Sunday, 31 October 2010

NaNoWriMo is Go

About a week ago on Twitter, CCP Fallout mentioned something called NaNoWriMo, asking if any of the Tweetfleet were participating. At that time, I had no idea what this meant so I consulted the great god Google, discovered National Novel Writing Month and my interest was piqued.

NaNoWriMo is a clever initiative designed to encourage would-be novel writers to get over their fears and actually write. There are no real prizes for 'winning' beyond the satisfaction of knowing that you've successfully written a novel.

To cut a long story short (there's a pun there somewhere), I'm going to attempt to churn out the required 50,000 words or more by the end of November. I signed onto the NaNoWriMo website as Seismic Stan as I originally intended to write an EVE-related story, but that has been put on the back-burner in favour of a different idea.

Despite the non-EVE theme, I thought it would be worth mentioning here for two reasons. Firstly, to give advance warning that Freebooted blogposts might be a bit thin on the ground in November as the novel will require an average 1,667 words per day. Secondly, because I could always do with more support and encouragement. So if you enjoyed any of my previous EVE-inspired short stories here on Freebooted ('Meat Salvage', 'Bastard!', 'The Final Blow' and 'Social Clones'), please support/heckle me throughout November on Seismic Stan's NaNoWriMo page.

Wish me luck.

Friday, 29 October 2010

BB22: Loyalty, Trust and Shameless Recruitment

Welcome to the twenty-second installment of the EVE Blog Banter, the monthly EVE Online blogging extravaganza created by CrazyKinux. The EVE Blog Banter involves an enthusiastic group of gaming bloggers, a common topic within the realm of EVE Online, and a week or so to post articles pertaining to the said topic. The resulting articles can either be short or quite extensive, either funny or dead serious, but are always a great fun to read! Any questions about the EVE Blog Banter should be directed to crazykinux@gmail.com. Check for other EVE Blog Banter articles at the bottom of this post!

This month topic is brought to us by L'Dene Bean of Nitpickin's who asks: Why, and how did you pick your corporation? Is your loyalty solid or just until a better placed organization "recruits" you. The shorter version: Who holds your Unshakable Fealty and why?


I am proud to say that my loyalty to Greenbeard's Freebooters is nearly seven-and-a-half years strong.

For pretty much the entirety of the existence of EVE Online, Seismic Stan has been a member (and currently CEO) of Greenbeard's Freebooters. It's become a badge of honour as I would imagine it's fairly rare to see a character in-game so old with only a single corporate affiliation. On a related note, Greenbeard himself has exhibited significantly less devotion to his own organisation, which is why his official title has for a long time been 'scurvy turncoat'.

Undoubtedly, it has on occasion become restrictive. There have been times when I have been tempted by other offers and the final decision has come down to my unwillingness to ruin my unbroken streak. You may think such blind loyalty is stupid, and to an extent you're probably right, but there is one simple reason for my unswerving fealty.

Trust.

In a game whose developers appear to delight in coaxing the darkest and most sociopathic deeds from it's playerbase in an environment that actively encourages duplicity, deception and theft, creating an island of trust is priceless. Greenbeard's Freebooters is a corporation comprising only real-life friends of over two-decades and this creates a fundamental bond of trust that protects us from and trivialises any EVE-based maliciousness.

For a time though, it wasn't always that way. Greenbeard's Freebooters was originally created in 2003 as an 'alt-corp'. The corporation's primary purpose was to allow players from a number of allied corporations (anyone still out there from Arachnid Industries, Blackstar Mining or Beyond Worlds?), to occasionally do shady things with backup characters without any detriment to our mains (with whom we'd be busy mining, manufacturing, missioning and all other things carebear). I have faint memories of assorted griefing and harassment activities that took place with varying degrees of success.

However as time progressed and players came and went, our taste in play-styles shifted. With every expansion New Eden evolved, rules changed, alliances rose and fell, agreements were forgotten and somewhere along the way our alts became our mains. It was never really by design, but only those of us who knew each other in real-life remained. After a period of inactivity we returned to New Eden and it turned out that playing the roles of a rag-tag bunch of ne'er-do-well space bums was just far more fun than dull rock-mining industrialists.

We've stumbled along quite happily ever since, the only flaw with our insular little EVE bubble is just that, it's a little insular. Which is nice for the most part, but EVE is a social game where numbers count so sometimes it's good to have some friends. We've attempted to remedy this on a couple of occasions by joining alliances, but for reasons documented elsewhere on this blog, it's never quite worked out for us.

So we're going to try a different tack and attempt to expand Greenbeard's Freebooters, throwing open the doors of active recruitment for the first time in over half a decade. We'll be looking for just a few folk who don't take their EVE gaming too seriously, aren't easily offended and think that they could fit in with the Freebooters. We have just rejoined Factional Warfare under the Amarrian flag and as we're UK-based, our EVE prime-time is 1900-2300 EVEtime, which would be the most likely time we'd get a squad together.

If you think you fit the bill, drop into the OLD POND PUB channel for more details. Feel free to chat to the folks in there. Most of them won't be any help, but they're quite funny.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Social Clones


"Aha! I can feel the problem."

The CloneTech engineer was squatting with his arm plunged up to the shoulder into an access valve in a thick plasteel pipe, "Unprocessed biomass material blocking the filter." He was staring into the middle distance as he spoke, concentrating on the movement of his unseen fingers, but his words were presumably for the benefit of the trainee engineer standing awkwardly nearby.

