Friday, February 26, 2010

War! What is it good for?

Nothing... say it again! *killing the music*

Here’s the problem with Empire war declarations in Eve Online in 6 words. Most players do not like it. That is really my only gripe about them. If you have a game that you want to grow then you should be somewhat responsive to what most of your players want; in particular, your subscription paying customers.

I know Eve is full of PvP style players. So what about them? They can PvP *anytime* they want in Low Security or Nullsec with other players who know the risks and want to PvP.

Players who never leave Empire do so because they don’t like PvP. I never have understood why it has been so important for CCP to “prove those carebears wrong” by forcing them in to PvP through the Empire war declaration system. It seems that the developers of Eve are of the opinion that the only way to *fully* appreciate Eve Online is to be dragged in to player combat willing or not.

My contention is that every player in Eve that stays long enough will eventually find their way to player combat in their own time. There is no need to make it a requirement of all players.

Alternatively, re-work the wardec system so that corps can better control if they can be targeted or perhaps let them buy their way out of it officially through Concord rather than by direct extortion.

More often than not, pirate wardecs are fabricated by a small handful of PvP experienced pilots so that they can pick off other players with little or no PvP experience. Nobody enjoys this style of game play, but CCP seems view it as sacrosanct. The rights of bullying player *must* be preserved at the cost of the majority of other players who just want to play the game peacefully with their friends.

My characters live out in 0.0 space. I am prepared to deal with combat. I choose it and have learned to live with the impacts. But if I were CEO of CCP, I’d still create truly PvP-free area for pilots somewhere in Eve. People pay $15 USD a month to play the game they want to play. It just makes business sense to try to give everybody somewhere to play what they want. Hardcore PvP players would not be impacted by being unable to attack purely Empire based corps.

Now consider that very long term players can probably survive in Eve on ISK and thus avoid paying some (or all) monthly fees. So really, the only folks giving you money are the newer players. Even more reason to provide an experience compelling to new players.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Master and Servant

These are blog entries from a while ago and make up multiple posts. It is a bit of history of my time in the Khanid Trading Syndicate as told by my lovely alt, Porter.

My master came to me some years ago. I was newly awakened and fresh in my first frigate. He was tall and charming, but not imposing. His sense of humour was devilish and heretic. I was young with no resources. He was worldly and flush with ISK. He had one goal—to fly the Gallente carriers in the wilds of space. It would take years of training and billions of credits, but it was his goal. He would fund my education, buy my ships, and provide my defence. I would manage his assets, dominate local markets, and mine. The deal was struck and so I became the servant of my master, Masada.

The years have passed. We have ranged across all of Eve together. We have fought wars and constructed mighty Outposts. At times we were broken and forced to flee. But always together we have recovered. We would mine from cruisers until we could build battleships. When we could not mine, he fought on the side of who ever would pay. I sold the bounty across the stars.

Our wealth grew. Soon my master was training with the elite even among immortals. His skills expanded to the limits of our technology. As he drew closer to the carrier skills he became a paragon of combat. At first a Dominix appears humble inside a fleet, but soon it was obvious that he was becoming undefeatable. He rose through the ranks of the Federal Navy to the highest status.

When finally all the necessary skills were consumed, we began the last financial drive to purchase a billion ISK asset—to at last claim the title, Capital Pilot.

I scoured the markets across a thousand light-years to find the right contract. In the span of a few seconds our wealth was spent and Masada flew out to claim his prize. The Thantos is vast barely contained inside a station hanger. The green Galente banners flapped triumphant at the podding ceremony. My master, Masada Akiva, become a Carrier Pilot. I, Porter Thorne, the servant, stood proud and sang the songs of tribute.

I have opened the vastness of space to my master many times since. I have given my sacrificial clones to him. In return, all that I ask is granted. My own skills have grown. We have grown together. He leads, I follow. The ISK pours from his hands to mine—master and servant. What could be better than this immortality shared?

With my Master’s goal attained, he grew ever more despondent. The bureaucratic challenges of such a massive ship seemed to lack the glory he imagined. ISK rang hollow. The vast emptiness of low sec space was droll, inhospitable, and choked with spies like cockroaches in a freighter of abandoned food.

We slept.

