Thursday, 8 July 2010

In Defence of the CSM

Following CCP's recent removal of a member of the Council of Stellar Management, there has been an outpouring of vitriol and negativity from many amongst the vocal player-base. I'm not surprised, I doubt there's an MMO in the world that doesn't have forums full of naysayers and boo-boys. But I am disappointed that much of the disparaging commentary has been directed at the CSM/CCP relationship.

I find it hugely encouraging that the game that we are all investing in is designed and maintained by a company with enough nous and breadth of mind to attempt to foster a more meaningful and productive relationship with it's customer base. Furthermore, those individuals - past and present - whom we elected to represent us and who are giving up their time to be part of the process should be thanked and applauded, not attacked and insulted.

I appreciate that in amongst the baying from the pitchforks-and-torches brigade there are valid points and concerns and I do not doubt that the CSM system has it's flaws, but far better that we have that process, knowing that we have a voice that can be heard - and occasionally listened to - than, like many other MMOs, just having endless forums full of frustrated, impotent rage. We should be grateful that we have the opportunity to have any kind of meaningful dialogue. The CSM/CCP relationship can't make EVE worse, but there's always the possibility that it will effect positive changes.

I suppose it is a healthy sign that so many are passionate enough about the game that we all share that they take the time to air their views. I just wish some of it was a little more constructive.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Houston, We Have a PEBCAK Problem

I've been very stupid.

But before I explain exactly how, I feel I need to set the scene. So if you're not in the mood for pre-amble, well...apologies, but I'm not very good at brevity. I'll stick a TL;DR marker further down for those in a rush.

For some weeks I've been three-quarters of the way through the Guristas Epic Mission Arc out in hostile nullsec space, failing to make progress having clone-jumped away before completion. It was one of those things that I kept intending to get back to, but until today I'd never found the time. I was keen to finish the arc as I wanted get my hands on the delicious Gila blueprint reward and free up that clone for future Copernicus Coalition duties.

So into my nullspace clone I jumped, intending to finish the epic arc quickly, as the training time lost in an implant-free clone wrankles me. The S.S.S. Excremento 4, a Caldari Crow Interceptor frigate was waiting for me, fitted and ready to go. As I moved about in 0.0 space, I re-engaged my ultra-paranoid brain and made copious use of the directional scanner and celestial bodies in an effort to be as unpredictable and elusive as possible. Fortunately it was relatively quiet as I'd chosen to finish the arc whilst the server population was at a low ebb.

I progressed through the missions without a hitch; orbit targets at 30km travelling at 4,500+ m/s, annihilate with missiles. Repeat. The missions themselves are easy enough, it's the to-ing and fro-ing between systems that's the real hazard. You'd have to be a real idiot to lose your ship during a mission. Ahem.

Finally, deep into the twisting storyline, I learn that in the Guristas if you're not stabbing someone in the back you're doing it wrong, as I'm manipulated into a final betrayal in the last mission - Spy Games. With my heart firmly focused on that Gila blueprint, I kill the Caldari Navy double agent, nick his ID that allows me to progress by masquerading as the double agent. I sneak past an idling Caldari Navy fleet, through a further gate and on into the final zone.

After raining destruction down on the two squadrons of frigates guarding a forcefield-protected bunker, I focus fire on the shield then the bunker itself. Within the bunker lies the object that will finally bring about the completion of this mission arc. However, as the bunker explodes, it triggers the appearance of at least forty more frigates and cruisers. Deciding to play it safe in my paper-thin interceptor, I maintain a safe orbit of 40km from the mission container and begin the slow process of whittling down the enemy fleet.

TL;DR fans start here. And, finally to my moment of absolute stupidy.

You see, the thing is with orbits is they're circular. So when an interceptor orbits an object, it's pretty much a guarantee that that object will stay the appropriate distance away. The same can't be said for everything that you're not orbiting. The Law of Murphy saw my ship choose an orbital path leading straight through the middle of a swarm of forty-odd angry frigates and cruisers. So before I could frantically click away from the fleet, S.S.S. Excremento 4 became space excrement.

