Monday, 31 January 2011

Punisher Brochure: FGCM Edition

Introduction

Thank you for considering purchasing your Punisher from FGCM.

This document is aimed at introducing the new pilot to the Amarrian Punisher-class combat frigate and providing a summary of the fitting variations provided by this independent supplier. We have every confidence that our design and customisation specialists will have prepared your vessel to your satisfaction and that it will provide you with many years of exemplary service.

Rest assured that prior to reconditioning by FGCM specialists, every vessel in the service of the Amarr Imperial Navy would have been rigorously maintained to a very high standard and would have been routinely blessed by a registered chaplain.

The Role of Combat Frigates

Frigates are the smallest class of pilotable combat vessel in common usage and as such are often underestimated. With an appropriately trained captain at the helm, frigates are an invaluable asset that can fulfil a variety of roles unique to their class. With their small size, great maneouverability and speed and their simplicity of fitting, frigates can be a great benefit to fleets as scouts and interceptors, but also find use in wolfpacks and as formidable solo vessels in the right hands.

An additional boon is that frigates tend to be far more affordable than larger vessels and the training requirements are significantly lower than many larger ship classes. However, for best performance, it is recommended that the captain (and crew where appropriate) endeavour to train to the highest possible standard in all relevant disciplines.

Punisher Strengths

The official press release for the Punisher states;

“The Amarr Imperial Navy has been upgrading many of its ships in recent years and adding new ones. The Punisher is one of the most recent ones and considered by many to be the best Amarr frigate in existence. As witnessed by its heavy armaments, the Punisher is mainly intended for large-scale military operations, acting in coordination with larger military vessels, but it is more than powerful enough for solo operations.”

Amarr Frigate Skill Bonus: 10% bonus to Small Energy Turret capacitor use and 5% bonus to armor resistances per skill level.”

Piloting Principles

As with any vessel, your Punisher will perform to it's strengths only if used appropriately. Any fitting loadout is designed with a specific purpose in mind and should be used in that manner in order to obtain maximum benefit. However, in almost all cases, the following points should be adhered to:
  • Assess any combat environment before engaging. Be aware of the limitations of both vessel and pilot.
  • Maintain optimum speed at all times - it is harder for the enemy to hit a moving target.
  • Moving directly toward or away from incoming fire is almost like sitting still. Move across incoming fire (ie. optimise transversal velocity) to reduce incoming damage.
  • Attempt to orbit each target at your optimal weapon range to maximise damage output.
  • Monitor your capacitor levels constantly. Empty capacitors kill ships. Do not run active modules when not required.
  • Examine existing skills to find performance improvement options.

Custom Loadouts

Our workshop staff have worked tirelessly to produce a variety of effective and exciting Punisher fitting loadouts to suit the entry-level pilot. Whilst each design has upgradability as improving skills allow, the reader should be aware that these loadouts are designed for the new capsuleer and may be considered sub-optimal for experienced pilots.

All loadouts and key statistics are based on all relevant skills being close to the minimum required to fit all featured modules. Higher than minimum skill levels would result in significant increases to displayed statistics.


'Pitbull'

The 'Pitbull' Punisher is designed with easy missioning in mind. It has a balanced loadout with a focus on survivability. Designed for close-range combat against multiple hostiles, it has an armour tank that can withstand punishment indefinitely whilst it's weapon systems whittle down the enemy numbers.

Key Statistics
Role: Solo Combat Mission Tank
Effective Hit Points: 6000+
Tank Type: Armour permaboost @ 30hp/sec+
Optimal Weapon Range: 500m (with 4.5km+ falloff)
Damage: 102hp per volley. 33hp per second.
Top Speed: 670 m/s (AB)
Capacitor: Stable with all active modules running.

Loadout Specifics
High Slots: 3x 150mm Light Autocannon I (EMP S projectile ammo)
Med. Slots: Cold-Gas Arcjet Thrusters, Barton Reactor Capacitor Recharger I
Low Slots: Small Inefficient Armour Repair Unit, Damage Control I, Microcell Nanite Adaptive Membrane I, 400mm Reinforced Rolled Tungsten Plates I
Rigs: 3x Small Capacitor Control Circuit I

Design Notes
  • This loadout should be flown when skills allow capacitor stability with all active modules running.
  • The use of non-traditional weaponry (projectile turrets) is a necessary sacrifice to achieve capacitor stability and optimum fitting.
  • The Microcell Nanite Adaptive Membrane I can be exchanged for mission-specific damage protection modules.
  • As pilot skills improve, two of the Small Capacitor Control Circuit I rigs will become superfluous and should be replaced with more useful rigs to suit.

'Archer'

The 'Archer' configuration is based around sniping at range. Whilst not as durable as some setups, it's key strength lies in ability to strike at great distances. Whereas most frigate engagements take place within 10km ranges, the Archer is capable of striking the enemy almost 30km.

Key Statistics
Role: Solo Combat Mission Sniper
Effective Hit Points: 2500+
Tank Type: Range tank with armour buffer
Optimal Weapon Range: 22km (with 5.1km+ falloff)
Damage: 68hp per volley. 22hp per second.
Top Speed: 724 m/s (AB)
Capacitor: Stable with all active modules running.

Loadout Specifics
High Slots: 3x Medium Modal Laser I (Radio S frequency crystals)
Med. Slots: Cold-Gas Arcjet Thrusters, F-12 Nonlinear Tracking Processor (Optimal Range script)
Low Slots: Thermal Exhaust System I, Heat Sink I, 100mm Reinforced Nanofiber Plates, Photonic CPU Enhancer I
Rigs: 2x Small Ancillary Current Router I, Small Algid Energy Administrations Unit I

Design Notes
  • This loadout benefits from carrying alternative frequency crystal sets to provide increased damage at closer ranges once safe minimum ranges have been established (eg. 34dps @ 14km with Standard S and 52dps @ 7km with Multifrequency S).
  • Pilots should be aware increased capacitor drain when using shorter-range frequency crystals may compromise capacitor stability.
  • Maintaining speed and range from all hostiles is key to survivability. It is easy to stray close to dormant hostiles when orbiting at long ranges.

'Feral'

The 'Feral' Punisher is a dedicated damage dealer. Prioritising weapons systems over all other design considerations, this configuration is best used to provide additional damage in support of a dedicated tanking vessel.

Key Statistics
Role: Squad Combat Mission DPS
Effective Hit Points: 2100+
Tank Type: Pulsed active armour repair.
Optimal Weapon Range: 3.3km (with 2.1km+ falloff)
Damage: 181hp per volley. 70hp per second.
Top Speed: 733 m/s (AB)
Capacitor: 1m 18s with all active modules running. Stable without armour repair.

Loadout Specifics
High Slots: 3x Medium Anode Pulse Particle Stream I (Multifrequency S frequency crystals)
Med. Slots: Cold-Gas Arcjet Thrusters, F-b10 Nominal Capacitor Regenerator
Low Slots: 2x Heat Sink I, Small Inefficient Armor Repair Unit, Type-D Power Core Modification Diagnostic System
Rigs: Small Energy Burst Aerator I, Small Energy Collision Accelerator I

Design Notes
  • Designed for use as part of a squad where other parties draw fire. Close range weaponry and unreliable tank makes solo combat risky, however skillful piloting may allow small groups of hostiles to be neutralised quickly due to high damage output.
  • Theoretically capable of 172dps with high skills and Tech level 2 module upgrades.

