Archive for October, 2013

Pumpkins

October 31st, 2013
Out of Game

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My entry into this years Battleclinic Pumpkin Competition:

along side my Fiancee’s one (which is better imo)

Tablet eve 4G eddition (9 Months on)

Nine months ago I received my Windows 8 tablet (Acer Iconia W700) and immediately installed eve on it to test if I would be able to play. The result was my review of how eve played on a tablet and furthermore if it was a viable platform for playing games like eve “mobile”. The conclusion I came to then was that the tablet did successfully run eve, but that the touch interface was both aesthetically and technically challenging to use. Now that I have had the tablet for 9 months, I’ve decided to give an update on this, and discuss the honest usage I have gotten out of the tablet, and if my opinions on it for gaming (and eve in particular) have changed.

Let’s start with the broader stroke of windows gaming and the touch interface. A lot of games quite simply are not designed to be used with a tablet. Almost all of the games I own on steam either don’t work with a touch interface (requiring two pokes to click, similar to eve), or require more than just a left mouse Button to play. Some, such as Civilisation V and don’t starve work just fine out of the box, others are tolerable such as Revenge of the Titans or The Walking dead. Some require a keyboard and mouse such as Kerbal space program. Because of this I have purchased a Microsoft Wedge Keyboard and Arc Touch mouse (IMO the best travel kit on the market at the moment, despite the mouse taking up my one USB slot)

[Edit: during the process of editing this document the small USB dongle which connects to the Arc Mouse received a bump and has subsequently stopped working. This is a great pity as apart from the silly Wifi dongle the mouse is pretty much a perfect travel mouse. However because it used up an entire USB port, and now its discovered weakness (destruction of a 50p dongle ruins an otherwise working £50 mouse), I can’t say that I will be purchasing a second one).]

With these connected the tablet works just like a laptop would, but with more flexibility for where you place your K/M on the crowded commuter trains mine sees its most usage on. In the near future there is some software coming out which looks set to change this: Gameplay Gesture Works, but we shall reserve judgement on that for when its released.

This said, I rarely play steam games on the move these days, preferring to peruse my extensive list of RSS feeds on the go using NextGen Reader. This is where the windows tablets flexibility kicks in, on the train I tend to use it much like an android tablet, reading articles, perusing reddit, or playing the odd game from the Windows Store. But when it arrives at work the workout begins. Firstly I have several OneNote folders set up for various needs in the business, along with a good handful of Spreadsheets and Word documents. In customer requirements meetings, I can hook into the intranet and demo functionality, or remote onto my virtual development box and make minor changes to my code. When lunch time rolls around, I fire up eve and pop online to update my buy and sell orders, as well as organise my PI structure. Because the corporate network blocks eve, this is done over a Galaxy S4 configured as a portable 4G hotspot, it takes seconds to turn on and off, and the speed is plenty fast enough for eve, and I’m yet to have any connection issues.

Once my eve time is finished I boot up steam and spend a 20 mins or so in my current lunch hour game. This ranges from things like System Shock 2, through Mirrors edge all the way up into Skyrim. Lunchtime over its back to the grind, until I get home. There the tablet is hooked up as a 5th screen for the computer using Synergy. Here it gets used for stats tracking, or as a map for my roams in Faction warfare (using Dotlan’s Radar function).

For any one especially interested in playing eve over a 3/4G connections I can tell you that it uses far less data then you might expect. I found that is uses around 0.3mb per minute of light play (defined as flying about in a hauler, updating the market and doing PI, all in a relatively quiet system). I’m not sure I would want to attend fleets on it, or do anything of high-risk, but that is more my healthy paranoia of allowing technology to factor into the risk reward ratio of eve than any instability record. If there were a move op say when I was out of the house, I would certainly consider moving using the tablet.

So is it perfect? Simple answer is no. For a start I would like to see a tablet with a proper graphics card in it. Also if I were buying again right now, I would want a tablet with a Wacom Bamboo pen as an input option (taking notes at work would be quicker). Furthermore I am very surprised that very few tablets have a built in 3/4G modem which I could slot my sim into for mobile internet, but this is something I hope will be fixed with the next generation.

