Paying for half a game?

Posted: January 20, 2010 in MMO Concepts

This is not (very much of) a whine.

This is not (very much of) a complaint.

This post is the crystalisation of some thoughts that have been sloshing around my head in a saturated solution of ponder.

And I’m sure that Veterans of Eve have heard this a million times, so apologies for that… but I want to share, and this is my blog.

There’s a lot to love about Eve. There’s a lot that I actively love about Eve. And foremost amongst the things that I love is the skill system. You set a skill to train, and at the end of the allotted training time, it’s done. You can do a bunch of stuff, or nothing at all, during the training time… but it will still train. As long as you log in every so often to update your training queue, your toon will continue to develop. This is patently brilliant. Instead of needing to constantly grind for xp, you can leave your character development running and go and actually play the bits of the game that you enjoy. Sure, this wouldn’t cut it in other games. How can you waggle your e-peen sprint to level cap, if you can go no faster than others? How to wear the casual colours of “gamer with a life” if you are as well trained as the next man? For all of Eve’s much vaunted metagame, there are other games where the progression meta is as strong as our capatalistic politic meta. These games would lose something with our skill training system.

But there is a problem with the skill training paradigm in Eve. That problem is the matter of alts.

Eve is a big game. It is said that were you to train every skill in the game it would take decades to do. Even with the best implants to speed training and all the learning skills trained (and learning skills, there’s a rant for another day); you are still looking at a time investment longer than the servers will be around. Even for players who have been in the game from the moment that the servers came online 7 years ago, they’d have to have run multiple characters on multiple accounts to have trained all the skills available. To even reach a reasonable standard in combat takes all the training on a single character for a decent amount of time.

Now we have a lot of options in Eve, that’s the beauty of the game – combat, exploration, trading, mining, industry, invention, and so on and so forth. But the game is about specialisation, and so it’s important to find one thing that you’d like to do, and specialise. Want to do something else? Well, you can stop training your current speciality and train into a new one. But be prepared for a pretty long haul. By far the best plan to see the majority that the game has to offer, is to skill up an alt in the chosen profession. And here we hit the snag.

Alts can only train, if they are the only character on that account training.

So – despite having 3 character slots on my account. I can only train one of them at a time. The result? I have a main account and a secondary account. My main account has the character that I play day to day; Psia. My secondary account has a couple of characters who take turns learning stuff. One of them is designed for mission running and flogging the loot afterwards. The other is designed to haul. But I’m paying 2 monthly subscriptions for the privilege. I didn’t have to pay twice to have a hunter, a priest and druid on my WoW account, so why should I have to pay twice with Eve?

What possible reason is there for this? As long as you can only ever play one toon on any given account at any given time, what’s the problem with having all 3 character slots train at once? There are more than 3 things that I’d like to try in the game, but the long training times mean that it’s going to take me a very long time to try even half of them. Where’s the harm in letting me train more than one character at a time, so that I can at least try more than one or two things.

I’m sure that I’m not alone amongst Eve players in having multiple accounts. And that rationalising them would lose CCP $15 per month. But I’d probably not rationalise them. I’d probably keep the second account for the fleeting opportunities afforded by being able to run two clients at once. But I’d be able to see much more of the game. I’d be able to train an alt specifically to fly capital ships, and experience the massive battles in space. I’d be able to train an invention alt and have him try to invent from BPCs. I’d get to experience those bits of the game from which I am currently barred, because I don’t have enough time to skill my characters.

Other games have recognised the desire of players to chop and change for variety- dual spec in WoW being a perfect example. Almost every other game allows for alts of some shape or form, and none of them face the player with a choice between developing their main or their alt in the way that Eve does. And few games have as much to do as Eve does, or as much that requires specialism. Currently, it feels as if I’m paying a full subscription for half a game. So c’mon CCP – let me train my alts at the same time as my main!

