Thursday, September 18, 2014

GamerGate: Yes, It's Still Going

All is going as I have foreseen.  Which is, the internecine war between a subset of "gamers" and a subset of games journalists is slowly seeing itself escalate to becoming another front in the greater culture war.

I'll ask for your forgiveness in advance for not properly documenting this post with hyperlinks to show I'm not high on crack cocaine.  I just want to get my view of the events on the record so I can link to them later.  Assuming, of course, that I write about this story anymore.  Unfortunately, I think I probably will.

Apparently, left-leaning elements of the games journalism community and people aligned with 4chan have skirmished for years about the content of video games.  That skirmishing erupted like a volcano in Iceland when a jilted lover decided to spill the beans on how his girlfriend, an indie game developer, slept around with other game developers and a member of the gaming press.  This brought out an outcry about how the indie game developer was using sex to further her career.

That story would have fizzled out with no result, except that members of the gaming press decided to strike back.  In EVE terms, they saw total victory in their grasps and attempted to do to 4chan what Darius JOHNSON and The Mittani did to Band of Brothers: not only kick them out of their prominent space and onto the fringe, but take their identity away at the same time.  Needless to say, the games journalists in question don't have the collective wisdom, intelligence, or judgment of the Goonswarm leadership.  Imagine a boy scout troop playing paintball against a SEAL team.  Yes, the difference is that great.

So the games journalists got together and came out with a series of posts about how "Gamers are over".  A real dumb move.  The backlash not only caused people sitting on the fence to side with 4chan, but resulted in some sites tightening up their ethical rules for their writers.  And, as I expected, sent up a flare for elements fighting the greater culture war to intervene.

The first was Adam Baldwin, who coined the term GamerGate.  His involvement resulted in the issue appearing on the radar of former members of the pajamahadeen Professor Glenn Reynolds, who runs Instapundit, and Ed Morrissey, who, EVE readers might find amusing, wrote a blog called The Captain's Quarters before moving over to write for Hot Air.  Professor Reynolds is key, not just because of his prominence, but because he likes video games.  If he starts posting about a subject, others take an interest.

The issue has reached the wider culture, with the controversy hitting publications like The Guardian, Forbes, and Time.  Perhaps notably, though, a writer for Breitbart.uk and feminist Christina Hoff Sommers are now involved.  Interestingly enough, the games journalists have once again apparently gotten together to come up with a united message to attack Sommers.  Four articles were posted with extremely similar titles.  Which is really bad timing as Breitbart is currently running a story about how some games journalists are running a version of Erza Klein's Journolist.  That is sure to interest more conservative activists to take a look around at the gaming community.  Well, to do more than blame video games for violence (yes, I'm looking at you NRA!).

That's my off the top of my head review of GamerGate so far.  Do I really want to write about this more?  No.  But if people keep acting stupidly, I may have to.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

EVE Online Remembers Another Player

In some social circles, those who play video games a lot are not highly thought of.  I won't go into the details.  Those who's hobby involves video games know the stereotypes.  And amongst those who do follow video games, many consider the EVE community among the lowest of the low.  People hear the words "open world PvP sandbox" and immediately place EVE players in a box in their heads.  Then the stories of scamming and corp theft, activities not allowed in most other MMORPGs, along with suicide ganking, emerge.  After that, don't try to convince some people that all EVE players are immoral, player-killer monsters.  Nothing those people hear will convince them otherwise.

But the EVE community, except for a few exceptions, is able to separate in-game and out-of-game activity remarkably well.  Go to a player meetup and you'll find in-game enemies talking and laughing amicably.  That's my experience from attending Fanfest the last three years and the experience I read about whenever a player gathering is covered.

One place where real life intrudes into the game world is when a player behind the avatar dies.  The most famous example in when Sean "Vile Rat" Smith died during the attack on the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.  The outpouring of grief and support was so great and so noted that academics have even written papers about the in-game events following Vile Rat's death.  Goonswarm continues to honor his memory on the anniversary of the attack.

