Archive for the EVE Blog Banter Category

Governance Thrash Redux?

Posted in EVE Blog Banter on July 20, 2010 by Erbo

Welcome to the nineteenth 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 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 out other EVE Blog Banter articles at the bottom of this post!

This month’s topic comes to us from @evepress, and he asks: The CSM: CCP’s Meta Game? – The CSM, an eve players voice to CCP.Right? In the grand scheme of things yes, the players bring up issues and the CSM presents them to CCP. But in its current iteration the CSM was supposed to be given small authority to assign CCP assets toprojects that the CSM thought needed work on. As it has not come outthis was not the case. So fellow bloggers, is the CSM worth it, has the CSM improved the game in any way, or is it just a well thought out scamby CCP to give us players a false sense of input in the game? What’s your take?

. . .

Erbo Evans, speaking for the Ralpha Dogs.

Many capsuleers have had high expectations for the Council of Stellar Management (CSM), a group of players elected by their peers to, essentially, represent the player base to CCP.  CCP’s own overview page refers to them as “A democratically elected representative council, manned by players elected by players. The implementation of social ideas in EVE and the strengthening of the social structure.” Unfortunately, sometimes, expectations clash with reality.

The fifth CSM, in particular, seems to have come up against the “wall” dividing expectations from reality in particularly short order.  Mynxee, chairperson of the Council, sums it up in a brutally honest graphic that is not to be missed, and in her words:

Players are a brute-force rock of expectations driving CSM face-first into the hard place that is CCP decision-makers who hold all the cards and decide which balls CCP devs will be juggling at any given time. There ain’t much wiggle room in that hardscrabble zone for CSM. It’s a damned-if-we-do, damned-if-we-don’t job.

Her words are even more true than, perhaps, she herself recognizes…because this has happened before.

. . .

In what seems now like the “Elder Days” of the Internet, in 1996, Howard Rheingold, veteran of The WELL conferencing system and author of the influential book The Virtual Community, sought to put his ideas about online community into practice by creating Electric Minds, a new community focused on innovative content and discussions for the growing online population.  The following year, it began to run into financial trouble, and Rheingold sought potential buyers…but he pledged to the community that one of the conditions for the sale was that the community had to be “self-governing.”  The eventual buyer, Durand Communications of Santa Barbara, CA, agreed to this condition, and, in the main, stayed clear of the “governance” issue.  (In the interests of full disclosure: I was an employee of Durand Communications at the time of the Electric Minds acquisition, and afterward following Durand’s own acquisition by Online System Services, later Webb Interactive Services, of Denver, CO.)

So what happened?  I’ll let Nancy White, virtual community expert with Full Circle Associates and a participant in what was later termed “The Governance Thrash,” explain:

We thought we knew [what we were designing], but in hindsight, I’m not sure that we really did. We were essentially designing a process for a “roll-your-own, owned-by-the-members” governance modeled on the River and other communities. We were not designing for a community whose infrastructure was owned and controlled by a company. I believe this was one of our first missteps. When you roll your own, there are a host of administrative and financial issues which suggest specific governance structures related to financial accountability, and to assignment of tangible responsibilities. When infrastructure is not a priority, the driving set of needs is more related to the social structure — the operating norms, “rules of the road” and policies relating to membership. But before the sale to Durand, it seemed like fiscal responsibility was about to necessitate more formality, so we may have started with that assumption.

To compound our confusion, we were also dealing with emerging factions within the group, some aligned with individuals, and some aligned on certain principals. The words “democracy,” “free speech,” and “power” took on some loaded but little-examined connotations, setting up waves of argument and misunderstanding, rather than dialog and alignment. Compromise was not the theme of the day. There seemed to be the need for each of us, in our own way, to be “right.”

The result?

The Thrash did not kill Eminds, but it set the tone for it’s second phase, July 1997 – July 1998. Electric Minds was small and in some ways self-limiting by it’s recoil from the Thrash. There was some difficulty dealing with members who consistently crossed outside of the informal “norms” of the community. Eminders were hesitant to make changes for fear of being perceived as “power-mongers.” They wanted to tread lightly, not too deep into problems or innovation and play it safe.

And, ultimately, the user base of EMinds was unable to prevent Durand Communications from making changes to the underlying conferencing system that alienated the members.  Nor was it able to prevent Webb Interactive from discarding the community entirely in 2000, though some of its members kept it alive for some years thereafter, in a different form. (Full disclosure again: I was one of those people.)