"Ya see," continued the elder man, "you can stare at diagnostic readouts and quote optimum mixture ratios all day..." There was a throaty gurgle as fluid drained from somewhere to somewhere else within the dark chamber of metal cylinders and interconnecting pipes. "But sometimes there's no substitute for getting your hands dirty."

He withdrew his arm from the pipe with a squelch, stood triumphantly and handed something to his subordinate. The trainee took it without thinking and instantly regretted it. He looked down at the cold, wet mass in his hand: matted hair, rotting fatty tissue, bone fragments and ... was that an eyeball? He gagged as he poured the grue into a nearby bucket. The engineer continued,

"Not been serviced for months. That's the problem with these budget-end clone-formers. The capsuleers buy em in for their entertainment industry then just expect it all to work indefinitely."

He idly cleaned biomass slime from his arm as he stared around at the dizzying network of tubes and vats surrounding them. "They operate on the principle of reusable biomass but sometimes bits clot quicker than the anticoag filters can deal with." He tossed his dirty rag into the junior engineer's bucket. "Now close that access port and purge the system through."

As the apprentice followed his instructions and entered the appropriate commands into the portable control terminal, he offered a query;

"What I don't get Guv, is that this cloning array is property of a corporation of five capsuleers. But the logs show they are outputting over fifty clones per week. Are they committing suicide after every meal or something?"

There was a hiss and rumble as machinery juddered to life and the purging process began.

"Don't be simple, boy." the senior man mocked, "They not teach you anything at Tech School anymore? These are just 'social' clones."

The younger man looked blank. "Social clones?"

"Yeah. These are far lower quality than the actual clones that capsuleers spend most of their lives in. They've got lots of limitations, like range and lifespan. They just use these as extensions so they can effectively be in more than one place."

The trainee frowned, struggling with the concept. His mentor sighed and tried to explain again.

"Right, well you know that capsuleers use state-of-the-art cloning technology to enable them to survive the unsurvivable, don't you? Good. And that when they're controlling their ships from their pods, they do it with their minds? Okay."

"Well whilst they're doing all that they also have sophisticated ways of contacting each other. Sometimes they are physically in their pods for weeks or months, so they've devised a way of mentally stretching their legs and socialising. They have 'channels' that they meet up in to plan and discuss, or sometimes just to relax."

"You mean like a meeting room or a bar?"

"Exactly. But the clever thing is, they are still really in their pod, somewhere out in space, whilst at the same time, part of their consciousness is also controlling their social clone sitting having a beer and a chat."

"But surely that's dangerous. Their minds are controlling a battleship in combat whilst they're also drinking in a bar? That's just ridiculous."

"Oh I agree, but it happens. It's weird to see too. I've watched a capsuleer in a bar go from being all animated and talkative to suddenly shutting down, dead behind the eyes, cos the main consciousness is needed elsewhere in some space battle or maybe in another channel. They can run multiple social clones in theory."

"Why don't they just talk to each other over subspace comms like normal people?"

"Well I'm sure they do that too, for fleet operations and stuff, but ya gotta remember, money is no object to them. Your year's salary in the currency of your home planet is probably less than one of their Interstellar Kredits." the engineer casually inspected a noisy pump as he spoke, before clubbing it into silent operation with a large wrench, "Besides, the social clone is just the bells-and-whistles option. Some podders stick to more basic holographic simulations, virtual reality client interfaces or even just a basic text interface. It's down to their personal preference. But most 'channels' provide an actual physical location to be populated and they have sophisticated wetware integration suites to allow every type of connection to link together."

"So you're saying the reason that this cloning facility is being pushed over capacity is because the capsuleer friends of this corporation might be flying a ship on the other side of the galaxy and just decide to pop in for a quick chat in a social clone which is then biomassed as soon as they're done with it?"

A series of amber lights on the terminal display suddenly blinked green as the purge cycle ended and the biomass recycling chamber returned to optimum functionality.

"Exactly. One minute they're discussing interplanetary politics, the next minute their big toe is in your bucket. It's a funny old world, eh? Shall we go to lunch?"

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Three Step Guide to Replacing Capsuleer Headlines

If you a reading this via Capsuleer on your iPhone, then this article is for you. Please read on.

As you're probably aware, the developers of Capsuleer will be shutting down their servers on 17th October, meaning that the headline pages will no longer be updated. I'm sure I speak for every writer in the Blog Pack when I say that we value your readership and we hope that you'll stick with us by other means. Some readers may already have other ways of accessing their favourite EVE blogs, but if Capsuleer was your only point of contact, don't worry. There is another way.

I've been researching iPhone alternatives based on the principle that you'll be wanting a replacement service that is as similar as possible to Capsuleer's Headlines function. So it needs to be free, convenient and simple. The hard truth is that it's not going to be as quite simple as Capsuleer to set up and there will be a bit of effort required on your part. However your efforts will be rewarded, because with just a smidge of admin work you could revolutionise your EVE reading habits forever.

The benefit of being released from the gentle restraints of Capsuleer's Headlines means that we are free to discover the myriad of other EVE blogs that are out there. The Blog Pack barely scratches the surface and I'm personally looking forward to exploring the 500+ other EVE blogs that I can now easily access from my iPhone.

