Failing In So Many Ways

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Liang Nuren – Failing In So Many Ways

Heretic Army – Ship Spinning Contest

Ship Spinning!Ship spinning has come back with a vengeance (youtube) and Heretic Army is hosting an Eve-Wide ship spinning competition (forum post).  I’ve been flying with them a bit while they try to woo me away from wormholes and back into pure low sec piracy.  At any rate, I’m helping front the ISK for the contest so I figure I should help it get some exposure!

Here’s the forum post text by Jude Loyd:

Heretic Army is hosting an Eve-wide ship spinning competition! All you have to do is spin your ship as many times as you can in a day, take a picture of your full eve screen including the spinning counter, and post the picture in this thread. The prize for the highest amount of spins is your choice of a Faction Cruiser! To keep your counter going…

  • You can switch ships.
  • You can undock and dock.
  • You CAN’T log off.

This event will continue until Jan 1st, 2012.

Good luck o7

As an addendum, I have offered a faction frigate (forum post) of choice to the most artistic submitted picture (in my choice).  I like pretty pictures.

Filed under: Eve, Gaming, , ,

A Night with Heretics

This weekend has been a weekend to remember.  I got into the SWTOR beta, and spent a fair amount of time playing that.  By Sunday I was definitely looking forward to some Eve and so I turned off SWTOR for some low sec PVP action.  I have been basing out of Minmatar low sec for literally years and the only surviving corp mate I have is in Heretic Army – so I head on over to Amamake in an Arazu while simultaneously sending an alt to fetch my Basilisk from Amarr low sec.

It wasn’t long before the call came that there was a smallish frit fleet at the sun, and we came away with a Jag.  After that there was some sort of small frig fleet at Belt 1 and Hahbs is killing a Rifter and calls for more points.  I arrive on grid shortly before 10-15 Amarr militia members.  Fortunately I’m in an Arazu so I cloak up and we skate away with having swallowed the bait.  Some time passed and my Basilisk arrived.

My Basilisk (Death Trap) is fit as follows (EFT stats):

[Basilisk, Solo Basilisk]
Beta Reactor Control: Capacitor Power Relay I
Beta Reactor Control: Capacitor Power Relay I

10MN Afterburner II
Pith C-Type Large Shield Booster
Invulnerability Field II
Invulnerability Field II
Cap Recharger II

Large S95a Partial Shield Transporter
Large S95a Partial Shield Transporter
Large S95a Partial Shield Transporter
Large S95a Partial Shield Transporter
Large S95a Partial Shield Transporter
Improved Cloaking Device II

Medium Capacitor Control Circuit II
Medium Capacitor Control Circuit II

Hornet EC-300 x5

So we camp the Osoggur gate for a little while and get a few kills (1, 2, 3) and miss a great many others (shuttles, frigs, and pods mostly).  Conversations range from talking about ancient history to the upcoming Crucible patch.  Eventually someone interrupted us with exciting news – a Rupture is in Auga heading to the Amamake gate!  We manage to warp in time and scoop him up.  This is fantastic – we’re finally moving around!  Sadly, it didn’t last long and before I knew it we were back at the Osoggur gate.  With 17000 people online right then it was probably about as good as we’re going to find.  I take to watching PVP videos on youtube while the Heretics talk amongst themselves.  A few more shuttles, frigs, pods, and cloaky ships go by and even 2500 scan res doesn’t seem to be able to catch them.  Finally we get news of 3 frigs – Purifier, Cormorant, and Dramiel (I think) on the other side of the gate.  The Purifier jumps through and we offer to pay him 5M to tell his buddies its clear.

After some dickering he seems to accept the 5M offer and asks if Heretics are recruiting.  They pass him the recruitment thread and in come his buddies.  A while later, there’s an amusing diversion with a sniping Apoc that took a pass at my Basilisk.  Sadly we didn’t quite catch him before he realized shooting the Basi – even with sentry support – was a lesson in futility.  We got   Several more kills before it was time for bed for most of us.  So the camp disperses and I head home – scouted by a friendly Tengu.

