Archive for the ‘Blog Banter’ Category

Blog Banter #54: Polarizing Express

Today’s topic comes Diaries of a Space Noob blog and other sources:
Quick post. I was listening to a song and a question occurred to me. Where are the EVE heroes? Against a dark background surely all we have are anti-heroes? A lot of mockery is aimed at any who attempt to be white knights. EVE is a dark place and yet pretty much all other MMO’s try to place the player in the role of some form of hero, boosting the ego and taking the player out of the humdrum 1 in 7 billion that is RL. Why have I fitted into EVE? Did I never want to be that? So I guess my question is:
 
Do classic heroes exist in EVE? Is such heroism even possible in EVE? How would you go about being one without opening yourself wide open to scams? Is the nature of the game so dark that heroes can’t exist? How do you deal with that irony? What effect does this have on us and the psyche of new players coming in from other MMOs? Is it something special that we don’t have classic heroes, or should we? Are our non classic heroes more genuine?
And I would add to this, who have we elevated to the level of larger than life heroes ourselves in the game, and do they actually deserve it?
From The Inner Sanctum of the Ninveah

Eve is Real. It’s the marketing statement (which seems to have waned a little of late) which CCP uses to tagline eve and, by comparison, CCP does have a fair point, eve apes real life far better than, say, Guild Wars II: People interact, they touch each other’s in game life and affect others as they pass. A characters progression in Eve is the result of millions of factors defined by the game, and its players, developing a unique individual story unlike any that have come before it. I believe that this is why we don’t have any of what classic video games describe as “Heroes”, real life has none either. Games such as Guild Wars and World of Warcraft tell us that the Hero is an individual who through some means or another ends up making choices and performing actions which are clearly for the greater good (The Greater Good). They can see the bigger picture and they act as they see fit to help their cause. Yet in eve, as in real life, it is never so clear cut as to what is good and what is bad. Often things which seem good now, a few months down the line can turn out to be detrimental to the greater good (The Greater Good). If you can find a person who can tell me what the greater good (The Greater Good) is, even just within eve, I will find a person who has blinkered their perception to a limited scope. I think that the same is true for real life as well.

But let’s expound the in game side of that further; Games like Guild Wars II and Warcraft, tell us a story, they show us our Character and carefully craft a story around them showing how they progress from nobody, to (what a Video Game considers a Hero. Eve on the other hand gives us a character, and asks “what is your story?”. Because of this lack of control we cannot be engineered to be Heroes which other games prescribe us, we have to make our own choices, and some will always be wrong. In Guild Wars, there is no wrong decision, things will always turn out all right, and our character (short of not playing) will always become the Hero (or at worst, the Anti-Hero). In eve we have no such omnipotence (Ironic for the “God like” capsular), and so we can never be the classic “Video Game Hero”, because they cannot exist in a world of free choice.

“But Hark”, I hear you cry,” there are Hero’s in real life, what about people like Mother Teresa? Or Gandhi? Or even War Heroes such as Thomas Lawrence? Or how about Local Heroes like Firemen and the Police!?”. And you’re right, these examples, and millions more, are Real life Heroes, nothing like their Video Game and Movie counter parts (except perhaps Lawrence, but I’ll get to that in a bit), and eve has better analogues to them, than it does to other games definitions of Heroes. Of course pacifist Heroes, Rights Heroes and Caring Heroes struggle to survive in a universe of equal, immortal war mongers, but you could draw parallels to people such as Sindel Pellion (The Angel Project), Grevlon Goblin (who is no hero to me, but again more on that in a moment), and others. You can also look to Logistics pilots (of both kinds), for the nearest equivalent of Local Heroes. But again, this is where we get to the issue of perception, which is an issue in real-life just as it is in eve.

