Archive for the General Category

Erbo Does the Math on Overpriced Clothes

Posted in Expansions, General on June 25, 2011 by Erbo

Many words have been spoken about the nature of the new Noble Exchange and EVE’s new “real money” currency, Aurum (compare: Farmville Bucks, Frontierville horseshoes, Wizard 101 crowns, etc.), but let me illustrate an example that really shows how ridiculous this is, based on another avatar environment with which I’m intimately familiar…Second Life.

Let’s start with an example from the NEX, the men’s “Sterling” dress shirt.  It looks very snazzy indeed.  It’s cost is 3600 AUR.  Now we know that, from CCP’s official documentation, 1 PLEX = 3500 AUR, and also that 2 PLEX = 1 GTC = US$34.99.  So the shirt’s cost is approximately 1.0286 PLEX, or approximately 0.5143 GTC, or about US$17.99.

(Never mind that I could buy a pretty nice RL shirt at Kohl’s or Walmart for about that price…)

Meanwhile, from Second Life, I give you the Blaze “Columbia” men’s tuxedo.  I own one of these, and I can vouch for the fact that it is really well-made and looks snazzy as all hell.  (Blaze is well-known as a purveyor of quality formal wear for men and women in Second Life, and has been for years.) Now, mind you, this is not just a shirt, but a full tuxedo with shirt, pants, tie, and jacket.  It costs L$470 (Linden Dollars, the native currency of SL).  According to the latest LindeX market fix, the L$ is currently trading at L$250 = US$1.  Given that, this tuxedo retails for…US$1.88.

$17.99 for a shirt, versus $1.88 for a complete tux.

Value proposition for NEX goods: Minimal.

CCP: Clueus lackus.

I thought you were better than that, you guys.

UPDATE: Comparing women’s wear is even more indicative of the scope of FAIL we’re talking about here.  The women’s “Impress” skirt sells for the same amount of Aurum as the men’s shirt, i.e. AUR 3600 or US$17.99.  The most expensive Blaze evening gown I could find is the “Grace” gown, a stunning number complete with shawl, gloves, and undergarments, plus a matching tux vest for the lady’s escort, all for L$700.  Now, US$17.99 equals about L$4497, so you could literally buy half a dozen of the finest evening gowns in SL, with change left over, for the same price as one not-particularly-dressy skirt on the Noble Exchange.  Hell, even the finest wedding dresses in SL rarely cost more than that one skirt from the NEX would.


Makeover Part Deux

Posted in Expansions, General, Meta on February 5, 2011 by Erbo

Some of us have taken advantage of the opportunity to revamp our character designs and portraits, thanks to the opportunity CCP has given us to do so.

First here’s mine (original revised image on left, new revised image on right):

The new one looks less harsh, and I’ve lightened up certain aspects of the character.  In particular, I went with a different hairstyle, looser, with a little more length at the back. (Selenalore will like that.)  The revised image has a nobler, more heroic quality, I think.

Now for Selena:

She didn’t change her character design, or not much; she just fixed the portrait to better show off that sweet new face.

And finally, Lexx:

Yow! Can you say “Sexxi Lexxi”?  The revised image looks ready to do some serious biz.  Looks like all she really fiddled with was the hairstyle and the portrait parameters…but what a difference!

Still loving the parameters of the new character creator…and it’s going to be interesting to see these figures come to life when Incarna comes out!

The Reimagined Ralphas

Posted in Expansions, General, Meta on January 20, 2011 by Erbo

What with the new Character Editor having been released just yesterday, the core members of the Ralpha Dogs have gotten back in to redesign their character portraits using the new system.  Since many of us are experienced at avatar design, from Second Life and elsewhere, we were anxious to try out the new Carbon-based editor and see what it presages for Incarna.

First, your humble narrator (old on left, new on right):

Many people who knew me from SL thought my original avatar image looked too much like my SL avatar. 🙂  The new avatar looks more like the kind of guy who should be second-in-command of a corporation like the Ralpha Dogs.  Sadly, CCP’s clothing options don’t include the equivalent of the Ralpha Dogs’ uniform (the description taken straight out of Jeff’s book), but that was as close as I could get.  His full costume looks vaguely Han Solo-ish, IMHO, but Selena didn’t think so.

And speaking of Selena, here’s the lady herself:

With the new avatar, it’s like she’s gotten a facelift…or maybe a rollback.  (She plans on fixing the portrait a bit to better center her face.)  She may look cuter now than in her previous guise, but, if you plan on trying anything with her, remember…PH33R t3h cute on3s!

And now, our Glorious Leader, LexxEva:

She, too, seems to have reversed the aging process slightly.  And anyone who knows her in SL (where she has many names) knows that Lexxi loves the red hair.

All three of these are Gallenteans.  Here, to counterbalance those, is the Amarrian Zephira Najam:

She’s taken on a more haughty, aristocratic air in her new “ice queen” image.  It’s the kind of image that says, “I could order your death in an instant, and none would challenge me.  We are the Chosen Ones.  Amarr Victor!

