Archive for March, 2010

A new archetype: The Socialite

Posted in Uncategorized on March 24, 2010 by cailais

I have now had a chance to try out EVE Gate (Alpha) and broadly speaking I’m pretty impressed by it.  I think it’s real functionality became clear,  for me at least, was bringing it up on my mobile, scanning through my evemails and posting a couple of broadcasts.

As I travel quite a lot with work commitments the ability to stay at least partially connected to EVE whilst mobile is a welcome one.  Admittedly accessing these elements of EVE Gate through a regular browser isn’t all that effective or practical but I am reasonably confident some clever mobile apps (like Capsuleer) will integrate EVE Gate as a mobile friendly format.

Provided asset and trading management comes swiftly on the back of the current iteration Eve Gate has the potential to be a remarkably powerful tool (not with standing some of my reservations in the blog below).  But its much more than just a few evemails and a contact list…

We are now standing on the brink of a social explosion for EVE Online and, with the eventual “soon tm” introduction of Incarna and DUST 514, that social explosion will become a reality.  But what will this mean for EVE Online?

Currently we have two broad and often stereotyped ‘player types’ in EVE.  The “PVP’er” and the “Carebear”.  Both stereotypes occupy the extremes of the total spectrum of player types – look out though because the mixture of EVE Gate/Incarna/DUST suggests a new player type will emerge:

The Socialite.

Now of course ‘social players’ already exist in EVE, and you could well count Bloggers, PODcasters, forum trolls and E-ON journo’s amongst their number.  These social players are essentially commentators though, broadcasting their views in a ‘loud speaker’ format rather than purely networking “in game”.  But with EVE Gate this “in game” networking will become intensified if only for the reason that it will be possible “out of game”.

Will we see the Socialite player – the character seen walking the halls in Incarna whilst communicating expansively with a  far far wider social circle than previously?  How will these Socialites be perceived by the community as it exists now?

You might be wondering what Im rambling about, so I will try to provide as close an example as I can:

Colonel Roc Wieler. Roc, a well known blogger is I think his player would agree almost a “persona” in and of himself. Roc’s player has developed a carefully described persona / avatar replete with ‘in character’ tales, recipes and even an album (not to mention those tasteful briefs….).

Now place this type of character into the immersion of Incarna, add a splash of EVE Gate contacts, mailing lists etc etc and we can start to see the emergence of something new.  The Socialite? The cult of a Celebrity? Could we even see Players whose characters operate exclusively in the Political spectrum?

Imagine for a moment a Socialite who never undocks (they exist already I assure you), running a bar or shop front so they become far more visible than just say a forum presence. Consider also that this Socialite is now multiply connected through EVE Gate, blogs, podcasts, forums through all elements in the game (trading on the current EVE market, managing a bar, communicating with Dusties) and out of the game.

It seems likely that these players could potentially wield considerable influence.  By nature of their near continuous contact with the EVE Online Universe they would inevitably accrue a considerable wealth of information: becoming hubs of knowledge. And knowledge as we all know means power.

Will these Socialites become loved and respected by the players who broadly sample every aspect of EVE? Paragons of that uniquely EVE pursuit of intrigue and social engineering. Or will they become vilified? Held up to ridicule as some sort of ultra carebear divorced from the “real” game of shooting ships and sucking up ‘roids?

The answer you have probably already guessed will be a mixture of the two.  Some will be astonishingly successful, others will stumble and fall into ignominy or worse mediocrity.  What is clear is that EVE Online will have a new type of player emerge as a result of the small steps we are living through now.

C.

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Water, water everywhere…

Posted in Uncategorized on March 22, 2010 by cailais

Whilst hard information about what Planetary Interaction might contain is difficult to find at the moment there is a common theme to a number of posts commenting on the recent dev blogs that have given us some information and what is currently available on SISI:

Where are the people?

Tyrannis – Tyranny: the suppression of worlds – populated worlds.  We can’t very well tyrannize water deposits or nitrogen gas, despite Chribba’s best efforts to strike fear into every veldspar roid in new Eden.