Step 1 - Google Reader

Before you rush off to the app store, there is one unavoidable bit of maintenance that is needed. It seems that having a Google account is a requirement for pretty much every iPhone blog-reading app, as they all rely on Google Reader to manage your blog subscriptions (RSS Runner does allow for direct 'OPML' inputs, but it was really unintuitive and I found managing my blog-feeds via Google Reader to be much less frustrating).

If you haven't already got a Google account, it's totally painless and takes only seconds to register. Go here to set up an account now.

Step 2 - Manage Your Subscriptions

Once you're logged into your Google Reader account, you'll want to add some subscriptions. If you just want to stick with Crazy Kinux's Blog Pack, click here, however you can add the whole kit-and-caboodle of currently (October 2010) active EVE blogs, courtesy of Keith Neilson, by clicking here. CCP News and forum feeds can be added by clicking here.

I'm sure some enterprising individual will enjoy bundling them into themed packs to make them more manageable, but that is beyond the remit of this post. I'm sure there's a way to organise them through either Google Reader or your chosen iPhone app. I'm just opening the door; it is you, gentle reader, that must step through it.

Step 3 - Download an Appropriate App.

There are a number of free apps that I've looked at and although I have yet to determine the pros and cons of each, you could try FeeddlerRSS, MobileRSS, NetNewsWire and RSS Runner. They all provide similar functions and I suspect the difference will be down to personal taste. Your chosen iPhone RSS reader will have a function allowing you to access your Google account, where it will automatically use your Google Reader subscription data to download all those delicious blogs to your iPhone.

That's it. Welcome to your new, fully customisable EVE Online Headlines app.

Useful links:

The Blogs of EVE Online (OPML bundles)
OPML Builder

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

The Final Score: AWA vs WACK0

Following the previous post regarding the our brief membership of the Art of War alliance and their war with the Clinically Insane Carebears corporation, I received word that the conflict was imminently coming to an end. I was interested in finding out how things had transpired. I managed to catch up with Art of War Executor Alexia Morgan in the EVE-BLOGGERS channel.

Seismic Stan: Huzzah.
Alexia Morgan: o/
Seismic Stan: Aah, Alex. Apologies if the tone of my blogpost seemed bitter toward you. That isn't the case.
Alexia Morgan: it's ok :)
Seismic Stan: Cool.
Alexia Morgan: Are you joining the alliance again?
Mike Azariah: o/
Seismic Stan: Dunno. I don't know that the others are all that keen.
Alexia Morgan: hi MA
Mike Azariah: Heyas AM
Seismic Stan: Wotcha Mike
Mike Azariah: You approve Jiorj yet?
Alexia Morgan: You know, a spy corp would say "Yeh, I was interested before the war, but now I'm not so interested..."
Alexia Morgan grins
Seismic Stan: lol
Seismic Stan: Bastid.
Seismic Stan: I'm doomed.
Alexia Morgan: yep ;)
Seismic Stan: So now the war is over, how did it all pan out? Were there any good engagements? Can you discuss it here?
Alexia Morgan: The war was public, and the results so far are here [OUCH/AWA campaign killboard].
Alexia Morgan: the war ends in about 12-13 hours
Seismic Stan: A close-run thing then.
Alexia Morgan: We're within 70 million ISK of them. Considering we killed some of their T2 ships, and we're relatively even in kills/losses, and their 10 week war was ended within 2 weeks, would it be wrong of me to think we won? :)
Alexia Morgan: Also, every day of the war leading up to you and the other corp being kicked out, the enemy CEO gloated about his spies in the alliance. As soon as I got rid of the corps I had suspicions about, the gloating stopped.
Seismic Stan: That's something. The gloating was annoying me. Very much "hey look how clever we are.", when it really wasn't.
Mike Azariah: The only reason to brag about intelligence is when you haven't got any.
Seismic Stan: I agree Mike, which was the point I made just before we got shown the door.
Mike Azariah: But you always have to see it from the [perspective of the] person holding the door, as well.
Seismic Stan: It does indeed look like you played it right.
Mike Azariah: If you are leaking intel, you leak stopped. [?]
Alexia Morgan: yeh
Seismic Stan: Like I said at the time and in my post, I totally understood the decision and the results entirely vindicate you. But it was still a bit of a disappointment for us.
Seismic Stan: Especially as we were innocent.
Seismic Stan: So it just felt a bit injust. Bigger picture aside.
Seismic Stan: But bruised egos heal.
Alexia Morgan: I'm sorry your ego was bruised.
Alexia Morgan: would you like me to deliver a toolbox to you?
Seismic Stan: Don't worry, it's a big ego. It can take some bruising.
Seismic Stan: I think I'll email Doxana and Dead Ratt to see if I can provoke some kind of response.
Seismic Stan: Given my neutral position, the public have a right to know. :)
Alexia Morgan: You're going to too much effort.
Seismic Stan: You think? How so?
Alexia Morgan: Your involvement was peripheral, but you're making it a huge thing.
Alexia Morgan: And you spend a great deal of time and effort in trying to convince everyone you weren't a spy.
Alexia Morgan: Get my drift?
Seismic Stan: From your perspective perhaps. Whether I was/am considered a spy is of no consequence to me [any more]. My first priority is to the blog. If I can squeeze an interesting story out of an event, I will.
Alexia Morgan: :)
Seismic Stan: I can only talk about the aspects that I was involved in, so of course it's going to be biased toward my perspective. Unless you care to offer another perspective?
Alexia Morgan: I've already given you my perspective in the statements I've made in the past 5-10 mins.
Alexia Morgan: :)
Seismic Stan: True.
Seismic Stan: Would you mind if I used some of it in a follow-up post?
Alexia Morgan: go for it
Seismic Stan: Cheers.

