Farming In Eve

There are very few choices in Eve Online for which I have no respect. Most of the horrible game play choices that incur my derision are based around incidental contact and impact on other people's playing styles. In fact, for brief periods of time, I could often be accused on "ganking" or "gate camping" or "smart-bombing" or any number of other activities in Eve that many people (including myself) might often look down on. Thing is though, those are choices based around momentary need and don't represent a commitment to that specific activity. Most of the time it only happens because the opportunity to do so presented itself.

Farming however, is significantly different. So what is farming? I will give you an example. I once farmed a system named Lisbaetanne with a fleet of Sacrileges for about six months or so. I wasn't playing Eve much at the time and I was in-between Corporations. So I fitted up a small fleet of Sacs and began killing everything that came into that system while I was logged in. I knew that 90% of the time I would be outmatching my potential opponents when I caught them on gate, or undocking, or in belts or missions. I played very little Eve during that time but I still managed to rack up well over 300 kills using those Sacs. They weren't all ganks either, I did manage to have some truly good fights in there as well. But, being honest, I was totally farming kills.

Farming kills can take many forms. Some Corporations do it with Caps dropping on much smaller ships and gangs. Some players will only fly higher level ships against smaller level pilots. You come in a Frigate and they come in a Dessie. Like most things in Eve, you know you are being farmed when you see it. And the difference between "farming" and just regular old pirating can be extremely subtle and confusing.

What is the difference between a farmer and me landing on a Tristan with a hull-tanked rail Comet? Or a Garmur? If I've been out on a roam with my Comet and happen to come across that Tristan is that farming? The odds of that Tristan winning the fight are low, depending on fits, it could be almost zero. Should I turn away from the opportunity of a win simply because the odds of the upcoming fight are nearly 100%? Of course not. For all I know this Tristan pilot could be awesome and defeat my Comet. It happens. It is only after the fight that I know the odds. But what if that wasn't good enough for me? What if I wanted to swing those odds to be more certain? I could do that rather easily. I could run with better head candy for one thing, that would help. I could also pop some drugs, a little extra speed, or better reps would certainly help. I could also have a friend ready in another ship to swoop in and help if things start to go in the Tristan's favor. Or I could fit faction or Abyssal mods on my ship to make it even more foolproof. And, even before the fight, I start to feel like my odds are more like 100%.

The thing is, this entire article is bullshit.

Those Sacs from the earlier example? I lost more than 20 of them doing that. It was hard work to get those kills, and it took planning, strategy, guile, and determination to rack up 300 kills that way. The truth is, if you are PvPing in Eve you are farming in one way or another. We all are.

The reason we don't like "farmers" is because they spoil the crop. The people that we know are doing this ruin the neighborhood for everyone else. Lisbaetanne become a desert from me doing what I did. Other corporations noticed the kills and started moving much worse things into local in response. Before long you couldn't get any kills in local for all the T3 ships on scan. Pirates cultivate their crops by moving around, giving good fights, talking to their victims, doing all the things that we know will help other players come back. Heck, I will sometimes throw a fight to keep other players interested. True farmers are only in it for the easy kills.

But there is no difference. Fitting your ships to win is the correct choice. Better fits and tactics win fights. Flying better ships is better. All of these things are in the toolbox and they should be used. Our goal is to win fights, as it should be. And doing anything you can to make that happen is what you should be doing.

Intentions don't matter. The difference between someone farming and someone not farming are all about intentions, and those are indifferent to what happens in space. Of no consequence. If you don't like what someone is doing then make them stop doing it.

In the meantime I'll keep farming Low Sec and hoping the crop comes in strong again soon.

Because it is all content.

1v1 #86 For Falcon

Having lost CCP Guard earlier this year, we've now also lost CCP Falcon. I've already expressed my thoughts directly with Paul privately, so I thought that a special 1v1 in his honor would suffice publicly.

Onward and upward.

Please, Don't Kill Me

Another system. I've taken the gate and immediately start d-scanning, two in local, one is in an Incursus. Where is it? In a belt. I immediately warp to the belt, point the Incursus and start my deadly dance. From my perspective at this point everything is on the line. I am exposed in local. I'm probably also being pointed by my target which means my own avenues of escape are narrow. I could be blobbed by his buddies. Ambushed by the cloaky Stratios in the belt with him. Or destroyed by the Abyssal mod fitted, drug induced, implant driven dual rep monster of an Incursus I have foolishly engaged. I have no idea how this engagement is going to go.

Except it doesn't go that way. The Incursus doesn't fire back, or point me, or engage in the dance of death at all. Instead it employs psychological warfare in the form of intense begging and pleading. "Please don't kill me!" Or another volley of, "This is my only ship." or some variation of real world words aimed at breaking my spirit. Suddenly I'm thrown head first out of the immersion that is Eve and into a mental evaluation of my own sense of morality. Of course I continue to pummel the Incursus until it explodes, but will I pod this pilot as well?

Begging for your life is nothing new in Eve of course. Certain pilots have employed the begging stance since the beginning of time. Often they will even name their ships something like, "No Fight" or, "Please No Kill" or something to that effect. As if I have time to not only find them, but also pay attention to the name of their ship. I don't. Mostly because I also often name my ships in ways to fool the locals into thinking it might be harmless, or stupid, or both. I can't allow the mere name of a ship to stop me. Begging is with us, no doubt about it.

And yes, we often share these moments in our Discord with each other. Or share stories about the time someone brought a large ship into Low Sec and then declared in local that they were just here to PvE and they shouldn't be bothered. Or the Russian player who taunted me a dozen times for being a coward, only to discover they had fitted WCS in ALL the lows. These tales can be epic. They can also be sad. Or weird to fathom. Isn't there a warning sign that pops up when you enter Low Sec? I believe there is.

Years ago, when I was first starting out in Eve my Son and I jumped from Piekura into Mara. We died so fast I'm still not entirely sure what happened. We laughed our asses off at how foolish we were and how dangerous Low Sec must be. My first dozen or so PvP engagements went much the same way. It's like playing College Football and then starting your first game in the Pros. Everything happens so fast. I get that it can be scary, sudden, and rather brutal.

I get that. I really do. Which is why I often spend time talking to or giving advice to my victims, when they are open to it. But I also have to admit that I don't like the sudden moral injection of decision that is being injected into my game. Suddenly I'm expected to judge a situation in real world terms that have no application to what is happening in-game. At the most basic level, every ship in Eve is destined to explode eventually. Eve wears its intentions on its sleeve. It is right there on the box. This game is deadly. I don't want to ruin anyone's game. I just want to play it at a high level and bring content to the wasteland that is Low Security space - or any space that I might be flying in at the moment.

A week or so ago I engaged a pilot in a Hawk. I was in my Astero. We fought for a long time and it was becoming obvious that neither of us would break the other. I suggested in local that we call it a draw and move on. He agreed. Good fights were given and we both warped away. I much prefer that sort of gentlemanly agreement.

If you really don't want to die in Eve there is only one way to ensure it doesn't happen. Don't undock.

Otherwise, there are dragons.

Be a dragon slayer.

1v1 Eve Comic Number 85

It's back! Yes that's right, the world-famous 1v1 Eve Comic has returned. If you happen to have been living in a cave for the last decade you can get caught up on the last 84 or so comics by visiting the 1v1 page here.  Or, I also have a dedicated Flickr album with all the comics as well.

I figured I would update the look and feel a bit, as well as illustrate these at a higher resolution so future generations can appreciate them even more and the coffee table book won't suck. Gotta plan ahead.

Anyway, I plan on trying to stick to a weekly schedule, so we'll see how that goes.


In Defense of Chucky

FYI - Chucky is a shared Wormhole between Voodoo Children and Lucifer's Hammer, two of the corporations that make up A Band Apart along with Stay Frosty and Artemis Underground. This wormhole has a long and storied history which I won't get into today, but suffice to say a lot of blood, sweat, and tears have gone into this space over the years.

