Monday, December 28, 2015

High Sec War Decs The Chicago Way

I normally do not engage in attempting to redesign major game systems in games. After all, who wants to read the rantings of a player about a feature he or she does not like? I usually try to write posts that interest me, and frankly, I prefer reading bad fan fiction to articles with ideas that will never reach a game server.

So why change now? In November, the subject of the month in EVE Online was war decs. With people ranging from The Marmite Collective's Tora Bushido to MassivelyOP's Brendan Drain speculating on the future design of the war declaration system. I think most players think the current system is, to put it nicely, a bit dysfunctional. With CCP planning to introduce citadels into the game before Fanfest in April 2016, now is an appropriate time to consider changes to the war declaration system in high security space.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Why The Pessimism About CSM?

I was a part of CSM Watch's panel that took a look at the activities of CSM 10 and opined about the future of the Council of Stellar Management as an institution. I understand that some people didn't like our comments, in particular some members of the CSM. I know that looking at an institution from the outside can lead to misunderstanding what is really going on within the body due to not knowing all the facts.

But I think we had a reason for some of our pessimism. Three of us, Lanctharus, Lockefox, and myself, attended the CSM Roundtable held at EVE Vegas, and Lanctharus posted an audio recording of the event. I transcribed appoximately 5 minutes of the recording. The transcript is not exact as I took out the "uh","ah", and other fillers to make the statements more readable. The three people who's words follow are CSM members Sion Kumitomo, Mike Azariah, and CCP's CSM Coordinator, CCP Leeloo:
Sion Kumitomo: So, it’s been really interesting about that. We had a lot of really good forward momentum on fixing a lot of that stuff at the last summit. We had a really good winter summit. I’m sorry, fall, summer, whatever summit. It was really productive, really good. A lot of really good things done. And then a lot of stuff just all got smashed into tiny little bits. There was a huge NDA breach on either the CSM or a certain member or members of the [unintelligible] and it obliterated all kinds of trust. Like, we are borderline not functional as an organization right now because, when you don’t have that trust, people don’t actually have the freedom to talk to a developer to talk to you about this stuff.

Seriously. We’ve had internally with the CSM a number of people who are like, “Yeah, why bother? We should just all resign.” And I don’t mean like one person. I don’t mean that. We’ve also had internal discussions about why even have a CSM. Like, I wasn’t joking when I was talking to Mike about this. The CSM has a huge amount of potential, but this lady and this gentleman down there do an amazing job on what they can do. They have a lot of support that they don’t have that they need from their management. And we need to be better as CSM members.

So, to answer your question, I don’t regret it [running for CSM], but I do have a lot of regrets about how this has gone on and at this point I don’t know if it’s even salvageable. There’s a lot of what we can’t even do anymore. Because if you have a developer literally -- so this is Larrikin’s first really big announcement, right? -- like, how do you walk into a room, look somebody in the eye, and say I just literally ruined your announcement at your first time in Vegas.  Like, how could you do that? And it doesn’t even have anything to do with the NDA. It’s just a matter of how you comport yourself as a person. But that all bleeds through.

So we as a CSM have not handled this well. Either we will or we won’t, and if we don’t there’s even odds that the CSM doesn’t exist next year.

Mike Azariah: I said a long time ago during one of the campaigns that it takes one “oh shit” to ruin all the “attaboys” that you’ve gotten, and we’re at an “oh shit”. So whether we survive it and start stacking up the “attaboys” again is -- I’m willing to keep trying the rest of this term and I hope others, some of you guys will run and stack them up. But “oh shit” moments happen and they really leave a lot darker stain than any accomplishment to do in the meantime or prior to.

CCP Leeloo: Yeah, I’m going to answer that. Internally in CCP a lot of developers see CSM as a whole even though they are elected individuals. And sometimes the action of one person affect the whole council. So if you have one person who accidentally tweeted something and the developers then don’t want to interact with the whole of the council because the actions of one person will affect the reputation of the council as a whole. And there is very little we can do from our side to mitigate the damage. 

