Thank you very much everyone for placing me on CSM 6 and now on CSM 7 where I am currently serving as the Chairman! If you would like to contact me directly, do not hesitate to just send me an eve mail in game. Keep your eyes here and watch for new posts.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A look back - FanFest 2005

Check out dem spikes!

I'm back, folks!  Sorry for the huge gap in blogs but I have been traveling around almost constantly for the past two weeks, including this past weekend to FanFest. I've got about three blogs in the works right now that I'll be releasing before the weekend dealing with FanFest 2011, CCP's plans for the future and my recent CSM run. However, before I get into serious mode, I wanted to take a step back and reflect for a moment.

EVE players that travel to Iceland are one of a kind. It's one thing to fly to a media hub city like Las Vegas, Seattle, Atlanta or London for an event or gathering, but Iceland?  There's not another game I know of that inspires people from all over the world to travel to a cold and windy volcanic rock in the middle of the North Atlantic that some crazy Vikings thought would make a good place to settle down.  In that respect, you really do have to pay homage to CCP for creating something special.

FanFest 2011 was my 6th Fanfest, but only my second as a player. One of the things that struck me was not only how much the event has grown, but also how many new players were there. Not only were there a ton of people that came for the first time, but many of the players I spoke with hadn't even been playing more than 2-3 years. It really made me think back to what this event used to be like and want to share it.

My first FanFest was back in 2005, which just happened to be FanFest number two.  Like many people that had never been to Iceland, I didn't really know what to expect. So here's what most people see of Iceland as the plane turns to land.  For most, this is their first view of Iceland:

I think Neil Armstrong is familiar with this sort of thing...
At first glace, it doesn't look like much, but it does get better! :)

Now, for those of you who are used to the grandeur of the stadium-like venue and hundreds of players of the past years, let me give you a glance to what things were like just a few years ago:

Loft Kastalinn - 2005
The venue was this little place with a couple floors and a few rooms. There were no big flags out front, no security in red Concord t-shirts and no lines. I actually walked by the place twice before I even realized this was where I was supposed to be going. Once inside, check in was a very informal procedure and then I started to mingle with the other 20-odd players that had already shown up in the morning.

The 2005 EVE 'Store'
For those that have been to FanFest in the past few years, the EVE Store is absolutely packed with stuff. This year there was even a custom made leather jacket for $500 along with books and magnets and clothing and backpacks and even Vitoc (one year). So if you check out the pic, this set of tables in one corner of the second floor of the venue, you get an idea of how things used to be. There were t-shirts and a few posters. Mostly, the devs working there at the time still seemed to be coming to grips with the fact that, "Hey, we can really make some money off this shit!".  By FanFest 2006, which was moved to the Nordica / Hilton hotel, this 'problem' had been solved.

This was the main 'hang-out'. There was a larger area just off of this one that was reserved for the final night party and Roxxor (the CCP Band) to play, but for most of FanFest 2005, this was it. I'm not sure what the total attendance was, but I didn't have a difficult time finding a place to sit and everyone was very friendly.

The big stage.
This was the main presentation area; actually, it was the only presentation area. The concept of 'round tables' with the devs consisted of going into one of the small back rooms that looked like abandoned old classrooms and sitting down for an informal chat. When it was time for something 'official', everyone piled into this small auditorium.

CCP - 2005
Every FanFest, the main presentation has this slide which shows all of the main statistics. Anyone familiar with the numbers of today will look at this and probably laugh, especially when you consider that, at the time, we were all amazed at over 16,000 people online at once!
Nathan Richardson - CCP Oveur
For the longest time, Nathan was quite simply the face of EVE. This man accepted my humble offering and posed proudly for this picture with all the grace and humility (okay, not really) he is famous for. In many ways, this picture sums up both FanFest and CCP of a different time, before things turned all corporate and 'serious business'.  I'll be blogging a bit more about that tomorrow but, for now, I hope you all enjoyed this trip in the Way Back Machine.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Campaign Update

Mandantory CTA!

I've had a pretty busy schedule lately so not had a chance to update my blog as much as I would have liked. Being on planes away from the internet does that and this next week doesn't look much better. I will continue blog and update as much as possible but RL is conspiring to keep me busy at the moment.  So, for now, a few quick updates.

