Monday, 28 February 2011

BB25: Leviathans of the Deep

Welcome to the twenty-fifth 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's topic comes to us from @Tetraetc - "Tetra's EVE Blog" - who asks: "Have Alliances and the sovereignty system limited the amount of PVP and RP potential in Null sec? Imagine a Null Sec where anyone could build outposts wherever. Would the reduction of the alliance game mechanic, and the removal of the sovereignty game mechanics (or the modifcation of it from Alliance level to Corp level for that matter) force more PVP into Null sec, or would giant power blocs like the NC still form themselves?"

Null-sec is something to which I have had only limited exposure and I have zero first-hand experience of the sovereignty mechanics, so this topic presents something of a challenge to me. I suppose my honest answer to all of the questions posed would be 'I don't know'. However, just because I'm not a participant in the perpetual Alliance sovereignty wars, doesn't mean I have nothing to say on the matter.

For me, one of the things that gives EVE Online its depth is being able to look at the star-map and know that vast areas of it that I have never travelled to are home to thousands of capsuleers who would and could kill me on sight and any journey through null-sec is a real edge-of-the-seat experience as a result. More than any scripted game mechanic could provide, the true unpredictability and deadliness of those vast roaming fleets gives those null-sec regions a genuine 'here be monsters' feel.

Furthermore, reading reports of huge fleet clashes with crushing defeats and phyrric victories makes for immersive and world-enriching reading, more so because it really happens. It makes me proud. Odd, I know, but it's part of what makes EVE unique. Whereas other MMOs have to rely on scripted developer-instigated events in order to change the landscape of the world, our giant dragons are our own players. Although I concede that we've now got incursions too, which diminishes my argument somewhat but the point still stands.

The specifics of what drives the shifting forces of sovereignty-holding alliances are unknown to me, as is a grasp of the sovereignty mechanics. Judging by what I've read, large-scale conflict wouldn't appeal to me, with huge uniform fleets requiring specific ships and loadouts whose pilots are then funnelled into an area where the underpinning server technology is pushed beyond its limits, resulting in a sub-standard game experience. But there must be some positives too, as thousands of players regularly participate in such conflicts, and I am glad that they do. In the same way I watch the world news with equal parts interest and shock, safe in the knowledge that I'll never have to go to those war-torn or lawless countries, I can read about the latest power-shift in null-sec and all its ramifications with detached curiosity.

To address Tetra's final question about the formation of giant power blocs, I think that the 'emergent behaviour' caused by EVE's design certainly encourages the formation of large and complex organisations. The introduction of the alliance mechanic was as a result of this natural evolution of community, so it is not improbable that a Coalition mechanic may be introduced to support multi-alliance entities like the Northern Coalition. Veteran players may remember when the largest organisation supported within EVE's game design was the corporation. I remember with fondness and amusement my attempts to organise one of the first proto-alliances in 2003, before any proper support was available. The United Corporations Defence Organisation was an amusingly naive and unworkable concept at the time, barely held together by a rudimentary website, but the alliance/coalition principle was there. I think it shows that the evolution toward the formation of 'giant power blocs' is an inevitability in the race for power, protection and territory.

[On a side note, the UCDO link above includes a negotiation chatlog between an old alt of mine (Eidas) and a Fountain Alliance representative called Molle. Whether there is any connection to Sir Molle of BoB/IT fame I have no idea, but it amused me.You can read the conversation here.]

With all this in mind, whatever changes can be effected to improve the experience for the participants of SovWar should, of course, be supported, especially if it could make it more accessible to a broader player-base. However, I'm pretty ambivalent about it and I'm happy just to read from afar about the latest clash of the deep-space leviathans.

  1. Boom! Hull-Shot?: It's the End of the Eve as We Know It
  2. sered's lives: EVE Blog Banter #25 - Size does matter
  3. 25th EVE BB – Medieval Solutions to Spaceship Problems | Inventions of a New Eden Industrialist
  4. More to come...

Sunday, 27 February 2011

EVE Skills Redefined

Drones: The ability to go on and on in dull monotonous tones on voice-comms, much to the dismay of all other users.

Drone Navigation: The ability to get voice-over work for SatNav manufacturers, "After 6AU, at the third planet, turn left."

Cloaking: The skill of wielding a cloak theatrically. Often required for careers in villainy and opera phantoming.

Long Distance Jamming: The ability to play a musical instrument in synch with others over vast distances. Useful for band members who hate each other.

Multitasking: Something men can't do, so my wife tells me.

Survey: The skill of hanging around in shopping centres with a clipboard and asking inane questions to anyone stupid enough to make eye contact.

Target Painting: A skill required by dartboard manufacturers and really cheap gun clubs.

Signature Analysis: The skill of being able to tell whether that really is John Lennon's signature or if it's actually part of an old shopping list requiring you to buy a 'Jif lemon'.

Shield Compensation: Knowledge of the very specific field of law that provides maligned shields with the opportunity to seek reparations for undue loss of hitpoints and self-esteem. 

Tactical Shield Manipulation: A skill lawyers defending against shield compensation cases (see above) use to interrogate and discredit the claimant.