So there it is, an impromptu interview from the questionably victorious executor of Art of War, Alexia Morgan. Despite Alex's concerns I did e-mail Doxana and it really wasn't that much effort. This was the response:

Greetings,

Regretfully our contractor did not fullfill an extension payment for the war on time so we retracted the declaration of war. The war itself was fairly uneventful. A few small skirmishes at best. As far as breaches in security and spies go, they are a common occurance in EVE and should be utilized in every avaliable situation. I do have to give a bit of credit to some of our counterparts though. They did try to put up a little defense and that says a lot. Until the next time out paths cross should the need ever arise fly free...

Dox

Here is the Clinically Insane Carebears campaign killboard, for reference.

It seems that the 'at-a-glance' method of determining victory is by comparing the value of ships lost to ships killed. It is interesting to note the difference in recorded values between the killboards of the two organisations. Art of War's statistics makes it 492.88M isk (14 ships) destroyed to 537.38M isk (16 ships) lost, making the Carebears victors by a narrow margin of 44.5 million isk. Whereas the Carebears have it at 396.73M isk (14 ships) lost to 747.87M isk (20 ships) destroyed, a much more flattering victory margin of 351.14 million isk.

The two killboards agree on the number of Carebear vessels destroyed, but not on their value, and much of the remaining disparity comes from the Carebears crafty inclusion of losses sustained by Arctic Prestige, the other corporation ejected from Art of War under suspicion of espionage (you know, the ones that actually did the spying).

In any case, it seems that despite the events leading up to the war, the combatants have all come away from the engagement fairly satisfied.

EVE really is a strange place and it's denizens even stranger.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Art of War: A Week of Deceit

Alliances do not seem to agree with us at Greenbeard's Freebooters, as we've just managed to smash our previous record of shortest-tenure-in-an-alliance-through-no-choice-of-our-own. The Gods of the Void have decided the Freebooters are once again to forge their way alone in New Eden. Here's how it happened:

Being residents of low-security space, we quite like the idea of a bit of PvP from time to time. But being a small corporation of four active pilots, we would often find ourselves facing overwhelming numbers. So we decided joining an alliance might give us the opportunity to engage in some small fleet combat more regularly.

It fell to me to research our options with the following basic criteria;
  • We would like to be able to participate in an active community in a variety of fleet operations, particularly PvP.
  • We would maintain the integrity of Greenbeard's Freebooters and would not be asked to merge with another corp.
  • We would not have to move our HQ and Industrial interests from the Derelik region.
With his in mind, there were several options that were attractive, although corporation size tended to be a bit of a sticking point with the more established alliances. However, one particular alliance stood out.

Art of War had sprung up around Black Claw's Open University of Celestial Hardship training corporation. They comprised a number of small corporations, the whole concept of the alliance was PvP-focused and they operated five jumps from our home system. It was perfect. One brief chat later and our application was in.

After that began our slow descent into mistrust, deceit and betrayal. Read on and decide for yourself:

Day 1 - Giving the Wrong Impression

Our first day of membership saw me attempting to encourage my new alliance colleagues to assist me with a potentially profitable low-sec exploration site, but my candour was misinterpreted as a possible scam and the help I sought was not offered. I covered this incident in more detail in the blogpost 'Who's Running the Asylum'.

Day 2 - Moving in

In an effort to foster some kind of bond with our new alliance colleagues, I spent some time trying in vain to find any kind of fleet or activity to participate in. Nothing seemed to be happening so instead I focused on moving a variety of PvP-fit ships over to a more usefully-located system for future involvement in alliance operations.

I was concerned I was going to look like a bit of a lemon when the other Freebooters came online to find nothing but tumbleweed and dust-devils where there should be a thriving alliance community. Joining was my decision, after all.

Day 3 - The Meet & Greet Fleet

I had arranged to meet the other Freebooters online in the evening so I spent the afternoon attempting to gather interest in some kind of alliance activity. It soon became clear that I needed to take the bull by the horns and set up a Meet & Greet fleet, where myself (flying a Blackbird), Greenbeard (Rupture) and Long Jack (in an overweight Punisher with the agility of a battleship) planned to take a tour of the systems frequented by Art of War in an effort to fly with some of our new alliance colleagues.

Things seemed to be looking up when we were joined by nightshadow25 (in a Thrasher), HoboHansi (Rifter), Dead Ratt (Rifter) and Samuel Hudson (Rifter). I had hoped one of the alliance veterans might take command of the fleet, but sadly no-one was available, so it was down to my inexperienced FCing abilities.

Greenbeard left the fleet a short time later as one of the younger and over-enthusiastic OUCH pilots was becoming increasingly annoying on comms. Greenbeard has many good qualities, but he can't abide any more idiots than the ones he's already stuck with, so he took the diplomatic and less torturous option of spending the evening stroking his face with a cheese-grater.

Due to the fragile nature of our ships, the remainder of us were restricted to trawling the belts for possible combat opportunities, but for over an hour we failed to find a single target of opportunity in numerous systems. When we arrived in Irshah, the Local channel was fairly well populated, so potential targets were surely available.