Idle we remained until my Master’s dreams returned to space. Slowly he was lulled from slumber by the promise of conquest, battle, and blood. New machines had been created in our absence. Wormholes uncovered to realms yet unseen. But most of all, the rallying cry of the Alliance to tackle the most difficult of missions known to the four Empires. The might of the Thanatos would be tested. The metal of man, steel and drone would be tempered in the flames of pitched combat. Lives would be risked and lost.

Masada awakened.

Crew frantically readied ships long docked. Weapons checked, engines fired, and all systems online. Once again the mighty Dominix sailed with its bay full of the mostly deadly drones of the Gallente Federation… and the enemy bled. My Master left behind fields of wreckage. He brought home the massive spoils of war. The ISK flowed once more.

Soon we will fly in to the lawless systems. Soon the majesty of Khanid Trade Syndicate capital ships will appear. Soon the enemies of the Khanid Royal Family will despair at the sight of the onrushing fleet. Each primary target will glow like a mini-sun and shatter. Soon, my brothers and sisters… soon.

The battle was joined.

The call from the Royal Khanid Navy came for the Khanid Trade Syndicate to smash a local uprising of Sansha. An invasionary force of over 100 ships threatened to destabilize the zone. Eleven of the bravest and most battle hardened of the KTS pilots answered the call. A fleet of eleven against a hundred. Arretu and Masada lead the small force deep in low sec. Vikari summoned the mighty Thanatos piloted by my Master. The iron of KTS would be forged in to steel.

Masada warped in directly bisecting two forces of Sansha ships. Each side supported by withering support towers and two Energy Neutralizer towers. Few capitals are destroyed by damage; they die from lack of capacitor. But soon after engaging the remaining 10 pilots warped in to wipe the battlefield clear of Sansha opposition. Towers fell, hulls crushed, and in the end not a single Sansha ship escaped. KTS did not lose a single ship.

KTS delivered a perfect victory to the Royal Khanid Navy. The mighty eleven shared in the reward.

More battles would follow. There would be more carriers in the field. The strength of KTS is growing. Khanid quakes from the shockwave of our fleet. We stand tested, proven, and strong.


Over a year ago my Master and I considered our futures. His goal was the Thanatos which we would complete first, but then what? Immortals with ISK to spare we plotted out a few strategic investments. One of these was the Providence.

Of all freighters of the four factions, the Amarr Providence is, to our eyes, the most noble of ships. It is slow, yet full of purpose in its motion and graceful in warp. It is a ship abuzz with the activity of industry. From a pilot’s view it is the simplest of ships to control, but the sheer size of it requires large crew of engineers, loaders, and support staff. A small city of complexity encapsulated in a sleek form.

Of course to obtain such a ship required a vast investment. A sum equal to that of the Thanatos. But we were patient and slowly built up again. We found a Providence for sale in Amarr Prime and we pooled our resources to buy it. We seem to make ISK faster than we can mine minerals so an outright purchase made more sense.

As time has gone by, my role has shifted. Initially, I was trained to mine for the resources necessary to maintain my Master’s carrier. But as it turned out, once acquired it was simply easier to buy fuel than mine for it. I therefore began to make small courier runs in a covert ops. The cov ops grew to a Recon and this grew to Heavy Assault Cruisers and now it seems the last jump to Battleship is logical. So the next step in our plan was for me to train up to the Raven.

Why the Raven, you might ask? The answer is curious. I am Minmatar after all. I was already trained for the Typhoon. But the answer lies in another story of my Master…

Long ago when Masada was freshly awakened he cast his eye out to the wide stars and contemplated his place in it. The Gallente favour drones and it would seem in the mystery of ship designs that missiles and drones do not mix. A pilot must choose. Masada, thinking of his carrier someday, chose drones, but always he admired the utility of missiles. If he was going to fund my education, then he wanted me to walk the path he could not take. And so, in his decision was also mine. A Raven it would be.

We sold off some of our other ships—the Typhoon, a Hyperion, a Cyclone. All good ships, but simply ships we were not using. But then there was a surprise. Masada was not content with me flying the Raven and instead insisted on obtaining Caldari Navy Raven. A more battle hardened design. Usually reserved for the most dedicated of Caldari loyalists, I don’t want to know exactly what deals were struck to sell one of these prized ships to a Gallente and a Minmatar. But here it sits in my hanger in Palas. Of course in Khanid I use it nearly exclusively in service to the Royal Khanid Navy and thus by proxy to the Amarr Empire—still I appreciate the irony of flying Caldari war machines and Amarr industrial ships.

