Rixx at 70 Years Old


I'll leave you with this to look at for a week.




On Vacation


Flying in the face of common sense and reason, I am taking my horribly dysfunctional group of pirates on a family vacation. Y'know, for rest and relaxation. To get away from it all, to kick back on a oven-like beach and put my pale Irish skin in danger of skin cancer. To break my back carrying supplies out and back, to grumble at over-priced sugar water and salted pretzels, to force young ones to visit historical and educational experiences they have no interest in seeing, to try and keep them from killing each other, and to collapse each night with sunburn patches in weird places the sun-screen didn't cover, with sand in my underpants, and a cold beer in my hand.

Should be a blast.

So I shall be AFK for the next week. Please feel free to carry on as normal. And for goodness sake, whatever you are doing, have fun doing it.

And Fly Reckless.



Nothing Has Changed


Sometimes EN24 will pick up one of my posts and syndicate it over on their site. Years ago they asked if that would be ok and I said sure why not, no one else asked. They don't tell me ahead of time and often I don't even know about it. I don't visit the news sites everyday. So it wasn't until yesterday that I discovered my recent "Go Eve!" post had been picked up. By then there were already 70 comments.

Which is fine, no big deal. But one comment lingers and it bothers me. Someone made the accusation that obviously I want Eve to succeed simply to see profit from my recent entry into merchandising. Which is ludicrous. Believe me, I have no bills that will be getting paid from that project. I'm proud of it, I worked my ass off for it, but it ain't sending any of my four children to college.

It isn't the money that bothers me however. It is the implication that somehow I would write something extremely positive about Eve just to keep the wheels rolling. And hence enhance my own, however thread bare, relationship with CCP.

Instead of lowering myself to directly answer such an accusation I want to share a story. Before I started writing this blog way back in January of 2010 I entered a contest that CrazyKinux was holding on his blog. The contest was to write an essay that answered a simple question, why do you love Eve?

I was one of the winners of that contest and I published the entry here in these pages in January of 2010. 1,690 odd posts ago. I'm going to post it again below and let me ask you a simple question, what has changed?


"I've never played an MMORG before Eve.  I'm not an experienced WoW player and hadn't even considered playing some crazy, social networking, computer platforming, role-playing, massive anything before I first laid eyes on the Eve universe.  That moment is burned into my brain even a year and a half later.  The exact nano-second I saw Eve I knew I must play it.  Do not stop at Go and do not collect two hundred dollars.  Now.

It was spaceships, it was in 3d and it looked amazingly incredible, but most of all it looked like a place I needed to be.  A place I had dreamed of being since I was little more than a zygote.  A place that needed me to be there, flying around and doing something.  Doing anything I wanted.  The reality of Eve is much more complex than the way it looks, the way its beauty overwhelms you and surrounds you on first viewing, certainly those are the elements that drew me to the game.  But Eve is much, much more than that.  And, in some ways, much less.  It is messy, it is complex, it is deep and defining, it is dirty, clean, evil, twisted, hard to learn... Eve is so much like life itself.  Eve is anything you want it to be.

And that is the true beauty of Eve, the thing that generates "love".  The passion, the commitment, the raw power that drives you onward and upward toward whatever goals you may have set yourself.  It is incredibly defined and yet completely open ended.  And that is the sick, twisted glory of it all, a game so complex that a year and a half later I still feel as if I have only scratched its surface.  Only now started to get a grasp of its true nature, only now begun to feel as if I am on my way towards something.  And that something is whatever you want it to be.  They call it a "sandbox" and I suppose that is as good a word as any, but Eve allows you to define your own destiny.  To achieve whatever you want, there are no paths to be followed, no well-worn network of previously followed answers from point A to point B. There is no point A and point B is off in a distant part of the universe.  You can truly make, build, live, fight for your own destiny.  Alone, with several friends, or with hundreds and thousands of distant warriors.

Eve is unlike anything else.  Some days I hate it, some days I want to rip its innards from CCP's servers, some days it is glorious, others it is funny, sad, whatever it is it is very much a living, breathing world of its own.  And every day it surprises, annoys, and grabs me like it did that very first day.  Love?  Oh yes, I suppose one could use that word, but I believe that Eve deserves a more fitting refrain.  Love is something reserved for a soul-mate, a family dog, or your actual family.  To me Eve is a passion.  A romance of dreams.  Dreams I've held onto since I was a wee lad and will never let go of."



Bishop Javix


Yesterday I realized my recent post "Go Eve!" had been syndicated over on EN24 so I finally dragged myself over there to read the comment section. Which is always so much fun to do to yourself. But nestled among the comments was this nugget of wisdom from Max Singularity:

"You are hereby promoted to the sacred rank of Bishop and shall be known as your Grace Javix, a keeper of the faith in the rising Sixth Empire of Capsuleers."

When you share a Solar Eclipse with someone in Iceland it changes you. That is what I am attributing this sudden promotion to, the lingering effects of bone-chilling wind and the slow, but inevitable eating of the Sun by the Moon. Thank you Space Pope for the honor, I know you are trolling but I appreciate the benediction nonetheless.

Within weeks of starting to play Eve back in 2008 I was dragged down the pipe into Providence. For the next few years that region of space would serve as a magnet that would keep dragging me back over and over again. The people I flew with, many of whom I am still in touch with (some of whom are even in ABA), impacted my entire Eve career. It was a pivotal time in Null Sec politics and a proving ground for a great many things. In some ways a PvP playground, a destination for anyone looking for a fight, and a cauldron of role-playing, rules, trials, hot-drops, gate camps, and easy player-versus-player combat. In hindsight it was the perfect place to grow up in Eve.

