Whoops Apocalypse!

Our neighbor's once proud Oak Tree
A mild Autumn resulted in several species of Oak not dropping their leaves as quickly as usual this year. And then last Thursday we got rain that slowly turned into ice overnight and then heavy wet snow as the temps slowly dropped below freezing. By morning the weight of all that ice and snow, combined with the leaves trapping it all, broke thousands of trees across our County and beyond. In our neighborhood only one such Oak made it without some damage. A rare combination of events that ended with tens of thousands without power on Friday morning.

Shortly after this started sinking in Air Canada cancelled our flight to Montreal. It would be the only cancelled flight that day. It was also the only flight leaving Pittsburgh for Montreal. We decided to leave early and head to the airport. Without power our desktops were useless and no one was answering the phones. Our flight wasn't scheduled to leave until 4pm that afternoon, so we figured there would be options that would still result in us landing in London early enough on Saturday.

I've flown hundreds of times and anytime there has been a cancelled or delayed flight, a courteous visit to the airline desk is usually enough to find a solution. After waiting in line at the Air Canada desk we were rather sternly told they would not be helping us and we'd have to call the 800 number. A number no one was answering. There were flights available leaving for Toronto that connected to London - but we had no way of making those happen.

While we desperately tried to summon help thru the phone, the app, and even over on Social Media - Air Canada was kind enough to reschedule our flight for us! They put us on a flight for Sunday which would get us to London on Monday morning about 2hrs before our return flight to the US. I kid you not. This automatic reschedule remains a sticking point with the airline even today. This has not yet been resolved despite speaking to several human beings at both Air Canada, United, the flight insurance company and who knows who else.

Sadly we were not able to make the trip to London.

Our power was out all weekend until late Sunday night. Chaos with kids schedules, hotel rooms, spoiled food, melting fridges, food for cats, the usual. I won't bore you with the details. It all worked out fine in the end. We even managed to have a decent weekend in many ways.

The tree in the photo above is gone now, they came and took it all down today. About 16,000 people remain without power but it looks like that number will drop tonight.

We are already planning our next trip to the UK... but this time in the Summer.


London Calling


We are flying out tomorrow for Eve London. If you are in the UK I hope you will stop down during the day on Saturday and that we get a chance to meet and talk about Eve (and anything else you'd like to talk about). We should be getting there around 2-3pm local time, if not before.

I'll have swag.

Neither of us has been before, so this is a big deal for us for so many reasons it'd be impossible to name them all.

Be back next week with photos and stories. In the meantime be sure to follow our adventures over on Twitter or Instagram.

Until then.



Flying Reckless


Sometimes I get bored. Yes, even the Pirate Lord of Low Sec gets bored from time to time. Engineering wars and plotting the downfall of our enemies, promoting Low Sec and Stay Frosty, keeping our Directors on course, maintaining a 77% success rate at PvP (which often sees entire Solar Systems empty when I enter), not to mention creating art and logos for the Eve Community and attending player meets around the world (London next!) - even with all of that I can sometimes log in and say, "now what?"

Mix that with my tendency to collect a crap-ton of spaceships in my hangar and across the universe. Last weekend I discovered a Prophecy that was fitted from a fleet we ran almost five years ago. And yesterday I found a Thorax that was specifically fitted to kill LML Caracals in Ishomilken back when we lived there almost four years ago! I had so many ships in my hangar that it wouldn't let me repackage fitted ships because there wasn't enough room to complete the requested action. That's a problem.

The solution started innocently enough when I attacked a Wolf with a Talwar. I made the assumption (incorrectly as it turned out) that the Wolf would be Arty fitted. It was not. Hence my approach strategy was horribly wrong and ended with my death. Hmm what other ships can I fit differently and try out? How about a kitey Punisher? It might have worked had my default Punisher orbit not been set to 500 and had I remembered to check it before the fight. Imagine my surprise when I approached the Rifter instead of burning away? And yes, I was also being lazy. I had a long day at work. So I totally deserved to die.

As long as things are going badly, I might as well lean into it huh? So when I saw 3 Hawks and a Crow in local I figured it'd be a perfect time to get rid of that weird Thorax. And maybe kill at least one of the Hawks. Sadly I didn't manage to kill the Hawk. I would have, but without a point he just ran off before he exploded.

I had gotten rid of the old Prophecy over the weekend. But it didn't die in vain, as I managed to take a Gnosis down with me. And a Tristan.

Lastly I saw Kage Huren in local from Black Rebel Rifters in a Firetail. I knew he'd be alone and figured I'd try to burn him down with a Tristan. This is an almost impossible fight to win. Even with everything on my side. I sat at zero on the button with my AB overheated and got point, web, and neut on him right off. But I still lost. Good fight and he deserved to win.