'Taz'

Designed as an introduction to capsuleer-versus-capsuleer combat (PvP), the 'Taz' configuration is quite a daunting loadout to manage, but can provide a useful and affordable insight into interception and tackling techniques. A maneouverable, high-speed loadout equipped with the ability to warp-scramble and capacitor-neutralise, the Taz is ideal for providing tackling support for a highly mobile frigate wolfpack.

Key Statistics
Role: Squad PvP Tackler
Effective Hit Points: 2600+
Tank Type: Speed tank with armour repairer support.
Optimal Weapon Range: 0.6km for weapons, 6.3km for Neut, 8.6km for Scram
Damage: 82hp per volley. 26hp per second.
Top Speed: 2169 m/s (MWD)
Capacitor: 29s with all active modules running. Stable with MWD, Scrambler, Damage Control & Energy Vampire only.

Loadout Specifics
High Slots: 2x150mm Light 'Scout' Autocannon I, Small Diminishing Power System Drain I, Small Unstable Power Fluctuator I
Med. Slots: Catalyzed Cold-Gas Arcjet Thrusters, J5b Phased Prototype Warp Scrambler
Low Slots: Damage Control I, Small 'Accomodation' Vestment Reconstructer I, Microcell Nanite Adaptive Membrane I, Local Hull Conversion Inertial Stabilizers I
Rigs: Small Low Friction Nozzle Joints I, Small Polycarbon Engine Housing I, Small Auxiliary Thrusters I

Design Notes
  • This loadout requires careful capacitor management and should be thoroughly tested in a mock-combat environment before attempting PvP.
  • This configuration requires a more advanced and varied pilot skillset than the previous loudouts. 

Friday, 28 January 2011

My Sister the Rookie: Trial Period, Part Two

This ongoing series of articles aims to chart the progress of a new player in EVE, with a view to discovering the pitfalls and roadhumps that might deter the newer player. You might like to read part one first.

My chosen guinea-pig was my younger sister who, as well as having some previous gaming experience, has the added advantage of being someone who I can be that little more candid with (read: shout at and later apologise to).

In the first part of this series, Lozyjoe had created her character and had attempted to do battle with EVE Online's bewildering user interface. She'd managed to grasp some basic camera orientation and ship control but had found it quite a daunting process. We left her having just docked for the first time. Just when she'd started to get used to the UI in space, we'd upped the ante on her and now she was in station with a whole new panel of buttons and options having appeared. I could sense her trepidation as she thought  'one step forward, two steps back'.

Fortunately Aura, the 'ship computer' tutorial character, was keeping up her end of the deal by providing written instructions and making the appropriate buttons flash. Lozyjoe's insistence on reading everything out loud felt unnecessary and slow, but if it helped her understand then so be it. The problem was it tempted me to embellish and add my own advice which wasn't always helpful and often confused. I realised that I ought to take a step back and allow Lozyjoe to work with Aura at her own pace.

Once I was sure she'd grappled some of the basic concepts regarding skill learning and module fitting, I directed her toward the career agents found via the 'help' window. I had dabbled with these agents in the past and thought they would be perfect to give Lozyjoe a grasp of the gameplay options available to her. Each agent essentially provides a storyline arc of missions that gently introduces a particular gameplay mechanic to the new player. That should keep her busy, which was fortunate as, at this point real life summoned me back and I left Lozyjoe to her own devices.

However, a day or so later when I next spoke to Lozyjoe, she was in a bit of a negative mood. She had been frustrated by her failure to grasp something in one of the career tutorials, but from her explanation it was difficult to divulge exactly what the problem was. I logged on and flew over to see if I could help get to the bottom of the mystery.

Despite initially expressing an interest in manufacturing, she had opted to do the 'exploration' career tutorial first which, although arguably having one of the more involved and interesting mechanics, is also one of the most complex. I started the arc myself in order to understand where the confusion had arisen and I learned something for myself: I discovered you could use the onboard scanner without probes in order to scan down combat sites (no longer needing to compromise a combat loadout to make room for a scan probe launcher, I subsequently spent several days tearing around in an assault frigate in pursuit of these sites).

Loz's confusion had arisen from the disorienting use of acceleration gates and her misreading of the overview. Still not in possession of the required EVE-fluent instinct, she had become lost and mistaken a stargate for an acceleration gate, ending up in an entirely different system. Veterans may laugh, but her confusion was understandable given the amount of new information her rookie brain was trying to make sense of. I set her straight and helped her out with some other points of confusion (mainly arising from obscure or vague mission instructions) and some advice on scanning (four probes in a cross formation, overlapping the focal point, gradually down-sizing and repositioning).

As she soldiered on with her brain-bleeding training schedule, I dabbled with a couple of the career arcs myself. They seemed quite good and, it turns out, very generous, rewarding the successful missioner with skill books, implants and new ships. Aside from the risk of confusion and the unfriendly interface, I could imagine this being quite fun.

Over the following days, I didn't get the opportunity to get back to New Eden much and I hoped that Lozyjoe was doing alright without me. When I finally caught up with her, I was pleased and impressed to find that she had worked her way through all of the career arcs and collected a nice little stockpile of ships and equipment. She had also skilled herself up to enable an assortment of module fittings and proceeded to bolt any old junk she'd looted onto her shiny new Punisher. She was flying around in a combat/mining/salvaging/armoured/shield tanking slug of a ship. Oh dear.

However (and more importantly) she seemed fairly content and pleased with her progress. It also made it clear to me what we needed to go through next...

Ship fitting. Next time.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Epic Fleet Battles? I Think Yulai

Sunday night was to be an epic event to usher in the Incursion era; the complex strands of intricate planning leading up to a theatrical set piece involving hundreds of players taking place on the doorstep of CONCORD headquarters in high security space.

Clues as to the time and date had apparently been gleaned from previous live events and a forum thread on the official EVE site started by the chief antagonist, Master Kuvakei himself, suggested that the apolitical policing hand of CONCORD was the King to the four Empires' princes, and one that Sansha's Nation intended to behead.

There was a surprisingly palpable sense of mounting anticipation in the hours preceding the event given that it was conveyed through the medium of the text channel. I was monitoring a number of channels, each filled with players who were busily organising fleets and muster points. It was exciting in the way that the minutes before the Rebel Alliance's assault on the Death Star was in A New Hope. I'm sure there was equally feverish voice-comms chatter going on too, but as I was at my sister's house and they'd just managed to cobble together the means for both of us to log on, we had no voice-comms facility.

Our very own ad-hoc squad got thrown together in the Old Pond Pub, with several waifs and strays who could find/didn't want to be in a 'proper fleet' stumbling over to the alleged target system, Yulai. Who Do You Think You Are Kidding Mister Sansha indeed. Long Jack was already in position, reporting on the rising local numbers. I was heading in the SSS Stupid combat mammoth filled with modules and Kestrels to give me some cheap frigate options. Lozyjoe followed and Teh Smit and Craftsman 074 were meeting us there. We didn't have a plan. Most of us had not yet managed to attend a live event and were just curious to see what happened.

