Category Archives: Uncategorized

EULA Changes – Gambling

I’m not going to talk in detail about the EULA changes wrt the alpha clones. Which is the rest of them. There’s nothing substantial in there. Even the 90 days thing isn’t. (before, it was ‘account expired; we can delete it now’)

What I am going to do is talk about the other change. That to gambling with EVE Online currency and assets. This is a pretty big change. It won’t directly affect a lot of people, who just play EVE and wouldn’t think about giving their money to another player to gamble with. But it will affect people more than some will think. I’ll explain that a bit further down.

Reaction

When I saw the devblog (Same time as the rest of you. The CSM didn’t get advance notice.), I was a little surprised. But not as much as I would have been a year ago. Over the last few months, there has been much more coverage in relation to gambling in video games, with some high-profile (in the industry) court cases. I was surprised, not because of the content, but only because of the timing. On reflection, with Alpha clones entering the scene, I shouldn’t have been surprised at that either.

CCP have a very big incentive to clean house. The removal of a subscription fee being required to play means that we’ll probably have a number of younger players joining us; younger players leading to greater scrutiny in this time of elevated concern about gambling in video games. CCP seriously don’t need that attention. It could prove very expensive for them, especially as it’s not something that they control.

While it’s unfortunate that some sites, such as EVE-Bet, are being hit by this, I fully understand why CCP are taking this tack. Unless you take the stance that all gambling sites are banned, you have to ban them one by one. White listing isn’t possible. Only black listing. So the ‘well behaved’ sites go down with the ones with a shadier reputation, instead of CCP opening their selves up to

Side Effects

This is where I have my only real problems with what is happening. Regardless of how you feel about them, some of the sites being forced to close did a lot of good for the EVE community, funding a variety of projects, and allowing for a richness of content which it will take time to recover. The common example is EVE-Bet. They’ve stayed above getting involved in the meta-game of EVE, instead funding a variety of streamers and other community content providers, such as EN24, Crossing Zebras and Eve-NT.

That’s something I’ll miss. I seriously doubt that donations will match that income. Even when you have something like Patreon, the number of people who will kick in real money is low. Probably because it is real money. The number of people who will donate ISK is similar. I’m lucky. I don’t run up much in the way of EVE expenses. Some of the other sites, well, they’re going to have to seriously change how they do things.

 

Long story short, this is a positive change for the game. But not one without collateral damage.

PSA – Surviving Fanfest

Surviving Fanfest isn’t particularly difficult. Staving off Icelandic Death Flu (also known as Con Crud) is a trifle more difficult. And not being lynched for poor hygiene appears to be difficult for some poor souls. So here’s a few basic guidelines.

If anything appears to be insultingly obvious, then it’s not directed at you.

 

Hygiene

A small refresher course:

  • Shower in the morning, using soap or shower gel. You won’t melt. The water can smell a bit, but it dissipates rapidly (and beats body odour hands down)
  • Apply antiperspirant after showering. Not deodorant. Antiperspirant helps stop the sweat which leads to BO. Deodorant just tries to cover it up (and either fails, or chokes anyone nearby)
  • Change your clothes at least once per day

Remember, the human nose is good at getting used to scents. Just because you can’t detect it, doesn’t mean other people can’t.

Health

This one’s less obvious to people who haven’t been to any large convention.

  • Eat. Ideally at least three meals, but at least a large breakfast and dinner. Snacking throughout the day isn’t a bad idea. Starving people have weak immune systems. Ideally you’re not eating things which are just sugar. Complex carbs, fats, and protein are what you want to go for. If you see them, protein bars aren’t a bad idea.
  • Stay hydrated. You’re probably going to be drinking a lot of booze. Make sure you have water too. Having at least a water bottle with you is a very good idea. keep drinking throughout the day. Starting the day with at least a glass of water is good. (Your urine should be pale yellow or clear. Dark is a sign of dehydration, which is just asking for infection and discomfort)
  • Wash your hands. Soap and water.
  • Try to avoid touching your face. If you have to, your off-hand is probably the cleaner of the two (as you use your primary hand to touch things). You will fail to avoid touching your face.
  • Hand sanitizer (High alcohol based please. Anti-bac trends to tougher bacteria) as backup.
  • Fistbump beats a handshake. Not touching is better, but not always practical.
  • Consider extra vitamins. A healthy balanced diet means you don’t need this. Are you going to have such a diet at Fanfest?
  • No licking people.
  • Shower at night. Good way to get rid of anything you missed earlier. 2 showers are better than one. Go for the morning if you only go for one.

