Friday, March 30, 2012

The Rise of Eve's Pajamahadeen?

Pajamahadeen - a portmanteau of pajamas and Mujahideen meaning bloggers who challenge and fact-check the traditional media.
I had a ringside seat in the summer of 2004 as a bunch of "pajama-clad" bloggers took on the powerful Dan Rather and CBS News over a story containing forged documents ... and won.  Are we about to see a repeat this year between the Eve blogosphere and the mainstream gaming press?

The Mittani, to hopefully no one's surprise, is mad as hell at the gaming press and yesterday began tweeting about their terrible posting, er, I mean reporting.  Just watching the Tweetfleet post I have the feeling we may be about to witness a barrage of blogs and podcasts backing up The Mittani's claims.  And reading the news I see several easily spotted inaccurate facts.

From The Escapist's Mike Kayatta:
"Alexander Gianturco (perhaps better known as "The Mittani") went on a five-minute-long bullying tirade against a recently-divorced player whom his group had recently blown apart in game. A 'dramatic' reading of the player's reaction to the death culminated in Gianturco muttering the following: "'Incidentally, if you want to make the guy kill himself, his name is [REDACTED]. He has his own Corp. Find him.'"
Sorry, but the offending comment did not come at the end of a "dramatic" reading.  It came near the end of the question and answer session as The Mittani tried to be cool in the way drunks will; with too much volume and thinking himself funny "ha-ha" instead of funny "let's lock him in the basement and not let him in public again."  In other words, the remark was a spur of the moment brain-fart, not a planned part of the presentation.  The worst part of the story is that Mr. Kayatta actually references where to find the remark in the video and still managed to get it wrong.

From xmediaonline's Andrew Smith:

"Possibly realising what he had done, The Mittani posted a heartfelt apology almost instantly to the Eve Online official forums. It wasn't until a few days later that the pressure of the media started to show and CCP was forced to act. Stating a breach of the user agreement and terms of service they placed a 30 day ban on The Mittani and forced him not only to resign his chairmanship, but to give up his place on the CSM."
Perhaps I should not include Mr. Smith since is not really a gaming site, but as the number #2 listed story on Google News I just have to point out that the Alliance Panel was on Thursday night and Mittens posted his apology after landing in Boston on Tuesday night.  The facts I mentioned, except for the part about Boston, were easily available.  I happen to know about the Boston angle because I flew back to the States on the same plane.

Mr. Smith also got the penalty wrong, but came a bit closer than's Eliot Lefebvre:
"Following harsh remarks in which he advocated finding and harassing a player who had expressed suicidal thoughts, Gianturco issued an official apology for his actions. But that isn't the end of it -- Gianturco has also been hit with a 30-day ban from EVE Online due to actions that violate the game's terms of service. He's also resigned from his position as chairman of the current Council of Stellar Management and forfeited the right to serve on the next CSM."
The actual sequence of events was that The Mittani resigned his position as chairman of  CSM 6, then CCP issued the 30-day ban for a ToS violation two hours later.  Because CCP does not allowed banned players from sitting on the CSM, The Mittani could not take his seat on CSM 7, which had not yet been seated.  But because he was not a sitting CSM member at the time he was banned, he is eligible to serve on future CSMs, starting with the 8th.  The way the moves were reported, it would lead people to believe that Mittens was barred for running for CSM 8. is a big gaming site that influences the reporting of others.  I believe that is the case with a piece written by Video Game Writers' Russell Jones:
"Later, Gianturco said he was drunk during the panel and issued an apology for what he said.  That wasn’t enough to avoid a ban for violating CCP’s terms of service, and Gianturco also resigned his position on the Council of Stellar Management, a group of player-elected representatives that discuss game issues and development with CCP."
Other reporters tried to provide background information for their readers.  For example, Develop's Seth Tipps wrote:
"The Mittani is the most famous player character in EVE, responsible for single-handedly bringing down 'Band of Brothers', one of the major factions in a conflict the community now refers to as 'The Great War.'

"A member of the alliance known as 'Goonswarm', The Mittani infiltrated the ranks of rival alliance BOB and, over the course of two years, worked his way up to the upper echelons of the faction's leadership.

"He then disbanded the alliance.
No he didn't, but that seems to be a recurring thread.  From's Martin Gaston:
"Gianturco was responsible for EVE Online's most famous and publicised moment, when he managed to infiltrate and disable Band of Brothers, the game's dominant corporation at the time. The event is referred to as 'The Great War'".
Poor analysis of The Mittani goes beyond why he is famous.  Alec Meer of Rock, Paper, Shotgun provided this startling analysis:
"Gianturco is to receive a 30-day ban from Eve – which is, I suspect, quite a handicap for a player as powerful as he ..."

Considering that The Mittani is famous for not logging into Eve for long stretches of time, his analysis is flawed.  But at least the article no longer shows an image attributed to Mittens that was actually created by a player outside of Goowswarm.

With the gaming media supplying such fertile ground for a potential Pajamahadeen to grow, what type of activity is occurring now?

Jester wrote a great post, Hats, that can form the basis for any intelligent counterattack against the barbs thrown by the gaming media, especially if they keep up with the quality they have currently displayed to date.

Voices from the Void podcast host Arydanika blogs about the hypocrisy at the gaming sites talking about cyber-bullying because of their silence about sexual harassment at Cross Assault in February.

Eve Radio's DJ Funky Bacon will cover irresponsible journalism on his next show scheduled for Saturday at midnight GMT/in-game (Friday at 8pm Eastern time). 

SynCaine at Hardcore Casual has already started making fun of Massively, even in a post about incursions.

I'm sure we shall see more if the gaming press decides they want to camp Eve Online.  Eve players tend to be ... creative.  Maybe someone should warn those reporters to stay away.

Thursday, March 29, 2012


The Mittani is the master of the Eve metagame, riding that skill to internet gaming celebrity and the chairmanship of Eve Online’s 6th Council of Stellar Management. On the eve of assuming the chairmanship of the 7th CSM after his crushing victory in the March elections he made a fatal mistake that his enemies seized upon, leaving CCP no choice but to strip The Mittani of his title and place on New Eden’s player council.

Despite attending the 2012 Fanfest I missed witnessing the event by not attending the Alliance Panel. At the panel were several alliance CEO’s, including Dirt Nap Squad’s DNS Black and The Mittani, head of Goonswarm Federation. Both had appeared on the previous year’s panel and mixed up their presentations to be less than serious in an effort to entertain the crowd. In fact, The Mittani’s presentation the year before was not very good and he was visibly trying to impress the crowd.

The reason I mention DNS Black is that the hard drinking ex-Marine is always willing to share his beloved Jagermeister with others. He is also a happy drunk as I found out on the Golden Circle tour the day before the convention began. In other words, he is the type of person you want to hang around because sober or drunk he is very likable. And with DNS Black and The Mittani sitting together the alcohol began to flow.

After watching DNS Black’s presentation on how Dirt Nap Squad penetrated Jovian space then shooting The Mittani with magic missiles before presenting The Mittani with a genuine Jovian wizard’s hat, my interpretation of the video indicates that The Mittani thought he would be funnier if drunk. So in addition to what he had already drank he downed a couple more shots. A big mistake in judgment.  Unlike DNS Black, The Mittani is a sloppy drunk and it really showed.

Also unlike DNS Black, whose presentation poked good-natured fun at CCP’s closure of Jovian space, The Mittani’s presentation poked fun at other players. Actually an appropriate choice for the head Goon as it demonstrated the GSF attitudes toward the game, but a presentation that I believe really required The Mittani to not get more that slightly buzzed in order to pull of properly. That didn’t happen.