But why should people, or rather the lack of them, strike such a cord with players? After all aren’t a planets population just yet another resource to be harvested or squandered at a flick of a capsuleer’s finger ?  Not quite.

There are a few reasons why a planets population, or the work force of a mining facility are of interest to us.  Firstly there is the strong influence of immersion.  As capsuleers we are painted as the immortal demi-gods of the universe, but a universe also populated by mere mortals whom are subject to our capricious whims.  Without these mortals, however minimal in their presence, we lose a sense of scale.

A Titan is impressive sure, but it’s so much more impressive when we place it in the context of, and in comparison with, a human being.  Equally a great many players are drawn into Eve and are fascinated not just by the fancy spaceship but by the universe of people.  To demonstrate that point look at the plethora of blogs, chronicles and now novels that focus on the human aspect of Eve – the ordinary person.  An ‘epic space opera’ cannot be epic until we compare the vastness of that space with the seemingly insignificant individual.

Secondly when it comes to PI currently we are expecting to be harvesting goods, manufacturing goods and trading them for ISK.  In comparison to say existing industry where we are harvesting goods, manufacturing goods…oh wait.

A populace however subtly suggests something else entirely. Suddenly we have ownership of something quite different to just another pile of minerals fashioned into a ship. We have the enticing prospect of nurturing, developing and protecting a very different “resource”.   I think this is why many players have commented about the inclusion (or lack) of developing and managing political / governmental societies on their worlds.  Intrinsically we have a sense of being able to ‘grow’ a populace, or ‘burn’ someone else’s when we think of PI with people.

Thirdly PI with a population adds an element (albeit with immersion again) of moral judgement. How we chose to manage a population would be a moral choice (do you enslave them, or let them run a democracy that could reject your orders?) which in turn reflects back on our avatar and our playing style.

Finally these elements interlink with the interaction we have with other players.  Consider for a moment two examples:

Firstly a PI system with no population element.  A pirate attacks and destroys an element of your infrastructure, maybe blowing up a PCC in transit. Ah well another non descript module bites the dust. There are thousands more on the market so you turn around to collect another.

Secondly a PI system with a population element.  A pirate attacks and destroys an element of your infrastructure, maybe blowing up a group of medical personnel bound for your planet.  Without them your population will suffer from disease at your installation.  Productivity will drop, forcing you to potentially enslave them to maintain manufacturing rates.  This will make you unpopular, perhaps some of the population will revolt, or defect to another player with a more forgiving governmental system.

Which scenario is more interesting? Which scenario is more likely to have you seek revenge against the pirate? Which is more likely to result in an emergent experience or ‘the butterfly’ effect?

Perhaps issues like this are not so important to you, and a new type of ‘moon mining’ is sufficient to spark your interest? For me however, whilst PI will be of passing interest, I still think I will struggle to truly interact with a extractor plant or storage facility until I can envisage just a little better who toils within these PINS on my behalf.

C.

Eve’s Thermopylae

Posted in Uncategorized on March 21, 2010 by cailais

With the news from the latest dev blog that EVE Gate will be entering into an open Alpha next week I have to admit my interest in this new portal for the world of EVE has returned.

EVE Gate offers a really fascinating concept – interaction with a ‘game’ from the outside. The initial features look promising, calendar, eve mail and so forth with the promise of greater interaction to come.  But I have some reservations.

Firstly is the worry that EVE Gate will allow for an expanding empire of AFK players and general meta gaming which isn’t always a healthy thing.  Could we end up with macros running on machines linked to EVE Gate manipulating the market, with no real consequences within the Eve Universe for the player?

The calendar idea is on the surface a good one, helping players (especially those in the large alliances) co-ordinate fleet operations, and other group tasks.  But the flip side of that is the shadow of Eve becoming a second career.  Personally I like to log onto to Eve and (beholden to no one) enjoy the universe as a means of escapism.  Will I now be juggling my work and personal calenders to mesh neatly with my avatars pixel’d life??  Equally while forward planning is great, very often my favourite moments in Eve have been unplanned, unscripted if you will – and that’s very much a draw for me.

