Archive for January, 2011

What is the State of Our Union?

Posted in IT Alliance, North versus South on January 30, 2011 by Easley Thames

Along with Obama, Mittani and Molle recently delivered important speeches regarding the status of their (internet spaceship) nation-states.

I think the difference between these two events reflects very well the current situation in Fountain.

To avoid any confusion, I caught both of these speeches after-the-fact via recordings (which are linked later in this post for reference).

Sir Molle addressed his remarks to IT alone, and was informal in discussing the current situation. He didn’t have a drafted speech, choosing only to repeat a few simple message: (1) we’re not running, (2) get your stuff back to Fountain, (3) allies are coming to help, (4) you don’t need to worry about what is said on forums, just listen to you CEO.

When Molle finished speaking, a Q & A session occurred where Molle growled at people for wanting to hear updates about their own alliance on a regular basis, instead of having to read about our issues from spies posting on Kugu.

I think the propensity to censor each other is one of the worst qualities of the “Old BoB” corps that was passed on to IT, and even the alliance’s U.S. timezone hero has recently caught significant flak for a less than optimistic blog post.

Our supreme leader seemed on edge, and when asked for clarification on various rumors, Molle responded with a Orwellian mantra: “if it didn’t come from your CEO, then it is BS!” At times, it honestly sounded like I was listening to children being scolded.

However, as a result of Molle making an appearance, people who had been quietly moving assets appeared to halt and reverse their clandestine evacuations. With a single speech, countless people could be seen in capitals jumping back to 6VDT.

It’s a real testament to how important Molle is to this alliance, and how much of an impact he can have when he wants to. Everyone was still unsure about the future, but the sheer panic of a full-on cascade was forestalled.

Unfortunately, jumping assets back to 6VDT worsened the situation for some members when the “cluster fuck” coalition and NC (if indeed one can make such a distinction) showed up to camp us.

Addressing a coalition of alliances including GSF, TEST and WIdot among others, The Mittani seemingly had drafted part of his remarks ahead of time. With little to add, Montolio and Tomcat briefly spoke in succession.

The Mittani’s message was simple: (1) IT is falling apart, (2) IT is evacuating, (3) Molle’s speech was degrading to his own members, and… (4) we’re going RIGHT NOW to go take 6VDT and hold it for several days 23/7.

In contrast with the Molle Q & A, this was not a discussion, it was a call to action that dove-tailed with a major coalition-wide combat operation.

When Mittens stopped speaking, a guy named after an anime character from the (truly awful) “Gundam 00” series formed up a fleet to immediately capitalize on the emotion and begin the camp of 6VDT.

Gathering the membership, delivering a rousing speech founded on REVEALING information rather than concealing it, and then channeling momentum it into an active fleet – I have to admire the effectiveness.

Apparently the "Anime is Cartoons" Meme Ended With Kenzoku

As for Bring Stabity? He must be from Rho squad with a name like that. Or is that not the ADTRW-posting otaku brigade squad? I never could keep them straight.

Regardless, the 6VDT camp has been effective so far. Most people who were docked have jump cloned, and those logged at a POS were largely able to get out, but some remain trapped.

We have not mustered significant forces to retake the system and – though people are still staging assets in Fountain – unease is slowly creeping back in.

Molle delayed an imminent collapse, and wisely made an effort to turn the tide by summoning allies for an all-or-nothing push to defend Fountain. I am sure he senses that this is a potential tipping point in the war.

However, we have not seen many major battles, as the numbers are still not there to do anything. I cannot help but believe that if Molle could play regularly, and lead from the front as he has done many times in that past, that our participation would surge again.

In the meantime, 6VDT remains very red. Unless people log-in and x-up with large numbers, it is only a matter of time until we are facing a Delve war again.

At a leadership level, the focus is currently on having fun and getting participation to increase. If we lose, we’d like to lose with a few good fights per station system, not quietly.

Everyone in IT can afford to lose some BS, and non-super caps are trivial to replace after alliance reimbursement. What we need is people to step up.

I think that we might as well USE the giant IT war chest while we still have sov. This is the most common sentiment I hear.

The Mittani picked the right moment to dial-up the offensive in Fountain. With corps leaving, things could not possibly be worse from the perspective of alliance morale. If given a month to recover, we might have repelled the initial push into 6VDT.

I cannot help but feel that Molle’s absence has been the cause of many of our problems. It isn’t all about corps leaving, though that is a related issue in my eyes. Much like Atlas, without our dictator things go to pot, but for entirely different reasons.