After Fanfest ended The Mittani’s enemies seized upon a slide of a miner’s letter implying that he was suicidal after undergoing a bad divorce. Given that this is Eve I think everyone in the audience believed the letter was an effort to get someone to feel bad and compensate him for the 22 Hulks he lost in a smartbombing attack. I know I did as I watched the presentation. But in fairness to The Mittani, his PowerPoint presentation did undergo CCP review and they allowed it because the The Mittani made no mention of any player names. But in my opinion The Mittani was really feeling the alcohol and that part of the presentation was rated NC. No class.

With one half of the panel drunk CCP Xhagen attempted to close down the panel as it ran long but the audience wanted to ask questions. The panel still almost managed to close down without incident until a player indicated that the miner The Mittani poked fun at had also been driven out of the Drone Regions also.  After the player told The Mittani that a second time The Mittani decided to shout out the miner's name and encouraged everyone to track him down to try to get him to kill himself.

Being at Fanfest staying in a hotel with flaky internet service I didn't catch the early rumblings about the call to gank the miner.  From the little I read and heard in the Harpa center the controversy was that members of the panel, especially The Mittani, were a disgrace because they drank and used bad language.  I didn't hear about the suicide controversy until I got back home on Tuesday.  Not only did I find a threadnaught calling for The Mittani's ouster, but a player had contacted Eurogamer to get the media ball rolling.

The Mittani first issued an apology for his statement on the forums.  But the apology was too late as CCP had already begun an investigation.  As pressure grew from both the player base and the media, The Mittani carried through with his pledge to resign as chairman of the CSM on Wednesday.  But two hours later CCP issued their own ruling, totally removing The Mittani from CSM7 and banning him from Eve for 30 days for violating the EULA/TOS.

The Mittani's reaction in the 29 March State of the Goonion is similar to that following the Incarna debacle last summer.  Then, he called for calm toward the devs like CCP Soundwave who were taking a lot of heat and wanted to direct any rage against the top leadership of CCP.  Now, he is pointing to the large press contingent that was flown in to cover DUST 514 at Fanfest and suggesting that CCP may be succumbing to pressure by Sony to make Eve Online less controversial.  As a test Goonswarm will hold a Free Mittani event in which they take 1800 Tornadoes and burn Jita to the ground on 28 April, The Mittani's first day back.  Depending on CCP's reaction The Mittani will decide what steps to take next.  Given new CCP Marketing Director David Reid's statement in his speech at the CCP Presents event at Fanfest, this Free Mittani event should be something that CCP should trumpet.  If a crackdown occurs instead, the game might have changed.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Fanfest 2012 - Day 3

Saturday began, as expected, with a hangover.  However, the never-ending supply of hot water available in Iceland really came in handy and by the time I left the hotel for the first event of the day I felt pretty good.

In typical CCP fashion the first presentation at 1100, "Growing Eve's Infrastructure", involved lots of numbers.  Did I mention that CCP has a bit of a sadistic streak?  The impressive numbers that I noted were that Tranquility has grown to 220 Sol servers and 48 proxy servers.  The proxy servers handle tasks such as connection negotiation, routing and data integrity checks. They route traffic to and from the Sol layer. Sol servers are where all the processing missioning, mining and fighting are computed and shared out via various proxy servers to other clients.  These servers have a combined 1 terahertz of processing power and 4 terabytes of RAM.  The proxy servers are designed to handle up to 40,000 concurrent players, which is good because with the introduction of DUST 514 CCP expects the peak concurrent users to increase by a factor of 10.  Yipes!

One thing I am concerned about is a possible move to virtualize Tranquility.  CCP has already virtualized a lot of other servers with no issues.  I even see how virtualization could aid in combating lag as resources would move around from underpopulated nodes to large fleet fights automatically.  I'm mainly concerned if a server is vMotioned whether that would lead to nodes disconnecting all the players in the fight.

Following the infrastructure presentation at 1200 was the "War Declarations" presentation.  The Eve-O forums contain a good summary of the presentation so I'll just make a couple of observations.  The first is that while we were told one of the basic questions was whether there was a problem with the war dec system, the problem became widely acknowledged with the GMs allowing practices that used to be considered exploits to become common practice.

Another thing that struck me is that while the devs are putting in features like war reports and war histories to attract those outside of high sec to declare war, I still don't see null sec alliances doing so.  For example, the current proposed pricing structure for wars I think would preclude that.  For example, I think war deccing the Goons would cost 3.5 billion isk per week.  I think that the cost will actually reduce the number of war decs as high sec corporations will no longer be able to declare nuisance wars against the large null sec alliances where the only combat occurs in Jita.

The good thing is that the changes to the war dec system are still in progress so I hope the devs take in player feedback about the holes in the system.

I felt a bit run down so I took a break until 1400.  That first presentation with all those numbers really took a lot out of me.  But eating some crackers, downing some aspirin, drinking lots of water and lying down for a bit left me refreshed for the next presentation I attended, "Eve Online vs. The Real World".   The presentation was given by a graduate student from the University of Aberdeen who did his thesis on real world security and international relations theories as applied to Eve.  I just put down my pen and enjoyed the talk.  If the video gets posted to YouTube I highly recommend watching.

The next event I attended at 1500 was the War Declarations round table.  I sat back as I watched the folks from Eve University, some mercs and some griefers discuss the mechanics.  A very informative session that showed me just how broken the war dec mechanics were.  For instance, people would drop corp, fly through two systems to another station and then rejoin corp.  Yes, definitely broken.

With the end of the round table it was time to go to the main hall for the "CCP Presents" talk.  This final session gave us CCP's vision of the future.  On Friday Hilmar told us of the first 4 ages of CCP.  On Saturday he told us of the fifth planned age from 2012-2015 which would begin with the launch of DUST 514 and would end with the launch of World of Darkness.  That's right, no one put the stake through the vampire's heart and the game will see the light of the moon yet.  Or that is the plan.

Next up was CCP's Chief Technology Officer Halldor Fannar.  The big news was the demonstration of improved graphics but with a requirement of dedicating a team of 5 developers for a year on implementing the graphics the question of whether to put forth that effort will go to the player base.  The other big news was that the purchase of GTX 560 video cards is now possible for the cost of 20 PLEX.  I'm not sure I like that idea since I anticipate some cash strapped governments would use the exchange of virtual currency for physical objects as an excuse to tax my in game earnings.

After the CTO came the new head of CCP Marketing David Reid.  He gave a great talk, but I have the same feeling as Wilhelm from The Ancient Gaming Noob about the former NC West President of Publishing.  Does anyone remember the Tabula Rasa "we're triple-A and here to stay" interview given a month before the announcement that the servers would close?  So I think this is a good time to list his "2012 Laws of CCP Marketing".
1.  We don't need to make Eve something it is not.
2.  We don't need Jesus features to get new players.
3.  We will launch DUST as a AAA shooter.
4.  We will create moments out of our Eve experiences.
5.  We will portray New Eden and its citizens with authenticity.
Let's see if he carries through with this list.

Following David Reid came DUST 514's executive producer Brandon Laurino.  After giving the standard information from the Thursday presentation he decided to drop a couple of bombs.  DUST will have PvE in the form of combat against rogue drones.  DUST will also introduce gladiator arenas in 2013 in which battles can be observed and wagered on within both DUST and Eve.  Also in 2013 combat on non-temperate planets and MTACs are planned.

Next came Eve Online's producer John Lander.  Most of what he said was just a review of everything I'd heard over the past 3 days so I just sat back and relaxed.  Then Hilmar came back out and introduced the new Eve trailer based on the story of Templar One.  I was really hoping that the video was a trailer for an Eve Online movie but after a bit of reflection I figured that the orgy scene would cause some problems.