I arrived in system with at least a thousand others in local. I'd had the foresight to take necessary client lag reducing measures (turning off HUD brackets and effects, reducing graphics quality) and the node seemed to be coping. Having never been involved in EVE's legendary 1000+ player fleet fights, I was interested to see what the experience would be like. Clearly CCP must be confident about the technology and hardware to stage this event in an area where newer, less fanatical (and therefore less forgiving) players may get involved.
 
I docked up and threw together a disposa-frigate, managing to rendezvous with the squad members outside the CONCORD Bureau station at Yulai IX. I warped in just in time to see some purple text appear in local chat. But then it was gone before I could read it as many of the one-and-a-half-thousand players in system attempted a witty retort/banal comment/childish ascii art. I scrolled up to see it was from Kuvakei himself:

Master Kuvakei > Greetings.
...then 45 seconds and a hundred idiots later...

Master Kuvakei > Do not think I do this without respect for capsuleers and their achievements.
It would've been a fantastically immersive piece of showmanship if only there was a way to prevent the text from disappearing in the deluge of replies. Between attempting to co-ordinate the squad, update other Old Pond Pub regulars and investigate a hoax Titan sighting in-system, I was struggling to keep up with the Kuvakei narrative. Credit to Calathea Sata for gathering them up and republishing them in this forum post.

Master Kuvakei > Today, I will show you the light, all of you.
Master Kuvakei > Tell me now, how numerous is my Nation among you? FOR NATION!
There was probably some roleplaying going on in local in reply to this, but I'd stopped trying to read it at this point and was trying to make sense of the wider game experience whilst coaching my sister. 

Master Kuvakei > You see, capsuleers, you are in the presence of true greatness.
Master Kuvakei > I will give you all a moment to reflect upon the weakness of your separate minds.
Master Kuvakei > Do you see how confused you are? How you squabble and bicker. How there is no unity to your voice?
Master Kuvakei > All shouting, none listening.
See? Even he was getting pissed off with the idiots in local.

Master Kuvakei > I must admit, I am enjoying this.
Yeah, right, you're not kidding anyone baldy.

Master Kuvakei > For your sake, I hope your fleet is better prepared than your voices.
Master Kuvakei > You'll need it...
Then a wormhole was reported at the sun so I warped the squad there. The first thing I spotted was a huge player fleet of assorted vessels and sitting beyond them, some 200km away was the wormhole and what I at first took to be an environmental effect surrounding the wormhole. But that was no moon... er, I mean cloud but an armada of Nightmare battleships and support craft. Suddenly, I was impressed. Right up until I tried to do anything, then the lag monster started to drag us down.

The giant space-turd that is the Sansha Revenant supercarrier appeared through the wormhole and we engaged. Well, by engaged I mean that I told my Kestrel to orbit a target and fire all missiles, whereupon the green module cycle appeared to happen but my ammuntion didn't deplete. Lozyjoe, sitting right next to me flying her Punisher via her laptop, soon discovered mashing the F1 key seemed to make damage notifications appear, but there was no way of knowing if the target was receiving the damage as the target damage indicator didn't seem to be being updated. I had no idea how the other squad members where getting on at this point, but the disconnection of two of them didn't bode well.

Other supercarriers were reported at different planets and we tried warping to those, but the situation was the same or worse; friendly ships crowded around the Sansha supercarriers, like us presumably wondering if they were firing and/or doing any damage. More purple text had appeared in local, but was drowned out by the endless complaints about lag that was crippling everyone's game experience.

Eventually the supercarriers were destroyed and it seemed to be all over, but even this was unclear as it's disappearance could have just as easily been a further symptom of lag. Long Jack had managed to reconnect and take part toward the end as the lag eased slightly, but I think we were unanimous in declaring our first large fleet experience one we would not wish to repeat. That the node 'held out' may be considered a success by some, but it certainly was not entertaining. I don't doubt that it is a technological achievement, but to a consumer that means nothing.

In conclusion,  I was left feeling bitterly disappointed. It is fortunate for me that I enjoy EVE for many reasons other than large-scale combat, but I cannot understand why CCP have persistently marketed EVE as offering huge sci-fi fleet battles in so many of their promotional videos, if those battles are as underwhelming and poor a gaming experience as this was.

Up until recently these over-capacity fleet fights generally only ever took place deep in null-sec, where few newer players were likely to suffer the early crushing of their expectations. I had read about such lag-fests, and despite the poor experience, null-sec alliance members seemed to accept it as a means to an end, but now it seems they will be regularly available for all players to experience. Is this really a good marketing move?

I just hope that the regularly generated incursions will be a better experience, because any new players that had been attracted by the new PvE content may be sorely disappointed when they get their first 'soul crushing lag' pop-up.

It's a bit like finding a fingernail in a pork pie. Would you take another bite?

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Pimp Your Pod - The Incursion Collection

With every expansion, our associates at Freeboot and Green Customisation and Modification like to stay ahead of the style curve with a new product line to suit the discerning pod pilot.
Previously on Pimp Your Pod we've released the Tyrannis line and the original Pimp Your Pod sale, but this season's range has been tailored and designed by our flamboyant and colourful in-house fashionista, Grünbart. Reportedly cousin to the man who put the spikes on the Sansha's Nation ships, he is very proud to introduce the all new Incursion Collection.

---------------------------------

Mmm, well hello, ist very good to be seeing jou.

Mein name ist Grünbart unt today I will be sexing jou up in the latest delicious fashions. Here at 'Freeboot unt Green Customisation and Modification' we like to find the true you by peeling off that extra layer unt getting right inside of you.

Our inspiration this season has been zee very nasty, very sexual Sansha Kuvakai. I was once his lover you know, but he ditched me for zat whore cousin of mine just because he had bigger spikes unt promised to sex up his Nightmares.

Anyway, with his entire nation of sexy zombies in zere uber-spikey spaceships, Sansha shows us how to really work zee spike. Mmm, he's a bad boy with a taste for sharp poles.

In his honour we have created our spikiest range yet, with many options for impaling. Ooh, watch out.


SANSHA'S HELMET

With the recent beautification of the capsuleer population, the constant risk of injury is a concern for many. It would be expensive to have to replace an entire clone simply because you've damaged your pretty little head slipping on some amniotic fluid whilst exiting your pod.

Remove all risk of unexpected brain injury with this stylish Sansha's Nation styled helmet. Contoured and comfortable, this pseudo-low tech design hides an array of optional features.

Optional Extras:  Internal audio-visual system, marquee messaging strip, beer-can holder with delivery system, electrified spike.


KUVAKAI KICKERS

The must-have footwear for men and women, these hand-made shoes come in a variety of designs. Shown here in the unisex model, other variations allow you to customise spike distribution and colour (available in black, pink or 'Nation Taint'.

Optional Extras: Left/right indicators, illuminated spikes, space-walk grav-clamps, poison kick-spikes.



NATION SHADES

There ain't nothin' cooler than a space zombie in shades. Emulate your favourite Nation pilot with these head-turning sunglasses. Guaranteed dynamic protection against up to 200-billion candlepower and fully compatible with all existing perception implants, order yours now whilst stocks last.