I fought four wars over Provi. I would leave time and time again, only to be called back when yet another war was looming. Eventually circumstance would bring me into the roll of invader for the last of those wars. And I would help the invaders conquer Providence only to stall and fail deep in Cache. (If you'd like to know more I suggest searching for Providence in the search bar.)

As a storyteller I often think about Rixx's story line. A story that continues to develop and go in interesting directions. And I try to imagine where that story might be leading. These are not "plans" exactly, but more like the fevered dreams of a completist. In any story arc the main character needs a destiny to fulfill, a goal to achieve, a destination to pursue. What if, in the grand scheme of things, Rixx also has a destiny. If we agree that he does, then what exactly would that look like?

I can imagine several scenarios that would accomplish the closing of his main story arc. But one of the most compelling of those would be the return of the Prodigal Son to the place of his birth. A triumphant and glorious conquerer that spreads retribution across the South and destroys those that betrayed him in the past. An invasion yes, but a liberation more importantly. A power grab that would solidify his return and the death of his enemies. In that dream, Providence would be his. And eventually the entire South would fall to his gathered horde. A massive upsetting of the established power base that would eventually lead to the collapse of all those that have consolidated power over the past decade. A fever that would result in a brand new paradigm. Out with the old and in with the new.

In that dream everything works out pretty much exactly like that. Providence returns to the PvP Playground it is meant to be, only this time gifted to the new Amarr Empire and their faction supporters to hold and protect.

While it is fun to dream big dreams, is there any way such a thing could actually happen? Why not. Or maybe some other scenario will be the one that plays out in time. Who knows?

Thing is, no one knows what is going to happen next. Only that something will.

Until then, it is great to be Bishop.



LEAK: The New "Chilllax" Trailer

Click to embiggen
REYKJAVIK: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Sources close to CCP Headquarters in Reykjavik (or, as we prefer to call it here on Eveoganda "Rixx Javix") Iceland have confirmed recent rumors of additional ship designs. Our 'Intern" spy in the Art Department has managed to smuggle an early piece of concept art from the offices and spirited them away to Eveoganda World Headquarters here in (on) Mars.

The Frigate Trailer, the Gallente version "Chilllax" is seen above, is a one-man attachment that will be available in all four racial flavors on the day of the next expansion. If additional rumors are to be believed, various skins will also be made available. Details of skin types have not been announced or stolen by our spies.

The Frigate Trailer will allow for one capsuleer to disembark their ship and use the facilities, which include a wide array of items designed for comfort and relaxation. Full specs are not available, but early plans call for a quote-unquote 'Bad Ass Sound System', Hot Tub, Whiskey Bar and Cigar Humidor, and one of those beds the astronauts use. The Frigate Trailer is essentially the Captain's Quarters moved into space, except in this instance the door is extremely important. Cause it helps keep the air in.

We will stay on top of this story and let you know about any further developments as we steal them.

And they say Eve is dead. Pfft.


PS: Oh, and it does have a bathroom.

Sov Pirate Testing Ground


So we've been hearing a lot about this new Sovereignty system that happened recently. According to published reports there is an entirely new way to take it, hold it, and exploit it. And, like anything new, us Pirates want to know how we can steal some of that for ourselves. So last Friday when Oddsodz convo'd me and said he was deep in Null Space with an Entosis link ready to take some and would I mind if he did, of course I said, "Go for it."

In my opinion the best way to learn new things is by doing. I've never been one for reading manuals or taking courses, so Sov was taken and ABA sprang into action. Ok, "sprang" might be an overly optimistic portrayal of what actually happened. The reaction was more like, "Wut?" This is understandable, I mean it isn't like we prepared, planned, or in any other way knew this was happening before-hand. But often, that is the way of things in Eve and it is good to shake the cage every so often. Shake the dust off.

Our mates in Voodoo Children immediately planted a POS in the system for us to operate out of and started figuring out ways to get supplies into it. Meanwhile more of us pilled into local with Interceptors fitted with Entosis link thingies to spread chaos around the neighborhood. And our WH Corps started trying to roll connections as close as they could get them.

Me, making progress
So we ran around Entosifying all the thingies. I had never done it before so I wanted to understand the process as well as possible. We were total newbs at it, but it wasn't long before we started getting the hang of it. I spent some time reading up on Fozziesov, which isn't easy to be honest. Even Evelopedia is still referencing SBUs.

I did learn that Sleepers are now aggressive. I went to Entosis a nearby station when the buggers killed me. That will teach me not to have them on my Overview! lolz.

I managed to figure out how to set our timer for a more favorable time-period, but sadly it was already too late for this specific attempt. So the system was set automatically to come out at a "not-great" time early Monday morning. It came down to about seven of us in System when the timer dropped. Our WH Corps had not been successful in rolling a hole, but they were still trying. But for a couple of hours it looked like we wouldn't need any back-up. The Node thingies spawned across the nearby systems as promised and it was off to the races. The first team to Entosis 10 Nodes would win!!

We managed to get to 8. At first local was mostly empty. Legion of xXDeathXx was slowly starting to show up. Our team even managed to explode a few of their ships and keep our Entosis ships safe. We scared off a couple of Rattlesnakes and things seemed to be going our way for a time there. But it was only a matter of time before someone showed up in an Orthrus. With our Ceptors, Vexors and a hand-full of Frigates we couldn't do much about the Orthrus and he managed to delay our final Node work until more and more of them could pull into local.