Of course I realize this all sounds a bit like, "I didn't want that ship anyway" territory, but you should all know me better than that by now. The point wasn't to throw away ships, but to use them recklessly for the fun of it. It's good for the soul to be reminded that Eve is a game and sometimes (not all the time) it is worth creating some fun for yourself. If those moments achieve other goals at the same time, then so much the better.

I enjoyed every one of those fights. Even though I lost almost all of them.


The Truth About Low Sec


As many of you know, I am unabashed and passionate about my love for Low Security space in Eve Online. Some people love Wormholes, and some people claim to love Null, and you might even bump into a person that lives in High Sec from time to time - but for those of us that call Low Sec home - well you'd have to love it in order to live there. Especially for those of us that choose to live on the underside of the Empire's boot heel. I've said it before, but it needs repeated from time to time, criminal low sec life is playing Eve on Hard Mode.

And so it is only natural that I worry about it. I recently wrote a post about how quiet it is been lately. And fellow Frostian Kirith Kodachi also wrote a post about it, but his has graphs! (So be sure to check it out.)

And while things have certainly quieted down a little over the past few months, the truth is that this feels more like a natural cycle rather than the end times. And while I will always remain worried about server login numbers, and kill-rates, and all of the data - personal experience is also important. And from what I've been seeing lately Low Sec remains as it always has been. Fights are still around, you just have to look for them. Some places are empty and some are active. And where and when those things are true is constantly changing. As anyone who has lived in Low Sec should know by now, you can't predict it. A System can be a hot-bed for action one week and be empty the next.

Long term the situation is a bit different. I still believe that Low Sec needs a unique value that can't be found anywhere else. And while Faction Warfare was often regarded as that unique value, I think we can all agree that it isn't currently. And it may never be given CCP's lack of support or upgrades over the past almost decade now. And while I still support FW and hope that CCP helps it sooner rather than later, I also strongly believe that we need something else. I've made enough suggestions over the years so I won't bore you with the details again. But there are a lot of ideas that could help drive content into Low Sec and encourage players of all ages to take the Gates.

We can't always wait on CCP however. So Stay Frosty will continue to promote Low Sec ourselves. In fact, we have several plans in the works to help bring more traffic into our neck of the woods. In addition I hope to return to creating and hosting some in-game events in the coming year. I don't know what form those will take yet, but I think it's time. Maybe a couple of Frigate Free For Alls or something?

I had more to talk about, but I'm running out of time today. So consider this part one.

Yarrr!





Rankings

SF Bare Knuckles Wallpaper

It's hard to believe that Stay Frosty will be six years old in May. Time sure does fly when you are having fun. I bring this up not to travel down memory lane or anything, but because I discovered something I had forgotten about this morning. I so rarely pay any attention to kill-boards, but I had to recently go over and give out some corporation awards that I was behind on. One thing led to another and I found this All-Time Ranking thing that zKill compiles. Of course I had known about this earlier, but when you don't use something for a long time you can sorta forget it is there.

So, I was curious. We've been around for a long time now, so how do we rank when it comes to individual ships against the rest of Eve? I'm not going to do all spaceships, but here are some of the more popular PvP ships and how we stack up.

Federation Navy Comet
Stay Frosty: #6
A Band Apart: #7

Navy Slicer
Stay Frosty: #11
A Band Apart: #29

Tristan
Stay Frosty #11
A Band Apart #13

Firetail
Stay Frosty #4
A Band Apart #13

Kestrel
Stay Frosty #16
A Band Apart #18

Atron
Stay Frosty #19
A Band Apart #18

Condor
Stay Frosty #44
A Band Apart #49

Hookbill
Stay Frosty #32
A Band Apart #29

Merlin
Stay Frosty #23
A Band Apart #22

Breacher
Stay Frosty #7
A Band Apart #7

I'll stop there, but it's heartening to see us ranked so highly across the board against other Corporations that have been around much longer than we have. Especially in Low Sec, many of our fellow Pirate groups have been around a significantly longer time than us. But we are certainly making up ground. And with over 112,000 kills already on the board we'll pass some significant milestones next year.

Pardon me for being proud of our band of misfit toys. We've come a long way in the last five years and right now Stay Frosty is better than ever. We have a great group of active leaders and FCs that have stepped up, and numerous weekly scheduled roams, activities, and plans for the future. Both in-corp and in Alliance. It is a very exciting time and I'm looking forward to where the next five years takes us.

Check out this Garmur I killed with my Astero! (Random killmail mention)

Stay Frosty my friends.