With the end of CCP Presents only one more event remained: The Party at the Top of the World.  I walked back to the hotel, stopping by Hlölla Bátar for one of their delicious subs for dinner.  The party was listed to begin at 8pm but was delayed a bit for some setup.  I have to admit I was pretty tired but managed to make it through RoXoR's set and see Permaband's two songs, ending with HTFU.  I called it a night around 11pm and went back to the hotel after 3 beers to catch some much needed sleep.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Digital Dozen: 27 March 2012

The rankings of the top twelve MMORPGs as determined by the players of the Xfire community from play on Sunday, 25 March 2012.  For more details about the methodology, click here.

Rank Prev Week Game ScoreHours Played
11World of Warcraft 57.4 82,619
22Star Wars: The Old Republic17.323,330
44Eve Online 3.44,828
55Lord of the Rings Online2.73,839
67Metin 22.43,390
76Guild Wars2.23,216
98Star Trek Online2.02,856
1112Need For Speed World1.62,357
1210Maple Story1.52,175
Total MMORPG hours played Sunday: 191,247
Note: SW:TOR numbers updated on 2 April

Overall, the amount of hours spent playing MMORPGs by the Xfire community decreased by 7.3% from the previous week but was still up 4% from 11 March.

SWTOR's Second Free Trial - Last weekend Bioware launched a second free trial weekend for brand new players in Star Wars: The Old Republic.  This indicates that the first weekend was so good that they could maintain the momentum.  The numbers show that the second weekend did not do so well, at least among the less-casual gamers who use Xfire.  In a week that saw a 7.3% overall decline in overall MMORPG play, SWTOR saw its numbers drop 11.2%.  A more troubling indicator for Bioware is that despite two free trials, the number of hours played actually slipped 2% from 11 March to 25 March while the Xfire number of hours played actually increased by 4%.

Expanding the bot rule - When making this week's list, I had to exclude three games, Supreme Destiny (15 hours), Atlantica Online (10 hours) and Silkroad Online (9 hours) from consideration due to the unbelievable number of hours played by the average gamer.

Eve Online and bots - Speaking of bots, CCP has put into place rules that could smooth out the changes in the number of hours played in Eve Online.  At last week's Fanfest, CCP's internet security chief CCP Sreegs announced that botters would be banned on a daily basis.  No more group bannings as occurred at the end of February.

Speaking of the effects of bots, as I pointed out last week I could not gauge the effect of the bots due to the servers not allowing players to log in for a significant amount of time.  Having the servers work all day was a contributing factor in Eve being one of two games in The Digital Dozen (Star Trek Online the other) to see the numbers played increase.  But going back to 11 March, Eve has seen an increase of 6.9% in hours played vs the general increase of 4%.  However, I can't really tell if the increase is due to botters returning or the excitement generated by Fanfest.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Fanfest 2012 - Day 2

On Friday I woke up, ate breakfast and showed up early to the Harpa center.  I really believe that CCP has a sadistic streak in them by always scheduling CCP Dr.EyjoG's "State of the Economy" presentation at 10am in the main Tranquility hall.  But the time is not as bad as it sounds.  Either that or I was smart and just didn't drink much the night before.  But I learned a lot about the New Eden economy by getting up early.

The first major thing I noted was the demographics show players moving away from null sec and into wormholes.  Null sec went from having 16.2% of the population to having 15% and w-space saw a corresponding increase from 4.2% to 5.4%.  The demographics also show that older players move from high sec to other areas.  While 71.5% of players stay in high sec overall, only 65.3% of players with over 5 million skill points remain in high sec.  And when excluding Jita, the population in Caldari space is actually declining while that of Amar is increasing.  Dr. EyjoG believes this is a function of the Amar Empire's size and that population pressure is forcing players into the traditionally underpopulated systems.

Inflation is a big worry for Dr. EyjoG as the isk faucets are pouring in 24 trillion isk per month more than the isk sinks can remove.  New Eden's GUP (gross user product) increased by 15% in 2011 (or YC113 for roleplayers) which Dr. EvjoG indicates shows that Eve has made up for all the players lost during the Summer of Rage.  One of the big culprits, if not the biggest, to the wave of inflation is incursions.  According to the statistics, 5% of the population in Eve takes part in the anti-Sansha efforts.  What part of incursions do pilots run the most?  Vanguards.  I would expect a Vanguard nerf in the very near future.

Another area of concern is the PLEX market.  The PLEX market now represents 25% of the total trade in Eve.  The CSM is going to receive a new role as a watchdog over CCP's efforts to regulate the market.  Dr. EyjoG revealed that there are over 10,000 PLEX on banned accounts that the Eve Central Bank could use to intervene in the markets.  A new organization, the CCP PLEX Council, consisting of Dr. EyjoG, a senior developer, and a player (most likely a CSM member) will oversee the PLEX market.  With the advent of the CCP/CSM Skype channel, this type of conversation should be possible whenever needed.  For those who think the CSM doesn't have power, you might want to think again.

I would like to make one additional observation before moving on.  Throughout Dr. EyjoG's presentation, no mention of subscriber numbers or actual number of pilots was given.  In fact on one chart the numbers were clumsily blacked out.  I don't know if this is to hide that subscriptions didn't actually increase very much to players or is now proprietary information because CCP is looking to take itself public.  That said, I do believe CCP when it states that subscription numbers went up last year.  I am skeptical of claims that the game has 400,000 paid (real life money or PLEX) subscriptions and the lack of numbers hardens that suspicion.

At 1100 was the "Ship Balancing" presentation.  I admit the dev blog on ship balancing left me a bit confused so I welcomed the opportunity for CCP Ytterbium to explain exactly what the reasoning behind the moves.  After listening to the explanation, things started to make more sense.  Personalizing the presentation, why should Rosewalker need to learn Assault Ships and Heavy Assault Ships to fly the Slepnir command ship or Logistics to fly a Claymore?  I think the proposed path that all she needs to learn is Minmatar Battlecruisers V makes sense.  Of course, the fact that he already has Battlecruisers trained to 5 makes me a little uneasy about what happens when the expansion does come out.

After the ship balancing presentation I quickly ran out to the concession stand to get a nutritious meal of a brownie and water before the noon presentation "Year In Lag" by CCP Veritas.  Admittedly I sat back and watched as he pulled out several very impressive graphs and failed to take notes.  But the basic thrust of his talk is that Team Gridlock has made great strides on the servers and the next area that would gain the greatest return for the effort is working on the Eve client.

CCP Veritas at the Eve Keynote

Once CCP Veritas finished, I made my way to Singularity for CCP Sreeg's presentation on "Eve Security".  As tempting as watching the Faction Warfare presentation was, I just had to see the goodies CCP Sreegs would unleash.  And I wasn't disappointed.

CCP Sreegs first surprised me with one of his first slides documenting his successes in 2011 and The Nosy Gamer featured at the bottom of the slide.  I was so surprised that when he said he believed the gentleman who runs the blog is in the hall that I didn't raise my hand or otherwise take a bow.  I'm not sure what surprised me more, the mention of the blog or that he knew I was in Iceland.

But enough about me, what about bots?  First, the majority of characters banned have under 20 million skillpoints, with the most flown ships the Tengu, Hulk and Raven Navy Issue.  Surprisingly, the security team caught on player botting in a Nyx.  Really?!

As for the changes, the one where accounts are flagged as botters can no longer transfer characters was known before Fanfest.  Two new ones are that bannings will be done daily, which means the algorithms that detect bots must be pretty good by now.  Only one player was confirmed as being a false positive with a second about to be confirmed.  Also, effective the week before Fanfest CCP began removing all of the money earned by bots from accounts.  If the character is a mining bot, then a value of the minerals is determined and deducted from a character's wallet.

Among other security news is that two factor authentication will probably begin around July, but that is not confirmed.  I'll have to review the presentation once it hits YouTube for additional details as I was most concerned with bots.

