Failing In So Many Ways

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Liang Nuren – Failing In So Many Ways

A Modest Proposal for the CSM

Tonight I listened to Eve Radio where the CSM spoke about The Mittani Scandal and then The Mittani and Nyphur talked about the consequences and fallout of associating real life name with overly sensationalist terms. The conversation was much less dramatic than I expected and I’m very thankful that Nyphur was so willing to work with The Mittani. Eventually they even made up and almost e-hugged. How cute.

However, there’s an important take away to be had here: what could have been a story about a drunk mostly anonymous asshole making an exceptionally stupid comment at Fanfest became so much more because of the use of a real name. The news elements fed off of each other with all making various untrue allegations towards not The Mittani – but the player behind The Mittani. And really, this is hardly the first time that someone’s real life name has come up in terms of their actions on the CSM – for instance there are several people who have been accused (but not “convicted”) of breaking the NDA and now their real life is similarly affected. So effectively: the use of a real name takes things to the next level. And this is going to be true any time someone’s real life name is used – whether that person is The Mittani, Jade Constantine, Liang Nuren, or yours.

At any rate, at the end of the show, someone posted The Mittani’s real life address and someone else said they were headed that way to rape The Mittani’s wife. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen something like this said, but I’ve learned a lot about the way CCP handles it since the last time I saw it so directly. And just to be clear: CCP takes these threats very seriously and I wouldn’t be surprised if someone’s received a visit from their local law enforcement tonight.

So with all of this in mind, I believe that the CSM white paper should be amended in such a way that the CSM candidates (and eventual CSM members) real names and countries of origin are not given to the player base as a whole – but strictly to CCP. The real life information of current CSM members is already available, but that’s no reason for future members to potentially be put in similar real life situations.

We as a player community have proven that we are not responsible enough, not mature enough, and not sane enough to be trusted with this information and this proposal is meant to help our upcoming CSM candidates – those whose real names aren’t known yet. Maybe even people like you.

If you agree, please drop by my Assembly Hall Thread [eve-o] and give your support.

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Filed under: Eve, Gaming, , ,

The Mittani: Conclusion

Today saw two new developments in the ongoing (but likely concluded) Mittani scandal.  The first was the announcement [eve-o] made by The Mittani with approval from the CSM (and almost certainly CCP?):

Though I have received many letters of support (my inbox is full of these, and for them I thank you) and the major bloggers have called for me to remain on as Chair, there are still some who doubt the sincerity of my apology to the player concerned, who – unlike those attempting to make hay from my mistake – is the person that matters here. I said that I would resign; to demonstrate the sincerity of my words and my apology, I will do just that.

With the increasingly high profile of the CSM in the wake of the Incarna Emergency Summit and the amazing turnout we had for the CSM7 elections, I have come to the conclusion that my two roles in EVE – that of the Chairman of the CSM as Alexander Gianturco, and the leader of Goonswarm as “The Mittani” are increasingly incompatible. It is, fundamentally, a problem of hats.

As the leader of Goonswarm I must be willing to make ruthless decisions and take actions that many players find objectionable – griefing, ganking, scamming, ‘dishonorable’ fleet tactics, espionage, metagaming, blowing up everyone who tries to mine Gallente Ice, sponsoring Hulkageddon, et cetera – whatever it takes to defend my people in this, the most exceedingly hostile galaxy to grace the internet. As Darius JOHNSON, the previous Goonswarm leader once said, “[Goonswarm] is not here to destroy /the/ game, but /your/ game.

Yet as Chairman of the CSM and Alexander Gianturco, I need to put a good face on CCP’s experimental player democracy and keep my nose clean. Inevitably, these two roles conflict with one another; when Goonswarm does what it does in EVE, this reflects on the CSM as a whole, purely due to my position as both Chairman and alliance leader. If I abandon the brutalist tactics of an alliance leader in hopes of keeping the CSM’s image pristine, I hamstring my people ingame and do a disservice to the line members who rely on me. In addition, the enemies of Goonswarm assault the CSM and CCP itself unfairly due to the in-game actions of our alliance.

After the successful restructuring of CCP, I am convinced that most of the hard work of the CSM is already done – CCP is now focusing on spaceships instead of avatars, and the success of CSM6 has led to a solid and competent crop of player representatives in CSM7 with a much greater turnout, demonstrating ever-more faith and trust from the playerbase in the concept of the CSM. This changes things for the CSM, as well as the Chairman title

During Goonswarm’s highly successful Gallente Ice Interdiction there were calls for my resignation as Chairman; those calls increased when Goonswarm began to use false supercap sales as a method of closing the gap between us and our in-game enemies’ supercap fleets. We are now planning an attempt to destroy Jita itself. All of these actions are entirely legitimate within the brutal world of EVE, yet, in the coming months, if I continue to hold the title of Chairman, CCP will be enduring one PR nightmare after another as Goonswarm’s in-game actions unfairly reflect back upon the CSM as a whole through the Chairman title. It is increasingly important that the Chair be a ‘good citizen’ in the game itself – and I cannot be a good citizen and simultaneously lead my alliance of magnificent bastards.

With CSM7’s term beginning on April 4th, I now exercise my right as the winner of the election with 10,058 votes to decline the office of Chairman. It will then be up to CSM7 as a group to decide how to proceed regarding the Chair. As a member of the CSM without a title, what I do as the leader of Goonswarm will no longer unfairly reflect on the CSM as a whole – leaving me and my people free to do as we please without needing to consider corporate, political, or media ramifications every time we make a **** joke, offend someone, or sell a supercap made of vapor.

The CSM seemed (almost) unanimous behind him with a couple of obvious political dissenters:

Two Step:

I don’t think this decision is the best one for the game, but it is Mitten’s decision to make, and I support him 100%. What he is doing is what he thinks is best for the game as a whole, which is what he has been doing during the entire CSM 6 term.

Trebor Daehdroow:

I have watched Alex wrestle with this decision over the past few days, and I hope I have been helpful in some small way as he came to it.

It’s the right decision for him, the community, the CSM, and our friends at CCP.

I look forward to serving with Alex on CSM7.