The Anti-Concord Pirate Ship

Love this image from Jacopo Alfano, here is a link to his artstation
I have a Marshall I can't fly. In fact, my hangar is full of several ships I can't fly because they are tied to Security Status. (And yes, I can literally fly them, but doing so would be stoopid for me given my -10 sec status) More specifically, positive security status. Which seems weird when you think about it for a PvP game that seems determined to push people out of High-Security space. But there it is, rewarding goodie-two-shoes and making it difficult for us scum-sucking independent minded freedom fighters to excel at - you know - Player Versus Player combat. The backbone of Eve Online.

So it was suggested on Stay Frosty Discord the other night that it was high time for some ships that benefit from negative sec status. Ships that grant bonuses in an increasingly negative manner, that start at -5 but increase the lower you get, with max role bonuses at -10. I love this suggestion and I think it is high-time that such a thing happened. We have Explorer focused ships, Mining ships, SOE white ships, Capital ships for Null Sec, it is about time we had a few Pirate focused ships with negative sec status role bonuses.

Obviously these ships (I imagine a BS/Cruiser/Frigate variant) would only come in black. Probably with badass Tribal markings and skulls on them. Maybe with skin variations available, or better yet the ability to have our Corp/Alliance logo on them. It would be great if the ship models were amalgamated versions of Empire ships cobbled together poorly, something that Low Sec people did. Worse than Minnie ships, which have been getting better lately. Think Reavers from Firefly. Or whatever, the design of the ships could be extremely creative and allow my friends in CCP's Art Department some freedom to explore.

So what kind of role bonuses would such ships have? My first thought was an automatic pod lock after the target ship explodes. Which is awesome but probably not realistic. Other dumb ideas included a YARRR! sound effect when it comes out of warp, a neutral appearance in local for a certain limited time, immunity to gate guns or NPC station guns, built-in probes (so you don't need a module, only the probes in cargo), a scram range and effectiveness bonus, a special rig that attaches extra armor onto the ship model (even if it is shield fit), a Flying Tiger skin (which gives your ship a full set of awesome Shark Teeth!), a smoke generator which generates a tremendous amount of smoke from the ships exhaust for no benefit other than it looks insanely awesome. I'm sure you can imagine your own.

As far as serious bonuses go I'm sure Fozzie could come up with some decent ones that don't imbalance the game but also make it worth flying.

As usual I'm only half serious here. But CCP started this with the introduction of those Concord sec status bonused ships, so I think it is only natural to start thinking along these lines. If positive sec status people can have special ships, then why not us? We're people too!

We're just freedom minded independents that don't like the Empire's boot on our necks. Don't tread on us.

What are your thoughts?



London Bound

Leviathan Over London Commission
2018 is the year we do four Eve player events. We traveled to Iceland for Fanfest, held Steel City Eve at our house over the Summer, attended our first (and probably last?) Eve Vegas, and in two weeks we will be jetting across the pond for our first Eve London. This trip will be nuts as we fly out on Friday and return on Monday! Trust me, we have very little vacation time left after all of this.

We both figured this was as good an excuse as any to get across the ocean and see our friends and those we've never had a chance to meet in person. Neither of us have been to England before and while we'd certainly like to stay much longer, this is the best we can do right now. We land Saturday morning and take a Black Taxi from the airport around town for a quick tour of the city and then get dropped off at our hotel before we drag our tired carcasses across the street to the player meet. Then Sunday we spend most of the day traveling to Stonehenge and Salisbury before an open evening to find food, and then board a plane on Monday to fly back. Whew. That's nuts.

I have been to Foamhenge!
As crazy as this most certainly is, we're both looking forward to it. Life is too short not to do crazy things when you have the chance. We'll come back for a longer visit at some point, but I think we both enjoy the idea of using these Eve meets as an excuse to travel.

I know we are both excited for Eve North next year because it is so close. And we've discussed making a trip to G-Fleet in Berlin next year depending on when it is. Maybe Amsterdam, or even Eve Down Under someday. How cool would that be?

Two weeks from today we'll be on our way. Can't wait.



Gooder Eve: RoundUp 2018


It's been almost three years since I last posted a catch up on my old "Gooder Eve" posts in which I made the case for all sorts of crazy ideas that would make Eve better. Essentially CCP just goes back and reads these and then makes them happen about 3yrs later and then takes all the credit for it. Whatever. As long as it happens right?

We already know about the victories with WCS and ECM, but what else can I take credit for?


Gooder Eve: Time to Clean the Database (Still Waiting on this one!)
Let's start with this one. CCP recently did a good job of cleaning out some old character names that haven't been used. And I continue to believe the same needs to be done with Corporations. I get asked a lot to help name things in Eve and I'm always frustrated by how many times the name already exists. Usually by a one-man Corporation that hasn't been active in a long, long time. Stay Frosty is a great example. We had to add a dot to the end in order to use it! Time to clean house.

