The ‘Intelligent Species’

•August 12, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I trust you’ve all seen the new ‘Butterfly Effect’ video by CCP. It’s good i admit, certainly grasps the potential of what you can do in EVE. However the mention of a massive alliance war that you could supposedly join because you helped one idiot of a miner who didn’t have the sense to have protection while decimating the molecular structure of roids did somewhat intruige me. Why mention that?

EVE has a ton of features, a metaphorical ton of course. You can become a trade tycoon, be at the fore of manufacturing, mine the most exotic of minerals (so long as you have protection), perhaps oversee all three things as the head of a corp. Why mention the mechanic of the game that involves pew pew boom boom? What is it about this that makes us pay money for this entertainment? For all our accomplishments as a race, i become increasingly afraid of opening my eyes to the obvious, the most powerful highs we get is seeing the destruction of others.

Even if this is in a virtual setting where the only people getting hurt are our great grandchildren (loose reference to global warming because of our computers sucking life out of the earth etc etc) its still intruiging to see that all we humans ever want to do is prove our dominance through the submission of all others. Like the Jackal in Farcry 2 said, “all living things exist to exert their strength” and it’s true really.

I’m not singling CCP out, more or less all MMOs are the same in the way they promote themselves, “save our generic fantasy world today!” or “do you have what it takes?” (‘it’, i assume, being that MMO’s meta-game). And most of the time, you won’t even do all of the things the game says you can do, its either too big or someone before you has taken the top spot and isn’t letting anyone else in.

Most of all i’d say the biggest losers in this fiasco are us. Me. You. Your clan members, your corp members, the people who make up your enemy faction, your alliance. Why? Well much more intelligent people than me have voiced concerns like this much more articulately than myself, yet we still buy into it all. Its the same concept as cigarettes i guess, we know theres a good chance we’ll develop health problems should we smoke them but it still makes us feel good for that short while, we still feel cool. You don’t want to join an MMO because you fervently believe in it or because it can really go places, we all just want it so we have another outlet to display our strength, spread our feathers, to attempt to show that noob across the atlantic that you get the metaphorical ass, not him.

And you’ll do that either by crushing his corp/guild, slashing him with your 1337 sword or pew pewing him into the nearest binary star.

I may have gone off EVE a bit there, but it all applies. So EVE players, next time you extend your pilot license, remember you’re doing it to f**k over your fellow man, hell, if we actually had the social skills we’d steal the girlfriend off that dick of a guy we hated all the way through high school. But we don’t, so get the hell back in your pod. Bitch.



You and Who’s Money?

•July 9, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Money is a strange thing. It dictates the direction of nations and the general wellbeing of the citizens within their boundaries. Without money, you can do very little in the modern world as everything has a cost. Yes, money appears to control us in many ways, but have you ever stopped to think or research how modern currency exchange systems came to be? British people, have you ever wondered why your £10 note says ‘I promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of ten pounds’? Well money as we know it has taken different forms throughout history, but in order to understand it, you need to remove the view that money is this all magical collection of papers and coins that make things happen without any logical reason.

I’ll begin to go back in history by talking about the present first of all. Aside from a strong working economy, a large determinant in the printing of new money is the amount of gold in the government vaults because of all the metals in the world, gold is the most valuable in terms of practicality. Sure, 50 Cent and Jay-Z may have moved on from gold in their crazy music videos but gold has been a staple in much high end manufacturing for as long as there has been industry. Its supreme quality as a metal (it doesn’t rust, its a good semi-conductor, its strong, the list goes on) means it has myriad applications in the production of many things, including the most basic of tools and weaponry; cue the time machine. The renaissance, the medieval times and all the way back to the Romans, Greeks and Egyptians has seen gold used as a powerful bartering tool.  Since gold had all these brilliant properties, civilisations saw much use for them, statues, symbols of office, buildings, weaponry, armour etc, basically the amount of gold your nation had determined how industrious your population could be.

As you move along the timeline, soon coins were made of out gold, the more gold coins you have, the wealthier you are, which was the premise Robin Hood worked off. Move along even further and soon you’ll find that gold was too valuable to move around in peoples pockets and purses and so was locked away in vaults, paper-based notes representative of the gold was issued so owners of gold could still command their wealth, and guess what (British people, because we did it first) what unit the gold was measured in to appropriately issue paper notes? Yes, pounds. 1 pound of gold will give you a 1 pound coin, 10 pounds gives you a 10 pound note. Behold the birth of money. Money is merely a representative of gold long since owned by anyone that aren’t the governments of this world, its just an IOU for something we can never truly pay.