And to counterpoint her, we have Fanchon Sihu, a member of the Seven Tribes of Minmatar:

Action Girl all the way, Fanchon has become slightly more sophisticated in the new picture.  But it still says, “I could kick your ass, and not even smear my eyeliner!  Bring it on, bitch!”

All in all, I’m reasonably impressed.  The visuals certainly knock anything Linden Lab has ever done into a cocked hat.  Now if only CCP will eventually let people design their own clothes…

See, I Told You So

Posted in General on August 10, 2010 by Erbo

Seems that one “aystra,” of BOAE INC, was not reading the blog entry I posted on the changes to PLEX, which included some tips for moving them safely.

Look among the destroyed items.  Seventy-four PLEX.  Worth 22.4 giga-ISK, or about US$1,300 in real money.

And this guy was hauling them through Jita, in a Kestrel.  Unescorted.

What was he THINKING?!?!?  WAS he thinking?!?!?

Remember, kids, treat PLEX the same as any other small, valuable object you don’t want to lose.  Especially if you’re hauling them in quantity!

“Stupidity is the only universal capital crime…the sentence is death, there is no appeal, and execution is carried out swiftly and without pity.” – Robert A. Heinlein

CCP Takes the Hex off PLEX, Leaves Pilots Vexed (Of Either Sex)

Posted in General on July 10, 2010 by Erbo

So, after all this time, CCP has decided that PLEX should be treated as any other item…you will soon be able to transport them between stations, have them couriered, and so forth.  This has resulted in a veritable firestorm on the forums; some people are in favor of it (and think CCP should be encouraging more of it), while others are against it.

Chief among the objections is that, if a ship gets ganked while carrying PLEX, the PLEX may be destroyed or dropped as loot.  The concern is that, since PLEX represent “real money” and “real game time,” this is somehow a bad thing.  But let’s look at this objectively.  A PLEX can presently be acquired for somewhere on the close order of 300M ISK.  While this isn’t “chump change” by any means, neither is it the most valuable thing you can have (and potentially lose) in EVE, not by a long shot.  An Orca presently goes for just over that, and an Obelisk freighter goes for something on the close order of 700M ISK.  Or, if you want something about the same size as a PLEX (0.01 m3) to compare to, a blueprint for that selfsame Obelisk goes for right around 1.7 billion ISK, or the equivalent of roughly half a dozen PLEX.  Yet people haul blueprints around all the time, and even lose them when they get ganked, and no one seems to have a problem with that.  (And the ones that do, quite frankly, need to HTFU.)

For those of you who don’t like the idea of PLEXs getting ganked out from under you, I say, don’t move ’em.  Just deal in them the way you always have; that will still work just fine.  Fly out to Jita (or Amarr, or Rens, or Hek, or your favorite trade hub), redeem your GTC to PLEXs there, and sell ’em off there.  Or buy your PLEX at one of the trade hubs, and immediately redeem it for game time, which you can do from your Assets window from anywhere in the galaxy.  If you do want to move PLEXs, take the same care as you would moving any other small but valuable item.  (In small quantities, I’d recommend a Covert Ops frigate with a cloak, speed mods, and as good a tank as you can put on it.  You can also put ’em into small, password-protected secure containers, and load those aboard a similarly-fit Blockade Runner.)  This is not rocket science here.  (Well, maybe it is, but you get the point.)

CCP’s avowed motivation in doing this is to keep PLEXs from being treated “differently” from any other item.  Of course, they will still be “different,” in that (a) you can “buy” them with GTCs, ultimately “real money,” and (b) you can trade them in for game time.  But consider this: Does this not open the door for CCP to introduce other items, perhaps, that have the (a) or (b) natures?  What if, say, there were a Live Event, in which a powerful NPC ship were to drop as loot some special items that could be redeemed for 5-10 days game time?  The mind boggles.

TL;DR of the above: This change was long overdue, and gives players more options.  And isn’t that what we like?

A Tale of Two Upgrades

Posted in Downtime, General on June 25, 2010 by Erbo

Okay, you all know about the big move and upgrade that CCP had planned for the Tranquility cluster, and how it all turned to worms on them, resulting in them giving us a slug of skillpoints each to make up for it.  (They mentioned that the CSM signed off on this particular mode of compensation.  So, thanks, Mynxee! 🙂 ) I’m sympathetic; just tonight, the development team I work for just managed to properly deploy an important piece of software for the first time in about a month.  As with everything else, it’s always the details that come back to bite you in the ass.