With a Station next door Legion had the benefit of home-field advantage, even with the bonuses our new Capital system was giving us. Eventually, with more than 30 ships against us, it became obvious things were not going well. We tried to ninja the last few Nodes under their noses, but they had four or five pilots working on them and - at this point - it was just me on our side. The tide of the Node Battle had turned.

I made the decision to abandon the system. To get safe and pull the POS down as soon as possible. I flew Major back to Konora and left him there in case anyone needed scouted out. And that was that.

It was awesome. In the end we learned a lot about the new Sov system and how it works from hard-won practical experience. We also learned a lot about the types of systems we might want to target next time. Because there will be a next time.

From our perspective this operation, as sudden as it was, was a complete success.

Thanks to everyone in ABA that jumped into action and helped support the effort. We'll be hard at work perfecting our tactics, resources and plans for the next adventure. This is something new to do, something that wasn't really possible just a few months ago. And in that light, I think FozzieSov is a great success. I imagine we will be annoying as Hell.

Sov Pirates. I like the sound of that.


PS: At one point the Russians pulled one of our guys into a channel and demanded to know who the heck we were and what we were doing! We all had a good laugh about that on comms. We told him to only say, "I can't tell you that, NDA" over and over again. lolz.



BB65: My Head Hurts

Welcome to the continuing monthly EVE Blog Banters! For more details about what the blog banters are visit the Blog Banter page.


This month's Banter Topic was suggested by by Jakob Anedalle

"I liked the discussion on The Neocom's recent "Tinfoil Factory" on the future of attributes in Eve. Perhaps piggyback on that and invite those folks into the banter as well?"

Attributes and Skills
Does Eve need attributes? It's been discussed a lot recently. Unlike other MMO's your characters attributes don't make a difference in day-to-day gameplay. They simply set how fast you train a skill. Is it time to remove attributes from the game or totally revamp their purpose? Do they add a level of complexity to the game that is not needed? If you really need to use a 3rd party application to get the most from it should it be in the game? Should they be repurposed with each attribute adding a modifier to your ship? Are attributes a relic from the past or are they an important part of Eve - You make your decision and deal with the consequences?

======================

I almost decided to skip this one. I neither have an informed opinion regarding this topic, nor do I even know much about it. To be perfectly frank with you I haven't remapped an attribute in over three years on any of my characters. There was a time years ago when maximizing my skill training was extremely important to me. And then, somewhere along the way, I just stopped worrying about it. Now I just leave them as they are, max them out, and let things roll along as they will.

Everywhere you look in Eve there is another book of knowledge to open. I find that there are only so many of these books that I'm willing to care about. Perhaps this has more to do with the sheer amount of responsibility that I carry. Not only in-game but out of it as well. Perhaps. As I was considering skipping this topic this month it also occurred to me that perhaps it isn't about yet another book of knowledge to open at all. Maybe my indifference speaks to the topic itself.

Attributes have always felt like a left-over thought from another game. An old-style method of character modification that feels a bit "old-timey" now. I suspect they very well may have come into play more significantly back in the very early days. I know, even when I started playing, that things were different. For example, your racial selection had a lot to do with your early days of training. I was stuck in Caldari ships for a long time because I was born with Caldari skills.

Either way they don't make a lot of sense now. In the context of role-playing they make almost no sense at all. So why hang on to them? It seems like an unneeded level of complexity to an already complex game. So I would recommend removing them and replacing them with something that might make more sense in the long run.

I'll be straight with you, this part isn't something I've spent a tremendous amount of brain-power on. But it would at least seem natural to develop core skill sets that would affect certain types of activities. Let's think about mining for a minute and imagine a skill set that affected mining yield, perhaps one that would incrementally increase the more you used it? Perhaps other skill sets would enhance other activities? And again, while these enhancements might be very, very small - they would still be enhancements. Perhaps areas that could be even further upgraded with matching implants and boosted with drugs. This would require some effort at fixing linking, something that needs to happen anyway. But perhaps that would be a better track to at least consider.

Or we just remove them and pretend like they never existed in the first place. I don't really think anyone would mind all that much. And it'd be one less thing a new player would need to learn about, fret over and then eventually realize doesn't mean all that much in the long run.

I'm all for keeping Eve complex, but it needs to be complex in the right places. Attributes, at least to me, seem to be an increasingly silly place to be complicated.

What are your thoughts?


PS: Check out Kirith's post on this subject when you get a chance. It is very weird how similar our two posts are. I had this pointed out to me on Twitter and finally went over to read his post. If I remember correctly we've had this happen to us before.


Go Eve!


Yesterday I touched a nerve with my post about Eve is Alive! Sorta the antidote version of a negative mantra sweeping the community since dinosaurs walked the Earth - about how Eve is Dying. My point essentially is that yes, of course Eve is Dying, in the same way that you are. In the same way that all things must. Eventually. And that Prophets of Doom are the easiest prophets to be, because eventually (given enough time) they will always be right. It takes ZERO courage to be a prophet of doom and gloom. The real courage comes from taking a stand for what is right. That takes true courage.

I want to expand on that thought and encourage my readers. Yes, Eve will eventually putter off to the great beyond. It will, someday, be pushing up daisies. This will happen sooner or later. As I've said before, I will most likely be there to turn out the lights when it finally does happen. Until then however, let us agree that the end is not nigh. That, in fact, Eve is actually thriving in ways that could not have been imagined only a few short years ago. Because this is a fact.