You and me might look at someone like Arthur Harris (a.k.a Bomber Harris) and declare them a Hero. A man making tough decisions to fight the Nazi movement. Commissioning raids to defend the United Kingdom, and crucial to the War effort. Yet that perception of “Hero” comes from our own personal beliefs, feelings and social alignment. For example, I feel that Extremists (in any form) are wrong, and in a situation like World War II where Extremists attempt to subjugate they must be opposed. Therefore to me, people who stand up and fight them, are heroes. Yet if I were an extremist, say a White Supremacist, or indeed a Nazi, I would consider someone fighting against whatever my movement was, as an enemy, and not a hero.

Now most people in the free world are governed by social acceptance, and we are brought up to think in a certain way; so 99% of people would answer like I do with conviction that the Nazis were wrong, and that the Allied Forces of WWII (and their supporters back home) were heroes. But in eve, no such mass social governance is in place. If your character “Grew up” in High Sec, you might have been taught that Goonswarm are evil and should be eradicated (I will use Goonswarm a lot in this as they are a very polarising group). On the other hand if you “Grew up” within Goonswarm, reaping its generosity to newbie members you would consider them just and right.

Because within eve there is no base level of social moral code, our personal convictions are whimsy, and can be easily influenced by the current political situation and personal circumstance. A Test pilot not so long ago, would have preached praise for brother Goon, where now they would likely speak of betrayal and revenge. Because “Good” and “Evil” are dependent on where you stand, likewise, “Hero” and “War Criminal” are also based on perspective. My Heroes, are my enemies scoundrels and targets, and his mine.

Here come’s my second issue with the label of “Hero” in eve, I chose Bomber Harris as my real world example of a polarising Hero, not only because he would be considered bad from the Nazis point of view, but also because you could debate his actions from other point of view. Harris, was a proponent of “Area bombing” over “Precision bombing”, despite its higher civilian “collateral damage”. He was also a large part of the planning and execution of the Dresden Bombing, which killed more than 22,000 people, mostly civillians. Now I have my personal views on this, as every person has a right to, but the fact is that because of things like this, Bomber Harris, and many Heroes like him, have debatable status as Heroes. In eve, within the lore of the game, we as capsular are an aloof elite, killing millions, cold and uncaring of the stricken poverty and squalor bellow us, surely more than any real life analogy, no matter what we do, our characters status as “Heroes” is always going to be debatable.

So let us summarise (and welcome to all who skipped the wall of text). “Video Game Heroes” don’t exist in eve, because there is no guiding narrative to build them. Video Game Heroes, don’t exists in real life because they require the omnipotence of a predefined narrative to create them and, as with real life in eve, we define the Narrative. Because of this eve is more like Real life where Heroes are a matter of perspective, and eve’s lack of moral guidance makes perspective a far more variable thing than in real life. Furthermore because of the limitations of a Video game, the sacrifice required to become a “Real life” hero, is hard to make. Even more limiting is the fact that the game lore dictates that our characters are all, by definition, at least a shade of Evil, meaning again as an amplified effect of real life, all our Heroes morals can be called into question.

Fly bombers,

Hark

BB49: As Croesus

Welcome to the continuing monthly EVE Blog Banters and our 49th edition! For more details about what the blog banters are visit the Blog Banter page.

* * * * *

This month’s topic comes from a few sources and focuses on that most important of measurements of an EVE Online Pilot: how much money do you have?

What is “rich” in EVE? Is it simply having more ISK than most everyone else, is it measured in raw numbers of some other ethereal quality? Can you actually be poor? Have you ever lost nearly everything and had to claw your way back? If you are rich, how do you know and how did you get rich?

 

From<http://www.ninveah.com/2013/09/blog-banter-49-rich.html>

 

I think Jester really nailed it when he writes about Rich begin a perspective thing, but at the same time, (he would approve of double think I am sure) I also believe that you can laydown Class boundaries in eve, just as you can (if you are so inclined) in real life. As I mentioned in my last update post, by the class boundary set which I like the most, I am somewhere around the upper ranks of space middle class. The personal perspective of your wealth is just as applicable as the grand-scheme-of-things scale. I can be middle class in the grand scheme of things, Rich from my personal perspective, and poor from the view of my Alliance all at once. Aren’t I clever? But the most important scale of wealth is your own perspective so let me explain what “Rich” is to me.