Late last week several of the structures inside Chucky were put into reinforcement by a roving gang of Goons and their loyalist allies*. We didn't believe that this action was a full-scale eviction based on the make up of the forces that showed up, but nevertheless we took it seriously. Over the next few days an incredible amount of work went into preparing Chucky for defense, our Alliance sprung into action with many people putting in long hours getting ships, mods, and other assets ready for the timers which came up on Saturday. Not all of our structures were in reinforced, so that helped. It also seemed to indicate this wasn't an eviction.

Things can get complicated when trying to explain a long, three-day event like this. It isn't as simple as trying to convey a single fleet fight. This wasn't simple. 3 Structures were at risk. The enemy had popped up a POS inside of Chucky and added some guns and other protection to that POS. On our side we had Bold, Thane, and Watson running as FC at various times, with Thane manning the Fortizar defenses when it was under attack. Our position from the beginning was to implement a "guerrilla"style defense and use our home to our advantage, striking from our bases and moving in and out quickly. So that was essentially the lay of the land.

Friday we harassed the POS and put its defenses into reinforcement. Mostly the enemy stayed inside the shields, but we managed to trade ships here and there during the day. Meanwhile our FC Watson and others worked hard to turn what we had available to us into a working comp, in fact by the end we managed to put together three main comps with support of various wings into action. It was a solid plan for what we knew of the enemies strengths.

And initially everything went according to plan. Our first major engagement went like clockwork and we managed to remove the enemy from the HS entrance and regain control of the hole. You can see from this Battle Report that we came away from that engagement with a clear victory. That early victory wouldn't last long however, as the enemy continued rolling entrances all day. At last count I remember at least seven or eight entrances being closed on us, which made reinforcement extremely difficult on our HS supply lines. Just ask Tovanis, who was heroically trying to get supplies to us inside.

Eventually the enemy re-took control of the hole and after several "fly-by" engagements we decided to put our first comp all-in and force them off the Hole. We managed to force them off the hole once more and take down the bubbles they had been using to protect it. Battle Reports are often confusing things, and in this instance it is impossible to pull the next two engagements apart. But we certainly started off on the right foot. As everyone was looting and grabbing drones, I noticed that the hole no longer had bubbles up. I told Watson I would return to base and grab a Sabre to put up some. Just as I turned to warp away I heard the hole going nuts. Immediately everyone on comms started saying crazy things. The enemy reinforcements had arrived in force. About 40 or so Harpies, Loki, Triglavian ships, Scapels, and other ships poured into Chucky. The fight suddenly went in the other direction and we were forced to retreat.

Up until that point I had personally gotten on 13 kills, and I know overall our win/loss ratio was very good. But now our goal was simple, we couldn't win this fight with what we had inside the hole, but we might be able to still save the Structures. Or at  least some of them. Our plan went into "distraction" mode, if we could distract them long enough during the timers - they wouldn't be able to take down the structures.

Three Hero Rorquals were sacrificed to this operation. And even against those odds I was surprised at how well they stood up to the onslaught. In the meantime most of us jumped into long-range Nagas to try and pop enemy ships from range. (I will say here that I do not like Nagas, I much prefer Oracles or Nados for this type of thing. The tracking on Nagas is horrible and I rarely manage to hit anything with one.) And for me, that was the end of the effort. My Naga died without hitting a single enemy ship and I was podded back to Ouelletta. After about eight hours I wasn't able to make the 27 jumps back and called it a day.

Out of the three Structures we did manage to save one. One of the enemy Commanders called the distraction offense of the timers "Epic" in our public channel. The enemy was obviously well practiced at hole control and did an excellent job of rolling, protecting, and keeping hole control during the last day. But eventually we were outgunned and while we did a decent job of putting together doctrines on the fly, and our FCs did a great job with what we had, it simply wasn't enough in the end. Thane and Tovanis manned the Fortizar to the bitter end all while continuing to blow up enemy ships.

In the end the enemy blew up a lot of unmanned ships popping out from the structures demise and our killboard suffered because of it. That, combined with our heavy losses in the last stand, combined to make our Alliance kb rather red over the weekend.

I think I speak for all us when I say we enjoyed the Hell out of those days. We put up a solid defense against a determined and practiced foe, and while we eventually did lose two structures and a lot of ships, we also gave good fights. In the end all that matters is that we stood together as an Alliance and proved to ourselves what we are made of.

To everyone in ABA and to those Allies who came to help us, I say thank you. It is moments like this that you will always remember and look back on as some of the finest moments in your Eve Online career. Well done. And well fought.

*PS: As it turns out this was primarily a House of Boom operation and the other "allies" were friends along for the ride. I've had several conversations during the course of the day with various members of the enemy operation and I can safely say that both sides enjoyed the engagements and the good fights. So kudos to the opposition, well played.

The Hick's Award

"We're all in strung out shape, but stay frosty, and alert. We can't afford to let one of those bastards in here."
―Hicks, to Hudson and Vasquez

Our patron Saint Corporal Dwayne Hicks of the United States Colonial Marine Corps, part of 2nd Battalion Bravo Team. Cpl. Hicks inspires the spirit and determination of Stay Frosty pilots in the face of overwhelming odds in the cold, dark regions of Low Security space and it his "never give up" determination that we all strive to achieve every time we undock. It is only natural then that I created the "Hick's Award" back in May 2013 to honor the pilot that registers the most kills for the month. Since then we've awarded this honor every single month to pilots that have gone on to become some of the most feared and respected Pirates in all of New Eden.

I consider it a point of pride as CEO of this inglorious band of lawbreakers that I have personally only be able to win this award once during our very first month. While I always seem to appear in the list of top killers, it was always another pilot who managed to rise to the top each month. Which is awesome. Honestly that first month I only managed 63 kills and I think we had about 15-20 members just starting to get set-up in Hevrice. In my mind that one always came along with an asterisk.

Until this past month when, due to a rare combination of me looking for work, starting my own business, and having more than the usual amount of time to play (Not to mention some of our more aggressive pilots being on break) - I managed to end the month at the top of the board with 135 kills. As you'll see from the following list, nothing extraordinary in that accomplishment. It still feels good to finally add my name to the award roll beyond that first month.

In light of that accomplishment I'd like to present to you the roll of Hick's Award Winners from May 2013 to October 2019. Damn good pilots each and every one. And all Stay Frosty, no matter where they happen to be flying today.

Stay Frosty
Monthly Hicks Award Winners (Top Killers)

May - Rixx Javix (63)
Jun - Joffy Aulx-Gao (218)
Jul - Nakamura Shuji (169)
Aug - Bloody James (265)
Sep - Joffy Aulx-Gao (199)
Oct - Joffy Aulx-Gao (142)
Nov - Cervantes Marovinjun (247)
Dec - Stan Ace (309)

Jan - Syl Kougai (445)
Feb - Ciba Lexlulu (322)
Mar - Deltron Zi (275)
Apr - Skir Skor (241)
May - Cervantes Marovinjun (215)
Jun - Bloody James (242)
Jul - Laguna Fox (283)
Aug - Laguna Fox (231)
Sep - Laguna Fox (139)
Oct - Skir Skor (154)
Nov - Ciba Lexlulu (224)
Dec - Ciba Lexlulu (173)

Jan - Tia Aves (411)
Feb - Reed Tannid (163)
Mar - Ciba Lexlulu (225)
Apr - Joffy Aulx-Gao (280)
May - Demeisen 00 (236)
Jun - Ciba Lexlulu (205)
Jul - Ciba Lexlulu (246)
Aug - Ciba Lexlulu (266)
Sep - Cervantes Marovinjun (236)
Oct - Cervantes Marovinjun (232)
Nov - Raylan Yutan (325)
Dec - Raylan Yutan (283)

