Positive Interactions

Plus one.

So I chased yet another student out of OUCH yesterday.  I never really intend to, but it happens. Sometimes, I think I’m just plain mean.  

Well, that’s not very nice, Bren.

Understand that any one time there at least 50 students in the OUCH program.  It takes effort to keep track of each individuals progress, so we have each student maintain a personal training record on the forum.  We call it the Student Folder.

Now maintaining 50 or more Student Folders is an administrative challenge, so, of course, we’ve got some procedures and guidelines that ultimately make it easy for the staff to audit folders, determine progress, graduate students and expel inactives.  And, of course, both students and instructors conspire to make our lives difficult by dreaming up new and improved ways to help us out

Just trying to do our part.

Now the reason I ended up chasing yet another student out of the Open University of Celestial Hardship yesterday is because we disagreed over how to record a date.

The date?

Yep.  In the years that OUCH has been running, we can’t seem to get Americans and Europeans to understand that a simple thing like the date can be recorded in a manner that can be misinterpreted by the reader.

Simply enough, 04/05/13 does not mean the same thing to all people.  Some people think that’s May, some people think that’s April.  If you don’t understand this, then you probably have limited contact with people outside of your country.  So we tell people, type out the name of the month, or put the date the way your computer would read it, 2013.04.05.  

Seems reasonable to me.

Now, our Chief of Staff notices that a student has recorded the date ambiguously in his student folder and asks him to fix it.  The student chooses not to fix it.   So we, staff and student, end up in a feedback loop on the forum where we ask him to fix his folder, and he doesn’t.  We have limited (Read: No) contact with this student outside of the forum.  As Eve players, we naturally understand the tendency of another Eve player to assume that they are the smartest person in the room, despite the uncertainty of that being Truth, so the Chief of Staff shows him, with some good humor, how he can be misinterpreted because, well, he and his audience might not be reading from the same page.  The student eventually makes a note explaining to us what his date format means, but does not change it.  

I’m sure we can make a case for the concept that if you can’t follow directions on the forum, how can we depend on you to follow directions in fleet, but that’s not the point here.  Instead, I, nice guy that I am, upholder of the downtrodden, trainer of newbies so bitter vets cannot take advantage of them, respond by doing what any bitter vet Eve player would do to anyone that was wasting their time.  

I ridicule him on the forum.  I point to the instructions and pretty much I ask him if he’s illiterate (which I know he cannot be), ignorant (which I hope, but rather doubt that he is),  just plain dumb (which I find hard to believe) or trying to piss us off (which I don’t think he’s really trying).

Even saints can sin I suppose.

Several weeks pass.  He finally returns to the forum, he fixes his post, and responds with a fifth choice.  He tells me that the instructions that I pointed him to were not available on the forum when he posted his remarks.    

This confuses me for a minute.  I check my post.  July 17, 2012.  

I don’t get it.  

Ohhhh!  He thinks that post was written July 17, 2013!

Gleefully, I post on his student thread that he is WRONG ONCE AGAIN and thank him for playing.  I also thank him for finally fixing his original post.  A few hours later he leaves the corp.

So what’s the point of this story?  You’re a jerk just like everyone else in Eve?  Don’t play “OUCH the Board Game” with Bren?

No.  It’s just that forums (and corp chat for that matter) are terrible places try to make friends.  I’ve posted about this on the OUCH forums in depth.  You can’t really get to know someone on the forum because the reader hears the tone they want to hear when they read your words.

Have you ever read the words of a famous person and hear their voice saying those words?  What if you never heard their voice?  You still imagine what they would sound like, and it’s not always positive.  

OUCH gains and loses students everyday.  The ones that succeed are the ones who get into Teamspeak and hang out with us.   The students that you care the most about are the ones you get to know.  The ones that we get to hear their voice.  The ones who laugh at our jokes and we laugh at theirs.  The ones who ask us for advice, listen to our stories and share some of their own.    The game we play is best played with other people, and voice comms go a long way in building relationships with the people you play with.  

And the students that don’t make it, well, we don’t miss them when they are gone because simply enough, they are strangers to us.  They never become voices that we know.

Hey new guy? Can you fix the dates in your student folder for me please?  Make them a little less ambiguous?  There’s a post on the forum shows you how. It makes it easier when we need to audit them later.  

Sure thing, Bren…  There you go.  

Thank you.

Hey, Bren, do you have a good Coercer fit?  

Well, that depends.  What are you going to use it for?

Minus one.

BB48: Who Are You?

Plus one.

This months Blog Banter:  How important is lore?  Are the fictional elements of Eve Online important to the enjoyment of the game? 