After the presentation I went down to introduce myself to CCP Sreegs.  I waited awhile as people talked with him, including the gentleman who was falsely banned.  During the presentation CCP Sreegs said that CCP would take care of people affected and he confirmed he was well taken care of.  I then had a brief chat with the security chief as we walked out of the room as the next presentation began.

I had 90 minutes to kill before the Eve Keynote address so I made the five minute walk back to the hotel, grabbed some crackers, took some aspirin and drank a lot of water.  Oh, and made a post about getting mentioned by CCP Sreegs.

Unlike the DUST 514 Keynote, the Eve Keynote started on time at 1530. First, Hilmar came out once again to try to convince everyone he "gets" it about Eve being about internet spaceships.  He also came out with an interesting timeline of the "Ages of CCP".  The first age, from 1997-1999 was the "Age of Innocence" where the few members of CCP gathered up the resources to actually begin building Eve Online.  The second age, from 2000-2003, was the actual "Making of Eve Online", or the development of the game.  From 2004-2007 was "The March to 200K", or making the game popular.  The fourth age, 2008-2011, he called "War on the Impossible", when CCP attempted to build two new games while continuing to run Eve.  That last kind of stepped on the whole "flying in space" is priority one and should have been saved for Saturday, but Hilmar does get carried away sometimes.

The new senior producer for Eve, Jon Lander (CCP Unifex) came up next to reassure everyone that the new concentration was on Flying in Space and not leaving features half built.

Senior Producer CCP Unifex at the 2012 Eve Keynote

He also produced a production schedule that reminded me of Scott Hartsman-era EverQuest 2 with releases every month.  Unlike EQ2 though, Eve will continue to have two major releases a year instead of one.  Right now the Inferno pre-patch is scheduled for 24 April with Inferno itself releasing 22 May.  Inferno 1.5 is scheduled for an August release with a point release in September and the winter expansion launching in November.

Next up came CCP Soundwave.  CCP Soundwave stated that Crucible would not be a one-off expansion and that Inferno should be even better as the developers move on to start fixing some of the bigger things that need love like the war dec system and faction warfare.

CCP Soundwave explaining Crucible at 2012 Eve Keynote

After CCP Soundwave finished, CCP Veritas came on and talked about Team Gridlock's efforts to reduce lag.  CCP Veritas is one of the more popular devs and besides, you can never get too many graphs.

To wrap up the presentation, CCP TorfiFrans came on to talk about avatars and other types of things.  While improved skin colors, sleeve tatoos and race blending are interesting, he fortunately had other things to discuss other than reminders of Incarna.  When you get to talk about salvage drones (finally!) that makes up for a lot.  The steath bomber redesign also looks promising.  But he got to end the presentation with the introduction of missile turrets.  While Minmatar ships do use missiles as well as guns, the Caldari pilots went crazy.  What could have been a rough conclusion got a rousing ovation.

Following the presentation I had a few hours to kill so I stopped by a restaurant called American Style for dinner.  The place played American rock and roll music and was a rather nice place, especially since I managed to hit it at a quiet time.  I had a Buddy Holly burger, which was pretty good.

After going back to my room for a couple of hours I headed back to the Harpa center for the Pub Crawl.  I'm not going to go into too much detail, but my group lost its guide and we would up with the Goons group, squeaky bees and all.  I did bump into The Mittani a couple of times and he isn't as bad as he would like everyone to believe.  He also confirmed my view that going to Iceland is just like going to Wisconsin.

I lost the group in the 5th bar sometime around 1am and made my way back to the hotel, stopping by Hlölla Bátar for a sub to try to soak up some of the alcohol.  Sorry, no pictures.  Sometime what happens in Reykjavik stays in Reykjavik.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Fanfest 2012 - Day 1

Due to some internet connection problems, this post is a day late so I'm posting on a Saturday to try to catch up.  Since this Fanfest is not my first gaming convention, I looked at the schedule and figured out I didn't need to get my badge as soon as the doors opened.  I think people had the same idea as there was still a line starting at the bottom of the stairs.  I think I only had to wait 10 minutes to get my access badge and sign up for a group for the pub crawl Friday night.

I got to the first presentation, "Shoot The Shit w/Unifex", before the hall filled up but there was a problem.  Apparently Eve Online's Senior Producer, John Lander (aka CCP Unifex) was unable to make it.  A bad beginning for the con.  CCP Guard and CCP Darth Beta filled in and instead gave an introduction to what was happening during Fanfest.  That lasted about 30 minutes, with a lot of time to wait for the next event, a discussion on Crimewatch.

Crimewatch is something I think players will begin to hear more of.  A function that controls aggression flagging, global criminal cooldowns, loot rights, kill mails and a bunch of things I didn't have time to write down.  Basically the function is a mess and needs to be rewritten.  The work is just beginning with the first changes occurring in April (probably with the pre-patch for Inferno) which we won't see because they will be back end processes.

Some of the changes include the creation of a single 15 minute aggression times, an option to keep the client open until fully logged off, and a weapons timer that means that someone assisting with aggression will also receive a cooldown timer.  Or as CCP Greyscale said, God hates station games.

The biggest change will be the creation of a third state of criminal activity, "suspect".  Basically suspect status is like committing a mistomeanor, like shooting at someone in low-sec.  If you kill someone while you are suspect your security status can't go below -5.  Also, players will be able to raise their security standings by killing players with negative security status.

I know that I didn't get all of the details so go visit the forum thread or make sure you watch the video when CCP posts it on YouTube.

At 1500 I went to a round table called "Black Ops and You".  DNS Black alsong with two other members of Dirt Nap Squad along with a dev talked about ideas on fighting with stealty ships while DNS Black passed out Jim Beam.  From the Golden Circle tour the day before I knew he couldn't get any of his favored Jagermeister because the duty-free store ran out.  It was a pretty good back and forth with DNS Black and his crew looking at maintaining the elite (or niche) status of black ops within Eve.

The final event I attended was the CSM panel.  Quite frankly I could have done without it but there was nothing else to attend.  However I did come up with one interesting statistic that I found on the slide with the vote totals from prior years.  In last year's election, 49,096 votes were cast for a voter turnout of 14.25%, meaning that there was a pool of 344,533 accounts that were eligible to vote in 2011.  This year, 59,109 votes cast represented a 17.49% voter turnout.  That means that this year 337,959 accounts were eligible to vote, a decrease of almost 6,600 from the year before.  I will have to look up to see if the voting eligibility changed, but just from those numbers it appears that CCP did not recover all of the accounts that left after the Incarna launch last year.

After leaving the site I went to a place called Hlölla Bátar.  It is a nice little sandwich shop right outside the doors of the hotel that I have become quite fond of.  After that I stopped by The Celtic Cross for a drink and then it was time for bed.  The economy presentation was first thing in the morning, and since I couldn't hook up to the internet and blog I got some needed sleep.

Friday, March 23, 2012

As Seen On Eve TV

The internet at the hotel is pretty bad and kept me from making a regular post.  Right now I have a chance to blog because I am in between the Eve Security presentation and the Eve Keynote address.  I left the Eve Security presentation all smiles because at the bottom of one of the first slides was mention of The Nosy Gamer.

I always suspected that CCP Sreegs likes good forum porn and he confirmed it by mentioning the blog and some of my posts based on the tears of botters.  He has made it more difficult to come up with those posts because the site administrators are now hiding all the tears behind login screens.  Before, with CCP taking a noticeable break in its anti-botting efforts I slacked off on my coverage of The War on Bots™, but if CCP carries through with the plans discussed this afternoon, I'll have to pick the coverage back up.  I have to run off to listen to the Eve Keynote presentation now, but you can be sure I'll write more about the subject next week.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Day Before Fanfest

I'm a little tired but not hung over after yesterday's festivities.  I spent most of the day doing the Golden Circle tour.  I was sitting near the back of my bus near a Jagermeister-less DNS Black, the CEO of Dirt Nap Squad.  While driving around the countryside it was very interesting to hear not only his stories but those from others in the bus.  And the views were pretty good also.