An interview with Azmodeus Valar

Posted: January 12, 2010 in Eve Uni, Interview

The new year is a time for new things, fresh shiny ideas that have never been attempted before. So in that spirit, I’m going to offer a series of interviews with the Directors of Eve University… oh… I started that already…

Oh, well, there goes my neat link piece. Instead, let’s just get on with the next interview, shall we? Without further ado, I present to you, Azmodeus Valar – Director of Logistics.

Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions for us. Let’s get straight on.

So, you are Eve University Director of Logistics, what does that mean exactly?

It means I’m in charge of the industrial side of the Uni. That involves overseeing four separate divisons: Hangars, Production, Research, and Mining. Except for Mining, each has its manager who works under me. The hangar division is in charge of keeping our corporate hangers nicely sorted and stocked for all of our students. This includes the free modules and skillbooks students use, and also items for special events, replacement ships, etc… Based upon the needs identified by the hangar department, the production department uses our extensive blueprint library to build every module, ship, and round of ammo used by the uni. Research is in charge of overseeing student use of the research jobs at the POS, and delivering jobs and maintaining the research wallet. In the past, the mining division would be in charge of conducting uni mining ops and overseeing the mining loaner fleet. Currently, it is primarily concerned with overseeing the mining loaner fleet, but its duties will be expanding with some changes this Spring. I also run the BYOM ship program, catalog and maintain the Uni’s logistical reserves and blueprints, and run the Uni freighter project. I’m sure I’m leaving something out, but thats a decent summary.

And before you joined the University, what path did you follow?

I originally started my eve career in a small low-sec corporation of friends. However, after most of the group fell inactive, I needed to set a new course for my life. I joined Eve University hoping to explore some other areas of the game, and share what little I’d learned with other pilots.

What’s the best part of your job as Director? And the worst?

The best part of my job is dealing with the students and managers. I have a top-notch group of managers who work in my department, and their dedication constantly amazes me. They are always willing to spend time helping the Uni, and the talents they bring are amazing. The students are also a great pleasure to deal with, as it constantly reminds me how important that t1 frig is to a new player, and puts my job in perspective. Unfortunately, the worst part of my job is also due to the students, or at least a very small subsection of them. Thefts are a particular pain to deal with. We keep backstocks of many modules so we can quickly replace what is stolen, but those backstocks have to be replenished. The system works great at meeting the continual gradual depletion from student use, but theft but big demand spikes that require someone to spend some significant time replenishing our stocks.

What is it that the Logistics department offers students?

A lot of what the Logistics Department does is behind the scenes, and its really hard to comprehend the full extent of it. The most visible parts to the students would be the corporate hangers, BYOM ship program, freighter program, research services, and mining loaner fleet. People don’t understand that while their t1 fitted frigate with modules isn’t much in isk, when aggregated across the entire Uni, especially during wartime, it leads to large numbers of modules, ammo, and drones that have to be requisitioned from production, built (which involves pulling BPOs and minerals, and restocking mineral supplies as needed), moved into our logistics hangar, and distributed to the public hangars as needed.

And is there anything that you don’t offer that you’d like to be able to?

To be honest, there are a large number of services I wish we could offer. I would love to have locked blueprints students could produce or invent from as needed, multiple industrial pos for students to use, a stock of discounted t2 items for students, etc… However, things such as isk, and especially flawed corp mechanics make some of these ideas currently impossible or highly risky.

When I was a new student, fresh from the tutorials, I found the whole production/research/logistics side of Eve terribly intimidating (and if I’m honest, I still do!). Where would you advise a new player to begin their industrial journey?

The easiest way to get into industry would be to attend one of the beginning industry classes that are periodically held in the University. These will help players know the basics, and supply them with a t1 BPC to play with (supplied by the logistics department). After that, its a matter of research and perseverance. The industrial side of Eve usually requires someone to understand the market, identify a need, and work to fulfill that need. A basic item like ammo is usually a decent introduction to production, even if only for your own use.

