December 30, 2013

Noir. Academy - A Year In

I took over as the official CEO of Noir. Academy in February of 2013 after a few weeks of unofficial leadership. To be honest, I only became CEO because I was willing to help and there wasn't anyone else able to put the effort in at the time, but I'm really glad I volunteered. I've learned a lot over the last year, and it's taken a lot of effort to ensure that the resulting training curriculum was of a high enough standard, but it was a very rewarding experience in the end.

I've not been able to be as hands on this last year as I wish. When I first started, I worked from home part time and played EVE a lot. I was always there, and it was a very fresh, new experience for me. I had a very high level of interaction with the students at the time. In June, about five months after I became the CEO, I got a new job that has me away from home about six weeks at a time with a two week break (as I've mentioned before in this blog). I work seven days a week while I'm gone, too, which doesn't leave me much time to play EVE. And if it weren't bad enough having to play EVE on a laptop when I'm on the road, my first two assignments (from July to the end of September basically), I had no internet.

During this time, I had to remain effective as the CEO while not being able to login very much. Instead, I focused my time on the high level organization and structure of the Academy. This was sort of a blessing in disguise because it allowed me to revamp many integral issues with the Academy that weren't as present when I was always online and was putting a lot more man hours into the students. Viewing the curriculum from a more hands-off approach, I was able to better see what could be pared down and made more efficient. The downside of this was that I had no person relationship with my students and had to rely on my instructors completely, making them bear the burdens.

I think that we're now at a very good point in the Academy, where there is a lot of structure while still being free form and independent, where students have to show initiative but can fall back on more veteran players when they need. The last big hurdle that I'm trying to overcome is that Noir. Academy isn't Noir. I feel that by flying with Noir. so often over the last year they've lost sight of the fact that they're not mercenaries. They're students. They're not experts yet, they're amateurs. That feeling isn't there when you get to go on contract with everyone else. There also wasn't any real push to get students to complete their objectives on their own. That's changing January 1st where there is now a time limit, although it's quite ample.

My goals for Noir. Academy in the coming year are to get it to a place where it can be self sufficient. Where it's not a part of the NMG. Alliance any more, officially, and operates independent of Noir. That's going to take a lot more work, but if we can get to that point, I think we'll be the best PvP training corporation in all of EVE Online.

Happy New Year, everyone.
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December 27, 2013

And We've Come Full Circle

Just after Rubicon, Noir. was hired for quite a few POCO operations. One of those POCO operations had us fight a corporation called Failed Diplomacy. We won the first fight handily, while they won the second and third fight. Fuckin' Bhaalgorns.

Anyway, when Failed wasn't able to bring their whole fleet of Bhaalgorns and faction battleships, we camped them into stations quite often. During this time, we had fairly reasonable conversations. They started out trash talking pretty badly, at least it seemed bad to me since we have a no trash talk rule; it was probably pretty mild on most scales. But, I guess when we either wouldn't respond in kind or just noticed that what we were typing was actually fairly conversational, it turned out to be fairly friendly. This happened on multiple occasions during the entire contract and we ended up not really disliking Failed, to be honest.

Well, Airric of Failed Diplomacy reaches out to one of our directors and wants to have a talk with us. Surprise, surprise! Turns out that because of our respectful tone towards them, even when we weren't on the winning side, and since they were impressed with us as opponents, they decided to reach out to us and hire us for an operation of their own.

Mercenaries are fickle in that we never hate someone longer than a contract is active unless you do something rather impressive, in a bad way. Failed fought well. We really enjoyed that contract, when they actually undocked, despite losing a bit more ISK overall than they did.

We were hired to provide logistics for a fight against Obsidian Front who was trying to take some of Failed's POCOs away. We showed up with about 15 or so logistics ships and a few people in heavy armor ships with neuts and points in case Obsidian Front went suspect, which they did end up doing.

I really like this turn of events, too. It's very EVE-ish.

In the end, FAILED broke about even because one pilot, RavenG, didn't have his broadcasts set up correctly so our logistics didn't see his call for reps, resulting in a 2B ISK Bhaalgorn and then a 770M ISK Megathron Navy Issue loss. Without those two losses, it would have been a landslide victory for FAILEd.

On the C&P forums, Ynot Eyob posted this Youtube video from their point of view. It turns out they had set us blue from when EMP deployed to Providence for the 9UY campaign and forgot to reset us.

P.S. I got my new Razer Blade Pro the other day and it's amazing! I can't wait to try it in EVE with a big battle.
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November 28, 2013

Ready to Be Home

I've been in Dallas since October 18. Today, November 28, is Thanksgiving in America, a national holiday. This is my first day off since October 18. I fly out of Dallas back to Atlanta on December 4th for a much needed vacation.

It's hard to play EVE sometimes when you work 7 days a week. This has been an especially busy assignment which has left me not wanting to play EVE on some days. Plus, I think my little laptop has finally shown its limits and just won't cut it for me anymore. It's been a great little guy, but a 14 inch screen isn't enough to really do it any more.

I'm looking at upgrading to a Razer Blade Pro soon. Hopefully. If not, maybe I'll just start shipping my desktop around with me.

Anyway, I'll be excited to be home and be able to play EVE for 24 hours a day for about three weeks!

Happy Thanksgiving to you who celebrate it!
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October 31, 2013

Nightmare in New Eden Part Two - Contract Recap

Nightmare in New Eden Part Two kicked off on October 31, 2013, at 23:30 EVE Time. The rules were simple: kill the Nightmare piloted by Tyen in Tama. Prizes were handed out for various achievements such as one Nightmare given away to the person with the top damage on the target Nightmare, one Machariel for the person with the most kills, and many, many more. It was all in good fun, and it was a lot of fun. Something like 400 ships, including anything from noobships to carriers, showed up for a piece of the action. Noir. was hired to help protect the Nightmare for as long as possible, along with some friendly volunteers.

Tyen let us know he was going to be heavily shield tanking his Nightmare (obviously), so Noir. followed suit with a shield fleet composed of Caracals, Cerberuses, and Basilisks, with a few links and a Blackbird. 

We rallied up 30 minutes ahead of time, at 23:00, in Nourvukaiken, a high security system one jump over. The total fleet, with the help of Sky Fighters, The Dark Space Initiative, and a few solo pilots, numbered about 40 or so, but Noir. represented the bulk of the fleet. 

We had some scouts in Tama at the sun, which Tyen was going to warp in upon login, and so we knew there was a small fleet of assault frigates, interceptors, and a few assorted frigates already at the sun. We went ahead and came into Tama and warped to the sun at our optimal range as Tyen was coming in so we would arrive at roughly the same time.

