March 26, 2016

War For Our Time

I've been a lowsec dweller for most of my Eve life, after moving on from the usual highsec start.  The tales of nullsec have been interesting in terms of politics and history, but the cap/super-cap driven nature of nullsec war was something that kept it firmly in the "not for me" category.  The nullsec world seemed static, with all of the knowlegable opinions seeming to come together to say that the CFC had effectively won and that we would see no great battles like B-R again.

"To have a large war, you need two large adversaries.  To have a large battle, you need two sides willing to commit large numbers of expensive assets." - Ripard Teg, "The Last War", 30 Jan 2014.

Aegis Sov started to change this opinion.  It used to be that the cry was that you needed a fleet of supers to take sov.  Now suddenly the weight of the game mechanic shifted, and the cry was that anyone in a troll-ceptor could threaten sov.  Player inventiveness responded of course and we've hit somewhere inbetween as best I can tell from my station down here in lowsec.  Stuff was definitely starting to happen and then suddenly...

Where did that come from?  I recommend Nosy Gamer's blog as a neutral starting point for what he termed The Casino War.  There's a summary today by EN24 (not neutral) of the Allied Forces.  The breaking news this afternoon was that LAWN and Bastion are evacuating Vale of the Silent, straight from none other than Mittani on his own Metashow,  surrendering that region to the anti-Imperium forces.  The propaganda on reddit has been voluminous and often quite good.  I hear that this is what TEST does best. :)

It's enticing.  The possibility of joining on of the "Allied" combatants and battling the hated CFC certainly stirs the imagination,  We here in RDRAW have gotten in a few ops via our connection to Snuffed Out, and from what I hear it sounds like our northern GalMil cousins have taken some fleets up in search of CO2 assets as well.  But being third-parties or allies-of-an-ally is a bit different from shifting home and living that war.

There is one measure that I think all Eve players are looking to right now.  There are plenty of "that's it, I'm resubbing" comments in the propaganda threads.  Will that really come through?  Here's the one slope that we'll all want to watch:

War for our Time, pilots, let there be War for our Time.

March 21, 2016

Grab Bag and CSM Autocorrect Answers

Some miscellany today before they slip out of my mind.  If you haven't read the CSM Autocorrect Quiz at the bottom of the CSM Ballot post, now is your chance to do so before you see the answers.

Dual Tanking Newbies

If you've taken a new character through the career missions (as I've done recently) then you know why new players dual-tank: it's what they are taught to do.  In both the Gallente and Caldari career missions you'll be given a shield hardener for your frigate and then a bit later you'll be given a small armor repper.  I think you also get a blaster and then are given rails, just to get that mixed-gun thing going to.  I assume that's because they wanted to reuse the same mission for all races with as little parameterization as possible, but I haven't spun up Minmatar or Amarr alts recently enough to know.

Station Trading

I've been relatively successful at station trading on my alt over the past months, though I did get caught out paying too much for items that tumbled in price.  On an active day I can log in twice: once in the morning and once in the evening, so I can't quite do the 0.01isk every 5 minutes thing.  Finding new stuff has been a bit of a challenge.  I tried the Evernus website that some people were speaking well of on reddit, but it looked like a decent chunk of the time the data was just wrong, so I'm guessing that's because its source information is being gamed somehow.  I need to put in the time to find more items with a decent margin, activity on both the buy and sell sides, and which isn't being so actively traded that I'll be left behind 15 minutes after I log off.

Gureaster Goodies

I haven't run one of these yet, but I'm looking forward to trying.  There was a site in my home system, but apparently some of the guys were leaving it open as a trap so I headed off to fight in some FW plexes.  I've heard of people scoring skill injectors, which would be very nice indeed.

Skill Injectors and Alt Training

I have an alt that was trained to be an off-grid booster, which isn't that long a train.  I haven't made a huge use of him, but with the coming changes (soon, I hope) I've been training him towards on-grid combat capability.  Ah, quite the reminder of all of those core skills that you need if you're going to actually survive and do anything useful on grid.  It's a good reminder of what new players have to do too - and of course my alt dates from before the new character skill boost, so he needs to do things like train Science IV so he can get to Thermodynamics.  Doing sequences like that make those injectors so, so tempting.

CSM Autocorrect Quiz

Okay, so here are the answers.  Joffy Aulx-Gao got all of these right except the first:

Were Ducking  -> Wardeccing
Torah but she don't  -> Tora Bushido
Laura expert -> Lore Expert
Game McKennas  -> Game Mechanics

Good Hunting out there, and don't forget to vote!

March 19, 2016

CSM XI Ballot

CSM Election ballot - I know that posting it this late means that only the stragglers will see it, but real life has been kicking my butt lately during the day and happily I've had plenty to do in Eve at night that leads me to undock rather than blog.  Check out the end of this blog post for a special bonus CSM Autocorrect Quiz!