Now see how what Ms. White says in that last quote resonates with this one, from Mynxee again:

If we have certain expectations about being able to influence EVE’s development, if we push too hard on CCP for not giving CSM issues priority, if we call CCP out on bigger-picture issues that seem to be involved in the problems related to EVE, then we’re just a bunch of egotistical, overzealous players on a power trip. If we don’t raise the “right” issues, don’t push CCP hard enough for results, don’t document every detail of every controversial event for public purview, refuse to share NDA-protected information, don’t conduct ourselves like paid professional advisors 100% of the time, and worst of all possible sins can’t actually MAKE CCP implement the changes we ask for, then we’re nothing but elitist pigs who are just in it for the free trips to Iceland. Or so some recent blog posts and forum flames would have you believe.

CCP’s intentions are good, just as Durand’s were.  But governance–even the sort of “limited” governance over game issues as the CSM is intended to have–is not easy.

. . .

In some ways, the CSM has it worse than the participants in the Governance Thrash.  EVE’s player base is many times what EMinds’ user base ever was, and even more fragmented by opinion.  Though the process by which the CSM was elected was “democratic,” and CCP did their best to help match candidates with the views of the “electorate,” ultimately these sort of online elections always come down to a popularity contest.  (No flame against the CSM, who have demonstrated exceptional competence thusfar! That’s just how it is.)  And popularity contests always involve a certain degree of resentment among those who weren’t chosen, or whose favorites weren’t chosen, so, yes, the CSM is already fighting with one foot in a bucket.

And then it comes up against CCP, whose intentions may be good (as evidenced by the fact that they created the CSM in the first place, as a feedback mechanism), but which is, ultimately, a business that is responsible to its investors and shareholders first and foremost.  Jamie Zawinski, formerly of Netscape Communications, has observed:

Some will tell you that an organization is the people who make it up, but that’s not the case at all. The whole is larger and completely different from the sum of its parts. The system that we as a society have invented to run our world is a simple one. It’s a game with a small number of rules. You put the pieces on the board, wind it up, and let it go. The thing is, the rules involved are all about money. The underlying theory is that you motivate people to provide value to society by making it be in their best interest to do so. But that’s the intent; the mechanism is much less vague. The mechanism is money.

Corporations are not evil. That kind of anthropomorphism is inappropriate. Corporations are too stupid to be evil, only people can be that. Corporations are mechanisms. People can influence them, but by and large, corporations just follow the rules.

Bear in mind that, for a publicly-traded company, if a CEO makes a decision because it’s the right thing rather than because it’s the most profitable thing for the shareholders, he will lose his job, and possibly be sued into oblivion. That’s the way the rules work.

And, more to the point, if CCP doesn’t make money, it goes bankrupt, and EVE Online goes down with it.

And that means that, if CCP feels that Incarna and DUST 514 are more critical to their future ability to make money than the “bugfixes” and “polish” demanded by the CSM, then they are duty bound to expend resources on those, and the CSM be damned.

Sorry.  I don’t make the rules.  I just report on them.

And yes, it’s entirely possible that CCP could be wrong.  Game companies have been wrong before.  Most of them ended up going under as a result, or provoked such a backlash that they were forced to back down and lose face.

But while the CSM may be “stakeholders,” they are not “shareholders.”

. . .

So what of the attempt at governance that is the CSM?  Nancy White has a few suggestions for emerging design patterns for online community governance (and make no mistake, EVE is as much an “online community” as EMinds ever was, it just has fancier toys to play with), which may be useful to look at:

  • Make it as simple as it can be. The CSM is certainly simple in concept, explainable in just one sentence on the EVE Online Web site.  As always, “the devil is in the details.”
  • Make sure the needs and purpose of the community (and community owners) are articulated.  This is where the struggle lies with the CSM and CCP.  The CSM must articulate its purpose with respect to the community (and by this I mean the whole community, not any subgroups of constituents), and CCP must do so as well, and things must not get bogged down at “cross purposes.”
  • Consider that structures may need to be fractal in nature giving the most control at the smallest group units.  I’m not sure what this would mean in terms of EVE.  Perhaps a system where the CSM could recommend people as outside game masters, or make recommendations concerning the existing ones?  But how much influence would this have on CCP as a whole?
  • Consider that sometimes benevolent dictatorships are good solutions.  CCP is a good example of a “benevolent dictatorship.” The CSM is their attempt to add feedback into this loop, and is noteworthy for that purpose alone.  (Could you see Blizzard doing something similar with World of Warcraft?  Me neither.)
  • Consider that listening is probably the most important skill for any player, site owner, staff or member.  I think Mynxee has been emphasizing this point to anyone and everyone, as much as possible.
  • Consider that it is easy to leave an online community so why make it easier? A word of warning, perhaps, for CCP as well as the CSM?
  • Avoid time-unlimited circular conversations (know when to fold-em!).  The fact that each CSM is inherently time-limited works against this tendency, but also means that each CSM may have to “fight the last war” over and over again unless and until CCP listens.
  • Define and use decision-making processes.  The difficulty here is that CCP’s own decision-making processes are largely opaque to outsiders, including the CSM.  The CSM will have to plan and react accordingly.
  • Put up or shut up. Cook or get out of the kitchen. Fish, no bait cutting here.  Something tells me Mynxee is heartily in agreement with this statement! 🙂
  • When a group process is used, consider the power of words and seek some alignment on definitions the minute people fall into advocacy modes as opposed dialog.  Especially difficult in EVE, where “advocacy modes as opposed dialog” is the order of the day on the forums.
  • Keep it in perspective. Life is short and precious.  Good advice at any time, no matter what the situation.
  • Eat more chocolate! Perhaps Mynxee would agree with this point as well? 🙂