We easily cleared the field of the smaller ships, but as news began to spread through local and various intel channels, more and more people began to arrive.  

Tyen's Nightmare, accompanied by Kasai Hightower's Nightmare, held most of the attention, allowing us to continue to continue repairing Tyen's shields, our fleet's shields, and control the field fairly well.  I was in a Caracal, personally, a fit I originally created for the "Save" Jita 2.0 campaign, which allowed us to dictate range fairly well with a high alpha. Unfortunately, since I travel all the time for work, I have to have a fairly light laptop. Currently, my work rig is a Lenovo Y410p. It's sturdy enough for most things, but the amount of people on the field was causing a ton of lag for me, even at low settings. If I were home, on my desktop, I don't think there would have been any issues, but on my laptop, by the time I started to notice damage and either broadcast for reps or warp out, I was dead. 

Tyen would let us know in TS if he needed anyone specific taken out or if he was preparing to smart bomb, and we were controlling the overall flow of the fight pretty well for the first 45 minutes.

About 10 minutes in, SniggWaffe also showed up in a Caracal fleet. They managed to take out one of our guys right when they showed up, one in the middle, and two more right at the end. We kept close eyes on them, as they heavily outnumbered us. The range and damage of the Caracal ended up costing us almost half of our losses, which is why we tried to keep such a close watch on them.

Eventually, Pandemic Legion brought an Ishtar fleet, and their drones managed to take me out once (damn those things!). The damage of an Ishtar fleet is nothing to laugh at. Up until this point, our logistics had been able to hold reps on Tyen and our fleet with no real issues. We were able to stay out of range of the battleship fleet that Suddenly Spaceships brought in and we could burn anything smaller down pretty quickly. Unfortunately, Suddenly Spaceships also had a triage Archon on the field, and we weren't able to break the tank of enough battleships to keep control of the battle.

Coupled with PL's Ishtar fleet, we began to lose the edge in repair power, and one by one our logistics were forced off the field or destroyed.  After this, it was basically a waiting game. By this time, our damage was too low to force any of the other major hitters off the field, of course, and so we waited to see when Tyen was going to go.

And go he did, along with 11 of our ships.

Overall, Tyen lasted 51 minutes, a little less than half of the allotted time given to kill him. Fun was had by all, and prizes were given to the lucky few. Noir. was paid for our 242 contract, and everyone involved kicked off Halloween with a bang, pardon the pun.

Thanks again to Tyen for the organization and implementation of a really fun event. On behalf of us here in Noir., we look forward to next year, no matter what side of the Nightmare we're on!

Edited to add the fact that SniggWaffe was in fact a part of the fight and was in fact on our minds and in our decisions in TS.
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October 26, 2013

Autumn of RMT

In June of 2011 Incarna was released to the world. It was a colossal failure in most regards. If the expansion had been released in any other MMO, it probably would have been a simple footnote in the history of the development company, a blemish easily forgotten and easily overcome. But EVE Online isn't any other MMO, and its players have been bred in a cold, harsh universe. It was logical that CCP would taste that black, unforgiving bite from its players.

Luckily for us, CCP took notes from that whole event. They cut back on unnecessary staff and refocused what remained on polishing the already existing, yet long forgotten, elements of the game. Because of this, we've been fortunate enough to receive a lot of really great free expansions that focused on the core elements of what makes EVE great. The expansions were generally small things, often just number switches, but were well received and generally well implemented. But it wasn't an easy process to get CCP to this point. A quick Google search for "EVE Incarna" will pop up with suggested results of "Debacle" and "Riots". That's never a good sign. And what was it all about, down at the very core of the argument? Well, what it's always about, of course: money.

Players were upset over a series of misfortunate events. The less than stellar release of Incarna which provided nothing new, game play wise, the ridiculous pricing of items in the Noble Exchange store, and finally the internal newsletter titled Greed is Good that required some CCP developers to argue in favor of things like "golden ammo" and other pay-to-win items combined into a tidal wave of anger.

Now here we are again, on the crest of another wave. It's only just begun, but it's swelling into a big one. First we had the outcry of anger that the gambling website SOMERBlink was receiving rare items directly from CCP for their special contest. These including a Golden Magnate, a ship that had only been given out once before, and subsequently destroyed, and Guardian Vexors, a line of ships that included only fifty original runs. People were up in arms because not only was SOMER getting a pretty ridiculous deal since all those items were coming in free and players were still having to pay to have a chance to win, thereby becoming pure profit for SOMER, but it would cheapen the meaning of those ships. CCP backed down and changed the items they gave SOMER, calming the storm. But then, just as it looked like it was all over, there was the EVEmail.

In the EVEmail sent to all SOMERBlink employees, SOMER encouraged everyone to keep quiet about the fact that each employee of the website was receiving a free, rare battleship, an Scorpion Ishukone Watch. The Scorpion, CCP retorted, was practically worthless, mechanically anyway. It only refined to one tritanium and had worse stats than the vanilla Scorpion. But that didn't stop people selling them for billions of ISK. After all, rarity determines price many times, not stats. CCP claimed that this wasn't unheard of, and they eventually listed all of the organizations that had received the ship. CCP didn't ask or encourage SOMER to keep the gift under the table, either. But for a lot of people, the reputation of SOMER and CCP wasn't exactly sparkling any more. T20 was talked about a lot, the incident where a single CCP employee gave T2 blueprint originals to a member of Band of Brothers. Was CCP being intentionally biased with SOMERBlink? I'd say the evidence is pretty convincing they weren't, but all the initial cloak and dagger doesn't sit well with most people, me included.

But it didn't end there, unfortunately. When you sign up as an affiliate of Markee Dragon, for instance, you get 5% of ever every 60-day game time code, earning 1.75USD. DNSBlack wrote about cashing his character out in a lottery, and then Katarina Reid is doing it, then Carrey Winter from BL is auctioning off a Nyx. All of this uses the same affiliate model SOMERBlink uses. CCP has outright endorsed the gambling website, so unless they want to allow this kind of thing to continue, they're going to have to shut it down for everyone.