Gooder Eve: Tactical Bookmarks (DONE!)
This one is done. Not only that, but CCP did me one better and incorporated bookmarks right in space. Nicely done.

Gooder Eve: Battle POS (DONE!)
This is actually several posts about making POSes better and more integral to the game, which is essentially what Structures are - especially now with all the new stuff beyond Citadels. .

Gooder Eve: Cap Buster (Maybe?!?)
Another one that has several posts behind it, but the general idea is of a ship or module that essentially "banzai's" Cap Ships. As a solo and small gang guy the idea is extremely biased and I make no apologies for that. I think the "Array" idea is a lot of fun. This one will probably never ever happen. But I can dream.

UPDATE: There has been some Cap busting talk lately and while it probably won't take the form of a giant missile strapped to a Frigate, it might result in a similar outcome.

Gooder Eve: Skill Smarts (DONE!)
Again, CCP does me one better by not only incorporating intelligence into the Skill train, but expanding functionality and allowing us to add years worth of skills into the list. Well done CCP! I was trying to be realistic in my expectations.

Gooder Eve: Majestic Time (DONE!)
Granted, it is a bit of a stretch for me to take credit for this one, but I'm going to anyway. The essential argument here was to make New Eden bigger by slowing it down a little, which is exactly what Jump Fatigue has done. I didn't suggest Jump Fatigue, but the results are the same, so there.

Gooder Eve: Harvester Class (DONE! And Maybe?)
This one may never happen. But that doesn't mean the general idea isn't worthy of consideration. The idea is simple, this is the future and we have a huge source of energy in every system that we do nothing with, the Star. Would be interesting to find a way to incorporate Stars into Eve.

UPDATE: Well the Moon mining structures obviously came out of this idea and a CCP Dev mentioned Star Harvesting at Eve Vegas - so the concept lives on. It ain't dead yet.

Gooder Eve: Gate Jammer (Maybe?)
A module or ship or device that momentarily disables a Gate. Well we have new Jump Gates now that can be destroyed and hijacked, so that's sorta similar. I still think something like this will be introduced once we get to build our own. If that ever happens.

Gooder Eve: Module Based ECM (DONE!)
I love the idea of ECM affecting module classes. Missile ECM turns off Missiles, Propulsion ECM turns off Propulsion, etc. This may never happen, but I think it is a much better way of using ECM than the current, "you are screwed" way. CCP did me one better and just went and made ECM awesome, so well done.

Gooder Eve: Universal Standings
This one is a bit crazy I admit. I'm not even sure I like it. But thinking about standings is important since they are a crazy jumble of messed up right now. The point is that Alliance and Corp management in Eve is bonkers and needs to be fixed, updated and made much gooder.

Gooder Eve: Counter Measures
I love the general concept. This was written in 2010 and Eve has come a long way since then, but we remain essentially trapped by the same PvP constraints we always have been. Funny, for a PvP based game, not a lot of thought gets mentioned about actual PvP in the game. Isn't that weird?

Gooder Eve: The Combat Tractor Beam (SORTA!)
This kinda happened, didn't it? We do have Mobile Tractor Beam thingies. I'll take some credit for it thank you. UPDATE: At Eve Vegas the concept of a tractor beam was mentioned as a module and CCP indicated they are thinking along those lines. Of course they are.

Gooder Eve: Maker's Mark
I still like the idea of ship history. This has been brought up after this post by other people time and time again, but essentially the idea is a running history of the ship you are flying. Who made it, when, and whatnot.

Gooder Eve: NPC Corps
This one still needs to happen! We should be able to show/hide the NPC Corps from our Corp history! Easy fix that would clean things up a lot for us players. Make this happen.


There are more Gooder Eve posts so feel free to use the Search Function to find them. I should start writing these again since CCP has run thru so many of them already. lol.


The Perfect Thing


Years ago down in Impass I was flying around in my Manticore doing extremely dangerous Gate Perching. Gate Perching is when you sit on top of a Star Gate in a Bomber (aligned out) waiting for a Transport ship to jump into local. This rarely works, but when it does it is insanely awesome. It is also insanely dangerous. A variation of this involves doing the same thing but to a Station. Add in the extra complication of a bombing run and then watch things go to eleven. And yes, I did this sort of thing (and worse) all the time. Heck, part of the fun of Eve is trying to think of dumb things you can do and try to get away with.