Seleene:

This has been a difficult few days and Alex did not make this decision lightly. The next CSM has a lot of work ahead of it now. Mittens has helped shape the CSM into it’s current form and I’ve no doubt he will help where he can as he always has. I am glad that he has taken this step so that we can all move forward to doing what the community elected us to do.

Elise Randolph:

A new hat: Mittani the altruist.

While the CSM did not ask for this action, I do respect and support it. From my perspective, which is not infallible but quite keen, Alex was the most successful CSM chair in that he helped usher in a new era of the CSM where the rigid bureaucratic processes were thrown aside to streamline the process and allow all voices to be equally as significant. A solid change that has borne fruit in what has been an incredibly effective CSM term. As a member of CSM 6, I have nothing but good things to say about how useful and effective Mittani was. I have no doubts that Alex will continue to work hard as a CSM 7 member and I look forward to working with him in the coming year.

I was personally relieved [eve-o] that we would at continue to have the effective player advocate that The Mittani has been on the CSM.  Over all, most of the responses in the thread seemed positive towards The Mittani staying on the CSM but declining the chairmanship.  However the drama wasn’t quite done for the day as later in the afternoon, CCP released what appeared to be a carefully coordinated dev blog entitled  “Alliance Panel at Fanfest 2012: The Conclusion” [eve-online].  I’ll quote it here:

As some of you might have heard, one of the Alliance leaders speaking at the Alliance Panel during EVE Fanfest 2012 breached our EULA/TOS with some ill-advised remarks about a fellow EVE player. It goes without saying that CCP deeply regrets this incident and will work towards reducing any possibility of this happening again in the future.

CCP requested that all panel PowerPoint presentations and discussion topics be handed in beforehand for approval.  Regrettably, the offending comments were made during an unscripted Q&A session after the main presentations.

Following a thorough internal review CCP has decided to respond to this clear violation of our Terms of Service and wholly inappropriate use of the Alliance Panel. According to our existing policies, we have issued a 30 day ban from EVE Online to the panel speaker.

The policy of CCP is not to publicly discuss warnings and bans on an individual basis. This situation is entirely unique because the panel was displayed via CCP’s Fanfest video stream component, a platform analogous to our forums.  As a result we have published this statement due to the special circumstances involved. However, our policy remains that we will not publicly discuss warnings and bans.

The panelist has subsequently posted a public apology as well as a private apology to the victim of his attack. He has also resigned from his position as Chairman of CSM 6 and has forfeited his right to serve on CSM 7.  As per our policies, this candidate may be eligible to run at a later date subject to candidacy review.

The Council of Stellar Management is a democratically elected council that represents the players of EVE Online.  Although council members may represent the players in any manner they choose, being a council member does not permit actions or playstyles that violate our policies.

GM Salmon

VP of Customer Relationship Management

The CSM responses to this were pretty telling in my opinion and indicate (yet another) disconnect in communication between CCP and the CSM:

Trebor Daehdroow:

The entire chain of events that have lead to this action are extremely regrettable and sad.

Alex was an extremely talented and energetic member of CSM6, and his absence will be keenly felt during CSM7. I am deeply saddened that CCP felt they had no choice but to take this action.

This unprecedented situation raises significant questions — such as representation and disenfranchisement — that CSM6 will be discussing with CCP and with the new members of CSM7 over the next few days. I think I can speak for everyone on CSM when I ask for your patience while we work through these issues.

Two Step:

I disagree with this decision, and am working hard with CCP to make sure the 10,058 voters that voted for Alex have their voice heard.

More to come, just wanted to make sure I had a spot on the first page

Seleene:

This was an unexpected development and we are now working toward resolving both the issue of Mitten’s 10k voters and figuring out the process for CSM 7 Chair. Straight

While this is obviously a sub optimal solution and one that I am supremely unhappy with, I think the thing that bothers me most about this is that the CSM obviously had no clue this was coming before it actually happened.    As The Mittani said in the State of the Goonion, he didn’t even know until it happened.  I’m enough of a realist to recognize that this was always the most likely outcome and its even a solution I suggested on Twitter as I pondered the situation as the news initially broke.  Its just not the solution I wanted though.

Another interesting thing is that no reasonable interpretation of the the EULA/TOS shows just how The Mittani breached them.  However, as so many people don’t seem to understand: it doesn’t matter.  CCP can ban any of us at a whim – just because.  There isn’t any required justification, even for someone as internet spaceship important as Mittens.

However, now we have a unique situation – 10,000 votes have been disenfranchised before the CSM has even been seated.  Two Step and Seleene seem inclined to fight this decision, and this makes me really glad that I voted for both of them.  Realistically CCP is under no obligation to re-enfranchise these votes and I don’t think CCP is going to.  They are under no obligation to back down from this and the most likely outcome is that they’ll just shift one of the alternates to the CSM proper.

At this point I think I’d be remiss in my duties as a blogger if I didn’t cover the next dev blog too.  Its longer, so here’s the relevant parts:

Such behavior crosses the line of acceptable player conduct and breaks the Terms of Service.  CCP finds this behavior morally reprehensible.

To be absolutely clear: directly calling for people to pressure someone into suicide, no matter the situation, is not acceptable in an official CCP forum.

CCP in no way condones the harassment of players, especially those who suffer from depression or suicidal thoughts, as we understand the possible consequences of such abhorrent behavior…. Our Terms of Service (TOS), which can be found here, mirror our company’s stance on this matter.

While the content of online interactions between players cannot realistically be gated within our game worlds, we do take very seriously accusations of such behavior between our players.

Furthermore, we have a suicide hotline protocol which has, in specific cases, made a difference for several unfortunately troubled players…CCP will be very vigilant in monitoring any behavior directed towards the individual named in the presentation.

We are undertaking a full internal review of this panel as well as the process used for vetting the panel’s materials. Even though this panel was billed as unfiltered by CCP, we expect public presentations to be courteous and professional towards others. ~ CCP Manifest and CCP Navigator

The larger point.

This speaks to a larger point. We need to revise how we showcase the culture of EVE. It was clear in some comments from attendees and internet observers that while Fanfest was a massive success there are aspects of it that we can improve upon even more.

This solemn effort has already begun. Time for us to grow up a bit.

