Friday, January 29, 2016

I Swore I Wouldn't Write about the CSM…

Mike Azariah put out an article today offering an opinion on why players should care about and vote for the CSM. In it, he spends a little time talking about some disagreements on the purpose of the CSM according to the CSM white paper. He also makes a parallel between voting for the CSM and voting for politicians in the real world.

Now, I swore I wasn’t going to make a post about the CSM this year. At first, I used to be all-in with the importance of the CSM. Now, my attitude is very much, “Who really cares?”

And I am provide some context behind that. Mike makes two popular arguments that are, at their core, deeply flawed approaches to the CSM. So popular, in fact, that even CSM candidates seem to misunderstand what the CSM is.

And I’m going to make some parallels with my own career in marketing, as well.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Fulfillment of a Dream, or The Beautiful Death

On this blog, I’ve written many times about the search for the good fight. In the real world, that same sentiment is shared by the dramatic character of the wandering warrior, searching for a beautiful death in service of a great cause. Whether this archetype is legit or not in the real world is up for debate. But in Eve – with our immortal capsuleers – it’s very much a thing.

At its core, what it means is that you wander through New Eden looking for that perfect fight in which you experience artful PvP. Win or lose isn’t the point; what you’re searching for is the opportunity to be part of true skill, and excellence of action.

It’s actually quite rare to witness the pure thing. Though, you can get diluted glimpses of it – the Vexor pilot who stayed to defend his mining friend I wrote about, for instance. The pure execution of a well-laid plan flawlessly enacted with exactly the minimum force and perfect situational awareness the opportunity requires… that perfect balance of necessity and power that results in an artful attack stays with you.

I experienced it last night, with an added twist because it involved a reader of mine, someone I’ve watched grow in ability for several months now.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Getting Back on the Horse

Just like riding a bicycle, the best way to recover from a ship loss is to get right back out there and try again.  In my case, after losing the Fortuna, I woke up in Venal and immediately jumped into a Heretic.

I always fly with a 603 CPU implant to squeeze a little extra out of my fittings. I maxed my fitting skills a long time ago, but that little bit can mean the difference between an ideal fit and having to make compromises in a surprising number of cases.  But having been caught by the hictor, my implant was gone.  I had to offline the web on my Heretic to undock.

Making my way back to empire space to buy a new implant, I quickly headed down the Tribute pipe leading to Taisy. All systems were clear except for E-OGL4, which had five reds.  I decided to – wisely as it turned out – warp to a perch on the M-OEE8 gate and saw a Sabre, Svipul, and Oracle running a gate camp.  The Svipul and Sabre were right on the gate with a bubble up, and the Oracle was about a hundred kilometers away.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Fall of the Fortuna

Today at 5:25 am Eve time, the Stratios-class ship Fortuna was finally – after a reign of terror lasting three weeks – destroyed by a hotdrop by members of Theta Squad, primarily from Goonswarm.

Upon its death, the Fortuna had generated 19 killmarks, delivered 24 final blows, participated in 48 kills, and 16 solo kills (once rats were taken off). Those kills represented a total of 7.2 billion isk of damage.

More importantly, it represented more than three weeks behind enemy lines, dodging response gangs, fighting outnumbered, and choosing the right time to strike.

I originally came down to Fade from Venal with that ship, intending to reship into a dictor once I lost it. At the time, I thought I’d be reshipping within the week.  But instead, I had a great run of good luck, leading me to actually name it – something I’ve never done before – the Fortuna

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Move ‘em Like They’re Hot!

Two days ago, CCP announced that they would be proceeding with implementing skill trading with the February 9 patch.  Through this process, players can purchase a skill extractor for aurum (or, more likely, off the market, because very few people actually deal in aurum), which they can use to suck sp out of their characters and sell on the market. This is an entirely new feature that has not previously existed.

Cue the paranoia, screaming fits, doom crows crying “Eve is dying”, and threats of unsubbing from every quarter.

The truth is that skill trading offers a lot of opportunities, particularly for younger players.

It’s important to keep in mind that every skillpoint that enters an injector came from a character training it normally.  That sp represents the result of a certain interval of subscription time being transferred to another character.  But when that sp is transferred to another character, it’s not a perfect transfer.  If a character with more than 5 million sp injected it, some sp is lost – at least 20% and as much as 70%.  For those characters – the majority – every time an injector is used, sp leaves the game forever. The importance of that can’t be overstated. In a game that suffers from an abundance of sp and mature characters with nothing left to train, skill trading is a means of mitigating that sp creep.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

SMA “Fading” Away, or Aiming for the “Clouds”?