Dead Ratt, who seemed quite experienced and knowledgable, suggested sending frigates out to scout. I agreed and off they went. Within a (very) short time, Dead Ratt discovered a Maller in a belt in Irshah. I held the squad at a safe-spot until Dead Ratt confirmed tackle, which seemed to take a long time (something about having to close a 50km gap), then we warped in.

The Maller had a very good armour tank and our combined DPS was looking insufficient to the task when suddenly a host of reds (Blackbird x2, Stabber, Thrasher x3, Rifter x2, Kestrel) warped in to support him. Realising it was a trap I attempted to warp the fleet away to safety but unfortunately some of our pilots were already scrambled.

We lost all three of our Rifters, but the rest of us were able to limp away to safety, even Long Jack's fat Punisher. We waited out our Global Criminal Countdown timers and retreated to safer systems.

So far, so ordinary.

But...

Day 4 - War!

I logged in to find that the amusingly titled Clinically Insane Carebears had declared war on Art of War Alliance. It was an interesting turn-up, but given the difficulties we'd had finding PvP so far, it wasn't an entirely unwelcome turn of events. A quick bit of research showed that they had a membership of 60-odd and their description suggested they were a 'griefer corp':

"We are the outcasts of society. You know the ones I am talking about the nerds, geeks, freaks, and spazzes. We are the people everyone talks about behind their backs. We are the people that nobody can stand to be aroud. We are just plain old mean and nasty people. We get our staisfaction by making others miserable. We frame our hate mails to admire for a later date. We do have one good quality though. We treat everyone equally. Why do we do this being that we are mean and nasty people? Its really simple, WE HATE EVERYONE EQUALLY. So please keep the hate mails coming because we will never stop. We will just rejoice in your pain and suffering.

Love and Kisses,
The WACK0's Crew"


Entertainingly sociopathic, but it didn't sound like they we're all that interested in a fair fight. Oh well, beggars can't be choosers.

More interesting, however, was the fact that it turned out that our combat engagement the previous day had been against the very same corporation.

Oops, did I just start a war?

Feeling a bit responsible (although oddly pleased), I though I ought to provide details about our engagement from the previous day. I wrote a brief 'After Action Report' and posted it to the Art of War forum. A section had sprung up for all information concerning the War Declaration, with intel and discussions of war-time procedure and the like.

I read through some guidance notes posted by Black Claw containing suggestions on how to conduct normal business during a wardec, with recommendations to pack up POSs and only use alts for hauling etc. Fairly sensible and obvious stuff, but as it was a training organisation I suppose some newer players might not have been quite so aware of the risks. Instead, I decided to remove the more valuable structures from our POS whilst onlining some more defences and otherwise continued about my low-sec business as normal.

Day 5 - the Art of War Preparation

As intel continued to be gathered on the forums, I spent some time adding all known War Targets to my watch list. At least this way it would be easier to determine their peak activity times.

Of particular interest was a forum post detailing a recent chatlog between OUCH pilot Ximune and enemy CEO Doxana. In it, Doxana claimed that the reason for the war declaration was due to a multi-billion isk contract from a disgruntled third party whose offlined POS had recently been destroyed by an Art of War fleet. She claimed that the billions paid would fund a war for at least 10 weeks.

I considered this but her claims seemed very unlikely to me. The POS bash had taken place prior to Greenbeard's Freebooters joining Art of War, but apparently the value of the POS was significantly less than the payment claimed by Doxana. Additionally, the POS was offlined so the owner either didn't care about it or couldn't afford to run it. I posted a response suggesting that if the enemy CEO was so forthcoming with this information, it is most likely misdirection.

Later that day, an in-game chat with Alexia Morgan revealed that there were suspicions that one of the pilots that was on our Day-3 roam was a spy. As soon as it was suggested, it made sense to me. Dead Ratt had joined our squad quite late in the proceedings, by way of being a friend/corp-mate of nightshadow25's. It was Dead Ratt who had suggested a change in procedure on arrival in Irshah where he subsequently discovered the Maller. Although his was one of the ships destroyed in the ensuing trap, the killmail spoke volumes. His rifter was only fitted with 3 basic 200mm autocannon Is. Nothing at all in the mid- or low-slots. He clearly expected not to survive the roam.

Embarrassingly, what was worse was that after the engagement I had sent an e-mail to Dead Ratt thanking him for being "the voice of reason and experience" on comms. Looking back, whether his corpmate nightshadow25 was also in on the deception I am unsure. I spent some time after the combat on the alliance Teamspeak server talking with nightshadow about ship fittings and the use of EFT (he claimed to have never used it). An attempt at intel gathering perhaps, or just being sociable? Who knows.

Day 6 - the Art of War Avoidance

I received this rather smug and self-satisfied e-mail from Doxana, CEO of the Clinically Insane Carebears:

"Wrong Reasons Given

Greetings,
Although your forum post was put together very well it was way off base. We were contracted to war dec you and have been watching all of your movements for over a month. Yes you are right to assume you are infiltrated because you are. Your roam the other day was a mere coincidence. But just so the record is straight this war will last a minimum of 10 weeks with an optional 10 week renewal policy for the contractor. Just so you dont think I am blowing smoke here is an example.

[the entirety of my After Action Report from the Art of War forums was attached]"


It was clearly an attempt to be an unsettling influence. Personally I can't be bothered with meta-gaming, which is presumably what this was, but Doxana seemed to be enjoying herself.