In Atlas, without Bobby there was no one willing or able to handle leadership. In IT, there are actually too many people who want to be in charge. It’s the opposite problem, but the results are very similar. We are paralyzed by innaction.

To their credit, the CEOs and FCs recognize the problem. We are trying to run ops and have been told not to stand down even if we don’t think we will win, if for no other reason but to get people active.

We are hoping to have fun for the remainder of this campaign, and most of us are holding out some level of hope for a hard-fought and memorable defense. However, I would be lying if I said I felt we had any notable advantages to rely upon at this time, and many operations have simply not come together at all.

 

Character Portrait Update :: Easley 2.0

Posted in Anime, Eve History, User Interface on January 28, 2011 by Easley Thames

I will eventually publish my thoughts on the current situation in IT Alliance, as well as some comments about the major military implications attached to the current NC/DekCo coalition operation in 6VDT.

I am holding off for the moment, for a variety of reasons.

In the interim, I thought I would blog about something else that has been on my mind: character design.

As a whole, I’m rather pleased with CCP’s upgrade to portrait-creation. I’ve seen many creative designs, from disturbing to beautiful, and those who put in the time can create some really unique appearances.

I particularly enjoy the celebrity impersonators. Someone generated a spot-on Conan O’Brien, and more are being posted on a daily basis.

I have heard that ambulation will allow even more tweaking and customization, including accessories and tattoos. While I am not keen on paying with PLEXes for anything cosmetic, I look forward to seeing what bored empire-bears come up with while hiding in station during war-decs.

Let me give a shout out to Nibble Tek to thank them for their awesome comparison tool. You can view your old “before and after” using this link (add your character name to the end) — http://forum.nibbletek.co.uk/portrait_viewer.php?character=

Here is my own personal upgrade:

The new version looks quite a bit more like what I had in mind with the original Easley Thames.

Incidentally, I’ve never blogged about the topic of designing or  naming my own character. I’m going to take the opportunity to indulge myself since the topic is at least somewhat germane to the rest of this post.

When I started Eve, Easley Thames was literally the first character I made. I wanted to get over the naming process quickly, but I also wanted to avoid choosing something comical because I knew it would get tired eventually. For this reason I went with a firstname/lastname combination.

I decided to take the first name from a villain in the Claymore universe. This character’s name is probably better written in English as “Isley” upon reflection, but I went with the translation I had seen at that time.

Claymore is a monthly seinen manga in Japan that was given a badly-planned, but still surprisingly enjoyable, single season as an anime.

Though my character doesn’t look like the “silver haired king” of Claymore, the spirit of the character is more of what I wanted to pay homage to  in a pvp-oriented pilot. Much like the way I approach 0.0 politics, Isley/Easley of Claymore believes that strength should determine who rules and who dies.

Easley (of Claymore) in Human Form

Easley/Isley of Claymore is a character I would have loved to see get more development in the Manga, but long after I named my Eve character his namesake was defeated in a way that was almost universally unpopular with fans. Since this is not an Anime blog, I will not digress any further.

The “Thames” surname simply sounded appropriate at that time, and I have always like the idea of using real-life locations. The Thames river has a very storied history of warfare going back quite a ways.

In all honesty, my character design (especially after updating) looks more like Fan Hyulick from Tytania than Easley/Isley from Claymore, and I don’t live near the River Thames.

Admiral Fan Hyulick

So then, where’s the sense in this name?

I have always felt that gaming (as an activity in general) is more about playing a role in-game that is outside your every day life. So I find it only natural that ET should be different from myself.

After all, being yourself is free (and usually much less laggy) – so why pay for that?

Supercap Brawl in Z3 (again) :: This Time We Lost

Posted in IT Alliance, North versus South on January 23, 2011 by Easley Thames

The fighting in Z3 had just wrapped up at the time I started writing this. Having stayed up until 7 am to fight in this god-forsaken post-downtime war, I was  unable to finish my entry at that time.

Fortunately, this gave the boards enough time to pull from every corp’s API and ensured I now have a full account of kills and losses.

On a side note, IT’s kill-board may not instantly reflect losses right after they happen in-game, but they do get fed via director API from each corp so I really wonder why I see so many “IT NEVER POSTS LOSSES” local comments.

The reality is not everyone rushes to the board to post their own mails because they know they get pulled automatically. The same thing happens with kills (annoyingly) and I often have to wait to see a mail I’m on automatically get fed. But I digress…

This time things started out smoothly for IT with some sub-cap brawls where we appeared to pop more of them than they did of us.