The first several jumps are totally boring, as I’ve come to expect during this timezone.  Dal, Hofjaldgund, and Eszur are as empty as usual.  However, it turns out that there’s a Cynabal on the Frerstorn gate in Eszur.  I’ve still got a GCC and so I have a choice – try to blow through him or detour around.  The other side of the gate’s clear so I go for it and try to get him to aggress first.  He doesn’t buy it and I jump at half shields confident I can tank him on the other side.

So I jump through to a Hurricane.  Whoops.  I overheat my mids but its just not enough to save me from my fate and I lose my first ship in quite some time.  I bail with my pod (its virtually impossible to lose one in low sec) and congratulate them on the kill.  Looking back, I had several options to save my Basilisk.  I could have simply not jumped a gate camp, aligned out and forced the Cynabal to aggress, or even made use of the cloak once I knew things were going to go south.  It’s always a little frustrating to know that you fucked up and lost a ship.

Its really hard to know how many kills that Basilisk has been responsible for because I deliberately eschew being on killmails.  Its certainly something in the high hundreds and probably well above a thousand.  There was even a bit of discussion throughout the night of the impossible victories won purely because of me flying that ship.  Since I figured out how to make ISK in Eve, I don’t worry too much about losses anymore and this is hardly the first faction/deadspace fit Logi I’ve lost.  Still,  this one is kinda sad because its the ship I really wanted to fly when I returned to Eve.  I guess that leaves me with the task of going to pick up a new one in the near future.

2011.11.28 09:43:00

Victim: Liang Nuren
Corp: Perkone
Alliance: Unknown
Faction: Unknown
Destroyed: Basilisk
System: Frerstorn
Security: 0.3
Damage Taken: 6567

Involved parties:

Name: Draggston
Security: -8.1
Corp: I See You…
Alliance: NONE
Faction: Minmatar Republic
Ship: Cynabal
Weapon: Cynabal
Damage Done: 2781

Name: Andrusza (laid the final blow)
Security: -7.4
Corp: Mothra inc
Alliance: NONE
Faction: Minmatar Republic
Ship: Hurricane
Weapon: 425mm AutoCannon II
Damage Done: 2221

Name: Minmatar Sentry Gun / Republic Fleet
Damage Done: 1565

Destroyed items:

Hornet EC-300, Qty: 2 (Drone Bay)
Invulnerability Field II
Y-S8 Hydrocarbon I Afterburners
Medium Capacitor Control Circuit II, Qty: 2
Lustering Alloy (Cargo)
Lucent Compound, Qty: 6 (Cargo)
Improved Cloaking Device II
Cap Recharger II
Motley Compound, Qty: 3 (Cargo)
Sheen Compound, Qty: 7 (Cargo)
Large S95a Partial Shield Transporter, Qty: 4
Beta Reactor Control: Capacitor Power Relay I

Dropped items:

Gleaming Alloy, Qty: 7 (Cargo)
Hornet EC-300, Qty: 2 (Drone Bay)
Invulnerability Field II
Dark Compound, Qty: 3 (Cargo)
Precious Alloy, Qty: 10 (Cargo)
Large S95a Partial Shield Transporter
Pith C-Type Large Shield Booster
Beta Reactor Control: Capacitor Power Relay I

Addendum: I have placed buy orders for my new Basilisk and my killers were kind enough to put the booster up for sale for a fair price in the system I lost it in.  Snatched that up to save me a trip to Jita.  \o/

Filed under: Eve, Gaming, ,

SWTOR – First Impressions

Star Wars: The Old Republic must be one of the most anticipated games of all time – at least, in my opinion.  I remember the initial commentary from the Eve Community when it was announced/confirmed.  Some people said “It will be the Eve Killer”, and that it would finally provide competition in the Sci-Fi MMO scene.  After my first day in SWTOR, I can tell you with no small amount of authority that it most certainly will not – ever kill Eve Online.  The two could not be further from each other and stay (barely) inside the realm of Sci Fi MMOs.  I’ll explain a tiny bit about Eve first and then move on to discuss what I found in SWTOR.

Just in case someone from another MMO drops by, I should explain that Eve is quite possibly the most hard core Sandbox PVP MMO in existence.  Wars in Eve have taken years, campaigns are waged for months, and individual battles can rage for weeks and take many thousands of man hours.  In the end, these battles can (and often do) permanently change the political face of the galaxy.  Because Eve is a Sandbox MMO, every individual’s story is added together to provide a whole greater than the sum of its parts.