I confirmed with Lanctharus, who had a much better view of the proceedings, that Leeloo was referring to a tweet sent out by Jayne Fillon. I believe the tweet concerned the capital rebalancing. According to Lanctharus, CCP Leeloo shot Jayne a look while describing the incident. I should also note that the event occurred before Manfred Sideous was removed from CSM 10 for an unspecified infraction. The speculated reason is for an NDA infraction involving the release of information about the upcoming capital ship changes.

So yes, we came at the subject from a rather negative point of view. But if most of the news we hear about the CSM is negative, especially when that view is coming from CSM members themselves, then how are we supposed to react?

Monday, December 21, 2015

CCP's Office Shuffle, Year End Edition

A story I watched over the course of 2015 is the status of CCP's offices. Closing offices, like closing servers, is a sign of weakness for a game company. In 2014, CCP closed the San Francisco office in August and lost two "C" level executives, Chief Marketing Officer David Reid and Chief Financial Officer Joe Gallo. In 2015, CCP had three non-negotiable leases up for renewal, in Iceland (July), the UK (July), and China (October). So since I wrote about the issue throughout the year, I thought I should write one final post looking back at the year.

CCP Offices At The Beginning Of The Year

Reykjavik - CCP's world headquarters and the home of the EVE Online development team, I don't think anyone really expected a move from its current home in 2015. Yet, CCP managed to make some news with an announcement that the company would move to the science park currently under development on the campus of the University of Iceland. At a signing ceremony in June, CCP's CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson stated:
"With these plans is to begin a new chapter in the activities of CCP in Iceland, where we foresee further strengthen our successful cooperation with the academic and creative industries in this country. Ahead are exciting times for the company and I am convinced that great opportunities are implied in the cooperation and development plans envisaged in the Science Park Vatnsmýrin development activities, research and innovation."
As of the time of this post, I do not have a date for the move to the new facilities.

United Kingdom - In April, CCP officially transferred the headquarters of its U.K. operations from its Slough office 20 miles outside of London to the Newcastle studio in Gateshead. I believe the Slough location was probably just an office, if not a post office box. But CCP will have a second address in the U.K. again soon, as the press release announcing the hiring of Maria Sayans as the new Chief Customer Officer included the information that she would oversee the opening of a new London office.

Shanghai - No news came out of China in 2015 on the real estate front. which probably means that the studio did not move. Closing the facility doesn't seem likely as CCP Shanghai is not only the home of the DUST 514 development team, but the virtual reality developers who created EVE: Gunjack as well. With CCP banking so heavily on virtual reality, I don't see the game maker discarding such an asset.

Atlanta - According to CCP's financial documents, no leases were set to expire until November 2022, but the sale of White Wolf to Paradox in October brought the Atlanta facility to the forefront of my attention. But the days of CCP Atlanta only housing White Wolf and some assorted staff like CCP Manifest ended sometime last year. Atlanta is the home of CCP's VR Labs, which was announced at Fanfest in March. CCP Manifest tweeted out on 2 November that the Atlanta office would remain open.

Okay, so not the most scintillating of posts. As a blogger who is not chasing hits, I can come back to a subject and do a follow-up. Some stories do deserve them, even when they do not contain bad news. Then again, maybe that is when stories deserve a follow-up post the most.

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Man In The Mirror

Sometimes things happen that I have to write about. When someone gives me a juicy softball like Sion Kumitomo served up on TMC today, I can't help but take a swing.

Don't worry, I won't do an imitation of James315 analyzing that proposal, although I probably could. Instead, I will try to limit myself to a piece of tinfoil he threw out that caught my attention since it touches a subject that interests me. No, not RMT. Get your minds out of the gutter. The subject involves how CCP will act once the studio has multiple games in front of players. Sorry DUST players, but until CCP moves your game onto a next gen console or onto PC,  DUST doesn't count.

Let's stipulate that Sion is absolutely correct about the following statement from his TMC article:
"What follows is the complete and unedited reform proposal I sent to CCP back in August that was subsequently discussed at the fall summit. It received near-unanimous support from the CSM, and was endorsed by CCP Seagull and CCP Falcon to be put into action during this term. Then it was killed. No other reform proposals have been offered:"
I do appreciate the subtlety of Sion's setup for his proposal, but he inserted a couple of assumptions that he leaves readers to fill in the answers.  The first unasked question is, "Why was it killed?" The second unasked question is, "Who is high enough placed to overrule CCP Seagull and CCP Falcon?" The unspoken argument is that Sion's proposal is good, but higher ups didn't want to see Sion's idea implemented. But why?