Optional Extras: HUD Interfacing link, Thermal/UV Imaging, Freesat.



ZOMBI CRIB

So you managed to recover your child from the kidnapping skullduggery of the Sansha hordes, but now the little bambino wants to wire itself into your electronics and eat everyone's brains. This bespoke cot will keep it at bay with a sophisticated array of surveillance and telemetry equipment. Restraints and pacification equipment to suit.

Optional Extras: Automated milk dispenser, ThermoHug heated blankets, Baby-prod stun-stick. Biomass tank functionality.


PRICKLY PLATING

Both aesthetically arresting and secure, these custom spike plates can be fitted to any metal surface from the outer skin of your capsule to your hangar bay doors. Completely guaranteed against space-debris strikes and rust, the spiked look will draw envy but deter climbers and other interlopers.

Optional Extras:  Chrome spikes, decorative lighting, musical doorbell.



INTERIOR SECURITY SPIKES

Available for both security and recreational use, these retractable spikes can be fitted to any flat surface within your ship. Stop your enemies, surprise your friends, always hilarious but occasionally messy.

Optional Extras: Tilting floor/bottomless pit entertainment suite (shown), self-cleaning nanites, humourous 'boing' sound effects, 'Sports Commentator' announcement system.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Who Do You Think You Are Kidding Mister Sansha...

Sansha Kuvekei and his Nation armada are coming. Tomorrow.

As we stand on the eve of the greatest threat to Empire space New Eden as ever known, the majority of the population of hi-sec continue about their business in blissful ignorance. Whilst other regions of space stand ready with pilots of greater experience and resources capable of mustering a military response, those used to the protection afforded by CONCORD's response fleets are about to get a rude awakening.

In cultures past, whilst the men of fighting age were on the front taking the war to the enemy, those unable to join them would form a rear-guard to protect against any possible attack on the home front. Although often underqualified, undertrained and under-equipped, these brave souls would stand ready to protect their vegetable patches and sheds against any enemy incursion. Often from the strategically advantageous location of the local pub.

We need a Dad's Army.

In the OLD POND PUB (in-game channel), the regulars have pledged that, whenever possible, we will form an ad-hoc fleet to respond to any Sansha Incursions in nearby constellations. We have no idea how this will work, nor if it's even workable, however our spirit is strong (about 70% a.b.v.) and we are stout of heart. Others are welcome to join us in our foolhardy quest to stand firm against Fritz...er, I mean Sansha.

Let's show a bit of plucky wartime spirit and have a sing-along. All together now (sung to the Dad's Army theme):

Who do you think you are kidding Mister Sansha?
Just because we're on the rum.
We are the boys who will stop your little game.
We are the boys who will make you feel the pain.
'Cus who do you think you are kidding Mister Sansha?
If you think old Empire's done?

Missioner goes off to rat
In his missile boat.
But he knows to watch the skies
And when to get his coat.

So watch out Mister Sansha,
You have met your match in us.
If you think you can crush us,
Just get on the Interbus.

Just who do you think you are kidding Mister Sansha?
If you think we're on the run.
We are the boys who will stop your little game.
We are the boys who will make you think again.
'Cus who do you think you are kidding Mister Sansha?
If you think old Empire's done?

(Mike Azariah is pushing the same initiative of ad-hoc fleeting in response to Sansha incursions in the GALLENTE HERO in-game channel - be sure to arrive in costume. You can read his enigmatic and wise motivational material here. Then stick a carrot from your vegetable patch in his soup bowl, he'll be very grateful. Oo-er.)

Sunday, 16 January 2011

The Dark Side of the Face: Scammer 'Spaceship Barbie' Interviewed

When travelling through New Eden, it's always pretty clear when you hit a major trade-hub, as local chat quickly fills with an endless succession of contract offers, a proportion of which are invariably too good to be true. This is the domain of a peculiar breed of player who, if not unique to EVE, then at least only in New Eden will they find their practices accepted, if perhaps despised. This is the natural habitat of the scammer.

By default, I have always regarded everything I see advertised in the local channel as bait in a trap set by some nefarious trickster. Some are easy to spot, but it's those that seem genuine that concern me. Maybe they ARE genuine, or maybe they're just so clever I can't see the trap. I just can't be sure.

Nonetheless, I often find it entertaining to browse the potential scams to test myself and I even find myself developing a begrudging admiration for these scammers. The profession certainly requires tenacity and the good ones show quite a bit of cunning and creativity. One such regular whom I have witnessed plying her trade on many occasions is Spaceship Barbie. I approached her for an interview and she agreed.

I secured my wallet and my false teeth and got on with the interview:

Seismic Stan: Spaceship Barbie, thank you for taking time out from your busy schedule to answer these questions. That's an interesting name, is there any scamming-related psychology behind the name choice and is there a Spaceship Ken?

Spaceship Barbie: The name doesn't really have anything to do with scamming. Just a name. There is a spaceship Ken, sadly, someone made him to terrorize me :(

Seismic: Scamming, along with ninja-salvaging and suicide-ganking is probably one of the EVE activities least likely to endear yourself to other players. What sort of feedback do you get? Do you get hate-mail or harvest tears like a ninja? Any particularly amusing heckles you can recall?

Barbie: 95% of the people people who fall for the scams dont even say anything. I dont get much hate mail, or tears. I do recive a lot of smack in the local comms channel.

Seismic: Do you work alone or do you work with others? Is there a scammer community? Do you participate in any other activities beside scamming?

Barbie: I work alone, but I have a lot of friends. There is no real comunity other than C&P boards.

I have done pretty much everything you can do in EVE. from missions to corp theft to mining to building to trade, piracy, 0.0 sov skirmishes, and everything in between.

Seismic: I think I recall witnessing you (either in local or through a message in your bio) warning other scammers off of imitating you or at least detering scamming in the same system as you, are there many territorial disputes amongst scammers?

Barbie: I do not discourage copycats. I would rather them not scam in the same system, but whatever, its a free game, and after they see how much I've made with scams, I can't blame them for copying me.

Seismic: Is there much craft to constructing the scams or do you simply recycle the same ideas for a new audience? What preparation do you do? What's the most successful or elaborate scam you've pulled off?

Barbie: Yes and No. I can't go in anymore detail or I'd have to charge you. :)

Seismic: I think we should keep well away from financial transactions between us. I asked the Tweetfleet Twitter community for some questions. Here's what they asked:

Ievecoza had a two-part question, "1. How many people fall for scams? and 2. Which ones are the easiest to pull off?"

Barbie: 1. A lot. 2. Not sure, whatever's hot at the time.

Seismic: Casiella Truza asks "What's the average number of tries or length of time to find a mark?"

Barbie: There is none. Could be seconds, could be weeks. There is no guarantee that any scam will work. It's always different.

Seismic: Tgl3 rather cynically wants to know how broken your CTRL + V keys are?

Barbie: Even better hold 'ctrl + up arrow' to pan through your previous messages. :) (everyone who didnt know this should send me 5m!)

Seismic: A top tip, thanks. Hang on, is that actually going to empty our cargo into space or something? Try it at your peril. Anyway, moving on, Matthew Gurley asked "Do you ever have any moral qualms with what you do?"

