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Fozziesov? What is this called, anyway? The new Sov system.

I’ll bet you expect me to raise all hell about the problems this new system raises for Goonswarm, and to start pointing out why it will never work, aren’t you?


First off, there are many elements of this system that I like. I think that the stated goals – provoke fights, increase flexibility, enable smaller groups to hold sov – are wholly admirable, and I was very flattered to see several passages from my blogs appear. I think, overall, that there is a huge amount of promise there: Fozzie made it quite clear that an important element of the design was that it was malleable, and that he foresaw the potential for a lot of tweaking before it went live.

Entosis -> Apoptosis -> Necrosis

I love the Entosis element: I had suggested a class of ship dedicated to “hacking” sov like this instead of a module, but on reflection, the module allows for more variety of fleet doctrines than being tied to a certain class being in fleet and working around that. The underlying principle is the same: you have to put ships on grid to take or defend sov. That is the key point and everything else is attempting to balance what is perhaps the single most complex game on the market.

I think that the timer element is well executed, as well. Yes, it will provide challenges for AU TZ people, for instance, to take systems from EU people, and similar combinations. But at the same time that is balanced for AU TZ defenders who will tend to be be more secure. Widening the window or making structures vulnerable round-the-clock would mean that people would be encouraged to troll-reinforce those who cannot give them a fight at the time: people who will be asleep when the sov structures get reinforced. I think that would go against the “get-fights” spirit of these changes.

As well as their ability to disable services, off-timezone forces will also have the important job of reducing the defenders’ use of the space to even out the timer multipliers. I do like that aspect of the design: there are lots of ways to attack. That is good!

There are a few elements that I do feel need tweaked. Here are my first couple of suggestions: everyone is already suffering great fatigue from reading a thirty-page sov design document so I won’t do it all in one post!

What about the little guy?

Malcanis’ Rule is not broken here: read to the end!

I like the constellation sov idea, with split up fights in a variety of locations. I hope that yields what is intended: an urgent race between opposing forces, moving around rapidly, splitting forces to take one timer while harassing others and so on. The fact that these timers can be all over a constellation really favours someone who has forces to spare to camp gates.

I do worry that this favours people like us (Goonswarm) rather heavily. On a big op, we can afford to place a full fleet in three timers and put a fourth on duty interdicting hostile travel. I think that a further advantage explicitly rewarding the smaller defender would be good: perhaps a multiplier on top of the occupancy bonuses meaning that an alliance that owns one system has its Entosis systems run twice as fast again; one that owns two systems has them run at 1.8 times as fast, and so on down to, say, six systems when there is no bonus. Otherwise a small defender will rapidly be camped into zero occupancy bonuses then easily overwhelmed by numbers.

I may very well be shot at dawn for this by my own bloc but perhaps that multiplier could further scale once a certain threshold is reached so that someone who owns a very large number of systems (more than 8-10 constellations, say?) has its Entosis systems run progressively slower?

Thus endeth the reading…

OK that is part one: I hope it came across as welcoming and optimistic but with a couple of important quibbles.  Next, I’ll look at Risk vs Reward and the inevitable rise of the remote tracking computer-boosted blap-Muninn in Fozziesov.

Crazy Ivan – Russians Spying on Their Own Members

I don’t want to play into cliched preconceptions about the Wild East but Russians – and their “near abroad” – do seem to play Eve a little differently from the rest of us. This week, however, the Russian Eve forums are aflame with accusations over black-hat hacking of alliance members by its own leadership.

I’ve been director of the Goonfleet Intelligence Agency for almost four years, so I’m reasonably-well-placed to talk about this subject. Amongst Euro-Americans, the intel conflict is played out within certain bounds. Whether it is the GIA or N3’s Jean Leaner or PL’s very effective (if slightly more devolved) spying set-up, we all play the old-fashioned Cold War-era spying game. We attempt to insert agents into each other’s blocs and alliances. Continue reading Crazy Ivan – Russians Spying on Their Own Members

A Game of Fights: Returning PvP to Eve Sovereignty

It’s time to put my money where my mouth is.