CSM X has gotten knocked about for the drama of some members and the removal/resignation of others.  Some of this is an unfair comparison, as those of you who familiar with the history of CSM will know - or those who listen to Declarations of War.  Previous CSMs have commented how by the end of a year they only had 4-5 active members, and now we're complaining that we had to kick a few.  It's the classic problem of thinking a problem is worse because you have more transparency on it.

Nonetheless, CSM XI will be defined by people's current expectations.  The goal should be a productive, engaged, and low-drama CSM.  Some of that cannot be avoided given that we have Imperium candidates who are both guaranteed to be elected and who are going in with the pretty explicitly stated goal of causing drama.  The question is what CSMs will be elected by the rest of us in the game.  So let's get to it.

Top of the Ballot

1 - Apothne:  You could argue for him foremost as a PVP mechanics expert, but the reason he's on the top of my ballot is attitude.  He has strong opinions but he's also clearly willing to reason with other people and keep open the possibility of his mind being changed.  He also already has a strong relationship with CCPers which can help him be a bridge with the CSM and the rest of the community.

2 - Steve Ronuken: Steve is one of the rare incumbents this time around, and he has a history of being level headed, productive, and a representative for those players who don't play the game for the pew.  If anything I expect his vote count may be even higher after Sion's clumsy attempt to throw mud at him.

3 - DoToo Foo: Another non-pvper, what is Eve coming to?  Here we have another consistent, competent, level-headed communicator. We're about to have the industry and market of Eve turned upside down (particularly with these recent posts about making NPC stations unattractive to use).  We could use someone with this kind of sharp mind that isn't paired with an unnecessarily sharp tongue.

4 - Mr. Hyde: Okay, back to the PVP.  I think Mr. Hyde would be higher on my list but for the inevitable comparison to Apothne, who edges him out by having additional skills and existing contacts.  I hope that there is room for both of them on CSM XI, and I'm not overly worried that he will instigate changes that would eliminate the frigate menace.

5 - Joffy Auix-Gao: I've been impressed by his campaign and his approach to the game and to CSM.  I'm sure he is going to face a lot of challenges to community given his physical limitations, but I'm willing to put my vote of confidence in that he'll figure it out.

Good Candidates

Jin'taan: I think Providence deserves a CSM and unlike the Goons I don't know if they are guaranteed one without outside help.  The real tough choice for me was between him and Utari Onzo.  If I want to help make sure Provi gets a CSM, I should vote Jin'taan higher, but...

Utari Onzo: There are shades here of Ashterothi's run last year.  Lore cannot be the main driver of a CSM candidate - that's just not what they do - but it does show a particular love of the game for its creative universe that I think is valuable.  Throw in Utari's other skills and experience and he gets a spot on the ballot.

Diana Olympos: Here is someone who just seems to love absorbing data and analyzing it.  I've seen this in our CZ writes slack channels, and he spoke of it in his interview.  The problem I'm worried about with Diana is coming out of that analysis mode and communicating clearly.

Kyle Aparthos: I wasn't amazed at his interview, but I've been very impressed with him all through the campaign.  Given the terrible time that SMA has been having I've been impressed with how clear and composed he has been in the midst of Reddit, and that's a great sign of maturity and professionalism that is lacking in other candidates.

CapriSunKraftFoods: Part of me can't believe I'd vote for someone who would choose a name like that for their character.  As I said in my review, I came away impressed from his interview.  I just worry that away from the election process he might revert to a troll.

Nash Kadavr: Similar to Utari, player events are just not something that the CSM is lined up to work on.  Voting for Nash is voting for something he didn't run his candidacy on: that he knows what it take to create and run a successful lowsec PVP organization.  With all the other things he does, the question is: has he been aware from that so long that his information is stale and misleading?

Notably Missing - No Drama, Thank You

Bobmon: With all of the accusations and drama around Bobmon and EN24, it just isn't worth the risk to put a vote down next to his name.  Between that and how CCP is a bit shy of the "gaming media" right now I'd have to put strong odds on him being kicked out of the CSM somewhere during the year.

Gorski Car: He's a self-declared candidate for drama, if tongue in cheek.  Even though he's done good work by all reports, that's just not what we need right now.  I think his PVP experience will be covered by the likes of Apothne and Mr. Hyde.  I hope we'll see a lot from him during the year, just from the role of a player rather than a CSM.

Bonus: CSM Autocorrect Quiz:

Can you decypher autocorrected Eve?  I used my commutes and other random times to listen to interviews, which has meant taking notes on my iPhone using voice transcription.  This has led to some amusing autocorrection of Eve terms.  See if you can guess these four phrases from their autocorrected spellings:

Were Ducking

Torah but she don't

Laura expert

Game Mckennas

March 8, 2016

CSM XI Candidates, Part 5 (Final)

We come to the last of these wrap-ups of CSM candidates - delayed more than I'd like because RL has been kicking my butt.  Anyway, I think it's reasonable to have a slight bias against candidates who are just showing up now.  While there are are possible reasons to be this late to the interview game, it does make it sound either like you didn't really care but decided to do it at the last minute or you were disorganized enough that you only just got around to the interview.  And if the candidates are like me and have RL slowing them down so much they can't do an interview, then maybe they should reconsider how much time they'll have to be a CSM.  So I went in not expecting much from this final batch.  In at least one case, I was happily surprised to be wrong.