Scheduling

Plan which events you’re going to go to, in advance. That way you’re not running round like a headless chicken. The mobile schedule is a good way to plan, using the regular schedule to decide which to see for each bracket. Leaving gaps to go to places like the PvP room, or to eat, isn’t a bad idea, if there’s nothing on at a particular slot.

Registration – A suggestion for Fanfest

I’ve been to a couple of Fanfests now, and my least favourite part of it has always been Registration. With the long line outside Harpa, in the freezing cold, just by the North Atlantic.

Now, registering a couple of thousand people is never a fun job, especially when you have a bunch of different accents to deal with.  I’ve dealt with systems for events in the UK, where English is everyone’s first language, and those don’t run quickly either.

So, what would I suggest in my vast experience? Bar codes. The moment you have to type something in, or speak, you’re introducing a possibility of misinformation.

So

  • Send out a mail to everyone, containing a unique bar code, ideally one which isn’t a contiguous number.
  • They print this out (or have it on their phone)
  • During registration, attached to each of the machines being used, you have a cheap hand-held barcode scanner
  • When it scans, it first sends a key combo which sticks the cursor into the right field, enters the number, then hits enter.
  • At this point, you have their details up on screen. You confirm it’s them, it updates the (hopefully central, but you could consolidate later) database showing they’ve registered
  • You then hand over the tickets.

If you want to get really fancy you could throw in printing for the badges as well, but that’s probably excessive, and increases the initial cost significantly. Black onto plain white credit card sized plastic is around 9p per card, amortized over the lifetime of the card printer. Preprinted cards increases the cost. Thermal printing onto the tickets is possible, but also not cheap.

Might only shave a few seconds per person, but that stacks up when you’re doing a thousand people.

 

 

In case you’re wondering, most barcode scanners these days act as usb keyboards, just typing a preamble, the code, then a postamble. You could get fancy and use QR codes, but those scanners are more expensive and slower. Basic barcode scanners will set you back around £40 each.  I had to put together a solution for work for this kind of thing, which has been pretty successful.

In Game Rewards

This may seem a trifle self serving, in that I already have a fan site account from CCP (more for the tools, than the blog, I think). I don’t deny I like getting things (like the spiffy monocle I’m sporting in game, which I won from the pre-Vegas blink promo)

Part of me likes the idea of getting neat in game stuff, without ‘soul binding’. The whole idea of items which you can’t sell to someone else kinda goes against the grain in the ultimate capitalism of Eve.

On the other hand, anything that’s rare is valuable, regardless of the actual utility, and just ‘gifting’ that kind of thing means interfering a little in the sand box. I don’t think it’s as major as some people think, a few billion here, a few billion there, it’s not a major deal. It may be worth asking the community in a survey, rather than depending on the forums for this.

As my prescience is currently in the shop for repairs, I can’t say what the community would say it believes. But I can make some suggestions about alternate options, which cement people into the story of Eve. Options which confer no in game benefit, or a benefit which while tangible, makes sense why it’s not transferable. The second category is a lot iffier as it still involves changing the rules of the sandbox. Or rather, adjusting the variables.

Everything would be with CCP’s approval, of course.

No Benefit Rewards:

  • The right to name a High/Low/NPC Null Station/Planet/Moon
  • A monument to that person, or a something that they designate, as a permanent landmark in Eve. You want a monument to a particular someone? Get that instead of to you.
  • A new module with your, or your corporations name on it. Perhaps a replacement for a standard meta module. Or a ‘reskin’ of it. An ‘Otherworld Enterprises’ Strip Miner?
  • Your name on something everyone gets at Christmas. A meta version of a ship. A trading card.
  • The right to name an Agent.
  • Being able to pitch a mission to the CCP Staff. Fancy yourself a writer? Reduce the chance of people having to save that damn damsel.

In game Benefits:

More controversial.

  • A boost to standings with a particular corp or faction. Corp would be less problematic. Ideally not one of the corps for a trade hub. Though that’s a reward in itself. Reduced taxes.
  • Reduced taxes in a particular station.
  • A blueprint for a branded module. Ideally T1 or Meta 1 stats. See the ‘Otherworld Enterprises’ Strip Miner. A GoonFleet Rifter? Ships should just be skinned T1. Modules Meta 1 could work.

Have any comments? Suggestions? Vile imprecations on my lineage? leave them below.