How interesting.

Do you remember the Summer of Rage?  The Incarna expansion?  

I remember that Everyone Lost Their Collective Minds.  

In short, players lost their ability to spaceship spin and got an avatar that could walk around in a three room shoe box.   Players rebelled.  Many quit.  They didn’t want to play space barbies, they wanted to spin spaceships.  At least I think they wanted to spin spaceships, because when they gave us the option of looking at a wall instead of using the Captains Quarters, people still cried and complained that they wanted their spaceships back.  

Seems kind of strange to me, that people were quitting Eve over Walking in Stations 0.1.  But the people spoke:  This is stupid.  This is too CPU intensive.  This is a waste of programming effort when there were so many other things in the game that CCP should be working on.  

And I agreed that it was a waste of time and effort, but my reasons were different from most of my peers.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

I am a capsuler.  I am one of several million pilots who accepts the burden of immortality in order to move the ships, people and commodities that make these vast star-faring empires work.  Immortal because otherwise the investment to train me would not be worth the cost.  When my friends and family on Perimeter are dust, I will still remain. The Caldari trained me at State War Academy, and I am grateful for their investment in me, because I certainly could not have afforded immortality on my own.  

There are 500 thousand of us that make up the Independents.  We are the pilots that tip the balance between the empires: the pioneers on the frontiers of null security space, the pirates and privateers battling in low sec, the explorers establishing colonies in wormhole space.  The pilots who fly for Concord, for Amarr Navy, for Theology Council, they are not like me:  they are not free.  Not truly.  But they are the blood running through the veins of Empire, for Empire cannot survive without them.

I do not truly know why I was selected to be a capsuler, I just know that I am suited to be one.  Plugged into my capsule, filled with biometric gel, I give myself, body and spirit to running my starship.  My mind controls the modules, weapons and great engines that make up the most complex machines known to man.  My weapons are devastating, my defenses formidable.  

I can cross almost any star system in less than a minute.  What a “beer run” would be to a mortal, is a quick trip though 20 star systems to gather supplies, fill a contract, or destroy an enemy.   The most lumbering ship I control travels a mile in the 16 seconds that it takes preparing to go to warp speed.  

From my ship, I can pinpoint the exact position of every planet, moon and asteroid in every system I enter.  I can tell the difference between man made objects in space a billion miles away.   If I concentrate, I can find starships and spacial anomalies several billion miles away.

I’ve been in starship combat with hundreds of ships on a side.  I’ve been in solo fights where I’ve won with my ship in structure, bleeding atmosphere like blood.  Pain inhibitors prevent capsulers from feeling the agony that comes with damage to their ship.  Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to turn them off.  I am wise enough not to try.

I have lost over 200 ships.  This gives me great sadness.  To me, my ships are precious, unique creatures that I bring to life.  But ships are not immortal:  they are born, we give them life, they serve their purpose and they die.  I have saved my share of ships, through planning, piloting  or just plain luck.  A thousand times, so many near misses that I’ve lost count.  Of this, I am very proud.

I’ve destroyed thousands of ships.  There is a dark part in my heart that takes great pleasure at this.

I communicate with my peers, fellow contractors in my corporation and associates from other corporations, via the communications protocols available to me.  Voice. Video. Text.  Face to face meetings are rare and, for the most part, completely unnecessary to conduct the business of running an interstellar corporation.  My capsule provides the nutrients required to keep me alive.  I neither eat, drink nor breathe.  

I sleep. Technological advances have not removed that need.  I think this is what keeps us human.

When I dock in station, the load masters fill my orders, repair my weapons, change out my ship fittings to meet my specifications.  When things are not right, I can only blame myself for not directing them to make the changes I desire, when they refill my magazine with Caldari Scourge instead of Mjolnir.  I’ve learned to use checklists.  

I rarely leave my capsule. I feel diminished when I do.  Small.  Minute.  Insignificant.  Why should I spend time in my quarters again?  Oh, I watch the videos, experiment with ship fittings.  I’ll have a nice meal, sushi perhaps, sip some whiskey.  Maybe I’ll share some time with a companion or two.  

I’ll admire myself in the mirror:  Still as handsome as ever.  Haven’t aged a day.  For a spell, I’ll remember what it’s like to be merely a man.

Then I’ll undock and warp to the sun, admire the beauty and the vastness of space, and take pleasure in knowing that I am limited only by the music of my immortal soul.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Lore important in Eve Online?  Let’s just say that I’m pretty sure I don’t feel the same way about Call of Duty.

How ’bout you?

Minus one.

Someone Grab My Corpse

Plus one.

