Dumb Ways to Do Work

If you haven't seen it yet, check out the Eve Dumb Ways to Die video.  This post is about the creation of that video.

Now that the mad rush of Sunday and yesterday is finally over, I thought I'd spit a few words out in regards to the video and the song. I don't know if anyone will be interested and, as usual, I don't really care. I always enjoyed the "behind the scenes" features and this is kinda, sorta like one of those.

I've created, produced, directed and otherwise caused to spring into being hundreds of video, commercial and internet productions in my career. So I knew what I was getting myself into. Three minutes of animation is nothing to sneeze at. I originally considered a few options in regards to how to build the animations, including Flash, but eventually decided on using After Effects. AE is easy to use, does a decent job of rotoscoping, has some nice animation features built in and I've been using it since Beta, so no worries about bumping into a feature I'm not familiar with.

My biggest concern from the beginning was the animation of the "dancing pods". The timing is critical and they need to be alive and not mechanical. I finally decided that someone else had already done most of the work for me and so I rotoscoped my pods directly over the original "Dumb Ways to Die" animation. The single "Master" pod animation took about six hours of work to get right, but once it was completed the others could be cloned from him. ( My hand has still not completely healed from those six hours! )

A project like this is a battle of compromise with yourself. A balance between your desires and the realities of time and work load. I had plans for more types of pods, a zombie pod, a pod that losses its arms, a pod that had snakes, and some other types - but eventually you have to be realistic and keep things within a realistic scope. So some of the more esoteric ideas found their way into the back room.

Another compromise was on art. Originally I had intended to use only new art for this project. You can even see this in the video, the first four opening sequences are totally original and then after the first dancing pod chorus the next three are original as well. The Leviathan sequence is where I broke my plan. ( The Leviathan is the same one used in the second sequence btw) I could either put a tremendous amount of time into creating an original background of capital ships that would be onscreen for seven seconds, or use an existing background. I opted for the latter obviously.

I'm happy with all the sequences except the "legs on the internet" one. I had a much, much better idea for that one but simply ran out of time on it. What is there was intended as a placeholder, a sequence I would return to later if time allowed. Sadly time doesn't always allow for that.

I managed to get myself most of this past Sunday to finish the video. I thought it would take about four hours, it ended up taking nearly twelve. The mad rush at the end meant the last chorus of dancing pods is missing shadows. Which I didn't even notice until Monday morning. ( Yes, the fire pod is missing a shadow earlier, but he is on fire and so doesn't have a shadow. And yes, I do think of things like that. )

• The explosion graphic is the same graphic in the entire video.
• I used "Crap" because I wanted my boys to be able to see this.
• There are 114 layers in the final composite render.
• 27 Animation Compositions.
• I purposely avoided Easter Eggs, so there are not really any to be found.
• The upper-half of the "blood half" pod from the Blue Chorus was originally supposed to fall off and leave a trail of blood.
• I could have fixed the harsh edge on the fire pod, but I actually wanted some imperfections.

I've been remiss in not mentioning the song. I've done that on purpose. Sindel did such an excellent job on the song and her recent write-up that I have very little to add. I've written dozens of songs, jingles and whatnots over the years and what she accomplished, with very little help from me, is simply amazing. I'm very hands-on when I produce with an artist and since that was not possible in this situation, I tried to just leave her alone, send encouragement, and help with the lyrics a tiny bit. Mostly I just got her pointed in the right direction. She busted it and I am very impressed and extremely pleased with the results.

Will there be more to come? Maybe. I actually have an idea percolating around in my brain right now, so we'l see. I have a feeling you haven't seen the last of the dancing pods.

Speaking of which. FREE Wallpaper!!

Eve Dancing Pods Wallpaper
Click for additional sizes to download


Eve Dumb Ways to Die Parody




You can hear the song by clicking this link.

A little over a month ago I stumbled across a video and then an app called "Dumb Ways to Die" which quickly became popular around my house. Like wildfire my younger boys watched it over and over and over again. I may have been driven slightly insane by the amount of repeated listenings that echoed throughout my house.

And then I mentioned on Tweetfleet that someone should do an Eve parody of the song. Seeing as there are Minecraft parodies and "other" parodies already out there, an Eve-centric one seemed like a no-brainer. ( I also posted about it here. )

The extremely talented and silken voiced Sindel Pellion immediately jumped at the chance and so began a truly strange journey of madness and creativity and "oh my god what have I gotten myself into" that resulted in a truly great song wrapped in a rather silly animated video. It also seemed to serve as a trigger for a rather horrible personal journey that made this Summer one of the worst in recent memory out here in real life. And one of the busiest Summer's in-game. An odd and often perplexing combination of events.

All I know is that I've literally listened to this song a gazillion times, I've snuck video-editing into countless lunch hours, kids getting ready for bed and early morning coffee times which all culminated in a insane ten hour stretch yesterday. And this is the result. There are over 200 drawings, illustrator graphics and out-lined ships in well over 120 layers in 17+ comps and, I'm guessing, about 40 hours of work in there somewhere. And all I can see are the dozens and dozens of places where I wish I had more time. But, as someone smarter than me once said, art is never completed only abandoned. And so it eventually has to be given to you to enjoy.

Eventually the song will stop ringing in my head and the details will cease meaning so much and I'll be able to watch it with fresh eyes. Until then it is no longer mine, no longer Sindel's, it is yours.

