Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Phoebe: An Idea for Travel


Time to get caught up on looking over the features (and/or changes) coming in Phoebe. Don’t worry, I’m not going to bore you with a rehash of things that have been rehashed to death the last few weeks.
But I do want to resurrect an old idea of mine. An idea that fits in really well, considering what they’re doing in Phoebe. An idea that the more I think of it, the more badly I want CCP to do it, considering the jump drive changes.

And that is the idea of ‘stable’ wormholes. That is, wormholes from known, to known space that are stable enough to last a few days, or even a few weeks, without getting destabilized or etc.

Basically, rare ‘temporary’ gates that are not permanent like regular stargates, but last a bit longer than current wormholes. We don’t even have to call them wormholes, if we don’t want to.


I think it would be interesting, that while CCP is nerfing the entire travel thing, to give us some interesting tools for travel as well. To not just nerf it, but also change how people think about it. Imagine the ability to find ‘secret’ trade routes out to deep null-sec? Imagine the pirates trying to ensnare people along these ‘routes’? Or, perhaps these ‘gates’ could be used as secret highways into hostile territory. Or, used as some sort of secret, backdoor escape route.

And they’d never get boring, or too ‘mapped’ or too camped because they’re still temporary. They’d still disappear after a time and crop up somewhere else, creating a completely new, and different kind of content by connecting people who previously would have never run across each other before.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Clones

Medical and Jump clones are one of those things in EVE that everyone pretty much takes for granted. The mechanics surrounding them haven’t changed much in the seven years I’ve played EVE, except for perhaps a little naming action recently, and the ability in FW to upgrade systems to decrease medical clone costs.

I was getting caught up on EVE Vegas reading, and ran across CCP’s idea regarding ‘premadeath.’ That is, the idea that you can lose all your skillpoints when you die, if you haven’t updated your clone.

Now, for the record, I absolutely despise this particular idea regarding ‘permadeath.’ However, the idea in and of itself got me thinking about the concept of ‘clones’ in general in EVE.


While I hate the idea of ‘permadeath’ I love the idea of jump clones being more than a vessel for our current set of implants. Furthermore I love the idea of introducing new risks and choices that could impact various aspects of gameplay—especially where ‘clones’ are concerned.

  
BPIs

We have blueprint originals, and blueprint copies, but how about blueprint implants? These would essentially be simple blueprints you plug into your head.

Not only would these BPIs be something completely new, but they would have some entirely new properties. Instead of ‘researching’ these BPIs, you would ‘learn’ them. And instead of ‘learning’ them through the typical skill learning, you would ‘learn’ by doing.

In other words, the typical ‘ME’ and ‘PE’ of BPIs would only be improved on these BPIs the more you use them. So, the more runs you make, the more ‘efficient’ you would become.

Of course, if someone pods you, the BPIs will be destroyed like any other implant. And the rate at which you can 'learn' efficiency on them would correlate with normal BPO research, for the most part.



Uses

The possible uses of these could be interesting and wide ranged. Obviously, there wouldn’t be BPIs for everything, but imagine wormhole dwellers and others not having to lug around blueprints for everything they might need? I could even see uses for non-industrialists –pvpers or pveers who want the convenience of being able to make scripts, charges, or ammunition on the fly.


Optimizations

While I hate the idea of the possibility for someone to potentially lose years of skilling through permadeath, the idea of clones having different ‘skills’ that are potentially ‘losable’ is fascinating.

So, I’m introducing the idea of ‘optimizations’ which is essentially a cross between nano-tech, skill learning, drugs, and implants. In a nutshell? These are temporary nano-bot skills you plug into your head.

They would only be available for certain ‘specialization’ things and would allow people to gain the skills to temporarily use certain things, or do certain actions. (For example, say in order to use Module X you need Skill A trained to three. If an optimization were applicable to this, you’d need Skill A trained to three, or Optimization Z plugged in.)

They would be costly, and temporary. Like some implants they would have different ‘grades’ which would determine how long the nano technology lasts in your system. For example, a low-grade optimization might only last 12 hours, whereas a high-grade might last a couple days.

Furthermore they would be tied to a clone, and destructible if you’re podded.



Uses

The general idea is to give people temporary abilities to use or do certain things that they don’t necessarily want to invest in being able to do ‘all the time.’ General skill learning wouldn’t really be applicable –this would be for ‘specialty’ stuff that you might need once.

Anchoring skills is a good example. You may not want to invest in high anchoring skills, but you might—once in a blue moon—have the need to anchor something.