First, we need to look at the DICE connection. If Sion is correct about someone overruling both CCP Falcon and CCP Seagull about accepting his proposal for retasking the CSM, I believe the logical suspect is Senior Vice President of Product Development Sean Decker, who reports directly to CCP's CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson.  When Decker moved from Stockholm-based DICE to CCP, many, including myself, believed the reason was his expertise as the head of Electronic Arts' Free4Play group. But he also had experience overseeing multiple game studios. For those unfamiliar with Decker, here is how the press release announcing his hiring described him:
"'Sean’s extensive experience in the games industry will be extremely valuable for us as we enter the second decade of the EVE Universe,' said Hilmar Veigar Pétursson, CEO of CCP.  "The next few years will be the most important in the company’s history, as we build on the launch of DUST 514, expand EVE Online, continue development of World of Darkness, and kick start our efforts in mobile gaming.'

"Prior to his time leading EA’s 'Play4Free' group, Decker served as vice president and general manager at DICE, where he oversaw the Battlefield and Mirror’s Edge franchises, and at EA’s Los Angeles studio, where he directed the Medal of Honor and Command & Conquer franchises."
Not too long after his hiring, CCP made the decision to close down World of Darkness, so I don't think anyone can hold the failure of that project against him. About that same time, EVE: Valkyrie started picking up momentum. Who did CCP choose to lead the effort for the studio's first foray into virtual reality? Another veteran of DICE, Owen O'Brien. The September 2013 press release announcing his hiring described O'Brien thus:
"O'Brien joins CCP following a long career at the award-winning game development studio DICE in Stockholm, Sweden, owned by publisher Electronic Arts. At DICE, O'Brien led production of the critically acclaimed game Mirror’s Edge, which was heralded for its creativity and groundbreaking take on the first-person action genre.

"'I worked with Owen for many years at DICE,' said Sean Decker, senior vice president of production at CCP. 'His experience bringing Mirror’s Edge to market will be invaluable as we work to make virtual reality an actual reality for gamers worldwide.'"
Fast forward two years. Not only has O'Brien produced a highly anticipated came that will come bundled with the Oculus Rift pre-orders, but CCP released another virtual reality game, EVE: Gunjack, for the Gear VR. I would imagine both Decker's and O'Brien's stock is riding pretty high within CCP right about now. Due to CCP's efforts in the realm of virtual reality, CCP managed to pull in $30 million in venture capital money to continue to fund additional VR development. Now is the time to introduce the final member of the DICE connection.

On 8 December, CCP announced the hiring of Maria Sayans as the new Chief Customer Officer. According to the press release:
"In her role of CCO, Sayans will focus on the company’s total relationship with its customers, overseeing CCP’s Marketing, Sales, Web Development, and Customer Services teams in Reykjavik, Shanghai, Atlanta, and Newcastle.

"Sayans comes to CCP from Electronic Arts (EA), where she spent 14 years in a variety of key marketing leadership roles.  Most recently Sayans was senior director of marketing at EA’s DICE studio, where she oversaw the global marketing efforts for the Battlefield and Mirror’s Edge franchises."
Having successfully overseen the development of Valkyrie that could make CCP a studio with two major games, Decker reached out to another familar face to help promote and run the game post-launch. Given that his moves have worked out so far, I feel hopeful for the future of the game maker.

I realize the history lesson is nice, but what does the DICE connection have to do with Sion's proposal for restructuring the CSM? From watching Sayans' presentation at D.I.C.E. in Barcelona this September, she seems to prefer surveys and focus groups over feedback from forums. Focus groups? Isn't that what CCP is trying to do now, most notably with a capital ship focus group?

If I can try to put the pieces together, Sion's proposal had the members of the CSM acting like unpaid employees working on putting together focus groups. I am not a mind reader, but I have enough experience to know that a new boss likes to come in and do things their own way. I'm pretty sure that Sayans had a system that worked at DICE and probably wants to institute the same system across all of CCP's games, including EVE. I think I'll go out on a limb and state that she would rather get the opinions of players on the games rather than putting them to work organizing other players.