SWTOR, on the other hand, follows the story of one person – you.  According to this story, you are Special – a world changer.  Bioware goes to great lengths to ensure that you can remain that world changer.  I think it’s more accurate to say that we are all world changers – separately.  SWTOR has one story – the story of the player, and for all its an epic story, its still only one story.  Still, it is unashamedly a story based Theme Park MMO – and at this it is beautifully executed. I think a large part of the success of the story telling revolves around the use of strategic instancing and voice acting.

As you walk up to your very first NPC to speak with them, you’ll see people (well, zombies really) standing around with a computer monitor above their head.  These people are in their very own cut scene that you may duplicate… Or do differently. The strategic instancing continues with specific world changing quests (your class quest for starters) – where the important stuff is really for your eyes only.  Other people of your class are forbidden to enter these areas with you (though of course there’s an option to override this behavior). Overall: the way this is done allows for a single player MMO feel, which is just really weird but somehow works out.

The voice acting is superb and well integrated into everything in the game. However, it’s well integrated into the game – which can make it hard to listen to something else while you play. Like music, or Taugrim’s live streams. I haven’t decided if this is going to drive me bonkers just yet – but I admit it may.  Either way, the voice acting adds an incredible depth to the game that I just haven’t seen anywhere else… and given the price tag, I’m probably not going to either.

The battles that I’ve seen so far in SWTOR are your standard fare of instance warfronts and provide content for 15-20 people for 5-10 minutes.  Whether you win or lose doesn’t really matter, and in 20 minutes you’ll be back in the same warfront again with no change to the galaxy as a whole. This kind of on demand PVP action is fantastic if you’ve only got a couple hours to burn but ultimately feels a little bit like playing Sci Fi Counter Strike where half the people have swords.  Still, its iconic Starwars combat and very sexy indeed.

I’ve yet to see any open world PVP at a day and a half into the game, despite having rolled on a PVP server.  I expect to see contested areas for PVE (questing, mob grinding [ratting], etc) later on where I’ll find something that resembles Eve’s Low Security space.  You can roam and do open world PVP, but can never really control the areas or change their story.  There’s rumors of a high level area that is very resource rich and is capable of powering the in game economy.  Most importantly, its apparently a fully group based PVP area – which means you can go so far as to kill people in your own faction.  So while there doesn’t appear to be any empire building or other real sandbox PVP, its still got its own quirks that are likely to be very exciting indeed.

I realize that I’m most known for my analysis of game mechanics, but at this point I wouldn’t feel comfortable making any sort of commentary on it.  There are rumors that the Jedi Consular is overpowered, but I’ve heard that about pretty much every class, which is probably a good sign.  What I will say is that I fully expect to see the demands for class buffs and nerfs almost immediately even if there’s no real grounds for it, for such is the way of class based MMOs.

Ultimately, I think I’d suggest buying SWTOR to anyone who’s interested in Star Wars and wants to spend some time playing KOTOR 3.  I’d also suggest it to anyone that’s willing to give up The Sandbox and wants a faster paced lifestyle than Eve provides… but really its probably best to just keep your Eve accounts going and play SWTOR on the side.

Filed under: Gaming, SWTOR,

Database Asserts and Oracle Fun

I should begin by explaining that my particular talents tend to lend towards processing extremely large quantities of data.  In my career I’ve grown data warehouses from infantile to quite large – and utilized everything from Postgres to NoSQL and distributed processing frameworks like Hadoop. The bulk of my work experience is with Perl and Python – and I now (intentionally) work at a Java/Oracle/Hadoop shop.  I really felt the need to branch out and understand what it is that Oracle brings to the table that Postgres doesn’t.

The code base at work is a bit old and sometimes interesting.  Most of it’s in PL/SQL, Java, and the ever-present XML.  Despite our best efforts to exterminate PL/SQL, it continues to propagate on occasion – and testing it with the normal Hibernate methods gets tedious really fast.  In an effort to improve the ease of writing tests around this PL/SQL code I have been writing some specialized direct SQL asserts.

Part of being a convenient and easy to use assert is being able to take a variety of types – from whatever Hibernate object to a Date or even a string representation.  While I was working on making sure that ordering was preserved, I ran across this particular behavior in Oracle:

SQL> create table foo (some_date_column date);

Table created.