“Hey Bren, wanna go roam with A4D tonight?  They got caaaaan-deeeee!”

So with a tiny arm twist, I join fleet with the boys from Appetite for Destruction.  I’ve only got an hour to kill, so I’ve got three questions:  How long are we going to be out?   What am I flying? Do I have two minutes to take a leak?

“We’ll have you home in an hour, Bren.  Shield fit.  Yes.”

Alright.  My protege suggests I fly a Harpy like him and play tackle.  I say sure and he gives me a ship.  I’m really not too keen about playing tackle, because it’s been my experience that guys with names that start with ‘B’ get primaried.  Flying a small ship doesn’t help.  But it is a Harpy, and they do have over 15k ehp when properly fit.  The one I jump into has an EM Ward Field.  I’m used to using EM Field Amplifiers, but what the heck, the resist profile is very nice.  I’ll take it.

Seems that we are off to space where the locals don’t know us very well.  One of the guys found a wormhole that leads to null space some 40 jumps away.  We’re taking a shortcut.

We undock and warp to the hole, follow the scout through, bookmarking each side as we do.  Through the hole to the exit and out to null again, bookmarking again.

Everyone remember where we parked.

We’re in Malpais, deep in someone’s backyard.  I don’t know whose and I don’t really care.  I set destination and we’ve got a 7 jump run to check out what’s what.  It’s quiet out here.  Our scout is one or two systems ahead and we are flying gate to gate through empty systems.  We follow him into one abandoned drag bubble and quickly remove it from space.   I remember to reload as I burn back to the gate as we continue our trip through Malpais.  

A couple of systems later, our scout finally tells us to hold up on the out gate:  He’s found people, a system with an outpost and a populated local.  The gates are bubbled, completely covered with a more than a half dozen large and medium warp disruptor bubbles.   He sniffs around.  Finds a Loki and a Legion flying around.  He dodges and weaves and warps back to the out gate, we get ready to jump in if they come to the gate.  

They do.  We jump.  We’re 3 AFs and 1 faction frigate, 4 faction cruisers, and pair of Vagabonds.  A couple of Strat cruisers are easy pickings.  

 I get in and tackle, and I’m primaried, of course.  The Order of the Day is Don’t Get Scrammed, so I kite around and break scram and minimize damage.  The Loki and Legion get some support:  A second Legion, a Tengu, a Rapier, and a Sleipner.   It’s a long fight.  I run out of cap and I’m not sure if I did it myself, flying stupid, or I’ve been neuted and luckily coasted out of range.  I lose tackle, tank and MWD.  I regain tackle and get back in.  We’re struggling to put enough damage on a primary to kill one of these T3s, but they are handling us pretty well.  We finally all get on the Sleipner and he goes down surprisingly quickly.  Then I’m scrammed, webbed and taking a beating.  I try to get out but my ship shields fail, it’s armor ablates and she breaks apart in a muted explosion.  I warp my capsule to a celestial and start the process of making an unaligned safe that the team can use me to warp to.  I’m not looking forward to slow boating back through all those bubbles on the gate in my pod.  In retrospect, I lost that ship because I failed to turn my EM Ward back on after I lost it due to low cap.  

It always traces back to pilot error.

But our guys wear down all those active tanking T3s and start taking them down one by one.  In the end, it’s 2 Legions, a Loki, a Tengu, a Sleipner and a Rapier destroyed at a cost of a single Harpy.  They rally with me on the safe, and I start the self destruct sequence that will reduce 40 odd jumps to just 8 jumps from home.  I thank the crew for a good time and tell them to try not to forget to grab my corpse for their collection.

Heaven knows I’ve left enough of those laying about.

Minus one.

One Down, Two to Go

Plus one.

Couple of months ago, I talked about how a few things I’d like to see implemented in game, a few “wouldn’t it be cool” features that would make life easier for people without being, from my point of view, game imbalancing.

Three Wishes: Clone bay arrays. Pony keg freighters. Jump clone timer reducing skill.

Looks like CCP is granting one of them.

Informorph Synchronizing: Reduces time between jump clone activation by 1 hour per level. 19 hours at level 5. Will be a rank 1 or 2 skill, so it won’t be a very long train.

Now I admit, I did want a 10 percent reduction in time between activations, which would have been 12 hours at L5, but the funny thing is, I was discussing this a couple of weeks ago with my corp mates and I pretty much decided that I could live with 1 hour per level. I’ve come to grips that with proper planning, 5 hours is enough time for most people to do what they need to do,

Need to do. Not want to do.