Jan - Cervantes Marovinjun (317)
Feb - Laguna Fox (301)
Mar - Cervantes Marovinjun (250)
Apr - Raylan Yutan (300)
May - Raylan Yutani (329)
Jun - Methea Selenis (274)
Jul - Methea Selenis (355)
Aug - Methea Selenis (145)
Sep - Methea Selenis (278)
Oct - Methea Selenis (326)
Nov - Methea Selenis (471)
Dec - Methea Selenis (591)

Jan - Methea Selenis (490)
Feb - Methea Selenis (325)
Mar - Raylan Yutani (260)
Apr - Martinez Grabov (187)
May - Hamul Jinn (285)
Jun - Cervantes Marovinjun (199)
Jul - Soul Online (346)
Aug - Methea Selenis (174)
Sep - Methea Selenis (239)
Oct - Methea Selenis (441)
Nov - Methea Selenis (353)
Dec - Cervantes Marovinjun (271)

Jan - Martinez Grabov (194)
Feb - h0tsauce 0onyaD0G (293)
Mar - h0tsauce 0onyaD0G (348)
Apr - Martinez Grabov (160)
May - masonk (167)
Jun - Martinez Grabov (136)
Jul - Spar Jamlamin (77)
Aug - NanoSpirit (101)
Sep - Ginzou Tzestu (189)
Oct - Sebastian Thielman (157)
Nov - Daniel Alpena (215)
Dec - Daniel Alpena (94)

Jan - Ciba Lexlulu (240)
Feb - Ciba Lexlulu (138)
Mar - Ciba Lexlulu (183)
Apr - Sokolnikov (279)
May - Sokolnikov (285)
Jun - Sokolnikov (160)
Jul - Cervantes Marovinjun (97)
Aug - Watson Crick (400)
Sept- FireSequence (118)
Oct-  Rixx Javix (135)

Who will rise to the top next month? Only time will tell.

Become a Patron

My new Patron page is up and running and accepting Patrons.

As you may or may not be aware I recently crossed a rather significant milestone in my real life out here in the MMO we call Earth. This milestone happened to coincide nicely with the end of my last job. Because of this milestone I am no longer encumbered by something that dictated my life for the past 14 years. Needless to say no longer having that hanging over my head is taking some getting used to. One significant way in which it has impacted my life is that, unlike before, I don't have to just take the highest paying job I can get. Just because it happens to pay well.

Instead I've decided to start my own business, spend more time developing my art/illustration work, and take my time deciding what to do next. I have a lot of friends and networks around me, and I've spent the last few months meeting with those and getting caught back up. What happens next? I don't know, but I'm keenly interested in seeing where it all goes.

Which brings us to Eve and this incredible community of ours. I want to stay connected to it and increase my involvement with it, which is where this Patreon comes in. I'm asking for your support to help me spend time developing more projects, some Eve related, and some not Eve related. My Patreon won't have levels, or hidden groups, or anything weird like that. But supporters will get exclusive content just for them. In November I plan on providing any supporter that wants one a unique portrait of their Eve avatar, for example. I also plan on sharing developments, processes, and other behind-the-scenes work to my supporters. I have many projects in the pipeline that need attention, such as a re-design of certain Eve ships, and other projects.

Please only support me if you can. I don't want anyone to sacrifice on my behalf. This is not an emergency. This is normal, support an artist stuff. But if you do decide to support me I would sincerely appreciate it.

Who knows, I might even start streaming some day.

The Secret Art of Target Selection

Beyond learning game mechanics, beyond knowing how to fit your ships, skilling up your skills, practicing your d-scan - beyond all of those important steps lies a secret realm of PvP success in Eve Online. A magical place where you can control the environment and manipulate the outcome of fights in your favor. And while Eve is always unpredictable and ready to rip your heart out, once you master this fine art, she will at least start to make sense.

This is the single most important skill to learn as a PvPer in Eve. The secret art of Target Selection.

In preparation for this post, and in leu of my 2,000th loss in Eve back on October 19th, I started flying a strict regime of excellent target selection. I stopped my usual "attack anything" approach and began picking my fights more carefully. I haven't lost a fight since. I've exploded 41 ships, 11 Pods, and the Mobile Tractor Unit of a Raven we caught in a Mission. Yes, some of those fights were easy, but 22 of them were solo. And those included Comets, Dramiels, Cormorants, Kestrels, and an Algos. All with a T1 Frigate, except for 1 kill with a Hurricane, 2 with a Daredevil, and that Raven kill in which I used a Raven. (I enjoy bringing the same ship to kill the same ship, it's fun!)

I did this to prove that I could do it anytime I wanted, but I also did it to prove how easy it is. And no, I won't be flying this way forever. But after the insanity surrounding that last milestone, I figured it was time to control myself for a bit and see what happened. Just a friendly reminder that it can be done.

There are a lot of ships in Eve. Add to that the constantly changing environments, situations, and scenarios that present themselves to the pilot hunting for good fights. It is complicated. And no matter if you are flying solo, in a gang, or in a large 200 person fleet, picking your fights can be challenging. I'm not going to tell you it is easy. I have 216m skill points and I've been doing this for over eleven years. But I am going to tell you that target selection is critical to PvP success in Eve. It is the most critical aspect of that play-style. Bar none.

So here are some pointers on how to improve your target selection skills in Eve:

1) Know Your Ship
Whatever you happen to be flying and no matter how horrible the fit, you can have success at PvP if you pick the right targets to engage. What is your ship capable of doing? What are its strengths and weaknesses? If you are flying a blaster frigate then seriously avoid mwd fitted kiting ships. Unless you can dictate starting ranges and get that all important scram landed. Can you? How fast does your ship lock? How do you position yourself to land that scram? What are the odds you'll be successful? Can you tank the incoming damage long enough to survive? Does the other ship have a neut, do you have cap boosters?

Like I said, it can get complicated. But by learning your ship's capabilities you are also learning the enemies. The more you know the more things start to make sense.

If you are just starting out and flying a crappy fitted Frigate then find other young players just starting out who are also flying crappy Frigates to fight. Don't attack a ten year old player flying a Wolf. That will end badly.

2) Know Your Environment
Get to know your neighborhood and the constantly changing ebb and flow of pilots, corporations and fleets that prowl the space lanes around you. What are their tactics, how do they fly, what kinds of ships, do they blob, or do they fly solo? The more attention you pay the better prepared you will be. I've told players who join Stay Frosty and are learning PvP for the first time to take a few days and just fly around NOT looking for fights. Just fly around and watch local. Get to know it. Make bookmarks. Learn the location of things, how they work. Is that person marked Orange a scout? How soon after the Eve University scout enter local does the 40 man gang behind him land?

It is impossible to eliminate chance from the equation. All ships are built to eventually die. This is why you only fly what you can afford to lose, which is lesson Number One in Eve. But you can do more than you might think to alleviate the random.

3) Practice
It has been said that it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. No matter the validity of that statement, the truth is it does take practice. You can watch tutorials, read posts like this one, or hang out on Twitch, but nothing can replace undocking and trying your hand at it.

So fit up a ship and get out there! Just be careful about the targets you engage and before long you'll be engaging them all.

Stay Frosty!

Post Vegas Thoughts

Now that Eve Vegas 2019 is in the can and I finally had a chance to catch up fully on the presentations I missed over the weekend it is time to consider what happened. Last week I wrote a post regarding what I wanted to see from the event called "What I Want from Eve Vegas" which you can read by clicking on that link. So how did we do?

