CCP Guard Illustration

CCP Guard Rock God Poster
Click to embiggen
I was sitting next to my Wife when the news came over Twitter. CCP Guard would be leaving CCP and Eve Amsterdam would be his final "official" player event. Two things immediately popped into my head, 1) We needed to go to Amsterdam, and 2) I needed to do something special for the event. I ran to my studio and started hitting up Discord. I wasn't the only one with an idea that something needed to happen and suddenly, as is often the case, things started happening within our community. While I was waiting to hear back I started playing around on the computer. And the idea for this illustration sprang fully formed into my head.

Having just been to Eve Vegas and watching Guard up on stage (for the fourth time) really drove the concept of this Rock God idea. I wanted to create a rock poster that featured him doing what he does, but conceptually I also wanted it to be about more than just singing. To me the genesis of the concept is this light show cloud from which springs forth all manner of things. To me it symbolizes what he has done for the Eve community all these years. His power fuels us all. And, you know what, I think I managed to capture all of that.

We were up against a hard deadline. The poster took me two full nights to complete, during which plans started to form. Jake Miester started raising some funds to come up with something to give Guard as a gift. Bam Stoker and Ms Moses were busy with a compilation video from players ( I recorded something, but I guess I didn't make the cut ) and others as well. So Jake and I schemed a way to make this happen under a very tight deadline. I sent him the digital files and he got it printed over in Europe. The final poster was finished and delivered with very little time to spare.

Jake did an amazing job of organizing things and making sure that everyone got to sign the back of the final piece. Even though I ended up signing for about 10 people who couldn't make the event myself. And then I wrote something short for the back with Jake's help. My Comic Book Lettering skills, while rusty, certainly helped.

This is what I wrote:

We were told not to speak while on stage presenting our gifts. Of course I never listen. I only managed to say one sentence and it was, "This is from everyone." Later I explained it more fully when I told Guard that the illustration was from everyone in the Eve Community. Not just Jake and myself. That's how I feel about it. I didn't think of this, create it, and travel all the way to Amsterdam for myself. I did it for all of us, because I could.

I also created 400 Guard buttons so that everyone at Evesterdam could have a memento of Guard to take home with them. Which I thought was pretty cool.

So that's the story of that moment in Eve History.

And not to slight Jorg, FieryRed, or Sebastian who also had gifts to give him. Those are their stories to tell.

o7 Sveinn Kjarval and best of luck to you in your new job. No one there knows how lucky they are to have you yet. But they will soon enough.


When the news broke that CCP Guard would be leaving CCP and that Evesterdam would be his last official Eve player event - we knew we had to go. We've talked about going to Evesterdam and Eve London many times over the years. So this wasn't an unusual thing. We even tried to make it to the London event back in November and only missed it because of an Ice Storm, power outage, and Air Canada's stupidity. (That's all.)

Luckily my Wife is a Wiz when it comes to making these trips work for us. I don't know how she does it, but she always finds the best deals and amazing rates for these trips. And all the pieces came together quickly for this one. So later this week we'll be landing in Amsterdam for the first time to attend the event. This will also be our first time in continental Europe, having been to Iceland three times doesn't count. So that is pretty exciting.

I wanted to be there to see Guard off and to do something special for him. Like making the trip across the ocean. That's a big part of this obviously. But we've talked about this trip for years, so the Guard thing was more of an excuse than anything else. Don't misunderstand, it's important. But it was more of a catalyst than it was a prime driver.

Going to Eve events is a HUGE reason why I'm still playing Eve. Since Fanfest 2015 we've been to two more Fanfests, Eve Vegas, and a few smaller events. And we've hosted our own Steel City Eve event three times, the fourth one is coming up this Summer. And this year we'll be going to Evesterdam, Eve Toronto, the Cruisers of Eve, and maybe something else later in the year. But meeting other players, making friends, re-connecting, and spending time together is a huge reason why we do these things. It's fun. And it brings Eve alive in ways that are unexpected and long-lasting. I highly encourage you to attend a player event near you. Even if you can't go to one of the big ones, check Eve Meet and try to hook up with some local players. Those are great too. And it makes a big difference.

The decision to go to Evesterdam happened quickly so we didn't have a lot of time to prepare. But I did manage to get some new swag made, which we will be bringing with us. And also all the remaining swag in the famous swag bag. Plus I have some surprises planned, but those are all OpSec for now.