(Note: the links for previous posts have been updated to point to the analysis shows that have now come out)

Top Notch Candidate

CapriSunKraftFoods (forum) (interview) (analysis show)
Not just a reddit shitposter - that's pretty much all I was looking for in this interview.  Instead I found someone thoughtful and realistic about the role of the CSM.  One quote I particularly liked: "If you have an idea you should write it down, read it over, and have other people read it." This is the heart of a design review process used by people who want to get something right.  Not off the cuff "hey I'll tell you what I think", but considered thought.  He has a realistic view of the CSM as a persistent and broad-reaching focus group.  I don't know if I'm thrilled about his stated opinions on how nullsov should work (leaning away from small gangs and back to massive fleets), but I don't play in nullsov and he has a straightforward on the ground experience that sounds very realistic and not driven by a meta-agenda.  I also like his bias for CSMs being people who actually log into the game and play (the unspoken comparison being those who only metagame).

Interesting Candidates

Xavier Azabu (forum) (interview) (analysis show)
Xavier is stepping in as a small gang pvp-focused player stretching from null to low sec.  Unfortunately that's a crowded space this time around, with people from Gorski Car, Apothne, and Mr. Hyde in the running.  So does he have the ability to stand out compared to them and communicate strongly amongst the kind of people who are going to be in the CSM next term?  Being a representative from the Far East timezone is is nice touch, and for that constituency I could see them wanting a home-time representative.  I liked hearing his tale of what it was like to be in Pizza when AegisSov rolled out, but it didn't come across as telling me what he'd contribute.  I don't quite seem him rising to the top this time, but he also sounds like the kind of reasonable voice I'd love to hear build a presence towards future elections.

RF Gnaeus Crassus  (forum) (interview) (analysis show)
We're used to seeing candidates from many different alliances, but I must say I wasn't expecting somone from Red Frog.  As someone who has done some contracting and trading I certainly can see the need for improvement there.  It's just hard to see a CSM with such a tight specialization.  I had passed on some feedback when Sugar Kyle had asked about the topic, and if any active CSM picked up her book full of player feedback they could probably push it along (Steve, please?).  He had a great quote arguing for why space trucking AFK and non-AFK is much the same: "If I'm at the keyboard, I just get to see how my ship gets shot."  If CCP was to start a focus group on industry and trading then I'd love to see this guy at the top of the list - I just am having trouble seeing him as a CSM with a inherently more general portfolio.

Not Worth Your Time

Chiimera (forum) (interview) (analysis show)
His work as a Aussie TZ community organizer (Oceanic Assault) was interesting, and it's kind of a shame (but predictable) that he then had to spend of a lot of time distancing himself (gently) from Sion and the drama that his fellow GSF had stirred up recently. In the end, perhaps because he's trying to balance so neatly, he doesn’t seem to have a lot solid to push forward.  He had a lot of disclaimers about “can’t say more without the information that’s under NDA.”, though the things he did put forward were generally a list of F&I items: more bottom-up income for nullsec, ECM rebalance geared for small-gang warfare, killmails for logi ships. This is all a "mom and apple pie" list as we might say here in the US.  So it's hard to see him as a particularly interesting candidate.

Niko Lorenzio (forum) (interview) (no analysis show yet)
So he's an old-school candidate who wants to put things back the way they were? I don't know how much backing he's going to get to want to put the clone grade system back in.  Do we need a CSM who's going to constantly just tell CCP to stop doing new things and put the Eve roadmap into reverse?  I'm not sure he's convincing me from his interview.  No be fair, he does like the split of the carrier into range-damage and fax-machine under his slogan of increasing and honoring specialization.  I think the real killer for me though is that his attitude suggests someone who is going to rage and then fade away as a CSM.  If you want to back an advocate for conservatism in game design, you probably can find another who is more engaging and persuasive.

Annexe (forum) (interview) (no analysis show yet)
Annexe is a nullsec (Imperium / TNT) PVPer and director.  Looking at his forum thread I see considers his CSM run as a #YOLO why not.  That pretty much knocks him immediately to the bottom of my list as not being serious.  If he's still around and wants to run next year and looks like he's taking it seriously then he may be worth taking a new look at.

Aryth (forum) (interview) (analysis show) (DoW panel)
Let's face it: if you are a good little Imperium member then you're voting for Aryth, and if you aren't an Imperium member then Aryth doesn't need or want your vote.  He has been very clear on this latter point in his interview with Declarations of War.  He was pretty clear again in his CSM Watch that he isn't there to represent "pubbies."  His competence and value as a CSM candidate is pretty irrelevant for the purpose of this review