SQL> insert into foo (some_date_column) values (sysdate);

1 row created.

SQL> commit;

Commit complete.

SQL> select to_char(some_date_column, ‘YYYY-MM-DD HH24:MI:SS’) as some_date_column from foo order by to_char(some_date_column, ‘YYYY-MM-DD HH24:MI:SS’);
select to_char(some_date_column, ‘YYYY-MM-DD HH24:MI:SS’) as some_date_column from foo order by to_char(some_date_column, ‘YYYY-MM-DD HH24:MI:SS’)
*
ERROR at line 1:
ORA-01722: invalid number

Exciting eh?  Some experimentation with the query revealed that the problem has something to do with aliasing the column as the original column name and then ordering by the formatted column.  Removing the order by or changing the table alias resulted in the query working as expected (though with the change in behavior).

Either way, it wasn’t very useful for my hopefully generic SQL assert and I felt compelled to find a work around.  Fortunately, I was able to come up with one without burning too much time.  Simply wrap the select columns  in a sub select and pull the order by into the outer select – as an added bonus you only have to do the formatting once this way.

It looks like this:

SQL> select some_date_column from ( select to_char(some_date_column, ‘YYYY-MM-DD HH24:MI:SS’) as some_date_column from foo ) x order by some_date_column;

SOME_DATE_COLUMN
——————-
2011-10-28 19:03:02

Fun times with Oracle, eh?

Filed under: Databases, Software Development, , , ,

Looking For WH/FW Corp

I ran my last WH corp (Parsec flux) as CEO, and we lived in a C3 with a low sec statuc (U210). On a typical day, we’d run the C3 clean and then roam low sec for the rest of the night killing everyone we could. On an average night I’d say we killed somewhere between 3 and 10 people, sometimes more but rarely less. During these roams I almost always flew a Scimitar or Basilisk (Basilisk later, because its better) as a solo logistics under sentry fire. My present sec status is almost entirely derived from aggression hits and I’ve done it with two characters. All of this fell apart when I got banned at the height of Monaclegate, and my corp has scattered to the four winds of life (not Eve).

So now I’m looking for a corp. I have:

  • A stated opinion about most things in Eve.
  • Good experience solo PVPing
  • Tons of experience in small gang PVP
  • Tons of experience being the only logi in low sec small gang warfare.
  • A terrible sec status on two characters (and I don’t really want to grind it up either)
  • A full set of market, industry, and mission alts to fall back on should the need arise.
  • A 75-80M SP subcap generalist. I can almost fly a decent phoon now. 😛
  • A 75-80M SP pure combat Minmatar character. Triage Nidhoggur, Skirmish/Armor mindlinks. I can almost fly a decent phoon. 😛
  • A 75-80M SP pure Caldari missile whore, leadership booster, mission runner, etc. This character may or may not be in the WH and available at any given time.
  • A few assets, notably including a freighter, Triage carrier, and several T3s/Command Ships.

What I’m looking for in you:

  • Either a WH or FW (Minmatar) corp.
  • An active corp, with people in my timezone.
  • Frequent PVP in my timezone that I can partake in.
  • Good teamwork and at least semi professionalism. Please don’t be Elitist Jerks because I don’t like listening to dick waving competitions on vent.
  • Not douchebags about KB stats. I’m a logi pilot and almost by definition I don’t have (or want) any.
  • Some standard way to make ISK. If you’re a WH corp, I’m really interested in hearing how you split POS costs and the sleeper loot. If you’re a FW corp, I don’t even know what to ask – so please enlighten me.

It is worth noting that since my ban, Eve is no longer the only MMO I play. I’ve spent some time in Rift but that is coming to a very abrupt end with my unbanning from Eve. I will play SWTOR along side Eve, but I will be available via twitter/text/phone should you get a good fight lined up. I’m almost always willing to drop whatever I’m doing for a good fight. 😛

Here are three links from my blog about how we stole our last wormhole:

There were a couple more blog posts on Evepress, but it died and I don’t have backups. 😦  I would expect to see blog posts about our escapades.  🙂

Filed under: Eve, , ,

On the Calls for a Minmatar Nerf

On Eve-O, DarkAegix posted this:

Number of ‘Nerf Gallente!’ threads in past year: None
Number of ‘Nerf Amarr!’ threads in past year: None
Number of ‘Nerf Caldari!’ threads in past year: None
Number of ‘Nerf Minmatar!’ threads in past year: Countless!