It is all baggage. Us older players tend to carry around some serious baggage from the olden days. Days when CCP employees were cold, distant, and hidden behind walls of ice. When monster expansions fell from on high. When the search for "Jesus" features was the dominate theme of success. When server's lagged for hours. When the path was confusing, when communication was difficult, and when it seemed that the players lived on the far end of the development stick. Those were dark days. And it is only natural that the baggage we accumulated during those years would linger. It is hard to forget and forgive. It is challenging to let go.

This is, after all, the biggest hurdle a game like Eve faces. As we speed towards the 13th year of Eve its own history becomes a weight around its ankle. A ball and chain that threatens to defeat it, just as it finally enters its own maturity. But the past is dead. The only thing that truly matters is today and the hopes and dreams of tomorrow. And I have to say, I'm impressed.

If you can remove that baggage and clearly look at where we are today, it is rather amazing. There is a staggering amount of content inside this universe of ours, an amount unimagined only seven or eight years ago. A plethora of new spaceships, new activities, new adventures, and an incredible array of possibilities to pursue. Stuff that was only dreamed of before. Is now real. With more rolling out almost on a monthly basis. The machine churns on. If anything the faucet is open wide for the first time in Eve's history. A faucet that is open and willing to listen. To adapt. To change. A complete and utter change in direction from only a few short years ago.

We should be cheering. This evolution is as much ours as anyone. We have player reps on the CSM, we have a vibrant community of bloggers, streamers, podcasters and dreamers. We have an engaged workforce that actually participates on Twitter, Slack and other places were we can engage in conversation. We are together in ways we could not have dreamed of before.

I am a big fan. As a fan I do not always agree with the decisions my team makes, but despite that, I want nothing more than for them to win. To succeed. I may not always agree, and I can be very vocal about it sometimes, but I only do so out of love of the game. A game I actually play. Almost every single day.

I don't have an axe to grind. I just want to encourage. I think you should let go of your baggage and see Eve with fresh eyes. Imagine for a moment that the past is truly gone and you are seeing Eve for the first time. She is a magnificent creation. A frustrating beast of open ended possibilities. A harsh and demanding mistress that will rip your heart out and stomp on it, over and over again. But she is glorious and she has never been better.

For my part, I will be over here in my corner cheering her on. Always ready to defend her, argue with her, and willing to tell anyone that will listen - just how beautiful she can be.

She won't be with us forever. But long may she live.



Eve Is Alive!


I think Huey Lewis & The News said it best:

New Eden, New Eden, is everything they say
And no place that I'd rather be
Where else can you do a half a million things
All at a quarter to three UTC

When they play that game, ooh that modern game
They like it with a lot of style
But it's still that same old back beat rhythm
That really really drives 'em wild

They say the heart of Eve Online is still beating
And from what I've seen I believe 'em
Now the old boy may be barely breathing
But the heart of Eve Online, heart of Eve Online is still beating

HED, Eve Gate, and the Monolith
Is something everyone should see
Neon lights and the pretty pretty ships
All skinned so scantily

When they play their game, that hard rocking game
They like it with a lot of flash
But it's still that same old back beat rhythm
That really kicks 'em in the....

They say the heart of Eve Online is still beating
And from what I've seen I believe 'em
Now the old boy may be barely breathing
But the heart of Eve Online, heart of Eve Online is still beating


Eve has been dying since I started playing in 2008. I have never experienced a group of people more inclined to kill something they enjoy, than a certain segment of the Eve player base and community. Let me make an American Football analogy. I live in Pittsburgh. Home of the Steelers. If you haven't heard of them, they are simply the best American Football franchise in the NFL. This is not a statement of bragging, but simply a statement of fact. And they've been around for a very, very long time. No one thinks they are going to collapse and die. No one. In fact, every year, everyone around here expects them to win the Super Bowl. Mostly because they've done that more than any other team.

Why would a fan of something want it to die? This makes no sense to me. I want the new Star Wars movie to kick serious ass and be awesome. And yet there seems to be a contingent of people that want it to fail. You can point to just about anything in our modern culture and find people seemingly dedicated to the idea that it will suck, fail and burn to the ground. This is, after all, the Age of a Billion Prophets.

The Internets have turned everyone into a Prophet. Even if the vast majority of people take a positive stand, that still leaves thousands of contrary minded voices railing in the corners. And guess what? If something bad happens, then those people were right all along. Their position was justified after all. They tried to warn you. But you people never listen, do you?

For seven years now I've been listening to those people rail against the very thing they claim to love. If enough Prophets beat enough drums loudly enough, prophecy becomes self-fulfilling. Eventually you drown out the positive and leave only darkness and doubt in your wake. This doesn't mean we can't be negative, or address concerns, or rail against injustice. Goodness no. Because that wouldn't be right. But I have news for you, Eve is dying. And so are you. So am I. So is everything you love. Eventually it will all be dust. And not the video game. Although that is a good analogy. We are all ending. And someday, hopefully far down the road, Eve will join the ash-heap of history. Just like the rest of us.

But I'd like to challenge you to stop hastening that day. The Eve I play is a vital, engaging, driven content machine of awesome. And I'd like it to stay that way. It is a better game now than it has ever been. We have more spaceships, more space, more opportunities than ever before. Yes, Eve is a hard sell. Yes it is hard, dark and difficult. And Eve is not for everyone. But maybe, just maybe, we could get more people to try it if we weren't so Hell bent on seeing it fail?

Eve Lives.



Behind-the-Scenes


Even if you are not a fan of True Detective, both season's opening credit sequences are incredibly beautiful works of art. I've always been a huge fan of opening credit design, from the amazing work of Saul Bass all the way up to Fincher's work - among many others. And while True Detective's season one opening sequence was incredible, it wasn't until the song and style of season two hit that I realized just how strong the words and image style screamed pirate.