1) Sense of Direction?
I would sum this up by saying Iteration seems to be the word of the future here. Nothing "new" was announced or teased, what we got was a ton of iteration on existing ideas, gameplay, themes, and directions for the immediate future. Instead of a 'roadmap' we got a year broken up into quarters, which is how everyone breaks years down. So that wasn't news no matter if you call them quarters or quadrants. The Triglavians have a Dread now, but again, I think most of us expected that was going to happen.

Iteration is not the worst thing in the world. In fact it can be perfectly fine. Later in the weekend we got more details on actual plans to iterate on existing systems in the game - so I was pleased to hear about those. But nothing grand, nothing on the scope, dreams side of things. Nothing at all negative here, just a general lack of dream building. Maybe that will come at Fanfest 2020?

2) Conflict Faucets?
Again, lots and lots of iteration on existing systems here. We did hear about changes coming to FW space and that was solid, as well as bi-weekly advances/balances/iteration coming from Team Talos - and that was solid as well. Will these changes address conflict in New Eden? Will it prompt more Null Sec alliances to make war? Will it energize the player base to fight? I think the general answer to that is nope. Nothing I heard at Vegas will address these issues. And these are big stagnation issues that Eve needs to address if it is to last Forever. In my humble opinion.

I liked everything I heard coming out of Vegas. But I missed hearing something, anything, that would help me re-ignite my own Alliance/Corp into activity. What puts butts in seats?!? What drives people to risk? What are the rewards? I suspect a bunch of Alliance leaders are asking these same questions this morning and unfortunately I think the answers are pretty much the same as last week, before Eve Vegas.

That is unfortunate. But that is what comes from iteration and not innovation.

Look I love warp tunnels, and the new female Triglavian Dread is amazing for people who fly Dreads, and the new station in Jita is incredible, heavy bombs, the improvements to the NPE are awesome, 8% more players sticking is nothing to sneeze at, all of these things are great iteration. And I am not poo-pooing them. Great stuff.

But from all the Discord channels I watched over the weekend nothing seems to have made anyone respond by re-subbing, or moving their Alpha back to an Omega. And that is what I wanted. So I have to be a little disappointed.

How about you, how do you feel about things after Vegas?

Pilot's License

If you are attending Eve Vegas this weekend be sure to pick up your Pilot's License with a donation to Able Gamers! And if you are not attending find someone to pick yours up for you! These two-sided hard plastic lanyard pieces are a great idea for every Eve player to own and each one helps support a great charity.

Earlier this year when we were in Alaska Greygal hit me up with the idea for these and working together I managed to design and write the copy for the front and backs, we worked hard to keep them as "in-game" as possible. I won't spoil the back design yet, we should keep some things secret until people start getting these this week. I believe Greygal and Carbon pre-made badges for all attendees, but they also have the ability to print on-demand at the venue. (I believe this is the case, but I may be wrong, so don't hold it against me.) In addition I think they have other surprises available for donations, like avatar and warp to the dance floor buttons.

I wasn't able to get anything together for the Silent Auction this year, frankly based on what happened last year I wasn't terribly motivated, but I was happy to be able to help out this way instead.

My fingers are crossed that a Rixx Javix badge will be headed my way once this is all over, but until then be sure to pick yours up or have someone do it for you.

Keep the courage.

Something New

Daredevil Watercolor
Click to embiggen and download
Yesterday I took one of my Daredevils out for a spin and managed to get into a fight, on the way back she managed to land in amongst these incredible Nebula. I admit I was inspired. But I also wanted to challenge myself, yet again, into trying something new and something bold. So I spent the next few hours working on perfecting a brand new look, something never seen before. Yeah well that is easier said than done. And after many false starts and roads that ended in hilarity, I finally managed to achieve something that looked... to be fair, pretty weird.

But then inspiration hit and the weird started making sense if I looked at it like a watercolor painting. With that in mind I finally had the connections that made the process work. I even added watercolor paper texture to the process and things started looking really good. The result is a digital watercolor process that involved about four hours of building a custom HDR color correction setting which happens after a 12-step color correction process involving Levels, Curves, and a few other things depending on the image. Even after all of that, the image needs merged with the hi-res watercolor paper texture, then final subtle color corrections are made. And then finally, the last step which I will label as "magic". Us artists have to keep some things secret.

I'm anxious to try this process on a real world landscape and see how it works.

In the meantime, enjoy the new Wallpapers!

What I want from Eve Vegas

Eve Vegas 2015 Commemorative Poster

Eve Vegas was the pure definition of a mixed bag last year for me. Not only was I in extreme physical pain during the trip (my shoulder was painful and not working properly), but certain people worked hard to make parts of the trip painful as well (the past is the past and I'm putting all that behind me), but the city itself represents much of what I find disgusting about America right now - out-of-control corporate greed, involuntary taxes, sex work, the frat ethic, not to mention the huge environmental impact a city in the middle of a desert has on water conservation, farming, rivers, and... well, you get the picture. We managed to have a great time though. We really did.

So it is that time of year again. Eve Vegas is this weekend and it will be the last official CCP sponsored event in Vegas. It is also the next to last event on the Invasion Tour this year, with Eve London being the last one. And while I won't be there I did help out on some projects that I'm excited about for the event and for The Able Gamers charity fundraiser, so that's good. Eve Vegas usually represents the end-of-the-year announcements from CCP regarding the direction of Eve, so I'm hopeful that this year will be no exception. And while I'm trying to keep my expectations realistic there are a few things I'd like to see come out of Vegas this year.

1) A Sense of Direction
Remember when we had a roadmap? While I don't expect a replacement roadmap it would be great to have some sense of where Eve is heading next. Something about the future, hopes, dreams, concepts, something to indicate that such a thing actually exists. A classic Russian five year plan would be incredible and while I don't think we'll get that, some hints at one would be welcomed. Right now much of the Eve playerbase is aimless and looking for direction. Even if it is bullshit of the highest order, give us some indication that someone is looking down the road. Please.

2) Conflict Faucets
A lot of time and energy has been spent on ISK Faucets and getting those better balanced, which is time well spent. But conflict in Eve operates much the same way, and I think it is time we focused more energy on those Conflict Faucets. I'm not an expert on the state of Null these days, but even I know it has ground down to a rather stagnant and boring meta. I know this because I hear about it all the time. Low Sec is not immune either and certainly FW needs some much overdue attention as well. All across the board the reasons for and against conflict are drying up and some much needed incentives would help to drive conflict. It'd be great to hear something about this.

In my humble opinion those are the two major areas I hope to see addressed coming out of Vegas this weekend. I have lots and lots of other things I'd like to hear more about, but those two are the biggies. If we have a sense of direction and admit that conflict faucets need addressed, the rest is window dressing. Without those two big ones anything else is just the same old same old, some new skins, some new instances, new ships, and whatever else is going to be used to distract us.

Otherwise I hope everyone has a blast and enjoys themselves. Despite my feelings about Vegas I'm still sad I won't be there this year. So I look forward to hearing all about it.

Drink responsibly and have fun.

Words of Encouragement

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Over the past two weeks as I approached my 2,000th loss in Eve I started playing a dangerous game. I knew the milestone would come, one way or another, so I decided to lean into it and really go crazy with the engagements I started taking. This "trial" approach was like regular me on boost mode. Over that time I went 49-24 in fights which isn't horrible, but I also noticed a funny thing happening. As the 2,000th loss came closer and closer my record became worse and worse. In the last four days it was 10-9 for example.

This fits my long-time assertion that Eve is somewhat dependent on your mood in real life. Over the eleven years I've played I've noticed that my real life situation impacts my success in-game more than you would think. I can look back and find direct correlation between in-game downtrends and moments of depression, or legal turmoil, in my real life. The 2,000th loss became something I actually thought about, it started becoming a thing. And in my business, having a "thing" is not good. This is why most PvPers will tell you they don't care about kill-boards, because they can't. The moment you start thinking about them, or paying attention to them, it impacts your choices in-game. And that is never good.

