XBMC: “Free” TV and Serious Business Geekery

I’m going to do a full “How to” trip report on this one when I have everything tweaked, but I am pretty close to being able to cancel my Lovefilm and Sky subscriptions and swap to freeview satellite, thanks to a couple of evenings spent setting up XBMC on an old PC I had lying around.

Since those subscriptions cost something in the ballpark of sixty or seventy pounds a month, this is not to be sniffed at!  After all, that’s more than eight hundred pounds (thirteen hundred dollars) a year. Continue reading XBMC: “Free” TV and Serious Business Geekery

Goonswarm Alliance Update – 28th September 2011

Yes, it's a retard bick.  Great.
Lazy, I know, but this is what Google Image Search came up with

The Delve Campaign

Like me, gentle reader, I am sure that you have often wondered why the leader of Brick Squad chose to name himself Darius III, a short-lived and basically incompetent ruler of 4th Century Persia who poisoned his courtiers, couldn’t control his directorate and finished his career dead of a backstab after being royally steamrolled by an invincible invader called Alexander (the Great, not Gianturco, but you catch my drift).  He is, however, a man of mystery.  I cannot properly describe him, although I suspect that if I had I should be forced to have frequent recourse to the word “corpulent”, and very possibly to “lesions”, too. Continue reading Goonswarm Alliance Update – 28th September 2011

Portrait of the artist at 3500 feet

About a week ago, on a day off, I climbed Schiehallion in the central Scottish highlands.

Me and my dogs (can you spot the second?)
This is Seleighe, myself, and a bored, wandering-off Sunny on the summit of Schiehallion.

I do a lot of hillwalking, especially during the half of the year when there is no rugby to be played, and I think it’s a big part of why I’m still playing when all but one of my colleagues from the Lismore team of 1992 have long since retired.  I have, in fact, climbed Schiehallion twice before, although last time my uncle and I had to turn back in a furious blizzard: having set off in gorgeous sunshine we were cutting steps in the snow by the 2500 foot mark.

Continue reading Portrait of the artist at 3500 feet

CCP bad at PR you say? Surely not!

I’m going to do something rather unfashionable – not to say unpopular – today: I’m going to defend CCP Zulu’s infamous devblog.  As a reminder, the text was as follows:

Intrepid pilots of New Eden!

Over the past days and weeks, CCP has been doing extensive and intense introspection and revitalization. The result of this is a refocusing and reprioritization on a scale unheard of within our company.

These are indeed defining times.

Torfi’s most recent dev blog provides some indication of what’s to come. We have decided, to focus our collective efforts on the areas you have asked us to focus on.

We will reveal more over the coming weeks. As certain details are prone to change, we want to make sure we have absolutely concrete information to give you. You’ve often told us that we promise too much and deliver too little, and this time we want to be certain that doesn’t happen.  We are listening to you, we have heard you, and plans are already in motion.

Watch this space.

My first reaction was that this was classic Sir Humphrey Appleby from Yes, Minister.  What he was saying was that, having considered the issues, CCP were amenable to the idea of appointing a sub-committee to look into the possibility of nominating a working party with the task of suggesting potential terms of reference to the committee itself within which a taskforce could operate with the ultimate goal of, at some future point, writing another devblog.  Erm… Continue reading CCP bad at PR you say? Surely not!

Tuh… Einstein was an Amateur

Like many, I am sceptical about the apparent findings of the CERN team, who believe that they may have observed sub-atomic particles travelling at velocities greater than the speed of light.  Special relativity has served us well for the better part of a century, after all, and our understanding of it is integral to our engineering of everything from DVDs to nuclear bombs.

However, I simply cannot comprehend what would make a scientist say, in an interview on the subject with today’s Daily Telegraph, “It would turn everything on its head. It is too awful to think about.”

Too awful to think about?!?

The best, most wonderful experience for a scientist is to discover that the boundaries and frontiers of their understanding just expanded out beyond the visible horizon.  To discover that Special Relativity might be inadequate to describe the world around us is a gift to physicists: there may now exist new realms of knowledge to conquer and the chances for everything from exciting (and well-funded) new research all the way through to the tantalising possibility of fame on the level of Planck, Rutherford and Einstein himself for the person whose team cracks it.