CCP Diagoras has started a thread in the Jita Park forum keeping everyone updated on the number of votes being cast versus the at the same time during the last election cycle.  So far it looks like this:

Date & Time: Total Votes - % of elegible voters / CSM5 Comparison

16:00, March 9th: 9,000 - 2.58% / 2,754 - 0.88%
22:10, March 9th: 15,016 - 4.31% / 4,023 - 1.29%
15:42, March 10th: 21,764 - 6.25% / 6,560 - 2.11%
15:56, March 11th: 25,723 - 7.37% / 15,838 - 5.09%
22:00, March 11th: 26,287 - 7.55% / 17,257 - 5.55%
It's very encouraging to note the overall turnout being so far ahead of the last election.  I've been spreading the word to as many people as possible that even if you do not vote for ME, to just get out and vote. The larger the overall turnout, the larger the mandate that CSM 6 will have.

A lot of that is total is likely nullsec bloc voting, since they are more motivated to vote this time. While I seem to have a lot of momentum, I’m still a first time candidate so I have to get new votes or sway others to me. There are also a lot of older players that I'm trying to reach through the cloud of apathy with regard to the CSM.

I'm going to need all the help I can get, folks. Do not assume that I am 'doing fine' or that you can cast your vote safely elsewhere even though you had planned to vote for me.  I'm going to need every vote.  I need help getting the word out and keeping awareness high until the polls close on March 23rd.  What I need as you are flying around, especially in hi-sec, is to drop my blog and my vote link into local.  There's also this handy list of campaign fliers:

Also, please do not let this thread fall onto the second page:

If you have voted for me please keep an eye on that thread and give it a solid update when you can. Tell a story about EVE, why you voted for me, etc... The more exposure the better!  There are a LOT of answers in that thread to questions people may ask.  Help them find those answers!

As an aside, Virtuozzo made an excellent post HERE that helps break down why people should vote and how to determine who to cast their vote for.

A bit further down, Akita T breaks down the process he used to eventually vote for me.  It's worth a read. :)

Thank you all for your support!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The CSM6 Polls are OPEN!

It's that time, folks!  Of course I would like you to vote for me, but please just VOTE. I would not be doing all of this if I did not believe it would matter. I don't need anymore 'free trips to Iceland'. I've been on both sides of the fence both as a Dev and as a player - believe me, a solid CSM can help!

Go. Vote. Help make EVE a better game for everyone!

Will Incarna be another NGE?

Seriously, I WANT this outfit for Seleene.
This article by Ecliptic Rift was brought to my attention and I figured the best way to get people to read it would be to blog about it.  So, here I am blogging about it.  It's a very interesting read and ends on an optimistic note, but there's some very interesting analysis there that I hope CCP takes note of.  Have a read and enjoy:

POS, Black Ops & Cloaking

You can't see me. I am cloaked.
A couple more good questions from the forums:
The dead horse about POS themselves: everyone agree that it would be very hard to do, but what would be your opinion on what do to about POS?
I'd like to see the current starbases be relegated to a purely military role and actual "Personal Owned Structures" be introduced. Modular add-ons, white picket fences, all that jazz. Of course, POS code makes the coders eyes bleed and then there would have to be Art done for it all. The in house term used for this (as it has been discussed in the past and talked about at FanFest) were 'Shanty Towns' that players could build in space. 

TLDR - I want to see modular player structures, like legos in space. Hell yeah.
How should Black-Ops Battleships be iterated on? Your thoughts on "AFK cloaking" and what you feel should be achievable goals for small stealth fleets?
Black Ops need love so bad that it's criminal. These ships should be doing amazing James Bond stuff that no other ships can do; at the very least they need a serious look-at because I see them bridging Stealth Bombers to targets more often than actually doing anything themselves.

The AFK cloaking thing is annoying as hell and could 'easily' be solved by requiring cloaks to use fuel (like LO) in order to operate. Fuel usage could be a simple calculation based on mass and ships that are supposed to cloak would obviously be more fuel efficient. The only real problem with this is that any mechanic like that would require a 'cycle time' like guns or anything else that consumes "ammo", which cloaks do not have. I'm sure it could be programmed to work like this but for whatever reason this issue remains untouched.