I can't imagine this will continue for very long, as I can't imagine the players will stand idly by. I doubt we'll see more monuments destroyed in trade hubs, but CCP relies pretty heavily on great PR and good faith from their customers. They can't really afford to have another tide of ill will right now, what with their financial situation looking fairly grim for this year (unless we see a major upswing in income next fiscal year - I'm looking at you WoD). It may not be the Summer of Rage, but I fear we may be looking at the Autumn of RMT.
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October 9, 2013

Attack Battleships, Attack! or How Warp Speed Changes Haven't Gone Far Enough Yet

With the upcoming warp speed changes, it's going to be a brave new world. Interceptors are going to be climbin' in yo window, snatchin' all your fleet-mates, and all that jazz. Ain't nobody got time for that. (That's all the bad meme references, I promise). It's going to be seriously awesome. Really. But I can't help but feel that there's a lot of missed potential here regarding battleships and battlecruisers. Credit goes to a fellow corpmate, Xavier Saskuatch for bringing the idea up on our forums.

Right now, all battleships and battlecruisers warp at the same speed of 3.0 AU/s.  They're huge ships. It takes a lot of energy to get them pointed in the right direction and then hurtling towards that destination.  But how awesome would it be if the attack battleships had a significant edge in warp speed?

The Mittani had an article about this that displayed the before and after effects of the warp speed changes reflected from CCP Fozzie's post on the forums.

Here we see the changes pre-Rubicon, where every battleship, battlecruiser, cruiser, and destroyer warps at the same speed. Any warp you take in Eve Online in one of those classes of ship is going to take you between 11 and 97 seconds (although I think the longest system is what, 180 some odd AU?).

And here we're looking at the after Rubicon changes, where every tech one battleship and battlecruiser warps at the same relative speed.  Each class is becoming a little slower over all.

But why? Why lump them all into the same groups. Why not bump up the attack battleships and attack battlecruisers to something like 2.6 and 2.9 AU/s respectively? It's not a huge increase, but it'd allow for some interesting dynamics. Just off the top of my head, roaming in attack ships would be ideal - fast, hard hitting, maneuverable; warping ahead of the fleet as support; and just being a generally mobile gun platform. It seems like an obvious idea, after it was pointed out. So what gives, CCP?

[Edit: The author of the graphs has been edited to reflect their true source. My apologies to Fozzie for not remembering you work!]
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September 30, 2013

Rubicon and Mercenaries

Everyone's talking about Rubicon. I feel like it's getting more attention than many of the recent expansions, even. For good reason too; some really nifty additions and changes that are coming with this expansion are posed to shake up the norm in many regards.  We're all working off of the broad outlines of the announcement, of course, and CCP will let more detailed information leak through as mid November draws nearer, but there's been some pretty good analysis of what's to come already.  I'd like to focus on what Rubicon means for mercenaries, specifically for how I envision Noir. taking advantage of these things.

Being a mercenary in EVE is not an easy way to play the game, especially if you have a mind to start a corporation up from scratch.  Take a look at the Crime & Punishment forum and you'll see a half dozen or so new mercenary threads each day, with pretty varying degrees of reception.  It's not hard to figure out why. Most mercenary corporations start out in high sec, war deccing whoever they're paid to . . . and war deccing anyone they can when they're not paid to.  As a mercenary group gets 'better' they move into other space, low, null, or WH.  Generally. Luckily for Noir., we've made a name for ourselves, and we're hired quite often, but even we have our slow times.  How's Rubicon going to affect that?


Well, for starters the new deployables are going to be great for us, both for contracts and non-contract times.  One of our most popular contract type has us living out of our ships in deep null with no base of operation. If you lose a ship, you have to bring another one out from high sec some 30-40 jumps out. The "space yurt", as Ali calls it, is perfect for these types of contracts.  Using one of these, our options just got exponentially greater, allowing us to bring much more to the table and react to the situation.  If this was the only deployable added, we'd be in heaven.  A mercenary corporation that lives behind enemy lines should use these at all opportunities. But there's more.

The siphon is another incredible feature for mercenaries.  Asset Denial is an incredibly common contract type, where we do what it sounds like - deny the target any and all assets from his space that we possibly can, whether it's ratting, complexes, mining, or whatever.  Now, we're able to take directly from their passive incomes without having to go toe-to-toe in a battle over a POS. Often, we're outnumbered in our contracts, and we don't have the option of contesting our targets over their large assets. This changes that, allowing small groups, like mercenaries, to hit a target harder, in an area that was previously well-protected, and do it on our terms. This little gem also gives us a lot of opportunity for income when not on contract, and that can be a real lifesaver for a small mercenary group. This is another really attractive feature for mercenaries.

Customs Offices

Another nice addition is the high sec customs offices.  There's going to be a mad grab for these initially, and while Noir. rarely operates in high sec, there may be some potential for new contracts in this area. I see this as a terrific opportunity for budding mercenary corporations to really spread their wings and branch out, though. These are great money makers for the owners, and if your organization is known for doing these well, don't be surprised if your mailbox gets flooded with requests to take these down far into the future.

Ship Changes

The ship changes are a bit more nebulous in their use and attractiveness from a mercenary standpoint. The benefits really apply to everyone, but I'm personally most excited about the changes to the interceptors and interdictors. Being able to ignore warp bubbles in an interceptor, coupled with the warp speed changes, means a small, hard-hitting roaming fleet has more chances to disrupt larger, unorganized fleets. Again, fighting outnumbered a lot of times, this is something that we'll be sharpening up on. I think the interdictors will really excel in this regard too, beating targets to the warp-to point and snagging a kill for the fleet, making those hard-to-pin-down roaming fleets a lot more successful.

All in all, Rubicon looks like a very attractive expansion from a mercenary's point of view.  There are some things that don't really come into consideration at all - mainly the tractor-beam deployable, but also who can say whether the Sisters of Eve ships will be worth using or not for us yet? - but overall, I think this is going to add a few tricks for our bag, opening a few new doors as well as opening others a bit wider.
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September 24, 2013

Will CCP Embrace Steam OS?

It's old news that Valve announced Steam OS yesterday to pretty much universal applause.  Valve's the little engine that could, growing from a good developer to a gaming behemoth before our eyes. We feel like we've watched it happen, been a part of it, stood behind them the whole way. Everyone cheers for them. Well, there are a few people who are anti-DRM that renounce Steam as the devil, but they're pretty few in number.  And honestly, so far Valve has done very little, if anything, to earn anything but positive responses. They're the white, shining knights of the gaming world. Steam OS represents a burgeoning new horizon, one that Valve will be at the forefront of, pushing gaming boundaries further than ever before, reaching new places (and the words 'free forever' don't hurt either).  So how can CCP take advantage?

Let's be honest: CCP makes decisions based on what is going to make profits. While personally I believe that, for the most part, they are a very fan-focused company and really do hold our overall thoughts and concerns in high regard (when compared to many other companies, at least), nothing's going to happen if it represents a negative income. So CCP, like the rest of us, saw the Steam OS announcement. But unlike the rest of us, some of them weren't thinking, "Oh man! I gotta get one of those!" They were thinking, "Oh man, how can we use this to bring in more money?" Well, it's simple really. Bring back Linux support.