Can the Logistics department help me make iskies out of my industrial skills? How?

If you decide to make production, we have a variety of services to help you. We can loan you the mining ship you use to get ore, or the industrial ship you use to haul it. We offer freighters at a discount for players who need to haul larger amounts. We’re going to expand into refining into the near future. The research division can walk you through getting a blueprint researched for use, or I can loan players a BPC if they just want to try it out. Our staff are always great at answering questions, or you can just convo me if you need anything.

Do you prefer mining, research, production or stock-taking yourself?

I started as hangar manager, so that always will have a special place in my heart, but to be honest, its not the most thrilling work. I like invention personally, as it incorporates a bit of all sections.

Given a free choice of role in a combat fleet, what would chose to do?

I tend to fly damage dealers when in Uni fleets, as we have been weak in that area during some big wars in the past, and its fun to melt someone’s face off. Cap ships are my next step, as I have everything needed, and just need an excuse to use it now.

And what’s your favourite ship, and why?

My favorite ship is probably the taranis. Its fast, strong, and can put out amazing damage for a frigate. Its what an assault frigate should have been, mislabeled as an interceptor. It can get close and melt almost any other interceptor, but does require some judgment when picking targets. Small ships are always fun because they just seem more responsive. Don’t get me wrong, melting an enemy BS in a Mega or Abaddon is nice, but doesn’t have the quick feel of a taranis in combat.

What change do you hope to see come to Eve in the not-too-distant future?

I would love to see Corporate titles and roles completely overhauled, along with the Science&Industry interface. These are two areas that could use substantial work, with a few very small changes making my life so much easier.

Are you planning to play Dust 514?

I’ll probably give Dust514 a chance, but can’t see myself becoming too active in a Dust corporation. I just don’t have the time to do that with another organization.

Would you like to see it interact with the industrial side of the game in any way, as it is intended to do with the conquest aspects?

I would like to see some interaction, but for that interaction to be limited in strategic effect. Eve’s mining and industrial sides have seen very few improvements in the last few years, and really need to be revamped and set straight before attempting to balance its integration with Dust.

When you aren’t playing Eve, what other games (online or offline) do you play?

I honestly play a little of everything. I’m playing Assassin’s Creed II, Brutal Legend, and Mass Effect 1 (prepping for 2 to be released later this month) right now. I tend to like FPS, strategy games, RTS, and RPGs. Other online games are hard to fit into my schedule, as they would interfere with eve. My fiance also likes video games, so I end up playing some of the “cuter” types of games with her.

Any forthcoming MMOs that you’ll try out?

I might give Star Trek a try, but I’m waiting to see some more details.

Back to Eve, where do you see your Eve-self in a year’s time?

It’s really hard to say. I can’t see Azmodeus leaving the Uni anytime soon, but I do have some other personas experimenting with other aspects of the game.

How can the students get involved with the Logistics department, if it’s a part of the game that interests them?

It really depends on which division they want to be involved with. Volunteering to be a hangar officer (when those positions are open) is always a good start, as it helps build trust for some of the more security sensitive positions in the hangar department or research. Mining just involves leadership. Step up, lead some mining fleets, and you could be the next mining manager before too long.

And a last few questions:

Beer or Coffee?

Liquor

Pirates or Ninjas?

Ninjas

Dogs with hats or flying monkeys?

Dogs with Hats

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

I think that more or less covers it. If any students have questions for me, or need to get some support from my department, they are welcome to send me a forum PM or convo me. Irjuna Valar is my industrial char in the Uni (strangely Azmodeus Valar has almost no industrial related skills, despite being Logistics Director), and you can convo me on that character as well.

Thanks very much for your time… it’s much appreciated.

Anytime. Thanks for doing this.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

As a side note, but still E-Uni related, apparently we reached 1400 active players in the corp the other day. 1400! That’s a lot of people!