For those of us that know Nancy, it’s not difficult to see why she included that last point.  (Her EMinds user name was “choconancy,” after all.)  Chocolate is kind of her catchphrase…just as mine, when writing in authorial voice as Abbot of the Ralpha Dogs, is:

Wrought in deepest Hell, our vengeance is freedom!

. . .

Other EVE Blog Banter posts:

  1. Growing Pains | CrazyKinux’s Musing
  2. CSM: Hoax or Serious Business? « Lost in New Eden
  3. CSM-Power to the people or puppets of CCP « A whole lot of Yarrrr!!!
  4. Gaming the CSM | A Mule in EvE
  5. A Taste Of Democracy | StarFleet Comms
  6. CSM: Player Power or Paper Tiger? | I Am Keith Neilson
  7. Governance Thrash Redux? « The Ralpha Dogs
  8. CCP Doesn’t Care: Blog Banter 19 « OMG! You’re a Chick?!
  9. The Cataclysmic Variable: It’s Crunch Time!
  10. The 19th EVE Blog Banter is upon us… and about the CSM and CCP | Victoria Aut Mors
  11. CSM: Lame Duck from the beginning?
  12. Blog Banter #19 << Dense Veldspar
  13. Be careful what you say, Roc « Roc’s Ramblings
  14. Exchange Fraking Phone Numbers « Scrap Metal & Faction Ammo
  15. Blog Banter #19: Assumptions
  16. EVE Blog Banter #19 | EVE on Real Life
  17. A Reality Check | A “CareBears” Journey
  18. Quit your bitching | Fly Reckless – EVE Online
  19. War has come to EVE | Scram Web
  20. CCP and the CSM | Morphisat’s Blog
  21. BB 19 Riding the elephant | mikeazariah
  22. The CSM: A well thought out scam by CCP | Nitpickin’s
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The Past Through Tomorrow

Posted in EVE Blog Banter on June 16, 2010 by Erbo

Welcome to the eighteenth installment of the EVE Blog Banter, the monthly EVE Online blogging extravaganza created by none other than CrazyKinux. The EVE Blog Banter involves an enthusiastic group of gaming bloggers, a common topic within the realm of EVE Online, and a week 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 out other EVE Blog Banter articles at the bottom of this post!

On May 6th 2010, EVE Online celebrated its 7th Anniversary. Quite a milestone in MMO history, especially considering that it is one of the few virtual worlds out there to see its population continually grow year after year. For some of you who’ve been here since the very beginning, EVE has evolved quite a lot since its creation. With the expansion rolling out roughly twice a year, New Eden gets renewed and improved regularly. But, how about you the player? How has you gaming style evolved through the years or months since you’ve started playing? Have you always been a carebear, or roleplayer? Have you only focused on PvP or have you given other aspects of the game a chance – say manufacturing. Let’s hear your story!

. . .

Erbo Evans, speaking for the Ralpha Dogs–some of whom are still sleeping peacefully in cryostasis, but not for very much longer.  The preparations are almost complete; the hardware has been upgraded; the new software is installed; the only question left is that of timing.  But I digress.

When the Ralpha Dogs were formed, it was right at the tail end of the lifespan of the Trinity expansion; Empyrean Age was released less than a week later.  Our still-fledgling corporation saw no need to get involved in Faction Warfare, especially as we weren’t experienced in PvP combat.  (We still aren’t, really.  And six months or so of enforced sabbatical, what SF fans call “fafiation,” hasn’t helped matters.)  Instead, we started out mostly with what we’d been doing for Chilled Solutions: asteroid mining and mission-running.  We branched out some into manufacturing, to have something to do with all those refined materials, and the mission-running was like mission-running always is, even if it made for some entertaining blog entries.

We eagerly anticipated Quantum Rise, as that brought us a new toy to shoot for…the Orca industrial command ship (of which we have two now).  It’s proved to be the greatest boon to mining operations since the invention of the strip-mining beam…and comes in handy for shifting assets from place to place, as we are wont to do.  And we’ve made good use of the corporate medals, too.  But neither of those really affected our play style; we just kept getting better toys.

