary “Security Status” of that system. So where does Risk come from? Why, from the Players of course.

“Security” is about CONCORD and game mechanics… and it should continue to be based on the current game mechanics for PvP, Crimewatch, CONCORD, etc. This defines the consequences for unprovoked (or unpaid for) PvP for whatever space you are in…

“Risk” however, is about the threat posed by the Players… and it should be based on number of/value of ships/pods/destroyed 'over time' on a per system basis. Over time is the key here...

The System Risk Level would be assessed based on a combination of short term, IE 24/48 hr kills and long term, IE 30/60 day kills. This defines the Actual Risk Level one will have to plan for based on the historical threat of player interaction, PvP, Wardecs, ganks, etc. for whatever space you are in…

Long Term vs Short Term effects to Risk Level; A system's overall Risk Level would be determined from the 30/60 day kills so that Great Wars, Burn Jita and Hulkageddon type events, IE short term/high kill rate events, would cause a shorter term smaller increase in the Risk Level, and these would then drop back quickly to the Risk Level reflected in the longer term overall Risk Level.

Now here is where I make the nullbears scream UNFAIR!!!!

Income levels, for Industry/Mining/Ratting/etc. should be based on the ‘Risk Level’, not the ‘Security Level’ of a given system. Potential Income should be based on the ACTUAL Risk from Player Interaction in any given system regardless of System Security Status.

Hence as things stand now Jita would likely become the Highest Risk system at Sec Stat 0.8 / Risk Lev -1.0 and huge areas of Null would be Sec Stat 0.0 / Risk Lev +1.0. Thus Income levels and potential would be reflected in the ACTUAL Risk one assumes plying those trades and activities in areas where the players themselves create greater and lesser actual inherent risk through their actions. We would have one more way in which we actually affect the space we play in, or own. Not just by creating risk, but also by mitigating risk… the way the Nullsec Coalitions do today in Sov Null.

Imagine how Risk Maps will look on Dotlan… =]

Fly Wreckless and see you in the Sky  =/|)=

The Ultimate Grief…

~or, “Is it Possible that Troll Dimsdale is Right…?”

[Empyrean Empires Part 1]

First off, this is just one non Industry player layman’s view of the coming Industry Changes. I’m not interested in how these changes impact Industry per se, but how they impact the players and the various playstyles in EVE Online… and yea… you heard me right, I’m wondering if Dimsdale Pirannha, that HORRID little single minded conspiracy laden troll might possibly just be just a little teeny tiny bit right.

If you don’t know who Dimsdale (actually Dinsdale) Pirannha is, go to Jester’s Trek and search his name, but take an anti-nausea pill first. He is a raging anti-goon who believes that some CCP Devs, and by extension CCP’s Executives, and the leadership of the CFC/GSF are actually acting in collusion to assist and support the total takeover of the game by the CFC et al, and in addition CCP supports, or at the very least knowingly looks-the-other-way as the CFC et al engage in all but blatant RMT. He goes so far as to make allusions to people paying their mortgages with said RMT income…  IMHO he is a troll and worse, due to being blinded by his bias, he is an idiot.

So obviously I don’t mean I am beginning to believe his conspiracy theories about CCP and any dark, nefarious skype-back-channel collusion with the Ebil RMTing Gewns™… I am, however, starting to wonder if mebbe, just mebbe the former Goons CCP has hired as Devs are actually not working in the best interests of ALL of the playerbase, but in the interests of Nullsec players only… and if CCP also truly believes the best future path for this great game is a Totally Player Based Content game… to remove NPC interaction, to remove CONCORD, to eventually have the entire game boil down to just one playstyle… Empyrean Empires.

I have to admit, no matter how I look at it, the latest Dev Blogs showcasing the coming changes to Industry really seem to be changes specifically directed at enhancing only one playstyle... and that playstyle is Sov Null… and, for that reason I think it’s dangerous to the game as a whole and, TBH I dunt like it one bit.

Marlona Sky, in his Coalition Sov Mapping, under Latest Data, lists 7 primary Coalitions that hold more than 1 system in Sov Null; CFC, N3, Stain Wagon, PL, Provi Bloc, xXDeathXx & H.E.R.O. (Black Pearl Alliance holds 1 system). These 7 coalitions and their Leadership are the Sov Holders in the 35 Regions of Sov Nullsec. They make and enforce the rules and those rules go far beyond anything CONCORD does… as such Sov Null is, for the membership of these entities, far safer than ANY other space in the game, period.

Great Wars notwithstanding, it is well known that Sov Nullsec, under these mere 7 Coalitions, is more directly and closely controlled and 'policed' than Hisec, Losec or W-space. Players have really only 2 choices in Sov Null… join a corp/Alliance that is controlled by one of the Coalitions, or… oh, uh… nope, sorry, just ONE option, join a Coalition allied corp/Alliance or fuck you… If you don’t believe me, just try taking your corp or Alliance into Sov Null and make a home for yourself without joining one of the Null Coalitions… go try and take advantage of these great new highly profitable changes to Industry ON YOUR OWN… yea, go ahead, see what happens.