Now again we work towards building our finances up. We have retained a great deal of our assets. It is only a matter of time.


I just discovered the announcement of my Master's medal of valour from the Battle of Palas in the Volare War. He had not mentioned it to me. While I usually keep on top of the alliance news, this item had slipped my attention with the flurry of activity around the ending of the war. I asked him about it, but he only shrugged and said, "It was nothing."

I asked him to show it to me. He seemed embarassed, but went to the office safe and pulled out the rimu wood box which lay on top of his folded Gallente Federal Navy uniform. Inside lay the shining Khanid Bronze Star under ribbons of grey and red. The system name, Palas, was etched on the top bronze bar.

"This is quite lovely." I said admiring the fine craftmanship. "We should get it mounted for the office."

He only shook his head, "Nah... All I did was shoot what Tamon told me to shoot. It was a clean fight... That battle went well."

The emphasis he placed on "that" sent a small chill through me. More than once I had helped my Master through the shock of pod loss--jerking awake and flailing in a new body as the old one perished cold in space. Wars are unavoidable in Eve. Losses can not be prevented. I recalled our long journey to Khanid... the endless wars of null security space... the fall of the BRUCE empire... the expulsion from FREGE. Only names now of lost and forgotten alliances.

Later that night I reviewed our combat logs and counted down the ships lost. So many ships. Thousands of lives... Next to each entry I discovered a strange icon. Curious, I activated it. It was a media pack file containing various stills, video and recordings from the crew of the lost ships. Their notes were brief, but still managed to tell part of the story of those souls that had served with the Capsuleer Masada Akiva. None of the images showed my Master with the crew--for this never happens. A Capsuleer must not hesitate in a decision. The sacrifice of one crew may mean the salvation of dozen other ships. Distance is a common defense. Thus it is unusual to find such a personal collection in the combat log of a Capsuleer.

I found myself memorizing the details of faces, piecing together stories, and consciously willing myself to remember these souls. Perhaps they are gone from this universe... but my memory is immortal. None shall truly die that serve my Master. This is our promise.


The days slip past quietly like the silent ticks of old atomic clocks--peaceful days. The last war fades from our memory as the business of mining and accounting grows. My master is deep in study realizing his most current goal. In just a few weeks he will have the skills to fly every class of ship save the great Titans. The last few skills are long and he scarcely leaves his hanger.

As for myself, I am a bit unsettled without obvious clear directives. I did recently complete Industrial Command Ship training. I can then fly Masada’s Orca on request. My leadership skills do not match his, but at least I can move it to orbit as necessary. With no other pressing goals in mind, I have fallen back to raising my shield skills—always handy.

I acquired a Minmatar Maelstrom a week or so ago. While I shifted skills to favour Caldari missiles some time ago, I quickly found this ship to be intriguing. It seemed to be a fine gunship. I caught Masada admiring it in the hanger. He held most of the basic skills to fly it and I couldn’t help but offer it to him. My Navy Raven was by far a better fit for me.

My master was greatly pleased and quickly took the “Projected Revenue” out of dock and in to combat. The combined damage of the 8 grouped 1400 mm cannons was impressive. While it did not have near the staying power or the sustained damage dealing capacity of Masada’s Dominix (the “Core Rear Admiral”), it never the less was enjoyable to fly. I think he enjoyed flying a modern ship of the line compared to the undeniably ugly Dominix. But after a few days of play, he went back to the old workhorse Gallente battleship. “Soon”, he said, “After I complete these last few Gallente ships I will return to shield skills, Artillery and that Maelstrom… besides it will be good cross training for that Vindicator we looked at last month…” I arched my eyebrows at the thought of another billion ISK ship in our collection, but I only sighed. What can you do with such a man?

A newer corpmate has decided to make his fortune as an ice miner. As it turned out, I had a Mackinaw sitting idle for some months in Gallente space. I had always intended to come back to it some day and mine fuel for my Master’s Thanatos, but somehow it always just seemed easier to buy what I needed. Thus I had an asset and Navoker had a need. A deal was struck for 900 blocks of Blue Ice in exchange for the Mackinaw. I then used my Providence to return the blocks to Palas where I’m sure we will distribute some portion of the products to the market and keep plenty for my Master’s needs.