A very special thank you to Sindel for taking this on and being so amazingly patient while I struggled thru life and tried to squeeze a silly little video in-between some extremely serious challenges. I can't begin to tell you how much I appreciate you. And just how well the song really did turn out. ( She worries it as much as I worried my part. )

And to all of tweetfleet, who sorta kinda knew what was going on and waited patiently as well.

And to all of my readers and friends, who put up with my weirdness this Summer. And especially my wife who thinks I am a nut job, but loves me anyway.

Thanks everyone. Now you can have this thing in your head for the next month.






The Haunted Hulk

He awoke with a start, the Captain's Quarters still eerily lit in that strange half-day half-night mode it seemed perpetually stuck in. His back creaked as it always did after a night on the couch. When would the restrictions be lifted and a decent bedroom be allowed by the Stations? He rubbed his eyes and thought, probably not in his eternal lifetime.


The little girl stood on the dais in front of the screens. He didn't see her at first, her presence being outside the normally empty environment of the rented office. She was plain, small and obviously Minmatarian. Her hands raised imploringly and she vanished.



"Huh" he thought as his hand hit the Commlink. His wife answered, she was always up before him no matter how early he awoke. "How did you sleep?", she asked. He smiled. Even though they couldn't share the same apartment, he silently cursed the Station once again, she could still read his mind. "About usual," he replied, "Although this morning I've seen a ghost." "That's interesting," she said in that way that wives have of saying that make you feel insignificant, "What are your plans for today?"



Before he could make a smart-ass remark that he would be forced to regret for the rest of the day, he was interrupted by several apparitions materializing from the walls. About twelve or so horribly dressed Minmatar citizens shambling across the floor. All with that imploring hand-raised plea that the little girl had perfected earlier. "I've got more of them now, with me here in the office. I may have to call you back." They were getting uncomfortably close. "Don't you dare hang up on me with ghosts in your office." There was still a smile in her voice, but it was edged with concern.



The oldest of the group stopped short and the rest waited, the amount of pleading only worsened in this paused state of affairs. "What are they doing?", his wife asked. But he barely heard her as he watched a Giant Secure Container form in the space before his eyes. It spun there lazily and he could hear crying, scratching and wailing coming from within the cargo container. The container burst into flames before his eyes. The leader, for that was all he could think of him as, looked directly into Rixx's eyes...



"They're gone now." His voice must have sounded far away. "Are you ok? Should I try and come over?" He thought about that for a second, knowing how hard it was to make that happen - it would involve a bit of daring do, some scaffolding, a ladder, a few bribes, and a death-defying swing from one gantry platform to another. "Uh, no need.  I have somewhere I need to be. Can you jump into the Impel and meet me at the Rani gate in five? Bring a few dozen med-kits and see if you can scrounge up a medical team or two?" He clicked off the Commlink before she could reply.



He called for one of his Thrashers, he needed something small and cheap. Going into high security space was no easy task, and while his wife could come and go as she pleased, it was a bit more of an issue for him. The dock manager wanted to know if he needed a crew and he waved him off, he'd handle this one alone, no reason to put anyone else at risk.



At the gate he outlined his plan and his thoughts to his wife. Most of the work would fall into her lap, since he'd be shot on sight by the sort-sighted buffoons of Concord. "I still think you're crazy, it's been five days..."  He smiled as he jumped his Thrasher in and she followed, "When have you ever known me to not..."  He became immaterial for a moment and reassembled on the other side, "... be crazy? Warping to the bookmark, follow when you can."



He arrived to an empty belt. He only had a moment, quick d-scan and he saw it, just as Concord started appearing in the belt next to him, he warped off again.  He saw the Impel land as he entered warp.  She'd know what he was up to.



This time he landed in an inferno, way closer to the sun than he liked. The Thrasher sealed up even though he was safe in his pod, automatic protection for the crew that would normally be onboard. Where was his wife? Already the police were landing, he only had a few moments. And then he saw her and the black ship emerge right on top of the can. He smiled as his board lit up like Holy Day and he was in his pod, without a ship around him.



The little girl was with him and she smiled this time. "I've got thirty or forty survivors, they're in bad shape but the meds say it's most dehydration and hunger... most of them should be ok." His wife's voice always in control. He knew the answer before he asked, "What about children?"  This hiss from space wailed in his ears, the little girl kissed him on the cheek, "The story we're getting is the bastards kept the children in another container... I'm sorry, but that one didn't make it."



The little girl, her name was Ran, smiled again and disappeared - like all good apparitions should. He didn't smile. He'd killed them when he ganked that Hulk last week. No indication the Hulk was smuggling slaves to Amarr, none at all. Goddamn nasty business.



He watched the police still circling his pod. Not a single one of them would stop and help. They punished but they rarely showed the first sign of human caring. Certainly Concord's hospitals would be better than the ones in Hevrice, but no help would come from that side. As usual. These were the self-same bastards that allowed slavery in the first place.



He watched the Impel enter warp and he followed it back to the gate.  "It's a goddamn hard universe Ran, honestly... you're probably better off dead."




[Originally published in October 2011]





Tales of Whoa

WARNING: The following post is about real life and has very little to do with Eve. You have been warned.


My professional life has been built on many things over the past decades. One of the most powerful, which I am just beginning to truly understand, is what I call the "deadline factor". I work under constant deadline. And I have been since my career started, or even before that. (one could argue that school is nothing more than endless deadlines) The point being that deadlines are ingrained into my soul. Failure to meet a deadline is abject failure of the worst kind.

