Monday, May 6, 2013

Wait, did we just get "Farms and Fields?"

TL;DR: Yes.

After reading the most recent re-balancing notes and devblogs, it's hard not to notice that a few points seem to have a strong correlation with one another. Specifically, the fact that battleship build costs are going up, moon goo income is going WAY down, and that rocks commonly found in large quantities in null are getting a SIGNIFICANT mineral increase. Let's connect the dots with a more finely-tipped pen.

For those not up to snuff on the serious business of nullsec, it is important to point out that battleships are the staple of any sov-holding nullsec alliance. Bashing around in a 100-man Drake or AHAC fleet is one thing; when things get real, the battleships hit the field. Rokhs, Panic-geddons, Sentry Domis, Fleet Tempests, Alpha-Maels and others have all seen and continue to see serious fleet use in sov warfare, with new doctrines being theorycrafted every day. Billions of ISK can be invested (or wasted, depending on your perspective) in a single fight's worth of SRP. And that doesn't look likely to change any time soon. Even after the ship re-balance and subsequent build cost adjustment the application won't change. It's just going to be much more expensive.

In the time of the Technetium dynasty, fielding (and whelping) ISK-intensive fleets has been only of passing concern to large blocs. Flotillas comprised entirely of Navy Geddons and Fleet Tempests in fact, have become de rigueur. Now that the golden goose is being sterilized, however, that's set to change. SRP programs are already being adjusted. Even Shadoo has been caught foreshadowing a more austere future for one of the most financially auspicious alliances in the game. Of course, he's probably talking about capital and super expenditures, but the point holds. Belts will be noticeably tighter around nullsec for a little while. If only nullsec industry were viable, there might be a way to salvage the situation and keep the big boys in their chromed-out BBs and 22" rims a little while longer.

But, soft! What light from yonder starbase window breaks? It is the arcing electricity that is compelling a drastic increase in nullsec starbase manufacturing capacity to life. It is the gleam of asteroids that are now teeming with everything an organized alliance needs to become self-sustaining, all while keeping the cost of fielding fleets down to a sustainable level.  And here is where we begin to see the silhouette of the farm and field rise up in the distance.

"Farms and fields" was a concept that was actually proposed years ago, but the reason it has yet to exist in nullsec to this point is actually twofold. The fields were generally not worth cultivating, and the farms didn't have the capacity to convert the harvest into enough marketable output to make the effort worthwhile in the first place. With one master stroke of the dev brush, both asteroid belts and stations will be receiving a massive boost to low-end ore content and manufacturing capacity respectively, effectively ending the highsec monopoly on nullsec production lines. Nullsec industry will gain the wherewithal to self-actualize.

Now granted, there is still a hurdle to overcome here. Barring shifts in supply and demand curves brought about by the new content, the changes to nullsec industry don't do anything to change the build cost of a ship. Minerals are still going to cost x, BPCs are still going to cost y, production runs are still going to equal z. And as long as you're paying for every last input required to produce a ship, you're right. Your costs aren't going to change. Null blocs are going to be in a different situation, and here's why.

Even with the best farms and fields, and I mean the very best; the most productive farms, and the infinite-yield fields, you're not getting anything out of them without farmers. And nullsec blocs are positively lousy with farmers. Farmers who will insist until they are blue in the face and their forum access has been revoked that no nullsec alliance can exist without a solid industrial core. Come Odyssey, they will finally get the chance to prove it.

But will they? 

Farmers are a funny breed. They won't so much as look at the Mackinaw in the hangar until they have calculated precisely the ISK/hour value of doing so, but they will man their barges for 12 hours a day for the sake of allegiance. They are people who won't sell you one unit of Tritanium under Jita prices on the open market, but who will open their silos to their alliances as easily as Ali Baba whispered "Open Sesame,"  all in the name of the Greater Good. Farmers gonna farm and a little appreciation from the host alliance is like fertilizer in the soil to your average nullsec indy pilot. The bloom is on.

Taking it all together, we see now on the horizon a field worth cultivating, a farm capable of managing and supporting its throughput, and motivation for the farmers to man the combines and get-to-reaping. "Farms and fields" has arrived and with it, a new age for nullsec. 

Through the strength of their subsidization programs, the null blocs will be carried to victory on the shoulders of the farmers. On the rising tide of nullsec industry, the sovereign fleet sails into the future.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

BB45: A Summary of Reports and Bulletins From the Desk of our Righteous and Confident Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Democratic Process of the Enlightened Republic

Attention Comrades!