 

Apart from anything else, rich, is unfortunately an equilibrium I can’t seem to break out off. The more ISK I have the less I want to put effort into making money, and the more likely I am to buy flashy ships (see my monthly updates for details). The less money I have, the more inclined I am to play my trader I am, and the less likely I am to spend lots of ISK. As a result I bounce around the same money range like a rubber ball in the ISS.

 

But is that so bad? I don’t need to be (grand-scheme) space rich to feel like I have achieved something in eve, I don’t need 1 trillion Isk to win the game. My rule of thumb is that I would like to have enough money to re-purchase all the important ships that I own, and still have enough left over to restart my trader. That breaks down something like this:

 

1 Carrier (3bn)

1 Black Ops BS (1.6bn)

1 T3 (1bn)

1 Napoc (0.7bn)

1 Hic (0.3bn)

1 Freighter (1.1bn)

Assorted T1&T2 Ships (1bn)

Trader starting Cash (5bn)

Total: 13bn

 

Add a bit of a safety margin to this and you have the region at which my wallet tends to hover. I will often make a concerted effort to break above this level (right now for example I have a 50bn target set, but in all honestly I doubt I will ever reach it). The issue is that making “enough to get by” is about as much effort as I am willing to expend on the ISK making side of things, pushing higher is almost always a short term phase soon corrected by lethargy or a big purchase. But that’s fine with me, I’ve still got enough to cover my spending and cope with dire emergencies.

 

Over the years in eve I have made my cash through a lot of different avenues. Mission running being my starting profession. From there I went to null and tried some Complexes. About the same time I met a very successful station trader who helped me start my trader, who has since been the backbone of my funding. That’s not to say it’s been my only source of cash, the trick in eve is to diversify. In my career I have tried wormholes, Incursions, exploration, Faction Warfare, hauling, manufacturing (that’s recent), services (selling bookmarks) and even made a little money out of administrative roles. Through all of this, I would consider myself rich, certainly in the last few years of playing, I have never been limited in what PvP ships I buy because of a lack of cash.

 

But what about the flip side? Space Poor. In relative terms; I would class “poor” as the point when you are limited in what you can do (that you want to do) by your wealth. For example, if I were suddenly to develop a need/want to get into a Titan, I would be poor (my means do not cover my goals). Furthermore if a newbro was aiming to upgrade to a cruiser with 50m in their wallet, they are doing fine, if however they are aiming to get a Battleship, their poor.

 

In my early days I clawed my way out of “poor” several times, both through silly mistakes (it’s good to learn the golden rule when your still in frigates), and because my aims shifted faster than my wallet did. I was lucky in that I had a close group of friends to help me out when I made mistakes (the very same Dirties you know and love today), so the depths of despair always had a light at the end of the tunnel. But all the same I can remember the days when I lost a stream of frigates to hard missions, and had to go back to my Ibis to claw back enough cash to start again.

 

I can also vividly remember coming back to the game in a war deck and losing my (accidentally) poorly-pvp fitted rokh (p.s. to understand the true fail of that fitting, you have to know that I thought it was a PvE fitting) to Guiding Hand Social Club. As at the time I was attempting to break into Nullsec, and was only intending to fly frigates (Indeed I think I was on the way to Jita to sell the Rokh to fund a stack of Kestrels) the loss, despite being about 70% of my net worth didn’t make me poor.

 

So to summarise, there are three scales of wealth; Your opinion of yours, Others opinion of yours, and the scale of the grand scheme of things (which is still based on opinion). But I feel that Isk is too often used as a scoreboard to players, null, low and high pilots alike. Honestly the only score board in eve is how much fun you have. If a player gets enjoyment out of bombing around Lowsec in frigates with only 100m in their wallet, who am I to declare them poor? Equally some of the Super capital owners in the Alliance would likely declare me poor, but from my point of view, I don’t need more than I have to continue, I might want more but I don’t need it. The most important scale of wealth should always be your own, do you have enough money to have fun? If so, don’t sweat it.