“Internet spaceships” are often called “serious business”, but increasingly they actually are serious business. It is moments like this that remind us that there are people beyond the characters we encounter and everyone in the EVE universe should always treat other players with a base human level of respect and decency—whether enemies or not. We would be remiss not to use this as a chance to revise our event and communication strategies.

CCP and the community of EVE Online need to understand this, and we, CCP, will be taking serious steps towards fostering a better environment at our panels and beyond.

This is almost disturbing.  While I believe I have a pretty solid handle on the social contracts in Eve, I’m concerned what formalizing them is going to do to the game and its culture.  I think The Mittani put it best in the State of the Goonion: we’ll see where things are in a month after he’s unbanned and razed Jita to the ground.  On the flip side, I’m a big fan of everyone knowing exactly where the lines are so that they don’t cross them.  And in case that isn’t clear enough, I copied a GM response [eve-o] below to make sure we all know where the lines are:

DISCLAIMER: I will not comment in any way, shape or form on the recent events and decisions made in relation to those events. I will only clarify how customer support enforces our policies to provide clarity on the day to day application of those policies.

I am going to explain this only once; and this really should have been clear to anyone bothering to apply some common sense to the EULA/ToS.

What happens inside the The Magic Circle is allowed as long as it abides by the rules of The Magic Circle (this is why you are allowed to hit someone in a boxing match, but not outside the ring). However, as soon as any action steps outside The Magic Circle and threatens harm to anyone in real life in any way shape or form, or when you incite others to do so (or when your in game actions are specifically geared towards that, joke or no joke), you break the EULA/ToS; even if you are only stating intent.

Any GM will always take immediate action when this is done.

And for those who think they can force an in game situation out of The Magic Circle to avoid in game consequences by threatening with suicide; the GM department has a strict policy of informing local and international law enforcement agencies of any suicide threats issued NO MATTER THE CONTEXT. In other words, do NOT joke about that. When a RL life is threatened we do not take any risks, ever.

And that, as they say, is the rest of the story.

Filed under: Eve, Gaming, , ,

Social Contracts and Political Maneuvering in Eve Online

I believe that the recent drama relating to The Mittani is an example of Eve Online’s social contracts and political maneuvering in action.  I think it’s important to explore these before setting it all aside and fortunately there was an extremely interesting follow up [blog] written by almost-Doctor John Carter McKnight, a 4th year PhD student at Arizona State University.  His particular focus is on emergent governance in online communities, so it wasn’t particularly surprising when he talked quite a bit about Eve Online and Second Life.   Amusingly, he appears to hate them both.

In his blog post, he calls Eve Online and Second Life the last of the “magic circles” and refers to them as “fairy lands” where players believe in game rules completely supercede real life rules.  Real life laws just don’t apply when in game.  He makes an interesting analysis of the controversy surrounding The Mittani, but I believe his domain knowledge and underlying analysis were flawed and this lead him to a less than perfect conclusion.  In his blog post, he states the definition of what he calls “circle jerks” (he appears to be ignorant of the term’s actual definition [wikipedia]) and goes on to characterize the community of Eve Online as such:

In short, the elements of the circle jerks’ genetic code are:

  • a belief that when you sit down at a computer (game), you’re entering another country
  • that country’s denizens have sole jurisdiction over what is or isn’t permissible behavior
  • that country’s denizens can perform “extraordinary rendition” on anyone, any time, because their laws and customs are superior

Look back at that bullet list above. This – and this thread is far from unique; it’s one of the core tenets of the whole griefer/ganker realm – isn’t just circle-jerkery. It’s not just saying, “we suspend real-world law and morality here in favor of our own.” It’s “the laws and customs inside our fairy forcefield trump the law and morality of the ‘outside world.’” It goes beyond “destroy your game roleplay character or digital persona in a fit of pique” to “you, specific real-world person with suicidal ideation, should act on it.”

The world turns inside out: the circle jerks would see game rules (primarily emergent social norms rather than Monopoly-like rules) trump real world rules*.

Speaking as a trained anthropologist chock-full of postmodernism and cultural relativism, I can say professionally, that’s fucking nuts.

*I see Anonymous, WikiLeaks and the various Facebook/Twitter revolutions not as cultural imperialism by circle jerks, but folks with real-world ideologies and agendas using digital tools to advance them – which, IMO, is how the tech should be used – no fairy forcefields to be found.

In his rush to lampoon the community of Eve Online as a “circle jerks” in a “magic circle”, he claims that we believe that real world rules do not apply in game and that we believe its perfectly acceptable to do things in game which would result in dire consequences in “real life”.  That is to say that he claims most of us believe that The Mittani’s words were fine and justifies this by pointing at the “plenty of people” who were saying there was nothing to apologize for.  At this point, I believe his analysis fails on two points, despite 4 years in a PhD program studying “emergent governance in online communities”.

My first point is that he doesn’t accurately understand the social contract of Eve Online.  He claims that we believe in game rules trump real life rules to their near total exclusion.  At the risk of falling prey to what almost-Dr. McKnight would call a “magic circle” and becoming a “circle jerk”, I’m going to say I’m in favor of drawing distinctions between what is real vs what is not real.  This seems to be the most realistic and sane response to any situation – from night terrors and fear of the dark to fiction and even to games.  In fact, I’d go so far as to classify his “magic circle”/”circle jerk” characterization as being an almost perfect mirror of the characterizations made by the classic “carebear” that is unable or unwilling to differentiate between what’s real and what’s not.

For those who are unaware, the typical “carebear” argument goes that someone’s avatar is an in game extension of themselves.  As a general rule, people adopting this stance bring their real life morals into the game and expect everyone else to play by what they perceive the rules of the game to be.  They tend work within the rules of the monopoly-sandbox to create and to build.  To them, I’m unable to hide behind the name “Liang Nuren” when I suicide gank their hulk in high sec.  To them, I become a morally bankrupt terrorist with no purpose in life save to destroy years of someone else’s hard work.  To them, I was simply fulfilling my deepest, darkest, most twisted fantasies of achieving power and ultimate control over my fellow human.  They fully believe that I would do depraved and unspeakable things in person to real people if given the opportunity and a reasonable guarantee of a lack of personal consequence.