On one such day I found a Armageddon slow boating away from a Station. No one else in local. So I uncloaked my Manti and pointed him. And thus began the extremely slow process of exploding his ship. And not dying to his drones. I can't begin to tell you how long this took, but one eye was always on local. He hit structure and started dying. And then I ran out of Torps.

Years later I'm in Hevrice when I notice a Megathron jumping into Jove next door. I follow in my Condor. He warps to a belt and I follow, point, and start the process of exploding his ship. I am in zero danger from him, but again, one eye on local. No one comes to help either of us. He hits structure and starts dying. And then I run out of missiles.

That first example happened almost nine years ago. The second more than six years ago. And I remember them both, and others like them, like they happened yesterday. Sadly neither of those two ended up on my Killboard, but they remain among my favorite fights. I literally have hundreds of fights like that in my history. And I can clearly remember them all. Some you win, some you lose, and some just... well, sometimes you just run out of ammo.

We are all chasing our own version of the perfect thing. The moment when everything aligns perfectly for us and the unexpectedly great thing happens to us. No matter what you are doing in-game that perfect thing exists for you. For me it always involves finding a much larger target in a much smaller ship, the ever elusive under-classed kill above your weight-class. Or the elusive equal class match-up, when two ships of equal class square up and duke it out. Your own "perfect thing" might involve much different circumstances, but no matter what it is - they all share one common trait.

Risk. And no, I'm not going to bore you with a lecture about risk. What I am going to do is challenge you. Are you risking your own story? Only you can answer this because it is going to be different for every player. But are you making your own story interesting? After all Eve isn't a game you play as much as a game you live while you are playing it. And again, the kinds of stories will vary by player - not everyone has to be the Pirate Lord of Low Sec. But what are you? Are you living the game, are you getting the best out of your experience?

You might not have an answer right now. But let that sink in. If you discover that you are not, then you should change something. Move. Change venues. Challenge yourself. Build in some risk. Comfort becomes boring eventually.

Try something. No matter how crazy it sounds.

I bet you'll like it. And even if it ends badly, or you run out of ammo, you'll remember it.




Forgotten Corners


Wormholes. Low Security Space. Spend any amount of time at an Eve Player meet and you'll quickly understand that these regions don't get the same attention that Null Sec does. Null groups dominate events. Test had over 100 players attend the most recent Eve Vegas for example. I'm guessing but I'd bet there weren't 100 total players at Vegas that call Low Sec home. Or Wormholes. Null gets the attention in every way attention can be given. From CCP, from the media, and from other players. Look, I've played in Null and fought in many wars, I've got nothing against it. Play where you want and play how you want.

But when was the last time Wormholes got an upgrade? When was the last time something new was added to Low Sec to make it more enticing? That's right, in both cases it has been almost an entire DECADE. Which is ten years by the way.

And right now I'm speaking as the CEO of a 300+ member Low Sec Pirate Corporation - low sec isn't bouncing back after the Summer like it usually does. It is concerning, quiet, slow, and relatively dead. We are running 4-5 fleets a week and having trouble finding content.

Take a look at our monthly killboard stats:

Yarrr!

You have to go back to August of 2016 to find a month with lower than 1,000 kills and we've had three of them this year alone. Again, Summer is generally slower, but this is October. And September barely broke 1k.

I have a lot of hungry mouths to feed. I'm not going to give up on LS but I also know this means we have to start stretching out even further for content. Which we will of course.

My point is more about the long-term viability of both areas of space. Nothing in the long-term roadmap that I am aware of addresses either. Nothing. No hints at FW upgrades, or WH Abyssal graphics, or special "LS Only" content, or anything that can help drive engagement. Or provide a side-income stream that isn't relying on our alts in Null Sec. (And yes, we all have them. Spais are fun!)

It is important to mention that both WH and LS players don't want a lot of help. We just want some help. We like our spaces and they way they operate. Don't mess with stuff that isn't broken. In the case of LS all I really think we need is some love given to FW mechanics and some additional type of content drivers. Not much to be frank.

But when will that happen? My worry is not soon enough to matter.


I Barely Survived My First Eve Vegas


If you read this post you might think I had a terrible time at Eve Vegas. I did not. Not entirely. And only for large chunks of the time. You might even get the idea that I was miserable. And you wouldn't be wrong. Not entirely. But mostly I wasn't. Hopefully you will read this and understand that my feelings about Eve Vegas are complicated. And I hope you won't judge me harshly for being honest. Or, at least, trying to be honest.