Leonard Cohen's song 'Nevermind' is the basis and the cut of the song changes almost every week during the opening credits. I chose the version that I thought spoke best to the pirate lifestyle to use for this project. I believe it is the version that opened the season.

Initially my intention was to create a homage that was simply about the pirate lifestyle and Eve in general. But it quickly became obvious that the project needed a focus. My only hesitation was that I wouldn't be able to give credit to every single member of Stay Frosty. Once you start naming names people tend to feel left out, which is unavoidable and I only hope no one feels that way. This project is intended to represent all of us. To make things as fair as possible I used Directors and those on the top of the killboard as credit names. There some exceptions. Cyber Ten's name is on there because of our history together, he and Lex are huge reasons why I started down this pirate path in the first place. Oddsodz is named because he asked to be included on Twitter, which I thought was pretty ballsy. Roc is included because he was my inspiration to start blogging and his music rocks. And Morg and Arch are there because they keep me entertained on Slack.

"Wrong Ammo Productions" is an inside joke that long-time readers will recognize. Using wrong ammo was the instigation incident that led to me leaving Tuskers and starting Stay Frosty over two years ago.

I never intended to make a shot for shot recreation of the sequence. I wanted to use it as inspiration for an Eve version, keeping the same edit beats but using Eve related content and interpreting each scene myself. Here is a side by side comparison with the original title sequence and the final Stay Frosty version:

video

I think you can see what I mean. While it would be possible for me to totally re-create the original that was never my intention. Much of that is dictated by reality, I obviously don't have the resources to create real models that look like Eve characters and film them in a studio. In addition, access to character creation tools inside of Eve is also extremely limited. So I had no choice but to grab what I could from the three characters I own. 

A few people have asked about the technicals. The entire project was created in Adobe After Effects, almost all of the individual scenes are pre-comps brought into a master timeline. Some effects are master level effects, such as grunge, cloud and dirt effects that run over multiple scenes. In addition there are lighting effects that work over multiple comps. Some scenes were not pre-comps because they were simply video that was color-corrected. All in all this resulted in 175 total layers with 34 pre-comps in the final composition.

Obviously a lot of Photoshop work went into this as well. Shadows, dapples, textures, all created in Photoshop and then imported. I used a lot of footage from Eve trailers but I also grabbed a lot of live action from Project Jeremy. Mostly I used the built-in screen capture tool in Quicktime Pro to capture video of both characters on green-screen and ships from Jeremy.

I didn't keep track of time on this project for some reason, but I estimate about twenty hours total. Maybe a touch more. I only picked at it a little at a time, so it is hard to estimate exactly.

The reaction has been above and beyond what I expected. I appreciate all the supportive comments and the hate the video has generated. I'd expect nothing less from this amazing community. So thank you. 

The only limitations to doing more videos like this is technical. There are even more ambitious and wonderful projects that would be possible if we had access to the proper tools to create them. But that is understandably a challenge. As with all challenges however, it remains one that we continue to try and overcome.

Onward and upward.

If you have any specific questions, please feel free to ask them in the comments.


PS: All due credit to Leonard Cohen on the song by the way. The comp is supposed to have another credit included, but for some reason that layer did not render in the final version. The "theme" credit was supposed to say "T Bone Burnett and Leonard Cohen".


Stay Frosty Opening Credits



The moment I saw the first episode of True Detective this season I said to my wife, "Y'know, that would make a great pirate video for Eve." So, for the past week, I've been trying to find time here and there to pick at this a little at a time.

In the end it probably needs about eight more hours of tweaking and adjusting, but maybe not. It took 175 layers, 37 of which are Pre-Comps representing who knows how many other layers in After Effects. I pulled video from just about every CCP Games trailer of the past few years (anything before that looks dated now) and also used Project Jeremy for a lot of the images. (Thanks to t'amber!!)

There are a lot of constraints in building something like this from scratch. Primarily access to character animation. I did the best I could pulling from my three characters, but I could have done much more with better tools.

Having said all of that I think it is the best Eve video I've certainly ever done and I am extremely happy with how it turned out, and that finally I can share it with all of you.

Enjoy!! And Stay Frosty.



For those of you that may be blocked, use this link.

Ant-Man and Scale


This is not a movie review. I did see Marvel's new Ant-Man movie this weekend with my youngest (the other boys being at Summer Scout Camp) and enjoyed it very much. I'd give it 4 stars out of 4, an 8.2 out of 10, a thumbs up and pronounce it among Marvel's best. It's worth seeing, entertaining, unique, and a small bunch of good fun for the whole family.

In my opinion we are firmly in the Third Age of Cinema. The first age was the Studio Age, the rise of the studio based system and the control, from the egotistical base of studio heads, of what we watched. Then along came the Artist Age, the control swinging around to powerful Directors and Actors, the egotistical base of artistically focused creatives that eventually led to the rise of the summer blockbuster. It is often forgotten that creatives, and not studios, essentially brought us to the current blockbuster mentality of Hollywood. Artists like Steven Spielberg and George Lucas among the more note-worthy examples. The sheer amount of money involved and the risks associated with potential failure, helped usher in the latest age of Hollywood - the Corporate Age.

The Marvel/Disney and DC/Warner examples are obvious Corporate Age products. But let's not forget Twilight, The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, the "reboot" resurgence, The Hobbit, and pretty much every other large "franchise" of the last decade or so. All of which are "product" as much as, or more than, just films. We live in a time when schedules are worked out years in advance, when product drives development. All based on consumer demand. If people didn't consume, the product wouldn't exist. Although we could argue the cyclic nature of product driven demand, and there are valid points to be made in that argument, that isn't what this post is about.