So far in this series I have laid out the case for an Eve populated by smaller entities, in far more densely-populated sovereignty holdings which leave more space free for newcomers to nullsec. I have also described how I think this patchwork eve of smaller alliances would look. And I have suggested that the mission agents in PC nullsec stations are the most scalable method of providing an income for more people in less systems, providing enhanced player and alliance incomes while requiring PvEers to take responsibility for the defence of their sovereignty pockets.

So far so good, and I’ve been lucky enough to have overwhelmingly positive feedback from those who have read the articles and discussed them with me on, on Reddit, in my comments section, in jabber, on the SoZ podcast, in twitter and more. But the absolutely vital next step is to demonstrate that it is possible to implement a sovereignty system that gives a fighting chance to smaller groups to defend their space if they are willing to fight; that punishes sprawl; and that makes vast renter empires unsustainable. As an added restriction, I’m going to try to describe such a system that can, overwhelmingly, use existing Eve mechanics. Continue reading A Game of Fights: Returning PvP to Eve Sovereignty

Richard Alston Dance Company at the Edinburgh Festival Theatre

Last night, at a loose end in Edinburgh for the evening, I went to see the Richard Alston Dance Company at the Edinburgh Festival Theatre.

Here is a link to a youtube video of part of one of the pieces: Lachrymae. In Lachrymae, three couples, each bereaved, console, comfort and even sometimes attack each other.

I was surprised to find that my favourite piece of the evening was, in fact, Martin Lawrance’s “Brink”, set to an unlikely tango by a Japanese composer and performed on, bless my soul, an accordion.

I am, to friends not similarly unafflicted – notoriously incapable of understanding dance – I am, I suppose, what you might call dancelexic – and spend much of my time bewildered by what is supposed to be happening on stage.  Last year, I went to see a performance of Onegin and utterly failed to grasp, until I read it in the next morning’s newspaper review, that each character was being played by three dancers simultaneously.  I just thought that the large cast tended to be a bit, well, ~samey~.  For this reason, I went to the pre-show talk by Alston himself in order to ease some of the bafflement.  This did help me enjoy the two narrative pieces of the night rather better than would have otherwise been the case, but I still enjoyed the other two pieces even more.

I was also surprised that Alston declared that he thought the Festival Theatre one of the best spaces in the world; named it as his favourite; and said that New York in particular lacked any comparable space.  There was much polite laughter when he started down this route – the sort of response an after dinner speaker will get for going through the polite gestures an audience might expect, welcome, but not believe – but he was apparently quite in earnest.

Two of the pieces, Lachrymae and Illuminations, were based on works by Britten, with the first performed live: the viola and piano were on stage with the dancers.  I’d probably have paid to see that by itself: a great performance.  Just as well, too.  At the official Edinburgh Festival this year I went – again, to the Festival Theatre – to see im Goldenen Schnitt, another revival of a dance piece from a couple of decades ago, and it was so awful, so pretentious and so caustically smug that I had begun to think that I just wasn’t cut out to watch dance.

Joy Division Reworked – Are You Sure Ian Done It This Way?

A little late on this update, but I went to see “Joy Division Reworked” at the Usher Hall a couple of weeks ago: a collaboration between electronic musician Scanner, the Heritage Orchestra and a visual artist whose name, shamefully, I forget. Here is their short teaser for the Royal Festival Hall show.

Joy Division Reworked

I wasn’t sure what I expected. Cover versions? Remixes? The bloke next to me, of a certain age and wearing an Unknown pleasures t-shirt of what looked like original vintage, walked out four tracks in, having been increasingly restless in his seat. He, I suspect, had anticipated a faithful tribute act. In fact, it would have taken an even more faithful fan of Joy Division than I to have identified all of the tracks which were explored and reinvented. These were sweet apples, but they had fallen a long way from the tree.

The publicity said that if Ian Curtis were to have lived, this is what he would be doing. I’m not sure about that: Joy Division were a long way from the rich soundscapes of a 21-piece orchestra, six-piece band and a rich, sequenced accompaniment. But then, New Order were the next evolution after he died, and they embraced denser production and the electronic medium. It is perhaps more what Keith Emerson, of Emerson lake and Palmer, should have been doing today.