But this type of reaction is not reserved just for the powerful and famous.  A Reddit user with the handle NickNackPaddiwack put up this post on the social platform informing those who had helped him out in the past with some sad news:
"Three weeks ago I made a post thanking a couple RedditEvers for giving my grandfather 200mil isk so I could plex his account. I ended up receiving a cosmic level of support, nice words, stories, encouragement, and a generous amount of ISK, all of which was totally unnecessary. I just want those people to know that we put that ISK to great use, and had a shit ton of fun together.
My grandfather passed away early this morning at home. I last spoke to him last night as he got lost in a worm hold and I had to go and bail him out. I want to personally thank everyone who took him, and I, through a tour of their wormholes and chains. I really think Eve gave him something positive and fun to distract himself with over the past month. It was awesome see him get out of his comfort zone, as he is a total noob with any electronics, let alone a computer game, let alone a hard mode game such as Eve.

"I could tell he was starting to go down hill over the past 7 days, but he still managed to find a couple hours at night before bed to play with me. I really think the generosity and outreaching we received touched his heart in a special way. He was a typical "get off my lawn you whipper snappers" old man, and to see so many young people get involved in something with him, really threw him for a loop, I think.

"I got one of those little Rifter USB things, and will be putting in his casket along with a picture of an Ishkur, which ended up becoming his favorite ship to try and PvP in, mostly because he though it looked like a shoe. He used to say, "Nicknack, I'm in a shoe in space, on my computer, in my house, with a cup of coffee, in't that something." I'm really happy I got to connect with him on a level we really both could enjoy, even if he didn't ever get that solo PvP kill he was shooting for.
If anyone is interested in writing a short message I could impose over the picture of the Ishkur, feel free to PM me and address it to PopPaddi. Please don't feel obligated to I just thought it would be something nice to give him, because this was our thing, and believe it or not, a lot of your were involved in it too.

"Thanks again, /r/Eve, you guys truly are something else. This message isn't so much a broadcast for Reps as it is a thanks to logi for being so awesome without even being asked for anything in the first place. This is my favorite community, and you all hold a special place in my heart for helping make an old man's last days so much easier, both on himself, but also on me. I totally hope they have Ishkurs wherever he is.

"Edit: The downpour of condolences, kind words, and for some reason, Reddit Gold, has me tearing up and emotional, on an already sad day. Jeeze guys, you know just how to cut to the core of me. What does Reddit Gold do? I mean I've heard of it, but can I eat it or something?

"Edit 2: Wow guys. I received so many nice messages from all of you. I'm truly touched, there isn't much more I can say except I love you all. You're strangers, but you as a whole form a community that is both welcoming, and fun. Today, has obviously been filled with turmoil and emotion, but you've all made it a bit easier to see the big picture, and be happy that I go to spend some time with someone I love, doing something we both love together. Again, thank you to everyone.

"Edit 3: A lot of people are asking for his Ishkur fit. Sorry, this is late, I was with family and stuff. Anyways here ya go!

[Ishkur, Gramps]
Small Ancillary Armor Repairer, Nanite Repair Paste
Adaptive Nano Plating II
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II
Damage Control II
Warp Scrambler II
Experimental 1MN Afterburner I
X5 Prototype Engine Enervator
Light Ion Blaster II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S
Light Ion Blaster II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S
Light Ion Blaster II, Caldari Navy Antimatter Charge S
Small Nosferatu II
Small Trimark Armor Pump I
Small Trimark Armor Pump I
Imperial Navy Acolyte x5

"I think it's a good enough fit for an old man who didn't really know what he was doing, and only spent a couple weeks trying PvP."
This is just the opening post.  I really recommend reading the outpouring of support NickNack received on the loss of his grandfather.

As mentioned in the comments, Sindel Pellion is going to help those remembering NickNack's grandfather by opening  up The Angel Project's inventory and handing out up to 1000 Ishkurs this weekend in Amarr.  For those who want to aid her effort, you can contract Ishkurs, their fittings, and drones to The Angel Project (not Sindel) in any high sec station.  But given that she only has a couple of days to get everything in place, she'd appreciate it if those donating could deliver and contract the donations in the Amarr VIII, Emperor Family Academy station in Amarr.