So in EVE’s economy, is there an underlying system of control that has become a mere shadow of it’s former self, or is the number representing your ISK the set standard that ultimately determines how much power you have in game? If this is true then people of a certain mind would suggest the fiscal system in EVE is far superior to that of RL; one currency, universal to all nations, cultures and groups that can be taken anywhere without the need for exchange rates, conversion or anything else. It’s not based on non-existent ownership of a valuable metal, it’s simply a numerical determinant of how much you’re worth which in turn determines exactly what you can get from others (be it a product or a service). I accept that item-for-item bartering through the contract system does exist, but even then ISK equivalencies will come very strongly into it (unless you’re prepared to give 500 mil of stuff away for something extremely rare but otherwise worthless).

So I hope you’ve enjoyed your history lesson and my thoughts on in-game currency. One day I imagine RL currency will be very much like ISK, universal and unchanging throughout the world, things would certainly be a lot easier. But, for now, we’ll leave the forward thinking to game designers and not politicians; it’s always been the way, hasn’t it?


You’re Fired

•June 30, 2009 • 15 Comments

Welcome to the ninth installment of the EVE Blog Banter and its first contest, the monthly EVE Online blogging extravaganza created by CrazyKinux. The EVE Blog Banter involves an enthusiastic group of gaming bloggers, a common topic within the realm of EVE Online, and a week to post articles pertaining to the said topic. The resulting articles can either be short or quite extensive, either funny or dead serious, but are always a great fun to read! Any questions about the EVE Blog Banter should be directed here. Check out other EVE Blog Banter articles at the bottom of this post!

“Last month Ga’len asked us which game mechanic we would most like to see added to EVE. This month Keith “WebMandrill” Nielson proposes to reverse the question and ask what may be a controversial question: Which game mechanic would you most like to see removed completely from EVE and why? I can see this getting quite heated so lets keep it civil eh?”

Recently the question was proposed, “which game mechanic would you like to see removed completely from EVE and why?”. It’s part of a blogging competition by CrazyKinux and I figured, much like the British army going into Iraq too soon without full equipment or supplies, i may as well start my amateur blogging career in a full on competition advertised by CCP themselves.

Now it’s counterpart question (the opposite concept of the one in hand) is very easy to answer, i have many items on my EVE wish list such as cosmetically customisable ships, more ship animations (barrel rolls for smaller interceptors etc), voice-overs for NPC ships (such as a voice from a Conchord ship telling you it’s scanning you for contraband) and a missile launcher that shoots rabbits at enemies for massive EM damage. That last one may be a little out of reach but a man can dream can’t he? Still, to answer this question, one has to consider it as carefully as one would consider, “which part of your body would you most like to see removed and why?”  It’s hard basically; hard because EVE works for the most-part and it works because all of its mechanics work well together… for the most part.

So to answer this, i’m going to go through a couple of the mechanics i really don’t want to see gone and then give one or two that bug me quite a bit. So first of all, i don’t think it would be a good idea to see the Wallet system gone, because the Wallet is money and money is power (i’ll be dealing with that in a future blog). Next, the Market would have to stay because you generally can’t do much without a means to acquire in-game items quickly (especially in a game with the pace of EVE, one second you have your lovely proud cruiser, the next you’re paying a pirate 10 mil just to leave your pod alone, *sob*).

Moving on from the regression of painful memories, i’ll just go and summarise right now that the two mechanics mentioned above are staying since they go hand in hand like fish and chips (its a British thing). My next point is the product of a thought that was bugging me for quite some time, the character sheet. Is it an umbrella for many different mechanics or is it one mechanic in itself that can perform multiple roles? If we consider it to be the former, then this next point can be explained a lot easier. Most of the things on there are fine, skill training, attribute mapping, kill list, standings but the one thing I have found literally no use for is the certificate system.

I can’t imagine the certificate system being used for the things CCP envisaged it would be used for, for example, to benchmark your character against the use of a new ship or weapon. If you don’t have the skills, you cant use the weapon, but you don’t need to necessarily have the certificates to be able to use that same object, it’s merely a suggestion, and considering EVE is filled with 300,000 immortal pod pilots with superiority complexes, the power of suggestion is somewhat diminished.

Even though this is the case, the certificate system does somewhat lie in the background, only annoying me when i click on its little tab in the character sheet/item description of an object; it doesn’t make a big faff of the fact it exists so it does gain some redemption there.