Barbie: No.

Seismic: Arcana Mortis wonders if you have an idea on the average IQ of an EVE player as being a scammer probably puts you in a position to make an educated guess.

Barbie: Its just a video game, i dont bother to break it down to the people on the other end of the screen. its just contract pvp.

Seismic: Further to Arcana's question, are there any particular patterns with regard to player-types who fall for scams, in their age, playstyle etc?

Barbie: Not really.

Seismic: Myrhial Arkenath asks for your thoughts on the new contract system up on SiSi and also wonders if faction ships being available on the open market has affected your trade?

Barbie: I havent looked into the new contract system, but it wont effect much.

Seismic: If you were interviewing yourself, what question would you ask?

Barbie: No, not really :)

Seismic: Thanks, that's not actually a question, but moving on... What advice would you give to anyone considering taking up scamming?

Barbie: 95% of all people who try scamming quit within the first two days. Like I said before, it could be weeks before you get a hit. You have to be devoted to the profession. And dont fucking use bots.

Seismic: Any final words for the readers of this interview?

Barbie: o/ fly safe, and double-check those contracts!

And with that she went back to her pink space-car and pink glittery space mansion, all paid for with her ill-gotten gains. Her answers were candid, if a little concise, I was just glad I still had my own hair.

With thanks to Spaceship Barbie for taking the time and to the Tweetfleet members for providing questions. Today's show was brought to you by the letters I, S and K.

Send me some and I'll send you double back ;)

Thursday, 13 January 2011

BB 24: You Talking to Me?

Welcome to the twenty-fourth installment of the EVE Blog Banter, the monthly EVE Online blogging extravaganza created by CrazyKinux. The EVE Blog Banter involves an enthusiastic group of gaming bloggers, a common topic within the realm of EVE Online, and a week or so to post articles pertaining to the said topic. The resulting articles can either be short or quite extensive, either funny or dead serious, but are always a great fun to read! Any questions about the EVE Blog Banter should be directed to crazykinux@gmail.com. Check for other EVE Blog Banter articles at the bottom of this post!

This month's Banter topic comes to us from the ever helpful Eelis Kiy, capsuleer behind the "Where the frack is my ship" blog. She asks: How does your real life personality compare to who you are as a character in EVE? Does a good leader of people in the real world make a good leader of pilots in game? Or vice-versa? Do your real-life skills help you with the roles you fulfill in your corporation or alliance? Or do you behave completely differently? Does the anonymity of the Internet allow you to thrive on the tears of others in New Eden whilst you work as a good Samaritan away from your keyboard? Or are you as mean outside of your pod as you are inside it? Have experiences in EVE Online affected your behavior, skills or attitudes outside of the game?


Operator: What number please?

Mat: Hello operator, I'm trying to contact Seismic Stan of Greenbeard's Freebooters.

Operator:
Okay sir, I'm not seeing anything on the system under that name. Is it a UK address?

Mat:
No, they're based in the galaxy of New Eden about twenty-thousand years from now.

Operator:
Okay, thank you, I'm transferring you now.

Seismic Stan: ...Freebooter's Office. What do you want?

Mat:
Hi, is that Seismic Stan?

SS:
Who's asking?

M:
Um, well, my name is Mat and I'm essentially the real you.

SS:


M:
Hello?

SS:
Is this a prank call? Did Greenbeard put you up to this?

M:
No, actually it was Crazy Kinux and Eelis Kiy. You see, there's this Blog Banter thing that we...

SS:
Yeah, yeah, I know about those. I write 'em for our Freebooted holozine. I was just writing this month's one when you interrupted.

M:
Oh right. What were you writing about?

SS:
Not that it's any of your business, but I thought I'd interview myself. So I can compare my answers with...er,...that's weird, I seem to have written the start of this conversation.

M:
That's a coincidence, so have I. Perhaps we should move on before we get lost in the paradox.

SS:
Yeah, that's probably a good idea.

M:
Righto.

SS:
Good.

M:
Um...

SS:
So. Who's interviewing who?

M:
I'm not sure.

SS:
Well you've got me at a disadvantage cos you seem to know who I am, whereas I haven't got a clue who you are. I can't find your file on Galnet.

M:
Yeah, it probably doesn't go back that far. I suppose the easiest way to explain it is...

SS:
Easiest?! Don't condescend me, son.

M:
Sorry. Well it's like this – from my perspective you are a character I created in a computer game called EVE Online. Whenever I log on, I take control of you and interact with other players in the universe of New Eden.

SS:
What a load of tosh, no-one controls me. Sounds like you've been at the pharmaceuticals.

M:
Okay, well in any case, Eelis Kiy wants to know what our similarities and differences are.

SS:
Sounds like a load of left-wing bollocks to me, but I've got nothing else to do, so interview away.

M:
Great. Well let's see how similar we are. What are your hobbies?

SS:
Dunno. Flying spaceships I suppose. And drinking rum.

M:
Me too. What do you do when you're not flying spaceships?

SS:
Well, keeping one step of head of Greenbeard and his cronies mainly. And since I upgraded my implants and got literate, I've got quite into writing. I also used to collect anaerobic space fungus.

M:
Well, we've got the writing thing in common at least and there's a certain amount of political survival that goes on in my job, but you're on your own with the implants and the fungus. So it seems we're similar in some respects.

SS:
Really? I'm a capsuleer and the battle-hardened CEO of a cut-throat corporation. You sound like a bit of a pasty-faced twat to be honest. Do you spend all of your time playing this 'EVE Online' holo-game?

M:
Well no. I'm married and I have a full-time job.

SS:
Doing what?

M:
I'm a paramedic.

SS:
That all sounds a bit Sisters of EVE - bandages and hugs. I knew you were a loser.

M:
Thanks. So you've got no interest in women or altruism then?

SS:
Well Jamyll Sarum's got a nice rack, but I bet she's high maintenance. Mostly women just give me a headache. They've got a lot in common with Vitoc and that's another habit I'm in no hurry to get back to.

M:
Okay. What about the rest of the human race? You're not much of a humanitarian either then?

SS:
Well, I'm not into sadism or anything, but I'd sooner it was the other guy suffering rather than me.

M:
So where do you stand on destroying capsuleers' pods after they've been defeated in combat?

SS:
Well, it's a bit unnecessary in most cases. I'd probably be happy to let them get away, but that's not the culture, is it. 'Do unto others as they would do unto you, but do it first.' I always say.

M:
Actually, it's my step-Father that always says that, but since you and I share a consciousness it amounts to the same thing. My point is, for all your nonchalant space-rogue patois, you've got a sense of fair play and are quite honourable.

SS:
Wash you mouth out boy! I've gutted men for saying less.

M:
No you haven't.

SS:
It's not too soon to start.

M:
So you want folk to believe you're a mean, heartless space pirate?

SS:
Yarr. I is what I is.

M:
A cliché?

SS:
Hmmph. If we are the same person, how come I don't like you much?

M:
I dunno, maybe you have a deep-seated sense of self-loathing?

SS:
You've got a smart mouth. You and I are going to come to blows soon.

M:
That would be an interesting feat. Have you seen Fight Club?

SS:
What?