After doing a little more research, NickNack's grandfather liked flying the Condor before he started flying the Ishkur.  So if you can't fly the assault frigate, the Condor is an appropriate alternative.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Digital Dozen: 16 September 2014

The rankings of the top twelve MMORPGs as determined by the players of the Xfire community from play on Sunday, 7 September 2014.  For more details about the methodology, click here.  Historical data can be found here.

RankPrev WeekGameScoreHours Played+/- %
11World of Warcraft47.16,732+2.1
22Guild Wars 212.81,835+6.1
33Star Wars: The Old Republic11.01,572+3.0
45EVE Online5.3761+17.1
54Final Fantasy XIV4.9700-11.6
66Aion3.7535-9.9
77Tera3.5502-1.0
88Runescape3.4488+5.6
99Lord of the Rings Online2.6376+2.4
1010Neverwinter1.9277-6.4
1111Planetside 21.82630.0
12--ArcheAge1.7 249--
 
Total Digital Dozen Hours: 14,290

With Xfire working two weeks in a row, the data collected looks normal again.  On Sunday, the Xfire community spent 1.9% more hours playing its favorite MMORPGs than the week before.  In raw numbers, World of Warcraft (+138 hours) saw the biggest spike in time played while Final Fantasy XIV (-92 hours) experienced the biggest drop-off.

The New Sandbox - The eagerly anticipated ArcheAge, published by Trion in the west, made its first appearance on The Digital Dozen Sunday.  The head start period began on 12 September and the game launches for all players at 10 AM PDT today.

ArcheAge is a free-to-play, open world sandbox that has both PvE and PvP areas, although the world PvP works a little differently than other games.  And yes, according to the game's FAQ, scamming is allowed.

Offer Expired - Sunday was the first weekend after the close of Final Fantasy XIV's end of summer event, the Moonfire Faire.  As usually occurs in such a situation, players don't log in at the rate they did during the event.

eSports Fans - EVE Online provided another example Sunday of how the shrinking Xfire community is becoming less valuable as a source to determine if an event occurred in a game.  CCP makes the number of players logged on available to the public and I can say that no big jump in the concurrent users occurred Sunday, but Xfire is showing a 17.1% increase in time played.  Remember, when using the Xfire numbers, the data shows what is occurring in the Xfire community and not in the gaming community at large.  As the community shrinks, the differences grow.  The only explanation is that the Xfire community is more into eSports than the general EVE player base.  Last weekend was the first following the end of Alliance Tournament XII.  Perhaps people were too busy watching EVE to play the game.


Monday, September 15, 2014

EVE's Six Week Release Cycle: A First Look At Results

CCP is now 15 weeks into its plan of releasing content patches every six weeks instead of every six months for EVE Online that CCP Seagull announced at Fanfest.  While EVE's executive producer laid out a technical rationale for the change, I see a couple of other benefits to the increased release tempo.

First, the standard in the MMORPG industry is moving towards faster releases of content.  ArenaNet really began the trend with the success of its two week release schedule for Guild Wars 2.  But setting such a pace is easier said than done. Carbine is the lastest studio to find out, as Wildstar's Senior Game Designer Megan Starks admitted at Gamescom that the studio was abandoning the attempt to release content every month.  But as CCP demonstrated over the past few expansions its ability to release point releases, I'm pretty confident that the game devs will have no trouble keeping up with a six week release cadence.

A steady release of content is important, especially for a subscription game in a genre now filled with free-to-play and buy-to-play games.  The more frequent release schedule also is consistent with Hilmar's past statements that EVE is a service.  Selling the game as a service will make sense to those used to subscribing to entertainment services like Netflix and Spotify.  The consistent updates will help convince people that the monthly fee is worth the price.

Another benefit I see is in marketing.  Let's face facts.  EVE Online is an eleven year old game.  Barring CCP adding a functional version of Walking In Stations or vastly improved PvE content, the game is probably not going to attract a huge wave of new players who are going to jump into an expansion and play for years.  The old PR model of hyping two big expansions and then relying on player events like Asakai and B-R to publicize the game just wasn't working anymore. 