Geysir geothermal area

Gullfoss waterfall

Afterwards I went to The English Pub to check on the Eve University meetup, but didn't know it had moved to the Thingholt hotel until I got home, so I headed to the Tweetfleet meetup at The Celtic Cross.  It was pretty crowded with a lot of CCP devs present.  I think I saw CCP Sreegs, CCP Navigator and CCP Sunset along with The Mittani, Raivi, Michael Bolton.  Later on I spotted CCP Punkturis at the downstairs bar attacting a lot of attention.  I was going to ask a UI question for someone, but she and her husband left so when I finally managed to talk with CCP Punkturis, I asked the question I had been wondering about.  It is true, CCP Navigator and the new head of marketing at CCP, David Reid, really are two different people.  They just look like they are twins.  And I should add that CCP Punkturis is really a charming young lady.

Remarkably, after drinking more than I have in a long time, I actually felt better than I have this entire trip when I woke up today.  So now on to registration.  And if you ever make it to Fanfest, take the Golden Circle tour if you get the chance.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Prelude to Fanfest

Reykjavik - I made it to Iceland in one piece.  By this time the routine is not very hard: pack my bags, hop in a limo, shuffle thru customs and get on the plane.  Except this time was for pleasure, not business.

There are no direct flights from Chicago to Reykjavik so I had to fly to Boston first.  I took a flight that gave me a four hour layover because I wanted plenty of time to get my luggage transferred from United to Icelandair.  Not that United has ever lost my luggage, but I decided to walk it over myself.  I'm pretty happy I did because I ran into a pilot from Against ALL Authorities who got in line right behind me and we struck up a conversation for the entire stay.  It was an interesting conversation that lasted over dinner at a Sbarro Pizza stand (although he was good and got a salad from someplace else).

I flew in Monday night, which means I missed the unofficial CSM flight by a day.  That's okay, because I probably flew in with a "normal" crowd, meaning not a plane full of Eve players.  My plane was full, which surprised the nice Swedish couple that were flying back home from a trip to Dallas.  I had to explain why.

I liked that the flight was less than 5 hours, because the seats in the 757 were kind of cramped.  I managed to get a few hours sleep on the plane so I didn't break out the iPad and watch Clear Skies 2 or 3 again.  Sleep is good.  So is arriving in country at 6:30am.  Lots of time to adjust my body clock in preparation for Fanfest.

The hotel reminds me a bit of the hotel I stayed at in London two years ago.  Small.  That shouldn't matter because I don't plan to stay in it much.  The one disappointing thing is that I can't get Eve Radio on the WiFi network.  I was able to get another streaming site, by not Eve Radio.  But I do have my iPad with my music collection so that will have to do.

I did do some running around Reykjavik.  The first thing I did was find Harpa, the convention center Fanfest is held in.  Okay it was the second thing.  The first thing I did was run back inside the hotel and put on a sweater underneath my coat.  While it isn't that cold, it is a humid cold.  Something to do with being right by the sea.

One thing I didn't know is that Harpa is right on the water.  I walked past the gates to a harbor facility to get to it.

View from the Harpa building

After bookmarking the Fanfest site, I stopped by a hotdog stand to get lunch and then took a nap.  Did I mention sleep is good?

After my nap I did a little more roaming around.  I found the site for the Eve University meetup, which, as direction-challenged as I am, I can't miss.  I also managed to pick up a shot glass for my boss.  Now I don't have to worry about getting it.  The hotel is also close to a lot of bars and restaurants.  And I mean a lot.  The hotel is also adjacent to a supermarket.  That is big since it means I can get bottled water, a necessity not only because I get headaches when dehydrated but the water smells like rotten eggs.

I finished the day getting dinner from Tabasco's, a Mexican restaurant that also serves seafood.

This ad worked for me

I am beginning to think that fish is to Reykjavik what pizza is to Sofia; served everywhere. Of course, I took advantage of being in a port and ordered fish and chips instead of something Mexican.  I didn't get the whale steak because I am on a budget.  Did I mention that Reykjavik is expensive?  I only purchased $300 in króna and my meal of fish and chips plus a beer cost around $30.  I know I can get more money, but I would like to stay close to what I planned to spend.  I'm beginning to think I should have planned to spend $500.  I hope people in Iceland are paying their taxes through a sales tax and not an income tax.

Nothing really more to add.  It's time to do a little more wandering around before heading on the Golden Circle tour.  Maybe I can find the spot of the #tweetfleet meetup.  It is farther away than the Eve Uni meetup and I do tend to get lost.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Digital Dozen: 20 March 2012

The rankings of the top twelve MMORPGs as determined by the players of the Xfire community from play on Sunday, 18 March 2012.  For more details about the methodology, click here.

Rank Prev Week Game ScoreHours Played
11World of Warcraft 55.5 84,001
22Star Wars: The Old Republic17.326,259
44Eve Online 3.14,736
55Lord of the Rings Online3.04,528
67Guild Wars2.43,695
76Metin 22.43,642
88Star Trek Online2.03,276
911APB: Reloaded1.92,822
1012Maple Story1.82,681
1210Need For Speed World1.62,479
Total MMORPG hours played Sunday: 206,390

I am not sure if something is wrong with Xfire's reporting or if people just stopped playing Mass Effect 3 and returned to their normal games.  Probably the latter.  Keeping in mind that overall the hours played MMORPGs increased 12% from last week, here is a look at some games.

Star Wars: The Old Republic: What happens if you hold a big event and no one came?  At least, that is what looks like what happened with Bioware's free weekend promotion this weekend.  I shouldn't actually say that.  While SWTOR's 10% hours played gain lagged behind the 12% increase for all MMOs, that is actually good news considering it breaks an 8 week slide that saw the number of hours played decrease by 66%.  And since we don't know the effect on casual gamers, this may count as a successful promotion for SWTOR.

Aion: Aion was the big mover last week with a rise of 55% in number of hours played.  The switch to free-to-play has been successful during the first month with the NCSoft game seeing an increase of 152%.

Maple Story: The latest patch appears to be helping Maple Story recover from its problems in January.  The Wiznet/Nexon game saw a jump of 32% in hours played last week as it moved up two places to the number 10 spot.

Eve Online:  Sunday should have been a good test of the reliability of the Xfire numbers, or at least the honesty of its community.  With the wave of people banned for 14 days for botting up last weekend, I expected to see a jump in the numbers for the sci-fi sandbox game.  But the game had problems with people unable to log in at a very busy time and the server eventually required a reboot.  So I will need to wait one more week to see the effect on the Xfire charts.  Assuming that head of security CCP Sreegs does not unleash a new wave of bot bannings to celebrate CCP's Fanfest, which I am currently attending.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Staying In High-Sec: It's The (Real World) Economy Stupid?

An interesting discussion is taking place in the U.S. political blogosphere that has implications for Eve Online.  It started with an op-ed in the New York Times titled "The Go Nowhere Generation".   In the piece the authors Todd G. Buchholz and Victoria Buchholz argue that bad economic times make people more risk adverse.
"But Generation Y has become Generation Why Bother. The Great Recession and the still weak economy make the trend toward risk aversion worse. Children raised during recessions ultimately take fewer risks with their investments and their jobs. Even when the recession passes, they don’t strive as hard to find new jobs, and they hang on to lousy jobs longer. Research by the economist Lisa B. Kahn of the Yale School of Management shows that those who graduated from college during a poor economy experienced a relative wage loss even 15 years after entering the work force."
I guess I am the poster child for this theory.  At 47, I experienced 4 recessions growing up, including the horrible decade from November 1973 to November 1982 that saw 3 recessions (November 1973-March 1975, January 1980-July 1980 and July 1981-November 1982) totaling 38 months.  Add in the recession of December 1969-November 1970 and the economy was in recession for a total of 4 years from the time I was in kindergarten to the time I began taking college classes waiting for my date to join the Army.  Do I fit the profile?  Regular readers who put up with all my complaining about how much time I spend working would think so.  In my defense I would say that all of the hard work got me a house, a paid-off car, 4 business trips to Europe over the last two years and I will probably travel to two new countries this year.  And that is on top of having the money to fly to Iceland to attend Fanfest in a couple of hours.  But I think the reply to that is: yes, you fit the description.