M:
Never mind. So how do you feel about the loss of life caused by Capsuleer actions? The personnel in the countless structures destroyed and the crews of destroyed ships.

SS:
Well look, the loss of life is much less than many people think. The life-preserving and escape technology available for most ships is almost faultless. It's down to the ship's captains to ensure that that facility is installed and maintained. In those cases there is no reason why most of the crew cannot be transferred from ship-to-ship with minimal loss of life. If the captains choose not to look after their crews, that's not for me to feel bad about, they should've signed up with a better ship.

M:
That wasn't a very piratey response.

SS:
Truth be known, I've never been much of a pirate, or a mercenary. That was Greenbeard's influence. I'm just in it for the japes.

M:
See, I knew it. You and I are very similar ethically. You just put on a front because you think you have to.

SS:
Great, so you've unmasked me. That's my credibility as a seasoned capsuleer out of the escape hatch.

M:
To be honest, I don't think you had much credibility to start with, I've seen your killboard stats. Well, MY killboard stats. It's not good.

SS:
Well, I'm a risk taker. The risks just seem to rarely pay off.

M:
I suppose I am... you are... we are.

SS:
You really are a bit odd, aren't you. I think you might be in need of professional help.

M:
Me?

SS:
Well, one of us does and according to your version of events, I'm just a figment of your imagination. So that makes you the owner of the team brain and therefore the one with the mental disorder, doesn't it.

M:
Yes, I suppose it does. But how about you humour me and we carry on with the interview?

SS:
If we must.

M:
So what are your goals and ambitions?

SS:
Oh I don't know. Who are you, my mother? So I'm a bit of a lay-about, all half-baked ideas and no end-product. Ever since I kicked the addictions, I've found my new clarity of thought a bit daunting. To be honest, I try not to think too hard, it makes me dizzy.

M:
Hmm, I admire your honesty. I don't think I'm quite prepared to admit that about myself. So we'll put that down as a difference rather than a similarity.

SS:
Whatever. Enough about you, let's talk about me some more. I've got a good feeling about this travelling circus concept I've been knocking about, but that's a story for another time.

M:
So you have future plans then?

SS:
Yeah, to not die much, to have fun and to get better at stuff.

M:
I'd agree with that, although I'll probably have a lot more focus on the not dying thing, given that I can only do that once.

SS:
See, I knew you were soft. Anyway, are we done here? Surely Eelis has got enough material now and you're boring me.

M:
Fair enough, you're a busy man, CEO and all that. Well thanks for talking to me, I just hope the wife doesn't see the phone bill. Catch you later Seismic... Seismic?

SS: -click-



List of participants:
  1. EVE Blog Banter #24: Be, all that you can be, and so much more!
  2. BB24:RL + EVE = | A Mule In EvE
  3. Freebooted: BB 24: You Talking to Me?
  4. where the frack is my ship?: Blog Banter 24: Behind the keyboard
  5. (OOC) CK’s Blog Banter #24: I Am Prano. « Prano's Journey
  6. mikeazariah » Blog Archive » BB24 Who are you, who hoo woo hoo
  7. Drifting: The 24th EVE Blog Banter (January 2011 Edition) - Topic: EVE and Real Life
  8. Victoria Aut Mors » Blog Archive » Eve Blog Banter #24 – Where Eve Meets Real Life
  9. Who is more real?? « The Durzo Chronicles
  10. Captain Serenity: blog banter #24 - Personalities
  11. Confessions of a Closet Carebear: EVE and Real Life (EVE Blog Banter #24)
  12. The 24th EVE Blog Banter - EVE and Real Life - The Phoenix Diaries
  13. » EvE Blog Banter #24: EVE and Real Life EvE Blasphemy
  14. Blog Banter 24: In Real Life « Yarrbear Tales
  15. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Alt « the hydrostatic capsule
  16. Blog Banter #24 – Me « Roc's Ramblings
  17. Blog Banter: Personalities in game and out of game
  18. Fiddler's Edge: Game Face - Eve Blog Banter #24
  19. Progression's Horizon: Blog Banter 24- Synonymous or Anonymous?
  20. More to come....

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

My Sister the Rookie: Trial Period, Part One

When you've played EVE for a number of years, it's hard to recall those first tentative weeks staring up the sheer face of The Learning Cliff. Things that are second nature to the veteran can be impenetrable to the rookie. We forget how much we take for granted. I was about to be reminded.

Just over a month ago, I convinced my younger sister to give EVE a go.

I was curious to see what she made of my quiet little internet spaceship obsession. She was an intriguing candidate for an EVE trial, although definitely only a casual gamer at best these days, she has had some previous experience of MMOGs and was once fairly obsessed with Everquest 2. Back then, she weaned herself off the habit by having children and a career. Now over half a decade has passed and I've managed to lure her back into the world of online digital entertainment. But no more cliched fantasy guff, this time it's the harsh sci-fi quasi-reality that is EVE Online. This article is the first in a series aimed at documenting how she gets on.

Whilst it was in my interests to ensure she enjoyed her early EVE experience, I didn't want to be holding her hand through every step. I was also curious to see what she made of the New Player Experience and how effectively it would get her on her feet. We live over one-hundred miles apart so I wouldn't be able to physically mentor her anyway, but there was always voice-comms for when we were on at the same time (although setting up and familiarising her with Teamspeak3 over the phone was a challenge in it's own right).

Given that I was currently operating in Amarr high-sec, I advised she opt for an Amarrian character so I would be nearby to provide assistance if required. She quickly rattled through character creation, the process having now been streamlined with the removal of the convoluted processes of attribute point distribution and starting skill selection that I remember. Lozyjoe became a capsuleer.

Whilst I listened on Teamspeak, she took her first steps into New Eden and was instantly overwhelmed by the myriad of buttons and information on screen. I think we forget that the EVE interface is the gaming equivalent of a Boeing 747 cockpit with literally hundreds of uniquely clickable options from the outset. I directed her attentions to the tutorial pane and I felt a pang of sympathy as I listened to her begin to grapple with the basics of the Heads-Up Display and User Interface management. I found myself praying she didn't just give up there and then and wander off to watch a less taxing DVD.

The first tutorial mission still requires you to approach and destroy a basic hostile frigate. However, Lozyjoe was already struggling and I was having difficulty understanding why. It was only through patient and methodical questioning that we realised that she a) couldn't make sense of the overview and b) didn't realise that it was a third-person view and that it was HER ship in the middle of the screen.

Rather than dive into the dry topic of correct overview settings, I thought it was of critical importance to make something fun happen and quickly. Something needed to explode. Following some basic orientation advice, Lozyjoe soon managed to approach and orbit the target, then lock and fire upon it. At least I thought that was what she was doing, but for some reason she didn't seem to be doing any damage. Further questioning revealed that although she was orbiting the 'red cross', she had locked and was firing upon a nearby asteroid. I guided her to correct this and soon she witnessed her first explosion. The emotion from both of us was more relief than elation.

Having earned her first kill, next was her first experience of warping and docking. Although to regular players this is an instinctive part of getting around, to a new player it is anything but intuitive. Grasping the concept of what is physically near your ship and what is millions of kilometres away is yet another thing that veterans have learned and forgotten to teach. With a very basic look at the overview (ordering overview objects by distance with closest at the top was key) we managed to get her home.