So I'm glad that is finally over.

I had a good fight I want to mention without mentioning anyone's name. I had fitted up a ship with a new fit I wanted to try out and found this ship sitting in a Plex. As I mentioned it was a good fight and very close, I was just a few cycles away from toasting my reppers when it was all over. The details don't matter, it is just one of 10,000+ fights and yet it stands out because of what happened next. We spoke in local and I tried to encourage the pilot, as I often do. And then five or ten minutes later my inbox bleeps with a new mail.

"Greetings. I won't go on and on, and you don't have to reply to this message, but you are a bit "internet famous" with respect to this game, and when I saw you appear I was 99.9% sure that I was going to get probably the fairest fight possible in EVE. And it was. Thank you for not blobbing me. Thank you for for possibly the best 30 seconds of EVE I'm likely to get."

Y'know, it is moments like this that keep me playing this game. Back when I first started playing I wasn't that interested in Eve at first, sure it looked great and it was fun flying spaceships around, but it wasn't until I realized that real human beings were on the other side of those ships that Eve really came alive for me. And over the years it has certainly been the main reason I keep playing this crazy game. People. Often it is easy to forget those that are on the other side of the screen, especially those we explode. I try never to take them for granted, but even I can get caught up in the action, the speed, the thrill, and everything else that is going on around me.

Thank you for writing that and for sending it along. Even us "internet famous" people need a word of encouragement from time to time and I sincerely appreciate your words. Sincerely.

I did write back by the way.

Change of Direction

Last week I saw a Maelstrom on scan, I was in an Incursus at the time. I was running solo, so I had no backup. I warped to a large plex and sat there with the engine running, waiting to see if it would land. It did. And I tackled it. Now the hope that springs eternal in my mind, and what motivates me to do such stupid things, is the idea of the great kill. The great kill is even better than a good fight. The great kill is exploding a Megathron in a Rifter (which I've done) or otherwise overcoming the obvious odds and scoring a great kill. They happen. They are extremely rare. It didn't happen, the Maelstrom was smart and had small drones. I got away from that encounter with my ship. Lucky.

I've built my entire career in Eve on the back of taking insane risks, throwing caution to the wind, and essentially playing it like what it is - a video game. I don't care about ship losses, I just go back and fit up another one. This play style isn't how I started playing Eve, it evolved over the last decade for a variety of reasons. CCP pays my subscription so I feel a responsibility to be a content creator both in-game and out of game. I also don't work for my ISK in a traditional method, my ISK comes from making things for the community. Alliance logos, etc. So all I do in-game is PvP. I've learned over time to not care so much about losses and have thrown myself into my role as Pirate Lord.

But lately I've started to get a tad carried away with all that and I've started thinking maybe I should evolve beyond it. I'm four deaths away from having lost 2,000 ships in Eve. I still maintain a solid 66% win to death ratio and a 77% ISK ratio, this month alone I've won 71 fights and only lost 26. And yet I think maybe I need to stop taking so many insane risks and mitigate my approach a tiny bit.

It struck me today when I was waiting for a Stork to land on my Dramiel. Again, I didn't think twice about the risks involved. But I lost that fight and I knew I was probably going to lose that fight. So why did I take it? On the off chance I'd win? The odds were very, very small. Same with another fight yesterday when I attacked a Sabre with two Rifters. That fight's odds were incredibly small. And sure enough, not only did we both die, but I screwed up the align and got myself podded again. Only the second time this year. But still.

I think the milestone of hitting 2,000 losses is making me question my approach. What I need to focus on is the 6,735 wins, many of which are insane, impossible, odds defying wins that wouldn't happen if I was more cautious. Can I be a tad more cautious? Of course, perhaps attacking a Stork with a Dram, or a Sabre with two Rifters isn't the smartest move. But then I ask myself this question, why?  Why stop? Who cares about a stupid thing like a killboard anyway? Did I have fun doing these things? Yes. Did I lose more than I could afford? Nope. Who is hurt by me being a crazy ass Pirate Lord that attacks Maelstroms in an Incursus? No one.

While I believe I could be a tad smarter about the risks I take, especially those that involve other pilots - it is often the other pilots that encourage me into these fights. I'm surrounded by risk takers in Stay Frosty. Often we are all to blame, yarring our way into trouble time and time again. And it always comes back to the real point here - who cares? Someday this will all be a distant memory and the only thing remaining will be the stories. The crazy stories. The insane risks. The unbelievable victories. The close calls. That time I killed a Megathron in a Rifter.

So no, I doubt anything will change. In fact I look forward to losing yet another 2,000 ships (which is really only 181 a year over the past eleven years) because that hopefully means I'll have 13,470 wins to go along with them.

And that would be great. Yarrr!

Not Gone

Hookbill Signature Wallpaper
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I'm not gone. I know it has been almost 12 days since the last post but things have been very busy getting the new business off the ground. You can see the proto-website in action here if you are interested. This is a slow roll-up launch, so for the past two weeks I've really been out on the road meeting with people, having lunches, drinking Starbucks, and catching up on the latest and greatest. I've been out of the agency biz for seven years, so a lot of my contacts have grown cold or moved on to other positions. Or, in many cases, retired. So that has been eating up a lot of the time I usually spend writing.

I have been busy however.

Working with Greygal I created these Pilot License plastic cards that will be available at Eve Vegas for a donation to charity. So be sure to grab yours if you are going, and if you aren't going have someone else grab yours for you. They have backs also. I'm really pleased with how these turned out. We talked about this idea during the Alaska cruise earlier this year, so I'm glad we got the chance to make it happen. I can't wait to get mine.

But sadly we won't be able to attend Vegas this year. With all the chaos surrounding the new business launch, my Wife's new job, and family matters - this year just didn't work out. But, as always, we'll be cheering from the sidelines and hoping that CCP shows some sign that they still have a plan for Eve Online.  Honestly I'll take anything, any slight ray of hope.

I'll be back writing on a more regular basis in the coming weeks, so hang tight.

A Bad Run

In my experience there comes a moment in every game when you reach the zenith. When you figure things out, gain enough experience, get used to the pace, or whatever it takes to essentially master the game. Then it stops being as much fun, or as challenging, or as interesting, as it used to be. This is one of the biggest reasons that Eve Online remains interesting to me after 11 years - because it doesn't do that. Of course much of that is because I've purposefully engineered my own play style for that specific purpose, so that it doesn't happen. I can understand how some players might have a different experience, doing the same things over and over until they hit that zenith.

But I realized a long time ago that if I was going to commit to long-term Eve, then I needed to make sure that didn't happen to me. I know more than a few players in my line of work that have chosen a different path, always flying a few types of ships, always with a Wingman, and only choosing fights they know they can win. That's a choice. But for me, I know that kind of choice would get boring quickly and I'd end up quitting. Which, to be fair, most of them do.

To each his own. I'm not disparaging anyone else's chosen play style, only explaining my own choices to help set up this post. Sometimes I hit a hot streak and I write a nice post about all my victories, solo kills, or gang action to help promote Stay Frosty or ABA. But I also like to point out the times when I suck ass at this game of ours. I'm not ashamed of those moments (well, some of them are pretty bad), and I want to encourage those players that are also having a bad run. Even the Pirate Lord of Low Sec has his worst moments.

Let's take a closer look at some of the horrible choices I've made recently.

Scorpion Tarp
I built this Scorpion for one reason a few years ago and I kept it in my hangar only undocking it when that reason came around. I built it to engage large Frigate gangs, mostly E-Uni gangs, that come thru local every so often. Rarely I would use it for other very specific engagements. So the other day a large E-Uni fleet came thru and I warped it into position hoping they would come and attack it. They did not. But then I saw a few of them lingering on gate and I warped over. Well, as you know, BS warp very, very slowly. By the time I got there they had gone. But there was a Slasher that had just jumped thru, and it wasn't leaving. So I aligned out and killed the Slasher. Of course that is when the Hyperion appeared right next to me. I had gate aggro from the Slasher/Pod but I immediately engaged the MJD, but the Hyp caught me before I could warp away. Mostly it was the gate guns that killed me, but still that was an obvious tarp I fell right into.