Now this article asks the writer to talk about the mechanics to be completely removed, which completely removes a lot of what i could have actually rambled on about, such as, get rid of the auction system and meld it with the Market system, split People and Places apart and make them into their own standalone mechanics for ease of use and stop making Gallentean battleships the visual product of a certain Freudian stage of cognitive development, but the constraints really choke down what, well, anyone could say really because CCP are nice, friendly and no nonsense. If something doesn’t work, it gets changed or canned and even the mechanics that work extremely well are still improved upon with every expansion. Now this is an applaud-able feat since you’re reading the writings of a self-confessed morbid cynic. If CCP can do enough to only give me the certificate system to chew up and spit out then they’re some hardworking chaps.

I think it’s time to summarise. EVE is great, it will always be so, and will always improve, but get rid of the Certificates system. Like the human appendix and Pierce Brosnan for James Bond films, it may have been a good idea at some point, but no’ one is going to die tomorrow without it.


List of Participants:
  1. Diary of a Space Jockey, Blog Banter: BE GONE!
  2. EVE Newb, (EVE) Remove You
  3. Miner With Fangs, Blog Banter – It’s the Scotch
  4. The Eden Explorer, Blog Banter: The Map! The Map!
  5. The Wandering Druid of Tranquility, “Beacons, beacons, beacons, beacons, beacons, mushroom, MUSHROOM!!!”
  6. Inner Sanctum of the Ninveah, Kill the Rats
  7. Mercspector @ EVE, Scotty
  8. EVE’s Weekend Warrior, EVE Blog Banter #9
  9. A Merry Life and a Short One, Eve Blog Banter #9: Why Won’t You Die?
  10. Into the unknown with gun and camera, Blog Banter – The Hokey Cokey
  11. The Flightless Geek, EVE Blog Banter #9: Remove a Game Mechanic
  12. Sweet Little Bad Girl, Blog Banter 9: Who is Nibbling at My House?
  13. One Man and His Spaceship, Blog Banter 9: What could you do without?
  14. Life in Low Sec, EVE Blog Banter #9: Stop Tarnishing My Halo
  15. Cle Demaari: Citizen, Blog Banter #9: Training for all my men!
  16. A Mule in EVE, He who giveth, also taketh away?
  17. Dense Veldspar, Blog Banter 9
  18. Morphisat’s Blog, Blog Banter #9 – Randomness Be Gone !
  19. Facepalm’s Blog, EVE Blog Banter #9: What a new pilot could do without
  20. Memoires of New Eden, You’re Fired
  21. Kyle Langdon’s Journeys in EVE, EVE Blog Banter #9 Titans? What’s a Titan?
  22. Achernar, The gates! The gates are down!
  23. Speed Fairy, EVE Blog Banter #9: Down with Downtime!
  24. I am Keith Neilson, EVE Blog Banter #9-F**K Da Police
  25. Ripe Lacunae, The UI… Where do I begin… (Eve Blog Banter #9)
  26. Clown Punchers, EvE Blogs: What game mechanic would you get rid of?
  27. Estel Arador Corp Services, You’ve got mail
  28. Epic Slant, Let Mom and Pop Play: EVE Blog Banter #9
  29. Deaf Plasma’s EVE Musings, Blog Banter #9 – Removal of Anchoring Delay of POS modules
  30. Podded Once Again, Blog Banter #9 – Do we really need to go AFK?
  31. Postcards from EVE, 2009.
  32. Harbinger Zero, Blog Banter #9 – War Declarations & Sec Status
  33. Warp Scrammed, Blog Banter 9 – Never Too Fast
  34. Ecaf Ersa (EVE Mag), Can a Tractor Tractor a Can?
  35. Thoughts from an Accidental Minmatar Revolutionary, EVE Blog Banter #9 – Aggression timers, WTs and Stargates
  36. Mike Azariah, I don’t put much stock in it…
  37. More articles as they are posted!

Fiction: Pride Before the Fall

•June 26, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Not contrary to my previous post, this one has been done for ages and it’s only just occurred to me to put it on my blog, enjoy.

xenophobia [zen-oh-fobe-ee-a]; Noun – a hatred or fear of foreigners or strangers

Karass had always been stuffed with self-righteous attitudes; the Caldari were the greatest race in New Eden and nothing would stop their military and economic juggernaut now that Tibus Heth was at the reigns. Like all Caldari, from a very young age he had been filled with stories of the Gallentean ‘attrocities’ committed against the Caldari, the millions of lives lost, the horror and poverty caused in the wake of the Gallentean attacks. Just hearing anything to do with Gallente made his blood boil with hatred; he was the perfect product of the Caldari regime.

