Archive for July, 2013

A month on the Tiles

I have to admit that this is going to be an interesting monthly update to write. This is because quite simply, I am having trouble remembering the first half of this month. Unfortunately this is not because of some alcohol induced coma, but instead because I have been so busy out of game, I just can’t remember that much of what I’ve been up to. P.s. a tip for anyone thinking of tiling a kitchen floor themselves: don’t.

 

That said I clearly have been playing games, with my raptor account scoring 140 hours played this month (an average of 5 hours per day). If I am honest through, that’s a dramatically inflated number, as I have been using my Tablet to run games in the background while I am at work; steam badge collection, for the use of. I think it’s fair enough to say that a good 20-40 hours of that time is this background running. Of that inflated 140 hours of games, I have managed to rack up 40 hours of eve, and 73 kills across all my accounts (working out at just under two kills an hour average).

 

I also had the great pleasure of a weeklong visit from fellow dirties members Arian Blade and a weekend visit from Lore Solo. We took the opportunity to run some awesome group roams thought faction warfare experimenting with some crazy fun frigate fits. We are going to try and expand these roams, and make them a regular feature. Who knows, maybe you’ll see some reports on here of what we get up to at some point.

 

In-between laying tiles, I have been enjoying a lot of Dust, especially working on the triple XP event over the last weekend. I’ve had a great time overall, but I am still severally disappointed by the low level of investment I’ve been able to make. I have also developed a distinct hatred of Death Taxies, to the point where by I just won’t talk about them in this update for fear of a fevered rant. Needless to say I find them… aggravating.

 

Back on the eve front, the Dirties group has also been experimenting with some new ways of working together to make money. So far things are looking positive, with us making a few Hundred Million for just a few hours’ work. To me its highlighted once again just how much eve makes us invest in our accounts and characters. Although this new plan is in its infant stages, eventually it is going to require some skill training before we can take it to the next level. I have always been one of life’s “planners”, and eve tickles that itch like nothing else. Spending time planning something which is going to take a few months, then walking it through the stages, to perfection… It’s a feel good factor for me. Mind you, you may have already gathered that from my Attribute optimisation post. Anyway, well see if we can talk about those plans at a later date, for now it’s all opsec and jazz.

 

Site wise I have also been doing some *fun* changes. If you visited over the last few days, you might have noticed that the site has been changing its clothes more than a Eurovision song Contest host. I wish it were for good reasons, but recently I have been un able to ignore the extremely slow load times (please tell me it’s not in my mind, and that readers are getting this as well). So far I think I have narrowed it down to just a few possibilities, and the site is currently running in “Cut down” mode, so that I can test my theories. Sadly being the main contributor to this site, and also being its sole administrator does mean that I sometimes have to pick between writing new content for you guys to read, and updating/optimising and generally administrating this site. Sadly that has resulted in a slowdown of posts in the last few weeks. We’ll just have to hope this is still just the initial overhead to get this site running on its own.

 

Anyway, I’m back to trying to get more fleets again, as I have been lacking in my destruction duties for the last couple of weeks. I doubt that ill manage that to any serious capacity until I have finished my work in the kitchen.

 

Fly with sore knees,

 

Hark

BB 47: A complex complex of Complex complexes

Is EVE too complex for one person to know everything? Is it, in fact, too complex for one person to know everything about one topic? How do you maintain any knowledge or skills related to EVE over time with breaks and expansions? Does CCP do a sufficient job documenting the features of the game, and if not, what could they do better? How does one determine where the gaps in their knowledge even are?

From <http://www.ninveah.com/2013/07/blog-banter-47.html>

A glimpse into my world as a programmer...