Going to the six week release cycle means a constant stream of dev blogs that the gaming press can write short stories about.  Between that and coverage for regional events such as EVE Vegas, Evesterdam, and EVE Down Under, and CCP can keep EVE mentioned on the gaming sites.  Keeping EVE constantly visible could draw in lapsed players, especially if CCP fixes features that irritated the former subscribers.  At this point in EVE's life, targeting former players is a viable option.

Theory is fine, but what are the results?  In fairness, I think we really need to wait until early December and the Rhea release to judge.  From the launch of Kronos to the launch of Rhea would represent the typical length of a summer expansion.  But since I'm starting to read and listen to analysis and speculation as to how the new deployment schedule is working, I thought I'd pull out some numbers and take a look at the halfway point.


The chart above lists the performance of each summer expansion at both the twelve week mark and at the end of the expansion.  The year 2009 did not have a summer expansion as Apocrypha launched on 10 March 2009.  I added an entry for Kronos to show the performance of the new release cycle this year.  The calculation was performed by taking the average concurrent user mark (ACU) for the week before an expansion launched and comparing it to the ACU number for either the twelfth week after launch or the week before the launch of that year's winter expansion.

The historical data shows that by the twelfth week after the launch of a summer expansion, one could determine whether the expansion would have more or less activity by the final week of the release.  If that trend continues this year, the first five releases of the new release cadence will result in fewer accounts logged into EVE.   But that could change, as Oceanus is scheduled for release on 30 September, with Phoebe following on 4 November.


I was also interested in the trends after the launch of each expansion compared to the new release cadence.  The above graph represents the change in the weekly ACU compared to the ACU recorded in the week before the launch of an expansion.  An interesting fact is that seven weeks after launch, all the summer expansions (not including the 6-week releases) showed a positive change in the ACU.  Even Incarna.  But the strength of small, frequent releases began to show at the nine week mark, as Crius began to outperform Incarna and Hyperion scored better than Odyssey.

Will CCP buck the historical trend and see the ACU in the first week of December exceed the number set at the end of May?  With two more releases, the possibility exists.  But CCP Seagull's announcement at the end of her dev blog on Oceanus could also play a role.  CCP is currently working on changes to null sec.  She linked to a forum post by CCP Fozzie who spelled out CCP's plans:
"Those of you who watched the Fanfest presentations or the recent Alliance Tournament will remember that we have formed a targeted 'Nullsec Working Group' back in April of this year to lead the way towards our next major round of changes to zero security space. This group consists of CCP Bettik, CCP Delegate Zero, CCP Greyscale, CCP Masterplan, CCP Rise, CCP Scarpia, CCP Ytterbium and myself.

"We have been working on re-evaluating the high level goals for nullsec and sovereignty, surveying and learning from the EVE community’s extensive discussions on the issues, and designing and prototyping potential changes to improve nullsec gameplay.

"The working group recently held an extended offsite design and discussion session on September 5th, in which we discussed many of the player-written proposals about Nullsec, clarified our collective position on several issues and made a lot of progress in preparation for the CSM Summit.

"For this upcoming CSM summit we are planning to discuss in detail a set of significant, specific and targeted changes that we hope to release in late 2014, as well as the concepts and prototypes that we are developing for more far-reaching changes in 2015. The CSM has already proven an invaluable resource for bringing us feedback and analysis on the current state of nullsec as well as the community’s desires for the future. We are confident that the multiple nullsec sessions that we have scheduled for this summit will be extremely valuable.

"Our current plan is to bring the late 2014 designs to the wider community for feedback very soon after the summit, independently of the minutes.
"
So we could see action concerning null sec, even if it is the form of offering feedback, as early as the end of September/beginning of October.  The first changes to null sec are likely to deploy in the Rhea release on 9 December.  Would the promise of change to null sec, and the coverage the associated dev blogs may receive in the gaming press, lure players back to EVE?  We'll know in a few months.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Some Background On The Recent Bans For Harassment

"Yes Ripard, you are literally nearly the worst kind of human filth. You parade around as a social justice champion while you purposely try to destroy people for your agenda. Reminds me of a lot of extreme right wing conservatives we have here in the states. You make me sick. You are truly sick in the head."