Okay, okay, puns aside… recently, TISHU has been spending a lot of time in Fade camping SMA systems and providing a Darwinian service to Space Monkey Alliance, one of the CFC alliances.

The official reason the alliance is doing this is because of a contract. I’ve been highly engaged with this campaign.  I came down in a Stratios from a secondary base I have up in Venal, with the intention of reshipping into something more appropriate and aligned with the corp doctrines and kinds of fights they were hoping to get. That was on January first, and I’m still going strong with that little Strat that could. In fact, I’ve seen a few more Strats in fleet. It’s a versatile ship, and once I finally die I’ll probably share that fit I’ve been so successful with.

And successful, it has been. I’ve racked up 43 kills since I deployed to Fade, with no losses (I did lose Vexor in Syndicate to a gate camp, but that was beforehand). Nearly all of those kills were with less than 10 pilots on the mail, and fifteen were solo. It’s been a good time, and I’ve been dedicated exclusively to the effort.

Why am I so engaged with this campaign?  On a personal level, it aligns with my own thoughts recently. The whole purpose of this blog is to encourage players to learn to PvP – not to achieve some meaningless metric, but to appreciate the challenge of competing against another human, and in so doing to improve yourself.

Friday, January 15, 2016

The Most Frustrating Thing in Eve

A lot of things can be frustrating about this game. You’ve got your minor setbacks and challenging activities that delay your gratification. Then you have your ship losses and market errors that represent significant amounts of time wasted, lost, or otherwise flushed down the drain. Then there are the bugs and critical faults that can cause the game to be literally unplayable (in the un-ironic sense).

But those aren’t the “most” frustrating thing about Eve. No, not by a long-shot.

Allow me to clarify with a quick story.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

300: My Fellow Bloggers

Despite what you may think, even the most verbose person has a hard time producing material on a regular interval. Everyone can write one or two coherent pieces; the challenge is in forming your thoughts consistently, both during boom times and droughts.

A lot of magazines and newspapers expect a writer to produce a piece every month for feature columns. For feature articles, it can sometimes be every couple months. expects writers to produce every two weeks.  That’s a robust and difficult schedule to maintain, and it quickly separates dedicated writers from casuals.

Now, try writing 1500-2000 words every two or three days (and for some of my posts, that’s a bit on the conservative side!).  I’ve tried very hard not to include too many “filler” posts – I want readers to be able to leave with some piece of knowledge they might not have had before visiting. I can count perhaps a handful of posts that haven’t had this goal. No one’s perfect!

Writing a blog about a hobby – in particular – is a surprisingly demanding and difficult thing, because the same itch that makes me log in and play is what fuels my writing. That chunk of time dedicated to Eve gets split a couple ways. It’s a balancing act; playing gives me things to write about, but writing makes sense of my playing in a way that enriches the experience.

For Post 100, I recapped the highlights of my first 100 articles. Post 200 was a thank-you to all of my readers for commenting, sharing their opinions, and making the blog truly interactive.  Both of those were fun at the time, but to the right you can see a list of all my articles broken down by month (on a PC), and the “thank-you” isn’t something that should be contained to once every hundred posts. I sincerely thank every one of you. You keep me honest and sane, and you make up a part of the Eve community I’ve grown to respect and appreciate.

Rather, for this milestone, I wanted to talk a little about another aspect of the community I appreciate: the other bloggers I read on a regular basis. These folks all post regularly, present unique perspectives, and enrich my experience with the game. They wield true power, because they have the means of helping each of us make sense of what happens around us. So here’s my must-reads.

This list isn’t comprehensive, and I read a lot of other blogs than those I mention. But, I do want to give special mention to those blogs who I believe readers can learn something from – either through the direct words or the infectiousness of the passion within the words written.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Happy Birthday to Talvorian

On January 12, 2009, Talvorian Dex stepped out of surgery and began his life as an immortal capsuleer. Back them, I knew nothing about the game, only that my brother-in-law loved flying an interceptor.  I didn’t want to travel too far from my home system for fear that I wouldn’t have enough “fuel” (capacitor) for the return trip.

I didn’t know capacitor recharged. I didn’t know anything about null-sec and was generally leery of PvP as a whole. My only MMO experience was some Lineage II, where twitch reflexes and overwhelming alpha strike were the recipe for victory.

I was as green as any newbie, and asking all the same questions.  And I stopped playing for more than two years.

My real life in Eve started around early March 2011, when my last continuous subscription run began. I dedicated myself to becoming a capable solo PvPer. I faced my crisis point when I faced loss after frustrating loss, and began to wonder whether I had it in me to do it well. I knew nothing about fight selection or the tempo of an engagement. I was ignorant – without knowledge.