Certain industrial skills might also be applicable. Say you’re a pvper and you come across some blueprint copy you really want to build. You don’t plan to get into industry, so you’re not going to invest in industrial skills. But, you could use an optimization 'implant' to temporarily give you the ability to build the item, just this once.




Resurrection Ships and Resurrection Mobile Structures

Right now, medical clones can only be set to stations. What if this were not the case? What if you could setup medical clones in special cloning facilities and cloning ships that you can build and run yourself? (I’m talking medical clones, not jump clones!)

While these would be useful after the changes to jump drives, they would not be for moving vast distances with how we currently ‘pod’ ourselves to get from place to place. Just the opposite. They would have a limited ‘range’—so you’re clone would only be transferred to the facility/ship if you’re within a certain distance. (Otherwise, you’d go to some default NPC station, or etc.)

Obviously, the structures and ships are destructible.



Uses

They would be useful during campaigns where people want to stay near a strategic base of operations when they get podded.

There would also be interesting implications for wormholers. Imagine you get podded in your wormhole and instead of ending up in high sec, you end up at the POS in the very same wormhole?



Clone Profiles


Various aspects of the 'clone profile' idea have come up through other people from time to time. But today, I’m going to wrap it all up into a workable, single feature.

The idea is to essentially have a sort of ‘fitting’ for clones. I’m calling it a ‘Profile’ and what it is, is essentially a clone placeholder that you can plug and unplug various implants into. It will have a ‘fitting’ screen similar to a ship fitting screen which will show you statistics of the various bonuses and abilities of your various implants, and etc. (This will be especially handy for implants that are improved when you have entire ‘sets’ in play.)

A profile can be sold via contracts, traded, and etc. in a much similar way you sell or trade a fit ship. However, per the regular rules of implants, once you embed a profile into a clone, it is permanent.



Uses

This is mainly a quality of life improvement to the game. If you have ‘basic’ clone setups you like, you can ‘fit’ these into profiles. Then, if you are podded and simply want to quickly ‘install’ the ‘general’ clone setup you like, all you have to do is embed the profile you have pre-prepared.

I could also see this being useful for corps, or alliances who can establish certain ‘standard’ clone setups for their members, and perhaps even provide them.

Also, this will make implants easier to understand to newer players, who often have to ‘guess’ about what they’re doing right now. The profile ‘fitting’ screen will give them a lot more information, and a more bigger picture about what they’re doing with their implants.

I also see some advantages to traders. I could see selling common profiles to be something people could go into business doing on contracts, in much the same way people sell fit ships. Players could also more easily and conveniently sell ‘sets’ of implants and etc. through selling an entire, prepared clone profile vs. a bag of loose implants.


Monday, October 20, 2014

Confessions of a Closet Carebear

Well, I’m back after a much needed week-long vacation from work, EVE, and everything else in-between. There’s nothing like a vacation to reset one’s perspective a bit.

I’d figured I’d start my time back by confessing to something: I’m a really big carebear.

I’m not sure how, or when it happened. But, I’ve slowly turned from an ‘evil pirate who trades and manufactures things on the side’ to an evil trader/manufacturer who pirates on the side. I finally realized this when I came back from vacation and realized how many trade/carebear projects needed attending to.

I am currently up to five trade alts, two of which double as manufacturing alts. Over the last few weeks I’ve tripled my investment in my low-sec market, and have started a bunch of regional trading projects as well. And, as I started the chore of organizing and consolidating assets, I realized that I’ve slowly accumulated (and/or researched from scratch) nearly a full set of perfect ME frigate, destroyer, and cruiser BPOs. You know, for every frigate, destroyer, and cruiser in the game…lol! I think I’m only missing a couple here and there, which is made up for by the fact that for some I have more than one BPO of the same ship.

While I haven’t reached carebear lvl Epic yet, (after all I don’t mine) I must be getting up there at this point.


Truth be told, I blame my alliance and their inactivity. The lack of things to do on the pvp side has driven me to find other things to do. And thus, a carebear was born.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

FYI: Frigates aren't Fun

A common answer to my bitter vet mumblings and grumblings is that I should "just go get in a tech 1 frigate and have some fun."

I really hate it when people tell me this. You might as well tell me to go get some warp core stabs and find a button to orbit in order to gain feelings of enjoyment and happiness.

Now, tell it to a null-sec pilot who has been restrained to dealing with politics and capital warfare for the past few years, and you might be recommending something worthwhile. But, telling a girl who's been in Faction War for the past four years, to go 'take a break and fly a frigate' is a laughable proposition.