Whenever we have reasonably close numbers in these major battles we opt to fight. If it’s hopeless it may not happen, or we may restrict the fighting to sub-caps only, but we would prefer to fight back and not sit on our hands whenever possible.

When the enemy bridged in capitals, we took the fight head-on and threw our own cap fleet (including supers) into the mix. Additional hostile caps cyno’d in on-grid moments later and warped down to join the fray.

The fighting dragged on for what seemed like a long time. Lag has a way of making everything seem tedious. Modules were reliable one moment and stuck the next.

I was in a light tackler this time and I buzzed around tackling ships outside the bubbles who looked like they were being shot, primarily carriers since dreads were in seige and supers are invulnerable.

I also locked up a couple targets of opportunity for me to engage solo but sadly my autocannons would not cycle on quality kills like this one:

The final result of this battle was not good for us, we ended up losing 2 titans and 2 super-carriers along with 24 non-super caps in exchange for 1 super carrier and 30 non-super capitals killed.

When we had all the hostile bubbles cleared we called for all supers to jump out. Some pilots had issues due to the patch’s change to capital navigation but we got the lion’s share of caps and super-caps off field successfully.

Losing 4 supers would not hit the corps who lost them very hard under normal conditions. The alliance heavily reimburses supers, and most corps have the means to help pilots replace supers. What is more disturbing is the impact on participation and morale this may have.

In this battle, two IT corps literally bought ONE PERSON. Two other corps brought NO SUPERS. It is not hard to see how we’ve been hamstrung by internal issues. Especially when you consider that the corp in charge of a key portion of Fountain bailed at the outset of this campaign when we were helping Initiative.

The alliance cannot exist for long if some corps are holding back when we go all-in. It’s as simple as that. Everyone who has good intel knows what this alliance is capable of deploying and we haven’t seen anything close in far too long.

Finally, as many have stated the reinforcement fleet from the “real NC” made the difference today. Dek Co is growing all the time with new allies from former providence holders, former-NC and everything in between.

Behind their well-motivated coalition that already feels like the war is a foregone conclusion is the “Real NC” that – while perhaps lazy – can bring serious firepower when needed.

Their last defeat showed them they needed broader NC help to ensure victory in a super-cap brawl, and this time it swung the other way. Looking at the titans who made it into the fight, you can see MM/RZR/ME made up 11 of 14 with Goons only fielding 3.

As for the tactical significance of Z3, the bridges to Delve don’t impact pilots deployed or with jump clones in 6VDT much at all. It may have an impact on the safety of logistics from Delve as well as “last minute” stragglers flying up for ops.

On a personal note – I wish I had whore’d onto some super kills! I didn’t get on the hostile Nyx (or any friendly super kills) because I was going after things that were not tackled. Also, my guns were stuck most of the time.

The Battle of Z3 :: A Limited Account

Posted in IT Alliance on January 18, 2011 by Easley Thames

Let me preface this report with a brief disclaimer. I was very tired during this OP (which started at 3 AM my time) and I had to leave early, as I was nodding off at the keyboard. I am by no-means claiming that this is a full report of the various engagements that occurred after down-time.

With that said, allow me to set the stage. Z3 is an important system for IT Alliance because it is the site of a jump bridge that helps us move between our staging system in 6VDT and Delve.

Forming up on the bridge titan in 6v in my Maelstrom, I waited for the green light to enter system. With “E” being towards the front of the alphabet, BS are always something of a coffin for me in large fights. Fortunately, IT Alliance has a very generous reimbursement program currently.

We had bridged-in our own two fleets right on the i-hub with caps, supers and BS positioned at various distances. Since our objective was to save this i-hub, they would have to come to us or we would simply use our carriers + SCs to rep the hub in a short order. Just as we started repairing the i-hub, hostiles entered system.

We had a quick skirmish at the i-hub itself with their sub-cap fleet. The hostiles could not match the firepower of our similar-sized BS fleet due to the fact that we had supers on-field.

The Hostiles escalated the fight by bridging in caps at their staging POS, which we had hit earlier in the evening in anticipation of this fight. We warped in our sub-cap fleet to the cyno first and capitals followed to their pos shortly after. I was one of the very first Maelstroms to be focused by hostile BS, and I died after literally only shooting at one enemy BS.

I was able to slip my pod away to reship quickly. After returning, I warped back in and started working on enemy BS. The fight was going very well for us by this point.

With superior numbers of super-caps on field the enemy retreated all their capitals into the shield. However, two super carriers were still not safe when the call came to primary an Aeon.