A glimpse into my world as a programmer…

One thing I have come to learn, working in IT, is that Complexity, is almost always on an “opt-in” basis. For example, the code behind an enterprise system is very complex. Looking deeper within that code, you will find that the developer has likely created resources, used through the project, which they exposes like an API, which are even more complex. But when I write a report on the system, for management, I don’t need to explain all of the complexity to them, they opt out of that, and get by just fine without it. And indeed for me, as say a programmer working on the outer functionality of the System, I don’t need to understand the inner depths of the API I am using, so I opt out of that as well. That doesn’t mean that I don’t know the complexity is there, merely that I understand enough to avoid any pitfalls which I might find, and that I know where to go should I need to gain further knowledge on the subject.

Eve, in many ways, apes real life in a quite amazing fashion and complexity is just one example of how it does this. I believe that eve is, very complex, indeed as the BB question hints, it is too complex to know everything. Much like the management in my example before, if an everyday eve player spent their time trying to understand every minute detail of the system, they wouldn’t have any time left to make decisions based on that information. That’s why in both real life, and eve, we have specialists.

Eve is an immensely complex simulation not entirely dissimilar to Deep thought’s super computer “Earth”. Comprised of complex circuitry invisible to the naked eye, with information passing around it contained in packets which have free will. It would be impossible to comprehend everything, and anyone trying would be a fool.

So how do, or should, we keep up to date with the vital information which we need to live our everyday lives in new Eden? The answer is simple, we require several interfaces with the system each of which will trawl select aspects of the system, and pull important data from the muck. The interface will then need to process that rough nugget of information; trimming it and distilling it into a hard pure diamond of information, which it then presents to you, to instantly digest to gain the core of needed information. You need enough of these interfaces to bring you enough data nuggets to survive. What are these interfaces called? Well collectively, it’s a “community” individually, you might call some “friends” others “Blogs” and still more “Forum Posts”.

Eve is too complex to understand, but as humans we have developed a wonderful capacity to knowledge transfer. This is why, to me, you cannot play eve effectively without engaging with the community. Players who try to play eve without the community are attempting to learn everything for themselves, and as a result they are doomed to failure. Eve is complex, and that’s why it is so important that we engage in the community, to use the interfaces to learn quicker than we would as an individual.

Dunning-KrugerThis is not infallible however, as we are often exposed to micro versions of an aspect of the Dunning-Kruger effect. The issue is that the incompetent, by definition cannot comprehend their incompetency, because they lack the knowledge to define what is competent and what is not. Put simply we as humans cannot see where we lack skill, because we lack skill to recognise it. This is also why, as Jester rightly points out, we are all hanging over precipices, we can’t even see, hoping that someone else will fall down first so we might define our own ignorance. Does this mean eve is too complex? Does this mean that CCP don’t document enough, or should make eve simpler?

Categorically, I say no. I believe that such a mirror to real life is part of the wonder and excitement we experience by playing it. Yes once every so often you are going to be the person who falls down an invisible hole so everyone else learns, but we all have to learn to pick ourselves up and keep going. Furthermore we can all mitigate the likely hood of being the “Fall guy” in two ways: (to continue using the falling analogy), we are all like a person walking through an infinitely massive room, in pitch black with holes in the floor. By expanding our group, walking with more people through the darkness we are statistically less likely to be the person taking the fall. Furthermore, we can help the people closest to us to recover when they do take a fall for the group, and indeed in return we will hopefully receive that help when we take a fall for them.

In summary, yes eve is complex, no you can understand everything. No CCP shouldn’t “fix” this because it is this very factor which make the eve community so important to every player. It’s that emphasis on communication, and collective learning which enriches our community and nurtures a deep sense of camaraderie, the only thing which can offset the cold dark nature of the game we play.

Fly incompetently and proud,

hark

eveblogs: The hero we need or the hero we deserve?

Yesterday (02/07/2013) eveblogs.net opened its doors to the community as the new hub for eve blogs.  Eveblogs is a blogging platform similar to what evepress used to be, allowing users to host blogs and blog feeds all under one roof.

 

I think it’s a great idea to create a centralised feed of blogs (ala evebloggers) I also think it’s a good idea to create community features for that nexus such as forums, groups and categories . All of these are brilliant ways to strengthen a community, and encourage cross group discussions. Brilliant, I hope it goes well.