Let's skip ahead a bit. I've been dealing with some rather heavy real life over the past few years and my involvement with Eve has been a huge factor in distracting me from those pressures. I certainly appreciate my readers, my fellow pilots and all those that I am involved with in this great community tremendously. My life outside of Eve is slowly being rebuilt and shuffled and transformed. Progress is slow but steady. Or at least, it has been.

And then life throws you some curveballs. Deaths in the family. An employer that can't make payroll on time. An angry ex-wife. A troubled high-functioning autistic son that needs moved to a care facility for a month because he just can't seem to function out here with the rest of us. And then my Mother was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. Her surgery is tomorrow. (On a good note, it appears they found the lump early.)

I'm not sharing this to evoke a response in you dear reader. I'm not engaging in any kind of pity party or asking for help. Life is life. And it happens to us, often without our consent. Much like player versus player combat in Eve.

Remember that bit above about deadlines? Now the story starts to loop around and the point becomes clearer. I've been chronic about missing deadlines here in this great community. And the guilt I feel for doing so is rather powerful, entirely self-inflicted, but it remains a true feeling.

I sincerely appreciate all of you that have asked me for help. And I can assure you that I will get to each of you. Eventually. It may not be as quickly as I had hoped, but I will.

I wanted to say it here and share with you some of the challenges I've been facing lately. Not so you feel sorry for me, because I'm not asking for that. But simply for understanding. I could easily hide behind the Rixx Javix mask and pretend that real life doesn't exist, but what would be the point? I think we know each other better than that by this point.

I haven't been as engaged here in the blog or in the community as much as usual and this is why. Between work, life and an extremely fast growing in-game corp, time is being stretched insanely thin.

But hang in there. I never give up. And I hope you won't either.


UPDATE: My mom's surgery went extremely well yesterday, thank you all for your positive thoughts and prayers.

Anatomy of a Kill: Incursus

This post references this fight.

So what is so special about another Incursus being exploded? It happens all the time, so what makes this fight one of the best 1v1 encounters I've had in awhile?

I left the fight by the skin of my teeth, 6% structure left, on fire, half my mods burned to a crisp and my hands trembling. That alone is not unusual, close fights are awesome, but this one went beyond even that measurement.

The other day I decided to fit up another Hookbill, and this time I'd forgo my usual shield based fits and try something new. I had fought a few HBs that had been armor fit and I wanted to give that a try. Something new. I had the fit I liked so I just needed to find some trouble to get into with it. A new fit is like a new girlfriend, you are excited but also fearful about what you might be getting yourself into. What new level of crazy is this going to be?

Funny thing is I almost didn't undock. I'd already lost a INS and a Comet earlier, that little voice told me it was probably time to log off and be happy with the eight kills I'd already notched. Needless to say I don't often listen to that little voice.

I almost missed him. He was sitting in a Plex near a gate I was jumping, I always spam d-scan while in warp, and I quickly cancelled my jump. Sure enough, Incursus in the plex. I knew who it was, there were only a few people in local. At this point I had to make certain assumptions, Incursus in a Plex typically means blaster fitted, dual-rep armor tanked beast. So I loaded CN Nova to start and a tracking speed script into my TD. I'd have to be ready to adapt those choices on further information, but it was a good starting place based on the law of averages.

I landed about 20k from him inside the plex. Well out of range of my webs and scram. Already on heat I started burning, already the rockets were hitting him but not doing as much damage as they should have. Within the first few seconds you know a lot if you are paying attention. He wasn't running away, so he was prepared for a fight and the sight of me in a HB didn't cause him to turn tail and run. That meant he felt some level of confidence, which is excellent. Second he wasn't blaster fitted, since his rails were tearing into me already. This put me in serious jeopardy, since I had initially guessed wrong. I'd need to make some changes if I was going to live.

At this point I was seriously losing the fight. The new HB fit was untested, so I wasn't confident in how it would perform. But as long as you are still alive, you ain't dead. This is where many younger pilots make critical errors. The fight is never lost as long as your ship is still intact. Manage your position, your mods, your heat and get the most out of your ship that you can.

I decided to stop burning for a chance to use my dual webs, and switch to a kiting position. My poor AB was already feeling the heat, but I started to pull range. At this moment I switched to Nova Javelins and switched out the speed script for an optimal range one. This started to increase the amount of dps I was doing to him and decrease the amount he was doing to me. I used my webs a few quick times to keep him at range, but essentially we seemed to be rather even on speed.

I lost my AB as it finally sputtered and died. But now it was down to the numbers. His tank was dropping fast, but so was mine. Luckily my damage control was better than his damage control and with mere slivers of tank left, his ship was the one that exploded.

We exchanged good fights in local. He was as surprised as I was. There were several moments in that one fight that it seemed he had me dead to rights. But in the end, the constant manual changes, mod manipulation, and heat management, won the day by the barest of margins. The armor fit, while not my favorite due to its cumbersome agility and speed limitations, proved to be a tough nut to crack.

Good fight.



TIME Magazine Cover

Rixx Javix Time Cover
Click for additional sizes

Forgive me. I'm very busy today and I posted this the other day but it was buried by the random layout generator and I thought it turned out pretty damn awesome so I'm posting it again, so sue me but its my site and I can do whatever I want. That's the kind of day I'm having.


Learn to Fly: Imperial Navy Slicer

"Learn to Fly" is a series in which we examine the specific skills required to properly fly a ship in Eve Online.