In the course of your days, you may or may not have seen the following bulletin posted in your democratic sector:

In a socially-driven game environment such as EVE Online’s, everyone has an agenda. CCP promotes its products and has an army of volunteers to do the same; corporations and alliances deliver entertaining recruitment drives, CSM election candidates solicit for voter favour, bloggers and podcasters opine to their audiences.

In this intricate web of communication, influence and control, what part does propaganda play in your game?

On behalf of your local Politburo, we bring you the following important messages from the Enlightened members of the Board of Democratic Process, and from the desk of our beloved Chairman himself. Do not panic. Everything is under control.

-Minister Rixx Javix wishes to inform the Republic that he is honored to continue his life's work in bringing the Truth to his brothers and sisters of New Eden. He assures you that any of the work he produces is completed with only the purest and most honorable intentions.

-Inquisitor Bagehi wishes to announce that he has made significant advances in the crusade for impartiality in the Presses. The pen is mightier than the sword and our Dear Brother wields it deftly on our behalf.

-Brother Tetra states he is unfamiliar with the rumors surrounding propaganda appearing in New Eden. He has, however, successfully quelled an incursion in the Amarrian empire.

- Our Ardent Defender flatly denies any accusations of pursuing a personal agenda in the administration of his duties. He has ensured our Chairman these accusations are baseless, and that his detractors will be dealt with summarily.

-Professor Orakkus re-affirms to the republic that ALL citizens are in fact participating in the activities of the Committee for Truth. Pay no attention to those comrades wishing to deceive you. They are, in fact, engaged in our campaigns.

-Brother DaiTengu invites you to recall the memory of our fallen comrade RoyOfCA who's work in the Politburo in advancing the dissemination of Truth to the Unenlightened Comrades of Feythabolis shall never be forgotten.

-Minister Drackarn reminds you that your daily existence may contain more weapons in the fight for the spread of Truth than you realize. Look around you, Brothers and Sisters; your arms are but waiting to be taken up.

-In a bulletin from the front, Generalissimo Kuan Yida reports success in the campaign against our deceitful enemies, using new tools made available by the Ministry of Science and Democratic Computing and is prepared to report on their effectiveness.

-The Esteemed Dr. Azalean Ladder has divined multiple avenues along which the Truth may travel, and is now capable of describing them to our comrades for self-improvement.

-In other scientific news, Dr. Da Dom has clarified his position on Truth with regards to psychology and passive dissemination. Far from shrinking from the challenges of his peers, Dr. Da Dom has embraced the opportunity to advance his agenda on behalf of the Good.

-Comrade Sugar Kyle wishes to offer sympathies to those who have fallen victim to the Great Deceivers, and has outlined their methodologies so that other Brothers and Sisters will not be similarly afflicted.

-Our Beloved Sister Emergent Patroller has prepared for us a report of the most dastardly deeds performed by our sworn enemies in the name of advancing their Conspiracy of Deception and Anarchy. It has been made available to all dear Comrades, so long as they have the strength to digest such despicable acts.

-Comrade Samwise Potato is pleased to offer a celebration of the use of Television to deliver messages of Truth to the Republic, and the resulting effortlessness with which Truth is diffused throughout New Eden.

-That our Dear Comrades may more effectively spread the Glorious Truth to the Unenlightened, Minister Splatus has made available a primer on the Anatomy and Physiology of Truth and its viability in the minds of the Deceived.

-Counselor Harkconnan has authored a recollection of a particularly effective Truth campaign that freed him from the shackles of Unenlightenment. This manual can be used as an example in the daily lives of our Brothers and Sisters.

-Be vigilant, Brothers and Sisters! Every action you take is an action perceived by not only your Cherished Comrades, but also by the Deceivers and the Unenlightened. Minister Azual Skoll asks you to be mindful of the impact you have on others, and of their influence on your allegiance.

-Dr. TurAmarth ElRandir of the Ministry of Pyschological Preparedness has devised a test to be taken by all comrades to evaluate their capacity for disseminating the Words of Truth as well as their ability to resist the ploys of the Great Deceivers. All members of the Republic are to complete this test and return it to their Municipal Superintendents at once.

-Minister Poetic Stanizel has curated a private collection of "Truth-Diffusing Visual Aids" and has made it available to all of our Brothers and Sisters in exultation of the Glory of the Republic.

-Based on his successes in Molden Heath, Councilman Miura Bull has prepared and released words of Wisdom and Insight to those Brothers and Sisters who wish to advance the cause of Truth through the use of Visual Truth Diffusion Aids.