This was our first Eve Vegas. It was my wife's first time in Vegas ever. And it was only my second. Although I've been in the Vegas airport a dozen times or more. My first time on the strip was a drive up and down with a few stops along the way. So this was truly our first significant exposure to the city. And let me be brutally honest here, for two people who have struggled their entire lives with social anxiety and depression - Las Vegas is possibly the worst place in the world. It is loud, obnoxious, unending, unrelenting, bright, noisy, harsh, and weirdly cavernous. It is unrelentingly oppressive. And I won't even go down the financial, corporate, stupid-tax, side of gambling. Or worse. Suffice to say that Las Vegas is not our happy place.

Our first two days on the trip we left the city and went off to the country. Those two days were awesome. More about those in another post.

I'm glad to hear that the event will be moving from The Linq because that was like having an Eve meet in a cave for three days. There are no windows. And it is dark and oppressive. For anyone that bumped into me during those three days and found me sour, or surly, or dark, I sincerely apologize. Just know that I was expending a tremendous amount of personal energy trying to be normal. And I'd be the first to admit that I wasn't always successful. I know my Wife had the same problems. The consequences for that expenditure of energy was manifested physically in my knees. So, lucky me, I was also in some physical discomfort most of the time. (Feeling much better now.)

God that sounds awful doesn't it?

But it also wasn't. As always we enjoyed meeting up with our friends and having the opportunity to meet and make new friends. As always we missed running into people we would have liked to have bumped into, or else ran into them at bad times. I also know a lot of people are dealing with their own social anxieties and I do always try to be aware of that as well. We can be a hot mess the Eve community. So it's all good. If we missed you just know that we hope to run into you again at another event soon. And if you didn't manage to grab some swag, you have no one to blame but yourself. Liz and I were practically throwing it at people towards the end there.

Top Golf was a blast and we both really enjoyed that much more than we thought we would. I sucked so hard at first it was truly embarrassing. But, as always, I struggled on and by the end I was doing much, much better. I even managed to sink an air shot into the furthest white circle near the far end. So I was pretty proud of that. Even though, by then, no one was paying me any attention.

We also enjoyed Drai's more than we thought we would. Although that was a hard place to talk without yelling at each other. Enjoyable and always good to see Permaband in person.

For a low sec Pirate Lord there wasn't much about the event itself to get excited about. Almost all the new updates are for Null Sec. Although I always appreciate updated graphics and the new Stargate effects are insanely awesome. And we get some new ships, which is always good news.

I tend to seek out and hang with the art department, so it was great to have some time with CCP Burger. Awesome guy and while he is still relatively new in the position (since July), I am very encouraged by what I've heard. CCP has traditionally been very silo oriented and it is encouraging that they are trying to change that and get different departments working closer together. That should have long lasting and positive impacts across the board going forward.

I also spent some time with him on the new 3D Camera. And I am pleased to report that this thing works like magic. And while it won't launch as feature-rich as it could be, the groundwork is obviously there to expand the capabilities of the feature in the future. For someone like myself who has been asking for something like this for a decade, this is huge. It works. And it is beautiful. Look for a drastic increase in the quality of Eve cinematics in the near future. I know I'm going to be purchasing a 3D mouse.

I also finally had a chance to sit down and talk with CCP Salvo as well. And while the Imicus is next up on the update line, I tried to convince him that the Thorax should be next. He also agrees with that assessment and hopefully that will happen sooner rather than later. I also stressed that the entire Battlecruiser line-up needs updated, especially the Hurricane, Cyclone, Myrmidon, Harbinger and Drake models. The important thing with those ships is to maintain the current model while updating the look and texture of each. They just need some TLC and updated to look more modern.

The Eve store featured one item with a spaceship on it, which sold out. A t-shirt with a white Rifter. I honestly don't know how many more years it will take for CCP to savvy to the point here, but at least that is some progress. Put ships on things! Duh. Remember Incarna? We like spaceships, it is the entire point of the game.

Speaking of spaceships we had several 3D printed models in the charity auction this year. I wish I knew who provided them, but I don't. (Enough said about that.) But they were amazing and they sold, I believe for a combined $1,200 or so. Proving once again that we like spaceships. Duh.

I was proud to donate a print of mine to the auction as well. And while I had to handwrite an information card for it and it had no way of being displayed (the less said about this the better), it still managed to bring in $360 for charity. I promoted the crap out of it myself and the guy who bought it was extremely happy. As was I.  All told we raised slightly over $15,000 for Able Gamers and I'm proud to have been a small part of that success. Always feels good.

I was also happy to hear that Toronto will be an official meet next year. I know those people have been working hard on that event for years and they deserve the recognition. I'm sure that we will be going next year, it is so close after all. Once I heard that, I figured we wouldn't win the Fanfest at Home contest. And sure enough it ended up going to those nudists in Finland. Well deserved.

I could complain about more things. Or I could just shut up about it.