Previous Chapters: Condor / Sac / Comet


In this installment we take a closer look at one of the best Frigates in all of New Eden, the Imperial Navy Slicer. Not only is this ship beautiful and full of golden honey, it also has lazors!! Oh and did I mention it goes really, really fast? Like a bullet on speed and crack.


The INS is typically fit for speed and tackle, throw some Nano in the lows, some agility rigs, a MWD, long point and bam the ship fits itself. And those versions of the INS are entirely valid. But I was not satisfied. I don't take well to my ship exploding all the time, especially one as purty as this one. In addition, given the new FW realities of Low Sec, I needed a ship that could go fast and also brawl people in the face. Tall order, would the fragile speed demon INS be able to deliver?

Let's take a look at some recent INS kills:
INS vs Crucifier
INS vs Executioner

INS vs Enyo
INS vs INS

Even those few examples give you an idea of the variety of targets the INS is more than capable of dealing with in today's New Eden environment.

Example Fitting

RJ's Brawling Kiter Slicer

High Slots

2x Small Focused Pulse Laser II

Medium Slots
Limited 1MN Microwarpdrive

Disrupter Long Point - Fit to flavor, I use whatever I have from loots

Low Slots

Adaptive Nano Plating II
Damage Control II
Fourier Transform Tracking Program
Heat Sink II
Small Ancillary Armor Repairer - I keep at least five loads of Nanite
(be sure to set auto-reload off, fights are short and brutal and you may need an extra rep or two)

Rigs - This varies, but here is a standard version
Small Aux Nano Pump
Small Energy Burst Aerator
Small Energy Locus Coordinator

Ammo - Scorch, Conflag and Imperial Navy MultiSpec

The important thing to remember is that nothing is set in stone. These are tight fits and you'll need to test them out with T2 and Meta versions of the mods listed to find the fit that works for you and your skills.

Know Your Ship

Because most low-sec targets these days fall into two major categories, plexers sitting at close to zero and plexers trying to run away, the INS is the perfect ship to catch them and dispose of them. Its high rate of speed allows it to perform the traditional role of land and burn to targets extremely effectively. Granted, the lack of scram and web means those cowards that fit WCS will still get away, but never fear the shame they feel for doing so will only continue to eat away at their souls.


The best part however is letting them catch YOU. While many people will run away, or try to run away, sometimes the best policy is to let them think they have you. This works especially well against Tristans and Merlins, they will not be expecting you to survive long and will be shocked to learn that you can immediately switch ammo types and brawl them dead in their face!

The Condor can't switch from Kiter to Brawler, but the INS can.

Targets

I have no fear when faced with any T1 frigate. In a fair fight the INS can take them all 1v1. A good Condor pilot may give you trouble, I've had several fights end in a draw with a good Condor pilot. Luckily for you good Condor pilots are tough to come by. LML Kestrels can also be a challenge, as can any drone boat with decent drone skills. If you get into a fight with one however, you can always pull range and get away.

If you get scrammed and webbed overheat everything, switch ammo (instantly!!) and burn the target down. Pulse your rep ( I keep auto-repeat off) and wait to use the last few non-nanite cycles to save your butt.

You won't win every fight you start in this, the INS is a frigate and it can be beaten rather easily at times. But every fight is a tough one and your skill, daring and timing will win you more than you lose.

Reality

Like all Amarr ships cap is an issue. To fly this ship effectively your cap management skills should be top-notch. It is a rather expensive ship to be tossing around like chaff, so be aware if you can't fly it properly use one of the other variants until you can. There is no need to rush into it.

I'll share a secret if you promise not to tell anyone. Most of the time I get point and hold it for a bit and then turn it off. You'd be surprised how many people never realize it and it helps save your fighting cap. Be careful doing that and always keep an eye on your target, ready to put that point back. Can't let them get away.

The INS is edge of your seat speed flying on the razor's edge of horrible bone-crushing death.

It ain't for the weak of heart.



Does Rixx Have What it Takes?

Rixx Javix Time Cover
Click for additional sizes you can frame!
[ It would be re-miss of me not to mention this excellent article over on Game Skinny that features two members of Stay Frosty! ]

What makes a good corporation CEO in Eve? Is it skill, personality, experience or something that eludes definition? And does your friendly neighborhood pirate have what it takes to lead Stay Frosty to the... well, wherever it is they might be going?

I happen to believe, and pardon the slight brush with ego here, that Rixx just might be the perfect CEO.

Before we all get defiantly ill at that statement, give me a chance to define what I mean. First of all, I'd have to believe that wouldn't I? Otherwise why bother starting a new corporation. Everyone who starts a corp in Eve does so for one reason or another. And while they may be lying to themselves, a big part of that reason has to be that they believe they can do it better than someone else.

Rixx has experience starting Corporations. Each one has taught him valuable lessons about what works and, most importantly, what doesn't. He has also served in a wide variety of corporations spread around New Eden. Some of the CEOs he has played under have been great ones, and others have been less than great. From each however, he has also learned valuable and important lessons. In how to do things the right way, and how not to do things the right way.

The most important lesson however, came at the end of the Lucifer's Hammer run. While we all say that Real Life is more important than Eve, it is impossible to ignore the fact that the two are interconnected. Despite the collapse of his entire professional life at the time, the closing of his business and devastating financial worries. Despite the hospitalization of one of his children and worries about the future of his family... despite all of that, he could have handled the in-game business in a better way.