-For those Comrades wishing to make a difference within the Politburo itself, Inquisitor Ripard Teg has made available insights gained whilst seeking office and at home in his native Syndicate district. Also, a brief reminder that this season's polling has concluded and the results have been tabulated and published by the Ministry of Mathematical Veracity. A special congratulations on Inquisitor Teg's selection to the Council.

-Minister Kirith Kodachi, having recently undone some damage inflicted by the Great Deceivers on some of our own Dear Brothers and Sisters, has publicly reminded everyone to trust only what the Committee and your Beloved Chairman have deigned to be free of Deception. Please view all other messages with your appropriate skepticism.

-Comrade John Purcell has published his own dissections of effective Truth Messaging and blatant attempts to deceive and obscure such information.

-Inquisitor Alikchi, in the best interests of our students of Visual Truth Diffusion has assembled a combination history lesson/survey of critical elements essential to any successful Visual Truth Diffusion campaign.

-For our Dear Brothers and Sisters who wish to donate a bit of their Charitable Time to the cause of Truth, Lieutenant Lukas Rox has prepared a quick instructional on how to create effective Truth Spreading Messages in their very own home. Remember that all Homecraft must be submitted to Municipal Superintendents to ensure accuracy before Dissemination.

-Professor Mike Azariah recently shared a parable from behind the lectern illustrating the use of Truth Dissemination in political endeavours. It is his wish that the Message will resonate loudly within the minds of the Enlightened Republic. Again, a special congratulations due to Professor Azariah on his selection to the Council this season.

-Dear Brother Harrigan Vonstudly has drafted an advisory to all Comrades reminding them that even the vessels they board are a choice that can be influenced positively by the Enlightened Republic or disadvantageously by the Loyalists of Deception. Ask yourself: What Would the Beloved Chairman Do?

-Counselor Rhavas of the Ministry of the Press recently spoke to members of the Youth Republic and discussed the role of the Enlightened Press in sowing the seeds of Truth in the fertile minds of our Cherished Comrades.

-Finally, dear Comrades, Professor Mark726 has created a destination and travel guide with regards to the Forerunner of the Ministry of Truth, The Counter-Intelligence Center of Orvolle. Breathtaking in its scope and design, the center must be seen to be fully appreciated.

That is all at this time, Cherished Comrades. On behalf of your local Municipal Superintendants, the Ministry of Truth, and the Comittee for the Democratic Process of the Enlightened Republic, I wish you a good night's rest, that we may all do our best work for the Chairman tomorrow.

Comrade Firstly signing off.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Firstly's Law of Combat

  • Friendly bomber fire - isn't
  • You are not superman - dictor and Naga pilots take note
  • A gaping hole in your hull is EVE's way of telling you to slow down
  • If it's a terrible fit, but it works, it isn't terrible
  • Try to look T1 fit - the hostiles may be low on ammo and not want to waste a round on you
  • If at first you don't succeed, get out the batphone
  • If you are forward of your fleet, the hostiles will have optimal range scripts loaded
  • Never warp to the 'x' of any pilot braver than yourself
  • Never backstop an FC crazier than you
  • Never forget that your doctrine fit was the cheapest fit your theorycrafters could come up with
  • If your gank is going really well, it's bait
  • Hostiles will only attack you on two occasions: when they're ready; when you're not
  • No plan survives long-point range
  • There is no such thing as a perfect fleet comp
  • 30km bombs always detonate in 27km
  • With a free kill on the line, there's no such thing as a carebear
  •  A de-aggressing hostile is one who is rejoining his much larger gang on the other side of the gate
  • The easy route to your destie is always gate-camped
  • Teamwork is essential - it gives the hostiles other primaries to call
  • If you are low on everything but hostiles, you're on grid
  • When you have secured the field, make sure the hostiles know it, too
  • No combat-ready fleet comp has ever held up to doctrine
  • No doctrine-ready fleet comp has ever help up to combat
  • If the hostiles are within optimals, so are you
  • The only thing more accurate than hostile bombs are friendly bombs
  • The batphone will fail as soon as you have a hostile super tackled
  • Jabber pings become ineffective at night and in RUSTZ, especially in both
  • Anything you do can get you killed, including nothing
  • When both sides are convinced they're about to whelp, they're both right
  • High-SP pilots are predictable, but New Eden is full of noobs
  • Overview-Bug Motto: Pod 'em all. Let Diplo sort it out
  • Your gang will land on grid 5 seconds after you're already down
  • Bombs are equal opportunity munitions
  • The script you need will be the one you didn't bring
  • The damage type you have loaded will be your hostile's strongest resist
  • When in doubt, burn out your high slots
  • When you're low on ammo, the hostile will be able to keep his transversal up
  • PvP experience is something you only get after you need it
  • If you get out in structure, it means you were smart enough to think of a plan, dumb enough to try it, and lucky enough to survive

Lovingly adapted from a slightly better-known version.

