August 20, 2014

Updated: Echos inside Glass Houses: SOMERBlink and The Mittani Dot Com

I've found The Mittani's new open columns interesting (Traffic Control, Mitten's Mailbox).  The personality certainly shines through as well as the incisive mind and wit.  It's very appropriate to me that in the "Unknown Virgins" column he uses the Rumsfeld quote - it is a good quote and a good insight of Rumsfeld, even if you don't like him as a person.  It seems that Mittani shares a lot of characteristics with the administration that Rumsfeld embodies.  The first characteristic is that Rumsfeld was a very sharp political actor who is fully aware of just smart he is. The other prominent characteristic of that administration was something Mittani also appears to be promoting in his recent articles: groupthink.  Let's start with that one before we get into the recent drama with SOMER.

To exaggerate a bit, if you haven't lived your whole life in nullsec under the current sov mechanics then you aren't qualified to make suggestions on radically transforming that system.  Outside opinions need not apply.  The goal that many seem to agree with is to have more small-group action that has consequences, but if you're from the leading Eve area where small groups successfully have consequences (faction war) then you'll be sneered out of the conversation on TMC.  I can't say I've heard any great new ideas out of the nullsec echo chamber that has resulted - just a lot of whining about how CCP is ignoring null and nobody understands them.  That said, I find it genuinely interesting to hear about the details and the massive investment of time and effort (and neglect of RL) is needed to be a leader in a major sov war.  I can see why they feel that nobody but themselves can understand that.  It fits into another major theme of Eve where elitism is formed around pain - if we had to have all this pain then we must be better than you and you can only understand this game if you have our pain - therefore all new players should admire our dedication and respect out pain.  Perhaps they are so scarred by the experience that now they really can't see any way out of the mess.  On the positive side, I get the impression that the CSM and CCP in generation aren't limiting themselves in terms of ideas and input.

You can see this harder-than-thou attitude blending over to the discussions on the whole SOMER blink thing as well.  I think these big EVE media sites need to be careful where they tread here.  For instance, this section of the EULA has been quoted pretty prominently:

Section "Your Account"
Subsection "A. Establishing a New Account"
Paragraph 4:
"Accounts may not be used for business purposes. Access to the System and playing EVE is intended for your personal entertainment, enjoyment and recreation, and not for corporate, business, commercial or income-seeking activities. Business entities and anyone who is acting for or on behalf of a business or for business purposes may not establish an Account, access the System or play EVE. Accessing the System or using the Game for commercial, business or income-seeking purposes is strictly prohibited."

Hmm, is The Mittani Dot Com a business?  It pays out its writers in ISK, but it surely sounds like Mittani himself is making a living off of the website which means RL dollars.  Which has content paid for in ISK.  From some Eve Account. That's not allowed to be used for business purposes. Ooops.  Nice glass house you have there, Mittani, be a shame if something happened to it.

So now that we've determined that TMC violates the EULA (and does that make the Mittani an RMTer?), should we look on to the other sites like Crossing Zebras and Eve24?  The logical reply here is that these are fan sites.  They need RL money to pay their server bills, which probably run a pretty good shot given the traffic they get.  They can't afford to pay their writers in RL money and pay for the sites, so they do it in ISK, saving those writers from having to buy PLEX.  Ah, oops, there's that cross-over again between RL and in-game assets.

So is the problem one of scale?  SOMER was too successful and thus they get shut down.  Was it the tie to the commercial PLEX-sales through Markee Dragon?  There's a good quote here in the TMC article "SOMER Blink: The Myth of a Monolithic CCP":
"This acknowledgement that the bottom line is a reality is something that we as players have to keep in the back of our minds as we form our responses, lest we end up in a land of fantasy where servers are powered by goodwill alone and developers are paid in hugs." 
That same thing applies to fan sites too.

Now perhaps SOMER deserves to get burned for some of the past sins and the shady dealing that seems to be going on, but this issue isn't done.  There still aren't coherent rules that make this a stable place for TMC, Eve-Bet, or any number of other Eve fan sites.  It's not going to be easy to put together those rules either, but I wish CCP (and the CSM) the best of luck.

Edit: There sounds like there is an exception for the bit I discuss below.  In Somer's Come and Gone over on Crossing Zebras, there is mention that CCP has authorized the payment of ISK for services in some cases:
"The one exception to that rule, repeated by Falcon a few days ago, is that you’re allowed to trade ISK for services if they are related to EVE Online. So you’re allowed to trade ISK for things like artwork, killboard hosting, and various other projects. Sites such as TMDC, EN24, and CZ are allowed to pay their EVE writers in ISK in exchange for written EVE content. This process has been vetted and approved by CCP; and there are rules to what it does and does not cover."
This doesn't cover the "Business Account" question, but it does help cover some of the player media sites (though I'd guess Eve-Bet wouldn't count).

August 4, 2014

Podcasting around the Universe

I like to listen to Eve podcasts on the homeward side of my commute (I generally stick with business & news on my way to work).  I realized that part of my summer malaise towards Eve was influenced by the negative bittervet nature of some of the podcasts, so I've started to scale those back or drop them.  I'd like to share the podcasts that make me look forward to playing Eve, and why some of the others don't.