To go a bit further though, my thoughts on this issue stem from more than JUST the "AFK cloaking" stuff as was asked. I find it "annoying" because I see it as part of a larger problem. I simply think that this issue, like countless others, needs iteration. Think about it - cloaking has not been touched from almost the day it was introduced. No further balancing, no serious looks at how it might be used better, nothing. Why don't specialized ships get some kind of surprise bonus when they de-cloak, or other bonuses that offset negatives? My opinion on this in no way means it's the exact thing that might be implemented. I gave a very short example in response to a specific question. Any solution to the matter would come as the result of input from multiple sources.

TLDR - I see all of this as more of a general balance issue. I would like to see ships that are specialized in using cloaking technology get more specific bonuses to using them while slapping a cloak onto a Raven or something would still work but impose some sort of penalty. That sort of thing.

CSM5's Public Letter to CCP about Incarna

It's coming. Deal with it.
Sunday was a busy day for all things CSM related.  One of the most interesting developments was the release of a Public Letter by CSM 5:

Posted in the Jita Park forum section of the official forums by current CSM Chair Mynxee, this thread has already started to generate debate.  What do I think?  I think this open letter would not exist if the CSM had any more knowledge than the rest of us. I think that if CCP had any kind of a plan whatsoever they would have at least told the current CSM something. That fact that this 'open letter' is now public means the current CSM is completely in the dark with regard to a feature that is supposed to be going into its next phase this summer.

I already blogged about this exact thing: Incarna - Will history repeat itself?

I think that letter means the current CSM got tired of listening to excuses and evasions and, seeing as how half of them aren't running this time, have decided to just go for broke.  Virtuozzo shared his thoughts as well:
Combined with Hammer's statements, the horrible timing of dumping Incarna talk to media (going by posts here and elsewhere being the same empty as what CSM was shown), it worries me tbh.

There's parts of CCP which simply are in it for the awesome shiny new, nothing else, unfortunately. Incarna as a topic everywhere just bleeds a repeat of past tendencies, followed by the usual behaviour of "well crap, we gotto do stuff now also with customers, let's create a stink and not talk to them anymore because the questions are hard and we are fearless".

Basically, a return to old tendencies for that topic. Which contrasts with what must have been a tough call to make for Zulu, on treating Incarna the same (constructive) way they decided to approach Incursions. But it's not compatible in the long run.

Just like in the past, it bleeds the usual tendencies of both msn & communicator and tiny test corps on test server with special roles, brosefs holding up pants and more of that which never resulted into anything. It bleeds people diving into trenches, in contrast to their precious company values.
This is probably one of Virt's more succinct posts on anything CCP related however Bartholomeus Crane has no issue with wall of texting his thoughts on the state of things.  Barth's wall of text LINKAGE.  It's a very spooky take on what the possible future of the CSM's role might be.

Of particular concern to me is this statement by TeaDaze in the official forum thread: 
"We've been waiting for answers to questions and constructive feedback raised in December and haven't heard anything. An internal letter was sent to CCP last month and all we got back was the CQ blog which didn't address anything significant.

This letter hasn't damaged any working relationship with the Incarna teams because there wasn't a working relationship with them in the first place."
Overall, I'm going to stick with my initial take on Incarna - CCP has to 'deliver' the goods and make it interesting.  Thus far, CCP has not shown that they have a PLAN (there's that word again) for doing that and I don't think this public letter would have become public if the current CSM had been given any kind of bread crumbs to reassure them.

Lost in EVE Debates and EVE Uni Class

Politics obviously requires lots of TV screens.
So I had a really busy weekend on the road but I still found the time to do some cool stuff on the 'campaign trail'.

Wormholes - Hell yeah!
First up was the 'Lost in EVE' debate I took part in on Saturday. This is one of the podcasts that I try to make time to listen to from time to time as it's generally entertaining and funny.  The producers do a good job of keeping you awake and I could tell that they put a lot of effort into making these debates run as smoothly as possible.