Monday, April 29, 2013

A Midsummer's Eve: BB46

“EVE Online is a unique piece of science fiction that is ‘participatory’.”- CCP Seagull, December 2012

EVE Online is heading into its Second Decade with renewed vigour and a new development strategy. At the CSM Summit in December, Executive Producer CCP Unifex and Development Director CCP Seagull explained how future development and expansions will be broader in scope than recent “collections of features” stating that CCP “want to create something more inspirational, that players aspire to play.”

With the return of Live Events such as the Battle for Caldari Prime, clearly the prime fiction of EVE is back in favour as part of this new thematic approach to expansions. However, EVE’s story is very much a tale of two playstyles, with an entirely player-driven narrative unfolding daily in parallel to the reinvigorated backstory. Often, they do not mix well. How can these two disparate elements be united or at least comfortably co-exist in a single sandbox universe?

     "So we grew together like to a double cherry, seeming parted, but yet an union in partition, two lovely berries molded together on one stem."  
     -William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream

This is going to be a shorter answer than I typically give to such enterprising questions so please forgive me. I'm still getting my 'writing legs' back under me.

I'll make one further disclaimer before moving on; I've yet to see an instance in which CCP-driven story-telling and player-driven storytelling directly conflicted one another, or presented a situation in which one could not exist with the other. If I've missed some calamitous event in which the fourth wall came tumbling down, then I plead ignorance and you may safely dismiss the remainder of my opinion.

It is some kind of spectacle; this awkward, unelegant dance we do, CCP and us. We are not professional dancers or actors. We are the uncomfortable peri-pubescent teenagers who are awkwardly touching each other with only a vague notion of what they should be doing or where they should be touching. We only know we should be doing something together. And we know it's supposed to feel good, even if right now it just feels scary and uncomfortable.

This relationship is a beast that defies taxonomy. In our waltz across the heavens it is impossible to identify who is leading. We take turns. We move at different rhythms. We change styles. We improvise. But at the end of the day, we're still dancing. And we're having fun doing it.

To abruptly shift metaphors on you, our two canons intertwine to become a "play within a play." Each stage defines the other, and measures her boundaries. The rules, for lack of a better word, are reflected in the actors. And again, it is not a unilateral relationship. At times we are the spectators. At others, the spectacle. Teaching and being taught, relentlessly improvising both scripts and our comprehension thereof. It is marvelous theatre. We need only be taught how to participate.

Somewhat counter-intuitively, improvisation theater is based on a strict set of rules that must be followed in order to achieve success or at the bare minimum preserve immersion. The first and very most important rule is this: Always say 'Yes.' When you say yes, everything is possible. All doors are open to you. This is important, because a door once closed in this setting can never be re-opened.

The moment you start saying 'No,' the scene starts to break down and become unengaging. Any momentum gained is soon leeched out. Telling someone else they're "doing it wrong" is in fact doing it wrong. That god-damned sandbox manifesto, one more time.

Our twin canons can enhance each other, if we let them. EVE gives us the tools to create both tragedy and comedy. She creates the very stage we act upon. Our performances inform her design. Her iterations inform our performance. And on it goes. A play within a play. A waltz across the heavens. An immortal tale, a lifetime in the telling.

Sunday, April 28, 2013


Through the haze of a fading dark, the end of a long, unbearable night, sparks cut like electric knives. The musk of fresh ozone fills the air as the transponder crackles to life. Static, sweet static. Communications are back online.

Commander Firstly to Ground Control. Ready when you are.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

It's a Show About Nothing: BB41

BB41: Director’s Cut

The universe of EVE is not without its drama and epic stories, both in and out of game. Imagine a publisher, movie studio or television network asked you to prepare a pitch for a new brand of EVE-flavoured entertainment. This could be your big break, what would be your synopsis to bring New Eden to the wider audience?

Imagine a program in which you watch people tell stories and take part in them. They involve group drama, schadenfreude, comedy, bumbling idiots, triumphant moments, blatant irreverence, myopic world views, and endless ironic snobbery and elitism.