We're both really looking forward to seeing old friends again and, as always, making new ones. Like I always say, don't be afraid to come up and talk. That's why we are there. And if I miss you, be sure to ask for some swag. That's why I make it.  I really do want to meet you.

I'll have pictures and stories to share. And I hope to see you there.

What a Killboard Means to Me

Click to embiggen, or just go look at my killboard
8,339 fights, and those are just the ones that ended in an explosion, later and what does a Killboard truly mean? The above is an image of my zKill page today after ten plus years of playing Eve Online and about seven years after I stopped playing in Null and moved to Low Sec and started losing my sec status. It is neither the best Killboard nor the worst. And this week is the first time I've seriously looked at it in over a year.

Look, you may or may not believe me when I say this, but my Killboard doesn't mean much to me at all. I rarely look at it. And when I do it is for two reasons - 1) To make sure an engagement has been recorded, and - 2) To see what my Efficiency percentage is. I like to keep my efficiency around 75%. The reasons for this are derived from wisdom I was given years ago by other Pirates I respected. A high efficiency percentage denotes a risk-adverse approach towards engagements. Pilots who take easier fights they believe they can win. And a lower efficiency percentage denotes pilots that are struggling with PvP. When I look at an enemies killboard (which I rarely do) efficiency is the first thing I look at.

It would be easy to find an example of a poor killboard, so instead let's look at one from a pilot who I know thinks they are elite. I've removed the name obviously.

The first thing you notice is the 90% efficiency rate. And indeed one of the first things you'll notice about this pilot's KB is the amount of 100+ pilot kills. With a 13% solo rate, most of which are easy kills, this pilot is essentially hiding in plain site. This tells me that this pilot probably has help waiting nearby. They also don't honor 1v1s, but that is a story for another time.

I don't bring this up to shame that pilot, which is why I'm not mentioning their name. But only to illuminate a common trap that some players fall into. Because this looks like a solid killboard at first glance and many people would judge this pilot as a "good" pilot. But a closer look tells you exactly what kind of pilot they are - the kind that will explode your T1 Frigate with an Assault Frigate using a wingman.

Efficiency alone is not enough to determine what kind of pilot you are however. While an efficiency above 90% is telling, combined with the solo rate and the gap between wins/losses, and that insane 99% isk gap - those factors combined tell a more complete story.

You can see higher efficiency rates in pilots that have simply gotten much, much better at PvP over the years. Or have focused on different aspects of the game, such as Null fleet fights, etc. So a high efficiency percentage is not always a bad thing.

So what does my Killboard say about me? First of all I obviously take a lot of high-risk fights and I lose about 25% of them. I'd certainly like that rate to be better, but I'm not going to stop taking pretty much every fight I can. That's the only way those incredibly awesome wins happen. I'd like my Solo rate to be higher, but I am also the CEO of Stay Frosty and that means I end up sharing a lot of fights with my Corpmates. That isn't going to change either. Although I have been trying to focus a bit more on my solo work lately.

I know pilots with 12k kills or more. And I know pilots with tons of losses. I've seen pilots streak and gets lots of kills and then burn out and quit. And I've seen pretty much everything in-between. Years ago I decided I was going to play Eve forever. And since then I've rarely spent time worrying about my killboard. I'm in this for the long haul and for the fun of it. My focus isn't on numbers, or percentages, or anything else other than trying to gain the maximum amount of enjoyment I can from my playtime. That is how I choose to play Eve.

That style isn't going to be for everyone. And I highly recommend you play Eve however you want. But remember this, over ten years of playing an aggressive, yarrr-based, maximum fun style in this game and my efficiency stays right at 77%. Like a rock.

So what does that tell you?

Be the Content

SF Bare Knuckles Wallpaper
Click to embiggen
I often tell people who ask, "Be the content you want." It is a piece of advice that I wish someone had given me back when I first started playing Eve Online over ten years ago. But then, if they had, I may not have understood it. It took a lot of wars, moving, trying things, learning, failing, and generally trying to find my own way - before it all started making sense.

So what does that even mean? Be the content you want?