Despite these minor issues, I am still immensely pleased with this tablet, and it gets a great amount of use every day.

Fly a spaceship, in a plane,

Hark

Monthly Update

Well it’s time again that I bemoan the lack of playing I’ve had in eve, and to be honestly I’m not inclined to disappoint on that front. Things are on the Up though, and the end of this particularly busy period is well within site (next update could be a very different kettle of fish, all things working out, which they won’t).

 

This month I managed a moderately healthy 57 hours of gaming of which sadly only around 7 were spent in eve. Most of these hours have been snippets of time grabbed here and there in between jobs and other responsibilities. When I have been able to grab some quality eve time, it’s never aligned with fleets. Thankfully I think this is already starting to change.

 

Firstly as I mentioned above the new few weeks is the final run in what has been an unusually busy year, the next few weeks see me having 1 day weekends (a positive improvement) followed by one last fully booked out weekend, and then the calendar is free (for the moment). There is no kidding that more things will get put in there (visiting wedding venues is the current favourite time filler), but I am hoping to return to my old standard of one week booked, one week free. Secondly  Goons appear to have moved in next door, and hopefully that many warm bodies next door should induce a far higher volume of fights than what I have been seeing so far.

 

I have also been suffering from somewhat of a lack of direction for my two alt accounts. One, a 70m SP PvE/FW account was lacking a new direction. However I have decided to give exploration another shot (now the rush has subsided), and so suddenly there is a fair few easily identifiable holes in the alts training. That should both stop the random training I have been doing previously as well as (hopefully) massively increase my play time (and Isk, if I’m lucky).

 

The Indy alt, which is a paltry 2m SP, has been suffering from my lack of time investment. I enjoyed the short bit of industry I did on it, but this month the little time I had has been invested in actually playing, rather than calculating if mineral prices are worth it (I refuse to mine). Thanks to a couple of stupid mistakes, and the fact she is now leveraged for PI as well currently that account is running on an ISK deficit of around 40m (so much for a money making account). I believe I could have reversed this however if I had the playtime, again this is something I intend to fix asap. She is also rapidly heading towards invention skill so that I can open another avenue for revenue on that account (if I get the time).

 

The main is still ticking along nicely on my “un-nerfable” skill plan, and combat ship wise, the only ones I cannot fly are Command ships Titans, two Dreads, one carrier and the legion. I cant use T2 Tracking disruptors or SEBOs other than that it’s all green ticks. Oh and I still haven’t trained Infomorph Synconising, but it’s still very much part of the plan.

 

Isk wise my redoubled efforts to make money seem to be paying off with my liquid and trading assets totalling to only 100m off my previous all-time record. That effort has given me an 8% increase in wealth this month (although 1bn of that was a Charon I found down the back of eves equivalent of the sofa, ignoring that luck it would have been about a 3% increase).Now I just have to fight the urge to relax and stop making money, especially as I have the arduous task for releasing several hundred assets purchased as a long term investment, which are scattered across the region. Still seeing as that is looking like a good solid 3-400% increase in value, I think I can manage the effort.

 

All in all I am still complaining, but things are looking on the up!

 

Fly when you can,

 

Hark

 

 

Intent and the letter

This post is a bit of a ramble and quite a long way out of current Flame of the Month topics. I’m not a huge fan of jumping directly into hot topics which are generating flames. I prefer to wait until the embers die down because only then can you see the heart of the issue. I believe that this leads to a better view of the heart of the issue, certainly in the long term.

 

Back when I used to Dungeon Master for a Tiny and short lived D&D group the concept of “The Intent and the Letter” was very important to me. You see, like every D&D group we had “that guy”. That guy was always trying to subvert his way around the campaign rules, to bend everything to his advantage, he strictly followed the letter of the law, but blindly ignored its intent.