The real downer for me is listening to a host or guest get all bittervet, particularly in an influential podcast.  I fear it makes a self-fulfilling prophecy when a well-known Eve personality goes all bitter-vet about "Eve dying" or the like, then drags down portions of their audience with them.  Look guys, if you don't enjoy the game anymore then take a break, stop playing, and definitely stop taking hours and hours out of your life to record a podcast, edit it, and post it out to the universe talking about why you don't enjoy the game anymore.  Then again in all walks of life I've found there are some people that are only happy when they're miserable.

Favorites:  Listen to them as soon as possible once they're out.

  • Fly Reckless (  The tagline sums it up: "Fly Reckless, because flying safe is no damn fun."  The outright joy that comes from Fly Reckless makes it my number one choice.  I've been a big fan since I first tuned in.  I think I've learned a lot about the ships from Connall's examinations of hulls as they come through rebalancing phases.  I've found the Build Reckless portion a bit rambling, perhaps because it doesn't have the give and take between the hosts, but I'm hopeful that when it comes to discussing the post-Crius changes it may be more engaging.
  • High Drag (  There is a great energy in the alcohol fueled interaction of the hosts in this live talk-show format stream. Indeed you can follow it on Fintarue's twitch stream live on every other Wednesday night, and may even get your comments inserted into the discussion.  As you might guess with the live format it is prone to tangential conversations, but generally is pulled back on topic pretty well.  Practical PVPers may appreciate the fit-and-flying segment once called "Dao of Zhao" but now "Yin of Fin" as Fintarue has become the resident solo PVP expert.  At its best you not only hear about interesting fits, but the tactics and circumstances that make them work.
  • Hydrostatic Podcast (  Ashterothi from High Drag heads this tightly edited new podcast.  It is the opposite of High Drag in that it runs to an agenda, is straight to its points, and moves right along crispy.  This shows a real flexibility, since Ashterothi often jokes on High Drag about not being able to keep his mouth shut.  Newer pilots will particularly like the segments reviewing concepts in Eve that often puzzle newbies.  Unique to this podcast (to my knowledge) is the Eve Lore segment which I've found entertaining and well told.  If you have found other podcasts to be too rambling and long for your tastes then this is the podcast for you.
  • Broadcasts from the Ninveah (  This podcast from Kirith Kodachi is actually a podcasts about blogs, born from Kirith's love of the Eve meta combined with a personal self-improvement to work on his speaking presentation skills.  If you like podcasts and blogs, this is a great cross-over way to hear about new blogs as well as Kirith's take on notable recent blog posts.  I must say that I was pretty happy that one post from this blog has actually made his cut in the past.

Middlin': Subscribed to them, but find myself fast-forwarding sometimes.

  • Down The Pipe (  This would be on my Favorites list if I was a wormholer.  Since I turned away from that I still enjoy hearing about the goings on.  Sometimes I find it tough that Bronya Boga's voice is too monotone, but that's balanced by Longinus Spear and their guests.  My favorite segment is "Storytime", though lately I think the hosts and guests have either not been playing enough to bring great stories or perhaps they're just having trouble telling them in an entertaining way other than "found site-runners, ganked them."
  • Cap Stable (  Similar to the above - Cap Stable would probably be on my Favorites list if either I was a null-sec resident or if the Cap Stable cast got out and talk more about things that aren't related to AIEU or null-sec.  They used to have a focus on new-player content, but they've gotten away from that lately.  With more of their hosts getting tied up in serious corporate/alliance roles and busier in real-life, I think there is a risk that Cap Stable may not be stable long-term.
  • Declarations of War (  This used to be one of my favorite podcasts, but recently it's seemed like Alekseyev Karrde is succumbing to bittervet disease.  The CSM updates with Ali Aras range from very interesting to awkward, largely based on how Alek's mood seems to be.  I fear that Alek's bittervet drags down Ali in many podcasts, enough to make me cross my fingers and hope she isn't too burned out as a CSM.  I'd love to see Declarations of War rise back up into my top list.
  • Crossing Zebras (  CZ rocketed into the meta when Xander interviewed all the CSM8 candidates.  Now Xander is a member of CSM9 and Crossing Zebras is also a very active website with blogs by staff writers, providing an alternative to EN24 and TMC.  As a podcast, I think CZ is trying to find itself in this new "media empire" of Xander's.  Depending on guests and topics CZ can dive deep into bittervet, and indeed that's the kind of downer it feels like the recent podcasts have descended too.  And if anyone on CZ reads this, please please please - the "CCP #1 certified" running gag stopped being funny about six months ago.  CZ can be an awkward testosterone egofest between Xander and his guests sometimes, which makes it all the more interesting that I've heard the most touching moment on an Eve podcast on CZ when Xander and a guest wandered off onto a tangent on the wonder and joy of being a father.

Nope: Not subscribed

  • Podside.  I tuned in once and almost immediate got an earful of bittervet, broken only by Longinius Spear (of Down The Pipe) trying to argue for players to keep finding new fun and reinventing themselves.  Given how often Eve vets tell other people to HTFU, it's particularly painful to hear them whining so bitter.  I find I have no desire to try another episode.
  • Clueless Space Nerds.  I listed to one and it looked to be a recorded random chat between friends that might exactly fit the title.  Between the lack of any structure and the fact that the hosts seemed to be on rather different audio recording levels I really didn't have any desire to tune in again.