CCP officially ended supporting Linux back on March 10, 2009.  The official support only lasted about two years. As any Linux user will know, you can still play EVE after jumping through a few hoops, but as any Linux user will know, hoops are jumped to do just about anything. That's part of Linux's charm, after all. Of course, the major charm to Linux is that it's free, it's open source, and it comes in a lot of flavors. It's also one of the reasons that it's a fairly niche group of people that call themselves power Linux users - those that barely, if ever, use other operating systems. After all, why develop your game for Linux if most Linux users also have a Windows machine? But Steam OS is going to change that. You're going to get people who don't care anything about Grubs and Sudo commands and terminals with Linux right in their living rooms soon. It's going to proliferate like never before, all because of Valve's backing.

As of right now, Steam is only supported on Ubuntu and soon-to-be Steam OS.  That's not really a problem for CCP, as Ubuntu and Steam OS are obviously going to be closely linked so that making something work for Ubuntu's Steam will work for SOS's Steam.  That's going to allow for EVE to become accessible where EVE has never gone before: TVs all over the world, not to mention all those Linux users that had been left out in the cold, more or less.

Sure, it's possible to run EVE, like I said, jumping through a few hoops - but what about the Linux users who aren't power users? The ones that don't have all the terminal commands memorizes and prefer GUIs to interface with their machine? Even if we're talking about a small number of people here, it's basically a moot point because it's free people. It's people that basically would get to ride the coattails of all the new Steam OS users. Not to mention that the average Linux user would make a perfect fit for EVE. Linux has its own learning curve, and it appeals to certain types of people - people who like to tinker, who like to take things apart and see how they work, people who like to do things the hard way, and do it themselves. EVE is perfect for those types of people.

Any way you slice it, adding Linux support back into EVE would be a great thing now. You'd get to take a cut from two pies: the Steam OS users and the Linux users.  If what Valve says about Left 4 Dead 2 running better on Linux than any other platform is true for other games, what's to stop the future of Linux games? I'd love for EVE to be a part of that movement.
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September 22, 2013

ArmA 3 Review for the EVE Player

I travel around the USA a lot for work. I stay in a location for 30-45 days, working 7 days a week, and then get about 14 days off before heading out again. Unfortunately, my last two assignments have had dial-up speed or less Internet. Which means that I've had basically no ability to play EVE for quite a while now. Luckily, I downloaded a few games before I left - one of which was ArmA 3.  I've been wanting to write something  for a while now, but having no access to EVE, I wasn't sure what to do. I came up with this idea, to write a review for a game geared towards the average EVE player (or at least, what I think the average EVE player is). Let me know what you think - if there's any benefit to this or not - in the comments.
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August 15, 2013

Code Name: Atlas Review

I had never heard of Code Name: Atlas or its author Tony Evans, but luckily Tony found a review I had written for the book Armor on the website Goodreads and sent me a friend request saying we might have similar tastes.  I looked at his profile, realized he was an author and had one published book.  It had fairly good reviews on Goodreads (3.75 out of 5 stars), and decided to check it out.  I found it for $2 from Barnes & Nobles' Nook website so figured it was worth a shot, especially since I'm on a business trip and just finished my last book, I had nothing else to read.

All I knew going in was that it was post-apocalyptic science-fiction book and that it was apparent that Tony had military experience (which he readily admits in his biography, having done at least one tour in Iraq).  So I started to dig in with little prior knowledge, which is how I generally like it.

The book starts off near the end, the majority of its story is technically a flashback. It's told mainly from the first-person perspective of the main character, Atlas, but will switch into third-person for short periods of time when Atlas isn't present.  The writing is terse, short sentences, and Evans doesn't use much in the way of flowery language or words.  Sometimes it kind of annoyed me (you already said the wooden table two times in this sentence, Tony!), but for the most part it lent itself well to the overall feeling and environment of the story.  We're in a broken world now, where something has happened.  Atlas isn't really sure what, at the beginning of the story, because he heeded the President's advice and went underground in a bunker, hunkering down during the worst of it.

The main focus of the story is the rise of Atlas, from just trying to protect his wife and unborn child long enough to get them out of The City (we're never told which, but my feeling is it's too small to be one of the more famous southern Cali cities).  He's just a devoted husband who wants to create a safe place for them, to plant roots in creating their family and not have to worry about what's going on around them, more or less. The events of the story are all kicked into being by their relationship and the desires they both have.  Atlas makes his choices based on trying to provide the world he and his wife believe in.  Atlas realizes he has to take action to make this happen; it's in his nature, but Amori, his wife, just wants to run away with him and find that place.

I'm sure you're not surprised to know that Atlas isn't given the chance to run away when the topic is first brought up, and Atlas quickly finds himself leading more and more people due to his natural leadership abilities and semi-famous status in the "old world" as a decorated soldier.  It's during this phase that the book really shines.  Evans uses his military knowledge to really showcase the burdens of a commanding officer in charge of an entire military, even one that's comprised of mainly foot soldiers fighting on a destroyed planet.  As the story progresses, more information is discovered about why and how the planet was so badly destroyed.  It was a cool explanation.  Atlas doesn't dwell on it much because, for the most part, the reasons why and how it happened don't matter at this point.  All that matters is the now and how they're going to continue to survive each day.

Battles are very well defined, described, and detailed, giving the reader a clear idea of what's happening and why.  The strategic importance of locations was never in doubt for me, and it was very interesting to read the methods and purposes of claiming, using, defending, or attacking those positions.  Larger battle plans share the same method of delivery, and were always fairly easy to follow and gave a good sense of what was happening.

The action itself was also well described.  It was also fast-paced, chaotic, frantic at times.  Everything felt grounded, too.  Nothing was totally unbelievable.  I really give credit to him here, and you can definitely feel the personal experiences that Evans must have had in Iraq.  I never felt taken out of the action.

Another solid point for Evans was the characters themselves.  They're well done, if not stellar.  You'll meet a goodly amount of people, but I felt I understood each of them.  Their motives are understandable, especially in the times these people are living in. Even when I hated someone for what they did or are doing, I didn't think they should have done anything else, if they were to going to stay true to themselves.

I don't want to talk about the ending too much, but I'll say this: I'm glad Tony Evans found me.  It was a good read, although the stutter-step pace of the sentences was sometimes off-putting. But after finishing it, all I could think was, "I hope there's a sequel."
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August 12, 2013

Where is the Ambulation Discussion?