Phew.

This early stage in Lozyjoe's trial has given me a new understanding of how we play EVE. Unlike most games, where everything about the game design is geared toward easing you into a fun and immersive experience, EVE's UI is more of a versatile toolset, where every click leads to a bewildering rabbit-hole of new options. It's more akin to grappling Photoshop or a word processor for the first time than it is playing a game.

Furthermore, simply looking at the EVE interface only gives you an impression of your environment, rather than the complete picture provided by most regular games. It's more like reading a book, where you allow the information provided to percolate into your brain where it is extrapolated into the full environment with your imagination filling in the blanks. Only a seasoned player's brain intuitively takes in the myriad of information on the screen, compiling overview details, ship information and a host of other factors to develop an understanding of where your ship is in the universe in relation to other ships and objects.

To the new player it's all just bright lights and noise.

[Go to My Sister the Rookie: Trial Period, Part Two here]

Sunday, 9 January 2011

The Free Boot Awards 2010

Given the recognition that the EVE community regularly receives, I was curious to lift the lid and take a closer look on the parts that affect my game experience. Having never been part of other gaming communities (apart from a brief involvement in the Battlefield 1942: Galactic Conquest mod community years ago), I have no real frame of reference.

I soon came to realise how many people outside CCP contribute to my game experience. The more I thought about it, the more I realised I should be grateful to this whole host of people who entertain me with their writing and support my EVE-playing with fantastically useful tools. So really this article is more-or-less just a thank you for making my New Eden a better place to be. It's just a bit of fun and I hope don't miss anyone out. Clearly everyone's experience of the EVE community is different, so this post will be unashamedly subjective and tongue in cheek and should be taken with a cargo-load of salt.

I originally intended for this post to be an elaborately contrived semi-fictionalised awards ceremony in the style of the Oscars, with nominees and categories et al. However, not only would that be hugely arrogant and presumptuous of me, it would have required a degree of organisation, research and planning which I am unwilling to devote to a single post.

Instead, I would simply like to draw your attention to a number of EVE-related resources that have enriched my game experience during 2010. By no means is it intended to be exhaustive, simply a shameless exercise in backslapping, fawning and fingerpointing for my own amusement. But then isn't that what awards are all about?

So, although still arrogant and presumptuous, now also poorly researched, scattershot and probably corrupt, on with the Free Boot awards 2010.

Before we celebrate the best and brightest of the EVE community, we should take the time for a moment of silence to mourn the passing of some fantastic services that didn't survive to enrich our 2011s. The Posthumous Recognition Award for a Tragic Demise is shared by Capsuleer and EVE-Metrics. We commit their souls to the void... I hope CCP can see their way to relaxing their rules on third-party profit before more good resources go the same way.

On a related note, a Special Award for Most Valiant Attempt at Preventing the Inevitable goes to Nashh Kadavr for his attempt to save Pyjama Sam and Roc Weiler's Capsuleer iPhone app with this petition. Three hundred-and-twenty-seven signatories weren't enough, but nice try fella.

Our first Blogger Free Boot is for Best Political Writer and it goes to Mord Fiddle for Fiddler's Edge. This blog has consistently provided excellent coverage and in-depth discussions of null-sec politics and the ever-shifting player alliance arena. "High Tea" with Mord never fails to be enlightening and provides a fantastic insight into the machinery of EVEs much vaunted 'end-game' player politics.

The hotly-contested ninja-blog category has a number of leading lights, with Paul Clavet's My Loot, Your Tears and Cyberin's Hands Off, My Loots being leading contenders. However, for pure heartless élan and torturously amusing accounts of player-baiting (and for quoting me in his bio), the Free Boot for Best Ninja Blog goes to Aiden Mourn and Finders and Keepers.

Throughout the year I have been putting together increasingly ridiculous ship fittings, all made possible by the fantastic resource that is the third party EVE fitting suite. Now with the likes of EVEHQ (a powerful tool for far more than just fittings) and newcomer PyFA nipping at it's heels, this years Best Fitting App award goes to Gripen's EVE Fitting Tool. But the competition is hotting up, and this category is definitely one to watch in the coming year.

A tool to which I have referred obsessively, tweaking skill plans and monitoring character development, has been an invaluable aid to my EVE gaming. The Best Third Party Skills Monitoring Tool Award goes to EVEMon. Again EVEHQ provides competition, but old habits die hard.

The award for Best Browser-based EVE Utility goes to the fantastic resource that is Wollari's DOTLAN:Evemaps. This absolutely superb resource can be used in or out of game and makes sense of the incredibly confusing stargate network, but provides so much more utility. I thoroughly recommend you give it a look and make use of it in your day-to-day New Eden travels.

The battle for Best EVE Smartphone App is one in which I apologise for having huge bias. Not being stinking rich, I only own one smartphone and it's an iPhone (so apologies to Android users). Therefore, there were only ever two real contenders for this award and Benjamin Scott's iClone wins by virtue of being the last man standing. iClone provides the iPhone user with the ability to monitor skills, check sales, browse items and much more. Quite possibly the most comprehensive third-party use out there for the EVE API and with the arrival of it's nimbler little brother, iClone Lite, it has become a must-have app for EVE playing iPhone users.

Throughout 2010 the renowned EVE Blogosphere has slowly been getting a makeover. One by one many EVE blogs have become significantly easier on the eye by virtue of the artistic talents of one man, Rixx Javix. If ever EVE develops to the point where there is the opportunity to customise ships, he would be the go-to-guy for a spray-job. The Free Boot for Best Blog Artwork goes to Rixx Javix at EVEOGANDA. He is also a prolific and witty EVE blogger.

Another of my favourite sources of reading material is EVE's Parity Bit. Sometimes providing insightful discussion and commentry, occasionally exploring the roleplaying aspects of EVE, but always entertaining and inspiring. A great example of his writing skills can be showcased by his coverage of the Noctis blueprint release (it helps if you've seen the EVE trailer: The Butterfly Effect first). The Free Boot award for Most Innovative Blogpost goes to paritybit for the Butterfly Effect: Industrial edition.

EVE Online's universe is a harsh place and most pilots learn to 'HTFU' (Harden The Fuck Up, as explained in CCP's informative video). This year's HTFU award for Services to New Pilot Education goes to Gal'en for his Failmail Friday blog feature in The Wandering Druid of Tranquility. In true EVE spirit he regularly points and laughs at the fat kid who is no good at sport.

There is a wealth of EVE-related fiction writing going on throughout the community and I would not presume to have even scratched the surface. However I always enjoy the gentle humour of the cleverly fictionalised accounts of Mike Azariah's in-game antics and the factual footnotes that follow. It's a great format and I like to try predicting what his 'lessons' had been before the end of the fictionalised section. So my Free Boot for Best Fiction Writing goes to Mike Azariah for Mike Azariah: A Missioneer in EVE.

This next segment is sponsored by Interbus, who are always happy to support the promotion of travel throughout New Eden. Every day in New Eden, strange and wonderful things can be found or are are occurring that might go unnoticed by the average pilot where it not for some intrepid bloggers who travel from place to place and write about their experiences.