His aptitude tests from a young age were outstanding, and soon enough Karass qualified as a pod pilot, excelling in the top 3 of his class. He knew what he wanted to do, and as soon as he could, he signed on for the Caldari militia. Space was a new challenge to Karass, but like every other obstacle he encountered, he broke right through it. Training in combat to a proficient level was done in barely any time at all compared to his fellow pod pilots; he was revered as an example to all others, the gold standard of the Caldari pod pilots.

When the time came, Karass answered the call of the militia; his mission was given to him. He and his comrades were to enter an area of contested space and take a number of key positions from the Gallente and to hold them until the threat was alleviated. This was his time, his chance to wreak ancestral revenge upon the Gallentean oppressors; his skills were second to none among his comrades, his ship was outfitted with the deadliest of equipment and his crew boasted outstanding efficiency as the result of unshakable loyalty, this was his life.

‘Plasma levels optimal, primary thrusters engaged. Buckle up ladies and gentlemen, we’re heading out.’ Thought Karass, his thoughts broadcast across the intercom of his Drake class Battlecruiser, “Wraak”.

The Drake headed out of the dock and sped up to over two hundred metres per second, soon accompanied by multiple allies, each piloting their own unique vessel, but each united in preparation for battle and the lust for it. Once formation had been complete, Karass initiated a fleet-wide warp; the Drake was among the larger ships in the fleet and so was one of the last to align to the gravity well and warp. The target area was over 50 AU away and so would take a number of seconds to reach the destination. In warp, there was always a sense of tranquillity in the whole of the ship. Nothing can be heard outside of the ship apart from the pod’s audio processors simulating the sound of a Drake class ship moving at 24 times the speed of light, which is surprisingly halcyon. The warp generator began to disengaged the depleted energy vacuum around the ship and the inertial compensation systems powered down in perfect harmony as they broke out of warp.

‘We’re in the hot zone now, keep on your toes; weapons crew report your status.’

‘Arbalests 1 through 6 armed and ready, three armed with EMP three armed with Explosive, Captain.’

‘Engineering, report’

‘Boosters, extenders and hardeners powered and ready, Captain’

‘Fire Support, report status.’

‘Ballistic Control Computer one-hundred percent synced, Captain’

‘Good luck everyone, after today, you are all heroes.’

Karass thought off the intercom, everyone on that ship knew what they had to do, to play their role flawlessly to the greater good of the whole vessel. Their fleet warped to the first position, they were the first to arrive, but soon after came the Gallenteans. There was the briefest of pauses, though not physically doing so, both sides were circling each other, sizing each other up and determining tactics. Karass issued orders across the fleet.

‘Interceptors, disrupt tracking on the larger ships and dampen their sensors. Support ships, prepare shield maintenance modules. Destroyers, web their interceptors and focus fire. Battleships and Battlecruisers, focus fire on larger ships. Lets put some elbow grease into this.’

Both fleets broke formation split seconds after each other; Karass was confident of victory as their numbers were considerably higher than the Gallenteans; he had heard of the lack of interest in the Gallentean militia, which only ever added to his disdain of the Gallenteans. Losses began to mount up on either side, Karass was taken aback by the skill at which the Gallenteans handled their drones and how so many of his smaller vessels had been lost to them. Still, the Gallenteans ranks were thinning quicker than his, the tracking disruption working well as little fire from the Gallentean ships were finding their targets. Karass opened up a comm link between him and the apparent enemy commanding vessel.

‘Turn around and leave you scum, if you disengage I may spare you.’

A response came after a few seconds. ‘Typical Caldari, your foresight is obscured through your arrogance.’

The responding voice came from an Intaki, wise beyond his years and obviously battle-hardened. Still, Karass paid little heed to his words as he was on the brink of victory. Just before he set his missiles upon the commanding ship he had just exchanged words with, his sensors registered multiple new hostiles right behind his fleet, close, seven thousand metres away. Karass racked his brain. ‘Thats absurd, what on earth do they have that can turn this around for them at seven thousand metres?’

Then it struck him, he willed one of his camera drones round to the rear of the fleet as fast as he could; what he saw spelt his end. Six Nemesis class stealth bombers began to orbit his larger ships, including his own. Alert sounds penetrated his brain as the torpedoes began their deadly flight; they slammed into the shields, Karass flinched as if he had been punched in the chest.

‘Captain, that was the last of our shields, we’re onto armour now!’ An engineering superior exclaimed down the intercom.