 

However, one sure way to not help a community to come together, is to divide it from the start. Eveblogs, has decided to make a clear and precise divide between “internal” and “external” blogs. Internal blogs being ones created as a subdomain of eveblogs.net, and external being sites like this, which can feed their content through eveblogs.net such as www.eveblogs.net/tours/. I believe that Alexia has pure intentions building this service, but I feel the effort might end up hurting those it sets out to help (more on this in the next paragraph). You can’t work to bring a community together by slapping “insider” and “outsider” labels on people and treating them differently. It is true that Alexia (the sites owner) has posted on the internal forums that this subdivision will be removed and I truly hope it happens.

 

There is also the small matter of the disadvantage to the bloggers themselves. Writing and maintaining a blog is hard work. Thankfully CCP is one of the few companies who recognises this and, reward bloggers us with an excellent fansite program. My gut feeling is that sub sites to eveblogs will not be eligible to become fan sites, much in the same way that off the three writers here, only I receive the fansite bonus (don’t worry I reimburse my heroic writing friends). This is going to come across as a direct attack on eveblogs (which it is not intended as), but anyone who registers to blog with them, as opposed to another free service such as blogger, or wordpress is a fool, who will likely loss out on all the rewards of being an eve fansite. I will retract that statement as soon as I see evidence that CCP will treat each sub blog of eveblogs as its own fansite. I doubt this will ever be the case because www.eveblogs.net/tours is just as different from www.eveblogs.net/extrv as www.extra-vehicular.com/author/Harkconnan and www.extra-vehicular.com/author/arian-blade.

 

 

Despite these harsh words, I still support Alexia in the effort, I love the idea of a Reddit style “Hot Post” list (where popular posts rise to the top of the list). I love the idea of a blog community nexus where people can comment and contribute in a central location. I really hope that this effort takes this somewhat rough launch review on the nose, and rises from the ashes into a new pillar of our community. I do however feel that Alexia might be a little misguided: we don’t need someone to create a community, we already have one, a very strong one in fact. What we could use is someone who is willing to expend effort to enhance that community, and to give it tools to get even strong. Eveblogs could just be that tool.

Attribute Optimisation

neuralRemap

I am ashamed to admit that I have never really put much effort into my skill queue before. I still put more effort into it than most of the Dirties group (generally I have a month’s skill queue racked up in eveMon), but still the dark arts of Attribute Optimising has always scared me off.

For readers who are unaware of this particular practice. Let me summarise: All skills have primary and secondary attributes. Your characters level in each of these attributes directly effects how fast you gain skill points in them. For example a character with base attributes (17 across the board) will train Battleship V in 39 days and 3 hours. Where a character remapped to 27 Perception (primary) and 24 Willpower (secondary) will train it on 27 days 21 hours.  Quite a difference, and that’s only within a month. Once per year CCP allows players to remap their skill points to new values. So here is how it works: You commit to training only skills which have the same Primary and Secondary attributes, once the year is up, you can remap to another set of attributes, and train only their skills. Doing this a capsular Doing this a player can save hundreds of days training per year. That’s a lot.

Before you all go running off to eve mon to set a 365 day skill queue, you need to understand the downsides to this practice. Eve skills tend to come in miss matched. For example as a new player I could optimise my skill points to Perc/Will for a solid year to train T1 Ships, Gunnery and Missiles. However in order to get the maximum out of my training, I would have to avoid training Drones, Shields, Armour and Fitting skills until I could remap to a new configuration. All in all it would take 3-4 Remaps (or years) before you had a character balanced in all the key skill areas. In the long run, this is quicker, but in the short term it means you’re going to be shit at flying and fitting ships until years down the line.

Attribute optimisation is also very inflexible. For a Nullsec pilot such as myself following FOTM is a must. If you can’t fly ships complimentary to the Doctrine, you shouldn’t be flying at all. This means that if you are missing skills that a fleet fitting requires, you have to quickly flip push your skill queue aside in order to fit in with the new ship of the month.