Yep. It's "Seinfeld" in space, y'all.Welcome to EVE Online.

This really is a game about nothing. Oh sure, there are spaceships and planets and stations and ermagherdlazors. But at the end of the day, nothing happens in this game unless we make it happen. The game itself is literally about nothing. Ok, that's not quite fair. The "game" is about us. We the people, capsuleers across the heavens. Moreover, it's about our adventures. So I guess the game is at its heart about the adventures we create.  And some of the best parts of creating your own stories and having your own adventures are sharing them with your friends. Usually over coffee or some other beverage. I'm not sure about you, but it happens to me in EVE all the time.

"So I almost tackled and killed a Harby last night."
"What happened?! You didn't kill him?"
"Nah, I had a long point fit so he pulled range and got away."
"He got away?! Why didn't you have a short point?!"
"I don't like the short point."
"Why don't you like the short point?!"
"It's too short."
"Too short?!"
"Too short. They should have a medium point. You could call it a mid-point."
"You can't call it a mid-point. Other things are already called mid-points."
"What if I called THIS my mid-point and called other things 'other things?'"
"What if I called YOU 'other things?'"
"How would I know? I wouldn't know you were talking to me..."

You get the idea. Seinfeld. Space. The neat thing about this metaphor is that it already gets the ratio of men to women right, when you factor in all of the side characters and Elaine. And the characters are already familiar. Every corporation has a Jerry. Every corporation has a George and a Kramer. Most alliances have at least one Elaine. It's sounds like a terrible idea until you consider it's based on one of the most popular American television shows of all time. Which in turn was based on, well nothing.

We'd fly together. We'd fight. We'll be doing this anyways. We need  to do it. Otherwise, we'd have nothing to talk about.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Day of Thanks

First and foremost, Happy Thanksgiving to all of my brothers and sisters-at-arms, my friends, my internet spaceship family. I know that a relative few of you are actually celebrating the holiday with me, as it is an American tradition, but that doesn't prohibit us from sharing the meaning of the day. And within New Eden, I have much to be thankful for.

I am thankful for my alliance, Li3 Federation. 9 months ago I was adrift in a sea of stars, plumbing highsec for its treasures but searching for direction more than anything else. Li3 has given me the opportunity to experience EVE on more levels than I could have imagined, and allowed me to forge some incredible friendships.

I'm thankful for Jade, who took the time (LOTS of time ;) ) to talk with me late one Spring evening, who has challenged me to think about this game in new and exciting ways, and who gave me the chance to become the pilot I am today.

I'm thankful for Patrick, our alliance XO, who has become one of my best friends in-game or out. Even though the package never made it to Canada (trust me, that's code for something) I look forward to talking with you every time I log into EVE, and to sharing many more Tengu-Ares kills. Please give Christy and Stephanie my best today.

I'm thankful for Shooter, my exploring partner in crime. I wish you, the missus, and Bubs all the best and I can't wait to talk to you again when I get back.

I'm thankful for Thrace, my trading mentor, who taught me the ins and outs of being a successful station trader, and freed me from having to spend my time grinding away ISK rather than enjoying myself in fleets looking for trouble.

I'm thankful for all of my friends in Li3, who have given me the support network I desperately needed but didn't tell anyone about these past six months. Your humor, relentless ball-busting, and keen debate has been a continuing source of enjoyment and entertainment. You lads and lasses are amazing and are truly the reason I log in to the game. Also, thanks for not blowing up my faction-fit Proteus when I fell asleep at the gate.

I'm thankful for Mat Westhorpe aka Seismic Stan for taking an interest in my humble essays, and supporting me at every possible opportunity. You have extended the warmest invitation to be a part of the blogging community I could have possibly imagined, and for that I am eternally grateful. You continue to be an inspiration, my friend.

I am thankful for Marc Scaurus for his continued efforts to not only coordinate the blogging community but to celebrate it as well. I've never won an Ebee (but I got nominated!) and I've never been selected to the BlogPack, but these initiatives continue to motivate me and give me something to shoot for. Though I haven't gotten to do an official post about it, Marc, I hope that whatever the future holds, you continue to play a huge part in the coordination of our community. Your efforts are often invisible, but never unnoticed, and are always sincerely appreciated.

And last but not least, thank you to CCP Games for creating this wonderful, beautiful, maddeningly marvelous spaceship game. It's been quite a ride over the past few years but you continue to design, improve and innovate upon the greatest gaming experience ever created. You have my eternal gratitude, and USD30 every month. Thank you.

Happy Thanksgiving, all. And thank you.