The GSF super-carrier dropped fairly quickly into half armor where he seemed to hover before diving into structure. Once in structure, he melted almost instantly.  My maelstrom was avenged, huzzah!

With nothing left outside shield to shoot, I went around to the hostile BS wrecks and collected a set of T2 artillery for my next Maelstrom. It was a little hard as many of them only had named guns, but I eventually gathered a full set of guns and a few thousand faction large ammo.

Suddenly, the hostile fleet made its move. They all warped to a gate and left system. We were informed of 100 hostile reinforcements nearby, and my presumption is that they decided to regroup.

The important victory in Z3 along with the Aeon kill put me in a rather good mood, especially since the pilot was making remarks like this a couple weeks ago:

With my eyes feeling heavier than the large rounds of republic fleet depleted uranium in my cargo hold, I bridged myself back to 6VDT and docked before falling asleep.  I suppose I might be guilty of quitting while I was ahead this time, but it felt pretty good to doze off.

What happened later that night? Anything I tell you about events beyond the time I left system will be second hand, so I suggest reading a more comprehensive battle report if interested.

Making IT Green (the killboard that is)

Posted in Roaming on January 17, 2011 by Easley Thames

I tip my hat to PK for leading another great roam yesterday. I also should give credit to Card, Kel’T, Curt and everyone else who helped engineer great fights (and more than a few juicy ganks).

I caught up with them a bit late, at the tail-end of a fight with a mixed DC/NC gang. Luckily that was only the beginning of a great night.

Recently there has been some (admittedly silly) competitiveness in IT alliance between dedicated bomber / cloaking camper FCs and the more roaming-centric FCs in -MVN- over who gets the most done in the U.S. timezone. The measure of who does the best job each day is how green the  kill-board looks during U.S. timezone operations.

Yesterday, the roamers ran-away with it:

During our travels we hit sov-related targets, anchored SBUs all over the place, and generally accomplished alliance goals WITHOUT forcing people to do an excessive amount of boring shit or die stupidly for no real purpose.

The highlight of tonight’s roam was the pair of NC carriers we killed in Fade. The Archon bounced off-station and was bumped so far that his friend in a thanatos had to burn out of dock range to rep him. The other 3 carriers were smart enough not to follow him.

On a personal note, Wayfarer Stellar Initiative members seem to be a bit over-the-top when it comes to local smack, and I will confess that I was happy these were their carriers that exploded in particular.

There were numerous kills in-transit home, and we got a couple legitimate fights, but most of the gangs we wanted to play with would safe-up after we popped their scout. A few more loads of SBUs went up in various systems and we called it a night.

One nice thing about Fountain these days is that there are often 3-4 hostile gangs roaming at the same time. There is no lack of hostiles to play with.

Apparently I Like Innovative Games

Posted in CCP, User Interface on January 9, 2011 by Easley Thames

Those who know me know I’m an MMO junkie. My love for online gaming goes back to the first 2-d online RPGs like Sierra’s “The Realm” and the far better-known Ultima Online. I had a small amount of experience in MUDs as well, but as a child of the Nintendo generation I found pure text to be boring and tedious.

The 2 MMOs I’m currently playing most actively (Eve and Vindictus) got voted #1 and #2 in the “most innovative” category of the 2010 www.mmorpg.com awards. I found this rather validating since I’ve spent quite a lot of time recruiting people into both of these worlds.

“When it came to looking at the game that made the most strides forward in 2010 in terms of pushing the envelope and doing something new, there was actually quite a bit to talk about. Surprisingly, each of these nominees included their changes via an expansion.”

The voting for Most Innovative MMO broke down as such:

EVE Online 32.7%

Vindictus 24.1%

World of Warcraft 18.8%

Global Agenda 13.2%

Pocket Legends 11.1%

What’s so innovative about each of these games?

Starting with the bottom, Pocket Legends, this is the only game on the list I have not played.

Next is Global Agenda, famous for the “No More Elves” videos (if you haven’t seen this – you really should click the link right now). They really created a workable and fun FPS / MMO hybrid. I think World of Tanks is somewhat similar in terms of being an action MMO, but it really doesn’t have the character development of Global Agenda.

Though I am not currently subscribed to WoW, I have to admit that the changes Blizzard has made to the game in the Wrath expansion were pretty immense and innovative as well.