Yes, the silly season is in full tilt in EVE Online.  The recent bans based on out-of-game harassment using in-game EVE assets have brought the old bonus room crowd back into the spotlight.  The ring leader of that circus, Erotica 1, even trotted out some of the arguments from the GamerGate crowd.  Of course, he just knows the words and doesn't understand the concepts, as "social justice" and "extreme right wing conservatives" never go together. 

For those new to the EVE Online community, Erotica 1 is the name of the main avatar of a person who preyed upon the greedy and weak-minded in EVE.  He would prowl the main trade hub of Jita looking for victims to lure to an out-of-game "bonus room", where he would, along with his sycophants, scam the victim of all his/her ISK and assets and then try to humiliate the victim for hours, all the while recording the sessions to maximize the humiliation by posting the edited session online.  Ripard Teg is the man (and member of the Council of Stellar Management) who brought the practice to the attention of the greater EVE community in his blog post, "The bonus round". 

Yesterday, I referenced the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory.  I believe this theory does not apply to Erotica 1.  I have gotten negative feedback about the way I choose my sources, but I consider Erotica 1 as unreliable a source of information as exists on the Internet.  When he claimed that he was permanently banned from EVE, I totally discounted that statement.  I wanted additional proof.

Now, while people are talking about the recent bans for out-of-game harassment as just a follow-up for the Erotica 1 scandal, I don't believe that's true.  I believe that these are all new infractions and that some of the Erotica 1's flunkies failed to learn the lesson.  I agree with the following Reddit post from RonUSMC:
"I understand you think you have been wronged. You should move along.

"I understand it's a sandbox, and you think you have the right to play how you want. It's not your sandbox, so move along.

"I understand that you want clear lines... so it's easier to skirt them, well, go ahead and move along.

"The party is going to be even more fun without you sociopaths here to torment us, so guess what.... move along.

"You are a cancer and we have been operated on. So please, just leave.

"You will not be missed. There will be no protests. You will just fade away like the other miscreants. If anything, we will be able to retain more new people that never knew how dark and freakish you guys ever were.

"If you really start to admit that you need EVE more than it needs you, and you create an alt and come back.... I hope they ban that too."
I will slightly disagree on one point.  Contrary to what CCP Falcon has posted, I don't think the EVE EULA and player code of conduct is clear on this matter.  I would like to see a statement concerning "the usage of EVE Online and assets, characters and items from within the game environment as leverage for the purpose of real life harassment" put directly into the Terms of Service or some other policy document.  I do not want this position just placed somewhere on the forums.  CCP doing that is one of my pet peeves and I wish they would cease that practice.  But besides that, I don't have a problem kicking these people out of EVE.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Non-RMT Ban Wave

I guess some people didn't learn that CCP is serious about some of the things it bans.  Last month, SOMERblink tried to institute an RMT trick that was banned in November of last year.  Yesterday, CCP Falcon posted this on the EVE Online forums and stickied the post to the top:
"Hello everyone,

"We would like to remind the EVE community of our stance regarding the usage of EVE Online and assets, characters and items from within the game environment as leverage for the purpose of real life harassment.

"As outlined in our previous announcement, this type of behavior lies in clear breach of our End User License Agreement, and as such we have a zero tolerance approach when dealing with these cases.

"Our stance regarding this type of behavior has not changed since the last announcement, and any individuals who are found to be engaging in such behavior will be met with disciplinary action against their game accounts in accordance with our Terms of Service."
Apparently, someone once again proved the validity of the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory (GIFT).

A picture says a thousand words
A Reddit user by the user name of Patwa put up the following opening post:

As seen on 10 September 2014
"Two of my accounts were banned as of today. The reason stated: Participation in a group engaged in out of game harassment of EVE players. I have confirmed that I am not the only participant to receive this ban. Due to policy, I won't publish or quote any part of the email I received from the GM. However, I can tell you that my participation in the bonus room was minimal at best - only x-ing up for contracts."