People tend to whine and complain that certain parts of Eve are terrible, or dead, or not as active as they'd like them to be. For some Eve players, that attitude is normal. Low Sec is dead they'll say. Solo is dead they'll say. Just look at Reddit any day of the year and you'll find one or two or more posts about some section of Eve that ain't working right. Thing is though, Eve Online is a sandbox. It is literally a blank slate.

If I log in and think, you know what we need is a good old angry brawl. I go make enemies with someone and get them to hate us. If I log in and think, I should go find some good solo fights, I go fly around solo and find some. We've taken Sov on a whim, because it sounded fun. We've invaded, we've prodded, we've taken down Citadels, pretty much anything you can imagine and we make it happen. We generate our own content. We are the content.

Too many people seem to believe that Eve is a passive experience that happens to you. It isn't. Sure, you can undock and wait. Eventually something will happen to you. But that isn't content, or all that interesting, or sustainable. Eve isn't a passive experience. It isn't a roadmap, or a platform, or a goal-oriented console game. Eve is an active participation experience largely driven solely by your own will. Do you want to fight in a large fleet battle in Null space? Then go make one happen. I've done it many times.

I've created wars. Or helped to create wars. Or prodded people into making them. Because at one time that was what I wanted.  Not always alone, don't get the wrong idea here. Sometimes it takes getting a bunch of people on your side, or influencing a group of people, or going into enemy territory and causing trouble, or talking on Discord, or spending a lot of iskies, or whatever. But one person can do it. Put your mind to it and suddenly there is World War Bee. Or another invasion into Providence. Or another war in the North.

But Rixx, you'll say, I'm only one person. Good. Because everything that has ever happened in Eve's long, storied history was started by one person. Not the same one person. But hundreds and hundreds of them. That's how this works.

And it just doesn't work for PvP or Wars or conflicts either. It works for everything. Whatever you want to happen in Eve, go make it happen. Seriously. Is it always easy? Will it always work? Nope. It can be hard and often it will fail. But you'll learn. And you'll know better the next time. Or you'll discover something even better.

Want a media empire? Go make one. I can remember back when Nashh and the guys at +10 started Eve_NT with little more than an idea and a player event in Nottingham of all places. A few years later and they are hosting the Alliance Tournament production. I could name a hundred other examples. I remember when Katie Sae started the journey to visit every system in Eve. And here we are a decade later - every system visited with no ship losses. Amazing.

But it doesn't have to be big content. It can be extremely personal. Just undock and make it happen. Start a conversation. Plan an event. Plant your flag in a system. Haul cargo. Buy low and sell high. Explore. Try something new. Join a Discord server. Whatever it takes, it only takes one step. And who knows where the journey will end?

Once long ago I had never heard of Eve Online. My first day I tried flying to the gate directly because I didn't know about right-clicking or warping. And every adventure, every war, every conflict, angry poster, horrible comment, and everything else that has happened in the last ten years plus came after that day.

Be the content you want. And others will follow.

Falcon Challenge

I couldn't resist. And since I don't go on Reddit, I'll post these here. And over on Twitter.

And finally, the ultimate Falcon Face Challenge image:

Achievement Unlocked: 200m Skillpoints

So yesterday I passed 200 million skillpoints on Rixx. The skill that did it was Capital Blaster Specialization IV.  Ten years and six months later and the last great milestone has been achieved. I say that like it means something, and while passing 200m skillpoints is a big deal and a long-time goal, it is just another arbitrary milestone. It only means something if you want it to mean something.

Almost all of that training has been done the old-fashioned way. A few times before an Alliance Tournament I have injected or topped-off a skill or two, but mostly I never needed to do that. I only have one level V sub-cap spaceship skill to train and that is Precursor Battlecruiser V, I paused that train in order to train up the Dreadnaught skills. I have all other PvP Sub Cap skills fully trained. And almost all of the support skills, except for a few weird ones out on the edges. 

So after I finish these last few Dread skills, what next? It is entirely possible that skill training for Rixx might come to an end here in the next year. Right now my skill train is sitting at about 345 days and is full of very obscure skills and remaining level V top offs. Stuff that I don't exactly need, but things that could prove useful in certain situations. But not much of a critical nature. Except for Medium Beam Laser Spec V maybe? lolz.

But the truth is that I will more than likely just keep training Rixx until the heat death of the universe. Every time I look at the skills I see things that would be nice to have. So we'll see.