However, I do not believe this to be the case.  Its simply that one of the most basic skills of Eve Online is discerning what is real vs what is not real.  People who are not capable of this distinction are frequently at extreme odds with the community as a whole and are frequently encouraged to leave the community.  They tend not to stay long – both because of self selection and constant encouragement.  Really, I think this is for the best all around because I don’t want to be anywhere near someone who isn’t able to personally distinguish between what is real and what isn’t.  Just because I blew up your 80 billion ISK / $4,000 USD Titan doesn’t mean that you should make it your real life’s work to destroy mine – by virtue of destroying my professional career or killing me/my family/my dog.  Its just that us building things and blowing up each other’s ships is part of the game and not any more interesting to the real life law than me stealing your hotel in our game of monopoly – even if you paid for it with real life dollars (bad you).

With that out of the way, I feel safe in saying that the social contract in Eve Online fully specifies that what is real takes absolute precedence over that which is not real.  If you look carefully, you can see it in the above paragraph too.  Truly, the social contract in Eve Online requires the ability to simultaneously follow both real life and in game laws.  From there we see that actions which break real life laws can, should be, and will be prosecuted to the full extent of applicable real life laws.  Where applicable, there will be additional in game consequences in the form of bans and public mocking for forgetting the difference between what is real and what is not.

While it can be difficult to see from a distance, one of the core tenets of the Eve Online community is that attacking someone’s real life is out of bounds.  Briefly poking back to the subject of The Mittani: the core truth behind the threadnaughts wasn’t that he broke the TOS or the EULA (though there were certainly allegations of that and CCP themselves seems to have taken that stance), but that what he did was morally wrong both in and out of game.  And that’s why he issued his apologies and fell on his own sword.

Moving on: I said that there were two critical failings in almost-Dr. McKnight’s analysis.  The second is that he doesn’t fully understand the politics or government of the emergent community in Eve Online.  This is obvious because he didn’t even passingly mention the political maneuvering and “get out the vote” efforts that took place in the “threadnaughts” mentioned, despite it being highlighted by both bloggers he cited as sources (me being one).

To those who are unaware, the controversy was not solely fanned on by moral outrage.  In fact, a huge part of it was fanned on by feigned moral outrage on the part of The Mittani’s many political enemies.  In the real world, we are utterly unsurprised when politicians see a political enemy stumble and incite the mob to frothing at the mouth riots.  Its simply expected behavior in the real world… and sadly in game too.  In game we tend to call this meta gaming, “The Great Game”, or even just “gaming the game”  And most people have similar opinions about it as they do conerning real world political maneuvering.

In a very real sense, a large part off the controversy was fanned on by the fact that Goonswarm is a hugely successful alliance and has at one point or another alienated almost the entire politically active player base.  They’ve done this in a variety of ways, from virtual force to political maneuvering.  This is important because the easiest and cheapest way to take space is to convince your enemy to give it to you, while the nature of the game makes it such that the only way to really “kill” an alliance is to make the people just give up.  Thus just as in real life, propaganda and misdirection plays a central role in large scale warfare in Eve Online.  It follows that all major player run political organizations (known as alliances or coalitions) have highly effective political propaganda machines… and these machines were out in force to attack Goonswarm (not just The Mittani).

Now we get to one of the central tenants of his argument: the people who said there was nothing to apologize for in the first place.  These people were almost universally Goons, and frankly I doubt many of them really believed what they said – just as many of the people they were arguing with didn’t really believe what they said.  This was CAOD level political “ship toasting” brought to General Discussion by everyone with an ax to grind… or just for fun.  Because that’s just how The Great Game is played.  In my personal opinion, this wasn’t an appropriate time for the metagaming we saw, because The Mittani’s real name was at stake.  In effect, we all broke our social contract over this.

In conclusion, I contend that almost-Dr. John McKnight did not fully understand the social contracts involved with the Eve Online community, and nor did he fully appreciate the political maneuvering taking place.  One might argue that his “magic circle” argument is in fact utterly fallacious, and I question the good almost-Doctor’s ability to pass judgment on CCP and the players of Eve Online as fucking nuts.

Filed under: Eve, Gaming, , , , , ,

The Mittani – Hero?

So there’s been recent drama over the Eve Fanfest Alliance Panel.  Most of the early threads decrying the Alliance Panel were aimed at gratuitous f-bombs and public drunkenness, but Mittens particular outburst slipped under the radar for the most part.  At some point people decided that Internet Spaceships is Serious Business and these threads started to take on a decidedly political tone – people began to shit post in earnest.  From the tone of the complaints I expected sex with barnyard animals and The Mittani to have personally lead a public verbal beat down of someone physically present at Fanfest.  Imagine my disappointment when I actually watched the video stream last night.  This is what was in the stream – a slide with Mittens mockingly reading the following:

So now it looks like you still gank me and I work hard to keep going in this game. Sorry I am very mad that was more plexs for my guys. Yes I can make that back easily mining if I could mine. Now I will just get popped by you guys no matter what, and 400mil is nothing. That is like 3 maybe 4 hours mining for me. Sorry it is hard when I have had own alliance members send people out to gank me. Now I fell I have been suckered into giving away 1.3 bil isks.

Since my divorce all I want to do is die, and I have been doing tha tallot in this game.

I am sorry I did not understand. I am just sick and tired of sitting here allone and having to play with myself. Everyone that I have helped out in this game and in real life just takes what you have and that is it. Never to hear from them again. l I am getting tired of everything. It was nice mining ice while it lasted took my mind off everything.  Even though some people may say I am a bot I am not.  I run all 22 accounts myself it is not easy but it keeps me sane.

Sorry for making you mad at me. I will leave you allone now and never enter your space again.  I will be off looking for a nice quiet corner somewhere.

Sitting through the presentations was pretty painful aside from the two wormhole presentations, but I did eventually make it to Mittens presentation.  Overall, I’d say it was just about classic Mittens and overall his presentation was pretty good for having 3-??? Jager bombs in rapid succession and being stumbling drunk.  By his own admission [twitter], he was so drunk that he couldn’t even remember what was said.  The Q&A is where all the interesting parts are anyway (@1:11:30):

Questioneer: Just something about the guy with 22 accounts.  I think he moved to the Drone Regions and now he’s got kicked out of there as well.

The Mittani: Incidentally, if you want to make the guy kill himself, his name is The Wiz. Its “T-H-E SPACE W-I-S”.  He has his own corp. Find him.