When asked if the ban was related to the Erotica1 scandal earlier this year or was a new event, Patwa replied, "It was the original issue. And no, I did not. I only actually x-d up in a small percentage of the total bonus rooms. I found that it wasn't really worth my time."

Really?  Another Reddit user, rykki, found another post back from the original Erotica1 incident:

As seen on 10 September 2014
"I'm friends with Erotica 1. I've made quite a bunch of ISK from the victims in the bonus room. We use TS not to avoid EULA stuff, but because it's funny.

"We also force people to pod themselves 20-50 times without updating their clone."

That was the situation as I knew it as of midnight, EVE time.  Shortly after midnight, another post appeared on Reddit:
"Earlier this morning, many players were banned permanently, pending investigation. The reason given was 'Participation with a group involved in real life harassment.'

"To my knowledge, many members within CODE have been banned, along with steadfast and trustworthy members within Calmil. People within GSF have also been banned.
People in every region of space are being banned--and everyone down to a dime that I've talked to have no idea what they got banned for.

"We don't know what we were banned for, and we've been stonewalled. I didn't even know most of these people before we got banned today.

"The only reason specified is 'Participation with a group involved in real life harassment.'

This has set a most startling precedent."

Confusion is also reigning over on the Failheap Challenge forums.  The post with the most information came from a poster named Lucence:
"It's still early, the bans were only handed hours ago. At first the wording of CCP Falcon ('harassment') was reminiscent of the sohkar episode so we thought bans were related to anyone involved in it, but we soon got reports from banned people saying they had never been involved in it in any way (wasn't on TS, didn't accept a contract, wasn't in the ingame chat channel), and others from people who were eyebrow deep in it and yet didn't get banned, so it must have been something else.

"So far we haven't been able to draw a complete picture, the only pattern seems to be people generally involved in griefing in some way. However I know of at least one banned person in a lowsec alliance who is apparently described as trustworthy and not into griefing; he claims to have no idea why he got banned. My understanding is CODE is surveying its ranks and all its PR is centralized with line members instructed to lay low (do not post GM logs, do not partake in flamewars etc.) while we figure out wtf exactly happened. BU is pinging logged off regulars through jabber/TS/IRC/Steam.

"We haven't heard anything back from CCP yet, besides CCP Falcon's cryptic message, and we don't expect anything for another few days if at all. This is why we concentrate our efforts on building a solid case we can submit to CSM members."

At 2:22am EVE Time, CCP Falcon put out a reply to the 2 1/2 pages of posts that were asking what happened (and that CCP was ruining EVE).  Responding to the question, "can we expect some clear-cut rules on what you would classify as 'real life harassment'?", CCP Falcon replied:
"It isn't our job to dictate to people how to maintain a base standard of human decency toward one another, and we're not going to do so.

"The bottom line is that it's down to members of the community to know where the line crosses from common decency to harassment. We will not draw a line in the sand so that people can skirt on the edge of it and bend the rules as much as possible.

"This isn't a debate about what constitutes "harassment". If you're not familiar with the word, find the definition in a dictionary and that will satisfy your question.

"What we will do, is continue to use best judgement on a case by case basis to ensure that real life harassment is kept out of the game, and ensure that those who choose to involve themselves in such activities are no longer permitted to be part of our community.

"Cut and dried, that's all we have to say on the matter."
To save time, I visited the Oxford online dictionary (UK version since that is where CCP Falcon is from) and found this definition:
Harassment: Aggressive pressure or intimidation.
Hopefully that will make things clearer.  No?


Well, I'll admit I'm a bit confused.  From what I gather, this is not a repeat of the bonus room situation.  I'm not going to try to guess what occurred, although CCP Falcon's recommendation to visit the dictionary does provide fodder for speculation.  Some names of characters are already floating around and I don't want to malign anyone with totally baseless speculation.  The story may continue, and with CODE. involved, many people will want to learn more.  I kind of do myself.

UPDATE: Erotica 1 has decided to jump in and defend those banned.  When evaluating sources to determine the truth, one should always consider past behavior.  So here is a post from the Failheap Challenge:
sharptoast: Having not really paid much attention to this whole thing I think people are going to regard you generally as an arsehole no matter what you say mate.