All in all, my opinion has been that attribute optimisation is another good example of Malcanis’s Law. So why am I suddenly looking at using it? Well the fact of the matter is that I am one of the “Older players” mentioned in Malcanis’s Law, and in just 80 days I will be “Un nerfable”. With my current skill queue in 80 days I will be able to fly every T1 ship in the game (saving mining ships, including capitals), every T2 ship in the game (again excluding Mining ships, Command ships and T2 industrials) and use 90% of their modules to T2. I believe that this means that no matter what becomes the Flavour of the month in the next 12 months, I will be ready to fly it without changing my skill queue. It’s a bold claim, and one which could be foiled by a few things; New ships/Modues, exhumer fleets, Command Ship fleets etc. But that’s a gamble I feel is worth taking.

This new found inflexibility coupled with the bare fact that I am running out of non Lvl V skills to train means that attribute optimisation has suddenly become a very attractive prospect. So for the next 80 days I am training for the last few modules and ships, before I start training and optimised skill queue. For other older players, looking at perhaps doing this as well, or newer player who are think they might benefit from doing similar, I will loosely go over how I have planned mine.

First of all eveMon is a must for this exercise. It has a wonderful set of tools precisely for the purpose of optimising you skill queue. Not least of which is the ability to filter skills by their attributes. For reference here are the different remap sets:

All the Skills

P.s. I did this on purpose to make you think you had a hair on your screen…

PercWill – Gunnery, Missiles, T1 & T3 ship command, Offensive and Propulsion T3 Subsystems

CharInt – Planet Management (command centre upgrades & Planetary consolidation), Social Skills

CharMem – Trade Skills

CharWill – Leadership Skills, Jump clones, Contract skills

IntMem – Electronics, Engineering, Mechanics, Planetology, Science, T3 Subsystems (defence, Electronic & Engineering)

IntPer – Navigation

MemChar – Corporation Management, Research Project Management

MemInt – Industry

MemPerc – Drones

PercMem – Weapon Upgrades (though not advanced)

WillChar – Trade Skills

WillInt – Doomsday Devices

WillPerc – T2 Ship command

Now for me, as a combat pilot, the key areas which I want to improve first are; Tank, Spank (gunnery, missiles and Drones), Ship skills and navigation. Now Drones and Navigation don’t have a full years’ worth of training in them for me (200d and 78d respectively) I also have them trained to a level with which I am pretty happy. That leaves Tank (IntMem) and Gunnery, ships and Missiles (PercWill). Armed with this, I created a skill plan which gave me my un-nerfable status, then remapped to IntMem for perfect tanking and some Electronic warfare skills. Once this is completed (400 days), I will be planning out another years’ worth of skills, likely using Perc/Will to perfect Gunnery and Missiles. The result of all this? With a balance remap (23 in all except Charisma at 19) and +3 implants this queue takes 592 days, Optimised it takes 509 days. Giving me three months of additional training for a year and a half of skill queue.

Do I lament not doing this before? Not really, until recently the nature of my game has mean that I needed the flexibility of a balanced attribute mapping. I always tried to take a years’ worth of training and optimise my attributes to that particular mix (which means I’ve never had much Charisma, no surprise there). But now my skill plans are featuring more and level V skills it really does seem like it’s worth it.

Fly optimal,

Hark

I’m not dead yet…

Today I just wanted to put a quick post up to explain the silence around here for the last few weeks. I will expound on reasons and results properly in my monthly update, but basically I decided to kick off a few big projects this month (including a LOT of back-end work for the site). As a result I have been working on some really big pieces, which are consuming all of my non-working, non-playing time, leaving no space for small or medium sized pieces.

 

Realising my mistake, I have placed one of the big projects on hold and should be completing the other in the next few days. Expect the content to return to normal levels soon!

 

Fly like a project manager,

 

Hark