We're already looking forward to Eve London in less than a month. That'll make FOUR Eve Player Events for us in 2018. Fanfest, Steel City Eve, Vegas, and London. I doubt we'll do that many again next year. But you never know what the future holds.

Whatever happens just know that I'll always be over here trying to shame CCP into a better store experience, better merch, better game play and more better graphics all around. In the end all I want is for Eve to be awesome. Just like we all do.

Now I'm just looking forward to logging in and blowing something up.

Yarrr!



Vexor Progress

Right now I'm working on something new. I hurt my shoulder over the Summer and the lingering effects from that injury have impacted my work. I can't really work some of the same techniques I used in the past. Heck, it is probably those exact techniques that led to some of the problems I'm having to be honest.

So I've been working on a less impactful schedule and technique which I am getting pretty decent at. I did a few trial runs with it and then decided to challenge myself by painting/drawing a Headhunter skinned Vexor entirely in Illustrator. The ship is just a part of a larger piece, but it is the hero and the most important element.

So I thought I'd share a few of the progress images with you.

First step is just to block out big areas of color, shadows, and a few fine lines and details.

Then it is just a question of adding increasing details, color, shading, and then final details like lights and labels. Almost all of this stage is done freehand using the brush tool.


Some elements required testing out various SVG Filters, mostly to do with blending and blurring. As this is a vector based illustration, achieving the desired results is not as easy as it is in Photoshop.

The real challenge for me was going to be getting the skin effects correct. This was extremely challenging.

And there it is. An entirely vector based illustration of the Vexor with the Headhunter skin. I'll finish this piece up when we get back from Eve Vegas. But now that the ship is finished, my original intention might change. I'll have to give this some thought.

A piece of advice if you are going to try working like this in Illustrator - be sure to outline everything as you go. Or at least at the very end. It makes dealing with the drawing so much easier later on. Especially when moving it around or re-sizing it.

In total this piece took about 6 hours from start to finish.

BONUS:

Here is a wireframe view of the illustration about halfway along.


And the whole thing up on my monitor.


Off to Eve Vegas



In two days we leave for our first trip to Eve Vegas. Finally! After years of trying (insert long-story here) we are finally going. I hope. There are still two days...

Above is our entry in the recent Eve Fanfest Home Contest. The Harpa in Reykjavik is undergoing some renovations and CCP is moving HQ buildings, so in 2019 there won't be a Fanfest in Iceland. Instead they will be spreading things out a bit across the globe. And one of those stops will be at someone's house. Most likely not mine. But one can hope and after long and careful consideration, my lovely Wife and I decided to go ahead and enter. Just on the off-chance we might win. Because we already host Steel City Eve at our house and that is awesome.

Last week CCP held another contest and asked the community to post Fan Art around the social media universe. And while I could have posted a lot more, I did try to contain myself. Over on Instagram I posted a few images, one of which was selected as one of the three winners. I think we each get one of those awesome white Art of Eve book collections. Which, believe it or not, I don't already own. (Although I do have the Art of Eve book, I'm not a caveman.)

This is the piece that won:
Maulus In Orbit Illustration
Click to embiggen
Which is cool because this piece was really a test more than anything. One of the very first times I tried to do an entire piece in Photoshop using the Wacom tablet and a whole bunch of custom brushes. So it represents an important moment in my own history, so it's nice for it to get some recognition.

I don't do as much Eve art as I used to these days. But I try to stay busy and I have a new piece I'm working on that I am very excited about. But that will have to wait until after Eve Vegas.

Until then.






War Decs in Eve


There is a lot of talk within the community lately about War Decs. The possibility that something may be or may not be done with them has stirred up discussions around town. The recent CSM minutes are to blame. But there is another culprit, one much more serious and impactful. It is becoming rather obvious that War Mechanics in Eve are actually driving players out of the game. This possibility has been debated for years, but it looks like we finally have actual data to back it up. Indeed, players do disengage from Eve when under War and (even more importantly) afterwards. They don't always come back.

The critical issue here is engagement. The more engaged players become the more likely they are to stay players. And sadly, War Decs as they exist in Eve are anti-engagement. There is literally nothing you can do about them. Except log off, stay in station, stop doing anything, avoid them, and other non-engagement activities. For most Eve players these are the options. Back when I lived in High Sec at the beginning of my Eve career a War Dec meant a jump-clone into our Null Sec base. But not all players have that option.

I'll leave it to others to complain, because I have a simple solution - get rid of them. Completely.

