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.