CCP has often repeated the statement that it supports All playstyles in EVE. If even one of those oft repeated statements is true then CCP also wants ALL playstyles to reap higher rewards in higher risk space, but I am thinking mebbe they are not how they say they are.

This is, for me, the key issue here… The only playstyle that is rewarded in Null is the large group, in actuality, the Very Large Group. Small un-coalinged Alliances and unallied corps and solo playstyles are locked out of these higher rewards. Locked out completely… If their gameplay does not include subsuming their players/corps/Alliances, and in effect submitting to the larger Coalitions and their rules and playstyles then it’s just FU.

What scares me the most is that I think possibly Ripard Teg feels the same way... he says, “Because in the long-term grand scheme of things, this view of EVE is the correct one and it's more healthy for the game.” Oh crap. That’s true ONLY for the Sov Nullsec playstyle, not for any of the playerbase that have no desire to EVER play the nullsec game, or to take knee to the Nullsec Coalitions.

He even goes so far as to title his post on this subject, Traitor which means he fully understands the highly overall negative impact this change will have on Hisec and Lowsec Industry and hence how ALL the players who prefer to play in those spaces will see him, a CSM member elected on an ALL Playstyles Platform, as a traitor to their gameplay. He goes so far as to state unequivocally, “Did I raise a major objection to this at the Summit? Call me a traitor if you must, but no I did not.” What I want to know is if he, or anyone on the CSM, voiced ANY objection at all… and if so, what CCP’s response was. He KNOWS this is a “go to Null or accept a much shittier game” from now on for a helluva lot of players.

I now wonder if he truly believes in the sandbox ideal at all… that, as he has repeatedly stated, ALL playstyles are important and ALL playstyles should be viable and supported in EVE Online. This last post make me think he doesn’t really believe that anymore, if he ever really did… or, is it possible he is not running for CSM9 because he realized CCP doesn’t? and there’s nothing he or anyone can do about it.

In what amounts almost to a tongue in cheek nod to Dimsdale, he says… “…it's a pretty damn good bet that manufacturing is going to be cheaper in null-sec as well. Particularly since -- *shudder* -- it's CCP Greyscale working on that.”… The thing we have to remember about Mr. Teg is… he is, in the end a Nullsec player. Not a Hisec Industrialist, not a Lowsec FW pilot, and most definitely not a Wormholer… he flies and fights in NPC Nullsec and that is the game he knows and likes best. I am now of the opinion that he believes Nullsec is THE way the game is best played, the way it SHOULD be played… by everyone.

Mord Fiddle, of Fiddler’s Edge, has stating he is unsubbing directly due to the direction this Expansion is taking. In his post, That'll Do, He says, “For myself, I cannot continue to support a game in which my monthly subscription dollars are used to benefit a small subset of the EVE player base, both financially and in terms of quality of play, to the detriment of all others.

I have asked Mord to reconsider leaving until after the Expansion actually hits, to not jump ship based on 2 Dev posts alone… wait until the proof is in the code as twere. For myself, I am not an Industrialist an I don’t live and work in Empire space and, excepting how it impacts the costs of ships, mods, etc. and the prices I get for my Sleeper Lewt, Salvage & PI prods, which is very important I’ll grant… I am not really interested in how Industry actually works, it’s just not a big part of my playstyle.

But… as it impacts the WHOLE of New Eden is very important to me. How changes like this could lead, one day to the Nullsec Coalitions, having taken over all of Empire space, turning their full attention at last on the truly deadliest space in all EVE… Negsec, Wormhole space, and THAT will be the day several things will happen…

1. I will unsub… not that like Mord, in itself it will mean much to anyone except my friends and those of you who have found something worthwhile, or at least enjoyable, here… but it will mean a helluvalot to me… and

2. The Goons will have fulfilled their Mission Statement… “We're not here to destroy THE game, we're here to destroy YOUR game.

One thing to seriously think about that highly misleading Mission Statement is… if the Goons see ALL of us, CCP included, as the people they are out to destroy… then, for them, to Win at EVE is to own all of space, drive out anyone not-them and, in the end… possibly… to do something that will bring them one final and everlasting piece of E-fame… to have greifed a Real World company into failscading.

CCP needs to wake up and smell the koolaid… before it kills them.

Fly Wreckless and see you in the Sky  =/|)=

Friday, April 18, 2014


~or, “Tur goes to the EVE Gate.”

I have been ingame for 3 and a half years now. I have been fascinated and involved in the Lore of New Eden, with a special interest in the Lore of Anoikis, for all that time and one of the Bucket List things-to-do in the Lore for many Empyreans is… to go and see the Eve Gate in the New Eden system.

It’s one of those things I have kept telling myself I am gonna do one day… only ‘one day’ is not a definitive date… ‘one day’ is like ‘tomorrow’, it sometimes never comes, or at least, never seems to be the thing to do now. I have been putting it off since the day I first realized it was a place you could go to and a thing you could see… welp, that finally changed.