Scrap the whole thing. Don't keep iterating on a system that is horribly broken. Instead, wipe the slate clean so that it can be replaced for a new system built from the ground up. I'm not going to pretend to have all the answers here, but I do know what a new Engagement System should look like. Here are a few of the basic tenants:

• Goal Based - Both sides in an engagement should have goals that can be completed to achieve victory conditions. These victory conditions need to be meaningful for both sides. This can easily become a very complicated and intricate system, but I would prefer it stay as simple as possible. Goals could be tied to missions, or other pve content, or based on activity levels. Getting out of a War Dec should be easy for an active, engaged group of players. We want to encourage activity. Not penalize it. Maybe some goals are in Low Sec, Null or in a WH?

• Bribery - This wouldn't be Eve without risks and underhanded mechanics. I suggest building it into the system. You should be able to bribe Concord to gain advantages or to combat advantages. I'd like someone to bribe Concord to let me into HS for a war mission (Yeah, War Missions!) for a few hours. Or for a victim corp to pay off one of their goals and reduce the timers. The options here are numerous. Cross pollination is the goal here, let's get players jumping into systems and experiencing new parts of space.

Right now there is nothing an Alliance like mine can do against a War Dec. Our HS arms simply move around it and HS activity is avoided. But our main combat arm, Stay Frosty, is 100% useless when it comes to HS Wars. Us scum-sucking Pirates can't do anything to help. At least not reasonably. I suggest that during a War Concord grants temporary sec status to all combatants. So I could fly into HS to search out and freely engage War Targets. Obviously, if I abused that access by attacking anyone else, my status would be removed. But to other members of HS I'd appear just like a regular joe. Maybe with a special icon or something so they could avoid me. More engagement.

People who declare War need to have skin in the game as well. I'm not trying to take anyone's play style away from them. I'd also want these systems to engage them as well. But they should have something to lose. And something to gain.

And then we need to eliminate the ability to engage other players in HS. You simply are unable to lock another ship, not under a War Dec, in HS. Any smartbombs on a gate will not damage ships not under a War Dec with your corp/alliance. Let's eliminate ganking completely from Eve. It is horrible game play that only encourages the worst in players.  It is borderline abuse and it is time for it to be eliminated. Let HS be for the safety conscious, encourage them to travel, to be engaged, to experience other aspects of the game. HS shouldn't be that great. Players should want to move to Low and Null and Wormholes. If they don't, then something is wrong.

But that only works if we can more easily travel between those sections of the game. It only works if I can travel into HS to engage War Targets. It only works if HS Wars require visits to Low, Null or WHs. And that's why we need a new system.

In my opinion.



So What's Next?


I keep getting asked in local about my Podcast After Hours and when it will be coming back. And I keep having to decline commission work. And sometimes I find it challenging to think of something to write in this blog. Any free time I have these days is typically time I want to be spending in-game. Things are really hopping in Stay Frosty and ABA these days. We're running anywhere between 4-6 organized fleets a week lately. Which is exciting.

I think I've gotten my FC mojo back. I keep thinking about more theme roams that we can try. This past Saturday we went out in Rifters and that was a lot of fun. I want to do more of those. During the week most of the fun stuff happens while I am at work, which has always been a bummer. But I'd rather be working than face the alternative. Which is why weekends end up being so important. We will be missing a couple of weekends for Eve Vegas and Eve London. And all of the Holiday stuff coming up end of year.

It is a busy time to say the least. I've been at my current position for over a year now and things couldn't be going better. The marketing is humming along and we are exceeding our goals. I really enjoy the people I work with every day. So that's going really well.

All of which adds up to decisions that need to be made about priorities. I've already made the decision that commissions will generally have to be a thing of the past. Except for charity or community projects. Those I will continue to help with. But sadly I just don't have the free time these days to commit to anything more than that. I want to focus more on my own work when I do have the time. I need some new creative projects that I can get excited about. I'm in a sort of transitional time right now when it comes to my personal projects. I was expecting to be working on several card games right now to reveal at Eve Vegas - but sadly those didn't happen. So I'm looking to be inspired again, I keep fiddling around with different things, but nothing has stuck yet. It will eventually.

I admit I'm not 100% percent sure about After Hours right now. If it does come back I'm not sure what the format will be. I've been thinking about doing something else with it, but I'm not sure yet what that might be.

Believe it or not I've even considered the possibility of Streaming.

In other words, I dunno. Right now I'm having fun in Eve roaming with my Pirates. Planning our Eve Vegas and Eve London trips. Mailing out the posters people won during EveAThon this past weekend. And generally taking a small break from being insanely busy - to just being moderately busy all the time.

It feels good for once not to have the weight of the world on my shoulders. And maybe that is the thing after all. I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel and I'm pretty sure this time it isn't actually a train coming towards me. It might just be daylight.