No Cap
FireSequence and I were out in dual Firetails when we saw the Vexor in a medium all alone. After not carefully considering our options we decided to attack it. You never know right? Well this Vexor happened to be properly fitted and I spent the entire short fight without any cap at all. My guns still worked and while we both bought the farm we did manage to get him into low armor at least.

Beam Lasers
Yeah they are not good for poor little Rifters. Despite heroic levels of manual piloting I never even landed a blow.

What's the Range on this?
God only knows the last time I flew this CNI, it was obviously long enough that I totally forgot that the range on the dual target disruptors is only 16k. Yeah, derp. That was dumb.

Oh I have Rails?
Sometimes you grab a ship from the hangar and head out to find targets without really taking a good look at what you are flying. I totally tackled this Caracal thinking I was sporting blasters when in fact I had rail guns in the highs. Either way the Caracal almost died. But it didn't.

Think Before You Undock
And this is the one I am actually ashamed of because I have no idea what the Hell I was thinking. I remember seeing the Daredevil in the plex and I remember grabbing one of my Daredevils to go engage it ( I always try to engage with a like ship when possible) and instead I ended up fighting in one of my Dramiels. Which I would never in a million years drop on to a blaster DD inside a plex. As you would predict that fight did not go my way. Sigh.

These are all good stories. Sometimes the best stories don't always end with you winning. But just so you don't start thinking that they all end with me losing, I'd like to point out the kill of the month.

Dominix with Orca
Yes this 4b Dominix was mining in my home system with an Orca. Yes that is 3 Pithium A-Types on a ship with mixed guns, miners, and no rigs. Yes we each made close to a billion from selling the loot and yes we suspect that he was multi-boxing both ships. Otherwise I have no explanation for this.

But I suspect this white unicorn kill is what started the Bad Run that followed. The scales must be balanced.

Fly Smart.

How to Save the Alliance Tournament

If you are like me and recently read thru the CSM minutes you probably noticed a significant non-committal from CCP regarding the return of the Alliance Tournament. This was not the answer most of us were hoping for and I was more than a little disappointed that more pushback wasn't forthcoming from the CSM. Frankly I expected more. I, for one, believe the AT is an institution of Eve Online, a cornerstone event that needs to be saved and returned. Granted, there are roadblocks to doing so and many of those have an impact on Dev time and resources. But this is the Eve Community! So let's look at some ways in which the AT can be saved.

Like Eve itself, the AT is often a victim of the same old response loop. This is the way it has always been done, and that way doesn't work anymore, so we should stop doing that. As any intelligent business person will tell you, that kind of thinking leads to stagnation and eventual entropy. It is moments like this that call for innovative thinking and solutions that are often radical. The point of this is to bring the AT back, in some recognizable form, so that the institution itself remains a vital part of Eve Online. I personally believe this is critical.

"So Mr. Smarty Pants, how do we do that?"

Look, I'm not being paid to develop a proper business plan here (although I'd welcome the chance), but I think we can start by making some assumptions that could help us start along the right path. My first inclination would be to develop the AT as a profit center that is capable of tracking income, costs, and resource allocations. One way to get that started, and this isn't the only way, would be to move from a Plex based system to a direct cash system. Instead of plex, participants would pay CCP a fee to participate. (And yes I know Plex is Cash, but the origins of that are complicated. This would provide a direct method that introduces 'new' cash into the system.) 64 teams of 20 players each at $29.95 for example would result in nearly $50,000 in income to help pay for Dev time. Which is essentially 300-500 hours worth. This would help eliminate the "volunteer" argument.

But I wouldn't stop there. Additional sponsorships could be sold, perhaps even 'team' sponsorships like many eSports tournaments do today, could be considered. This would result in additional revenue streams, as would Twitch subscriptions potentially. There could be Merch tie-ins available at the Eve Store. Perhaps exclusive AT themed Skins available for viewers. Perhaps one lucky high-bidder gets to comment live during one of the matches? Maybe multiple bidders do?

I wouldn't necessarily support all of these efforts at commercializing the AT, but let's face it, either we move in that direction or we don't have an AT? I'll pick the commercialization route.

Perhaps yearly Alliance Tournaments are a burden on CCP? Maybe we need to move to a different schedule? Maybe the AT only happens once every two years? That kind of move would help alleviate the Dev pressure at CCP and also increase the enthusiasm for the event amongst the players. One problem with previous Alliance Tournaments was always the flexible schedule sometimes meant that the next AT happened less than a year from the previous one. Which was not only weird, but also time consuming.

One problem not addressed is the production itself. For the past few ATs production was handled by my friends at Eve-NT in England. This helped to also take a lot of pressure off of CCP having to run the production out of Iceland. Plus the additional cost associated with flying people in, since most of the Eve-NT commentators live in and around the studio location. What that situation is today is unknown to me as I write this quick post.

I formed A Band Apart primarily so that we could fly in the Alliance Tournament. I know when the last one was cancelled a lot of players left the game, or silently disappeared into the ether. I know of entire Alliances that dissolved because of it. The Alliance Tournament is important. Important enough to be saved and returned to the community.

How can we help make this happen?

Updates & Whatnots

Stay Frosty/ABA Black Ops
I haven't posted much this week for a very simple reason. I've made the decision to move forward with starting my own creative studio full-time and I've been busy working on building a new website, networking, and all the hundreds of other things that need done to make that happen. It has been an interesting journey these past two months. It started with a rich investor, some potentially incredible offers, my Wife taking a new and exciting position (which is going incredibly well), the end of the road for 14 years of horrible stress, and ends as it began - with me taking the plunge once more.

TLDR: It has been a busy week.

Last Saturday we joined in on Tovanis' anniversary celebration and managed to execute some hilarious Black Ops attempts along the way. Who knew you could jump a Phoenix from the Eve Gate all the way up thru Low Sec space about 20 jumps before finally getting it killed two jumps from our home system? Eve is so weird sometimes.

Fun was had. For our very first Black Ops we did surprisingly well. Lessons were learned and I think we'll be much better at it next time. We once jumped on a Drake at a Gate and lost a third of our bombers to gate guns. That was funny. We did end up catching him.

On Wednesday a few of us flew around Pure Blind with local fully operational again. It certainly does change things a bit, but generally didn't have a huge impact on our operations. The region was surprisingly busy compared to other weeks, so that's good news. We managed to have a few good fights, but nothing compared to the work we did together to capture a Kikimora. He was flying with two cloaky Tengus and a Retribution, so it took some positioning off the gates, some clever flying, and manipulation of warp distances to finally get him out alone away from his support. But it worked and there are few things as satisfying as killing a ship right in front of its support.  We even managed to grab the Retribution when it finally made it to the fight.

But the highlight of the week had to be earlier that day when I logged in to accept a contract and got pinged for a fleet immediately. Daniel, Kasal, and Fire had managed to probe down two ships running a site - a Dominix and an Orca. Not knowing anything about the situation I decided to jump into an old Raven I keep around, which I had recently re-fitted from Cruise to Rapid Heavies. We suspect that these two ships were being controlled by one person given the weird way they acted, with the Orca hanging around a bit longer than it should have. Either way, this Domi kill made my entire month. Then add in the Orca (which is rare enough in Low Sec) and that day got off on the right foot.
All of that happened within ten minutes of logging on.