So, what is the future of the CSM? I don't know. But I'm pretty sure that Sion's proposal is not the answer. What I really want to see is the first dev blog from Sayans (aka CCP Denebola) to find out what the future has in store.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The CSM: No Place To Go But Up

Last night I did something a bit bizarre. Instead of doing something sensible like playing EVE Online, Dragomon Hunter, or EVE: Gunjack, I watched the Republican debate. Madness, right? But this is the beginning of the election season, and not just in the United States.

Yes, the election for the 11th Council of Stellar Management is just a few months away. What the next CSM will look like and how they function is up in the air right now. From accounts coming from some CSM members, the relationship between the CSM and CCP is horribly broken. For those who have some time to listen to some background, click on the below hyperlink:

Following the removal of Manfred Sidious from the CSM in November for unspecified reasons, trust between CCP and the CSM as a whole seems non-existent, although some individual members may still have good relations with individual developers.

Today's post wasn't sparked by U.S. politics, however. Instead, I saw a tweet from CSM member Cagali Cagali that led to a series of others.

Has the CSM hit rock bottom? If not, they don't have far to go. But the next election cycle could prove interesting. After all, CCP has a new Chief Customer Officer, Maria Sayans. I really would like to see what the freshly minted CCP Denebola has in mind for the future of the CSM.

Monday, December 14, 2015

An ISK Seller Sings On Reddit

While much of the r/eve sub-Reddit was going on about Endie, Bat Country, and Blawrf McTaggart, I actually made a rare visit due to a thread created by an illicit ISK seller who supposedly has left the game. I found a couple of answers to questions of interest.

One answer I don't hear used often concerns account hacking and credit card fraud. Those engaged in the practices want the ability to dump their ill-gotten gains quickly. If a game doesn't have a huge market for illicit game currency, then why bother hacking the game accounts? If the market is small, then those committing credit card fraud won't have the ability to launder large amounts of real life cash. I know, some hackers will hack just for the challenge or the lulz. But taking away some of the incentives does help protect against the ill-intentioned.

From monitoring various ISK selling websites, I have a fair idea of how much someone can make selling ISK. The fact that this seller was essentially working a part-time job of probably 15-25 hours a week, making $300 USD might not appeal to a lot of people in the U.S. But in some countries, $300/week is a lot of money.

The final answer, to a question about why he stopped, is a bit illuminating. So much so that I'll repeat it again:
"I lost interest in playing and coupled with the drop in price for ISK, it really stopped being worth it."
CCP's goal, as I've stated several times over the years, isn't to catch and ban every person engaged in illicit RMT and its associated activities. The goal is to convince people that selling EVE Online currency is just not worth the effort. For one former player who posted on r/eve yesterday, that was certainly the case.

Friday, December 11, 2015

EVE: Valkyrie To Ship With The Oculus Rift

If one ignores the drama coming out of the "EVE community," CCP has had a really good past 30 days. On November 10th, CCP announced that EVE: Gunjack would launch as a first day title of Samsung's Gear VR. CCP followed that up two days later with the reveal that venture capitalists New Enterprise Associates and Novator Partners LLP were investing $30 million USD into CCP to fund the development of virtual reality games. Then on Tuesday CCP announced the hire of Maria Sayans from DICE to oversee "the company’s total relationship with its customers, overseeing CCP’s Marketing, Sales, Web Development, and Customer Services teams in Reykjavik, Shanghai, Atlanta, and Newcastle." Coming from EA and having worked on the marketing side of the Battlefield 4 launch, CCP probably hired someone who won't turn and run at the sight of the posting on Reddit.

But the news got a little better yesterday. Oculus announced that EVE: Valkyrie will ship with every pre-ordered Oculus Rift. That is a big deal. Not only will CCP make some nice money off the deal, but EVE: Valkyrie will get a lot of exposure. I'm pretty sure people will want to try the game at least once. If the game is as popular with the general public as with the EVE players who have attended various events over the past two years, Valkyrie could wind up as the "killer app" for the Oculus Rift. And with Valkyrie also slated to appear on the PS4 when Sony's VR headset comes out sometime next year, CCP may have a hit on its hands.