The participants for this first debate were Meissa Anunthiel,  Ripard Teg and myself.  Even though it felt like I was coming of the rails a couple times, I listened back to it and think I did pretty well. I believe I sound much better in a less formal setting but this was a fun 'debate' with lots of humor going back and forth in the group Skype chat as things progressed that helped loosen things up.  So, here's the recording for it: 

Noobs!  Hell yeah!  
Sunday night was a bit different as I was scheduled to give a class to EVE University.  For those of you that are not familiar, E-Uni does some of the most selfless stuff in EVE by taking in new players and teaching them the basics of the game. They go above and beyond even that tho and have one of the most extensive Wikis (UniWiki) of any EVE organization (it's better in many ways than EVElopedia).

Part of the services that E-Uni provides is inviting prominent figures from EVE and CCP to give guest lectures and do Q&A with the students as part of their class program. There are some really interesting things in the archive there and some of the previous guests might surprise you.  The class I was scheduled to give was titled 'Game Design in Eve: Q&A with Seleene (ex-CCP Abathur)'.

The format was rather simple - I was logged in as Seleene and invited to a moderated in game chat channel where all of the students asked questions.  Dierdra Vaal kept things running well and after a bit of a rambling intro, the questions started coming and I slipped back into the 'Army briefing mode' I long ago perfected when having to explain things to lots of people. The entire recording lasts about 1h 45m and is mostly just me repeating the questions being asked and talking a lot. However, it was a lot of fun and there is some good information about EVE, CCP and the CSM as well.

More blogging to do today so stay tuned!

Friday, March 4, 2011

A few words on Supercap Rage

Senator Clay Davis
I love Scrapheap Challenge because it's where all the really cool bitter vets hang out.  They tell stories and rage about the game they are one step away from quitting unless XX gets fixed (usually lag).  Sometimes it's just a good place to talk about how many dicks were on Spartacus last week (a lot).  I post a lot there because it just feels all cozy but since I started running for CSM, I've had to start getting a bit more :serious: about everything.

Inevitably, the subject of my involvement in the 'boosting' of supercaps comes up from time to time and this morning I had an overdose of caffeine and wrote up what's probably my most direct response to this most vexing of issues.

I'll say it again - people that are looking for a scapegoat to pin all of their supercap emo on need to look higher than me. I'm not trying to deflect my role in it, but you really need to examine what happened, why it happened and what has NOT happened since.

A lot of people who rage about supercaps don't know a game without them. They have no concept of what it was like to actually be scared of these ships. Hell, in 2007 I once stood off a fleet with 40 BS in my Nyx solo; they jumped back out instead of engaging me. It was retarded because Supers were paper thin but reputation + "WTF is that thing?? RUN!!!" kept folks from charging in. 
WTF is that thing?!

I think it's funny that so many people raging about supers owning everything were the same ones raging about how they were permanently sat at a POS for 2+ years and were screaming for them to be able to do SOMETHING, ANYTHING, PLEASE!!! FREE ABATHUR, etc... 

This was pretty cool, actually.
If I had to pick a 'turning point' it was when Molle lost his 4th titan to an NC fleet; Vily posted a video of the take down to a bunch of dreads and Molle's Avatar lasted all of about 40 seconds. This was the first time I was able to walk into Noah's office and say, "Click this link and watch this. Now, tell me that's how it's supposed to be. Months to plan, weeks to build, seconds to lose?" It was disgusting. No one was even flying the damn things and Titans were nothing but a portable stargate unless you got 25+ of them in one spot to mass AoE DD a carrier fleet. (Yes, that video got played a lot around the office as well.)

So when the time to change them finally came to be, I took it and ran with it. As has been noted, it wasn't JUST ME though. There were other designers involved and probably some of the most fanatical testing ever done on SiSi. I organized mass tests, handed Supers out like candy, recorded the data, talked to people in local, replied on the forums, etc... I poked old friends and enemies on MSN and asked them what they thought and we pulled all that into spreadsheets and played with stuff on the internal servers. 