Welcome to the fourteenth installment of the EVE Blog Banter, the monthly EVE Online blogging extravaganza created by CrazyKinux. The EVE Blog Banter involves an enthusiastic group of gaming bloggers, a common topic within the realm of EVE Online, and a week to post articles pertaining to the said topic. The resulting articles can either be short or quite extensive, either funny or dead serious, but are always a great fun to read! Any questions about the EVE Blog Banter should be directed to crazykinux@gmail.com. Check out other EVE Blog Banter articles at the bottom of this post!

The first banter of 2010 comes to us from the EVE Blog Father, CrazyKinux himself, who asks the following:
As we begin another year in New Eden, ask yourselves “What Now?” What will I attempt next? What haven’t I done so far in EVE? Was it out fear, funds, or knowledge? Have I always wanted to start my own corporation, but have never dared doing so? Is there a fledging mercenary waiting to come out of its shell? Or maybe an Industrialist? What steps and objectives will I set myself to accomplish in order to reach my ultimate goal for this year? EVE is what you make of it. So, what is it going to be for you?

So… what now? What next?

Well, the big things are not in doubt, nor in need of a change. I continue to have lots of fun with Eve University, I’ve found the right blend of responsibility and relaxation to fit with my play time and commitment levels. My duties with the Ivy League Navy, and as a Diplomat, continue to give me the organisational role that I seem to need to truly enjoy social games; but are light enough time commitments to enable a decent game/life balance. I’m making new friends all the time, and solidifying older friendships into something worthwhile. Honestly, to move on from the uni this year would mean that my attitude or circumstance has changed considerably from where I am now.

There is an area where I have a goal, however. An area where I have been a slacker, not taken my opportunities and have resolved to do something about it.

Money.

Yup, iskies. moolah. dosh.

Thus far i have taken a relaxed approach to the matter of making money. I’ve breezed through my Eve career, bought a couple of plex to fund myself and not worried too much about making vast quantities of isk. But, I’m paying for 2 accounts, and I’m not sure that this is sustainable, or desirable. So, my goal for this year is to fund at least one account through the use of isk to buy plex. My alt can now fly a decently fitted Raven, and has access to L4 missions. I have a second alt who is training trade skills, hauler skills and transport skills, who will sell on the loot. The intent is to get Psia into something to support my raven alt in missions, and make them go a lot faster. Whether that should be more DD, or RR in a logistics boat, I’m not sure.

By the middle of this year, say the beginning of July, I’d like to be making more than I’m spending, consistently week on week. By the third quarter, say the beginning of October, I want to be funding my alt account with plex.

So that’s it. My aim for the year. Make money. Easy, huh? Well, we’ll see… but certainly it’s a new aspect of Eve for me to experiment with, and I’m quite looking forward to it.

If you enjoyed this post, or even if you didn’t, be sure to check out the other participants in Blog Banter XIV!

It’s an update!

Posted: January 11, 2010 in Eve Uni, Psia, Updates

Ooh, an update! See!

It’s been a while, my lovely blogfriends. I’ve been away, visiting family on a grand tour, celebrating Christmas and the New Year. And during that time, I’m sorry to say, I’ve neglected you all again. Yes I have. No chunterings nor wurblings have I shared. I’m sorry. Truly. Let me try to make it up to you with a little update.

So… where are we? Well, Psia seems to have settled, ship wise, comfortably into cruisers. The trade off between toughness and agility suits her, and so she’s gradually been filling out the required skills to fly them well. She’s got herself into Recons and loves both her curse and her pilgrim. T2 medium guns are trained, and she’s days off a HAC; and she’s trained to fly logistics cruiser, and plans to run a Guardian with a couple of other uni pilots. Of course, the support skills have been trained too, and she can use T2 reppers and transfers, and the like. Post-HAC, it’s HIC time, and then… strategic cruiser. The legion is going to cost her a complete fortune, but will be worth it. Endless hours of EFT fun trying to work out the ideal fits for plexes, fleet support in WH and the like. It’ll be almost like a whole new minigame.