That’s saying something.

My response on Eve-O can be found here, but is copied here to reach a somewhat wider audience (and for posterity):
This is an interesting point.  Before Monaclegate, I don’t remember many Nerf Minmatar threads – though there were a pretty large number of nerf Angels threads earlier in the year.  There was also the usual slice of Nerf Caldari threads, mostly for the Drake and Tengu.  There were also the random Nerf Amarr threads usually centered around the Zealot and Geddon… and the ever present Boost Gallente threads which I have usually thought of as fairly reasonable.

However, sometime after Monaclegate some small segment of the community has taken it upon itself to demand that projectiles and Minmatar ships be nerfed into total oblivion by reversing the entire projectile boost — and more.  Of course we have the usual troll suspects like Naomi and more recently Zarnak Wulf… but there’s a bit more to this one as well.

As always, the best lies are those mixed with truths – and the thing about these claims is that there’s undeniably something to them – and everyone has their own pet theory as to what’s causing the problem.  Either way, its being blown way out of proportion by people taking the low road and comparing them to Gallente/Hybrids.  I believe it’s reasonable to say that Hybrids are recognized as being substandard – and thus comparisons involving them are worse than useless – they’re outright misleading.  Any argument that’s made about X being better than hybrids can apply to any X – lasers, projectiles, missiles, drones, whatever.

This is why I keep insisting that we talk about functioning weapons platforms – lasers, projectiles, and non-cruise Missiles.  And on that note, I think it’s pretty obvious that’s not a clear cut answer for whether projectiles are better than lasers (the other functioning turret system).  In all reality, the answer for Projectiles vs Lasers comes down to the ships themselves, your personal preference, the metagame that you find yourself playing against.

Again, I am totally fine with a projectile nerf, but IMO it needs to be relatively tiny.  If there is an imbalance, it’s certainly not huge – at least when you compare it to functioning weapons system.  At any rate, the situation is delicate enough that I wouldn’t want to risk nerfing Minmatar until we’ve had a chance to see how the hybrid boost goes – because to do so is complete folly.

-Liang

Filed under: Eve, , ,

Blog Banter 30: The Melting Pot

I normally don’t do this, but this is actually a pretty good topic so I’ll bite on this.  Thus, my first blog banter post.  Here’s the question:
“With the Winter expansion possibly being named ‘Crucible’, it certainly is a melting pot of refinements and tweaks aimed at making the EVE experience smoother and more wholesome. If the developers suddenly found themselves some spare resources and approached you for an additional feature to include before release, what single concept would you pitch them and how would you implement it?

For bonus points, the one thing lacking from this “patchwork” of iterations is a cohesive storyline to package “The Crucible” together. How could this expansion be marketed to potential new customers?”

This is easy – and fortunately, it should be easy for CCP as well.  The work done by CCP Anthelios and Team Papercut is fantastic, but I think that the market and industry windows just require a bit more work than they could steal away from their main projects.  The part I’m going to look at right here is specifically that I believe that the market should be a much more fluid and easy to use.  As such, I find that there are two ways that the market is not user friendly:

  • It is not immediately obvious which market order is yours when viewing market details.  You should be able to modify your orders directly from this window without going to My Wallet or My Orders.
  • The most common operation someone is doing when modifying a market order is taking it to the top or to the bottom of the market.  As such, I propose that there be buttons which automatically do this for you.

Here’s a picture to better explain my thinking:

Modifying orders from the market window

The obvious objection is that it makes the market easier to use – shocking, I know.  The core concern is that lowering the barrier to entry and likelihood of market mistakes will mean that the market will be flooded by more people and the overall profits will go down.  Well, that’s still true – but it also opens the door to more market manipulation attempts against people who aren’t really paying attention.  In my most humble opinion, the idea that repeatedly forcing a not fun grind is a valid way of keeping a particular piece of content profitable for those who use it is total bullshit.