But, on the not-so-negative side, I’m fascinated by the description of the technologies involved.  In my previous job, I worked for a company that sold high-performance cluster computing systems; Tranquility is just one of those clusters writ large, and the way the EVE server system is structured is one of the more interesting applications of distributed computing I’ve seen.  The only thing I can compare it to is Second Life, and EVE’s cluster is just a bit more advanced.  SL basically requires that each region, or “sim,” comprising 64K square meters of virtual territory, have its own dedicated CPU core (with some exceptions), while EVE can load multiple lightly-trafficked star systems on a single CPU core, while able to assign heavier-loaded systems to dedicated CPUs, either statically (in the case of Jita et al.) or dynamically (in the case of fleet fight reservations).  This allows EVE to run a larger “world” on a smaller cluster.  (Admittedly, SL has to cope with high degrees of user-generated content, while EVE does not.)  And, looking at that picture, it looks like CCP is putting its equipment in APC racks, just like the ones the company I used to work for assembled and shipped our clusters in!

. . .

Meanwhile, one of the things I was up to in the gap between when we suspended operations in EVE and when we reactivated things, once I had secured gainful employment, was a much-needed program of system upgrades here at the Ralpha Dogs Orderhall.  Both my and Selena’s workstations got an almost total overhaul; each of us is now running quad-core, where we were single-core before.  Selena is now running an Athlon II X4 630 on a Gigabyte motherboard, while I have the Phenom II X4 955 Black, on an Asus board that turned out to be one of the better motherboards you can get for the money.  We went with 4 Gb of RAM each, which is usable by Windows 7 64-bit edition, which replaced Windows XP on our systems.  (Mine dual-boots to Ubuntu Lucid Lynx 64-bit as well, which I use for work and for serious hacking.)  With the OS upgrades also came drive upgrades; we now each have over a terabyte of disk space at our disposal, divided across three spindles in my case, two in Selena’s.  My old 21″ CRT monitor has been replaced by a pair of 21.5″ widescreen LCD displays, HD-quality, driven by a new nVidia GeForce GTS 250 card.  The resulting system runs EVE buttery-smooth, with little or no display lag and gorgeous quality.  (I’m not done yet; I want to replace the keyboard with a Logitech G19 and the mouse with a Razer Naga.  Basically, I want to intimidate the hell out of anyone else that tries to sit down at my desk…)

With well-balanced systems like these, no power in the ‘verse can stop us.  Unless it’s another bout of extended downtime… 🙂

On Ice

Posted in Downtime, General, Meta, Storyline on January 1, 2010 by Erbo

Erbo paused a moment to look over his ships as he was about to leave the hangar.  Neat rows of battlecruisers, frigates, mining ships, and others, dwarfed by the long oblong bulk of the Janne Wirman and the massive Tuomas Holopainen.  All of them had been “mothballed” for the time being, as it would be an unspecified time before he would need them again.

His eyes fell on the newest ship he’d acquired…the Zephyr-class exploration vessel, I Walk Alone.  She was graceful in a way that few ships were, her slender body connected to taut cables that supported her revolutionary light-sail propulsion system.  Pity I didn’t get a chance to actually fly it, he thought.  Maybe once I wake up.

He took note of the huge station warehouses off to the side as well, labeled with the Greek-letter monogram of the Ralpha Dogs.  The contents of the corporate hangars of this, the Ralpha Dogs’ sole remaining office, had been transferred here for safekeeping…not that anything would happen to them, hopefully, but you never know.

He thought of the bulletin he’d sent out to corporate members:

Suspension of Operations

Due to financial crisis and unemployment in Real Life, the Ralpha Dogs are temporarily suspending operations, as Lexx, Selena, and I will all have our accounts suspended. As of now, any corp member who wishes to leave us and join up with a new corp is free to do so with our blessing, and, if/when we resume operations, we’ll gladly take you back.

We apologize for this and we hope to be back as soon as humanly possible.

Clear skies to all!

– Erbo Evans, Abbot, ΡΑΔ

Hopefully that would explain the situation to everyone adequately.

The corporate office was silent and dark.  Selena stood there waiting for him, in front of three cryonic suspension tubes that had recently been installed.  Inside one, Fanchon’s sleeping form could be seen.

“Looks like that’s everything,” said Erbo.  “There’s enough in the corporate account to cover the rent here for awhile.  Either things should still be good when we wake up…or it won’t matter anyway.”

“Not quite everything,” said Selena.

“Huh?” asked Erbo.

Selena grabbed Erbo by the front of his uniform, dragging his face down to hers, where she kissed him long and hard.  She let go, and backed into the second of the cryonic suspension tubes.

“See you tomorrow, sweetheart,” she said.  She triggered the mechanism, and the tube swung slowly shut.  Within seconds, she had dropped off to sleep.

Erbo gazed at her for a long moment, before he climbed into his own suspension tube, last of the three.  He took a deep breath, then pressed the button to activate the mechanism.

As the glass top of the tube swung shut, he murmured to himself, “Whenever ‘tomorrow’ may come…”

. . . .

Sadly, this post is not entirely fictional.  I’ve been out of a job in Real Life since the beginning of December, and we’ll have to suspend operations in EVE until such time as I find another one.  As such, there will probably be no further posts on this blog until such time as we do reactivate everything.  I pray it’s not a lengthy interruption, but we do what we must to survive until then.  Thanks for reading.