Who could have imagined a duengon where the first boss fight involved riding motorcycles, catapults and steam-punk style bulldozer tanks. That’s quite a change from the days of Molten Core and Black Rock Depths. Ulduar was the most memorable raid in any MMO I have ever played. The duengon finder tool was also a game-changer for casual players and I have to imagine Eve’s “Fleet Finder” was directly inspired by this tool.

Vindictus uses a combat system reminiscent of God of War and combines that with a traditional MMO character development system. You gain skill points passively (Eve style) and through grinding (running missions, which are infinately repeatable and change based on certain conditions). There are also dozens of special “achievements” for each mission and ways to enhance the difficulty (hard mode and heroic mode).

Vindictus allows you to improve your character in lots of ways beyond merely leveling. For example, completing achievements gives you new titles and the titles you posses give you passive bonuses (whether or not you display them).

Vindictus is brilliant for one reason above all other. Instead of taking the standard MMORPG template and making one HUGE change to try to appear unique, there are 100+ SMALL innovations that collectively give it a feeling of being a true next-gen MMO. For example, the in-game friends monitoring system is far ahead of any other game out there.

Additionally, I have never played another game (including Eve) where a lvl 1 character can actively be useful in a battle along-side a max-lvl character like they can in Vindictus. High level characters get a “daily” bonus to 1 dungeon per “area” (there are currently 4 groups of dungeons, with each group containing around a dozen dungeons, and each group is connected to a different story-line).

Because there are 4 areas (separated by level) the highest lvl players are encouraged to join missions with low levels to help them out from time to time. In these missions the low-levels (if smart) can be used to keep the smaller monsters off the back of the high-level while they blitz through to bosses and clear the stage in record time.

Finally, Eve. There’s a sandbox you see… and uh… people form big alliances of alliances and kill each other’s spaceships and then post about it on forums.

Chronic Issues Persist — Major IT CTA Is A Failure

Posted in IT Alliance, North versus South on January 8, 2011 by Easley Thames

Today we had a major CTA scheduled that was originally posted by Molle. This is something that hasn’t happened in a while, and historically Molle’s participation inspires more people to log-in than FCs they are unfamiliar with. Many predicted that this could be a turning point in the rather bleak Fountain campaign.

Molle did not end up making an appearance today, at least not on any character I recognized from his rather large stable of alts. Regardless of Molle’s presence, fleets had been running since yesterday, and we had an unexpected Titan kill just after down time. All signs pointed to a big turn-out tonight.

When it came time to form-up, participation in U.S. timezone was decent, but not great. IT + allies mustered between 400 and 500 of the 1400+ in local. With 900 hostiles in system and more camping various nearby systems, we were once again at a decisive numerical disadvantage.

KB Link – http://www.killboard.it/?a=kill_related&kll_id=243124

Well we ended up fighting briefly before warping off-field to a shared pos where the password was given to Fountain allies (and therefore our enemies as well via spies).

The DC/NC fleet warped right in with us to try to bowl people out. The supers landed first then various hostile fleets started warping in. Some were inside trying to bump people out while others sat at range.

The hostiles were begging us to fight back, both in local chat and by coming to our armed POS. They even went so far as to leave a single titan sitting outside the shields while tanking all the guns in an attempt to encourage us to engage them.

We absconded with half of our sub-caps through one of the gates, and the others left in system retreated safely via titan bridge. Our staging system was briefly camped after this operation and SBUs were put online in various systems both both sides. Most notably, 6VDT was successfully SBU’d and station services were temporarily incapacitated.

Goons also deployed some SBUs in Delve, presumably to serve as a distraction from PNQY. The Delve SBUs were killed before coming online.

What Went Wrong Today?

We were plagued in 6VDT by some of the same issues that have contributed to our other defeats in this campaign.

There has been a great deal of discussion about our target-calling in particular, which many find to be slow and/or illogical. Others have continued to question the utility of our Apocs & Drakes versus alternatives like Scorpions for those who cannot bring an arty-Maelstrom, which is the weapon of choice for both sides in this war.

Above all, when you look at the alliances involved in this war, the numbers simply don’t work in our favor. To beat a larger foe you need superior morale or superior tactics. We have neither, and that is why we are losing this war.

The NC and “DC” coalition have many more people to draw from, and there are have been several new corps & alliances signing up help them in Fountain since this campaign began. Many of those new friends have plans to live here if it is conquered, so their motivation is rather strong.

As always, Goons and those similar to them (especially Test) do a much better job drawing in support from outsiders than BoB/IT, which doesn’t have much in the way of public relations or cultural propaganda these days. We don’t even release PvP videos anymore, and external forums posting by IT members is very limited because most corps have policies against it.