I find it funny when people say the "SuperHero" glut is here and eventually it will destroy itself. I find that funny because the "SuperHero" film has always been here. And while Bruce Willis didn't wear a costume (or did he? He certainly ended up in white t-shirts a lot in the Die Hard movies) he was a super-hero. In fact, one could look back across the history of cinema and see clearly that the super-hero story, has essentially always been with us. The current costumed versions may be more blatant, but they owe a huge debt to those heroes that came before them. Harry Potter is a super-hero. Katniss is one. James Bond, duh. Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, yadda yadda.

If you've gotten this far you might be inclined to think this is yet another negative essay about how horrible all of this is. How we are doomed and how much better the artistic age was. I must warn you now that is not going to be the case. I love film. I enjoy all the various styles, states, sources, and subject matter that film gives us. And I celebrate small successes as much as large ones. But I also appreciate a good "comfort food" meal now and again. Entertainment. An expectation of entertainment. And I find nothing truly negative about it.

It is all evolutionary. This might be the Corporate Age, but it is also the age of demand. As consumers we can consume products in the comfort of our own homes pretty much on demand from an increasingly wide array of choices. Netflix, RedBox, Amazon, Hulu, Apple, HBO, the list grows almost daily. Cinema is not immune to this trend. In fact we've spent the last decade being told over and over how cinema is probably doomed. People aren't going to the movies like they used to. Theaters are closing left and right. Attendance is down. The predictions were always gloom and doom. All of which is dictated by us, the consumers. As always, we ultimately drive what, where and how products are developed. They chase us as much as we chase them.

The current corporate control is simply a direct response to those trends. Content is now king and the need for better content, predictable content, is higher than ever. This is why the "Franchise" is now king. Why the "re-boot" resurgence has happened. Franchises and re-boots provide comfort food, a predictable and assured statement of predictability that consumers can count on. And that, hopefully, results in butts in the seats. And butts in the seats around the world, not just in the US. Because cinema, like everything else now, is a global product. Not only a domestic one.

The brilliance of Ant-Man is that it bucks the trend of bigger is better. It is, much like Guardians of the Galaxy was, a proof of concept. A test to see how flexible that predictability is or isn't. How much lee-way do we have here? With even stranger and more off the wall films on the horizon, Doctor Strange, Black Panther, Ms Marvel, Suicide Squad, this flexibility is important.

As for me I continue to enjoy a good story well told. It can be Ex Machina or it can be Ant-Man, it doesn't really matter to me.

Keep them coming.



Frosty Movie Poster

Click to embiggen
I have a bunch of projects to get done today, an interview for a potential job, several proposals to work on, a project quote, a Drake roam later I hope to be able to find time to join, and kids home from summer school to deal with - so not much time for a post today.

Instead I made a new Stay Frosty movie poster. Enjoy!



The Small Seconds


This post starts with a story. Due to the death of the server hamsters yesterday my eventual play-time in Eve was extremely limited. I only managed to carve out about 45 minutes or so. But I did manage to hero tackle a Maller who was actually in a belt ratting, pop a pod that was foolish enough to just sit there on the gate with me too long (and ended up being full of Snakes!!), and then this amazing little Tormentor.

I was in a Wolf.

Sitting on a gate in Eve is a little different for me than it may be for you. As a dedicated, committed and permanent criminal (I've been -10 for over four years and ain't changing for no one, not even Australians) everyone in the universe can freely engage me, but I can't do the same without taking serious fire from gate or station guns. I often spend a lot of time staring at a mutually yellow-boxed target powerfully trying to voodoo them into firing at me. They have to start first. A point I will often point out to them in local.

And so it was with great surprise and joy yesterday that I watched the yellow box from this little Tormentor turn red. As we all know I will take whatever fight I can get, but the outcome of this fight was never in question. But immediately upon turning red the pilot of that little ship earned my respect. Had I been in a Tormentor on the gate with a Wolf I would have taken the fight. I admire that kind of spunk and "wtfwhynot" attitude. We need more of this in Eve.

I said as much in local. In fact, after the pilot re-shipped and warped off to an out gate, I tried to warn them about a gate camp on the other side. Luckily my intel was a few minutes old and the camp had dissolved. I know this because the pilot convo'd me back.

I've written about civility in Eve many times in the past on these pages. I strongly believe that, as players, we are also ambassadors of the game we enjoy. And generally I think we do a pretty piss-poor job of it. The clear line between an in-game persona and the person behind that line, is often a difficult one for some people to understand, grasp and appreciate. And maybe the big picture is too big to understand. Maybe the mantle of responsibility for an ENTIRE gaming community is beyond any individual player to grasp.

Instead of trying to shoulder that mass yourself, why not start small? Small is easy. Small doesn't actually take any work at all. Instead of snarking over a kill, why not invite them to a convo. Why not say "gf" in local? Why not offer some advice? It only takes a second and I think those seconds could make all the difference.

The difference between "winning" and "losing" in Eve often comes down to just a few seconds. When you read that sentence you immediately thought about fighting, didn't you? My challenge to you today is start thinking about those seconds in another light. Maybe a few seconds here and there could make a difference in other ways?

And maybe, just maybe, those seconds can add up to something bigger than us. Maybe we can help create the kind of universe that people want to play in. A universe that remains as harsh, cold, and difficult as ever - but that maybe isn't full of harsh, cold and difficult players.

Maybe?