Yeah, I’ve been reading the discussion thread where there is a bit of complaining that people should get more time. I’ve been trying to figure out really, what the advantage of having another 7 hours gets folks. More flexibility seems to be the most cited reason, and I agree, more time gives you more flexibility. But flexible for what?

For me, this means that I can jump to high sec before I go to bed, 2300 local. When when I come home at 1700 local, I can set my buy and sell orders, ship some stuff from point A to B, mine some Veldspar, or do L4 missions with the students… whatever carebear activities I want, and then after 1800, if something is going on in null sec, I can jump back to my pvp clone and join the fleet. And as a bonus, I just spent 19 hours in my +4 learning implants.

If I’m a trader, it means that I can base a clone in two trade hubs and instead of flying back and forth between hubs, or relying on alts, I can do my orders in Jita and then jump to Rens to do orders there. Then I can log my alt in and do the same between Dodixie and Amarr. Then the next day, rinse and repeat and do it in a fraction of the time.

A lot of OUCH instructors have trainer alts, so we don’t have to spend the time to fly to high sec when we teach. Some of us use jump clones, and that usually means giving up Friday Night PvP to teach on Saturday afternoon, or jumping out on Saturday afternoon and losing Saturday night PvP. No worries mate, jump out after PvP on Friday night, teach Saturday afternoon and jump back for more PvP Saturday night.

It even makes jumps between pvp clones easier: If you’re in a damage dealing clone and they need you in logi tonight, jump into the logi clone. Tomorrow afternoon, you’ll be in the logi clone with the option to jump back into the damage dealer.

It’s all about defining a gaming session. 5 hours seems to be just about right for a typical weeknight timer. I don’t really see a benefit in it being much longer than that, and if I recall correctly, Ripard Teg once said, if you can think of a really cool idea to change or add feature to the game, try to imagine 100 people using that feature in a blob. Is it still cool?

I don’t claim to know exactly how a player, let alone a massive alliance or coalition, could possibly abuse a 12 hour jump clone timer.

But I bet CCP has an idea or two.

Minus one.

Moonlighting

Plus one.

First, yes, there was a four thousand player fight in Eve the other day.  Nope, I wasn’t there, but it was streamed live by several people, so we all got to watch.

Painfully.

I think it’s very cool for Eve to support this kind of game play.  It’s probably very important for CCP to show that Eve can do things in epic proportions.  But it looked pretty boring to me.

Probably didn’t help that I was watching the Alliance Tournament at the time, which is small gang pvp and much more exciting to me than watching 4000 players in one null sec system playing in slow motion mode, 10 percent time dilation, where it takes a frigate 40 seconds to go to warp.

If their propulsion mod is off.

Thank you, but no.

In other news, a bunch of the OUCH instructors have been doing a little Faction War on the side.  We train and camp with students pretty much five nights a week.  But two nights a week we’re heading to low sec on mostly low SP alts.  Normally, we use this time to unplug from PvP and make a little cash.  Now we’re doing PvP, to make a little cash.

Love that money!

I thought it was going to be all running and gunning, constant fights.  It’s really not.  I’m not getting nearly the fights that my Faction War BFF gets.  On the other hand, I am getting tons of Loyalty Points, I should be able to pick up 2 Scorpion Navy Issues and 2 Raven Navy Issues next week.  Plexing is not bad for making a little cash while you’re doing something else and it’s definitely more exciting than mining.

I think if you do Faction War, you have to decide what your game is going to be:  Farming plexes, doing missions, or PvP.  If you try to do more than one at a time, you’re not going to have as much fun, or reap as many rewards, than if you concentrate on just one.  PvP almost requires constant movement, and farming plexes requires static game play.

Sit.  Wait.  Watch local.  Watch D-Scan.  Ding!  Fries are done!  Point on a Comet!

For you high sec dwellers, FW is a permanent war dec against a different faction… so if you are in Gallente or Minmatar FW, for instance, the Caldari and Amarr FW pilots will be able to attack you even in high sec.

The good news is, you get to attack them, too.

The majority of FW fighting takes places in low sec, so besides your war targets, you have to watch out for “the pirates” or “pies” in FW speak – I’m not making this up – who are roaming around looking for fights.

I’m still not sure where I am going with it.  I don’t really like to solo.  Eve is a multiplayer game after all.  It’s just my gangs have been kind of disorganized, with everyone all over the place, flying by the seat of their pants.

I hate disorganized. 

Yeah, not my style.  Overall, the jury is out on Faction War, but I like living in low sec.  It definitely has potential as far as a money maker and once I find my pvp niche, I’m betting that it’s going to be a blast.

Even if it is a part time gig.

Minus one.