Furthermore, I'm not one of that crowd that buys into the whole 'solo frigate pvp' deal. My hands don't shake when I kill you with my elite Tristan of doom. And I do not get some sort of weird, egotistical rush by engaging in something that is essentially a super sneaky way of being extremely risk adverse.

I'm not saying that the cost of my ship is some sort of direct indication of the fun I will have. However, I have always had a problem being content with 'for the hell of it' pvp. I like fighting over something --protecting something, conquering something, or etc. Roaming around to randomly shoot someone who is also randomly roaming around can be tiresome.

Also, I don't understand the fascination with 'explosions.' Loving explosions. Making explosions. Gonna go make people explode. According to eve-kill I'm well past 7,500 explosions  and I have to be honest --most of them have looked pretty much the same, and not all that exciting to boot. In fact, much of the time you don't see any sort of explosion of any kind. Nowadays, it's more of a gentle blinking on one's overview that indicates a target that has been turned into scrap. (Or cold flesh, depending.)

Now imagine you're shooting someone, and he's entering structure. Just a little more to go....a little more to go. And he explodes. Your ship rocks back slightly from the force of the nearby impact and your screen lights up with a beautifully grim flash of burning fuels and flying shards of metal. You listen in awe as the sirens that were once blaring in warning and confusion are snuffed out prematurely and you cringe as you see bodies --their faces still etched with frozen horror --pouring from melting, metal edifices.

You turn your ship away as flaming scraps rain down on you, and steer carefully through the smoking chaos.

Maybe then I would be excited about explosions. Maybe, the morbidness that lies within would agree that jumping into a frigate to 'go have some fun' *insert evil laugh* is a very good suggestion indeed.

But explosions (and frigates), like many other things in EVE, are more fun in people's minds then in reality, I think.

All this being said, I'm one to talk. Frigates aren't fun, so what have I been doing instead? Well, enjoying the exciting thrill of market trading of course.




Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Logs Show Nothing

You've probably noticed that things have been a bit quiet around here. Admittedly, not because I haven't started about a half dozen blog posts each week, only to throw them out in frustration. I definitely have things to say, but have been having a terrible time putting those things into words.

Over the last few months I've been wrestling with the decision of whether or not to quit EVE permanently. I'm not telling you this because I'm about to declare some sort of ultimatum to CCP. I'm not going rage quit, or stand on some sort of soap box and declare that some game mechanic is broken and this is why I'm wanting to leave and that CCP better 'fix it or else.'

I'm telling you so that you can better understand my current state of mind. Bitter Vet lvl V has been officially attained, so to speak.


Lately, a lot of EVE feels like discussion about game mechanics. I have a hard time finding the stories that used to make me love the game. Not role playing stories, mind you, but the stories of things happening in-game --grand corp thefts, massive wars with differing sides chucking propaganda at each other --politics, and etc. Instead, everywhere I turn there is analysis about 'the mechanics' and rage over mechanics or the lack of mechanics and etc. And, I have found that this has often crept into my own writing.

When was the last time I told you a story about an awesome fight or campaign or interesting thing that happened in militia? It has been a while.


This is problematic for me, mostly because of 'real life.' In the real world, I am a software engineer/analyst. In particular, I fix issues and develop what could be called our version of 'little things.' My day job comprises of analyzing the code and design of various things and making our customers' lives a whole lot better.

Some of the blog posts I've started over the last few months (and promptly ditched when I realized what I was doing) had titles like EVE's Top Five Worst GUI's that CCP needs to Fix, 30 Little Things I Wish CCP would Improve, and 15 Ways they Could make the Contract System Better,  along with an analysis or two of the pros and cons of CCP's release cycle/agile development being used in a game development context among other things. Truth be told, I've occasionally caught myself logging in for the express purpose of analyzing a game mechanic and how it could be made better.

For me, EVE has started to feel almost like the extension of my day job. I spend all day trying to improve business software, then come home to 'play a game' wherein I spend time trying to helpfully come up with constructive analysis on how to fix that too. Mainly, because I have nothing else to write about it seems.


So, I'm not entirely sure what to do with this revelation at this point in time. Quitting EVE is on the table, as is completely shutting down this blog entirely.


I've already explained that not a lot is going on in EVE. I've considered 'doing something else,' finding a new corporation, or etc. And, this might happen eventually. However, looking at recruitment posts, and forum posts, and killboards, I get this sneaking suspicion that this apathetic feeling I get from militia and my alliance is actually much more widespread. I get the feeling that 'going somewhere else' would just be trading one semi-AFK group for another.