Many scholars and players speculate that we bring our attitudes and experience into our gaming virtual worlds.  If I am risk adverse because I grew up in such recession-filled times would I act the same way while playing Eve?  I am a self-described high-sec carebear who only ventures into low-sec if I have laid down a solid foundation of bookmarks in the systems.  The only missions I have ever run in low-sec are courier missions although I'll transport blueprint originals through low-sec because that is where the empty research and copy slots are.  I have lots of shiny toys in my stations from my low-risk/low-effort activities like planetary interaction, datacore mining and invention.  In short, I brought the real world into the game with me.

The theory may explain me, but what of the generation who are 20 years younger than me?  If the theory holds true, then we should see a lot of risk takers both in real life and in Eve.  In the 25 year period from November 1982 to December 2007 the U.S. economy experienced two recessions (July 1990-March 1991 and March 2001 - November 2001) totaling 16 months.  Again, from the New York Times op-ed.
"The likelihood of 20-somethings moving to another state has dropped well over 40 percent since the 1980s, according to calculations based on Census Bureau data. The stuck-at-home mentality hits college-educated Americans as well as those without high school degrees. According to the Pew Research Center, the proportion of young adults living at home nearly doubled between 1980 and 2008, before the Great Recession hit. Even bicycle sales are lower now than they were in 2000. Today’s generation is literally going nowhere. This is the Occupy movement we should really be worried about."
I think the authors need to find another explanation since the recession theory, in my eyes, doesn't apply.

So what do I, raised in the midst of multiple recessions with no long periods of good economic times, have in common with the younger generation raised in one of the best economic periods of U.S. history?  We are in a comfortable economic position.  In my case, I have undergone my own economic journey and reached a place that gives me a good life.  The younger generation is still figuring out how to succeed and as long as they have a good home don't see the reason to suffer a drop in their lifestyle.  In Eve terms, I'm the old vet who is tired of the antics out in low- and null sec and just wants to relax in high-sec.  The youngsters are those wondering why leave the comforts of high-sec for the uncertainty of low- and null security space.

And players in Eve Online definitely fall into that category of younger people.  While those who went to high school during The Great Recession (December 2007 - June 2009) and the aftermath today fall into those influenced by recession, Eve Online players are older than the average video game player. During the election for CSM 5, the average age of voters was 30.8 years of age, making their birth years 1980-1981, or near the beginning of a period of 25 nearly recession-free years.  These are the people who, according to theory, should be risk takers.  But just as in the real world people are staying close to (or never leave) home, a look in New Eden shows at least 70% of players remain in high-sec.  That means the average player is staying in Empire space along with all of us recession babies.

While the theory why people are risk adverse is interesting, the reality is in the real world people have become less likely to engage in risky economic activity than they were before.  For those of us who have played MMORPGs for a few years, that sounds familiar, doesn't it?  So game designers like those at CCP have a harder task than imagined to entice players to engage in riskier behavior if players are conditioned by real life to play it safe.  Of course, once a solution is found, perhaps we can apply it to the real world.  Well, we can hope, right?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Going To Fanfest, Any Advice?

My trip to Iceland to attend Fanfest is my first foreign trip that is not associated with work in any way.  As such, I don't have a lot of advanced knowledge or ideas for what to do.  Okay, I've already planned on taking the tour on Wednesday and the convention events from Thursday to Saturday are a given.  And I've already done the basic research like what type of outlet plugs and power adapters do I need.  I already had that set because Bulgaria and Iceland use the same ones.

What I need are the little details I haven't been able to research myself.  Are there things to do or places to go in Reykjavik I really can't miss?  What foods do I need to make sure I try?  What questions do I need to ask at Fanfest if I get a chance to corner a dev?  Since I'm staying at the hotel that CCP advertised as being the press hotel, is there anyone I need to look up if possible?

One more day of work and then I can relax and start packing.  I can't wait!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

CCP Voter Suppression Effort?

Between the stress at work and the excitement of my upcoming trip to Fanfest, I may not be thinking clearly.  Case in point, logging into Eve last night.  As often happens, an ad was displayed.

"NO VOTES NERF BOATS".  In big letters on a red background.  Adjusting my tin foil headgear, that could only refer to one thing.  The famous Goonswarm fleet commander Dabigredboat.  So if people don't vote in the CSM election Dabigredboat gets nerfed?  Is CCP trying to suppress the voting for CSM by convincing people in alliances like Raiden. that they will be rewarded for not showing up to the polls?

Then I took off the hat and remembered that suppressing the votes from the Goon's enemies would just guarantee The Mittani's victory, perhaps even giving him an overwhelming mandate.  I'm pretty sure that is the last thing the senior management at CCP wants to see.  So no conspiracy here.  Nothing to see.  Carry on.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Quote of the Week

"So dear readers, if you suffer from the lack of "game" in WoW, join me in EVE. They say it's a harsh, evil world, but it's a lie, EVE is nice and friendly.  You are desperately needed to fix that!"
- Gevlon Goblin

Perhaps I shouldn't watch The History of the MC before reading blogs, but I was hot-dropped at the end of the day in real life and the resulting TiDi led me leaving work two hours later than planned.  So I put in a documentary and lost myself in Eve on the train ride home.  I think the whole concept of PvP as business put my in a receptive state of mind when I read Gevlon's announcement that he will stop raiding in World of Warcraft (at least until the pandas arrive) and move to New Eden.

I've written before that I enjoy reading and listening to new players describe Eve, but Gevlon is a rather famous blogger who made a name for himself playing the auction house and otherwise making money.  I can tell he has put a lot of thought and research into this move and I really want to see what happens.  I hope he posts it all.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Digital Dozen: 13 March 2012

The rankings of the top twelve MMORPGs as determined by the players of the Xfire community from play on Sunday, 11 March 2012.  For more details about the methodology, click here.

Rank Prev Week Game ScoreHours Played
11World of Warcraft 58.0 81,067
22Star Wars: The Old Republic17.023,811
44Eve Online 3.24,516
56Lord of the Rings Online2.73,707
68Metin 22.63,575
75Guild Wars2.53,972
87Star Trek Online2.23,276
1011Need For Speed World1.82,524
1110APB: Reloaded1.72,410
12NRMaple Story1.42,019
Total MMORPG hours played Sunday: 183,825

Mass Effect - The release of Bioware's Mass Effect 3 on 6 March had the anticipated effect of bringing down the numbers for most games.  Last week's 4.9% decline in the number of hours Xfire members played MMORPGs would have been even greater if World of Warcraft had not seen a 6.7% increase over the previous week.

What is he smoking? - I have restrained myself over the two weeks from pointing out Star Wars: The Old Republic's continuous slipping numbers on Xfire.  Quite frankly, the story is getting boring.  But then Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitello made a statement that I find unbelievable.  He stated that SWTOR still has 1.7 million active subscribers, a number unchanged from a month ago.  I guess it is possible that a lot of people who never played an MMORPG before are buying the game, but if Xfire is any guide, experienced gamers have grown disenchanted.  In the eight weeks from 15 January to 11 March SWTOR saw a 66% drop in the number of hours played by the Xfire community.  Players have created a threadnaught on the official forums asking for server mergers because some servers have turned into ghost towns.