Keeping in touch with fellow corpies, alliance comrades and general ‘buddies’ in Eve also sounds pretty cool.  But ultimately if I’m not ‘in game’ does it really matter?  An Eve mail that announces a fleet op departing at 11am is more or less useless to me if I’m sat chained to my proverbial desk at work.  If anything it could be more of a frustration.

I guess my greatest concern with Eve Gate is the temptation it provides to NOT disengage from Eve.  Now that might sound a bit odd, but the times when I have lost my enthusiasm for Eve Online have actually come at those points where I have played to excess.  I stopped enjoying the other great things life has to offer (family, BBQs, meeting friends, TV, films, etc etc etc) whilst immersed in what fast became less of a diversion and more of a addictive habit.

Maybe some of you have felt the same way from time to time. Logged on, spinning your ship in a station, but with no real idea of why you were logged on with just the lurking suspicion that far from being entertained you were in fact really very bored indeed.

So I think Eve Gate, for me at least, will be something I shall watch and perhaps even use with some interest.  What I will be guarding against is getting sucked into that gate to the exclusion of all else, desperately trying to eek out a bit more of a Eve Online ‘hit’ when in reality there’s no better solution than actually logging in and getting out there and into space.

Or, for that matter, logging off and appreciating the real universe that’s right here.

C.

HEX’d by PI and the Flu

Posted in Uncategorized on March 13, 2010 by cailais

Before I push on a couple of images from SISI and PI.  They’re rather hard to make out clearly but the planets now have a HEX grid overlaid on them whilst in Planetary Mode.  Pure speculation of course but I’m assuming these will have a role to play in determining control over a given area (which makes sense as gas planets won’t have any continents).

Interestingly when you need to collect your rocket launched goods you need to enter ‘low orbit’ to pick up the can – a warpable object (thanks to milocaman for explaining how to do this).  This means, as it stands currently, that players will not be able to gank you ‘mid scoop’ as you wont be at the same grid in space.  I have not tested yet if ships that are probed down can be caught in low orbit, but even if they are it makes the risk of collecting planet-space cargo much reduced.  In theory you could un-dock from a station, order a launch, warp to the cargo and back to a station in seconds.  No doubt enterprising pirates will find a way to kill folks regardless but its worth mentioning.

Also revealed have been a few images of the graphical work being done for Incarna out of GDC2010.  This site has some more details and a few low res shots – it is translated from Japanese so the text is … well unreadable really 🙂

Over at I am Keith Neilsen‘s blog Mandrill goes into greater depth on the sticky problem of managing multiple fleets in an effort to aid dissolving blob warfare a little.   It’s a very good read and I would certainly like to see something like his ideas implemented.  I particularly like the idea of being able to assign routes to fleets / gangs which would allow operations to be planned in advance, perhaps with Battlegroup commanders creating contingency plans and the like.

Professions is the subject of the Ecliptic Rift blog and Casiella asks what ‘careers’ have emerged from EVE’s sandbox that appeal to you the most.  It’s a pretty wide ranging question (is an EVE Blogger a “profession”?!) and I have to agree with Rettic in that I would love to see ‘something’ improved for smuggling.  I guess we all smuggle equipment and goods to a certain extent every time we jump through a gate and dodge a camp but adding just a little flavour would be awesome.  That and the counter point to the smuggler – the bounty hunter;  sure its a blatant Star Wars Han Solo vs Jabba’esq concept but its just cool!

That’s all from me tonight – the flu has ganked this pod pilot for today.  Fly safe.

C.

Dot to dot

Posted in Uncategorized on March 11, 2010 by cailais

A few more snippets from PI.  The overview has some items listed for example: planetary cargo links, planetary links, and spaceports.

Im not sure if this is a bug, or how we can expect to see resources but by turning the satellite scan on and off i was able to get this screen shot of ‘hot zones’ on the planet. Quite cool.