Filled with rage, Karass would not back down, this was his vengeance! ‘Fire it all! Fire everything!’

Soon, his heavy missiles powered towards the assailing Nemesis, however managed to do little damage as the Nemesis was too close and too fast for it to be in the effective explosion radius. A second salvo of torpedoes hit his armour; again, Karass flinched as his mind struggled to cope with the damage.

‘They’re using explosives Captain, we’re down to thirty eight percent armour, another hit like that and we won’t make it out sir!’

Karass knew it was too late already, even if he went to warp out now, aligning would take longer than it would take for the Nemesis pilot to fire his last salvo. Soon enough, he saw the three heat signatures register on his screen, the thrusters of the last torpedoes to hit this ship. He didn’t know why he was so worried, there was a Gamma class clone waiting for him back at base, but he would have to live with the deaths of every single member of his crew for the rest of his life. As he gazed upon his shattered fleet, the centrepiece of which an exploding Raven, he opened his intercom

‘I am not the gold standard I am believed to be, I have led us all to our deaths, I am sorry.’

He got no reply from any of his crew, he deserved none. This was the life of a pod pilot, living as an immortal surrounded by mortality. This was something they did not teach at the academy, how to deal with helplessness, the loss of his beloved Vraak. The first torpedo put him into hull integrity, the second down to forty six percent integrity; the last breached the hull and exploded near the main reactor core. The pod was ejected into the void, Karass looked on as the ship was ripped apart in a runaway thermonuclear reaction; the deaths that pursued were short and painless. Soon, his hated enemies were upon his pod. He didn’t even bother to move, there was nothing he could do; the sooner he got into his new clone, the sooner he could get in his Ferox and get back out into the fray a wiser combatant.

Ironically, it was a Medium Anti-Matter Charge that breached his pod, ammunition from the guns his tactics had reduced the accuracy of down to executive abysmal misses. Karass thought his last thought in his first brain ‘Fuck.’

Then, there was white.

Stable at 45%

•June 23, 2009 • Leave a Comment

The title refers to a term used in EVE to describe the stability of your capacitor with all of your ships modules turned on (thats weapons, electronic warfare, micro warp drives, afterburners, fire support modules, the works). If your ship is ‘cap stable’ then, providing no outside interference is instigated such as energy neutralisers, your ship can basically fight forever out in the deep black without ever running out of power.

The reason i say this is because, currently, my brain’s capacitor is stable at 45% while working on my article for the CCP blogging competition held on the 30th of June and to post anything before this will only affect my performance. So in this case, expect nothing between now and the 30th, roughly. Thank you wonderful fan/s of me for staying loyal and for fueling my inflated ego further into the stratosphere.

My next blog will be the similarities and differences of ISK and RL currency. Hope you enjoy.



•June 18, 2009 • 1 Comment

This is an introductory post to introducingly introduce you all to the introduction of myself. Griffolion is the name (add me to buddies if you wish, WT or not) and EVE is my game. Well, not MY game, but it is the MMO i love to play the most.

The elegance of my writing may not compare to the professional bloggers out there and for that i adorn your occipital lobes with “my apologies” but i hope you enjoy what i have to offer.

Until recently, i stigmatised the concept of blogging to those with few or no social skills outside of the keyboard and monitor, those with god complexes or those who couldn’t get on the debate team at school. But today, well, my thoughts on that havent really changed but i did conclude that i fit into two of those categories (numbers two and three; feel free to kiss my feet at any time you wish).

Being new to this i’m quite unsure exactly how long these things are supposed to be, should there even be a word limit at all, but you readers only have a limited attention span for the most interesting of topics (myself included) so, in the words of my old high school English teacher, i will keep my writing “economical”, goddamn bitch.

In RL, i am a student, going for a degree in Neuropsychology. If i could go back two years, i’d do games journalism, but hey what’ya gonn’ do. I’ve been playing EVE for just over a year now (just after Trinity came out, so i never knew the horrors of pre-Trinity graphics, they probably weren’t horrible but compared to Trinity? Maybe). My char isn’t really specialised at the minute, well not in mindset. He has most of his skills in gunnery (T2 Hybrids ftw) and evenly distributed skill levels between electronics, engineering, drones and navigation (about 1 million each). I’m currently in the middle of a massive ‘getting everything up to level 4’ conquest in my skill lists that will take me til mid September to complete; The plan is aptly named “Big Ass Training List” on Evemon.

I’m not a guru on EVE but i know enough to have an opinion, so welcome to the rants an raves of a relative noob.