Having read it, I resisted the temptation to send a reply as I didn't want to give Doxana the satisfaction. Instead, I forwarded it to Black Claw/Alexia Morgan to see what he made of it. But apparently, I was not alone in receiving similar e-mails and it seemed that they had worked as intended. As soon as I returned to my Inbox, I found this message from Alexia Morgan:

"It is with Regret...

Unfortunately, I am going to have to remove your corp from the alliance, effective immediately.
Please understand that this is not about you, but about the security of the alliance. This war started after your corp recently joined us, and I am forced to enact security measures to reduce the effect that spies might have on the alliance while it is at war. (Your corp is not the only corp I am removing from the alliance.) You will be welcome to re-join the alliance after the war ends, and I hope you can understand my reasoning for doing this. Please note there is a 24-hour period during which time you will still be involved in the war. One of the bonuses to this action is that after the 24 hours you will not be subject to the war, and will be able to return to an element of safety in highsec. I hope you decide to rejoin us after the war ends.

Kind regards

Alexia Morgan
Executor of the Art of War Alliance"


So that was that. My access to alliance forums had already been revoked, I could no longer access the majority of OUCH/Art of War's in-game channels and I assume I could no longer access the Teamspeak server. I didn't bother trying.

A day or so later, nightshadow25 appeared in our OLD POND PUB channel to tell me that Doxana wanted to speak with me. She joined the channel and essentially invited us to join her in the conflict against Art of War. As disgruntled as I was, I found her conduct to be quite distasteful and I had no desire to be seen as a turncoat, so I declined. During the conversation she would not be drawn on whether Dead Ratt or nightshadow25 were her spies, but nightshadow25 was apparently "considering joining them". Nuff said methinks.

In Conclusion

These events took place a couple of weeks ago, so I've no doubt there have been developments since although I have no idea what they might be. However the Clinically Insane Carebears had taken huge strides toward victory without a shot being fired. Through underhandedness and infiltration they had convinced Art of War alliance to thin their own numbers and effectively weaken themselves.

With regard to meta-gaming, although on one hand there is an admirable amount of planning that must go into this kind of subterfuge, I have to say I find it all a bit distasteful and pointless. The only outcome for my corporation was a complete lack of the PvP that we were seeking in the first place. Surely this kind of conduct just creates ever-decreasing circles of suspicion leading to more and more gameplay disconnects.

When did betrayal become a form of entertainment?

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Miss New Eden Beauty Contest

The Singularity test server has recently been updated with the basics of the new avatar editor. Although currently unfinished it certainly looks like it has the potential to be quite powerful and the results are absolutely stunning.

I failed at several attempts at replicating Seismic Stan to my satisfaction, largely due to the lack of suitable hair options for the Brutor male. I found it both fascinating and disturbing that the character looks around and blinks whilst you're customising them.

Seismic version two?

As you can see, he looks very little like the fellow on the right of the header at the top of the page. However, there are many features still to be introduced and a lot of the character details had WIP (work in progress) clearly stamped on them.

Instead, I thought I'd experiment with different racial archetypes. I'll hand you over to our drooling compere for further details.

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Welcome, ladies and gentlemen to Miss New Eden 112, brought to you by our sponsors; F&G Customisations and Sansha's Salads.

First up is Miss Caldari. She's of Achuran decent and like most Caldari, was more interested in getting back to her work than for posing for us. She isn't a great fan of makeup and steadfastly refused to do anything fancy with her hair. She hopes to qualify as an engineer in the Caldari Navy and is currently studying when she's not working as a mechanic's apprentice.

Miss Caldari (Achuran)

Our second beauty hails from Amarr. She went to great lengths to ensure we were aware of her unbroken and pure Amarrian lineage before insisting that only her own slaves be allowed to touch her hair. Her ambitions are to promote God's word and to do good deeds in his name (or at least get her slaves to do good deeds on her behalf).

Miss Amarr (Amarr)

Miss Minmatar is our next entrant. She's a proud Brutor and when she's not working as a news-reader for her local radio station, she trains animals. She has a great love of culture and hopes one day to see all slavery abolished in Amarr. Her favourite colour is purple.

Miss Minmatar (Brutor)

Our final competitor is Miss Gallente. She's of Jin-Mei decent but lives on Caille where she helps to run her father's boutique business. She enjoys partying and "having a good time" but would like to be a movie star and a singer/songwriter. She refuses to wear trousers, stating "If you've got it, flaunt it".

Miss Gallente (Jin-Mei)

Please send in your votes, although all of our ladies are lovely, there can only be one winner.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Capsuleer is a Vital Gear in the EVE Community Machine

Capsuleer is shutting down. It shouldn't.

I don't know about you, but for the last year my EVE experience has been greatly enhanced by the Capsuleer iPhone app. Through it's slick interface it has allowed me to pontificate and plan my character skills and it's Headlines function has provided me with a great reading source for long journeys (and other 'sitting-down' activities) and a way of keeping up-to-date with all things New Eden.

More importantly, Capsuleer was my gateway to the wider EVE community. Without it, I would not have become aware of the vast blogging community that it revealed to me. Through the discovery of the myriad of articles and discussions that Capsuleer linked me to, I learned and discovered many other great applications and websites that have become key to my EVE experience. I have no doubt that Capsuleer was the seed, the catalyst and the path to the many other wonders of the EVE community.

I am not sure exactly what, if anything, can save Capsuleer now.

But I feel I owe a debt to try. I may not have discovered the Blog Pack, nor been inspired to start this blog were it not for Capsuleer. I was subsequently fortunate enough to be invited to join the Blog Pack and I have been grateful for the exposure that Capsuleer has provided as a result.