I have to say that I think CCP had a pretty good year in 2015, despite the declining peak concurrent user numbers in EVE. I think they set their financial house in order, although I always worry about hubris popping up and spoiling things. But I was really impressed with their work in the VR realm. Between Fanfest and EVE Vegas I got the chance to experience all of CCP's games and tech demos. Quite frankly, the two least impressive of those experiences were Gunjack and Valkyrie. So I'm feeling pretty good about CCP's future prospects right now. Hopefully, I'm not looking at the world through rose colored glasses.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

What Is A Chief Customer Officer?

I got home last night and found out that CCP had hired another high level executive from Electonic Arts' DICE studio in Sweden. In the interest of completeness, I will post the press release below:

Maria Sayans Joins CCP as Chief Customer Officer

REYKJAVIK, ICELAND – December 8, 2015 – CCP Games, a leading independent game developer, today announced it has hired Maria Sayans as its Chief Customer Officer (CCO), a newly created position.  In her role of CCO, Sayans will focus on the company’s total relationship with its customers, overseeing CCP’s Marketing, Sales, Web Development, and Customer Services teams in Reykjavik, Shanghai, Atlanta, and Newcastle.

Sayans comes to CCP from Electronic Arts (EA), where she spent 14 years in a variety of key marketing leadership roles.  Most recently Sayans was senior director of marketing at EA’s DICE studio, where she oversaw the global marketing efforts for the Battlefield and Mirror’s Edge franchises. 

“As we embark on this new chapter in CCP’s story, it’s really important to us to further build on the fantastic relationship we’ve built with our customers,” said Hilmar Veigar Pétursson, CEO of CCP.  “Maria will help us unify our communications across teams and studios so we can better enable our players to realize their wildest dreams.”

Prior to her time at EA, Sayans was a management consultant with McKinsey & Company.

Sayans joins CCP as the company prepares for several high-profile game launches, including EVE: Valkyrie, the multiplayer virtual reality (VR) spaceship combat game that has quickly become the most anticipated title for the launch of both the Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR headsets, and EVE Online: Citadel, the next massive expansion to EVE Online, set for release in the first quarter of 2016.

Sayans will soon help open CCP’s London office, and will report directly to CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson.

“I can’t think of a better place to be a part of the VR revolution than CCP,” said Sayans.  “The company’s early leadership in VR and pioneering status in online gaming is quickly translating into real results and we aim to build on and extend that in the coming years.”
Yes, I even included the picture from the press release. How horrible! You'd think I was a video game journalist or something. But since I'm not a video game journalist, I guess I need to provide some additional value to the post.

First, what is a Chief Customer Officer? I have no idea what Hilmar is thinking. But if I am correct, CCP Manifest and CCP Falcon have a new boss. Actually, according to Sayans' LinkedIn account, she started working for CCP in November, so she possibly is not that new.

Next, I think that Sayans' may know the craziness she is walking into with CCP. Perhaps that is why she will work out of London. What leads me to this conclusion? This screenshot from the YouTube video sensation from 2009, HTFU.

The redhead is Elisabet Gretarsdottir, who currently works as the Marketing Director on Live Services at DICE. Any chance Sayans talked with the former CCP Darth Beta about CCP?

Of course, that familiarity works both ways. Back in 2013, CCP hired Sean Decker from DICE as its new Senior Vice President of Product Development. If I have my timelines correct, Sayans started as a Senior Marketing Director at DICE in 2010, so Sayans and Decker may have worked together for a few years. Also, I hear that Nordic game developers are a little bit cliquish, so hiring someone else from a Swedish game studio makes sense, even if they are not Nordic.

So far, the few articles published by gaming-related sites have just regurgitated CCP's press release. I'm also not sure if the EVE media will do more than that. But after reading the press release and a couple of the articles, I wanted to know what Sayans thought about her job. More importantly, I wanted to hear her opinions. So I started searching YouTube for videos. After looking for a couple of minutes, I found a recording of a talk she gave at D.I.C.E. 2015 in Barcelona in September. I recommend watching the whole thing.