Controlled Bursts: A skill used by acne sufferers to alleviate pimple pressure.

Surgical Strike: A favoured skill of medical staff for use during pay disputes.

Motion Prediction: Having the foresight to know when to be near to a public convenience.

Refining: The ability to force the owner of an illegally parked vehicle to pay their fine twice. Useful in the ninja traffic warden career.

Mass Production: A skill favoured by ecclesiastical communities, enabling the organisation of impressive nativity plays during church services.

Jury Rigging: An illegal activity used to ensure a favourable result during legal trials. Stacks with Tactical Shield Manipulation during shield compensation claims.

Remote Sensing: A very useful skill enabling the relocation of the television control device that's probably down the back of the sofa.

Hacking: The ability to emit a harsh, dry cough on demand.

Research: The ability to search for something more than once in the same place. Great for lost car keys, but never makes them magically reappear in the place they should be no matter how many times you look.

Scientific Networking: The dubious ability to attend dull parties and make friends with people who spend far too much time staring into petri dishes.

Fast Talk: The skill of babbling like you've taken amphetamines. Or maybe it's the ability to take amphetamines. Nobody has ever been able to understand your explanation to be sure. You pill-head.

Assault Ships: The dubious act of punching and kicking large ocean-going vessels. It is unclear why people would want to learn to do this.

Battlecruisers: The ability to start conflicts with people attempting to solicit sexual favours in public places.

Mining Barge: A basic combat technique similar to a shoulder barge but performed with the aid of a pick-axe, often with spectacular results.

Contracting: The ability to shrink to impossibly small sizes. Also allows the user to catch diseases really easily.

[This post was inspired by a random chat in the OLD POND PUB in-game channel. With thanks to Vsmit for the inspiration. More contributions are welcome from readers, the sillier the better.]

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Iceland to Be Renamed 'New Eden'


[This article has been reproduced with the kind permission of Time Magazine and originally appeared in their June 2019 issue.]

The astounding rise of the once quiet northern european island nation of Iceland into a commercial superpower is to be celebrated in a 'renaming' ceremony held by the Icelandic government later this year. Iceland is to be renamed 'New Eden' in honour of entertainment industry juggernaught CCP's commercial achievements and service to their country and to the world.

An improbable story to be sure, but the contributions made by what started life as a modest, yet ambitious, games development studio aiming to provide an immersive online 'internet spaceship' experience cannot be overestimated. After an initial ten-year period in which they were considered niche and were overshadowed by then market leaders Blizzard, their enterprise and dedication to a truly open 'sandbox' experience eventually provided CCP with the platform to exceed their competitors and surge into other markets.

The appeal of their flagship product 'EVE Online' was infinitely broadened in 2011 by the introduction of real human avatars in the 'Incarna' revision of their futuristic world. After a low-key start, the then cutting-edge character creation and world interaction attracted an increasingly larger audience. The subsequent release of the initially console-only 'DUST 514' first person shooter enabled a further demographic to be drawn into the universe of New Eden. Utilising the same technology in 'World of Darkness', a gothic vampire MMO, continued to build the momentum. But the real masterstroke was the release of the Machinima toolkit that allowed users to make their own movies using the game worlds.

By 2013, the quality of user-created movies was often surpassing professionally-made television series and CCP found themselves courting the likes of James Cameron and J.J. Abrams. In 2014, the first EVE-based Hollywood movie, 'New Eden' won box-office acclaim (although purists claim that the entirely fan-made 'Clear Skies' television series, which aired on SyFy earlier the same year, was the real watershed) and cemented CCP's position as an entertainment superpower.

Meanwhile, with the explosion of interest in EVE Online and associated products, CCP's technological infrastructure was threatening to buckle. This gave rise to pioneering efforts in the field of technology and the invention of cold-fusion hyper-clusters, which was a quantum leap in the field of computing. This allowed for the millions of users to interact in a smooth virtual environment and finally eradicated the lag that had plagued busy game areas for years.

CCP's in-house technology team then went from strength-to-strength and the introduction of their retinal imaging projection systems in conjunction with Microsoft's Kinect technology allowed unprecedented levels of immersion. As well as revolutionising the entertainment viewing experience, by 2017 CCP was providing the 'de facto' standard total immersion social and business networking tools across the globe.

In 2018, the licencing of virtual real estate within EVE Online allowed the digital distribution of third party 'entertainment suites' - essentially games produced by third-party developers that were narratively consistent with EVE Online's universe - which gave birth to infinitely diverse 'cultures' on individual stations and planets. Player-run organisations within the universe could licence developers to practically build worlds for them. Many real-world corporations started to lay claim to systems and hire player alliances to protect the space above and defend their property on the surface beneath.

Today, in 2019, CCP stand literally and figuratively on top of the world. Iceland is now ranked as the 8th strongest economy in the world and is accredited with contributing to leading the world economy out of the austerity period. They continue to provide the most immersive science-fiction simulation available whilst simultaneously being major players in the technology and movie industries.

Whilst they have their detractors and some religious groups have expressed their objections to the renaming, there is no avoiding the fact that the future will be in New Eden.

And now the whole world is watching.