The Interbus 'WoMan on The Scene' Roving Reporter Award for Best Coverage of an In-Game Event goes, with absolutely no bias whatsoever, to Rebecca Aventine's EVE Privateer for her two-part coverage (Pistols at Dawn and Fight Club) of some 'local colour' in the form of a duel for control of a small low-sec corporation that she stumbled upon during her reportage of the nearby more tectonic events in Providence. Those crazy low-sec dwellers.

The Interbus 'Of Course It's Safe to Go There' Intergalactic Tourist Award for Services to the Tourist Industry can only go to one man. Mark726's tireless exploration of every nook and cranny on EVE Travel continues to provide us with an entertaining and informative resources of all those places we either can't find, are too far away or are too dangerous. Read all his adventures here.

The Interbus 'I Just Popped in to Borrow Some Coffee' award for Coverage of a Real-World EVE Event has to go to the man who went above and beyond by travelling all the way to the CCP offices in Iceland to provide us with some excellent coverage of CSM Summits. Oh hang on... Mandrill's coverage of the CSM Summits are on I Am Keith Neilson.

Having only recently discovered the joyous depths of the EVE podcasting community, I am still very much playing catch-up, but for coming up with such a great format in the form of a weekly blog round-up (and therefore mentioning Freebooted), the Free Boot for Best EVE Podcast must go to Garheade and Chainer Cygnus' EVE Commune Podcast. An honourable mention goes to Warchilde and Dillon Arklight's Podded Podcast, their drunken, nihilistic style flies the flag for Brits in EVE and listening to their Christmas special almost convinced me that it would be socially acceptable to talk drunkenly and loudly about EVE in my local pub.

In a virtual environment where everyone seems to be out for themselves, or indeed at least out to undermine everyone else, organising anything in EVE is no easy task. So any kind of large player-organised event is truly a remarkable achievement. It shows that the individuals behind the events have a true understanding of the society in which they operate and have tapped into the psychology of the community to create a concept that is embraced. So in a society of virtual thieves and murderers, the recipient of this next award should be very proud. The award for Best Player-Organised In-Game Event goes to Helicity Boson for Hulkageddon III: Summer of Gank. With an honourable mention to Rixx Javix's Death Race. I look forward to hearing more about the 2011 editions of both.

Any community is only as good as it's visionaries and leaders and as such a number of individuals are deserving of recognition for all that they do for the continuation and betterment of our shared EVE experience.

For services to the blogging and tweeting communities and for being the glue that binds us together and enables us to better share our work, Free Boot Community Legends awards go to Crazy Kinux (for the Blogroll, the Blogpack, Blog Banters and being the Blogfather), Alexia Morgan (for the EVE Online Bloggers Portal), Mandrill (EVE Blogs OPML files via Cognitive Industries), 00sage00 (for the Tweetfleet on Twitter).

A Special Recognition Award for all her work for the betterment of EVE, not only exemplified by her ascendency to chairing the Council of Stellar Management and leading them to make a real impact on CSM/CCP relations, but also her tireless work in encouraging the improvement of her beloved low-sec with the Making Low Sec Matter initiative. The Free Boot for Most Influential Player of 2010/YC112 goes to Mynxee. Thank you for your efforts and for those of your CSM colleagues.

To tie up this charade of an award ceremony, I would like to dedicate the final Free Boot award to a man (I presume) whom I have never met, yet his presence can be felt everywhere in EVE. His name is whispered with reverence on the EVE-O forums and an entire culture has sprung up around commenting on a forum post before him (some now simply post "IBC"). Many EVE-related web services seem to be made by his hand at OMG Labs. Famed for being passive, even-handed and apolitical, he is sought after to arbitrate in high-value deals. This year saw an ill-fated attempt to declare war on his corporation resulted in counter-declarations from an overwhelming portion of the EVE community. It also saw him being gifted with sovereignty of a station in null-sec. Truly an EVE celebrity, a King amongst capsuleers and pilot of the legendary Veldnaught. The Free Boot EVE Online Lifetime Achievement Award can only go to Chribba.

Thank you to everyone mentioned and any I've forgotten for making my 2010 in New Eden so enjoyable.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

"Most Farcical MMOG Award of the Decade"


The MMO community site Ten Ton Hammer recently polled it's readers and bestowed awards for a variety of accolades pertaining to the massively multiplayer gaming industry. At one stage EVE Online was in the lead for Best Game of the Decade, but was inevitably pipped at the post by the leviathan of MMOs that is World of Warcraft. Happily, EVE Online did not come away empty-handed and is now proudly recognised as the possessor of the Best Community of the Decade.

So well done us.

However, one apparently disgruntled commenter on Ten Ton Hammer (whose incendiary comment title I borrowed) had this to say:

"EVE-Online as "best MMOG community" ? People giving such an award either can not or will not see the true nature of EVE-Online community.

I used to play EVE-Online for several years. Blatant sexual harassment being considered "normal part of game" by CCP and thus being ignored entirely. CCP's Very Special Friend Players making utterly tactless insults towards other players at forums, and when other players respond with equivalent comments, those players get banned for "bad forum manners". GM decisions being based on nothing more than personal preferences. The list goes on and on.

Truth is that EVE-Online community sure *looks* nice because it consists of little more than fanatic fanboy nerds. Any kind of criticism of the game, no matter how valid or justified, is responded with massive torrent of flames about "STUPID NOOB CAREBEAR WHO SHOULD GO PLAY WOW" and similar, followed by personal insults and similar... All at quiet blessing of CCP, of course. As a result, people who would have something negative to say about the game either become fully quiet or leave the game, and either way the facade of Great And Awesome EVE-Online Community remains intact.

All MMOG communities have their downsides, and EVE-Online is hardly *the* worst MMOG community around. However, no amount of fanboy whining can change the truth, and truth is that beneath its facade, EVE-Online has one of the worst MMOG communities of all."

It's difficult to provide an objective response seeing as I probably fall under the label of 'fanatic fanboy nerd', however behind the rabid foaming at the mouth and the impassioned ranting, does Zanakar have a point? I know I tend to avoid the official forums due to the negative and 'trolling' nature of many of the regular forum users. I also had a relevant experience when invited to an in-game channel recently. This was how the conversation began:

Seismic Stan > Evening.
inSpirAcy > Odding.
Seismic Stan > Pithy retort. I like.
Seismic Stan > So how come I've appeared in this channel then?
fmercury > someone on your buddylist invited you to it
BlueMajere > eat a dick faggot
Natalia Kovac > yeah we only serve dicks in this channel
Thou Mad > eat a butt more like
Yvella > anyone got breast?
Yvella > I like breast
Natalia Kovac > breasts are allergic to eve im afraid
inSpirAcy > there are plenty of breasts in eve
inSpirAcy > not the good kind, but still
Natalia Kovac > haha true

Puerile certainly. Offensive and sexist? Probably to many. But to me it was easily ignorable, I was just too tired to come up with a suitable response and without my rising to the bait, the conversation soon reverted to fairly standard EVE-related discussions. However, I fear this example does give credence to Zanakar's claims.

Has the 'HTFU' mindset of many seasoned EVE players created a hostile sub-culture that might put off some? Does having a Darwinistic universe excuse ill manners?

I'd be interested to hear the thoughts of an award winning community.