I found a few things interesting, and not just the quote, "It's about the glorious chaos of all out war." Sayans was the person in charge of the global marketing effort for Battlefield 4, a game that I understand did not have the smoothest of launches. Her answers to the question, "How do you regain trust?" sounds hauntingly familiar to those who remember some of CCP's bigger screw-ups.

One observation that caught my attention was that DICE relied too much on the forums for feedback and that a better system was needed. The solution that DICE came up with was the Net Promoter Score. Here is how Wikipedia describes the tool:
"The Net Promoter Score, itself, is calculated based on responses to a single question: How likely is it that you would recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague? The scoring for this answer is most often based on a 0 to 10 scale.

"Those who respond with a score of 9 or 10 are called Promoters, and are considered likely to exhibit value-creating behaviors, such as buying more, remaining customers for longer, and making more positive referrals to other potential customers. Those who respond with a score of 0 to 6 are labeled Detractors, and they are believed to be less likely to exhibit the value-creating behaviors. Responses of 7 and 8 are labeled Passives, and their behavior falls in the middle of Promoters and Detractors. The Net Promoter Score is calculated by subtracting the percentage of customers who are Detractors from the percentage of customers who are Promoters. For purposes of calculating a Net Promoter Score, Passives count towards the total number of respondents, but do not directly affect the overall net score.

"Companies are encouraged to follow the likelihood to recommend question with an open-ended request for elaboration, soliciting the reasons for a customer's rating of that company or product. These reasons can then be provided to front-line employees and management teams for follow-up action. Local office branch managers at Charles Schwab Corporation, for example, call back customers to engage them in a discussion about the feedback they provided through the NPS survey process, solve problems, and learn more so they can coach account representatives."
If Sayans brings the same approach to CCP, EVE players could expect to see a lot of surveys in their inboxes in the near future. I would expect to see a lot of simple surveys at the beginning, with the surveys getting more complex over time.

Another feature that she discussed was DICE's Game Changers program. Game Changers sounds a lot like CCP's idea for selecting players as part of focus groups and getting their input. DICE would have a group of 90 or so players involved in the program and every so often bring 20-30 players into their studios for 2 days in order to get feedback. Or one could look at the effort as a hand-picked version of the Council of Stellar Management, since CCP is already flying a group of players into Reykjavik a couple of times a year for consultations.  Did Sayans' experience overseeing programs like Game Changers help her get the job at CCP? From the outside looking in, I would have to say yes.

Switching back to business, I found the bit about opening CCP's London office a bit interesting. Back in April, CCP moved the headquarters of its U.K. operations from Slough, 20 miles from downtown London, to its studio in Newcastle. Now, CCP presumably will open an office in a more expensive location in London. I hope this isn't a case of "see money, spend money." CCP has gotten into trouble with that type of thinking in the past. I've written favorably a few times this year about CCP's financial moves. I hope they stay within a reasonable budget.

One final thought. I concentrated on the effect that Sayans may have on EVE. But CCP has one virtual reality game launched and another that will launch as soon as the consumer version of the Oculus Rift is ready for sale. And let's not forget about DUST. Sayans' plate is full with everything going on in the New Eden universe.

Monday, December 7, 2015

What's In A Patch Name?

One of the more unusual decisions CCP made over the past two years is retaining the practice of naming every point release following the decision to move to a 5-6 week release cycle in June 2014. I always thought that naming each point release needlessly raised expectations. No matter how much CCP stated that these were not expansions, some people didn't care and complained loudly when a release was not chock-full of content.

Perhaps my background before playing EVE gave me an understanding on what CCP was doing with the faster release cycle. I played Everquest 2 for over 3 years before playing EVE. When I started playing, we received a content patch, called a Live Update (later, Game Update) every month. That lasted for 2 years or so. Sometimes the updates were major, sometimes little more than bug fixes. For example, Game Update 41 was the Frostfell, or Christmas holiday, patch for 2007.

The numbering system for updates did not halt when SOE released an expansion for EQ2. For example, the 2007 expansion, Rise of Kunark, was Game Update 40 while The Shadow Odyssey, the 2008 expansion, was Game Update 50. I think the numbering system stopped a few years ago, but I think I made my point. Use a numbering system for all updates and give expansions names.