Spidey-Sense

Tingling

It seems we've landed on a theme about "context" in the last few posts, which is appropriate given the events of the past few days. My original intention was to write a post about how to spot tarps in Eve. A process that is all about context. Funny how these things work themselves out.

Situational Awareness is a key component in playing Eve successfully. No matter what play-style you enjoy, mining, mission running, pvp, whatever you do - being aware of what is going on around you is critical. In fact, it could be argued that developing a "spider-sense" about your surroundings is quite possibly the most important non-game skill an Eve player can have. The point is, knowing and understanding and acting on context within New Eden is extremely important. It can make the difference between success and failure.

Forming a picture in your mind of your constantly changing and evolving environment is challenging. As a player it is in your hands to utilize the tools that are available to you to build as complete a picture as possible, so you can more accurately place yourself in that picture. Make no mistake, this ability is a skill that can be learned, developed, and improved upon. But it takes work, practice and knowledge. Sadly it cannot be injected.

All of which is well and good, but this post is about a specific component of that larger context - how to tell if you or your gang are about to get blobbed to death? There are some tell-tale signs that you can watch out for. And I'm going to be a really awesome guy and tell you some of them.

Clue: Off Scan Bits
A system that has parts off the d-scan radius is a prime location for hiding a back-up fleet, links, probers, and other nefarious things that can ruin your day. Do yourself a quick favor and warp over there to check it out before you do anything foolish. You might not see everything, but it will at least give you a tiny sliver of hope. Knowledge is power.

Clue: Perchers
Bunch of ships on scan but you can't seem to pin them down to a specific location? More than likely they are all in a perch aligned to something, waiting to pounce on you. If it's one ship then he might be afk, but more than one makes that highly unlikely. It is possible they are running a Mission or something, so scan for wrecks. Mission runners leave lots of those around.

Clue: Aggression in Local
Ok so two dudes are in your local looking for a fight. You know this because they've probably said so in local chat. They are kinda being dicks about it. Despite the fact that you clearly have a better ship than them, or more guys in local than they do. It seems odd doesn't it? YES! Yes it does. That's because they know something you don't. And anytime the other guy knows something you don't it is bad news for you. More than likely they have a gang of 50 T3 Dessies on the gate behind them. Or something like that.

Clue: Quiet Systems
You have been cruising the neighborhood and you are starting to feel pissed off because system after system is totally empty, or everyone is docked up for some reason. What are all these people doing?! It can be frustrating, believe me, but it is also called Intel. Don't let your frustration blind you to the obvious. These systems are probably empty for a reason. And I know all those people are docked up for a reason. And that reason? More than likely the very next system you jump into will have a gate camp on it. And everyone is docked up because not two minutes ago a large fleet of guardians and battleships with links rode thru town. And they are just ahead of you, slowing down cause their FC has to take a potty break. See them now?

Clue: Frigate in a Medium
Frigates in Medium FW plex are not always bait. I'd say they are 79.5% always bait. Without prober thingies it can be hard to tell. So here is a free clue. The system is quiet, mostly because everyone else has already died to the Recon hiding in there. Or it could just be quiet. Ok, so there are three people in local. You, the Frigate, and this mysterious "other" person not on scan. And the Frigate is very young and the "other" pilot is older. That's a Bingo!

Clue: Was that a...?
Just for a second there on d-scan I coulda' swore I saw a Proteus. You did. It's a trap.

Clue: No one is fighting
There are potential targets everywhere in this System! But wait a gosh darn second, no one is fighting each other? That's odd. It isn't odd because they are all together! Either that or they all belong to the same faction, which is kinda the same thing. Bunch of targets? No one taking advantage? They all know each other.

Clue: POS Trash
I've seen people completely ignore ships in a POS, as if they can't just warp out of there and keel you. Cause they totally can. The only time you ignore ships in a POS is when there aren't any people in local. Ships in a POS? No one in Local? Then they are POS trash, not before.

By now you are probably getting the gist of this. Things are always what they seem, except when they are not. The difference between those two things is something that can't be taught however. It is a "spider-sense" that only develops when it is used. Listen to that little voice, it is usually trying to tell you something.

Be the hunter, not the hunted. And for goodness sake, have fun out there.



Context and Content


I was planning a post today about how to turn on your "Spidey-Sense" and know when you are flying into a tarp in Eve. Which is a process about recognizing context and being able to act on it. Which, in light of yesterday's post, seems like a much bigger topic than just a simple guide. It is apparent that many of my readers are struggling to grasp the concept of context versus content. As always, I am here to help.

Let's use me as an example. I am a content driver in Eve Online. Both in and out of game I drive content. I create content. Lots of it. As both a member of the community and as the leader of an alliance, pirate, and notorious risk-taker. That is my style. Yesterday I lost eight ships over a sporadic day of playing Eve on and off again. I don't play like that every day, but sometimes it is fun to just plow ahead and have a blast. Yesterday I decided to take on every opportunity available, some worked well and some did not. This kind of day, while rare, is not unusual for me. This is well known. Anyone looking at my killboard from yesterday would be forgiven for thinking certain things about me, eight ships lost for only nine killed? Guy is an idiot.

While I may or may not be an actual idiot, the framework around that assumption is missing context. A bigger picture reveals a different story. It wouldn't take much work to realize that within the context of my entire Eve experience, yesterday was part of an overall pattern that goes back at least four years. If not seven. A well-managed pattern that I control. I obviously know what my own limits are and work well within those guidelines to provide a positive and amazing Eve playstyle for myself and those around me. A pattern that generally sees me come out on top 78% of the time. A rate I am more than happy to live within. That is my own context.