That shadow has haunted him for nearly two years. It was a humbling time both in real life and in Eve. I/we nearly left the game, that is how close I/we came. (The duality bothers me, when I talk about Rixx I'm talking about myself and vice versa. k? )

I've learned some valuable and life changing lessons over the past two years. Most of them have been rather humbling. And they have taught me something that I failed to appreciate before. While Eve might be a game, it is full of real people. Behind each avatar there sits a real person. And those people need to be treated like real people, especially the ones in your own corporation.

As someone who ran his own real world corporation for over ten years and watched in horror as it fell apart around him, perhaps that is the core reason why I believe at this time, at this place, that Rixx is finally ready to be the perfect CEO.

Only time will tell. But it feels like a re-birth to me. And I need that. Both of us do.



When Eve Bleeds

Last week my wife was sitting behind me while I was playing Eve. This is unusual enough in its own right, but we also had comms going at the time. We were discussing something or other when some of the guys started down a path talking about their wives and girlfriends. She put her hand up and we paused to listen.

This went on for about five minutes or so and we both had a nice laugh about it. My wife and I do not share many Eve moments, but that was a good one.

It started me thinking about other times that Eve has bled into my real life.

A few years ago one of my then employees wandered into my office to tell me some important news. It was a serious moment and she finally worked up to telling me she was pregnant. Suddenly, from out of my computer, came a series of horrible, racist, anti-homosexual language! I quickly muted the computer, but I was rather embarrassed to say the least. I had forgotten to turn off the Teamspeak from hours earlier. Something I'm sure many of us have done. The employee laughed and so did I. The timing was impeccable.

I was once in a meeting with a retail clothing chain. About half-way through the meeting we were interrupted by an associate who was having problems with a rather large shipment. Those around the table paused and started debating solutions to this problem. For about ten minutes I heard, in rather extreme detail, just how much of a pain in the ass this shipment of mittens was causing. Damn mittens, stupid mittens, I can't believe how hard it is to get mittens from China these days! On and on about mittens. As you can imagine, eventually I broke down and had to excuse myself from the meeting. True story.

Yesterday I was on a call with a company in London who will be providing some services for a client of ours. The bloke I was talking with sounded rather familiar to me. It bothered me all night and this morning when he called back I finally had my chance, "You don't happen to play Eve do you?", I asked. There was a pause. "Why yes, yes I do." Or rather, he did. I promised not to reveal who he was, or will be again, since I seem to have convinced him to return to Eve and give it another shot.

Eve has very little to do with real life of course, so it is rather unusual for it to leak in. But it does. Sometimes at the weirdest moments when you least expect it.


I'm sure you have some great stories about Eve sneaking its way into your life.




The Centennial Mark


StayFrostyEve.com is the brand spanking new home of everything Stay Frosty, with links to our killboard, forum, wallpapers, music and the greater Stay Frosty Community of player sites, videos, etc. (It is still under construction, so not everything is perfect yet.)

Saturday Stay Frosty hit the two month mark. Sometimes it seems so much longer than that, but other times it feels like we're just getting started. Both of those are equally true at the same time. I never imagined the reaction two months ago emerging from the chaos swirling around that time, but 110+ pilots later I can only be astonished by the results.

So many new friends, old friends, and amazing, talented and enthusiastic people have answered the call - it is truly a unique collection of glorious misfits. Whatever is happening is bigger than me, I know that. I am just the lightning rod for a movement of forces beyond my control. Which is a pretty amazing thing.

So now what?

Lol. Buckle up baby, we've only just begun.


PS: Pardon the short post today, I am a very busy man and if I don't finish something Sindel will drive up here and crush my head!



BB#47: Blind Men and the Elephant

This month's Blog Banter will gravitate around knowledge, specifically EVE knowledge. Some examples of topics to cover: Is EVE too complex for one person to know everything? Is it, in fact, too complex for one person to know everything about one topic? How do you maintain any knowledge or skills related to EVE over time with breaks and expansions? Does CCP do a sufficient job documenting the features of the game, and if not, what could they do better? How does one determine where the gaps in their knowledge even are?

If you are unfamiliar with the story, it goes something like this. Several men, each of whom is blind, are given one part of an Elephant to touch and describe. The story varies depending on who is telling it or what point they are trying to teach - but the basics are that each man describes a completely different animal. The guy at the trunk is imagining an animal much different than the man at the tail. There are many versions of the story, but the essential element is that denying something you cannot perceive becomes an argument for your own limitations. The whole is greater than its parts. Perception is not always reality. Stuff like that.

Eve reminds me of that story often. We each perceive a part, large or small, of the whole. We are blind men attempting to encompass the totality of something that cannot be encompassed by one. Only by comparing notes, working together, can we hope to fully understand the complexity of the whole.

In other words, I don't even bother trying to understand all of Eve. I don't have to. I don't have to because I have you, my fellow blind men. You allow me to focus on the parts of Eve I enjoy, need, or want to know about. You allow that focus because you write about, explain, and otherwise inform me about your parts so well - I can just look it up if I need to know. Or ask.

The other day I was attacking someone in a belt, I believe he was in a Venture. I was convinced he was Sensor Dampening me. Which is odd. It was only after he exploded and I had mentioned that on Comms that someone else pointed out that it was the rats in the belt that were Sensor Dampening me. Rats? Oh yeah, those things I don't even have on my overview you mean? I pay no attention at all to rats in Eve anymore, haven't for years. They used to be my main source of income, but I have marginalized them to such a degree that they don't even exist. There is an entire encyclopedia of knowledge regarding rats in Eve that I have squished down into a sub-cortex of my brain, or simply forgotten. (However that actually works.)