It wasn’t until I really sat down and watched the video that I came to my own conclusions.  My initial reaction was that Mittens crossed a line when saying what he said – and I stand by that.  At some point, Eurogamer and Massively picked up the article and Eve-O suddenly was filled with pastors, popes, and lawyers as the noise to signal rose to well over 200 pages of shit posting.  Of course, the overwhelming majority of it was The Usual Suspects posting to attack or defend Mittens – and while I’m a massive forum whore my guns were mostly silent.

However, there’s a huge amount of misinformation floating around.  First off, let me just say that the rumors about the guy killing himself or being put in the hospital are just plain wrong – someone reached out to the miner in question who jokes about the situation himself (conversation follows).  Second, let me point out that US cyber bullying laws [cyberbullying.us] really haven’t been broken because those laws are almost uniformly directed at the bullying of school children that do not have a choice but to face their bullies physically at school.

[21:10:18] Xeross155 > Heya
[21:10:22] The Wis > Hello
[21:10:29] Xeross155 > Getting swarmed with interviews I can imagine
[21:10:50] The Wis > No why?
[21:11:57] Xeross155 > With this BS and all http://massively.joystiq.com/2012/03/26/ccp-investigates-player-panel-that-encouraged-cyber-bullying/
[21:12:21] Xeross155 > Pretty sure the name Mittani called out was “The Wis”
[21:12:31] The Wis > Oh I will have to check that out.. What is going on?
[21:12:58] Xeross155 > You sent him a mail when you got scammed and your Mackinaws destroyed or smth
[21:13:41] Xeross155 > Or at least one of his alliance mates
[21:14:13] The Wis > Could have.. been a long time. Might have been when they had the safe mining offer when you guys were doing your anti ice thing.
[21:15:08] The Wis > I did have someone ask me if I was ok.. Becouse he said that I had killed myself afterwards and he thought it was funny.. I did not see it so I have no clue what was said.
[21:15:52] Xeross155 > Basically some idiots are all butthurt and are calling for him to step down from CSM and shit
[21:16:51] Xeross155 > Basically, enjoy your 5 minutes of fame, multiple gaming press websites are putting the story up
[21:16:58] Xeross155 > Leaving out your name though
[21:16:59] Xeross155 > one sec
[21:19:54] The Wis > Well I am not sure what is going on.. I know I have had some people say I should put a pentition in. Witch I have not. Since I have not seen the video or anything. But that would also explain why the goons are moving into my system now and starting
[21:19:57] The Wis > ganking here.
[21:24:54] Xeross155 > http://youtu.be/E7Ki91U-mBE?t=1h11m55s
[21:26:17] Xeross155 > That’s basically the snippet that people are upset about for some reason
[21:29:34] Xeross155 > Anyway, CCP is doing an internal audit and shit about it, 3 game news websites have reported it so far, basically tagging it cyber-bullying
[21:30:50] The Wis > Ok.. Well that is nice. Hmm.. wait.. If i do kill my self they might arrest him and prosicute him since he is in the US.. That would really be bad for him.
[21:31:01] The Wis > Just kidding of course but a thought.
[21:31:20] The Wis > Fly safe. I have real life stuff to do now.. ANd to watch for goons in system.. Fun Fun.

At this point, I feel like I would be remiss in my duties as a blogger if I didn’t point out my personal biases.  So let me start off by saying that The Mittani is an asshole and I don’t like him.  And I hate Goons.  And BOB and MC and Tri – you know, those ~elite PVPers~ were all cool brosefs.  And did I mention that I hate Goons?  However my voice, where I’ve given it, has mostly been a voice of moderation – yes Mittens said something incredibly stupid.  Yes, it was over the line.  However, we all say really stupid things all the time – especially when drunk so bad we can’t even remember what we said.  When The Mittani got off the plane from Iceland, he had this to say on Twitter:

  • Just landed. Step one, apologize profusely. Step two, resign. Step three, send all my isk to the victim. Entirely my fault and unacceptable.
  • Sadly, due to my failings, I was so drunk at the time that I didn’t remember what I said until I saw this article. Shameful.
  • However, being drunk was no excuse – I got myself there, after all.
  • I’ll be posting a more detailed annd thorough apology on the forums as soon as I get to a laptop, on my droid atm.
  • I’m not sure about the article as brendan drain has a well known grudge against me, but I hate when people use alcohol as an excuse
  • So I’m just going to own up and fall on my sword, regardless of quibbling about it
  • @theiggep I didn’t remember what id said, so assumed people were just mad about slides. P horrified now that I see how bad I actually was
  • @NorthernGoblin not to the public, but to the dude I said that shit about, its the least I can do. In addition to apology, actions > words
  • I’ve gotten stable internet and have now posted my apology to the community: https://forums.eveonline.com/default.aspx?g=posts&find=unread&t=86980 #tweetfleet #eveonline

My initial reaction was that he was joking, but as time goes on it appears he may not be.  And issue an apology he did:

This has been hanging over my head since Thursday when I stumbled away from the Alliance Panel with a vague sense that I had done something horrible. I didn’t know the extent of how much of a shitheel I had been until today, when footage of the presentation went up. As many of you now know, I gave out the in-game character name of a Mackinaw miner if anyone had wanted to blow him up – except that I was so smashed that I didn’t recall exactly what I said (as anyone who was there can tell you). When I came to the forums the other day and saw threads complaining about my behavior – not remembering what I’d said – I assumed that I was enduring the usual anti-Goonswarm trolls, and posted something like “deal with it~” in my usual “The Mittani” way.

Then I landed, and saw the article listing my actual quote.

Christ.

I feel absolutely ashamed of my behavior at the Alliance Panel. It’s one thing to play a villain in an online roleplaying game – when I post on these forums or on twitter, I usually do so as ‘The Mittani’, and do my level best to convince everyone that I’m an unrepentant space villain, as that kind of facade provides an in-game advantage to me and my alliance. But I am not that character in real life, as anyone who has met me can attest. I went way, way, /way/ past the line on Thursday night by mocking the Mackinaw miner at a real-life event. I, as a person, am not the entity that I play in EVE; I am not actually a sociopath or a sadist, and I certainly don’t want people to kill themselves in real life over an internet spaceship game, no matter what I may say or do within the game itself. CCP may say ‘EVE is Real’, but EVE is not real – and the line between the game and reality should not be overstepped.