Erotica 1: Well, that is to be expected. Mynnna and Ripard did a great job with making up shit.

Lady Spank:  You haven't spoken a single truth in your Eve playing life so don't expect anyone to pay you any regard now either. There is no point to you trying to defend your honour or whatever else you might want to say because no one except the truly uninformed is going to take you seriously.
For the record, I consider Erotica 1 a predator and EVE is better off without him.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Clearing The Decks

Summer is basically over and it's time to organize some things.  No, not my closets, although I need to do that too.  I have this whole blogging and gaming life thing and I need to shake some things up.  I found that I've diverted a bit from the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the year and I want to get back on track.

On the blogging front, I'm going to stop following Player Auctions on a daily basis.  Sure, graph porn is good, but that particular project takes up so much time.  The last PA graph I made represented 45 hours of labor.  Admittedly, most of that time was spent on the train ride home from work, but that is still a lot of time.  Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your point of view), a group of game journalists decided to, perhaps unwittingly, open up the gaming scene to the wider culture war. So my next project is to start seriously cataloging the articles and different points of view flying around. Even if I never write about the subject, I need to pay attention now.  Some people think I'm some sort of "investigative journalist" or that I produce "scholarly work".  Trust me, the people who are starting to sniff around make me look like a rank amateur.  If I decide to write about the subject at all, I need to improve my writing.

On the gaming front, I'll probably not sub up for Final Fantasy XIV.  Not that I don't like the game.  I do.  I just don't have the time needed to commit to a good free company.  Maybe I'll feel differently after I run a battleleve, but I'm just invested in EVE and have neglected the game too much.  I finished reactivating my planetary interaction colonies last night and am using Trello to keep track.  The software is cool and I'll probably write about it in a couple weeks.  Also, I now have Mastery V in all logistics ships.  That doesn't mean I'm good at flying the ships, but I have the skills that will help.  Did I mention I hope to have at least one Prospect BPC when I get home?  Outfitting and flying that ship could lead to a lot of fun.

I also want to get back to playing single player games.  I bought Tropico 5 and haven't even downloaded the game yet.  I think that is an offense that warrants the death penalty in some jurisdictions.  I also purchased Papers, Please and the Fable Anniversary Edition.  I also want to get check out Kerbal Space Program again to see what's been added recently.

All in all, my hobby takes up a lot of time and I need to prioritize better.  Even the unfun stuff.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Digital Dozen: 9 September 2014

The rankings of the top twelve MMORPGs as determined by the players of the Xfire community from play on Sunday, 7 September 2014.  For more details about the methodology, click here.  Historical data can be found here.

RankPrev WeekGameScoreHours Played+/- %
11World of Warcraft47.06,594+60.7
22Guild Wars 212.31,730+49.3
33Star Wars: The Old Republic10.91,527+89.9
46Final Fantasy XIV5.6792+120.6
54EVE Online4.6650+57.0
65Aion4.2594+49.2
77Tera3.6507+49.1
88Runescape3.3462+89.3
99Lord of the Rings Online2.6367+58.9
1010Neverwinter2.1296+96.0
11--Planetside 21.9263+806.9
1212Metin 21.7 244+67.1
 
Total Digital Dozen Hours: 14,026

On Sunday, Xfire collected data properly after experiencing issues the week before.  Comparing the numbers with two Sundays ago, the Xfire community spent 10.8% less hours playing the top 12 MMORPGs.

Due To Technical Difficulties ... Not. - This week confirmed that the partial data was not an aberration where Wildstar and Elder Scrolls Online were concerned.  Both games remain off the list this week.  That means that ESO was on the list for 22 weeks after launch and Wildstar only 13.  Wildstar's performance was made more remarkable because the game's Digital Dozen score declined every week until the game fell off the list.  Even The Secret World, which also remained on the list for 13 weeks after it launched back in 2012, managed to see two weeks of a positive gain in its score.  I should add, however, that both games will probably wind up on the annual year-end list for 2014.