I would also like to address the third and fourth most common actions that people take with the market – namely relisting an item they just bought and replacing a filled buy order.  I believe that a reasonable way to simplify both of these actions is to create a storefront order.  Essentially the idea for sell orders is that they would be fully modifiable – both in terms of module cost as well as quantity.  The idea behind buy orders is that they could be linked to a sell order and automatically update the quantity sold for any item bought.  Ideally, you could even add items directly from your hangar inventory to the storefront order and remove items from the storefront order into your hangar (both for a restocking fee, of course).

Well, there we go.

Filed under: Eve

Crucible is like a marriage

During a conversation with Evelgrion (@rotosequence), I came to the conclusion that the relationship between CCP Games and their Eve Online player base is like a marriage on the rocks.  On the one hand, CCP has been the layabout do nothing drunk that’s off chasing other skirts (launching other games, ignoring Eve Online, chasing a wholly different MT based subscriber set for Eve)… on the other, the players have been the nagging housewife going down the list of done-me-wrongs.  Neither party really has a great reputation with the other right now, but Eve Online: Crucible can really represent a turning point.  Marriage counseling, if you will.

As was necessary, CCP management took the first step with Hilmar’s public apology and is now actually delivering things that the players have been requesting for years.  And so far, the feature set for Crucible is stupendous – from radically redesigning the background art, to adding new ships, to engine trails, a new cyno effect, corporation bookmarks, and hell even UI scaling to make things easier to see.  At the current rate CCP is making marvelous headway into resolving Zero Punctuation’s famous criticisms of “Bored, Bored, Bored, Eyestrain” and “the user interface could only be less intuitive if your monitor was at the bottom of a fucking well”.  Its an all hands effort to put out a quality expansion and this is as genuine an olive branch as I can possibly imagine from CCP Games… and the fans are going absolutely wild.

But lets be real about it – from CCP’s perspective, most of these things are new features.  And you remember what they say about new features – “research shows that new features sell better than polished quality”.  However, from the player’s perspective, most of these features are polish features.  From our perspective, most of what we’re seeing is old things that look and work much better.  This is both sides of the relationship being happy… together.  Which brings me to the main point I’m going to make here.

CCP Games is a business, and management there has a responsibility to ensure it makes money – both to meet its financial obligations as well as to provide for its employees.  However, its also a gaming company.  I don’t know how much you know about working in the gaming industry, but you don’t do it for the money – because there’s much better money to be made in other industries.  The people at CCP want to make games.  Specifically, they want to make Eve Online.  And they want you (and me) to play it.

But right now we’ve got half the player base circling the airport in a wait-and-see pattern.  Are they really going to keep delivering polished quality?  Are they really going to abandon MT for advantage ambitions permanently?  Are they really going to stop trying to replace the current Eve subscribers with MT happy F2Pers?  Are they going to keep laying off/firing our beloved devs?  Are they really going to keep working on Eve?  Is management going to magically pull its head out of its ass and keep it out?    Are they really going to X?

The first thing to remember is that this is a game – and you shouldn’t play it if you don’t find it fun today or have a reasonable expectation that you’ll find it fun in the reasonably near future.  However, if you do find it fun today or expect to find it fun in the reasonably near future (for example, right after Crucible is released)… you should play.  I’m fully aware that at least some portion of the “bittervet” player base has matured/grown out/changed out of the mindset that will allow them ever enjoy Eve again.  However, for the rest of us… I’m going to go out on the limb and say that we really don’t have the luxury of holding out if we want this relationship to work out.  We, as players, need to forgive and trust and walk forward with CCP into a bright and glorious future of world domination.  We need to put out the good word of mouth – in blogs, in forum posts, and even in person.  We need to have that fire in our bones when we invite our friends, family, and neighbors to play with us.  Furthermore, we need to actually make that invite!

But what’s at risk if we don’t?  Well, remember how I said that CCP is a business?  Well they need to sustain it… and if everyone holds out and waits to see if CCP is “really serious”, the subs are going to keep dropping despite recent good behavior… and really damn fine PVP.  And then CCP will have to make hard decisions – like whether they’ll go literally F2P with MT for advantage.  To me, that’s an unacceptable fate for a good game that I’ve played and enjoyed for years.

The time to resub is now.  The time to invite your friends is now.  The time to play is now.

Filed under: Eve, , , ,