I’m relieved to discover that the Mackinaw miner is doing fine and mining away, despite being blown up by Goonswarm in-game. He deserves, and he has, my heartfelt apologies – here in public as well as a private apology. There’s no excuse for what I did – while some might try to use my inebriation as a mitigating factor, I put myself in that compromised mental state, and the guilt of that is entirely mine.

If I could go back in time and not have included the slide mentioning the miner, I would do so. While the Eve Online character “The Mittani” would never apologize for any sort of villany in game, I myself, as Alex Gianturco, feel utterly ashamed and sickened by my behavior.

At this point, I am inclined to accept his apology and move on.  We all say and do stupid things while drunk and I do not believe Mittens should be banned or resign from the CSM despite my personal bias (above stated) against him and Goons in general.  However, whatever you or I or even Mittens may be thinking, the final result is up to CCP.  Even if that weren’t true, the fact that the controversy has been picked by gaming media might force the issue.  Mittens’ offer to step down may even offer CCP a much needed legal out – and so once again Mittens shows his willingness to work towards the good of CCP and the player base in general.

As I wrote this, Eminem’s “Without Me” came on Pandora and I was reminded that Mittens is Eve Online’s very own King of Controversy.  What would a post-Mittens CSM – or even Eve Online – look like?  If he steps down, will that make him a martyr and hero?  Why do you people make me have to cast Mittens in such a light?

Update 3/26/2012 8:59 Pacific: The Mittani has apparently followed up on “Item 1” by issuing both a public and personal apology as well as “Item 3” by giving The Wis all his ISK.  He’s come to his senses a bit with “Item 2” and is asking CCP and the CSM before just out and out resigning.  Source [Eve-O]

One is done, both here and to the miner. Three is done. Two takes a post, and I should probably discuss it with the CSM before I mash butan.

I think Two Step would make a fine Chairman, though.

Filed under: Eve, Gaming, , , ,

Fanfest and Crimewatch: Resolved

CCP Greyscale got some sleep and came back to the forums to talk to us a bit more about yesterday’s shenanigans with Crimewatch and the “Suspect” flag. Earlier in the conversation he said this to us:

And yes, I know “I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU EVEN CONSIDERED THAT OPTION”; we consider all the options, and yesterday I threw one out to gauge the player reaction to it, which generated some useful feedback.

So, for all intents and purposes I’m reading this as him unconsciously trolling the player base for some reason. There’s no way that solution could possibly have flown – but he says he drew inspiration from our feedback and has a superior plan. Today, this is the money quote on the state of affairs:

We’re extremely keen to pin down a design where you’ll always be able to defend yourself from aggression without getting CONCORDed. I’m not going to promise anything because I can’t actually predict the future.

This is the direction they’re thinking about with the exact implementation, taken from one of Greyscale’s early position posts on the Suspect flag:

What we’re actually considering right now, based on player suggestions, is to formalize the concept of a “limited engagement”, which is effectively needed for both wardecs and some kind of duelling system, and carry that across to here too. To whit, anyone who engages a suspect becomes part of a “limited engagement” with the suspect on one side and all their aggressors on the other side, and any further interference by anyone else in that engagement gets a suspect flag.

The important thing to note is that they really aren’t going to be able to have a “limited” engagement and still keep the conflicts from spreading via neutral RR and other beneficial effects.  It doesn’t change anything about neutral RR and still leaves us with a similar situation to the one we have now where aggression games will remain confusing.  In my opinion I’d have to say that the right solution to high sec aggression is to reduce the system down to a single flag: are you PVP flagged or are you not PVP flagged?  I would say that taking any PVP action (from can baiting to shooting someone that’s PVP flagged) should flag you for PVP – and thus shootable by anyone else nearby.  Seeing how I’m -10, I’m obviously already fine with anyone (or everyone!) in system shooting me so this wouldn’t be much difference for me.

Yes, that might mean that high sec belts become blood baths as corps, alliances, and friends escalate over a can flip… but why is this a bad thing?

Just to be clear though, they are addressing neutral RR by giving the logis the aggression timer from the people they’re repping.  The net effect is that everyone will be able to deaggress and jump out as soon as everyone’s stopped shooting back.  It works like this (thanks Tippia!):

Confirming: this is exactly what was said, and we asked them about it in very precise terms.

  • BS1 attacks a target and takes a timer.
  • RR1 comes in and starts repping BS1 → RR1 inherits the exact same timer as BS1.
  • BS1 deaggresses and timer countdown starts → RR1 deagresses and countdown starts
  • RR1 keeps repping → Makes zero difference. It still has BS1’s timer — BS1 sits at 40s = RR1 sits at 40s.
  • BS1’s timer runs out and he docks/jumps → RR1’s timer runs out and he can dock/jump

I think its a semi reasonable change, but I feel like Logis are already in a semi delicate position (especially in small gangs).  I’d really like to see the logi aggro change restricted docking instead of simply jumping. The core difference between docking and jumping is that someone can position people on the other side of a gate to catch fleeing logis… but there’s nothing that can be done to catch docking logis.

But overall the changes look far more encouraging than the initial sound of them.  While at first it seemed that CCP had simply lost their ever loving minds, it does seem that they at least listen to the player base far better than they did before.  Greyscale, thanks for working with us to hammer this out.

Filed under: Eve, Gaming, , , , ,

Fanfest and Crimewatch

So there’s been some furor around the new Crimewatch mechanics.  This was announced at Fanfest, and someone was kind enough to post the details on Eve-O for us all to read.

New “suspect” flag
– Minor crimes. Anyone can shoot you without penalty.
– Flipping a can for example
– Shooting someone makes you a suspect (I think)
– Anyone assisting a suspect becomes a suspect
– Not sure if gate guns will attack a suspect. Undecided yet.

There’s been a lot of back and forth between the devs and players in the thread (and you should read it), but some people have pointed out that from the presentation it sounded like people wouldn’t be able to defend themselves if they were a Suspect.  My initial take on this is that it has the ability to be the coolest thing since sliced bread: aggression becoming more like a PVP flag would mean that more people have the opportunity to shoot me… and thus more people are going to die when they do.  Can baiting with fleets could turn high sec belts into 20 man bloodbaths in just a few seconds… this could be awesome!