I was left floating in my pod, frustrated with the momentary complacency that had led to me helplessly looking at the container that was the key to my Gila blueprint acquisition. I knew I could not pick it up in my capsule and worse, the item that would provide any future access to this area was laying, unobtainable, in the wreckage beside me. As soon as I warped away I would never be able to return and that blueprint would slip through my fingers. With a heavy heart, warp away I did.

I've yet to figure out if there's any science to where on the three-dimensional plane a ship chooses to orbit and I know I should have paid more attention to the path it did choose. Is there any way to predict this?

I'm vaguely hoping that the mission will reset after downtime, but the ominous presence of an 'objective completed' message in the journal suggests otherwise. I suppose I could petition for a reset, but I'm not sure if my reason is valid.

After all, it was a PEBCAK problem.

Farewell Gila blueprint. So close I could almost touch it. Gutted.

08/07/10 22:33 Update. Petitioned following advice that it may yield results.

Friday, 2 July 2010

The Art of Armchair Sports

In recent weeks I've have become less the participant and more the spectator, both in EVE and the world beyond. Not only has my EVE time been largely about the click-click-wait fest that it Planetary Interaction, there have been an awful lot of spectator events to occupy my free time (between PI click-athons).

Being an Englishman, the less said about my national team's dismal performance in the Football World Cup the better, but concurrent to that was EVE's more relevant Alliance Tournament 8, which I enjoyed. Or more accurately, I tried to enjoy with partial success.

It was whilst I was at work, sitting in the cab of our vehicle watching a YouTube repeat of one of the early AT8 rounds on my iPhone (HYDRA RELOADED's brazen 'ransoming' offer to Agony Empire in the first round I think) when my crewmate enquired about my chuckle-inducing source of entertainment. An interesting opportunity to lure someone else to New Eden? Perhaps, but unlikely.

My colleague was already aware of my fondness for 'internet spaceships', but has always been bemused by the concept, generally resorting to mocking me with "been on your headset lately?" type comments. Although I shouldn't stoop to his level, I usually return fire with some retort about his funny-shaped helmet, the shaving of his legs or the picking of flies out of his teeth (he's fanatical about cycling). However EVE's venture into the world of the spectator sport through the AT8 videos had clearly picqued his interest. So in order to share the experience, I positioned my iPhone on the dashboard and attempted to explain a fleet battle.

No easy task.

The expert commentary was of little help as it was pitched at the existing player-base, expecting the viewer to have a grasp of the basics, like ship names. We were several minutes in before my colleague asked "So is one team trying to Armageddon the other?"

We might take ship names for granted, with all players recognising the reference to a ship even if they don't know exactly what type it is, but it was with that question that I realised the language we use between EVE players is fairly impenetrable to those outside.

I attempted to translate from Capsulese, providing commentary myself, however this simply devolved into attempting to explain what was going on on the (admittedly tiny) screen. The truth be known, I couldn't really tell and I've been playing EVE for years. Therein lies my problem with EVE as a spectator sport and why I said earlier that I "tried" to enjoy AT8.

When watching a football match or indeed almost any mainstream sport, it is clear what is going on at a glance. The arena is clearly marked out, the goals are obvious and the teams are visually distinctive. The ebb and flow of a team's movement can be seen even by the inexperienced eye and it is not difficult to ascertain who is in the position of strength at any given time. With a little experience the viewer starts to see tactics and strategies and how successfully they are being implemented.

Most of the above does not apply to an EVE Alliance Tournament match. For the most part the screen is just filled with a bewildering mess of drone icons, weapons fire and explosions. The occasional addition of the tactical view box-out was of some use, but without the commentary I would be lost, so a non-EVE player is doomed. Only the sterling efforts from the commentators and the 'camera-men' give the videos any cohesion.

I'm not sure what more could be done to give Alliance Tournaments more spectator clarity, but in the current format they certainly don't work as promotional videos. My crewmate lost interest before the end of the first match we watched, staring blankly out of the vehicle windscreen mumbling something derogatory about Captain Kirk.