It's time we moved past the up-in-arms attitude (if you still have it) regarding Incarna.  Yes, it was a fiasco, and yes it was a very low point in CCPs history, and yes we should never forget it lest we repeat it. CCP has shown that it understood the problem and has worked very hard to lay the foundation for a better system of updates and patches.  Unless CCP suddenly goes dark again, releasing things that were never discussed in public, I don't think we'll have to worry about where the direction of the game goes.  But when is CCP going to feel they can work on Ambulation again (I'd prefer to call it Ambulation vs Walking in Stations because hey, there's no reason to restrict yourself)?

There's a lot of ill-will still felt towards the Summer of 2011, and it's justified, but it's aimed at the wrong place.  It wasn't Walking in Stations that was the real issue, it was CCP's unwillingness to listen or discuss their ideas.  It was their arrogance that they felt their work was perfect, without flaw, and above critique from lowly subscribers like us.  It was the disregard of the CSM and the minimizing of their efforts.  Walking in Stations was simply the target for our anger.

So yes, I think that Incarna was implemented poorly, and the idea itself was wholly unfinished and totally superfluous - two things EVE players generally dislike, especially when combined.  But it's time CCP revisited the topic publicly.  Surely there are still people at CCP who are working on this thing, right?  What are they doing? What are their thoughts and plans? How do they see Ambulation fitting into the grand scheme?

I saw a video a while back of CCP presenting a video to a group of people; I've never been able to find it again.  I think it was an Eastern European or maybe Russian meet up.  It was recorded pretty poorly, and the video was just protected onto a screen, so the quality wasn't great.  But what CCP showed was very interesting.  It was simply a proof of concept that used stick-like figures and basic polygons for objects, but the gameplay was structured around moving through very dangerous areas (usually abandoned stations or something like that) in search of items that can be returned to your ship and sold.  Other players could obviously be a threat, and you wouldn't know if they were friendly or not until perhaps it's too late.  Cooperative play definitely made things easier.  There was always danger: your ship could be stolen out of its docking station, your character could die from the radioactive waves released by the items you hunted, other players may be wandering around the station too.  It was basically DayZ, but the video was posted on Youtube before DayZ's release.

So now, a year or so after that video, why hasn't CCP made any more public statements regarding their vision for it? Was this proof of concept scrapped for something else? Was it refined?  We've seen games like Pay Day and Pay Day 2 (which are a lot of fun, definitely pick it up if you haven't) which focuses on co-operative play to steal and rob banks, jewelry stores, etc.  DayZ is getting its own game now.  There's obviously a market for this type of gameplay, and I would definitely be interested in doing this in EVE.  CCP needs to HTFU and face their fanbase and let us know what they're doing in this regard.  We're ready to hear it.

Potential Issues

Of course, it won't be easy to dovetail a game like that into EVE.  There are a lot of things that would have to be done, and it wouldn't be quick.  I'm certainly not expecting something to be released for a few years. There are quite a few hurdles to overcome, both lore-wise and mechanically.

Let's start with lore issues first, I guess.  Why not?

For starters, a capsuleer is not immortal outside of his ship.  Of course, technology has advanced since capsuleers first arrived on the scene and we now have DUST soldiers who can be cloned without an entire pod.  The technology was discovered through the very exploration of derelict space stations, even. This technology hasn't spread to capsuleers because they need the pod to control the ship.  Even if a capsuleer had the work done to have the implant placed inside of his head that let him become immortal without a pod, he'd never be able to compete with other pod pilots in space.  So without his pod, if he died on a station, he'd have lost whatever memories he gained since his last clone date.

Mechanically, that would mean lost skill points.  Definitely doable, as proved by T3 ships, but just something to keep in mind.

Secondly, our capsuleers are not trained foot soldiers.  They fly massive ships; they don't have shoot-em-ups.  This obstacle is pretty easily overcome - new skills.  Kind of annoying though.  It's pretty EVE-like to do so, I guess. You could have skills that could improve things like accuracy, recoil, reload speed, etc etc - all the stats you see in other shooters.  Personally, I'd prefer our pilots to all be fairly mediocre at this though.  A capsuleer is a very expensive investment.  They're chosen after a very rigorous and challenging program, that not every applicant survives.  It doesn't sit well with me that an organization would front the money for a capsuleer who is just going to pick up a gun.  Why not just make a DUST soldier at that point?  I mean, it's fine to branch out, but a capsuleer's main job is to be a pilot.  Unless you're a station trader, I guess. Cowards.

It would be pretty neat to have a little cross over between DUST and EVE though.  Some of the weapons used by DUST mercenaries could easily be used by EVE capsuleers separated from their precious ships, of course, but others specifically state that they require special suits to use (ie the heaviest of the weapons in DUST 514), but pistols and medium weapons would be easy to wield for our puny pod pilots.  There could be special EVE-only weapons too, perhaps, which DUST soldiers would view as useless or inferior.

This is probably the second largest mechanical issue: how to balance weapon usage.  You don't want to have too much cross-over with DUST, or you have some serious issues.  Shooting guns in EVE should be a clumsy affair.  Third-person view would be best; it fits with EVE, looking at the outside of your ship, and it provides a less precise movement and aiming scheme, which fits with my above points.

Of course, the golden rule of anything in EVE is that it has to matter in some way.  Does it provide engaging, fun, and dynamic gameplay? Does it add to the overall game, mainly by way of the economy?  If so, then let's start the conversation up again, CCP.
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August 9, 2013

Assist Of Sound Mind Contract Recap

If you haven't heard, CVA and Of Sound Mind came to a cease fire agreement the other day.  The war officially ended on August 8, like the announcement says, but SOUND called us off the day before, alerting us to what was happening, so that there wouldn't be any issues during this fragile time.  But, enough about the end, for now; let's talk about the contract as a whole and Noir.'s part in that.

You may not know, but Noir.'s CEO, Alekseyev Karrde hosts a podcast called Declarations of War.  One of the co-hosts is Ali Aras, who is, of course, in SOUND.  So when this whole thing was really heating up, and war was obviously coming, Ali and Alek had a little chat, and we were subsequently hired to lend a hand in the defense of SOUND space.  This was one day after we had just finished the Delve contract where we were hired to harass TEST's income-producing space for three weeks.  We were planning to have a lot of R&R, but as a mercenary, plans change sometimes.