Her university roles continue to develop. She’s Ops officer for an Ivy League Navy Battlegroup (the wing of the uni dedicated to the defence of the alliance); which means she’s in charge of organising events for the BG and the wider uni. From races through scouting competitions, I’m enjoying this quite a lot. It’s hard work at times, but then I’ve never been scared of that when I’m enthusiastic. Her role as Diplomat for the uni varies wildly from the not hugely interesting, to the utterly absorbing. I’m getting to meet lots of new people, and gain a really broad understanding of the diverse alliances out there. Very enjoyable indeed. Feel free to contact her if there is any diplomacy needing doing, and remember that the Uni offers open non-aggression pacts (mutual blues) to any corp or alliance that would like it.

My alt continues to gain skills too, of course, and is now flying a Raven with a basic mission fit. This seems to work ok for the level 4 missions that he can do. He’s a taken a little break tho, for the past few days, as I develop a specific trade/hauling alt.

All in all, I’m thoroughly enjoying Eve still. The uni is a fantastic home, and the people are mostly great. Think I’ll be here for a while yet.

Fly safe, or fly victorious.

Some days…

Posted: December 15, 2009 in fun, promotional, WH

… you’ve had a rotten day at work, things at home have been a bit stressful for various reasons and you’ve got no time to kick back and relax.

And on those days, sometimes the littlest things can make a massive difference.

Thank you, CCP, for cheering me up, and generally being a cool game company to be around.

Dominion Trailer

Posted: November 25, 2009 in Dominion, fun, promotional

Go here and watch it.

No, really. I mean it.

Go watch it.

What are you still doing here?

An interview with Dierdra Vaal

Posted: November 24, 2009 in CSM, Eve Uni, Interview

I now that this is a starting to look like an Eve uni interview blog, rather than documenting my experiences, but really, I do have a couple of posts planned that are about my game life. Real life, however, is pretty busy at the mo, my lovely daughter is being weaned onto solids with all the mess and drama that it entails; whilst work continues to require, well, actual work. I’ll get around to updating the blog with a status update, some CSM chuntering, some thoughts on Dominion and some wiffle about Recons, as soon as I get some spare headspace and time.

In the meantime, I have another of my interviews, this time with Director of Education, Dierdra Vaal. Not only is DV a Uni director, but also Chairman of the Council of Stellar Management. So, hopefully this is a relatively timely interview as well! On with the questions:

So, you are Eve University Director of Education, what does that mean exactly?

It means I’m the head of Eve University’s education department, and responsible for its smooth operation. The education department has 4 divisions: Teaching (classes, guest lectures, etc), Events, Mentoring and our advanced student program D6. Each of these divisions has its own manager who are responsible for most of its operation, but I oversee these managers and make sure each division’s direction fits with the direction we want Eve University to take.

And before you joined the University, what path did you follow?

I was a frustrated newbie before I joined Eve Uni – I’d already quit Eve 3 times.

If you weren’t in the Uni, where do you imagine you’d be by now?

If I’d never joined Eve University I doubt I’d be playing Eve now. If I had moved on I may have joined some of the more reputable pirate corps, or possibly a 0.0 alliance.

If you had to sell the University to a new player, how would you do so?

I have advertised a lot already – I used to be an RO. I’d probably link them to our commercial or just tell them about who we are and what we do. It usually does the trick.

What one thing would make your life as Director of Education better, easier or more pleasant?

More teachers, without a doubt. We still do not have as many classes as I’d like and despite trying to recruit more teachers it seems it is exceedingly difficult to attract reliable, consistent teachers. We also haven’t made as much progress on the syllabi library as I’d like. More mentors would also be useful although I understand the mentoring programme is doing quite well already. Ultimately, Eve University needs a group of volunteers willing to help other pilots – just as many of our current mentors and teachers were once helped by other veterans. Without our volunteers we couldn’t run Eve University.