I remember my first 1 million skill points. I remember what a big deal my first 10 million, 20 million, 50 million - what they all meant and how important they all felt. But I also remember the advice I got from an older player back in the early days, "There is always more ahead than behind." For the first time since I started playing back in 2008 it feels like that isn't true anymore. And maybe, after everything else, that is the meaning that this milestone has that the others didn't. There is less ahead now.

Gosh, that felt kinda sad to write. This was supposed to be a happy post!! 200 MILLION SKILLPOINTS! Wooohoooo!

That's better.

PS: Some of you may have noticed I am currently -9.9 and not my usual -10. This is because I got bored and started shooting those NPC mining fleets for fun. The fun part isn't shooting them, but dealing with the support fleets that come to their aid. I have to admit, those are pretty fun for NPCs.

If Not Now, When?

If not now, when?  That's the question I kept asking myself this week. I've been ruminating and rolling the idea around in my head for a long time now. I should get serious about putting a book together about my adventures in Eve Online over the past decade plus. I really should. But something always kept me from getting serious about it. Perhaps the daunting nature of such a project. Perhaps the wall of CCP legal. Perhaps just the natural lazy nature of my core being, something I fight against daily. Or perhaps that voice in your head (or at least my own head) that keeps telling you that you'll get around to it someday.

Finally I had enough. This week I told that voice to shut up and be silent. And, as always, the only way to make it be quiet is to commit to doing it. So I've made the commitment to myself to stop thinking about it, delaying it, or putting it off until tomorrow. I'm going to move forward with this project, one way or another.

For those of you that do not know, I've previously created two ebook projects based on Eve Online. The first was an Art of Eveoganda Book that I published a few years ago, before the poster run that eventually led to the line of illustration posters that CCP published in 2015.  You can still download that book at this link.  It has been downloaded over 10,000 times from that link alone.

The other ebook is called Empyrean Chronicles Vol 1 and it is pictured in the header image above. It is also still available for download at this link.  It has been downloaded over 15,000 times from that link and more from others - although I don't have access to that data.

So I've managed to produce two books already. Although obviously those were always intended as ebooks and nothing more. But they do prove I can do what I say I'm going to do. Which honestly shouldn't be a question at this point.

So what would this new book be? I'm imagining a fusion of art and story that follows two tracks, one from an in-game perspective and one from an out-of-game perspective. Essentially the story of Rixx and his adventures inside of Eve and his eventual rise as the Pirate Lord of Low Security space and the most infamous Pirate in all of New Eden. And also the story of me as a player and my adventures in the community at large, hats, frills, illustrations, fan art, this blog, wars, and meta trials and tribulations. There is a lot there. Goodness knows I've been involved with just about everything that has happened in the last decade to one degree or another. And I've certainly had more than my fair share of haters, fans, and more.

That sounds like a very compelling and interesting story. And a unique one that I don't believe has ever been told before. And that, to me, is the part I am most excited about. I don't believe anyone has ever told a story like this before, especially one from so many different angles in regards to a MMO, with Fan Art, gaming community, and player perspectives all mashed up into one story.

So what does this mean? I have no idea.

Writing this blog post and committing to doing this is my first step. Now I've locked myself into it. So I have no choice now but to move forward. How I do that, what that means, how it works? No idea.

So next step is to discover what the next steps will be.

In the meantime, how does this sound to my readers? Are you excited about this project? Is this something you think sounds like a good idea? What are your thoughts?

As always, I'm anxious to hear what you think.

On Guard

The first time I met CCP Guard in person was LIVE on the Fanfest stream during the 2015 Fanfest. I was on to talk about my new line of illustrated posters. You can't tell from that photo but my head is spinning. That entire Fanfest was nothing but a blur. Everyone I met back then was the first Eve player or person from CCP that I had ever met. Up until then I had never met anyone in real life that played Eve, or worked at CCP, or had anything to do with Eve.

I never got to spend a lot of time with Guard. If you've ever been to an Eve meet before you know that he is little more than a blur of motion. Constantly moving. If you manage to get a few minutes here, or there, or in line, or in an elevator, or at a bar late at night - you are lucky. We had those moments. More than a few.