 

Fly Rokhs more,

 

Hark

 

An Unusual Battle Report

The battle began, as most do in eve: with the meta. The war had been raging for a while now, and the enemy had been running regular roams through the warzone, with super capital and triage support. After weeks of testing and teasing the enemy, the planners decided that they had found the time zone when the enemy had the lowest super capital support on hand. With this information, they planned their attack.

The plan was simple. Give the enemy something to bite on, a small gang of heavily tanked battleships. Use this force to draw the enemy out of titan support range, and then engage it with a larger force: just enough to tempt them to drop supers. When enemy supers were on field they planned to escalate again, brining all their supers (who would be waiting in the logon screen) to crush the enemy force and escape before a further escalation could be roused. That was the plan anyway.

Everything when as planned until the bait fleet actually begun killing some of the roam, before the reinforcement were in. This was much to the chagrin and surprise of the bait fleet, who started to pull damage as soon as they realised. But the damage was done, the roam stopped chasing the fleet and begun instead to be chased by it. After a few jumps the bait fleet managed to catch the roam and force an engagement, allowing their reinforcements (a ahac gang and a handful of bombers) to catch up and further tip the balance in their favour. As predicted the supers were dropped. However the meta had struck again. Clearly the op had not been kept as secret as was assumed, as the enemy had clearly gotten wind that a major offence was happening that night. Although the first drop was as expected 4 Super Capitals, Intel began lighting up with reports of enemy supers logging in, and estimated 24 extra supers were getting ready to form a second wave, along with an accompanying support fleet around 20 times larger than the fleet they were planning to engage.

The trappers had to do something quick, and the first step was following through with the trap. The cyno was lit, and their own supers were dropped. Next the enemy cyno is primaried, in the hope it might cut off the second wave of enemy reinforcements. It pays off. Little known to our intrepid trappers, the enemy has completely failed to bring an secondary cyno, and so the support fleet which was forming on a titan is dispatched to cover the real space jumps to the engagement (J7-LND) in, bringing multiple cynos with them. Meanwhile the original roam fleet, engage in hit and run combat, attempting to keep their suppers alive and hold the enemy for long enough to get the reinforcements. The trappers begin to take heavy casualties; Barely holding the grid to the fleet, they leave their supers to engage the enemies and concentrate on keeping the reinforcements out. They succeed to some extent. The first wave of frigates (sent in the hope of getting a cyno up) is wiped out entirely. The second wave of cruisers is decimated, but not enough to prevent a becaon lighting, and the enemy supers, along with further sub capital reinforcements to hove into view.

Outnumbering the enemy what started as a roam now tastes a route. They concentrate on holding the enemy supers, ignoring their support fleet. This is when the trappers play their last hope ace. A drag bubble is set up away from the supers, and the enemies hictors and support fleet are dragged away from their prey and into the waiting arms of a the trappers own support fleet. Accompanied now, by a large wing of bombers. Cut off from their capital support, they are slaughtered in short order. realising that they can no longer hold the enemy supers, and that the enemy cannot hold theirs the roaming force jump out, before they lose any supers, what little remains of the sub caps retreat as well. Left with nothing more to fight the trappers to jump out of the system. In the end a large number of sub capitals are lost, but no supers are killed.

You might have noticed already that J7-LND does not exist in New Eden. But that is not to say that this fight never took place. In reality (and I mean that in the literal way) this fight took place in Jutland on the 1st of June 1916 between German and English Naval forces. I was watching a documentary on this a while ago when it struck me how easy it would be to translate this fight into our humble game. It strikes me that no one can (without serious artistic licence) translate a match in warsong gultch into a medieval battle. Eve is aiming to become an alternative universe, and when it apes the way that real life fights and wars are directed its hard to say CCP fails in this regard. Anyway this was a bit of fun to draw out the similarities.

In before Europe is compared to a structure grind…

Fly like its submarine physics,

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