Mining, Trading or Combat?

Combat. With a mix of exploration but that is not included in this list. I find mining dreadfully boring and I dont have the patience and will to become good at trading – which is probably why I’m relatively poor for a player my age.

Given a free choice of role in a combat fleet, what would chose to do?

Probably damage or electronic warfare. I’ve done just about eve fleet role by now except for logistics – overall I usually just pick whatever is needed.

And what’s your favourite ship, and why?

Probably the Pilgrim (Amarr recon). It cloaks, it has a huge tank, two types of electronic warfare and reasonable damage output. It is one of the few good solo pvp ships.

The Pilgrim Force Recon

You are not only a Uni Director, but also you are a twice elected CSM rep, and the chair of the third (current)CSM. What does that involve?

 

The CSM communicates with CCP on behalf of the players of Eve. This means we read the forums – a lot – to make proposals based on forum threads in the Assembly Hall forum. We meet every 2 weeks (sometimes more) to discuss the issues and vote on them. All issues with majority support end up in front of CCP who are obligated to give us an answer.

It is very interesting to see how the CSM can affect the development of Eve. For example, the skill queue is a direct result of the CSM. CCP initially had a lot of resistance against the idea, but as the CSM kept pushing for it, eventually CCP realised it would be a good addition to the game.

And how did you find yourself standing for election the first time?

When CCP announced the first CSM elections, the directorate decided it would be a good idea to try and get an Eve University pilot on the council. After an internal poll, we decided to put me forward as the Eve University candidate.

What made you stand for re-election last time around?

The same thing that made me stand for election the first time: I believe that if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. I also knew the process the 2nd time, and felt I still had a lot of useful input to give.

What difference that the CSM has made makes you the most proud of your work with them?

Well there’s ofcourse the ingame changes, but I think the biggest difference is simply that we have proven that the process can work. CCP and the CSM have started a very useful partnership that you don’t see in any other game – and I think Eve has become a better game for it.

And as your final term draws towards a close, do you have any regrets?

Not really. It was very nice to be able to be Chairman the 2nd time around – it makes me feel a bit like this is ‘my CSM’. Of all 3 CSMs we have put forth the most issues with CCP, as well as engage in some very interesting brainstorming sessions.

A bit of future gazing now, how long do you imagine that Eve will persist, and will it go out with a bang or a whimper, when the time comes?

If CCP continue as they have been doing, I very much doubt that Eve will ever go out. At this point CCP is committed to Eve Online, and have stated that they are not interested in developing an Eve 2.0 or something. They just want to keep improving and expanding the current universe. You can see that now with Dust, New Eden (spacebook) and Incarna, which all greatly change or expand the way we interact with the game universe.

Are you planning to play Dust 514?

Not at this point, I don’t own an xbox or playstation.

When you aren’t playing Eve, what other games (online or offline) do you play?

Mostly shooters. I currently play a lot of Team Fortress 2, Unreal Tournament 3 and Battlefield 2142. Sometimes Audiosurf.

Any forthcoming MMOs that you’ll try out?

None, one addiction is quite enough.

Back to Eve, what change would you most like to see to the University?

I’ve been trying to move to a more stable curriculum, and a better teacher roster so I can guarantee that class X is taught every Y weeks. Right now if someone were to ask me when the next Trading class is I’d have no idea. But for a better curriculum I need a lot more teachers.

And where do you see your Eve self in 2 years time?

That is hard to say. I may still be with the uni, I may be off doing my own thing or maybe not play Eve at all.

Beer or Coffee?

Depends on the time of day.

Pirates or Ninjas?

Ninjas

Dogs with hats or flying monkeys?

Flying monkeys.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Nope I’m all typed out!

Thanks to DV for taking the time to speak to me. I can’t not make mention of Vote Match, which Dierdra has developed to enable Eve pilots to see which of the candidates for CSM 4 most closely matches their view on things. I highly recommend that you check it out.