If you've been reading this blog for any time at all you know I often do the dumbest things just for the fun of it. I'm the first to admit that I don't play Eve like most people. If the mood strikes me I'm as likely to put anything I fly into harms way, just for the chance to win a good fight, for the lols, or just to try something. It's that attitude that got me into a 1v1 with a RvB Thorax on a gate in my Jaguar. Thing is, I would have won that fight if it hadn't been third partied by an Ishkur. So I lost the Jaguar.
But, like all good stories, this one has a happy ending. Because Kasal and I made sure the Thorax didn't make it home.

One last story from this week. Sometimes you can be waiting on a plex gate in a Gila for your buddies to find a Vexor in the next system, when out of nowhere an Algos lands right on top of you. I guess this pilot hasn't learned the benefits of d-scanning yet. I don't enjoy killing ships grossly outclassed, but I also won't look a gift horse in the mouth.

I have no idea why some people seem to find Eve difficult or boring. Mine isn't.

Incarna Level Event

When I was at Fanfest last year part of the charity auction was key-art from each of Eve Online's expansions. I wanted to do my part and help charity, so I bid on just one of them with an eye towards ensuring I won it. The one I chose was for Incarna. And, with some crafty negotiations with several players, I made sure I did win it. Today it sits above my head and reminds me of many things.

Someday when someone writes a real history of Eve Online the Incarna expansion will be seen as a turning point in that history. For good and for bad. CCP learned several important lessons from the experience. They learned that they can't trust their own player-base. They learned that hubris alone wouldn't save them. And they learned that "Jesus" features can go horribly wrong. The players learned lessons as well, although I often wonder if they learned the right ones. No doubt that any potential of "golden ammo" in Eve is a bad idea. And certainly monocles and pants can be over-priced. But killing an entire thread of development and trying to humiliate those trying to make Eve better... I'm still not convinced that was a good idea.

The long-lasting echoes of Incarna still reverberate today. Now we get slow, drawn out expansion and developments. Although those have been building in scope over the past two years with Citadels, Drifters, and Triglavians coming into their own. The days of the major expansions has been behind us for a long time. These days I'm likely to hear from new players, "Why don't we have walking in stations? That would be so cool."  All I can say in reply is, that is a long story.

Essentially WiS was simply a case of extremely bad timing. Eve is a game about spaceships and that alone is enough of a problem for CCP to realize sometimes. (Just look at the lack of spaceships in their merchandising!) Focus on space. In the final analysis that is the most important lesson from WiS and Incarna. And technology. Let's not forget the technology upgrades that CCP has invested in since Incarna as well.

So where does this all leave us, the players? Personally I think something big needs to happen and happen soon. Since Seagull left we've lost any semblance of a roadmap to the future. No one has mentioned player built gates in forever. Or new space. Or anything that was on that old roadmap. All the updates, new races, abyssal space, everything has been solid. We can argue about the details and disagree about the ultimate impact that Citadels have had on space - but progress has been made. But I once said that the "big dream" was gone. And it still feels that way.

Eve Forever is not enough. We need to dream big again. We need it to shut up the "Eve is Dying" crowd, to attract new players and bring back old ones, to generate excitement for a game that is getting long in the tooth. All of which sounds logical.

But will it happen?

There are as many ideas about where Eve should go as there are players. Everyone has an opinion, a pet theory, or a simple guess. This however, is not our job. I can write all the words about where I think Eve should go next and nothing will happen. All I know for sure, is that something needs to happen. Something big, exciting, and powerful.

As someone who has spent a lifetime offering marketing and business advice to clients - that is my two cents worth. Regain the edge. Claim the big picture. Share the excitement. And ensure that it goes as planned. That will inject this aging game with some new found vital energy.

And then maybe, just maybe, Incarna will no longer be the turning point in Eve's storied history?

And my Incarna print will be worthless.

Eleven Years Redux

Eleven years ago my Son called me into his room and showed me a spaceship spinning in a station. He then undocked that spaceship into the dark vastness of space and what I saw hooked me for the next eleven years.

Together we flew in Wars as both defenders and conquerers. We helped save Providence and helped to destroy it, a few times over. We took Sov, both by force and by intent. We logged in simply to make sure skills kept training. We gate camped, we died by Titan area of effect weapons, and we watched as Wormholes, T3 ships, and more entered the game. We started corporations and closed them. We had a blast trying new, bold, interesting, crazy, and weird things - just because it would be fun to try.

I was once asked to prepare a proposal for my company to run the social media and PR efforts for CCP Games.

One day I decided to start writing down those adventures in an online journal I called EVEOGANDA. A place to share our adventures, and some of the weird propaganda work I had started doing for Alliance forums.

I created ads and wrote stories for a print magazine called EON. I was paid in iskies.

I believe that in the past eleven years I've literally spent millions of hours staring at spaceships in space, in station, and in real life. It didn't take long before I started drawing what I saw. One Summer I went insane and drew a LOT of spaceships trying to learn how to do it better. Those illustrations garnered some attention and before long CCP noticed. 

I went to my first Fanfest in 2015 where I met the first other person who played Eve. Soon I met hundreds more. I had dinner with Seagull and lunch with Torfi. I gave a player presentation about Fan Art and sat with Andrew and Spitfire at a round table afterwards. I was on Eve TV live sitting next to CCP Guard. And I spent two days signing autographs on posters I illustrated that were being sold at the store! 

During the Summer of Rage (Incarna) I started putting hats on my Twitter avatar and before you knew it I had put hats on over 500 other player avatars.

When the Stabber model was updated an Art Director at CCP forgot to include the frills on the Vagabond. I helped organize a community protest that resulted in them being added back, where they remain to this day.

I organized and ran several Death Races in-game, the first one ran thru Providence and maybe had a hundred pilots attend. The last one had over 400 attendees.

I organized and ran several Frigate Free-For-Alls that created extremely large red dots of destruction on the Eve map. The last one resulted in over 4,000 ship explosions. And Stay Frosty handed out over 1,000 FREE fully fitted Frigates that day.

I helped someone create a browser based side-scrolling Eve game. It worked for about three days until CCP made us take it down.

You can't travel around the Eve community without bumping into my work. In every corner you travel you are probably looking at something I created. That's pretty awesome.

I've been to three Fanfest in Iceland. I stood on top of a volcano. I've been all over the island, to the far east and far west. My wife and I have traveled to Amsterdam, Vegas, Toronto, and Alaska. And we consider hundreds of Eve players to be our dear friends. Some we've met, and some we have yet to meet.

And one day I decided to start a new corporation called Stay Frosty. Soon that grew into an entire Alliance. For the past almost seven years that group of misfits has been my pride and joy in-game. We may be "idiots of no consequence" as a trust-fund baby once described us, but we've accomplished a lot in those years. We've had solid runs in the Alliance Tournaments and in other Tournaments that have resulted in some of the most fun I've ever had in-game. We've taken Sov for fun. We've annoyed the Hell out of certain people. And we've outlasted every single one of our enemies who at one time or another promised our failure, or defeat.

For fun once I played a major role in starting a major war. For fun once I wanted to see how hard it would be to manipulate the person in Eve that everyone seems to think is the game's best manipulator - it turned out to be comically easy. So easy in fact that I lost interest in the so-called "meta" game and haven't been interested in it since.

We've had Eve players over to our home. Four times.

Funny. I didn't start writing this with the intention of listing off things I've done or experienced in the last eleven years. I truly didn't. But eleven years is a long time and I've done a lot of things I'm proud of. And a few that I am not proud of. I've made many mistakes. I also often let my depression and anger over my real life situation bleed into my game. It is challenging to keep the two apart. As much as we try, real life and Eve life are truly one and the same. I haven't always been the best version of myself. I realize, looking back lately, how unlike myself I have been from time to time in the past. Out here in the real world I had a rough fourteen years, a run that started well before I found Eve and this great community of ours.