 

At Fanfest 2013 Myself Arian and Lore played the Conquests board game. During the game, myself and Arian got caught up in a cold war of troop escalation on a massive scale. As a result of our border posturing, Lore began to run away with the game. To try and counteract this myself and Arian forged a temporary Alliance. The terms were simple: We agreed not to directly attack each other, and that no further troops would be placed into any system which bordered the others territory. During the following few years of the game, myself and Arian began steamrolling through Lore’s territories attempting to stop him from finding the last piece needed for victory (we ultimately failed in this). However during the process I, without thinking, placed a large number of troops in a region; with the intent of attacking the bordering region belonging to Lore. Strictly I had broken the terms of my Alliance with Arian, as the region also bordered one of his. Lore noticed this breach and pointed it out. However Arian, clearly seeing my intent elected to excuse this breach of contract and the Treaties held strong. I had broken the letter of the law, but the not the Intent.

 

These are simple small scale examples of how the Intent and the Letter differ from each other in terms of Rules and regulations. They are clear and concise in a way that large scale real world examples are not. Suppose during that game we had been, instead of people, a committee. Suppose that the game actually took a few years to play, and that during that time old members of the comities left the game, and new ones joined. Would I still have been excused my breach?

 

At this stage I am sure you have realised that this post is about the TOS changes made to eve a little while back. I don’t necessarily have any issues with the actions of CCP during this minor controversy, but I do have issue with a continuing pattern concerning the rules of this game. CCP seems to have been writing the rule of the law, but telling us that we should not worry about breaking it so long as we follow its intent. A prime example of this is the “cache scraping” rules. “Technically”,  CCP says “Cache scraping is against the TOS. But don’t worry we won’t do anything unless you do something really bad”. To me this is a terrible way to write rules. How can we the players define what really bad is? Clearly botting is on that list, clearly (for now) eve central is not. But the line in the middle is as clear a mud. Indeed I doubt that even CCP knows where that line lies, until some unfortunate player crosses it. Furthermore, how do we know that in five years’ time CCP won’t be under the steer of different people, who suddenly will hand out ban to previously “innocent” users of cache scraping, pointing at the rules and saying “we made it clear from the start!”?

 

“You see that apple?” says god “The rules of this garden are that you do not eat that apple. But actually if you eat it for a good reasons, that’s ok. I mean, if you run out of food or something, you can totally eat that apple (as long as you do it in a good way), and I probably won’t do anything, although I might change my mind at some point on this one…”

 

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think this is some kind of conspiracy to subvert eve into a soft play venue, if CCP wanted to do that, they wouldn’t need to be subtle about it. Let us not forget that letter or Intent notwithstanding, CCP has the same power over eve that a dictator holds over their citizens. The law is laid down to help the people know down which path survival lays, but if the man with the moustache decides you’re for the chop, no rule book will save you.

 

My worry is that CCP is accidentally laying a path that will in the future lead to hell: funnily enough I believe that CCPs use of intent rather than letter is pure (or atleast innocent). I suspect that they simply don’t know any better way to deal with “grey” activities in the game, and so have elected to use intent as a way to govern on a case by case basis. Intent however is not solid enough to stand the tides of time. So my issue stands on two fronts: firstly that verbal contracts are not worth the paper they are written on (yes CCP has assured us in writing on the forums, but you have to wonder why they haven’t just what’s on the forums in the TOS? Legal wording not withstanding). Because the assurance is unofficial, and not in a clear format, it will lose value over time.

 

Secondly, I believe that the TOS, just as with real law, should give the people it controls a clear definition of right and wrong. It should be designed to deal with 99% of cases, and then intent should be used to govern the 1% which fall in the grey area. This way everyone knows where they stand. Unfortunately, the cache scraping change (and shortly I suspect the impersonation changes) govern 80-90% by the intent, and 10-20% by the letter. If tomorrow I were to come up with an ingenious method of using Cache scraping to make Trillions of ISK, without automating my play, where would that fall? Ask 10 players and get 10 answers, ask 10 GMs and get 10 answers. The dice rolls.

 

Fly like a space lawyer

 

Hark