January 23, 2015

CSM Candidate Summaries: Part 1 of Many

CSM Election time is here again, and Cap Stable has taken on the incredible task of interviewing all of the candidates.  I'll go so far as to say if that a candidate hasn't appeared on Cap Stable by the time elections come, they aren't serious and don't deserve your vote.  Cap Stable has been keeping these interviews down to 30m or less, but if you want the even shorter version here is my opinionated summary.  I'll do them in batches as they roll through.  Edit: ... and by the time I've finished this one I'm already behind again!

Top Notch Candidates, put them on your ballot now

Sugar Kyle.  (Lowsec, Communication, New Players, Quality of Life, Small Group)
I put Sugar at the top of my ballot last year and I was not disappointed.  She has clearly been a stand-out star of CSM 9 for her work in providing transparency and communication from the CSM to the players, representing low-sec (my home), gathering player feedback for CSM, driving more minutes than many of her colleagues put together.  As a PVPer and an industrialist she has hands-on knowledge to improve many areas I care about. She's showing no sign of slowing down and that shows in the interview.  Even in this early stage of the campaign I can tell you she'll be on top of my ballot for CSM 10. I recommend that you listen to her interview and decide for yourself.  (Forum Thread)(Podcast)

June Ting. (Nullsec, New Players, Small Group)
Crisp.  Business-like.  Focused.  Damn well knows her shit.  That's my take-away from the interview with June Ting.  I was definitely impressed.  If you read her candidate thread you'll get the same focused feel.  Her candidacy is tied to Ali Aras and her decision not to run for CSM, and I think she's explained that well.  In the interview, notice how she repeats the question back to the interviewer before giving her answer.  You can just tell that she's taking notes as she goes, a professional quality that should work very well dialing in to conference calls with CCP.  When we players don't know a lot about a candidate it is these kinds of qualities that I think will hold up.  Her accomplishments with Of Sound Mind   (Forum Thread)(Podcast)

Solid Candidates, worthy of consideration

Borat Guereen.  (Small Group, French) His key driver is that solo and small group players should be able to own part of Eve.  The idea of a nomadic lifestyle play style is appealing.  His desire to move away from Eve as "a game of alts" resonates for me as a single-account player, but making all alts visibly linked to their mains doesn't seem like a great idea.  The idea of reducing the reach of the APIs seems like it would entire push us back to cache-scraping and/or cause us all to spend more time bopping between regions just to check on prices.  That doesn't seem like a great amount of fun.  As an American who is a French speaker and has spent much of his life in France he may also represent a good connection to an underrepresented player base - with a new localization pack no less.  I'm not terribly convinced by his position on CSM term limits - honestly they seem to burn out fast enough that it isn't a problem. (Forum thread) (Podcast)

Vic Jefferson. (Small Group, New Player, New Ideas) In terms of the general appeal for small gang and new players he is comparable to June Ting, but he suffers in that comparison in terms of focus and confidence. When asked about what he brings with his out of game sense he gives a nervous laugh - not a great selling point and reminds me of my "things not to do as a CSM candidate" from last year.  His appear for bottom-up income is great, but that's hardly an unusual position nowadays.  The idea of making the Pirate missions/LP more valuable I find appealing from a gameplay and lore point of view.  I'd recommend that if you find him interesting, do check out his forum thread for other interesting ideas such as the "HighSec Pirate ESS".  I expect his chances aren't that great given he's a GSF member who doesn't sound like he'll be on their ballot, and will be avoided by others because of that ticker.  (Forum thread)(Podcast)

Not worth your time, move along capsuleer

Xenuria.  (CSM Reform, grrrGoons) Look, he may be a sharp guy and all that, but he's buried under his tinfoil hat.  I'm no fan of GSF, but I honestly don't care about his Goon Agenda message.  Vote buying and people spinning up account just to vote?  Sure, I'm not a big fan but he offered zero in a way of how that should be countered by CCP.  It just sounds like this agenda would derail what I see as the real work of the CSM, which is making the game better. (Forum thread)(Podcast)

Jenshae Chiroptera.  (CSM Reform, Mining-v-Ganking) Key platforms are around CSM/voting reform and "fair fights." He describes positioning himself as a rival to Mittens - and that's a hard way to start convincing me you have a good grip of reality.  Carrying that to an idea of a "negative vote" really sounds like someone who hasn't thought things through - I'm not sure why he thinks that this would add anything, even after skimming over his comments on the forum thread. The call for a way for non-combat ships to defend themselves against combat ships doesn't really seem to make much balance sense, though the Rorqual as mobile POS could be an interesting launching point. (Forum thread)(Podcast)

January 18, 2015

Immersion and module tiericide

A brief post about immersion as it relates to the module tiericide.  The short version is that having odd and inexplicable names adds confusion, not immersion.  Using that as an excuse for removal of largely useless meta modules is a red herring.  So what should we be looking for?

Patterns contribute to immersion

If I come to be immersed in the game then the patterns in the in-game world become predictable because they seem like a real world.  This is built up from getting the details right and getting them consistent.  If I see that a new, unfamiliar ship is developed by CreoDron Shipyards and past experience has told me that CreoDron ships favor drones, then I'll expect that the new ship will be drone based. It adds to immersion if the game world continues to make sense.  If the world is generally consistent, then that opens the opportunity to go one step further and introduce the exception.  But if the world is full of exceptions then it's no longer a pattern, it's just confusion.  The exception has the potential to break us out of immersion and make us scratch our heads or just exclaim WTF?

Example from the Enyo: "Unlike most Gallente ship manufacturers, Roden Shipyards tend to favor missiles over drones and their ships generally possess stronger armor.  Their electronics capacity, however, tends to be weaker than ships from their competitors."  Even though the idea of Gallente missile-based ships has been fading for years now (perhaps only truly gone now with the Recon rebalance), this flavor text remains to trip up new players and break immersion.  Let's just hope that ISIS helps guide new Gallente players from training up their missile skills.