I used to build ships. Right now I'm not sure I could even begin to tell you how to do that. How exactly is Sov determined these days? No clue. (I have a basic understanding, but seriously I haven't given it much thought in over two years.)

But if I wanted to know? A few short readings, a few questions here and there, and I could be back up to speed in no time. If I wanted to be.

Is Eve to complex?

Not even close. Eve is deep and wide and diverse, but it isn't complex at all. Not from where I am standing, I feel it has something to do with undocking and shooting other people in the face until they explode.

I have no idea what you are feeling. But we should compare notes.



For more blind men describing their parts of the Eve, click here.


Independence

Just a quick post on this the day after America celebrated its independence from Mother England. There are several efforts swirling around the "Eve Community" at the moment. I won't bother linking them here, you probably already have them, read them or otherwise are aware of them. If not, then whatever, bully for you.

As most of my long term readers will know by now, I am proudly independent and not much of a joiner. Rather I am a supporter. As such I will continue to support whatever efforts these various and sundry "centralization" projects amount to. I've already provided design and art to one or two of them and would be happy to do so for any others.

But this Eve Magazine will remain, now and forever, independent and fiercely proud of it.

I'm more than happy to have my blog listed, summarized, linked, pulled, misquoted, placed on EN24 or TMC(!lol!) or any other site. But the one of a kind original never to be duplicated Eveoganda is right here and won't be going anywhere.

I have my own personal feelings regarding many of these efforts but I am not going to step in the way of anyone giving something a try. I wish them each well and look forward to seeing Eveoganda listed on each of them.

I will continue to participate in the Blog Banters, the EBP, or whatever else comes down the road. I just won't be now, or ever, selecting one over another. This is one major reason why I stay independent. I have enough readers already and I don't write for numbers anyway.

God bless Eve. God bless you one and all.



Planted PvP

There are those that do not move. Stationary blips in system, day after day. Gnats on the ass of the roamer, the explorer, the adventurer, the get out of here and go find things to doers. There are once great corporations that have devolved into system campers, boosted baiters that farm plex hunters, station campers, choke point lazy T3 boosted day-timers... the list is rather long.

In Null space and even up in Empire space, these activities actually make some sense. In Null it evolves directly from necessity, the protection of ownership and the projection of control. Or at least the semblance of control. In Empire it directly comes from lack of choice. Camping War Targets, camping choke points and other basic "planted" engagements are all that one can reasonably accomplish within the system.

Which is why the practice is generally considered so reprehensible when practiced in Low Sec. Unlike Null we have no boundaries to protect, no ownership to project. And unlike Empire there are no restrictions on engagements to work within. In fact, planting your PvP is anti-low sec as it discourages the very thing we depend upon - the movement of targets. Camp a system long enough and eventually you will dry the pool to bare concrete. Or become the target of vengeful wrath.

Case in point. Down in Ouletta there is a pilot that plants his PvP on a regular basis. His tactic is simple and relies on off-grid boosts from a t3 and a bait ship. The bait ship takes the initial hit, being as it is usually a Merlin or some other t1 Frigate. Which is also boosted of course, a fact that usually becomes apparent around the time his other boosted ship arrives on scene.

And let me make this clear up-front. None of these tactics are inherently wrong, bad, or reprehensible on their own. I do them myself. Any self-respecting PvPer has engaged in them at one time or another. The difference is, the rest of us move along. Eventually. After a time. Doing them over and over again in the same spot is the imaginary line. Like Tuskers sitting in Hev all day, eventually it starts to get pretty damn silly.

So the other day on the way back from yet another 20j solo roam, I see this kestrel on d-scan in Oullie. I'm in my trusty, can kill any t1 Frig it wants, IN Slicer, so I go for it. My Slicer goes very, very fast. His Kestrel is faster by a wide margin. It takes a long time but eventually I go down. Not unexpected once I realized who I had landed on top of in that plex. (I never care up-front and rarely care during or after, they are all targets. No offense intended.)

Thing is I now have a lot of fellow Pirates on my side. So we generally form up a gang and head in that general direction. This time though I figure I should fight fire with fire and undock in one of my even more trusty Daredevils. And for the first time ever in my Eve career I snort some drugs to help with my armor rep rate. (I know it is illegal, but we don't see a lot of Cops down our way!) Akirra comes along in her Hawk and we spring the trap once more. This first engagement doesn't take very long and his magic Kestrel goes down pretty fast.

He comes back. By this time a few more Stay Frosty pilots have piled into system, blood has been spilled in the water. This time the fight is a tad more complicated. His Merlin is on the field, as is a Wolf. What follows is one of the most epic battles in recent (this week at least) memory. It is a lot like herding cats frankly. We lose Ciba's Incursus but eventually he wanders into range of the Hawk and then I can catch him and he goes down fast.  We lost the Incursus because Ciba hero tackled the Wolf, which I one-shotted and down he went. Kudoes Ciba.

One might think that would be enough. But it wasn't. He came back again. And once more we corralled him into a corner from which he could not escape.

By this time our entusiasm for slaughter was waining a bit. Some scuffles resulted on the station un-dock in which we both lost a Ruppie. The final tally ended up being rather even when you look at the Battle Report, although we did eek out the always fun isk battle.