I do not claim to understand the reasons behind the announced closure of Capsuleer. The official statement can be read here. It is not my place to try to second guess motives, nor is it important. What is important is the impact that Capsuleer's end will have on the EVE community.

Perhaps it is too little, too late, but I would like to express my immense gratitude to PyjamaSam and Roc Weiler for providing such a great tool. Although your statement does have a ring of finality to it, I hope that the community reaction might give you cause to reconsider.

Nashh Kadavr has started a petition to save Capsuleer, please take the time to go HERE and sign it.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

BB21: Low-Sec - If it Ain't Broke, Introduce a Law-man

Welcome to the twenty-first installment of the EVE Blog Banter, the monthly EVE Online blogging extravaganza created by CrazyKinux. The EVE Blog Banter involves an enthusiastic group of gaming bloggers, a common topic within the realm of EVE Online, and a week to post articles pertaining to the said topic. The resulting articles can either be short or quite extensive, either funny or dead serious, but are always a great fun to read! Any questions about the EVE Blog Banter should be directed to crazykinux@gmail.com. Check for other EVE Blog Banter articles at the bottom of this post!
This month topic comes to us from @ZoneGhost who a few month ago asked "Is Low Sec the forgotten part of EVE Online?" Is it? I'd like us to explore this even further. Is Low Sec being treated differently by CCP Games than Null Sec (Zero-Zero) or Empire space is? Can one successfully make a living in these unsecured systems where neither Alliance nor Concord roam to enforce their laws? What's needed? Or is everything fine as it is?


What is low-sec? Why does it exist? Why do people claim it is broken? How can it be improved?

THE LOW-SEC BACKSTORY


From a narrative perspective, low-sec is puzzling. In storyline terms low-security systems fit into New Eden as areas of space claimed by one of the major NPC factions, yet they are effectively unpoliced. I have thus far been unable to determine a reason for this; factional enforcement and CONCORD resources appear pretty limitless in high-security space. What is stopping them from travelling that extra jump or two?

For my sanity I am going to assume that it is an economic and political issue, with low-security regions containing worlds that contribute to the galactic economy but not to a degree that justifies any security greater than the few cannons necessary to protect the stargates and orbital station infrastructure.

HOW IT WORKS, HOW IT DOESN'T

In gameplay terms, this means that any pilot who behaves aggressively will be spared a good CONCORDokkening, but they will still incur the wrath of any nearby gate or station weapons. This results in enough incoming firepower to make short work of any frigate or cruiser, however battlecruisers and battleships can be fitted to withstand the salvos. This serves to create a very specific environment wherein any combat in the vicinity of a gate or station can only be instigated by the larger vessels, with frigates and cruiser pilots being relegated to patrol gun-free asteroid belts.

This seems restrictive, severely damaging the versatility and variety of engagements that could happen in low-sec. Given that null-sec is the domain of the bubble, the bomb and the blob, surely low-sec exists to provide alternative mechanics and tactics to PvP combat. Since high-sec is effectively a non-combat zone, why is it so difficult and expensive to have varied small-gang combat in low-sec?

THE RESIDENT'S VIEW

I have given some thought to this and perhaps the current mechanics exist not only to facilitate a more guerilla style of combat, but to ensure that those seeking to travel through without a fight have a chance. As an occasional industrialist, I am grateful that the current mechanics ensure low-sec gates are thankfully free of fast-locking frigate tacklers. It makes me wonder what type of players are dissatisfied with low-sec in its current form. Is it simply those who are looking for an extra advantage? Or am I missing a fundamental flaw?

We Freebooters live in low-security space. Not because there are any particular benefits, I think it suits us. It is certainly more exciting than high-sec and doesn't require us to be in an alliance as null-sec survival would demand. In high-sec an industrial run for more POS fuel would be a low-risk chore. The same activity in low-sec suddenly becomes an adrenaline-fuelled twitch-fest as you assume that everyone in local is actively looking for you. Low-sec exploration is nerve-jangling but potentially rewarding too as, I'm sure, are many other things that are soporific in high-sec.

I think the point of low-sec comes down to asking yourself why you play EVE - are you looking for excitement and fun or do you just want to watch pretend money in a fictional bank account slowly grow?

THE ANSWER?

So my direct answer to the Blog Banter question of "Is Low-Sec the forgotten part of EVE Online?" is this: Not really. Low-sec is no more or less 'forgotten' than many other aspects of EVE. Low-sec mechanics exist as they do for a reason and it's current iteration facilitates the styles of play that currently go on there. Any change to these mechanics might fundamentally unbalance gameplay styles and behaviours as they are.

This is not to say that it could not be improved, but I would not advocate a 'rip-it-out-and-start-again' mentality and would rather see things developed and enhanced.

PROVIDING THE 'LOW' SECURITY

I think one of the chief downsides to living in low-sec is the lack of community. There is nothing to encourage any exchange between residents beyond weapons-fire. In some respects this is part of the charm of low-sec, but within the unfriendly emptiness of low-sec, there are population clusters. I would like to see these given the opportunity to develop.

A mechanic could be introduced to encourage co-operation within these population clusters and allow them to provide their own security. Think wild-west frontier towns with it's sherriff and deputies. Although far removed from any support, the sheriff would have some powers to assist in the day-to-day policing of his township and outlying homesteads. This would clearly be open to corruption, some communities might find themselves in the grip of a tyrannical gang, whilst others might have benevolent protectors. You never know, it might encourage a few poachers-turned-gamekeepers. That is the fickle nature of EVE.