In Delve, we had spent almost all of our time doing black ops fleets.  It worked perfectly with the geography and our mission.  We all brought down ships of all types - shield, armor, bombers; everything - because we weren't sure what was going to happen, specifically.  We were prepared for anything, but there was a kink in the plan: Noir. Academy.

Noir. Academy is, of course, the training arm of Noir.  I'm the CEO, and we recruit twice a month: 1st-5th and 15th-18th of every month.  This contract was announced after a recruitment cycle had started, and so we had a bunch of pilots who we had never flown with joining us on a contract that, turns out, required highly precise flying.

Anyway, we spent a lot of time in bombers - typical Noir. - and from the start, we were doing decently (although not as well as we would have liked), and a few bomber losses with nothing on the killboard put us in a position we weren't happy with.  As I mentioned in my post titled Who Cares About Killboards?, we were having a very large effect on the war at large, but a lot of that wasn't showing up on paper.  Our employer was happy, and so we were too, generally, but as a point of pride, we wanted to bring the killboard back up into at least the 80% range.

A general day for us consisted of hopping into bombers and harassing any CVA fleets that were trying to reinforce I-HUBs, stations, POSes, etc - sometimes successfully, sometimes not. The way the timezones worked out for us and our employer, we'd usually be at that for a few hours and then they'd ask for some support in some type of fleet, so we'd go back to reship if we needed and meet up to do some more work.

A lot of these bomber fleets were very intense.  CVA had been on the receiving end of dozens and dozens of bomb runs by the end of the war, from nearly every party involved.  We could see their tactics evolving and improving to try and reduce the effectiveness and increase the danger of doing bomb runs on their fleet.  Luckily, we have very good FCs who recognized this and we were able to remain effective, causing a lot of confusion and fright among the CVA fleets, wondering how we managed to continue to devastate their fleets and beat their fast responders who they had positioned specifically for stopping us.  Unfortunately, we were often stationed just a few thousand meters away from enemy ships in preparation for these attack runs, and the brand new students were being asked to fly at levels they had never flown before, make no mistakes, do everything perfectly with minimal instruction.  It wasn't the ideal situation for a new student, and understandably, a few of them made mistakes that lost them their ships.  Hopefully it was still enlightening and entertaining.

We mixed in a little black ops from time to time to remind CVA that just because SOUND only controlled two stations on paper, Noir. controlled Providence.  Luckily, as most of you know, Providence residents are not the smartest, and they're not unfamiliar with neutrals coming into system on a regular basis.  Each black ops fleet turned out pretty well, but these were perhaps my favorite kills (despite the fact that I blew up the wreck of one, destroying two faction heat sinks! Newb.)

Finally, just two nights before the contract was technically ended, we went on the offensive, reinforcing two towers held by a mysterious CVA member, TSOE, who we knew shot other CVA members who stuck their nose too deeply into their space, and CVA let them slide on the aggression (ironic, huh?).  But, that's because TSOE was secretly building capital ships.  Yulai Federation also had an R64 moon that they were exploiting.  TSOE also stayed isolated when it came to joining intel channels and joining Providence CTAs - again, with impunity.  Taking these down was, in my opinion, the perfect way to end the contract, smashing CVA in the mouth, driving home the hypocritical nature of their leniency with one group but not another. And of course, they had to agree to let SOUND leave peacefully, only getting rid of them because they agreed to.

How long could the war have gone on if the treaty didn't materialize? Who knows.  CVA certainly had the upper hand in that regard, at least theoretically, but I'll bet SOUND would have continued to surprise all those considered if it had come to that.

This was one of my favorite contracts based on how knock down drag out the fighting was.  It was messy, ugly, confusing, and glorious.  It took a steady hand to fly into that hornet's nest and come out alive and with kills.  I also really liked the political aspect of this war, how it started over a small incident, degraded via bad diplomacy, and came out of nowhere.  That's the EVE I love.
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August 5, 2013

Who Cares About Killboards?

Killboards are often very faulty tools for measuring the proficiency of an individual pilot.  They give pilots full contribution for the kill regardless if they actually do any damage or place negative effects on the target.  Of course, every corporation keeps a close eye on their killboard nonetheless.  It's still an effective way to judge the efficiency of the organization as a whole, not to mention the intelligence that can be gleaned from it.  As mercenaries, the killboard is doubly important, as it functions as our business card as well.  The recent statistics can even affect the price that can be demanded for a contract payment.  But in Providence, I simply don't care about the killboard.

Well, that's not entirely true - I still strive to avoid all losses and maximize my own kills, like normal.  But as the contract is progressing, I'm finding that our participation isn't measured in the killboard as much as usual.  We're doing a lot of ops, pretty much constantly, in fact, but the kill count is actually fairly low often times.  We've turned the tide of at least three fights from bombing drones, making our employers very happy, but not having anything to show for that on paper.  We're saving stations, chasing off offensive SBU bashers, and much more, really driving the cost and effort of war home to CVA, with little physical evidence of our involvement.  And I'm loving it.

I have kind of a weird work schedule where I work 40-46 hours a week, seven days a week, for forty-five days at a time.  Then I'm off for two weeks or so, and back to another 45 days solid of work.  I haven't personally been able to contribute large amounts of time to the CVA war so far, but if it continues for another week, that would change.  Even so, I get to play an hour or so a night, and while that's not enough time to really partake in the festivities, I'm really enjoying this type of war we're in now.  Remember, we just got done with three weeks in Delve where we harassed TEST's home-front, barely had any losses, and got many, many expensive kills. That war was fought in a completely different manner, and it had a totally different day-to-day feeling, too.  This war is hectic; emergency fleets are put together only to reship a few minutes later based on a new situation emerging.  The battlefield itself is chaotic, with CVAs fleets being...unpredictable, not always to their detriment.  Our students are being asked to react faster, smarter, and better than they've ever been required to before.  

This is definitely a war where our contribution is measured in the outcomes, not the kills, and so far we're doing amazingly well.  SOUND has continued to keep their knees straight in the face of CVA, despite the opposition thinking they would be defeated quickly.  Many other organizations have helped make this a reality, of course; it hasn't been us alone, not by a long shot.  Dirt Nap Squad, Brave Newbies Inc., Verge of Collapse, even TEST and Goonswarm have showed up.