Apocrypha brought us wormholes and W-space, about which I was dubious at first.  But we went from wanting to steer clear of them, to training up scanning skills and checking them out, to knocking off Sleeper battleships.  (At least, a few of them, here and there.)  We even seriously started to consider a “field operation” in W-space, basing out of an Orca, or perhaps even a small POS tower setup.  Funny…we wouldn’t set foot in 0.0 space, but we were planning, at least temporarily, on setting up shop in some of the most hazardous 0.0 space there is.

Sadly, it wasn’t long after Dominion was released that we suffered the biggest possible change to our play style…with no job and, at best, severely-reduced income for an indefinite future, I had no choice but to suspend our accounts and put the Ralpha Dogs “on ice.” (EVE wasn’t the only thing I had to curtail; on the Second Life side, we sacrificed just as much, if not more.)  I actually got very, very lucky, and was able to find a new job relatively quickly, but I’ve spent the months since then getting used to a new way of doing things…which, without getting into details, is more involved than you might think, and involved plenty of “catch-up.”  We’ve also invested in some much-needed hardware and software upgrades, so when we do reactivate our EVE accounts, we’ll be able to experience the worlds of New Eden like never before.

. . .

But that is all the past; to quote Steely Dan, “Those days are gone forever, over a long time ago.”  What about the future, and the new possibilities Tyrannis brings to the table?

It’s apparent to me that we’re going to come back into EVE at a huge disadvantage.  We’ve missed the Great Planetary Land Rush, for instance, and no doubt every planet everywhere has had command centers aplenty (or other things; I don’t know everything about the planetary resource mechanics yet) dropped on it by now.  As for wormhole systems, hell, we’d probably be lucky to find a Class 1 where we could clear a couple of cheap Sleeper installations and haul out the loot without getting ourselves stomped flat by the “rightful owners” of the system.  Our numbers are few, our skills are lacking (and probably pitifully rusty by this point), and our resources, while considerable, are unremarkable.  (And I still can’t even fly a damn battleship!)  We’ve kept out of most trouble, up to now, by “flying under the radar”…but that’s never a sure thing for the long run.

Our work is definitely cut out for us…but we shall persevere nonetheless.  For simply “giving up” is an exercise in futility.  None know that better than we do, from inside the cryostasis tubes where we, even now, await our reawakening.  Soon, though, the time shall come for us to arise…and the communications channels will once again ring with our words of defiance and hope:

Wrought in deepest Hell…our vengeance is freedom!

. . .

Participants:

  1. CrazyKinux’s Musing: The Heroes with a Thousand Faces
  2. StarFleet Comms: Life. Evolved.
  3. A Carebear’s Journey: This Carebear Thinks He Is Developing Teeth
  4. The Elitist: Our ventures in EVE
  5. A Mule in EVE: From a guppy predator
  6. Travels of the Ronin: Evolution and Adaptation
  7. The Ralpha Dogs: The Past Through Tomorrow
  8. Where the frack is my ship: A journey, not a destination
  9. I am Keith Neilson: 7 Year Itch?
  10. Inner Sanctum of the Ninveah: Evolution Me
  11. EVE Opportunist: A long history of a short time
  12. Roc’s Ramblings: Things Change
  13. Guns Ablaze: Onwards and Upwards
  14. EVE On Real Life: Haven’t you grown up yet?
  15. The Fang: The path of the ninja
  16. EVEOGANDA: Whoops Apocalypse!
  17. EVE SOB: Learning to swim
  18. The Life of a Dead Jester: My Time with EVE
  19. Personal Files, Ciarente Roth: Personal Diary 18.6.112
  20. Learning to Fly: Change is Good
  21. Depths Unknown: Falling With Style
  22. Morphisat’s Blog: Jack of all trades
  23. Sarnelbinora’s Blog: Thoughts of EVE
  24. Confessions of a Closet Carebear: It’s the yellow box, stupid…
  25. Adventures in Mission Running: My path amongst the stars
  26. When 11 Ninjas isn’t enough: First days in the North (continued)
  27. Lost in New Eden: My EVE Life So Far
  28. Life in my Hole: How My EVE Experience Has Evolved
  29. The Lathspell of Mithrandir: EVE-olution
  30. Chocolate Heaven: Recurring Themes
  31. Diary of a Pod Pilot: The many sides of me
  32. eve’s parity bit: Me; the perpetual student
  33. Mike Azariah: When you look into the Past, the Past looks into you
  34. Escoce – Eve Trader: I Have Always Been Escoce
  35. More as they get published…

Blog Banter – Crash and Burn

Posted in EVE Blog Banter, Meta on July 5, 2009 by Erbo

Regretfully, I am unable to participate in this month’s EVE Blog Banter as sponsored by CrazyKinux.  Due to extensive issues and commitments in real life and elsewhere, I have been unable to conduct the research that would be required to produce a Blog Banter entry within the required timeframe.  I apologize for the inconvenience, and hope to rejoin the Blog Banter crew next month.