If, at any point during the last eleven years, I've said or done anything to offend or hurt you - I sincerely apologize. That was never my intention. 

Except for a few people.

I wanted to learn what an MMO was. And I wanted to find my place. And have fun. And help others. And live life to the fullest.

I still do.

If you've read this far, thank you. Thanks for reading and for following along on this crazy adventure. If you are new here, then welcome aboard. I have no idea where the next eleven years are going, all I know is that I'll still be playing Eve. If it is still here. And if I am.

Keep the courage.

An Epic Day

The funny thing is, I didn't really have much time to play Eve yesterday. I hopped on at lunch for about thirty minutes and then again in the evening for maybe an hour or so. Which is exactly the kind of scenario that benefits the Pirate Lord's casual play style. I decided to just hop into my new Wolf fit that I've been working out and warp around the neighborhood and see what kind of trouble I could get myself into. What unfolded is one of the best days I've had in Eve in a long time.

Fight #1 - Jackdaw

Stay Frosty kills a LOT of Jackdaws. We have a couple of pilots who have become rather skilled and proficient at popping these ships. The Jackdaw has become the de facto choice for pilots running those Left Hooks, Reprisal, Dead Man plexes in Low Sec. The damn ships are everywhere and they are notoriously difficult to catch. They sit about 150k off the button and they warp away immediately. Usually.

This one was sitting right on the button. At least he fought back, most of the time they just curl up into a fetal position and wait to die.

Fight #2 - Tristan

I gotta give Rima credit here for trying. This is the kind of fight I like to get myself into, so total respect for giving this a shot. It isn't as crazy as it sounds on paper. The MWD driven Tristan is fast, has drones (something my Wolf doesn't have), and is an accomplished kiting ship choice. Given the right circumstances and the right target this fight might have gone the other way. In fact, it was a bit tricky. Luckily my Wolf is also extremely fast. Surprisingly so.

Fight #3 - Jackdaw, Jaguar, Merlin, and Garmur

For some reason zKill is lumping an earlier Jackdaw kill that my corpmate FireSequence scored into that Battle Report. What happened was that Fire entered a plex to attack that Jackdaw (which he exploded nicely) and when I landed on the gate I was pointed by a Merlin. This Merlin was the vanguard scout of the Jag and Garmur pilots who would show up shortly. So I stuck on the gate killing the Merlin while he was inside killing the Jack.

That's when I saw another Jack on scan at another plex and warped over to say hello. And that's when the Merlin's buddies decided to join in. So I was already engaged with the Jackdaw, who was fighting back to his credit, when the Jag and then the Garmur landed. Ok, fine. I knew, based on experience, that the Jack would explode pretty quickly, so I focused fire on him while also trying to position myself for the Jag next. I also needed to keep an eye on the Garmur to figure out what kind of Garmur it was. He started pulling range, so I figured he was probably the light missile version.

I love the Jaguar. But it has a flaw or two. The DPS is not awesome and it usually comes shield boosted, so charges are an issue eventually. The tank can be amazing, especially when combined with the ADC. But eventually it can become paper thin to incoming dps. I have to admit here that this fight was not looking good for your friendly neighborhood Pirate. The Jag's tank was holding and mine was slowing failing. I finally had to admit to myself that my Wolf had seen her last fight and the best thing I could do was try and save my pod. I OH'd everything and aligned out. Spamming the warp button. Waiting for death.

And I did warp out, except I wasn't in my pod.

I was in my Wolf!! 2% STRUCTURE LEFT!!!!

The Jaguar had exploded and the Garmur was probably holding his point to try and snag my pod, so I warped away because I was aligned already! EPIC!

The Garmur pilot called it luck in local. I'll take it. The God's know it often works against me.

Fight #4 - A Comet, Another Comet, and an Atron

You'll notice that the Atron above doesn't have a link. That's because it didn't die. That's right true believers, they finally got me. Turns out that three incoming blaster ships DPS is what it takes to explode my epic Wolf. But just barely and by the smallest of margins. In fact, given one more volley from my guns, I think the Atron would have been the one exploding. That is how close it was. (See above about "luck". The wheel turns for all of us.)

Still, a great fight. And I learned a few things that I will perfect further in the next generation. Perfection awaits!

Fight #5 - The Gila

Warping my pod back to station I couldn't help but notice the Gila on scan. I waited at the undock and did a quick scan. Sure enough, there was a Gila in a belt. To be fair I grabbed my own Gila and undocked to go say Hello. I didn't know it then but the poor Gila ratting in that belt had zero chance of living. We learn these things afterwards. Still, I got to use my Gila. That's a win.

Fight #6 - The Executioner

I have a lot of ships. Many times, when people retire from Eve they will contract me their ships so that they can be used in combat. (Always remember the Pirate Lord accepts donations and all ships, mods, and ammo will be used in combat by a certified Stay Frosty pilot!)  I don't fly Executioners very often but I seem to have three of them fitted in my hangar. So I grabbed one and undocked to fight the Executioner in the Novice. What I didn't notice until I landed in the Plex was that this ship had an AB fitted... and not the MWD I was expecting.

As you would expect, that fight did not go well for me.

Fight #7 - The Executioner

Just to end this epic day on the right note, I did remember to fit a MWD on my Slicer! This wasn't an easy fight, but the pulse MWD slingshot trick worked and the enemy Executioner exploded nicely. I did manage to win that isk war in that exchange. My Executioner was worth about 4m and theirs was more like 15m.

Always remember kids, never take the second fight.

And Stay Frosty!

11 Years of Eve Online

To be perfectly frank I was dreading writing this post. Last year was my 10th year anniversary and that seemed monumental and important, whereas 11 years...? I dunno, it's just the 10th plus One isn't it? But then I started to think about all the things that have happened since last September, Eve Vegas, Eve Amsterdam, Eve North, Alaska, Steel City Eve, that's five major Eve events in the last twelve months! Not to mention the horror show that was our attempt to get to Eve London in an ice storm and the subsequent weekend living in a hotel room. Not to mention that at all. So, almost six Eve Events in the last twelve months. Whew.

Inside of the game we've started down this Chaos Era path, local is gone, local is back, cyno changes, and all the associated stuff that has changed in the past year. But all that has done is make the lack of a plan more apparent than ever. When was the last significant change/upgrade/addition to Eve Online? Citadels? That was 2016, almost three years ago. In the past year the "Eve is Dying" crowd has ramped up their cries across all media, it became so bad that the Eve Online Facebook group moderators banned posts about the subject.

I exploded 411 ships in the last twelve months. Stay Frosty purged half of our membership and worked hard to become even more active and engaged over the past year. I trained and flew my very first Capital ship (Not counting my alt's Archon which I've had for eight years) and promptly lost it the first time it undocked in anger. I went months with very little time to play and I've gone months when I've had more time to play. The usual. I've made it eleven years because I learned a long time ago how to manage my Eve playing time properly.

My favorite thing from the past year has to be this:
CCP Guard Rock God Poster
Click to embiggen
Being able to quickly decide to go to Eve Amsterdam and hand deliver this piece of art to CCP Guard has to be the highlight of the year for me. The way everyone came together to make that happen is epic and just goes to, once again, prove how incredibly awesome this community truly is.

In the final analysis it is the friendships that we've made that keep me going. Whenever my mind wanders over the idea of quitting or stepping away from Eve it is our friends that make that unimaginable to contemplate. My friends in ABA and Stay Frosty, my friends in the greater Eve Community, at CCP, and across the globe are what makes this experience worth living. And I honestly can't imagine walking away from that.

As nutty as it can be at times, as weird as some people seem determined to make it, I wouldn't trade it for anything. Anything less than a million dollars at least.

Eleven years. I never would have imagined it. And now I can't imagine life without it.

Eve Forever.