However, CCP Greyscale clarified with this:

Defending yourself while you’re suspect-flagged is an ongoing conversation; we’ve not decided on anything yet, and we’ll devblog when we’ve got it better nailed down

It turns out that he was more forthcoming in the round table afterwards:

One of the most disturbing moments came when, under the proposed rules, the following scenario was given:

1) Player A flips the can of Player B and gains a Suspect flag, making A shootable by everyone

2) Players C-Z go to town on Player A as a result.

Here’s the kicker – going into this preso, CCP Greyscale said that once Player A gets aggressed by Players C-Z, Player A will not be allowed to shoot his aggressors back. Yes, this is basically making anyone with a mere Suspect flag the equivalent of GCC, just without the sec drop and CONCORD spawn. Many people in the audience, including myself, collectively WTF’d and suggested that he’s off his rocker… and he seemed a bit surprised at this reaction.

For the uninitiated, the net effect is CCP has announced the intended behavior for the PVP flagging mechanic in high sec is for you to be killed by other players without them similarly flagging for PVP.  In other words: players will not be PVP flagged for attacking and killing other PVP flagged players.  This bodes very poorly for the upcoming war dec changes being announced on Day 3 of Fanfest, which are rumored to all but remove non-consensual war decs.  I am extremely disappointed by the announced changes and am very glad that I didn’t take time off to attend Fanfest.

Filed under: Eve, Gaming, , , ,

PVP Videos on Vimeo

A couple days ago Nursultan pointed out that I may be in violation of the Vimeo Terms of Service by posting my PVP videos there.  I disagreed with him because I had taken some care to read the Terms of Service before signing up for an account there – and additionally I’d seen several other PVP videos hosted there.  At any rate, I’m not one to live under a cloud of suspicion (even if its in my own mind) – so I took the initiative to contact Vimeo myself and get an explicit blessing as it was never my intention to break the rules.

Its taken a couple days to get the ticket resolved due to communication lag, but it has been resolved.  Their first response was a positive but vague response that seemed to confirm my interpretation of their uploading guidelines.  However, I wasn’t satisfied with the vague response and asked for an explicit yes or no.  A different representative came back with quite a different answer – one that dramatically disagreed with my interpretation of their uploading guidelines and asked me to take my videos down.

I have already complied with this request and will be moving by videos to a different video hosting service – or perhaps hosting them on my own site.  I’ve been considering getting my own site for various development efforts and this may be the perfect time to go ahead and pull the trigger on that.  For my own reference, my videos had this many views before being pulled down:

  • Amamake Fun I: 589
  • Amamake Fun II: 546
  • Amamake Fun III: 970
  • Amamake Fun IV: 237
  • Amamake Fun V: 21

I’d say that the best thing about pulling my videos down is that I don’t have that much time invested in the site and its still fairly trivial to upload them elsewhere.  I am also considering re-encoding Amamake Fun I at a higher resolution before re-uploading it.

Filed under: Eve, Gaming, , , ,

Tiericide Dev Blog: First Response

CCP recently posted a somewhat controversial dev blog [eveonline.com] about ship and skill rebalancing.  The major sticking point for many people has revolved around this phrase:

To sum up, this means that tech 1 sub-capital vessels would take a bit longer to train for (from 9 to 17 days for Battleships for instance), capitals would be less time consuming (30 days faster) and tech 2 ships like Interdictors and Command Ships would require 14-20 less days to train for.

If and when such changes occur, we would remove the generic Destroyer and Battlecruiser skills, reimburse the skill points (and possibly the cost) not to penalize players. Due to the way nested requirements work, it would also mean pilots would not need to re-train anything to fly Battleships or Cruisers. All of this is work in progress of course and subject to change, especially since we are still discussing skill reimbursement options.

I managed to land an early comment [eveonline.com] in the thread asking for clarification for people who have cross trained extensively, which Soundwave and Ytterbium quite thoroughly answered:

Destroyer and Battlecruiser reimbursement: it has been said before, but allow us to repeat again, that we do not want to cut ships you can already fly. Thus, having BC skill at 5 would mean you get all four variations at 5.

The net result to me is that I’ll have all racial Destroyers/BC skills at level 5 and it’ll almost certainly provide an immediate increase in the cost of my clone.  It will additionally mean that one of my PVP alts will end up with a more expensive clone than my target clone.  On the flip side, that’ll mean that people who haven’t trained Destroyers/BCs up yet will be stuck training longer to get the same massive result that I did so long ago.… but thats entirely the point.  On the flip side, it’ll become faster to get into various T2 ships like Interdictors and Command Ships, so new players aren’t totally screwed.

However, I feel like all this talk about skill points is distracting from the bigger message being presented:

In practice however, after assessing ship slots, EHP, speed, fitting potential and role overlap, we estimate almost half of our currently available ships to have suboptimal use, or are just be plain not worth it at all for pilots looking to min-max. … That is why we want to remove ship tiers altogether, then refocus our balancing philosophy to be based on role.

This is quite possibly the greatest balancing news I’ve seen in recent memory – its even better news than the Hybrid Buff.  However, the devil’s always in the details and I don’t feel we have enough details to make say much at this point.  My first reaction was that this was effectively creating a class system in Eve… and to a point I suppose it is.  However, there’s a lot of key differences and ultimately the ship line system is exactly how the currently successful ship lines work.  This means I really shouldn’t be too worried about the proposed ship lines and expanding on the concept will probably make the game significantly easier to balance.  Unfortunately, that simplicity comes at the cost of some “wildcard” play we’ve seen in the past, but ships capable of that tended to simply be bad at everything.

Overall – exciting times are ahead!

PS: If you ever plan to cross train: Train Destroyers 5, BC 5, Cruisers 3, and BS 1 in every race.  Now.

Filed under: Eve, Game Design, Gaming, ,

Amamake Fun V

It is with some trepidation that I present Amamake Fun V: the final episode of the Amamake Fun series.  I won’t be putting any more out because the negotiations for joining Heretic Nation have fallen through over a 50M ISK/month alliance fee.  The video itself isn’t interesting without some context to the fights, so I’ll try to provide that here.