– Erbo Evans, Abbot, Rho Alpha Delta

Greed Is Good, Greed Works

Posted in EVE Blog Banter on May 26, 2009 by Erbo

Welcome to the eighth 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 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 here. Check out other EVE Blog Banter articles at the bottom of this post!

This month’s topic comes to us from Ga’len at The Wandering Druid of Tranquility.  He asks: “What new game mechanic or mechanics would you like to see created and brought into the EVE Online universe and how would this be incorporated into the current game universe?  Be specific and give details, this is not meant to be a ‘nerf this, boost my game play’ post like we see on the EVE forums.”

. . .

Erbo Evans, speaking for the Ralpha Dogs and crediting Cain Jacobi with the idea for this post.

With as rich and dynamic a game element as EVE’s player-driven market is–complete with CCP’s own Ph.D. economist, “Dr. EjyoG,” to keep tabs on it–there are a few elements that could make it even more rich and dynamic.  To wit: The concept of financial services.

Start with banks.  We already have a number of player-run banking organizations, such as EBANK; is there any reason why NPCs couldn’t get in on the action as well?  There are currently several NPC corporations that are described as “banks,” namely the Bank of Luminaire (Gallente), Garoun Investment Bank (Gallente), Intaki Bank (Syndicate), and the State and Region Bank (Caldari).  What if these corporations, and possibly others, had a “banking agent,” where you could go to create deposit accounts, or negotiate with them for a loan for that new battleship you’ve had your eye on?  In the latter case, what if the chances of a loan approval, and/or your interest rate, depended on the standing you (or your corporation, if you’re negotiating on behalf of them) had with that agent, or the corporation, or the associated faction?  What if defaulting on a payment lowered your standing, and became another way to “turn outlaw”?  (Yeah, some people might try to “game the system” in this respect.  But people “game the system” all the time in real life, too.)  A banking system that was “guaranteed safe” might motivate players to make more use of it than they do of the existing player-run banks…which you can never be sure aren’t scams.  Would player-run banks have to “compete” for business by offering greater return in exchange for the (perceived) greater risk?

Beyond that…We have this concept of “shares” in a corporation, but we have no mechanism where they can be traded openly, on the market or through contracts.  What if we had an actual stock market as part of the existing market, where shares of corps could be listed?  A corporation that had been engaging in successful business for awhile could float an “initial public offering” of stock to raise money, and thereafter other players could invest in corps that were known to be successful.  This could provide the basis for whole new levels of gaming and metagaming within EVE, offering opportunities for, not just moneymaking, but skulduggery of all sorts.  Imagine, for instance, people investing in Goonfleet as a “solid investment,” then someone managing to enlist a group of Goonfleet investors in a “proxy fight” to wrest control of the corp from Darius JOHNSON?  If it sounds farfetched…well, did the infiltration and dissolution of the Band of Brothers Alliance sound any less farfetched, before it actually happened?  In actual practice, Goonfleet might choose to remain closely held, forming a number of “daughter” corporations for various purposes and unloading the minor interest in each to gain funds…but perhaps opening the daughter corporations up to influence from others opposed to the parent corp’s mission.  Naturally, there’s tradeoffs everywhere.

From here, you could extrapolate the whole financial system we have in the modern-day world, including a number of things that have gotten people and companies in trouble: derivative securities, subordinated debentures, venture capital, hedge funds, collateralized debt obligations, credit default swaps, and all manner of things that would make Gordon Gekko and his ilk rub their hands with glee.  But I think that’s quite enough for one day.

“The point is, ladies and gentlemen, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms – greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge – has marked the upward surge of mankind…”

. . .

Other articles published from around the EVE Blogosphere (links will be updated here as new posts are added):

Roads Not Taken…Or Not Yet

Posted in EVE Blog Banter on April 30, 2009 by Erbo

Welcome to the seventh 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 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 here. Check out other EVE Blog Banter articles at the bottom of this post!

This month’s topic comes to us from CrazyKinux himself, and he asks: “What 3 things haven’t you done in EVE and why? Would you be willing to try one day? Why so? Why not?

. . .

Erbo Evans, speaking mainly for myself on this one.  (I will encourage Selena and others to post as well.)