These are our quiet, peaceful days filled with long freighter runs, ice mining, and training. May they last a long time.

~Porter Thorne, Servant of Masada Akiva
(An accounting of life in Empire until our departure to Providence 6 months ago)

Monday, February 8, 2010

War For-EVE-r

Warfare in Providence continues as -A- and Ushra'Khan stab at the heart of CVA space in a solar system known as 9UY4-H.  Few reading this will know anything about the significance of this system.  In the begining of the racial war between CVA and U'K, Providence was held by both sides.  Both honored the convention that pilots of neutral standing would be allowed to fly unmolested.  In these days the concept of sovereignty was entirely different.  If you had towers in a system, you owned it and you could build an Outpost in that system.

Outposts are eternal.  They can never be destroyed, but they can be lost (transferred).  In those early days of Ushra'Khan they erected an Outpost that was named Unity Station.  They held it for a long time until CVA broke the accords of the war and took Unity Station from Ushra'Khan.  That station resided in solar system 9UY4-H.  U'K are now close to reclaiming the station of their birth.  The fervor is fanatic.  To place ones self between Ushra'Khan and Unity Station is suicide.

As for myself, life goes one in CVA.  The strategic significane of 9Uy4-H is not muted by use of Jump Bridges.  We no longer have to travel through directly connected systems and can quite happily bypass 9UY indefinitely.  My area of Providence has no need to travel to distant 9UY anyway.  I have re-shipped and now seek to replensh my wallet.  This will be slow going in the war, but in Eve all things are accomplished in time.

Game On!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Politics of Eve

I would like to write about a bit of Eve history, but the whole story would take far too long for one humble blog post.  You could perhaps gleen from other posts that my corportation has moved in to the null security region of New Eden (the galaxy that makes up Eve Online) known as Providence.  We joined an alliance known as a Holder; a vassel of Curatores Veritas Alliance (CVA).  We are therefore at war with Ushra'Khan and their ally AAA (Against All Authorities).  But these words are probably mostly meaningless to those who are not pilots of Eve. 

This part of the big difference between Eve Online and other morgs.  There were no "quests" sending us to Providence.  The structure of the Holders was not created by the designers.  The rationale behind the epic warfare was not drafted by a mission writer.  Providence is merely an uncontrolled region like a dozen others.  But it has been made special by the creativity of the players.  A long time ago... in a galaxy far, far away...

A band of pilots decided to create context behind the cold combat of Eve.  One side took up the banner of CVA as an extension of the Amarr Empire (one of the 4 developer created races of Eve).  The other side took up banner of Ushra'Khan, a Minmatar faction sworn to fight all Amarr everywhere.  They divided up Providence as a region where both sides could play out the drama of Order vs Chaos.  The history of the CVA/Ushra'Khan War was born.

Over time, CVA grew in power and upset the balance in Providence.  They cast out Ushra'Khan and took the whole of the region.  But so vast an area could not be controlled effectively by one alliance.  The Holders were created as subservient alliances to CVA to maintain Providence and up hold its goals.  The principle goal being to allow pilots outside the alliance who were not lawless to use Providence openly and without fear of aggression from CVA or the Holders.  This principle has made Providence the single most developed section of 0.0 security space known in New Eden.  But Ushra'Khan did not go quietly in to the night.

The war never ended and is still fought today.  But today, Ushra'Khan has allied with the current undisputed force in Eve, Against All Authorities.  AAA and UK have come to Providence and now threaten to destroy CVA and the Holders... The move was not unprovoked.  CVA masterminded an attack on AAA timed to take advantage of a weakness in AAA.  But once AAA recovered, they turned all their terrible power to Providence and delivered a series of blows to the Holders.  The culmination of this was a massive battle at an edge system called D-GTMI.  This battle will forever be remembered as the worst massacre of pilots in the most one-sided victory every seen in New Eden.  The after-shock of this tragedy has shaken the resolve of several Holders and we are at the brink of Civil War in Providence.  The Holders ignoring the will of CVA while AAA and Ushra'Khan batter at the gates.  It is a time of darkness... There will be betrayal, death, savagery, and chaos.

No other morg can offer a story arch more rich and more meaningful.

See you in space!
Game On!