To put SWTOR's numbers in perspective, the indie title Minecraft has proved more popular than SWTOR over the past two weeks.  While Minecraft is a fine game, the extreme low cost of developing that game has to have EA investors scratching their heads over why their game fell so far so fast.  The game is still huge in the MMORPG marketplace, but considering speculation is that EA/Bioware needs 1 million subscribers to break even, odds are that the game is in trouble.

The Return of Maple Story - After a one week absence, Maple Story returns to the Digital Dozen, barely squeaking past Silkroad Online for the final position.  Maple Story was one of the few MMOs to buck the downward trend, gaining 2% last week.

Monday, March 12, 2012

CCP's War On Bots: Average Concurrent Users - 4 Feb 2012 to 5 Mar 2012

With the forces of CCP renewing its War on Bots™, the time has come to evaluate the effect on the number of people playing Eve Online.  CCP Sreegs stated that between one thousand and two thousand accounts were banned in the first anti-bot sweep two weeks ago.  I know a lot of players don't trust CCP and look to what they do instead of what they say.  When the subject comes to the War on Bots™ the distrust goes deeper as many don't believe that CCP is serious about combatting botting.

Source: | Chribba OMG Labs
From 4 February to 26 February, CCP had a good three weeks, with the 7-day average of players online increasing 7.5%.  Then CCP Screegs unleashed Botageddon and over the course of the next 8 days that gain was practically wiped out.

What has happened over the past 7 days?  The average concurrent user numbers on Eve Offline, unlike the peak concurrent user numbers, have a lag of seven days.  Looking at the peak concurrent user numbers indicates that the number of players stayed relatively stable during that time.

Source: | Chribba OMG Labs
Looking at the seven day rolling PCU average only shows a decline of 1000 users during the two week period while the seven day rolling average of ACU shows a decline of 2200 users in the week after the wave of bot bannings.  One reason for the difference is that botters will usually try to run their bots at times when they believe player bot-hunters are less active.  But another reason may be that the growth seen in Eve this year continues to rise and CCP Sreeg's efforts are just a bump in the road that is only a short term decline.  With the first of the latest 14 day bans scheduled to expire next week, I am interesed to see exactly how much of a boost we see in concurrent user numbers going forward into Fanfest.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Odds And Ends

Chaotic is the word that describes my week in real life.  I have hardly had time to log into Eve.  So since the ideas for posts have dried up, here are some things that don't really rate a post on their own.

Solar flares - In addition to work, this week we saw a solar storm hit the Earth.  Apparently my computers survived but my car won't start.  The sun should not have the ability to hit something as small as my car.  NERF SOLAR TRACKING!

CSM - I'm always interested to read what new players think of Eve.  Gevlon at The Greedy Goblin is experiencing his first Council of Stellar Management election.  So how did he judge the candidates?  He read their nominating posts on the forums.  What a concept.  He concluded an interesting post with these endorsements:
"Oh my! Most of the candidates are idiots, "vote for me, I promise you the Moon" PR whores and wannabe tech support guys. Hard to see people who actually have any idea what to do with the position they go for. My first preference is simple: Hans Jagerblitzen is clearly supporting the playerbase I'm in. The secondary preference will surprise most of you, since he is the living symbol of griefing what I fully reject. But we share our views about the weak and the fate they should have. The Mittani it is. Too bad I only have one vote!"
Let's see how influential the goblin vote in Eve really is.  But with this endorsement, I think I can go out on a limb and state that The Mittani will win the chairmanship of CSM7.

Training - I'm still not sure what will happen with the Destroyer and Battlecruiser skills I've trained to 5 after the reorganization of the ship trees announced in the recent dev blog.  I'm also training Wandering Rose to be a command ship pilot and with Fanfest coming up, I don't know whether to train Battlecruisers or Advanced Weapon Upgrades to 5.  Yes, I have to take my work laptop with me to Iceland so I have to put a long skill into the skills queue.  I originally planned on Advanced Weapon Upgrades but I wonder if Battlecruisers will give me more bang for the buck.

Domino -
Former EverQuest 2 Associate Producer and tradeskill goddess Emily Taylor tweeted that she starts her new job on Tuesday.  Apparently she got caught up in red tape or she would have already started the job.  I can't wait to hear where she wound up.  And in related news, she started blogging again.

Thursday, March 8, 2012


I received a comment on the blog that, as insulting as the poster meant to be, contains a bit of truth.
"People with crappy computers that can play wow on low settings think they can play star wars and when they cant they complain about it. Go buy a new pc and if you cant afford one maybe its because you been playing wow so damn much you forgot that you need a job to be able to afford such things."
Since the commenter left this on a post where I discussed how I thought combat wasn't very smooth in SWTOR amongst a bunch of positive aspects of the game, I will say now I do not subscribe to the second sentence.  But I can relate to the first because that was my experience when I moved from World of Warcraft to EverQuest 2.

I think everyone expects other games to be like the first game they play, and my first MMO was WoW.  Quite frankly, WoW could run on a toaster, which in business terms meant the game had a wider potential audience than its competitors.  When I quit playing WoW and moved on to EQ2 the same laptop that ran the Blizzard game fine was unplayable when I hit the teens in the SOE offering.  The game was so bad that I was going to quit and started looking for another game.  I saw this new game coming out, Vanguard, that looked really good but had high system requirements.  So I did the research and bought a computer that met Vanguard's published recommended requirements.  I then installed EQ2 on the machine and it was like playing a different game.  The graphics were beautiful and the combat was smooth.  I forgot about playing Vanguard and played EQ2 for another 3 years.

Eventually if an MMO runs long enough and successfully enough a graphics upgrade will occur.  Graphics upgrades mean players upgrading their computers in order to keep playing.  Eve Online experienced this last year with the release of the Incarna expansion.  Players were very surprised when they could no longer run multiple clients because their computers were no longer good enough to do so.  These complaints led to CCP finally giving in and allowing players to opt-out of loading Captain's Quarters.  Even the traditionally toaster-friendly WoW upgraded its graphics engine with the release of Cataclysm in December 2010.  Did anyone do a study to find out how many players quit WoW because of that?

A worse problem than upgrading a game's graphics engine (required to compete with newer games) is when the recommended system requirements prove inadequate to run a game smoothly.  That was the complaint I read when surfing the official SWTOR forums during the few weeks I played.  Players, especially ones who purchased new computers to run a game because of the hype, get really irritated if they spend a lot of money only to find out they did not spend enough.  Fortunately for me, my computer met the recommended specs and reading the forums I found out the funny behavior was underoptimized code and not my computer.  I really hope Bioware gets that fixed because I really would like to see a game set in the Star Wars universe.

So what is left for people who love their toasters or just can't afford to upgrade?  Browser based games seem to be the choice, although as long as CCP doesn't up the requirements again I should be okay.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Nosy Gamer Endorsements For CSM7

With the beginning of voting for CSM7 now is the time to make a complete fool of myself and endorse a slate of candidates.  Fourteen candidates will win, but only the top seven vote getters (or next highest ranking member if one of the top seven cannot make it) will make the two summit trips to Iceland.  So I'll pull out the flame resistant clothing and remember, yea though I fly into the Vale of the Silent, I will fear no evil, for I am immortal and remembered to update my medical clone.

#1 - The Mittani: Yes, I am putting Mittens at the top of the list, which means I think he deserves a second term as chairman of the CSM.  During his time playing Eve, he has shown himself to be a player able to seize opportunities (the destruction of BoB) and rise like a phoenix from defeat (the Goons' loss of Delve because they failed to pay their bills).  He displayed both qualities in dealing with CCP over the past year, especially in the aftermath of Monoclegate.