Modular Assembly Arrays and Labs

We’re not going to get modular POS for a long time. That’s pretty much a given, with what’s been said. It’s just too complicated to modify the POS code to allow it, due to the big ball of mud programming that plagues any large software project. (Just slap new features onto older code, because doing it any other way would take a really long time, relatively)

But, perhaps, we could have a smaller change done, which should require less interaction with the main POS code. I’m making a number of assumptions when I’m talking about this, which may or may not be valid.

There are a number of places where working with POS is somewhat painful. The changes which have happened recently with the removal of the 3km limit have helped a lot, but I’d like things to go a little further.

The main change I’d like is: Change assembly arrays and labs modular. So you can deploy a single array (of each type would be fine) and then expand it. So no more having a POS with 4 advanced labs. You’d have a Lab that you could expand with more lab slots, of the varying types. Probably in packs, to reduce the min/maxing potential.

If you could do it with a single Industry structure, that would be even better. Storage modules, assembly modules for each of the different types, and so on. But I can see the restricted manufacturing slots, and the different speeds of labs being a trifle complicated to manage.

Once that’s all in place, you may be able to expand it further, to include more and more of the functionality of the POS.

Ideally the space factories could be anchored somewhere other than at a POS. Just give it a fuel bay module, and a module for power generation. (Yes, I know the ‘Just’ is making it sound simple. It’s not.) Possibly shield extenders modules, hardeners and so on. Tying them to moons is less than ideal, in my mind. Deep space factories would be neat.

As I’m wanting the moon mining to be shifted off into a totally different structure, to allow for raiding, perhaps once that’s all done, the old POS code could just be retired?

And yes, I know this would get rid of bubble shields. Which some people consider to be very important. If they’re really needed, how about an anchorable structure, such as the warp disruption bubbles? Though I’m a fan of my other suggestion, for having it possible to switch off your warp core, and then be unable to be scanned down. Which would be a similar result, if you’re not unlucky enough to be scanned down at your safe before you switch off.

 

 

 

 

And yes, this all came to mind by me being annoyed about moving materials between assembly arrays. A single storage pool would be nice.

Blog Banter #47: How complex is too complex?

My first banter! Time to make an idiot of myself.

From: http://www.ninveah.com/2013/07/blog-banter-47.html

So this month’s Blog Banter will gravitate around knowledge, specifically EVE knowledge. Some examples of topics to cover: Is EVE too complex for one person to know everything? Is it, in fact, too complex for one person to know everything about one topic? How do you maintain any knowledge or skills related to EVE over time with breaks and expansions? Does CCP do a sufficient job documenting the features of the game, and if not, what could they do better? How does one determine where the gaps in their knowledge even are?

EVE is a very complex. game. EVE has simple mechanics. The first statement is true. The second statement is mostly true. EVE is made up of many small, simple parts, which come together to create a monstrosity of enormous complexity. Consider Chess, or Go. Both games with a simple rule set (Go is incredibly simple) but the complexity of thought required to master the games is immense. Eve is similar. It just has a lot more independent rules.

Could one person understand all of Eve? If you exclude the players, I’d say yes, without too much difficulty. It would just take time, and a good memory. Of course, understanding and applying are very different. Being able to apply the understanding, that’s the difficult bit.

Take Industry. Learning how to do the basics of industry is simple. Once you’re comfortable with those, moving into T2 industry is just a case of getting to grips with Invention. Tech 3 is yet another step, just another increment on what you already know. Manufacturing Capitals is just Tech one manufacturing writ large.

Of course, then you have moon mining and reactions to take care of. But those could be quite happily left to someone else to take care of, until you’re in a situation to learn them and roll them into your vertical integration.

That is the core of the complexity of Eve. Lots of simple little things, all coming together to create a symphony of complexity.

Just look at the Rules of Eve. They’re all made to be broken, when and only when you understand why they exist. They hide the complexity behind simple rules of thumb, letting people operate at a reasonable level, until they can take off the training wheels. Sure, they may continue to stay upright, to continue the metaphor, but if they need to, they can bend the rules, taking a corner at a higher speed.

Anyway, to answer some of the questions raised:

Eve isn’t too complex for someone to know everything. But it is wide enough that most people aren’t interested in knowing everything. And knowing isn’t the same as ‘being good at’. Sure, I could run a fleet. I know what Eve provides to do that. I would be bad at it, however. Those soft skills are the limiter.

How do you maintain any skills and knowledge? Application and reading. You read the dev blogs and patchnotes. You try things out, on Sisi or on TQ if you can afford the losses, or need live opponents. It also helps to be plugged into a group who can answer questions – Remember it’s a two way street. Someone asks about something you know, answer them.