Like many battles the point wasn't numbers, either real or imagined. The point was made, for us at least, that we can bring the pain when needed and deal with such situations on our own. As a Corp. And in that respect it was a major success.

The only answer to planted PvP in my opinion is to uproot the offenders and force them off-field. Open the spacelanes for the free movement of targets to the mutual benefit of everyone. I don't want anyone to be afraid to come into Low Sec and be exploded by us in a fair and equatable manner any time they want. lol.

Planted PvPers are weeds that need to be weeded. And we have a lot of weeds to deal with.





Putting the Band Back Together

Eve is a social game. No matter how you slice it, eventually you will encounter someone. And then another someone. Before you know it those someone encounters have piled up into a rather long list of friends, enemies, associates, corp mates, allies and whatnots. Those that still play and those that have wandered off into the fog of real life.

This evolutionary train of debris, wreckage and connections isn't limited to the world as it exists in-game either, it also collects around you out here in the greater Eve community. Fellow bloggers, employees of CCP, journalists, writers, everyone to one degree or another.

After five years it can become a rather large pile of metaphorical cat-hair stuck to your allegorical sweater.

One of the greatest things about making a big splash is watching the ripples as they expand outward from the point of impact. When you throw that rock you have no real idea of how far and wide those ripples will go, what damage they may do, or how the pond might be altered. Ka-sploosh!!

When I planned my break and started Stay Frosty, I'd have been perfectly happy with a few pilots joining. Joyous at a handful of like minded and enthusiastic adventures to fly with from time to time. That would've been ok. But, as usual, I just can't bring myself to actually operate like that can I? No, I can't. It has been historically proven time and time again, both in-game and out. Despite myself I think big.

And so those friends I talked about up there in the opening paragraphs? They have come. Both old and new. Friends that I've flown with before and friends I've only known thru the community at large, fellow bloggers and twitter followers. From all walks of life and every play-style known to man, they have flocked to our little corner of the Universe. Drawn by the promise of what we are building and the hope inherent in that promise.

Yesterday I received a very special treat. I've told this story many times in these pages, my trip to Null when I was two weeks old in Eve. That first Corporation was a member of my first Alliance, Libertas Fidelitas or LFA. Which was a part of the greater CVA Providence. The gentleman who ran the LFA back then, who I eventually worked with under Progodlegend ( now member of the CSM ) joined our merry band of adventurers yesterday. That is an amazing and wonderful thing to have happen. A lock has just closed on a long loop to the past.

Funny story? Here is the LFA Killboard banner I designed back then:

Click to embiggen
The Alliance tagline? Sic Semper Piratus, or Death To Pirates.

The times they are a changin'. More old friends are coming. More new friends are joining.  More stories are being written and new loops are starting their long journey into the future. Big things are afoot my dear readers. Where will they lead? What will happen when they impact the shore? Only time will tell.

In a few short days Stay Frosty will hit the centennial mark and pass 100 pilots. But we have no plans to stop there. How about adding your own story to the pages of history? Something special is happening and it would be great to have you be an important part of it.

You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. ( Not really, but I really wanted to use that Obi Wan quote in this post.)

Welcome Aboard. The band sounds great.






Overcoming Fatalistic Carebearism

A 12-Step Program for Recovery

By Furious Fukuda, Stay Frosty

Before I begin, a distinction needs to be made between fatalistic carebearism and participating in carebear activities. One can run missions, explore, be involved in industry and even mine all weekend without suffering from fatalistic carebearism. The difference is not dissimilar to that of a social drinker and an alcoholic. A social drinker knows when enough is enough, whereas an alcoholic does not.

Fatalistic carebearism is a disease. It does not focus its attack on the body or mind like many other ailments. Instead, it attacks the will and wreaks havoc on the soul. Left unchecked, fatalistic carebearism will chip away at a person’s sense of self-preservation until they become nothing more than a habitual victim. Those afflicted will come to accept that they are merely prey, food for the predators of New Eden.

Fatalistic carebearism doesn’t have to be a death sentence. By following the steps outlined below, and with perseverance, you can break the shackles of this horrible illness and reclaim your rightful place amongst the other immortals of Eve. It won’t be easy, but I know you can do it.

Accept that death is a part of New Eden – No matter how well you plan, or where you hide, death will find you, or at least your clone. The only way to truly avoid death is to never undock, or never log in and where’s the fun in that? Accept death as your companion and minimize its impact by flying things you can afford to lose.

Understand that YOU are a higher power – You are a capsuleer, an immortal, a god amongst men. Remember, if someone turns your pod into confetti in the depths of space you will be reborn moments later. You are an unstoppable force limited only by your will to succeed. Just remember to keep your clone up to date and your losses will only be material.

Know that PLEX is not the answer – Contrary to what many may believe, there is no “I Win” button in Eve. No amount of officer or deadspace mods will save you from a determined foe. All they will do is paint a bigger target on your back, and make it less likely that you will dictate the time and place you engage. As an example of what not to do I give you this: Quan HonorTheCall.

Take a personal inventory of who you are and what you can do – Do you prefer to kite, brawl, or maybe you prefer something stealthy. Know what you are comfortable with and then check your skills to see if they’re in alignment with what you enjoy. If not, develop a training plan to get you there. Knowing your skills will also help you determine what fights you have a chance of winning. Once you’re in your comfort zone start trying out other combat styles. You may find you have more talent than you realized.