CVA didn't expect the war to go like this, that's for sure, and I didn't expect to measure it in the way that I am.  It's been a really interesting and enlightening lesson, tracking progress by the days that SOUND still has their name on Dotlan rather than by the amount of kills we've made.  The amount of kills are still part of it, of course, but to me, they're secondary.
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August 3, 2013

CREST is King - Or Well, it COULD Be

On July 11, 2013, CCP announced they were going to release a portion of the CREST API that allowed developers to do interesting things with stats from Alliance Tournament XI.  CREST was originally announced in December of 2012, but to my knowledge, there aren't any applications created solely with CREST until today. released an amazing web application today that shows in-depth replays of the ATXI fights, including ship position, status effects, and health.  The process itself isn't revolutionary or even unexpected - we see almost this exact same thing on the official stream itself, and we pretty much knew this would be possible based on the official announcement that CCP released regarding the temporary API information sharing.  What's great about Nullsec's efforts is that it's the first large undertaking regarding the CREST API that's been released to the public, and it presents fight data in a clean, easy to understand GUI.

To keep Nullsec from "one upping" them, CCP showed what they could do with the same information, and released the Battlespace Simulator XI.

Both applications show essentially the same information, which is a replay of a fight between two sides, what ships they flew, their positions, their negative effects, and their health.  They're displayed in slightly different ways, but that is largely just an aesthetic difference that doesn't really matter in the end.

So what's so great about this?  Well, CCP has stated that they'd like to release this information after the tournament is over in a more permanent state, and that they even plan to release it for DUST 514 usage. In its current state, the data is in basically real time.  What that means is that if you're watching one of these web applications that's linked to a live match, you see what's going on almost as fast as it happens. Of course, EVE being EVE, this would be too powerful, if released into the wild.  But it could be an amazing tool, nonetheless, and exploitation free.

When someone streams EVE on Twitch, a delay is almost always in effect.  If it weren't delayed, people would use that live, up-to-date information as an intelligence tool, and who can blame them?  The same principle can be applied to this battle API, as we'll call it.  If it had a sizable delay, just a few minutes would be fine, in fact, the information would be worthless as a live intel tool, but would still be invaluable for analyzing later.

Every single person in EVE that is concerned with PvP could benefit from it. Whether you're a solo pilot, a group of friends who are flying in assault frigates, or a major corporation/alliance, being able to analyze fights in such detail could be critical to improving and adapting.  The data collection itself can't be very taxing, certainly less so than trying to FRAPs everything (look, another 2GB file from my last 30 second recording!).

Right now the graphical quality is very barren, which is fine, don't get me wrong.  But imagine the future where a fully realized battle can be replayed later - not only would the quality of pilots increase, but the opportunities for budding EVE movie makers would explode!

Of course, CCP has to be extremely careful about the information they release, and they're unsurprisingly keeping this battle API very close to their chest, but now that in-depth, complex apps are starting to appear from the community, it will only be a matter of time before CCP is more comfortable with taking the next step. And what a glorious step it could be.
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August 2, 2013

What Would the Fall of CVA Mean for EVE?

It's no secret that CVA is in the midst of a civil war right now. Formed in November 30, 2004, by a group known for (among other things) being roleplayers, CVA is one of the oldest alliances in EVE's history.  Very few alliances that formed in 2004 are still kicking today, especially in the context that CVA is.  CVA reminds me a little of Israel in many ways.  The land they occupy has no great economic value (Providence), yet is a hotbed of small battles, and is inhabited by peoples from many different backgrounds.  They've also both survived, inexplicably, when opposed by much larger enemies.  Somehow, CVA has managed to survive many close calls, and they always manage to rise from the ashes.

But what if they didn't?  CVA is not only unique for its longevity and history, but it is also one of the last areas that live by the Not Red Don't Shoot rules of engagement.  This makes Providence very newbie friendly.  Anyone who doesn't have a bad history with CVA can come through the area freely.  For new players, this means that Providence represents a great place to try nullsec for the first time.  If CVA didn't exist, would the NRDS policy and neutral-friendly lifestyle survive?

The war has only begun so far, consisting of two major fights: a nearly 300-man CVA fleet which attacked Of Sound Mind station, and then a 400 man fight over the same station on August 2nd, EVE time.  CVA easily reinforced the station the first time, but were pretty soundly defeated when they came back.   Quite a few third-part organizations came to 4B to be involved that may not have been expected, such as TEST, Dirt Nap Squad, Brave Newbies, and us, Noir. Mercenary Group.

Credit: JayneF
As I mentioned, CVA has survived many battles and wars that could have ended them, through which they persevered.  But let's imagine that this war with SOUND proves to be the end for them.  Let's imagine that the war turns uglier and lasts longer than anyone had anticipated, what was thought to be a quick purge turns into a slug fest that lasts months and months.  A civil war that started over a neutral ship being shot at (which is against the NRDS policy we spoke of), turns into a war in which every fight has neutrals show up, sometimes they shoot at you, sometimes they don't.  Will the common man in CVA become disgruntled at a ROE they view shackles them?

I doubt that CVA would fall from pure military action alone.  They've been there before, they know how to armor themselves against that, to weather the storm.  But if dissent were to become so high among the grunts of the alliance, fighting a long, drawn-out war over one Omen and began to leave the ranks? Certainly that could be damaging enough to CVA to allow for a hostile take over.  And without a unified alliance, it may be a one-two punch that they can't recover from.

 CVA is precisely the type of thing CCP loves to proclaim: an alliance that forged its own path, creating an entire culture out of nothing.   If they were gone, totally and irrevocably removed from Providence - along with their policies regarding neutrals - I think EVE would lose a valuable resource for new players. Outside of CVA, I don't see a place for the NRDS ROE.  The friendly, inviting nature of Providence would be gone.

Providence would likely become a fractured region with CVA out of the picture. The map would be in a constant state of flux, and it'd be ripe for any large alliance that would want to move in (although it's unlikely anyone would. Well, maybe TEST will continue to be pushed across the map and move in!) It'd likely still retain its overall feeling for those of us who used Providence as a hunting ground. That is to say, Providence would almost certainly remain an area that people go to when they're looking for a fight. But without the large intel channels, it'd be easier to move through.  And although unlikely, it'd be interesting if pirates moved back in, bringing Providence full circle to its origins.

In any case, if CVA were removed from Providence, the ones most effected would be the new players, without a doubt.  While there are still many groups that are newbie friendly and provide experiences in nullsec (Brave Newbies Inc., EVE University, TEST, just to barely scratch the surface), CVA allowed new players to come in, live in nullsec as long as they wished, and be safe from any hostiles while they were there.  They didn't have to join any particular group, pay any fee for staying there, or commit to some sort of defense organization.  They could come and go as they pleased.  If, in CVA's place, a half dozen feuding corporations moved into Providence, the freedom of movement currently offered wouldn't be an option any longer, and it would add a barrier to people who enjoy not being tied down, but having open access to an entire nullsec region.