Anyone with even an amateur’s interest in physics whould now be (sceptically) abuzz.  If Professor Jenny Thomas is genuinely so uncomfortable with the idea of having uncertainty in her world-view then perhaps theoretical physics, of all careers, is the most ironic choice of all.  Just ask Heisenberg.

Goonswarm Alliance Update

Fuck It

In a week dominated by the news that REM were breaking up while U2 still, for some reason, refuse to hang themselves in a garage with the strings from the Edge’s guitar, a far more important story has been overlooked: a man has been sent to prison for 18 weeks for trolling on the internet. A man described thus “single, male, introverted-looking, a sad loner who spends hours upon hours on his laptop feeding that great cyber gulch with what he apparently believed to be his dazzling wit.” What’s that? I thought I heard a couple of thousand people suddenly say “oh shit…”


So far we’ve taken three systems in Delve, including the M2- station system near the Fountain border, during the fight for which we killed a Morsus Mihi supercarrier. We have put other systems in reinforced, won a bunch of fights and are inexorably working our way south. In the last few days there haven’t been a huge number of posted ops, with people generally jumping into fleets from jabber broadcasts, but I am assured that this will change as we approach the weekend, and that we will now start turning the screw.
Continue reading Goonswarm Alliance Update

Kremlin-Watching in Iceland

Close reading of CCP tweets can backfire, but can also lend hints of what is to come, and when.  Stoffer’s tweets (@ktouborg), for instance, gave the first non-CSM confirmations that a supercapital rebalance was incoming, and even lent some information about what form that might take.

So I read, with interest, the following exchange on twitter, today.  It’s time for some close reading:

@kirithkodachi: Blog Post: Seven Things CCP Can Do To Revitalize Eve: I started composing this post before the dev blogs about t…  http://www.ninveah.com/2011/09/seven-things-ccp-can-do-to-revitalize.html

After the link was fixed (I have done so already, above), CCP Fallout responded:

CCP_Fallout @kirithkodachi good post. Item 6 won’t be touched upon until maybe Fall 2012 though

Note how oddly specific this is.  Not “we hope to get round to at least Item 6 by 2012” or “hopefully we’ll get some of that done by next year” or anything broad like that.  The implication of specifically warning that Item 6 – which had not been picked out for discussion earlier in the exchange that I can see – would remain untouched until the Autumn 2012 expansion is that other items on the list might very well not have to wait so long.

I’d recommend visiting kirithkodachi’s blog post at the link above, but to recap in precis form, the items he had on his wish list were:

  1. Supercap rebalancing
  2. New ships
  3. Fix blasters
  4. Update incursions
  5. More live events
  6. Update faction warfare
  7. More space

Not a bad list by any means.  We know that item one is on the way (and I’d expect to see a dev blog about that extremely soon, on the basis of previous expansions).

“New ships” covers a multitude of sins, and could be taken to mean anything from another lowball item like the Primae all the way through to a new range of racial ships filling a novel role.  Given the lower art costs of a reskin I’d suggest that something not unlikely would be the addition of a another set of four ships using existing T1 hulls but T2 in nature, in the same way as the Cerberus or the Kitsune use the Caracal or the Griffin.

“Fix blasters”: this has been hinted at already for next year by CCP.  I just hope that they do it by making gallente ships better platforms for MWD (agility and MWD tweaks?) rather than just turning blasters into faux-autocannons.
“Update incursions” – rolling out different faction incursions would add new “raid” content (the Sansha ones already being min-maxed to “farm” status amongst organised groups) while utilising existing development, AI and graphic assets: I would be surprised not to see this next year in some form.

“More live events” – you would be amazed the depths and degree of both my disinterest and my ignorance on this one.  Sounds pricy in terms of staffing or risky in terms of probity (who remembers BoB and LV and their unfortunate associations with Aurora?), but not difficult per se.

“Update faction warfare” – Faction warfare isn’t costing CCP much, it keeps a few hundred souls tied into the game and CCP are traditionally not the best at revisiting systems post-release: I can see why this would be 12-15 months away at the most optimistic.  On the other hand, before that is even a consideration we are talking about considerably greater resources being thrown at Eve.  Which is hopeful.