Learn from those who have come before you – Ship fitting can be tough when you’re not experienced in PvP. Luckily, there are many resources available to help you fit a ship that won’t get you laughed at. Failheap, Battleclinic, the Eve University Wiki and even Eve-Kill are all great places to find fits. When you find one that interests you bring it into EFT or Pyfa and take a closer look. Do you have the skills to fly it? At what ranges are all the modules effective? What sort of DPS do you get with different ammo types? Read the module descriptions if you don’t know what they do; understand the ship and its purpose. Then, consider taking it out for a spin.

Prepare for the road ahead – Never walk blindly into the abyss. Learn as much about the area you’ll be flying in as you can. The ingame map statistics, Dotlan, and Eve-Kill can all provide valuable information about where you’re headed. Knowing what has been killed, and what has been doing the killing, will help you in deciding if you’ll be able to have an enjoyable hunt.

Never forget where you’ve come from – Bookmarks, bookmarks, bookmarks. I cannot stress enough the importance of bookmarks. Make safespot bookmarks, bookmarks of perches over gates and bookmarks of spots to scan from in relative safety. Hell, make bookmarks of bookmarks. Bookmarks will keep you alive and help you find good fights. Not sure how to make good bookmarks? Check out this guide from Rixx Javix: Idiot's Guide to Bookmarks.

Know your surroundings – The Overview is probably one of the single most important tools in Eve. A properly set up overview can save your ass, and one that’s not set up correctly will get you killed faster than singing the Amarrian national anthem in a Matari biker bar. Azual Skoll of The Altruist blog has written a fantastic guide on the subject. You can find it at: Overview Setup for PVP.

Look before you leap – Probably the second most important tool in Eve is the directional scanner. Dscan while you warp, Dscan when you’re in a safe spot, even Dscan while you fight. Dscanning will help you find great fights and also let you know when it’s time to haul ass. Azual Skoll, again, has written a great guide to Eve’s directional scanner here: The Directional Scanner in PVP.

Paranoia, paranoia, everybody’s coming to get me – If you want to be a shark in the sea of New Eden you have to live like a shark. Many species of shark need to keep moving to stay alive, and so do you. The longer you sit in one place, the more likely a larger shark will come and take a bite out of your ass. This is where all those bookmarks you’ve made will come in handy. Bounce between them often so you don’t give probers a chance to lock your position.

You are not alone – For me, this was the most important step. Finding the guys of Stay Frosty permanently changed my Eve Online experience for the better. I still fly solo most of the time, but they are always there to talk to about my experiences and as a batphone if I bite off more than I can chew. Finding people to share Eve with can be difficult, especially if you’re shy, but there are a few places you can look. Try starting an Eve twitter account and follow some of the people on #tweetfleet, or check out Stay Frosty’s channel in Eve, Eveoganda. Finding people to learn from and share Eve with will greatly enrich your experience.

Never underestimate a big set of balls – Ok, so you’ve learned about ships, skills, bookmarks and how to find or avoid trouble. You may have even found a few friends along the way. Now comes the most important part. You have to hit that undock button. Get out there and get into a fight. You’ll probably get your ass kicked, but at least you can say you tried. Who knows, you may actually win. All the things you’ve learned will amount to nothing if you don’t put them into practice, so go have some fun.

These are only the first twelve steps in a much longer journey, but they will help you on your path. Fatalistic carebearism is not an easy monster to slay, but it can be defeated. Just remember to always learn from your mistakes, relish your victories and Stay Frosty™.


[This post originally appeared on the Stay Frosty Forum and is reproduced (!) here by permission of the author. Seriously, I asked him and he said yes.]




June 2013 in the Books

Click to embiggen!
June was a significant month for Stay Frosty, we went from just shy of 30 members to just shy of 90. As you can probably imagine that included a tremendous amount of growing pains, moving of assets, organization, training, set-up and everything else that goes along with so many new members. Yeah, I didn't get to undock as much as I like, CEO duties and whatnots.

It was the first full month of the corporation however and the awards are tallied on the killboard. If you know me at all, you probably already know how proud I am that my name isn't at the top of these lists. I'm much happier when the corp is doing well and other pilots are far exceeding what my limited play-time can bring us, I'd much rather not be at the top of any lists.

For the month SF was 1,024 kills to 680 losses, for a efficiency of 64%. Which is much closer to the 70% we'd like to be running with. I expect we'll hit closer to that mark in the coming month. Personally I was 65-17 for the month, with 21 solo kills.

As more and more of our pilots settle in our killboard is really starting to come alive and you'll find Stay Frosty members in all corners of New Eden's low-sec regions. We are not sitting around on our asses and farming local, our members are active, engaged and moving far and wide to find kills. I like that.

Here are just a few of the highlights from last month:

Vengeance vs Jaguar

2.6 Billion Pod

Ratting Orca

Hyperion Caught

Condor kills Comet

Jaguar catches Thrasher

Frigates kill Drake

Slicer nabs Naga

Firetail explodes expensive Cruor

Caracal Navy goes boom

For more great kills and stupid losses, please visit our killboard. We are horrible, terribad pirates that are chillin' and dealin'.

If you suck at Eve and want to experience truly laid-back undock and die PvP with a great group of awesome pilots, join our channel EVEOGANDA and put in an app. It really is just that easy.

Stay Frosty.


PS: And yes, I rewarded Joffy's amazing run by naming him our Corp Diplomat. So be sure to whine and bitch about your losses to him. Not me, ok?