Here is Scanner’s own version of the opening track: long, dreamy, gorgeously overblown and, when performed live, with the best visuals I have seen for a live show since seeing Maynard Keenan’s gorgeous show with Tool in Glasgow on the 10,000 Days tour a few years ago.

In any case it was variously progressive house, prog rock, ambient house and even, on one track, some dubstep wub-wubbing. Gotta love dem wubwubs. I wanted it to go on for ages more. If they tour it again, don’t miss it.

Wolfpacks in Delve: It’s Dice 2009 all over again

I have been pretty constantly immersed in the Eve meta-game for the past four years or so: my first and only prolonged period of complete burn-out coming last year after the launch of and the death of my friend and co-conspirator Vile Rat.

That said, my actual interest in logging into the game of Eve Online itself is a touch cyclical. Since the last Bat Country deployment to Delve alongside guitar legend Suas and his merry band of neo-SpecOps pilots, I have logged into Eve only to build up the cash to buy a replacement supercarrier, should that be necessary (a problem made less likely when my supercap holding character was booted from the alliance in a rather over-zealous purge). That’s three months of changing skills and ignoring jabber broadcasts about small gang roams.
Continue reading Wolfpacks in Delve: It’s Dice 2009 all over again

Operating McThetan

I have had harsh things to say about L. Ron Hubbard in the past, but I was perhaps too quick to judge. So what if he made up a bunch of dreadful space opera sci-fi, slapped the title “religion” on it, and profited from the gullibility and desperation of society’s less bright individuals? He was a canny businessman, and that appeals to the thrifty Scot in me.

However, Scientology has always had a limited appeal in Scotland, perhaps because our smaller population must by necessity have a smaller pool of people with IQs below 70 for them to draw upon. But my own feeling is that the American-style, new-age language used by the Scientology movement sits ill with the dour Scot on the number thirty-one omnibus. What is needed, therefore, is localisation.

I am aware that the Church of Scientology is fiercely protective of their name and materials: any money-driven organisation needs to protect their IP, no matter how pernicious or fictitious that is.

It is therefore with great pride and a hungry desire for profits that I announce the foundation of the “Kirk of Physicsology”. Our uniquely Scottish approach promises you that you can become a super-powered Operating McThetan, but that you probably won’t because you don’t deserve it.

We will teach that originally everyone had the awesome mental abilities that we offer, but that Margaret Thatcher had them shut down in the 80s. And that they were invented by a Scot, just like steam engines, televisions and dragons, but that the bastarding English went and stole them from us.

Our auditing procedure for assessing the readiness to ascend to new levels will consist of aggressive demands as to “why you think you’re so bloody special? What makes you better than anyone else?” with assessments reading “Honestly, who does she think she is, anyway? Ah kent hur faither.”

Eventually, neophytes will be told that they are cleared, and that they now have powers equivalent even to Tam “Wee Man” Cruise. However, they will be warned immediately that should they use them then they’ll doubtless pay for it later.

Like the scientologists, the Kirk of Physicsology hopes to make some high-profile recruitments in media and films. I can reveal that we are in talks with the Krankies, and that we have high hopes to snag one of the Jimmy Shand ensemble in the near future. On the promise of influence in the industry and easy access to funding for bad films, the entire cast of Take the High Road signed up some time ago.

Goonswarm War Update – 20th December 2011

What other leader has expensive tastes funded by his followers and has had a very bad week?
What other leader has expensive tastes funded by his followers and has had a very bad week?

The Wisdom of Chairman Psihozz

“The war with sneaky goons has begun alliance Operation
The bloody empire is in danger for fuck sake
What we should to do? Take a stand and fight of course”

Those are the stirring words of Psihozz, leader of at least part of White Noise, yesterday, in a rousing address to his troops.  He goes on to offer them some well-chosen words of advice.  Let’s listen in for a second! Continue reading Goonswarm War Update – 20th December 2011

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…

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.