“More Space” – CCP have said before, both in the context of the drone regions release and the more recent Black Rise and Wormole space additions, that they can procedurally add additional space with only manageable effort.  Given that their figures show that something like 10% of their subscribers have at least tried Wormhole space (that’s not bad at all; and compared to some calculations Goonswarm members did about PI takeup recently that is a stellar success) and that the majority of class 2+ wormholes seem to be either occupied or farmed-out at any given time, I would expect at least new Wormhole space.  Were I to speculate, i would also suggest that some additional, more conventional space devised as nursery areas for new alliances would not be unlikely: perhaps cynojammed NPC systems?

I would therefore suggest that Kirithkodachi has managed a fairly high hit rate on CCP’s plans if the faction fighting for more Eve investment win out.  To these I would add an expectation of a revision of nullsec – with changes to sovereignty and wealth creation high on the list – and at least one revision of moon mining.  The latter may even occur in two passes: tech rebalance then redesign.

Oh, and blah blah more Captains’ Quarters whatever blah blah.  Who cares?

This would be a formidable list, and most of this depends on Eve being moved from the position of exploited cash cow to growth status.  But I am optimistic.  For now.

Guys Guys It’s a Wolf!

CCP twitter accounts have been ablaze this week with hints of upcoming news and reasons for excitement in the world of Eve Online.  CCP Fallout started things off with “OH MY GOD I HAVE THE BIGGEST SEEKRIT EVER AND THIS TIME I WON’T TELL!” a few days ago.  CCP Guard, yesterday, said “This is going to be an exciting week”  Today, no less than CCP Zulu – Producer Arnar Hrafn – tweeted “What a day for spaceships”.

These comments, together with other developer teases, sparked off intense speculation on blogs like that of RipardTeg; on twitter amongst even CSM members like Seleene and The Mittani; on Kugutsumen; on Goon jabber (in several channels that I was in).  As Goonfleet Intelligence Agency director I saw the same thing happen in other alliances.  A successful piece of viral marketing, then?
Continue reading Guys Guys It’s a Wolf!

What Makes a Great Corporation: The Big Story

For the first two parts of this series, see the posts on fleet commanders and building a community.

There are a lot of dull and dreary little corporations in Eve.  And, strictly speaking, each of those has a story arc.  That story tends to go like this: someone decides that he wants to run a corporation, with no goal beyond the office, the title, the importance and perhaps the riches.  Babes would be nice but one even self-important oafs are not total fantasists.  He trains the skills; he forms the corporation; he invites some people from the godawful linguistic desert which is newbie corp chat; he advertises for a few more members and buttonholes people that he notices running level 4 missions in empire who are in NPC corps; he collects tax at 10%; they get wardecced and lose some ships; they join a nullsec renter corp; they jump alliances when their ratting space is taken by an invading space and they can no longer rat; he stops logging in as much; they atrophy and die; they sit there with 17 unsubscribed and unbooted members until the servers go dark. Continue reading What Makes a Great Corporation: The Big Story

What Makes a Great Corporation: Community

“Oh dear,” I hear you say. “Yesterday was about hard, eve-online basics like Fleet Commanders and this time you’re going to waffle on about touchy-feely social-worker nonsense with no relevance to Eve.” Fear not, gentle reader! This one is going to be more practical even than “find a willing FC“.

If you are looking at leading a corporation in Eve, then you have to know what your real job is. Just as the job of FCs is really entertainment, so the job of corporation leadership is actually less Mussolini and more maitre’d. Every month or two you’ll get to make a “big decision” about where to deploy to; which alliance to join; which faction in that horrible alliances’ interminable backstabbing and infighting to back; who to blame for its fiery and embitttered collapse. Stuff like that. But your day job is less glorious.

You need to take fifty or a hundred people who have never met and turn them into a community so sticky that they care not one jot about the loss of their ships, their assets or even their space in comparison to the continuation of their group of friends. This means being Solomon in a hundred petty disputes, yes, and in that bit you are on your own. But there are solid, practical things you can do.

Continue reading What Makes a Great Corporation: Community