The Party's Just Starting - Lord of the Rings Online had the best performance over the past two weeks with a decline in the time Xfire members spent playing the game of only 4 hours.  That was probably due to the Farmer's Faire event running from 2-16 September.  The annual event features egg and mushroom hunts along with dealing with drunks and fishing.


Monday, September 8, 2014

EVE Is Dying? Tell That To The ISK Sellers

Now that summer is almost over, I thought I'd take another look at the secondary RMT market1 for EVE Online ISK.  My last review occurred three months ago when prices crashed.  Now that CCP has published the Kronos, Crius, and Hyperion updates, I wondered what changes had occurred.2

Friday, September 5, 2014

GamerGate: Tempest In A Teapot

I've followed the GamerGate "scandal" for a few weeks now.  At the risk of besmirching the name of a fine Minmatar battleship, I think the whole thing is a tempest in a teapot.  Although the participants would disagree.  For a rundown on the whole scandal, please read Erik Kain's excellent piece published on Forbes yesterday, "GamerGate: A Closer Look At The Controversy Sweeping Video Games."  For those who don't want to take the time, here are some points to take away:

"First, we have a young industry that began, like so many others, as a male-driven industry on both the producer and consumer side now experiencing growth pains. The media is even younger than the industry itself and it’s experiencing growth pains, too. These growth pains have resulted in some raw, open wounds that fester whenever controversy erupts, and risk being infected further by politicized forces that care less about video games and more about political agendas. (All of this is a distraction from the real business of reporting on the video game industry and critiquing video games, though I think there is plenty of room for cultural commentary with political slants here as well, just like in TV, film, etc.)

"Second, we have deep mistrust between consumers and the video game industry thanks to years of bad DRM and other poor business practices. That mistrust is now being cast on the press that’s supposed to be covering the industry to protect the consumer. Consumers (gamers) have increasingly viewed the press as 'in bed' with the industry rather than working for consumers. This is enforced by stories of chummy developers and journalists, lavish AAA publisher-thrown parties, high-scoring games that aren’t particularly good, and so forth.

"Finally, we have a video game press with a largely left-leaning political bias in some ways alienating itself from much of its readership. This seeps into the first two problems and complicates the matter, but isn’t in and of itself an invalid complaint. If the video game press were deeply conservative, you’d have a lot of left-leaning voices decrying it as well. The tenor of the discussion has become so 'us vs. them' at this point, that many gamers simply feel unrepresented and condescended."
I've only spent 15 hours or so researching and reading about the topic, but in that extremely brief time I've come to one conclusion: who cares?  The matter is about as important as mass-based ejection in wormhole space in EVE Online.  Extremely important to those involved, but on the scale of the millions that play video games on planet Earth, not very significant at all.

Excuse me if I ignore 4chan, because that's my policy on dealing with 4chan if at all possible.  That was reinforced with this whole "scandal".  The only thing I can say is that they've appeared to have gotten better, at least in projecting a more positive image upon an unsuspecting audience. 

As for the "social justice warrior side", are these people I should really worry about?  I'd never heard of any of these people before.  After what I learned doing my research, I wish I'd never heard of them.  That goes for the indie game developer involved as well as the games journalists who wrote the "Gamers Are Dead" pieces.

I think I need to say this about the games journalists in question.  Not only have I never heard of these people before, but for the most part they write for gaming sites that I only visit if it comes up on a Google search.  As for the quality of those sites, if I have a choice between any of those sites and PC Gamer, Eurogamer, or Massively, I don't use the sites that published the "Gamers Are Dead" articles.  Sites like Gamasutra, Polygon, and Kotaku always seemed sketchy to me, so I'm glad to see my judgement vindicated.

So what we have is a scandal a game developer who make games I'll never play and the relationship with writers whose work I never read on sites I rarely visit.  The group that really pushed the story, 4chan, is one I try to avoid if humanly possible.  Then I think about the tens of millions of people who play video games.  Do they even care?  I highly doubt it.

As the title of the post states, the whole GamerGate scandal is a tempest in a teapot.  Unless the scandal grows way beyond where it should (and that is a real possibility), I'm done with this topic.