But I did have a drive to learn, and a willingness to look at my decisions, actions, and preconceptions.  I was willing to change and become better.  And today, while I don’t know everything, I know more than I did back then.

I had a lot of help from the community, from bloggers, and from corpmates. In the process, I made friends and learned that while I’m not anything particularly special, in that ordinariness was something worth writing about – the daily struggle to meet this challenge and try to do better the next time, to never think I had “made it”, to never stop assessing whether I’m doing the right thing.

But it all began on January 12, 2009, seven years ago.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Lessons: Leave the MTU Next Time

I get it, I really do. When you’re in the habit of ratting and are trying to earn your fortune, every little bit helps. Ratting bounties are nice, and are a good way to make ends meet. Particularly when you’re a part of an alliance that taxes ratting bounties by 10 or 15%, it’s easy to view salvage as a way to augment that revenue. So, you bring some MTUs and drop them in anoms to pick up after yourself. You may bring 5 or so, then pick them all up in a Noctis when you’re done as you salvage. It can earn you some decent additional isk.

Only, the dirty little secret is that in the isk/hr game, salvage and loot isn’t going to help your cause. When it comes right down to it, that MTU is a liability. Recovering that MTU and salvaging represents a cost in time that crowds out your best isk-generating option, killing those rats. Even if you use a second account, you’re better off using a second combat account, and leaving the loot.

But it can also get you killed.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Falling In Love with Kill Marks

You folks may have noticed that, over the past few days, I’ve not written very much. Well, as is no real surprise to anyone at this point, TISHU has been having a lot of fun causing mayhem in Fade. We’re hotdropping with black ops battleships. We’re using a copious amount of dictors. We’re catching folks with anything cloaky.

One thing we definitely are not doing is trying to be fair. We’re looking for scalps, and fairness isn’t in the cards.

This has been a delightful diversion, and I’ve been racking up some kills, too. I made my way down in my ratter hunter, with the intention of flying it until I lost it; so far, I’m still rolling.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Eating From the Poison Vine

Sugar Kyle recently wrote a post about a quiet decision she made a year ago to eschew PvP. Within it, she explained that she stopped PvPing because she was confronted by someone during her second CSM run who argued that she was inactive because she had nothing on her killboard. In response, she decided to walk away from PvP for two reasons: first to spite the person who was trying to judge her by her killboard, and secondly as a challenge to herself to bring value without PvPing.

Now, let’s first talk about the idiocy of someone arguing that a person is inactive because their killboard is empty. Absence of proof is not proof of absence, and an empty killboard says nothing about a person’s level of activity, only the number of people they’ve killed or been killed by. Sugar never passed herself off as a PvP expert or exclusively a PvP candidate.

I was called out by Gevlon recently in an attempt to say that my killboard somehow discredited me as a legitimate voice about PvP.  It was a silly argument easily overcome (alts, limited time to play, preference for non-bulk PvP, preference against linked or scouted multi-boxing, etc.).

I found her experience was an interesting case study, not for her level of PvP activity nor the foolishness of Eve players.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Lessons: Experience; What Is It Good For?

Here's the tl;dr: "absolutely everything".

Every game has its own culture, and a part of that culture is being able to understand what's going to happen based on the current conditions.  It's not something you can read up on and understand. It's a sense you get from thoroughly understanding your environment, the mindset of the players around you, and the mechanics, capabilities, and rules of logic of the various constructs within the game.

The tricky part of all this is that most of us accomplish all this naturally over time. We don't even think about it.  One day, it just "clicks" and we understand the flow of the game enough that we can anticipate what's going to happen.  "That's bait; I'm going to avoid that fight," or "This is a hot-drop situation," are overall senses about which we can't point to a single piece of data. They're deductive conclusions that we arrive at after assimilating and processing a wide range of information.

One of the interesting parts of this, for me, is that this process is identical within Eve as in the real world. When driving, a veteran driver is better able to predict and exploit the flow of traffic to change lanes, and we're always better at making good time during our rush hour commute than other roads, since we know the "flow" - where people are always log-jammed when coming onto the main road, where the left lane moves faster, and where you may need to push the person in front of you a little bit to make that long light.

In Eve, these kinds of insights are difficult for a newbie to attain.  They require you to be familiar with a wide range of flying situations, the overarching fitting theories prevalent at the time, and the way various ships actually work in combat.  That means getting out there and trying new things. The old saying is, "To learn PvP, fit up 100 frigates and lose all of them."

But why does experience matter so much?