It’s early days for the UI here and there’s clearly a whole of of work to do by CCP on this.  PINS are just nondescript icons so you cant tell at a glance which extractor type one is for example.  Equally there is no way to see at a glance what planets you have colonized and which you haven’t without physically going to them.  Some sort of overview on the Universe Map and Solar System map is fairly obviously needed.  Tonight I did manage to launch a rocket (with a cheesy count down 😦 ) but nothing actually appeared in space.

What could be interesting on a wider scale is how PI impacts onto the overall interactions in EVE Online.  Say for example you have a factory (faktory sorry!) on a planet, but the only other player who has a given resource you need is a hostile one? Or just neutral? Blow them up in space and they might choose not to trade with you (perhaps – this rather depends on how the trading element works).  Oddly there’s no indication of ‘real estate’ in the system as is: there’s absolutely nothing stopping another player plonking down an extractor right next to mine, which makes me wonder quite how this will be managed.  Will the overall availability of a resource just drop? Will we be able to see there infrastructure?

Perhaps its because of the embryonic nature of the PI system itself but it does feel quite abstract.  Dots joined by lines sums up the ‘look’ of it so far and at the moment at any rate I’m not getting that feeling of immersion.

Quite a few posts on the EVE-O forums have commented about the ‘PVP’ opportunities afforded by PI. I think we ‘could’ conceivably see blockades of planets and almost certainly some opportunistic acts of piracy.  Some players may choose of course to askew shipping materials off world and simply manufacture and trade their goods on the surface.  Its worth pointing out that all resources clearly have a life span, which seems to range over 1 to 4 days or so, after which the resource (I assume) is depleted.  Some resources can be extracted faster but for yes ‘yield’, with others being high yield  but slower extraction times.

This gives Planetary governors a fair degree of latitude as to how often they would want to directly interact with ‘their’ planet – which also means a player can pick and choose his moment to collect on his investment.  Equally I can’t see (currently) how any pressure might be leveraged against another player on a planet: it doesn’t seem to have a competitive element at all. I assume DUST will cover at least some of that for habitable worlds, although the jury is out on every other planet type.

Speaking of planet types there is also no distinction for the types of infrastructure relative to the planet type.  There is no ‘gas giant vapour harvester’ for example – one vapour extractor fits all.  That’s a bit of a shame as I would have loved to have looked down at industrial gas complexes skimming through the atmosphere whilst vapours swirl about them.  Instead we have some dots….

On a more optimistic note CCP’s art department is one of its greatest strengths and Im keeping my fingers crossed that they will pull something out of the bag before release.

C.

PIN Cushion

Posted in Uncategorized on March 10, 2010 by cailais

Following on from my last post, I thought you may be interested in seeing some images from SISI.

DISCLAIMER: These are images from the TEST SERVER – I highly doubt these will be close to anything like what the final Planetary UI looks like.

It was very obvious whilst looking through what worked that everything in place on SISI are placeholders: for example several drop down menus did nothing, or buttons that appeared would work did not.  Equally items look pretty randomly selected.  Dont go out there and spend kerbillions of ISK on Amarrian Wheat because you somehow figure that SISI is predicting the future – its not.  Trust me on this!

You can access the PI interface from space in that system – i.e as it stands currently you dont have to physically be by the planet to access this menu. Yes – all this stuff spins in 3D 🙂

Close up over a storm planet (above).  That red icon is your Planetary Command Center – basically the central ‘node’ and menu interface for what you want to build next.

Scanning: this doesnt work yet but you appear to have a floating window that you can drag across the surface of the planet.  There’s a colour bar running along one side of the scanner – my guess is you’ll get some form of visual clue as to where the resources you are looking for are on the planet.  I think also this ties in with the ‘satellite’ process mentioned in the dev blog as you need to have the satellite ‘active’ for this to do…well anything.