Apparently, CCP is thinking along those same lines. Looking at the patch notes for tomorrow's point release, the description only states "Patch Notes For December Release." What a dull name. Okay, using a number isn't really much better. But what should CCP do instead?

First, bringing back named expansions, announced back in September, is a good move. I also like the plan for releasing expansions, listed in the dev blog:
"But we will also bring back expansions. What's then the difference between a release and an expansion in this hybrid form? First, an expansion will be a set of big, connected features that both make impactful change on EVE, and make a statement about what kind of game EVE is. Second, there won't be a fixed number of them per year, but rather we will announce when we have one in the making and what the main features are. While we will have a timeframe in mind for the release of the expansion and tell you about it, the exact date won’t be pinned down until we are confident that the state of all the connected features are in a good place."
What about the point releases? CCP never used a numbering system before, always relying on the names of the expansions. I think that is part of the reason the point releases continued to receive names: simple inertia. So why not use a combination of the year and the number of the point release for the year? But, don't use the real world year. Use the in-game year. So the first point release of 2016 would be either YC118.1.0 or just 118.1.0. An alternate naming convention might include the month instead of a counter, so a point release in June would have the designation YC118.06.00. I actually prefer the alternate naming scheme, but figure some would not like to see gaps when months skip.

I realize that a naming convention for a game's point releases seems like a minor thing. But I was so tired of listening to people complaining about "expansions" that didn't have any content I just wanted to turn off all social media, podcasts, and blogs. Maybe if CCP uses a naming convention that people understand some of the whining will go away.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Another EVE Online Player Murdered

Yesterday I heard that an EVE Online player, Robert "Photon Torpedo" Adams, was one of 14 people murdered in a terrorist attack, this time in San Bernardino, California. Apparently, the only reason the death toll was not worse was that an improvised explosive device crafted by the terrorists failed to detonate.

Perhaps the most famous EVE Online player killed in a terrorist attack was Sean "Vile Rat" Smith, an information management officer with the U.S. State Department who died in the attack on the diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, on 11 September 2012.

Robert is survived by his wife Summer and daughter Savannah. A GoFundMe page is set up to help the family.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Fairness And Thinking Before Flaming

I recently listened to a podcast and thought that I heard someone say something incredibly stupid. But, I waited before turning on the flamethrower. As I slept on the quote, and thought about what was said a little more deeply, I came to the conclusion that the quote was not a misstatement. The person obviously meant what he said.

From what I know of the person, the quote reflected his real life political opinions. The individual in question would, if pressed, stand 100% behind the beliefs revealed by the quote. He would probably state that anyone who didn't believe the way he does is a horrible person.

At what point do I just trash an idea for a post? The Nosy Gamer is a blog about video games, and unless writing about either the in-game political antics of EVE Online players or issues that specifically affect video game players, I try to avoid politics. I don't really want to get into a ideological fight on the blog. I do that way too often on Twitter as it is.

Some may say my stance on real money trading and associated in-game behavior is a stance based on my real life values. I believe that the same rules that apply to the new player mining in an asteroid belt in his shiny new Venture should also apply to the most jaded of null sec alliance leaders. And vice-versa. I rather suspect some people are tired of the rules lawyering posts I occasionally write whenever a controversy erupts in the EVE community.

I do think that many people share my belief in treating everyone as equally as possible. The biggest example in my mind is the controversy that surrounded the EVE Online gambling website SOMERblink in October 2013. Despite openly violating the EVE Online EULA, SOMERblink was allowed to conduct business because, as an affiliate of, Somerset Mahm fell under the EVE Time Code Bazaar Rules which overrode the EULA. The controversy finally ended when CCP informed all of the Game Time Code (now PLEX) resellers that their player affiliates must follow the EULA, although not before SOMERblink held a firesale to milk the every last drop out of its ISK laundering scheme.

Getting back to the subject of a podcaster's sincere political beliefs reflecting in his attitudes in a video game, I'm not sure if I will use the quote. I'm tempted to just move on. If I do wind up using the quote, I need to make sure I use the quote properly. Going negative and just attacking a person is often counterproductive. I'd rather try to go for some sort of positive change, or express a positive ideal to strive for. But as I said before, I may just let the whole idea drop as I'm not sure if the potential payout is worth the effort.