But even after all of the testing and feedback, do you guys remember what happened next? All that got tossed, as in literally ignored, and the next three months was spent with people raging about everything from docking supercarriers to Titans DDing 'motherships' because one got upgraded and the other did not. Remember? Titans hit TQ with the HP buff and other 'upgrades' while "motherships" were left completely untouched. It was an :awesome: decision, pun intended. Two-three months of wasted time that could have been used to more properly balance, play test and get feedback.
I have no idea why the current designers seem so gun shy about tweaking these ships. I fear it's probably because they spend most of their time talking about putting jump portals onto supercarriers or some other thing they won't get approval for that requires actual programming time.

What would I do? I'd take it a step at a time until things got right. Right now, I'd cut the Fighter Bomber damage by about 20-30%, I'd get it fixed to where FB's could not shoot sov structures and I'd remove the Supercarriers logistic bonuses. I'd see how that went for a month or two while getting feedback on the forums and talking to players and the CSM, then I'd take all of that data and tweak the numbers again. What I would not do is make some changes and then leave them untouched for 1-3 years.

EVE Online: Iterations. It's my campaign theme for a reason. You cannot silver bullet balance stuff; it's supposed to be a constantly evolving process.

If you think that I shouldn't be on the CSM because I 'fucked up XXXX', well, I think you're just mad and looking for an outlet. Take a look at what actually went down. Or as Senator Clay Davis might say, "Think I'm gonna be the scapegoat for the whole damn machine? Shieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet!"

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Lost in EVE Debates

That's a wormhole. I totally made those.
Lost in EVE is one of the most downloaded podcasts of all time!!  Well, at least where EVE is concerned.  Anyway, they have set up a series of debates for the CSM and I will be in Group 1 on March 5th @ 2100.  My group looks like this:

GROUP1 - March 5th
Stephan Pirson - Meissa Anunthiel
Mark Heard - Seleene
Ross Glenn - Ripard Teg
Mike Dawe - Mike Azariah

The full list of debaters and dates is listed here on the Lost in EVE forums.

According to the email I got today, this looks like it's going to be run very professionally.  I'm really looking forward to demolishi-... erm, talking over the various issues with my fellow candidates. :)

Destructible Outposts & Local Chat

This is my favorite action movie.
A couple new questions popped up that I've given some responses to.  The first one involved a question about if I favored 'destructible outposts'.

This is something I can actually give an informed answer to. Without massive changes to the EVE code base (as in a complete re-write) the actual destruction of outposts isn't something that you're going to see. The more practical reason for this is a scenario like what if a player comes back from fighting cancer for six months only to discover that all his stuff is gone?

The answer to this is something that has been tossed back and forth for years and the seeds for which were really planted back in Las Vegas in 2009 - wreckable stations. The idea is that after a station exits it's final reinforcement timer, you would have the option to either capture it or blow it to hell. After a nice, Micheal Bay-ish explosion, you'd be left with a wreck, much like the one normal ships leave. The wrecked station would have all services disabled save one - undocking. If you were already in there when it blew, you somehow luckily found a broom closet to hide yourself and your stuff in. Maybe some of it got shaken up and damaged. You can undock, but that's it. Hopefully you stuffed a freighter into your broom closet.

The option would also exist for 'someone' to rebuild the station by simply dropping a similar egg next to it and filling it with magic pixie dust, etc... then after DT, yay, station is rebuilt.

This idea was one of several planned features that should have been in Dominion or iterated into the new sov system afterward. It is a prime example of why the sov system was changed from the evolutionary dead end that it was to something that could actually be iterated on. Treaties and wreckable stations are things that have been publicly discussed by CCP on multiple occasions and are just parts of what's laying on the cutting room floor.

Local chat channel in 0.0 - remove, delay or leave it like it is?

Your question assumes that there should be some kind of 'blanket' mechanic for this in sovereign space, which I do not believe there should be. I would much rather put the power in the hands of the players by iterating onto the sov system with Intel Management Tools. It's your system, you are paying the stargate maintenance fees and such; you should be able to develop a proper infrastructure that lends to how day to day life in your space works. If you don't like random people ****ting up your local during a major fight, shut it down (for a time). If you prefer delayed local over local that is always on, tell the comm relay people working in the stargates to turn the dials down a bit.

The choices should be yours, the players, as much as possible. If you can fit a ship in EVE, why not fit a star system with the features you see fit and pay for? There is endless potential for iteration on these concepts.