And over the last decade I've used Guard in more than a few memes. The iMac in my home studio has his picture as its icon. And I can't begin to relate to you the number of times he has helped in big ways, small ways, and in other ways over those years. From community contacts, to answering questions, finding out information, coordinating charity work, and in thousands of other ways that he probably doesn't even remember. Heck, that I probably don't even remember.

Guard has been a constant. His energy and passion permeates everything he does. I'm sure that he has no way of knowing or truly appreciating the impact he has had on the Eve Community. Those of us who truly care about those two words know, and we truly appreciate that he is the heart of us. Others are important certainly, and this is not intended to take away from the impact so many have had. But Guard is our dynamo, our spark plug, our little engine that could - and did. Frankly we didn't deserve him. Not his energy in front of Permaband. Or his constantly popping up all over the world at player events. And he did this for 16 years!

Whatever life holds in store for you beyond Eve - you will be great. And greatly missed.

I wish I knew you better. And I wish we'd have had a chance at that Space Jam duet on stage one day. (Which is a terrible idea!)

Thank you for all you've done for this great community. And maybe next time we are at an Eve event you won't be moving so goddamn fast.


The Sublime

Last night I fitted up a ship I haven't flown in a long time and undocked to see if I could find any fights. The ship was a Slasher. Which used to be a more regular member of my rotation, but it has fallen out of favor lately. For no real reason. So I put a fit together I liked and figured I'd go put it to the test. Hopefully something good would come of it.

Sadly space last night was unusually empty and barren. It was seven or eight jumps before I even started seeing other ships in local. So I chased a few Ventures around, they were in no danger from my Slasher. But that can be fun and it helps waste time.

I even went into a belt and killed a couple of rats. That's how bored I was.

Then I had a series of ships in local in various systems that refused to fight. Which is also pretty typical. If I was them I wouldn't want to fight me either. Of course one of the big things about being a Pirate is getting people to fight you even though they don't want to. I try to teach this to my fellow Pirates, but some people never seem to understand that part of the game. I'll keep trying.

And then, almost by accident, I spotted the Cormorant in a small plex on my was back home. It had been over an hour since I first undocked. I was 100% aware of the Rixx Rule #23 which states that the longer you are in space without a good fight the more likely you are to take a fight you can't win. It's a real thing. But I had an ace up my sleeve that gave me some confidence.

First of all there is always the chance the enemy pilot is going to be terrible. Or badly fit. Or AFK. There are a bunch of things that can swing a fight in your favor. I never count on those, it's a bad idea to consider them. If they happen - BONUS! But don't build a plan around them. No, more than likely this was one of two scenarios. He was blaster fitted and sitting on zero inside the plex. Or he was RLM fitted and sitting off the beacon at range. Since most people are not me and tend to fly the more confident and predictable choices - more than likely he'd be blaster fitted.

And pumping out a crap ton of deeps! Scary deeps.

How could my lightly armored Slasher survive? I landed with my AB, REP, and Scram overheated. My immediate goal was to pull range as soon as humanly possible. If I lived that long I'd be fine because I also had a Tracking Disruptor fitted and loaded with a Speed Tracking Script! That's right true believers, I was fitted up to attack this specific target.

And yes, that blaster Corm hurt bad. But once I started pulling range and the Disruption script started flinging his bullets in weird directions - the fight was essentially already over. It took longer, and he almost slipped out of scram range once, but eventually he exploded. And we both gave good fights in local. I even let his pod live.  (And no, I can't explain his killboard. Eve is so weird these days.)

I bring this fight up because it was a good fight, but I also bring it up because it was nothing truly special. It isn't even that great of a story. It's always good to get a 1v1 solo kill above your weight class, but that isn't super unusual. So why did I just write an entire blog post about it?

Because it was sublime.

And while huge fleet fights get all the attention. And scams and rip-offs get the press. And large, butt-numbing F1 monkeys get all the love. There are those moments every day, outside the limelight, away from the lights, that truly, honestly and with regularity - keep Eve alive.

For me it was a solid good fight last night after an hour of boredom. For you it might have been the perfect timing on a rock depleting just as your cargo filled up. Or finding that perfect site during the first sweep of the probes. Or slipping out between those gate campers. Or quietly achieving a goal you've been working on, that no one noticed. Except you.

Those are the sublime moments. And I just wanted to take a minute and appreciate them.

Every once in awhile the sun glints off my ship in just the perfect way.