Oh, I’m absolutely certain that there are more than three things I haven’t done in EVE; however, I am limited by the call to discussing three of them.  So I’ll do a quick overview:

#1: Done serious operations in 0.0 space. Mainly, I just don’t know enough to keep myself safe in those circumstances.  I need more skills, more practice at fitting, and more knowledge of strategies and tactics for staying alive in a land where you can be ganked in a split second, for any reason or none, and with no possible source of recourse or even sympathy.  Now, I’ve visited 0.0 space, briefly; I documented my flight into N-RAEL in the Great Wildlands, and my narrow escape while busting a gatecamp on the way back into Empire.  I now have better ships for such a task, chiefly the Helios covert ops frigate Amaranth.  Then, too, we’re near Providence where we are right now, and CVA, who holds that region, is well-known for its liberal policy in letting people fly there as long as they don’t stir up trouble.  And, of course, wormhole space is 0.0 by definition.  So this will probably happen at some point, as the rewards are certainly commensurate with the risks; just give it time.

#2: Taken up a career in piracy. Surprising, for the number of EVE blogs I follow written by pirates!  (I rationalize that the same way I rationalize reading 2600 magazine; it’s useful to know what the “black hats” are thinking.)  As nice as some of those folks sound when they write, I have no doubt that, if I were to run across them while they were on a roam, they would slag my ship without a second thought, if they could.  My main defense, therefore, is to be somewhere else. 🙂  The reason I wouldn’t try my hand at yarrin’ is the same as the reason I haven’t done it, aside from the whole “inexperience” issue; I know how upset I’d get if some SOB whacked a ship I’d spent a ton of ISK on to get fitted and working the way I wanted it, and I’m unwilling to inflict that kind of hurt on somebody else.  What would it take for me to overcome that barrier?  I’d probably have to be faced with a greater threat, like that one can-tipping bastard we took on in Aderkan.  (We didn’t blow him up, but we made him turn tail and run.)

#3: Gotten involved in CSM politics. There have been, I think, two CSM elections now since I joined EVE.  I didn’t vote in either of them, because I knew nothing about the candidates or the issues involved, and was too busy trying to understand the world I was now in to be concerned with such things.  The third election is soon to be upon us, and I really need to make the effort to at least vote this time around.  Apparently the CSM has done great things for EVE, and I’d like to keep a closer eye on what they do.  And, one day, might you see Erbo declare his own candidacy for the Council?  Stranger things have happened…and I’ve been described as a “natural politician” by some people.  If it happens, though, it’s likely to be years from now.  If I do, though, I’m likely to use the Ralpha Dogs’ tagline as part of my campaign:

“Wrought in deepest Hell, our vengeance is freedom!”

. . .

Other articles published from around the EVE Blogosphere (links will be updated here as new posts are added):

Two Tales of Glory and Honor

Posted in EVE Blog Banter, Storyline on March 30, 2009 by Erbo

Welcome to the sixth 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 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 here. Check out other EVE Blog Banter articles at the bottom of this post!

This month’s topic comes to us from Quintrala of Speed Fairy . She suggests to “write a short fiction story about the dissolution of the BoB alliance. It could be from BoB’s point of view, the Goons’, by neutrals in 0.0, civilians in Empire, NPCs or even rats. Write about before, during or after the coup; give us stories of market, war, people or love. In-character or roleplay. We want to know what happened, from those fictional characters that, in your mind, were part of it.

. . .

Standing with his fellow Goons in the hangar at their staging area, Joey Acidinyershorts grinned.  Only a month ago, he’d been persuaded by some of his buddies to train as a capsuleer and join up with Goonfleet.  He’d been proud to take part in a couple of their legendary “Jihadswarm” operations, steamrollering a few stupid carebear miners and coming away with plenty of loot.  Now, though, he’d heard rumors of something bigger in the works, and the fleet commander was about to give them details.

“I can’t tell you what’s going on exactly,” began the fleet commander, “but there’s something big going on.  When it does, we’re going to be engaging in a massive push into BoB space, hitting those R-tards with everything we’ve got.  We’re going to just run ’em right over, storm through Querious and Delve.  Our Great Leader, Darius Johnson, has promised that he’s gonna have breakfast in NOL-M9, and you’re all invited!

A mighty cheer rose from the assembled throngs.

“You all know what to do,” continued the fleet commander.  “Tacklers, get in and point their capitals ASAP, so we can take out their top DPS.  Keep an eye out for ECM.  We’re gonna drill on this till you get it right.  Be strong, brosefs!”

. . .

“The news isn’t good,” said Dianabolic, CEO of Reikoku, to the assembled corp members.  “Yesterday, Haargoth Agamar, one of the directors of Black Nova, defected to the Goons, taking a lot of materiel and ISK with him.  What’s more, he completely disbanded the Band of Brothers alliance before he split.”