CCP do an ok job of keeping the documentation up to date. It’s not perfect, with the Wiki often being behind reality (see cruiser stats until recently), but it’s survivable. With a game that changes as frequently as Eve does, even if those are fairly small incremental changes, no documentation could be entirely up to date, without spending a lot of developer time on it. There are some situations where it’s nice not to know things for certain. Take the spew cans for exploration. It took some time for people to work out what was in each type of can. That’s complexity which makes the game more interesting. Allows for a separation between newbies and veterans. Where a level of personal skill or knowledge makes a difference.

Thankfully CCP has been removing some of the more annoying versions of this. Rote memorization of large quantities of information is a bad form of complexity. Now it’s easy to pick out the explosive damage Torpedo. Before, you had to know that it was a Bane Torpedo. Other ammo types weren’t so bad, as they didn’t change between size levels. Some people call it dumbing down the game. I call it removing pointless bullshit.

As for the final point, determining where there are holes in your knowledge, the big macro holes are simple. “I don’t know industry” isn’t uncommon. Or “I don’t know how to PvP”. The problem is when you know a little. That just casts what you don’t know into darker shadows.

A sidegrade to cloaking.

First off, this is a pretty rough draft of some thoughts that I had while listening to the most recent hangout with @ali_of_spaceSo there will be some edges to knock off.

People complain about AFK cloakers. People who can, due to power projection via Cynos, shut down a system for any PvE.

The cloaker isn’t the problem. It’s the fact that they can bring a whole bunch of their friends at a moments notice. Sure, you could go and do stuff anyway, but there’s no real counter.

So I had a thought, sparked by what some of the other people were saying.

When you’re trying to use combat probes to find someone, what are you searching for? And the big difference between a ship and an asteroid is their warp core. So here’s the suggestion for changes:

1: Cloaks no longer prevent detection by dscan and combat probes. They do, however, make it hard to exactly localise someone. Warping to the signature will get you to their grid, but it won’t get you exactly on top of them. Once on grid, dscan will allow you to find their approximate location, say within 20km. I.e. you get 3 people who can get a distance (+/- 10km or so)  and between them they can localise someone who isn’t moving erratically and actively trying to avoid them.

2: To stop being picked up be probes and dscan, and additionally to not show up on local, you can shut down your warp core. This stops you moving at all. Everything else can run, but no movement.

3: Restarting your warp core takes a while. Exactly how long I’m not sure (this would have to persist between logins. Not sure how viable that is atm) But we’re talking, probably minutes. Perhaps a module or skill (or both) can decrease that time. But still not a /fast/ operation. While it’s restarting everything else can happen as normal.

The net effect of this is that someone can set a trap with a powered down ship (with a cloak), but they have to be in position already. (Get to an anomaly, power down the warp core, fire up your cloak. Wait for a sucker to turn up. Turn off cloak, activate cyno)

Thus, shutting down an entire system isn’t viable with a single afk ship, against a group of organised players. But you can, still, fuck with people.

T1 Industrials and the value of skills

T1 Industrials are in the process of being rebalanced, and this is leading to significant discussion on the forums.

The root cause of this trouble, other than the Mammoth/Hoarder issue, is that some races have more Industrials than others. So either some skills open up fewer ship roles, or some ships are, still, pretty much useless.

What I’d suggest is that it’s fine to have some skills providing access to fewer ships, as long as those ships are more generally useful, than the ships which are opened up by another skill. That doesn’t mean that the ships are all round better, however.

What I’d suggest is that the Amarr and the Caldari, with 2 ships each, get:

  • one with the highest general cargo bay (40k m3 or so, after expansion)
  • one with a good tank (around 30-40k ehp seems reasonable.) Few lows, lots of mids. The Amarr armour tanking makes this troublesome.

The Minmatar should have:

  • one fairly large one (38k or so)
  • one tanky one (25k or so)
  • one fast aligning/high speed one.

The Gallente, with their annoyingly large range, should no longer have the largest general cargo bay (sorry Itty V) But they should have:

  • A Gas specific one. 50k gas bay
  • An Ore specific one. Maybe minerals too. 50k Ore bay (Itty 5 here?)
  • A Fleet support one. 5K Fleet hangar and refitting.
  • One not quite as large as the big Minmatar one (around 34k)
  • One not quite as tanky one. (20k or so)

 

That way, there’s a reason to get any of the skills (Amarr and Caldari are duplicates, so you wouldn’t get /both/, but they’re still useful) with best of breed in each. No skill is ‘useless’.