Fight 1: Mining Frigs vs Rifter.  We were bored out of our minds and we couldn’t get anyone to engage us even in Imicuses and Kestrels, so we came up with the mining frig idea.  It worked, but by the end of the fight Ahrieman’s Burst was in hull.

Fight 2: Harpy vs Arbitrator.  I was just doing my normal pirate thing when I saw an Arbitrator on D-Scan at a FW plex.  I’d say the most challenging thing about this fight was holding point while I waited for everyone to show up.  I almost solod him, but I did manage to pull DPS in time.  I was telling everyone on vent “DO NOT SHOOT!” but someone came in with weapons primed anyway and Jude didn’t make the mail.

Fight 3: 5 Frigs vs Deimos.  The most interesting thing about this fight is that the Rifter had initial tackle and held point until we got there.  Overall, it was just a perfect example of how we liked to roll in the late night – a bunch of frigs shooting anything we could find to move.

Fight 4: AB Crusader + AB Firetal vs Rupture.  It was actually pretty difficult to fly lay the DPS on with the Crusader because every time I got in close I kept getting neuted.  I was also experimenting with manually piloting that far out, but you can see when I eventually gave up.  Looking at the video now, I can see that it was probably a mistake to give up because my DPS at 13km was basically nothing!

Fight 5: Taranis, Ares, Bomber, Loser in a Tornado vs Drake, Rifter.  This is mostly included because it really highlights a situation that stressed my tank to the max.  That’s exactly what its like to fly a Taranis – you just don’t come home without some structure damage!

Fight 6: Bait Talos (And gang) vs “AFK Cloaker” Proteus + Falcon.  So the back story here is that I came through Amamake and killed someone off the gate, while Presidente Gallente whored on my mail.  Some conversation revealed he might be a bit skittish about engaging something that could fight back, so a few days later I came up with a dastardly plan when I saw him in local: I would rename my Talos “Snipey” and park it 180km off the Oso gate.  Then I’d just sit there like I was sniping.  Amazingly enough, he went for it after 20 minutes or so and the Proteus warped in.  The fight took some time so I edited out the travel time between the Proteus and the Falcon – which amusingly didn’t have a single Gallente jammer on it.

Fight 7: BC brawl on the Dal Gate.  I flew a Brutix in this, and we took GCCs to take on a BC gang of mostly Drakes.  From my recollection we had equal numbers but lost someone to internet problems at the very beginning of the fight.  A quick counting of purples on the screen says it was a (4+1)v5.  I think this might be my favorite fight in the video, because the swing music and double time video really highlight the Brutix’s already impressive DPS.

Fight 8: BC/BS brawl at Ama top belt.  The only reason this fight made it into the video is because it shows us engaging when severely outnumbered and outshipped.  I am overall pretty disappointed with my piloting in it – primarily because twice I try to get back into the fray by approaching someone that was behind me.  The reason I end up so far from the fight is clipped out, but it basically boils down to me warping to Hilda instead of CaptFiend when I came back in at the initial grid spike.  I wasn’t in any immediate danger, so I should probably stop the panic warpout any time grid spikes and a falcon (or two) shows up on the overview.

So long, Amamake.  And thanks for all the fish!

Video link: http://youtu.be/UZzhv0qUJ3o

UPDATE: Updated links to point at youtube

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The Return of NOSA/PFlux

You may remember that back in November I was looking for a WH or FW corp to join – and then I joined Heretic Army to fly with some friends from my old corps No Salvation/Parsec Flux.  At first, things were going fantastically and I was rolling in kills every night – eventually getting ~320 kills / 19 losses.  I managed to put out four Amamake Fun Videos and have a fifth in the production pipeline.

During this time, most of the old No Salvation / Parsec Flux guys resubbed to Eve and followed us to Heretic Army.  It wasn’t very long before we so thoroughly dominated the late night US TZ Heretic Army that it wouldn’t really be an exaggeration to say that we were a wholly separate corp within a corp – complete with our own long established culture and flying style.  I guess it makes sense too, because we’ve all been flying together since late 2007/early 2008.

I’d say that my time in Heretic Army was pretty great and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them as a corp to any established pirate.  They’re pretty low drama and I especially enjoyed flying with Jude Lloyd and Wili19 when they were around.  There was relatively little inner corp drama during this time, but there were a few incidents (detailed below).

The most publicly visible corp drama was the disbanding and reforming of Heretic Army under newer leadership.  I’m not totally up on the details, but I gather there was some disagreement between the Old School Heretics and the new leadership about the direction of the corp and who owned the corp shares.  While I was aware of this and mildly concerned about potential changes in direction, this barely blipped on my personal drama radar and the situation seems well in hand.

The most memorable inner corp drama (from my perspective) was when an Old School Heretic resubbed and discovered that the corp culture and flying style during the late night US TZ was quite different from what he remembered (and saw during the EU TZ).  He was pretty surprised that we didn’t bow and scrape at the mere mention of his name, and that in fact his name didn’t carry any weight with us.  E-peen waving literally brought the situation to blows – fortunately he managed bail his ship (and crystal clone) out with a Falcon alt.

The last bit of drama was long simmering and low grade.  Basically, at a certain point the late US TZ PVP in Amamake just kinda dried up.  Maybe its because we hired too many new pilots for one system, maybe it was because we strangled the flow of traffic into Amamake with Orca camps, or maybe it was because I started putting out PVP videos.  No matter its source, this resulted in the old Parsec guys doing lots of roams and the hilarious (but aborted) Operation Poison Ivy.  This is the biggest contributor to our decision to reform Parsec Flux and return to Wormhole space.

Now that we’ve reformed under the Parsec Flux banner we are negotiating for membership in the Heretic Nation alliance.  There’s absolutely no advantage to it from our perspective, but we love our pirate brosefs in Heretic Army enough to make an offer that I consider to be substantially in their favor.  The negotiations appear to be stalled and I’ll have to get on comms with Finkov and Jude soon, but that’s proving to be difficult given how widely varied our timezones are.

I’ll discuss the actual taking of our wormhole soon, but suffice it to say that it was a success despite repeated Epic Failures.

Filed under: Eve, Gaming