A gasp rose from the assembled corporation members, Kazume Nakatani among them.  He’d been flying for Reikoku for about a year and a half, training in various industrial disciplines in addition to Caldari war vessels.  They’d been reaping the benefits of Band of Brothers’ sovereignty in at least two areas of lawless space, to the tune of billions of ISK in profit.

“We’ve shifted to the KenZoku alliance, which was an allied industrial alliance we set up,” continued Dianabolic.  “For now, though, we’ve started seeing Goon encroachments on our space, to which we’re obviously going to lose sovereignty.  I want us out there camping the chokepoint gates, doing our best to keep them from moving in on us.  We’ve got to try and hold out.”

As they left the assembly hall, one of Kaz’s friends turned to him.  “I can’t believe we’ve been tricked like that,” she said. “Do you think we can hold out?”

“I don’t know,” responded Kaz.  “But we’re gonna do everything we can to stop them.”

. . .

Of course, the Goon attack had gone pretty much as planned, sending spearheads deep into Querious, attacking and destroying former BoB stations and mounting their own in a rush to claim sovereignty as quickly as they could.  The leaders of KenZoku were determined not to lose Delve as well, so they prepared to make a stand at UHKL-N, at the border of Delve space.

In his Drake Double Dragon, Kazume watched the gate to A-BO4V carefully, hovering 20 kilometers away, ready to turn his missiles on any ships that came though and were tackled by the smaller ships orbiting the gate.  Two other battleships, an Apocalypse and a Megathron, hovered nearby, ready to do the same thing,  Also near the gate, a heavy interdictor waited to drop warp interdiction spheres, keeping any ships coming through the gate from getting away.  And more ships waited in the background.

Suddenly the gate flashed, and ships began decloaking in front of the gate.  The interceptors stood out on the tactical overview in blood-red.  Instantly a warning was barked over the tactical channel: “Point the ‘ceptors, point the ‘ceptors.”

Kaz locked his weapons onto the nearest interceptor, a Taranis, as the tacklers near the gate engaged their stasis webs and warp scramblers.  Missiles streaked from his launchers, finding their mark and flaring against the smaller vessel’s shields.

Suddenly a new voice broke into the communications channels: “Warning, warning, cyno detected, cyno detected.”

Kaz craned his neck to look behind him.  He didn’t see the telltale light display of a cynosaural field, but his tactical overview told him it was somewhere in the system.  And that meant just one thing: Trouble.

. . .

In a nearby system, Joey waited in his Rifter, which (of course) he hadn’t bothered to name.  Large numbers of other ships were gathered nearby, all dwarfed by an Avatar, one of the prides of Goonfleet.  Cannily, the Goons had enlisted the assistance of another pilot, unknown to the members of BoB/KenZoku, who had managed to slip from Aridia into Delve, and was now positioned in UHKL-N, ready to provide the target for the titan to activate its jump bridge.  Those Kenny ‘tards will never know what hit ’em, he thought.

“Go, go, go!” came the signal over the communicator, as the Avatar engaged the jump bridge.  “When you get through, warp straight to the gate, we’ll get that camp.”

Joey engaged his ship’s engines, rushing through the jump bridge, then warping towards the gate.  His warp was stopped by the interdictor bubble around the gate, of course, but the gate wasn’t his target; the ships around the edge, presently hurling missiles, gunfire, and laser fire at the Goon ships coming through the gate, were.

He and three other Rifter pilots set course for one of the battleships, a Drake.  Each of them targeted it, activated their webs and scramblers, and set up to orbit it at close range, where its weapons couldn’t track them.  Behind them, battleships and battlecruisers would be blasting away at the enemy ships as soon as they warped in.

Kaz’s tactical systems screamed at him as the scramblers and webbers quickly pinned him, overwhelming his ship’s defenses.  He yelled for backup over the channel, but no one else was in a position to assist.  Snarling, he deactivated one of his missile launchers, targeted a Rifter, and began launching missiles at it, hoping against hope that they’d hit.

Joey’s ship rocked as the Caldari Navy missiles found their mark.  Gritting his teeth, he held on as the shield flickered and died, and his armor began to melt away under the onslaught.  He held the lock as long as he could, managing to get his pod clear of the battle as soon as his ship met a fiery demise.

Kaz, too, held out as long as he could, but the fire being poured onto his ship was too much for it.  As the Drake violently exploded, he tried to get away, but the Goon tacklers were too quick to lock his pod and bring it to a halt.  The last thing he heard was the hideous crack! as his pod’s hull failed…at least, until he woke up in a clone vat bay.

The KenZoku gate camp quickly fell to pieces under the onslaught  With nothing to stop them, the Goons poured through, aiming to meet up with another group that was pouring through at 1DH-SX.  Soon, both Joey and Kaz would be back in the fight…but on much different terms.

. . .