You can see I have got ahead of myself on the picture above as I have already dropped some PINS onto the globe.  Below shows a little better how these PINS can be connected together:

Close up of a ‘faktory’: basically a PIN that makes ‘stuff’.  The UI currently shows what resources this facility needs to operate, and what it will produce as an end product.  ‘Extractor’ facilities look similar but just show what they mine.  What’s not clear (at least at this point) is what you’re missing in terms of resources from the process.

So its all fairly straight forward – extractors to mine the raw materials, that you then link to a factory PIN and then to your PCC.  AS far as I could tell you can place these PINS anywhere at all on a planet – its not “territorial” if you’re looking for RISK / Axis & Allies style continents.  That said I was looking at a Storm World, and I guess they don’t have continents.  Overall its looks interesting, perhaps the kind of thing players will twiddle with if they have just a short amount of time to log on but expandable in the sense you could conceivably create a pretty complex web of interdependent industrial complexes.

Everything is clearly at an early stage.  If you can’t log on to SISI but want an idea of how it “feels” in terms of game play the best approximation I can give is that it “feels” very similar to the exploration and probing system, almost like a mini game in that sense & certainly more interactive than say the “point click and go AFK” act of mining.

Edit:  EVE University YouTube video of the process in action: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQ06wdm8B_0

C.

PINS and needles

Posted in Uncategorized on March 10, 2010 by cailais

The latest Dev blog is up with more juicy goodness on Planetary Interaction.  CCP Hammerhead is clearly in amusing mode as he writes so its  abit of a trawl to get through the good stuff.

Here’s a quick run down of what it contains, first off hunting for resources:

“The way one goes about this is to launch a satellite over the planet they are interested in and using the new planetary scanning window to get a graphical result of where the specific resource is one is looking for”.

No great surprises there and I have to admit my heart sank a bit here:” uh noes moon probing” 😦         But wait…..

“We use sexy colored spherical harmonics to represent hot spots for the best resources”.

Wowzers! Now that’s more like it – assuming CCP Hammerhead isnt pulling our collective chains here it looks like we could have quite a sexy UI for PI. Or a PIUI then.  🙂

“The Planetary Command Center (PCC) is your base of operations for all of your infrastructure on a given planet. Skills will likely allow you to have PCCs on multiple planets. After your PCC is down on a good location the next thing you want to do is start placing extractors in good locations based on your survey results”.


So we can expect to see a web of nodes (resources linking to a central command point), which makes a fair bit of sense when we think how DUST 514 might interact with PI. For those hoping to specialise in PI (rather than just dip into it) a skill tree of progression is again confirmed which sounds really pretty good.  Why be a Tyrant on one world when you can oppress the masses on lots of worlds?!

“Why waste valuable storage space in your rocket or space elevator (more on that later) when you can do some processing dirt-side and just send up the good stuff?You will be mixing and matching various resources and commodities based on those schematics to come up with intermediate commodities to eventually create final products. Some final products can be produced entirely on one planet but most will require transport to other planets to be produced”.

CCP Hammerhead is a bit vague about space elevators through his post, but the news that you will able to manufacture ‘stuffs’ on the planet and dig a few layers down into the mechanics of PI sounds pretty good.  A note of caution is ringing in my ears however and the spectre of POS management is the cause.  Clearly we can expect minimal use of PI by players ‘dipping in’ to produce raw products: the hard core industrialist and traders however can get much more deeply involved.

“Each command center can launch cargo rockets on occasion and there is a space port PIN (planetary interaction node – undefined by CCP at the moment but “a thingy” pretty much covers it) that acts as an upgrade from the command center. There is also trade hub PIN which lets you buy and sell commodities from your neighbors on the planet”.

Intra planet trading – a really intriguing concept which is fascinating when you look at what it implies, especially for Low Sec and Null Sec Space, as it points to something rarely seen in EVE; co operation between neutral parties.

Overall some tantalising details.  We will be able to find ‘stuffs’ on planets and then make ‘stuffs’ on those planets and even trade those ‘stuffs’ on a planet or between planets.  Planets spin and so is my head at the possibilities all of this hints at.  One things for sure: time to dust of those industry and trading skill books.

C.