There's no doubt that with CVA gone, EVE as we know it would be different. Would it be better or worse overall? Well, personally I'd be sad, but I'm a romantic.  Besides, in EVE, one can't be afraid of a little change. Right?
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July 30, 2013

Can Anything Stop the CFC?

Now that the Fountain war is all but over, TEST has decided to pull back to Delve, and 6VDT is behind us, I look to the future.  But I'm not sure it's very bright.

For as long as they've both been around, the HBC and CFC have had a quasi stalemate, neither organization making or attempting to make any all out assaults.  That all changed once TEST left HBC and Odyssey rolled out, of course.  We're all
well aware of the current events in EVE right now, so let's not dwell on that too much. Instead, let's speculate on what these recent events may foretell for the future of EVE.

According to Dotlan, TEST alliance is still the second largest alliance as far as sovereignty, as far as outposts go.  They lead the members list by a pretty decent margin, too.  So how is it that CFC was able to roll through a slightly larger force relatively easily?  Well, finances, for one.  A lot has been spoken on TESTS financial state recently, so we won't dwell on that much either.  In fact, TEST probably won't be mentioned much more from here on out.  I just wanted to make a comparison between the strengths of TEST and CFC, at least on paper.  Now we'll talk about what that means for the Goons.

If Goonswarm & Co. can take on the largest single alliance, crippling and marginalizing their existence in a few months, is there any hope for any other alliance?  Granted, at this point there doesn't seem to be any real reason for CFC to launch another offensive anywhere else in the galaxy, but what if there was?  What if another alliance, equal to the strength of TEST (or maybe even larger), held something of value to CFC?  Could they ever hope to hold it?

Purely from recent events, I'd say no.  The logistical strength accompanied with the numbers and activity of CFC seem to be too strong for any real opposition to rise up against them.  An organization would have to appear overnight that is immediately as powerful as the CFC to have a chance; they'd squash any rising powers that they viewed as a threat before they could actually become a threat.

Now, personally, I'd love for nullsec to be a fractured environment, dozens of equally small entities fighting tooth and nail over valuable resources.  But I think nullsec organizations are a lot like the mafia: they're ready to fight, ready to kill, but they'd rather split the profits and have peace if it means the Dons can still rake in the money with little real threat.  I don't know if there's ever a way that nullsec groups will not gravitate towards a unified front, trying to deflect any potential dangers to their income stream.

But even if they all group together, how could they possibly resist the CFC?
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July 28, 2013

What is the True Measure of a Mercenary's Worth?

I'm sure many of you are aware that Poetic Stanziel wrote a "humorous" blog comparing Noir. Mercenary Group to one man in Gallente faction warfare.  He claims that Noir.'s high cost to hire is not worth it since one man can wrack up more kills in faction warfare during 30 days than the entire Noir. Mercenary Group alliance can in three weeks.  Clearly this is a straw man argument.  But, some people may genuinely wonder why Noir. Mercenary Group can consistently charge large amounts of ISK for a contracted service.  Well, let's see.

Let's start first by focusing on Delve, the location of the most recent NMG contract.

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July 26, 2013

Education Overload

When I first volunteered to help Noir. Academy, we had just lost the CEO.  I originally only offered to help with recruitment, that is to say I volunteered to interview applicants and post the results.  I didn't feel I had time to do the actual training; the schedule took a lot of work and effort to maintain.  Despite only offering to lend a hand in the most simple of ways, I was soon tapped to become the replacement CEO.  Quite a far cry from bottom rung helper.  That really didn't bother me, though. I had just started this new gig where I was being paid $9/hour to play ARMA 3.  I only did 20 hours a week, which was enough to pay my bills and rent and stuff.  Pretty sweet, right?

So even though I quite unexpectedly found myself in a position to play EVE a lot I was still wary of that schedule that was already in place.  At this point, we had gone through three CEOs.  Nidia Masters was the first, helping get the program running.  He was there for the longest, too.  Next was Cass Dyson.  He was in charge for a little less than a year.  And lastly there was Linetel, who I replaced.  He also was in the CEO position for around a year.  The program had changed a lot since Nidia was the CEO.  It was a one month program back then, the program I went through.  It had evolved, turning into a longer, more in-depth program over the years, which I felt was good.  But like I said, I was wary of the overhead that was required of leadership to keep the program running smoothly.  There was a different event set six days out of every seven that had to be planned, initiated, run, and recorded; there were quizzes that had to be written, graded, and recorded;  there were contracts that had to be planned, coordinated, run, and recorded.  No wonder so many people had burned out before me.

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July 25, 2013

Commitment Problems

Ever since I first realized that people blogged about games I was interested in doing the same.  For me, it started with Warhammer Online, which was also my first real MMO that I got personally involved in.  I led a fairly successful, well known, and respected guild that focused on the high-end PvP.  We weren't as big or strong or have as much weight to throw around as a few of the others, but we were definitely up there.  I tried to blog once a week concerning that game, but I didn't keep it up for long.

Fast forward a few years and I've finally been involved with EVE Online like never before.  I'm logging in a lot, I'm really enjoying it, I'm understanding what's going on, finally.  So, I figure I'll start blogging again.  This was back when I was a pirate (back when people thought pirates were still a viable career path), and I figured I'd have a lot to talk about.  What an adorable newb I was.  In reality, my pirate corporation didn't do much more than gate camp hours on end with no action.  I wrote a few blogs before my interest waned.

Another few years fast forward.  I'm watching the Alliance Panel at the 2011 Fanfest.  I see Alekseyev talking about Noir. Academy.  I had just resubbed a month or two earlier, but saw myself already falling into the same downward spiral I entered every time I tried EVE.  So I joined, hoping it could save me, and sure enough it did.  Renewed and reinvigorated, I tried blogging again.  No luck.

A year or so later I left Noir., not excited about the direction the corp was heading in terms of its alliance choices, and joined faction warfare.  Many members in my corporation blogged, so I thought I'd try my hand, too.  I posted a few times, but found faction warfare boring.  I rejoined Noir. just as we were leaving Black Legion, which was my main issue when I left.  Since my most recent blog, this one, was for faction warfare, it quickly fell unused again.

Well, here I am again.  The blog is going to focus mainly on my thoughts as the CEO of Noir. Academy, the program that got me, finally, heavily invested in EVE in all its glory, frustration, and joy.  I've been the CEO of Noir. Academy for about five and a half months now, and I've definitely learned a lot.  Maybe this is the position I've needed to be in to be able to blog efficiently, just as I needed to be a part of Noir. to play efficiently?

We'll find out together.
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