And then the little 'sandbox voice' pipes up. This is a sandbox. We're meant to create our own content. CCP should not be responsible for giving you content that you're just going to get bored with again as time goes on.

I'm beginning to really hate that little voice.

So, I think "I should not just be the whiny moany person that constantly complains that there is nothing to do. Waaa, I'm bored." So I roll up my sleeves, ready to do...something. Perhaps help wake up my alliance, get some fleets going, and be a good EVE citizen.

And then I draw a blank. Campaign...for what? Fleet....for what?

Maybe we could kill someone's POS. But why? Let's shoot this random structure for no reason or benefit...

Maybe we could take the entire warzone!...for...the....112th....time....

Maybe we could all go to nullsec and....no....not going to happen.

The reality is that this is a game and I expect it to be entertaining. I know what the 'sandbox voice' says. I know that this might go against what people think about tools and yadda yadda yadda. But I seriously believe that CCP has a responsibility to some extent of providing entertainment. Making EVE fun NEEDS to enter into their equation somewhere along the line, doesn't it? It's not just about providing tools. They have a product, that they sell for money. It seems naive of them to think that their customers are going to be the only factor that makes their product 'work.'

And the fact that people are having a hard time finding things to fight over in a primarily pvp game seems problematic to me.

Now is when the 'EVE is dead' police should start to chime in about how people always complain about this 'I am bored' stuff and that "the statistics prove me wrong about everything I'm saying" and etc.


Honestly, some of what I need to say is not easy to say. I like being 'positive.' As a developer in a close-knit, agile development environment, I have a certain respect for EVE's developers. I like some of the things that I see coming from them as an organization, and etc.

But then, I want to ask questions like "is a new cloaking graphic really one of the main selling points and features for the upcoming release?" Seriously? Are you kidding me?

Then I'm abashed and think that maybe asking such a question would insult CCP's art team. Sometimes, I'm scared of criticizing EVE, or CCP. Mainly because I don't want to come across as one of those people who makes these wild and shocking criticisms for the sole purpose of getting
attention. I despise other EVE bloggers who are like that --those who seem to base their opinions on how many page views they'll get from expressing said opinions.

But I can't shake the bad taste that EVE has been leaving in my mouth lately.

Tonight, I read this article on TM, all about the recent bannings and etc. I rarely read such things, but this time I read the entire 14 page post from start to finish.

I'm not an idiot. I know not to believe everything I read, and especially not to 'take in' the tone of everything I read--especially coming from an EVE player. And I'm not sure I really have an opinion about the bannings, or could really tell you the author's main premise regarding them for that matter.

What stood out was the historical summary of a lot of things that have 'happened' in EVE over the last year or two. And honestly, especially in the last year, it has felt like one drama bomb after another. SOMER Blink. Erotica1. People are getting tarred and feathered, the wormhole community is raging, people getting accused of harassment, or RMT. And then there's some sort of wave of bannings, and etc.

And you know what? I'm sick of it. I'm sick. to. death. of. it. I want to hear about wars and players fighting each other. I want to know about new campaigns and in-game backstabbing and thievery. I don't want to hear anymore about this crap.

I don't want to be wondering about whether I should be 'trusting' CCP or not, questioning my own safety, or pondering whether it's really good for me to even be associated with this game or not. It seems like overkill, for a game.

I don't know about harassment or in-game vs out of game harassment or the fact of some precedent that CCP may or may not be setting by 'governing' Teamspeak. What bothers me is this seems to have become the norm as far as 'main EVE topics' go. This is 'what's going on.'

This evening I logged on to Twitter to see The Mittani posting about some sort of null-sec 'Deal.' I had the passing thought that the game has reached some sort of strange, bleak crescendo of boredom --a place where the only interesting or 'shocking' thing left for some people to do is to band together against CCP. The ultimate meta game. The politics, not of space--but of the game's design itself.






And yes, I fully realize that at this point I'm helplessly rambling. And it's probably time for me to stop. Hopefully, you have a least a little understanding of what's been going through the mind of 'Susan Black' lately. I know I haven't been particularly forthcoming the last few months.

I guess the question, after all of the above, is what's stopping me? After all, it IS just a game. If it's as frustrating as it sounds, why is whether or not to quit playing even a decision worth pondering over?

And when I know the answer to that, I suppose the debate will be over.