What follows is a fictional game design mechanic that I would love to see in-game.

A New Skill

Skill: Local Law Enforcement
Description: The understanding, administration and enforcement of local laws.

4% per level increase to security status increase per pirate head.
4% per level decrease to security status per infraction.

Prerequisites: Social V
+ DED Connections IV

DED Licensing Agents

DED Licensing Agents have been positioned at various stations in low-security systems in order to facilitate the employment of local Law Enforcement Officers. DED personnel that have been assigned these undesirable posts realise applicants are not always of the highest calibre and their recruitment standards are varied, however the following criteria must be met by capsuleers seeking A DED Law Enforcement License.

Local Law Enforcement Skill: Level according to system security applied for.
Security Status: Minimum -5.00 (some agents may expect better)


System Security Level 0.1 : Min. Req. Sec. Status -5.00 : Local Law Enforcement IV
System Security Level 0.2 : Min. Req. Sec. Status -4.00 : Local Law Enforcement III
System Security Level 0.3 : Min. Req. Sec. Status -3.00 : Local Law Enforcement II
System Security Level 0.4 : Min. Req. Sec. Status -2.00 : Local Law Enforcement I

Faction Standing: Varies
Corporation Office: The applicant must be the member of a corporation currently renting an office in the system in question.

The Local Law Enforcement Licence

The holder of this licence has been recognised by CONCORD, DED and all associated organisations as an individual of good character capable of upholding the law within the boundaries of appropriate jurisdiction.
  • Whilst operating within the bounds of jurisdiction (ie. the licence-holder's home system), gate and station weaponry will not fire upon any ship piloted by the individual. Furthermore, the license holder will incur no security status loss nor criminal countdowns for initiating combat within the system of jurisdiction (these bonuses are invalidated if fleeted with any unlicensed pilots).
  • The license-holder will have access to a secure constellation-wide Law Enforcement channel to assist in communications between local LEOs.
  • A LLE licence-holder with a Security Status of +4.5 or higher and Local Law Enforcement V can apply for an extended licence with constellation-wide jurisdiction.
The principle behind this mechanic is to provide some small advantage to local residents in combating the criminal element. It would allow the specialised use of frigates and cruisers at gates and stations. It also provides an additional mechanic to allow the recovery of security status for reforming criminals.

This is clearly a quickly thought-out draft that has evolved as I've written it and probably has some quite glaring flaws, but I am enthusiastic about the potential that such a system could bring to low-sec. The concept needs tweaking, but the fundamental concept is there. Further scrutiny is required to consider how it would be abused and whether adjustments should be made to prevent that. For example, there is little doubt that some pirates would create a Law-Enforcement alt to act as an interceptor in their pirate gatecamp. Should a mechanic be introduced to prevent that? How?

I believe a mechanic like this would make low-sec more exciting, by creating a new career path and possibly making some areas more secure and attractive to carebears, therefore attracting more players to it. This would also make the pirates happy.

I'd be interested to receive feedback on this. If I can tidy it up a tad, I might throw it in the direction of Mynxee and her low-sec team. In fact, I might go put something on the Making Low Sec Matter Ideascale site right now. Come with me, I could use the backup.

Edit: I put an abridged version of the above concept on the Making Low Sec Matter Ideascale site. Go there, give the idea a thumbs up if you like it (We want Low-Sec LEOs). And maybe some others too. Then put one of your own.

Other Blogs Discussing This Issue:

  1. CrazyKinux's Musing: The Lure of the Wild
  2. Banter 15: Arr, Yer be talkin’ bout me lowsec | TheElitist
  3. Banter 21: Low-sec- Chocolate Heaven
  4. Subs' suds: Forever a noob in Eve: Low-Sec - the forgotten part of EVE Online
  5. Blog Banter XXI - Lo-sec = Low Priority? | I am Keith Neilson
  6. In the Ghetto | A Mule in EvE
  7. where the frack is my ship?: Blog Banter 21: What's good for the goose...
  8. Blog Banter #21: Change? | Sarnel Binora's Blog
  9. Low Sec = Wild West ~ Inner Sanctum of the Ninveah
  10. a merry life and a short one: Low Sec: I Wanna Talk to You
  11. Low Sec = No Sec | Diary of a Garbageman
  12. EVEOGANDA: Blog Banter 21: Friggin' Low Sec
  13. Drifting through the Stars: Blog Banter #21: Low-Sec - The Forgotten part of EVE Online
  14. Captain Serenity: Eve blog banter #21 - Low Sec, The Forgotten Part of Eve
  15. Low Sec: the Best part of EVE Online | Nitpickin's
  16. Aeroxe's Assault - “Is Low Sec the forgotten part of EVE Online?”
  17. Eve Blog Banter 21 | A Scientist's Life in Eve
  18. Latro's Bunker: Eve Blog Banter 21 - Low-sec
  19. A "CareBears" Journey » Blog Archive » EVE Blog Banter #21: The Low Sec Conundrum
  20. EVE Blog Banter 21: Low Security Space « The Nomadic Gamer
  21. EvE Blog Banter #21: Where Now?!? – EvE Blasphemy
  22. Low-security space is for people who care « EVE's parity bit
  23. More coming shortly...