My friend Space Noob recently posted about his trip to the Eve Gate in a series of posts that are, as always, well written, immersive and descriptive. His take on his trip includes a lore’ish look at the planets and systems that were first explored after the New Eden system was first discovered.

Last night I jumped out the stat and sat cloaked up just off the hole in the lowsec… thinking. I took a look and the static Lowsec, Nasesharafa, was 38 hops (safest) from the New Eden system… Hmmmm… I was on, Sov was on but we weren’t dooin anything really… scanning and PI and just messing about. I switched over to Noobs blog and glanced over his EVE Gate posts… and felt it might just be the time to actually make my Pilgrimage to the New Eden system and see for myself the genesis of all of us here in the New Eden cluster.

For this trip I had been considering an Astero; cloaky, reasonably fast, good droan DPS… but I really didn’t want to fight at all, it was a sight-seeing trip so survival was key… or a Loki; again, cloaky, ok fast, immune to bubbles… but probably catchable with Sebo boosted ‘Ceptor tackle… or hey, I could use an Interceptor mebbe… I had a cloaky travel fit Malediction I use for making bounces and pounces in the hole. It was, of course, very VERY fast, ignores bubbles and, fully stabbed in the lows, probably immune to even Sebo boosted ‘Ceptor tackle… Hmmm…

I swapped into the ‘Ceptor, jumped the lowsec and considered the trip. I told Sov I was thinking of going to see the Gate and he said he had once made the trip… “Purty” said he, huh… that clinched it. I set course and made the 3 low hops to hisec, set the AP to the last hisec system on my route, Imya, then sat back. For the 26 hisec jumps all I did was tap the MWD on landing at each gate. Then I manually flew the last 9 lowsec hops… all told it took only 46 minutes to travel from Nasesharafa to the New Eden system…   and on 116.04.17 at 02:47:39… SARA announced, “Jumping from Promised Land to New Eden”…

When my screens cleared, this is what I saw…

The system was as Noob said… one lifeless barren planet in a close orbit around a K3 small yellow star in its own little nebulae.

Local is clear…  I am all alone with my thoughts and the dead, glaring Gate. I set Dscan to include Cans and I saw the interestingly named cans Noob decribed on scan… on the assumption that the main direction people would go to drop these was towards the gate, so I burned towards the gate while I contemplated this virtual life, its genesis and its future…

After 20,000 km I decided I had gone far enough… no, not the 50k KM that Noob did, but far enough for me. I stopped and anchored a Mobile Depot and named it… like Noob and so many others have, though you’ll have to make the trip for yourself to see my immortal (well, 30 day) words of wisdom.

Once I had dropped the MD I sat for a bit longer… contemplating life, the verse and everything… Then I turned, warped back to the one lone gate and, with one long last look back, I jumped out of the New Eden system… Leaving behind me a MD that would last, if unmolested, for 30 days… and taking with me a memory that would last far far longer.

Now, the return course I set was slightly different from the route I took to get there… you see, while I was burning along at 5,000 m/s and contemplating my navel, Sov had let me know that our static had died and he has scanned down our new one, in Jeni, a mear 14 lowsec hops away from the New Eden system. I manually flew the route home, only once passing a bright red somebody on one gate and a neutral somebody on the other side wondering if they both thought, “What was that?” as I zoomed on by, total trip time home… 13 minutes 41 seconds.

All in all, the total for my EVE Gate Adventure was 3 hrs 40 minutes from jump off to jump in… and here I had been expecting to be away at least a day if not longer. But, one of my personal joys about living in wormholes is the whole ‘travelling without moving’ thing… The simple fact that the wormholes that spawn in our system can lead to ANYWHERE in the New Eden cluster… The map of my travels includes something ONLY wormholers have, systems I have visited with NO connecting hops without cynos… and not even Titan bridging or blops cynos give you the breadth and scope of these daily changes in locale.

So a quick warp to the relay and then home sweet home… I reshipped to my trusty ‘stero and sat back to browse thru the pics I had taken…

I could wax laconic at this point and try and write up some pithy words about Man and Empyrean and their place in the cosmos, but… TBH it was, interestingly for a game, a quite personal experience. EvE has a lot of meaning for me. After the repeated nerfng of the Real World space program I never thought I would get to experience space… Now I grant you, EVE may be virtual, but it IS the only way now that I am ever going to go to space… and that means a lot to me. As it says in my bio…

I am a man who “…watched Neil Armstrong walk upon the face of the Moon LIVE as a young boy....
And then watched the politicians take away his future and birthright...
Let us pray, that one day, we will once again reach for the stars and get off this one lone rock...

And the human race will find adventure, again...

As I look back on my experience at the Eve Gate, that is the main thing that fills my thoughts… The idea that the strange and fascinating anomaly represents…  The idea that one day we WILL find a way to go ‘out there’…

Fly Wreckless and see you in the Sky  =/|)=