In addition to his antics in Eve, I am picking him for what he brings to the table with his outside experience.  A former D.C. lawyer who managed to retire to Wisconsin at the age of 30, he has the experience and the huge ego needed to go up against the upper management of CCP.  He also has experience in the industry, writing the Sins of a Solar Spymaster column on MMORPG and holding the distinction of being the first player to ever give a presentation at the Games Development Conference in 2010.

#2 - Trebor Daehdoow: If The Mittani does not win the chairmanship, then Trebor deserves the prize.  In a CSM criticized for a lack of communication with the player base, Trebor has worked tirelessly to put out the word of what is happening in the game.  Trebor also conducted the crowd sourcing exercise that gathered up what players really wanted to see fixed, even though some like The Mittani didn't think it was a worthwhile effort.  I'm not sure how much that list aided the CSM's efforts after the layoffs and CCP's return to emphasizing Flying in Space, but due to Trebor's efforts, the CSM was prepared.

Trebor also brings a lot to the table in real life.  The co-founder of one of the first anime importing companies, AnimEigo, his experience in Japan should come in handy as CCP, in conjunction with Nexon, will soon release a Japanese language client for Eve.  Trebor was also a game developer, creating Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord. Trebor also wrote Interferon and Virex, two of the earliest anti-virus protection programs for the Macintosh.  Given both his accomplishments as a member of the CSM and his life experience, Trebor deserves election to a third term.

#3 Seleene: Seleene brings not only his experience as the head of the famous Mercenary Coalition, pioneers in the mercenary trade in Eve Online, but also 3 1/2 years experience as a developer on Eve Online.  Among the features Seleene worked on were wormholes, faction militias, planetary interaction and the sovereignty system.  His knowledge of CCP, what the developers originally wanted to do with certain features, and his desire for CCP to actually finish developing some of the features makes him a valuable addition to the CSM.  Besides, I like the way he writes.  With all that said, I believe Seleene deserves a second term on the CSM.

#4 Alekseyev Karrde:  A member of CSM 4, the head of the Noir. Mercenary Group would bring a lot of small gang experience, whether it be highsec, lowsec, 0.0 or wormhole combat, to the CSM.  More importantly in my view, though are two big issues I see in New Eden.  The first concerns the war declaration situation.  As Aleks repeated in the many podcasts I heard him on, no one likes the current war dec system.  As someone who makes his living on wardecs, Aleks has a great deal of experience to draw on when discussing the issue with CCP.

The second issue concerns the integration of DUST 514 into New Eden.  One of the things that players will face is how to interact with each other on a business level.  Not only is Noir. a successful mercenary alliance, but Aleks has worked to build up the mercenary trade within Eve.  I can see him coming up with good ideas on how to integrate the DUST mercs into our game.  After all, he wrote the book on mercenary contracts.

Aleks also impressed me with his performances on the various podcasts he appeared on during this campaign and his stock rose as I felt more comfortable about his communication skills.  Add to that fact that he is not part of one of the major power blocs and I believe Aleks should be elected to return to the CSM this year.

#5 Two Step: Two Step, although only voted to CSM6 as an alternate member, proved himself as one of the hardest working members of last year's CSM.  One thing that I heard thoughout the debates is that wormholes are one of the best things in Eve and efforts should be made to keep CCP from "fixing" them.  As a wormhole specialist, I expect that Two Step would make a valuable contribution in face-to-face talks with CCP at the summits in Iceland.  I also expect he would make a contribution to some of the fixes we will probably see in the next year (POS improvements?) with a different point of view that would make features better for everyone.  For these qualities, I am endorsing Two Step to be one of the members who goes to the summits.

#6 Mike Azariah:  Before last weekend I did not plan on endorsing Mike, but as I did my research and listened to the debates Mike's stock rose to the point I put him in the #6 spot of the list.  Mike does not like being pigeon-holed into a category, so I will just label him the "every-bear" candidate.  He doesn't really specialize in anything although he jumped into Incursions at the launch of the feature and formed the Gallente Hero channel as a first step in helping organize the assorted collection of pilots looking to fight the Sansha.  The writing style on his blog, which has at times clearly irritated The Mittani, labels him a role player.  But the thing that really clinched the deal for me was his attitude of building onto Eve to make it better instead of tearing down one area of the game to make another more attractive.  That and the easy way that he and Alekseyev Karrde got along on their appearance on Voices from the Void #37.  If the key to being a member of the CSM is an ability to disagree with someone with good humor, then Mike qualifies.

For those who wish for a high-sec candidate who is not in a power bloc, Mike is as good as it gets.  That's why he gets my endorsement as one of the top seven candidates.

#7 Kelduum Revaan:  For those who read the blog on a regular basis, my endorsing Kelduum is a no brainer.  As the CEO of Eve University, Kelduum has the most experience with bringing new players into New Eden.  While some mock the Uni, those who attend the player-run school tend to stay in the game longer than those who don't.  Having that type of experience in the room during the summits would help tremendously, considering the current CSM member with the closest connection to new players and the NPE is The Mittani.  Also, Kelduum would represent the views of those in high-sec, although Unistas have a tendency to roam through lowsec when given a chance.  Another big issue Kelduum could help with are the wardec mechanics.  Eve University represents the highsec players who don't want to deal with what Unistas call "faildecs".  A faildec is a wardec by a corporation who discovers they bit off more than they can chew and hide for a few days.  Of course, an effort that leads to a faildec against an organization like Eve University can be a crippling blow against a small industrial corp.  That is the perspective that Kelduum would bring to the debate.

Having served in leadership positions in a training corporation/alliance for several years, Kelduum brings a needed perspective of the new player that was not present in CSM6 so gets the final endorsement.

Having listed the top seven, the question is: who will I vote for?  I have three votes this year, which I will split between two candidates.  Two votes will go to Alekseyev Karrde and one to Mike Azariah as they are the two candidates on my list I am not sure will win a spot in the top seven to get to go to the summits.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Digital Dozen: 6 March 2012

The rankings of the top twelve MMORPGs as determined by the players of the Xfire community from play on Sunday, 4 March 2012.  For more details about the methodology, click here.

Rank Prev Week Game ScoreHours Played
11World of Warcraft 52.9 75,995
22Star Wars: The Old Republic19.728,337
44Eve Online 3.44,922
53Guild Wars3.14,426
65Lord of the Rings Online2.84,021
77Star Trek Online2.83,972
88Metin 22.33,276
99APB: Reloaded2.02,918
1110Need For Speed World1.82,605
Total MMORPG hours played Sunday: 193,371

The Rise of Aion - As expected, the free-to-play launch of Aion in the West saw a huge spike in play that seemed to see declines in most other MMOs as players tried out the Korean export.  Aion saw an 84% week over week increase on Xfire.  As Aion was a strong property even before the switch to F2P, I expect the increased popularity of Aion to continue for a long time, probably keeping the game comfortably ahead of the #4 game Eve Online.
Maple Story falls out of The Digital Dozen - The free-fall that Maple Story began with its server and software upgrade issue back in January continued last week.  In a week that saw overall play of MMORPGs increase of 2.9%, Maple Story saw a drop of 26.5%.  In its place rose the free-to-play fantasy game Vindictus published by Nexon.  I expect a lot of volatility at the bottom of The Digital Dozen with the fall of Maple Story.

Invoking the Bot Rule - I originally planned to just post the top twelve played MMORPGs in The Digital Dozen.  But the case of Supreme Destiny raises the question of what is considered "playing the game?"  According to the Xfire rankings, Supreme Destiny ranked #11 among MMORPGs, but a look inside the numbers shows that the average player in Supreme Destiny played for 16 hours on Sunday.  All the other games ranged from 1.7 to 5.6 hours played.  That indicates that there are either mechanics in the game that require players to just stay logged in, that botting is rampant in Supreme Destiny, or that the Xfire interface with the game is bugged.  As such, the game will not be listed.