Extending Immersion in modules

So the next step would be to take the patterns that have been established, such as racial benefits in ships, and extend them to something like modules.  If we've already established that the premier Target Painting ships are Minmatar, then we'd expect that a Minmatar made faction-level module to be the premier in that class.  We can even go to have the Officer Module named after a Minmatar.  We'd expect the best stasis webifier to be Serpentis and the best Afterburner from Sansha.  Yes, there is plenty of room for rivalry too - perhaps the Angel Cartel is a close rival in propulsion to Sansha.  I hope I'm misreading the dev blogs, as they seem to imply a flattening of the faction modules rather than keeping a complexity that adds to immersion.

What we could see:
Afterburners - Sansha for highest speed, Minmatar for best fit at high levels of performance
Microwarp Drives - Angel Cartel with highest speed, leaving another for smallest signature
Warp Scramblers - Federation Navy with longest range, Serpentis remains with highest strength

Immersion supports Gameplay

We get benefits in gameplay primarily in understanding the game.  We don't get as many non-intuitive corner cases.  New players can pick up on how to play the game itself, rather than wading through oddball naming and inconsistent bonuses.  And we get fun ideas like a "True Sansha roam" where Sansha ships with Sansha modules actually is the best possible combination for what is expected from Sansha combat styles.

It doesn't help the game to ask players to memorize that clearly an "Interior Force Field Array" is better than a "Pseudoelection Containment field.  Having those two different names doesn't do anything for immersion all by themselves.  Quick, which is better: "Internal Force Field Array" or "Interior Force Field Array" ?

Immersion supports Lore

There is distinction between this kind of internal consistency that makes the world more understandable and the lore.  The lore provides a rich backdrop of stories, but knowing the lore shouldn't be necessary for playing in the sandbox.  Eve isn't a story-line driven game where you can't get to the end-game without knowing who the big villain is.  The lore can provide immersion for those who are interested by adding another level of consistency and pattern that makes the world seem real, but it (largely) external to the game itself.

There is a big opportunity here for CCP to increase immersion with these module tiericide changes.  I hope that we can see some of the possibility here come to Eve.

January 9, 2015

How (not) to lose your pod

This is a follow-up from the last blog (Battlysts Burn Oto), where I noted that I need to put together a list of ways people lose pods and thus how to avoid losing your pod. Thanks to my corpmates in Aideron Robotics for helping with my original post to our internal forums.  
Note that this advice is primarily for lowsec, and only a starting point in null and WH.  In those areas you also have bubbles there and perhaps other things I'm not familiar with.

How to lose your pod:
  1. Trying to stick out that last moment when your ship is going down.
    • Reason: Your pod will need to align before it can warp out and if you are fighting a gang there is a good chance someone with a fast locker will be trying to catch your pod. Pods align very quickly but they do not do so instantly.
    • Alternative: As soon as you realize your ship is going to be lost align to a bookmark or celestial and spam warp. When your ship blows the first warp command registered should get your pod out. Be warned that aligning may mean that you lose transversal and thus will suddenly take damage at a higher rate than you were previously.
    • Additional: Have a tab that only has celestials that are safe to warp to.  Many people label this "GTFO."  Warping to the sun is particularly predictable.  I personally like have a bookmark near the sun so if someone sees me align they may waste time thinking they can catch me there.  Meanwhile I bounce and GTFO.
    • Bonus: You may get your ship out anyway.  See this Reddit thread that happened to pop up today: Never ever stop spamming "warp to".
  2. When you encounter a camp on a gate, attempt to jump in your pod after your ship is lost.
    • Reason: You incur a session timer when your ship is destroyed that keeps you from taking a gate.
    • Alternative: Once you realize you aren't going to be able to crash the gate, align out and warp your pod immediately upon losing your ship.
  3. Warp straight from losing your ship in a fight to a gate or station.
    • Reason: Your aggression timer from the fight will keep you from docking or jumping, making your pod vulnerable to hostiles.
    • Alternative: Warp to a safe after losing your ship, or if you have no safes in the system warp to a celestial. As soon as you land at the celestial warp to a new celestial and drop a bookmark while in warp to give yourself a place to wait out your timer.  In most cases one bounce will be enough time though.
  4. Warp straight to a gate after losing your ship, particularly in a hot warzone.
    • Reason: Some smartbombers will watch for hot spots on the map and plant themselves between the fight and the gate.  They'll hit their bombs as soon as they see you on d-scan.
    • Alternative: Your corp probably already has 150km perches off of the gates.  If not then now is a good time to make them.  Go to that perch and peek at the gate.  Even if the smartbomber is cloaked and tries to uncloak and get you then the perch is likely to give you a different angle to gate that will save you.
  5. Warp to a station when there are likely campers on station.
    • Reason: Warping to zero on a station lands you within a range of locations, some of which may not have you immediately be within the docking radius. Note that some campers may be sitting on the undock with smartbombs so they will not have a locking delay.
    • Alternative: Establish a docking bookmark, preferably at a location other than the undock location.
  6. Undock from a station without having a undock bookmark ready.
    • Reason: There is a short period of invulnerability when undocking, but this is not sufficient for most ships to align to their destination compared to the lock time of potential station campers.
    • Alternative: Have an undock bookmark ready and warp to it at a random distance immediately if there are possible campers around. Creation of an undock bookmark is a topic longer than this brief summary, but googling should get you an answer fast.
My corpmate YoYo Mommy has a video that demonstrates many of these, so check it out.

Did I miss anything? Feel free to let me know in the comments.