Three weeks later:

The influence map showed the results clearly; Querious and Delve, once blue with the influence of the Band of Brothers, had been entirely covered in GoonSwarm yellow.  Erbo looked up from the map and shook his head.

Damn, those Goons sure moved in fast, he thought, turning his attention to the ice asteroid in front of him.  He adjusted Tourmaline Queen‘s attitude as the blue beams of the ice harvesters began chewing into the surface of the massive chunk of ice.  Beside him, he could see Time Killer doing the same thing.  Nearby, he could see Valorna’s Iteron Mark III, turning to depart with a load of ice…and beyond, Selena keeping a watch in the massive Mystic Ballbreaker.

It’s all a long way from here, though, he thought, and 0.0 is definitely a “no go” for us right now.  Besides, there’s work to be done here.

He turned back, his eyes looking up at the distant sky.

. . .

Other articles published from around the EVE Blogosphere (links will be updated here as new posts are added):

Me, Myself, and I

Posted in EVE Blog Banter on February 26, 2009 by Erbo

Welcome to the fifth 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 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 here. Check out other EVE Blog Banter articles at the bottom of this post!

This month’s topic comes to us from Mynxee of Life in Low Sec. She asks “Alts and Metagaming: Is playing two accounts who are logged in at the same time and work together (hauler/miner, explorer/combat associate, trade alts in trade hubs) a form of metagaming that is “ruining the game”?

. . .

Erbo Evans, speaking for the Ralpha Dogs.

Alternate characters, or “alts,” form an important part of many MMO environments, and those of us that have come to EVE from Second Life, in particular, are no stranger to them.  I have two alts in SL myself, plus a third, “shared” alt that is primarily used for managing the collection of rent for our land business there.  Both Lexx and Selena have more than that. 🙂

Alts may be created for many reasons, both serious and frivolous, and, in fact, their raison d’etre may change over time.  One of my SL alts, for instance, was created to be a “third” in a land-ownership group (before Linden Lab changed groups to only require a minimum of 2 members, rather than 3), but has since evolved into a much different role.  Many of Selena’s alts represent different facets of her RL personality; one of them, in fact, was created to be my companion in SL, around the time we fell in love.  (That event is described here.)

On a practical level, the creation of alts can represent a substantial investment of resources.  Creating Selena’s “Erbo companion” alt in SL, for instance, required expending over L$10,000 (which is around US$37) to properly outfit her with all the goods required to give her the right image.  (For those of you who know SL, you know about all the stuff you need for your avatar.  For the rest of you, just take my word for it.)  In EVE Online, the main investment required in creating an alt is the time to train his/her skills up to the point where he/she is actually useful…and, to do so, one must either suspend training on one’s main character, due to CCP’s restrictions associated with multiple characters on the same account, or pay for a second account.  Most alt-creators in EVE, I’m given to understand, do the latter, as limiting your main for the sake of your alt is generally considered undesirable.

Then, too, in order to make effective use of an alt, you either have to run two instances of EVE on the same machine, or have a second machine capable of running EVE.  Again, the former is often a suboptimal solution, as it can cause unacceptable lag, so I gather many people opt for the latter.

But is it “ruining the game”?  I would argue that, if someone has the RL resources to invest in a solution like this, it’s not “cheating” per se, any more than my financing the Ralpha Dogs by dealing in GTCs/PLEXs is. (Of course, some people, such as Biomassed, do view GTC/PLEX dealing as “unfair,” to a degree. It’s a matter of opinion, I suppose, and made for a lively back-and-forth on Twitter.)  Does it give some people advantages other people don’t have?  Well, yes, but theoretically, the other person could do it, too.  And, if there’s one game whose philosophy is to let players do whatever the hell they want so long as they don’t exploit bugs to gain unfair advantages, it’s EVE.

That said, as far as I know, no member of the Ralpha Dogs currently uses an alt on a regular basis.  Some people with our friends the Hauling Hogs, however, do, and, in fact, I’ve supplied GTCs for those alts on occasion.  Would I, speaking for myself, do it?  If I had the resources, sure, I’d consider doing it.  Part of it is, I currently pay for two EVE accounts already (mine and Selena’s), plus supply GTCs for more ISK for the corp, and I don’t quite have the money to support an alt at this time.  I’d also have to come up with another computer that’s capable of running EVE, and since the only machines in the house that aren’t currently running EVE are Linux-only, that could be a problem…

But if someone else wants to use an alt, I wouldn’t want to stop them.  That’s not the EVE way.  The EVE way is to do the best you can with the resources you have to work with.  And we’re doing pretty well with our resources, I’d say.  One day, we may employ alts to do better still, but that is for the future to decide.

Wrought in deepest Hell, our vengeance is freedom!

. . .

Other articles published from around the EVE Blogosphere (links will be updated here as new posts are added):