I play like that because I personally find it the most fun way to play Eve. Over two years ago I decided that I would create a place where anyone could come and play the same way. To have fun without rules, or cares about what type of ammo you have in your guns. At the time I had no idea if anyone would come or not, but they did. Hundreds and hundreds of them. Which is awesome. Obviously Eve was missing something for a lot of people and I created a place where they could be themselves. Naturally I and my fellow pilots take a lot of pride in this. It became so popular that people that don't even live the Pirate lifestyle wanted to be a part of it, which is why I created the Alliance. So everyone could have a similar experience, no matter what they do.

That is also context.

The other side of that context coin is the knowledge that some people want to see me and my corp/alliance fail. This is also known. I won't go into specifics, but we've had more than our fair share of betrayal, trolls, spies, alts, thieves, and even one stalker-level hater. That is also context. We have to live with that knowledge as well. Generally speaking we don't give a fuck, but we do like to avoid drama when possible. Believe it or not.

Some decisions I have to make quickly. As a leader I am prepared to do so. I can do so comfortably because I know my team and I can count on them to back me up because I know them so well. But most of the time decisions are made by leadership, the directors and CEOs of the other Corporations. Our corp/alliance has a history and a set of general guidelines against which most situations can be judged. This is also context.

In over two years of our Corporation NO ONE has been removed because of anything that has happened on the killboard. NO ONE. Ever. Yesterday I derped an Apoc Navy Issue into a fleet of 12 Destroyers with links, why? Because it was fun. Our pilots do things all the time because they are having fun. I encourage that. It is, after all, the entire reason we exist. There are times when something strange happens and I, or one of our Directors, will convo the pilot involved. We like to keep track and make sure someone isn't having problems. That is also part of the process.

Another part is honesty. And involvement. And communication. We are an active Corp/Alliance, on forums, on Slack, on Twitter, and in-game. People helping people. We are a fun bunch that likes to enjoy playing a game. Being a part of that experience is a personal choice, but one that is extremely important.

Choosing to not be a part of that experience is also a personal choice. Choosing to ignore advice, choosing silence, choosing to lie, or falsely make claims, these are all choices. Choices that each person is free to make. Indeed, I support anyone's right to make those choices for themselves.

In light of all of that context, sometimes it is in the best interest of the group that those personal choices be made elsewhere. It can often be a difficult decision, but one that the Directors and I are willing to make. The consensus among leadership yesterday was clear. It was not a decision I made alone. It was clear that more was going on in that specific situation than was known to us. And that it would be best for everyone if those choices were being made outside of our group.

It was a decision based purely on context. Simple.



The Perils of Open Recruitment


I don't often talk about the internal workings of Stay Frosty and A Band Apart on the blog. As much as my critics like to bash me for blogging about everything, I typically remain silent on many topics. Which they wouldn't know about, since I'm silent on them. That being the entire point. It works surprisingly well.

I'm going to break the wall a bit on this post and talk about two specific losses that recently happened inside of Stay Frosty. These losses have sadly been replayed across the community, on Twitter, on the Mittani's site, on Reddit, and elsewhere. So they are incredibly public already. So I don't feel the need to sugar-coat anything, or protect a Corp mates pride. Instead I'd like to use them to illustrate several points about our Corporation and how we try to handle situations like this that sometimes arise.

If you are not already aware, I am referring to this Phantasm loss and the Pod, and then last night's other Phantasm loss, which was even worse. Just for a little perspective, the character is 4-8 on the killboard. Already he has lost about half of the Isk that I have lost in SEVEN YEARS of playing Eve.

Let's take a step back. From day one Stay Frosty has been Open Recuitment. You put an application in and you get accepted. That is the entire application process. If the character is extremely young, we try to talk to them and make sure they know what they are getting into. Some very young players thrive and some do not. I believe in the "sink or swim" process, either you get it and get involved, or you don't. Most do. But Stay Frosty is not for everyone and we are not trying to be a one size fits all place to play. That is not our goal.

Over the past two plus years we've seen a few bad eggs. Surprisingly few frankly, given the Open Recruitment policy, but we've had our fair share of trolls, corp thieves, spais, and whatnots. Again, not that many. A half-dozen or so over two years is not bad. In fact I suspect it isn't a rate all that different from those more strict recruitment policy Corporations.

When an incident happens we always attempt to talk to the people or person involved. I believe it is important to give them a chance to explain themselves. I don't know everyone personally and mistakes happen. Mostly they turn out to be trolls with an axe against me to grind, or an alt of someone that is strangely out to get me. One infamous person in particular usually.

I spoke to the Phantasm pilot. Others did as well. As always our pilots receive the benefit of the doubt. We have a 30 day trial for a reason. Normally our pilots in trial receive trial roles, but in this case I withheld those roles. While his explanations could be true, they also could be lies. It is always hard to tell. But, as always, the truth usually comes out eventually. Someone was nice enough to use his first loss as a post on The Mittani's site and the reasons the pilot gave there were different than those given to me.

And then it happened again. This time much worse.

What is that old saying? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. While I encourage our pilots to disregard killboard stats and encourage them to take chances, but even then sometimes things go above and beyond. This is a case like that. This has nothing to do with a stupid loss and everything to do with stupidity.

I don't know this pilot. I don't know his or her story. It could be an alt out to damage our credibility or killboard. It could be any number of things. Doesn't matter. The only thing that does matter is that they are no longer in our Corporation as of this morning.

We can close the door on another weird incident and move on.

When you leave your door open it is important to be able to close it every so often.