January 20, 2015

Gearing Up and Moving Out

My alliance has been buzzing with activity lately, and it's definitely wearing off on me! We had an alliance meeting on Sunday and directly after that I took the initiative and created a channel in our Slack for developers. A lot of alliances have this, and honestly doing this is just us playing catch up. Regardless, it was nice to finally have.

I've taken on the responsibility of managing director, so to speak. I'm coordinating all the projects we've now started to make sure they integrate effectively with one another and to keep each developer on task. This is the kind of stuff I really enjoy, so I'm having a blast setting it all up and pointing each guy in the right direction.

As you can expect, initially the group was all over the place with wild ideas of what they would do and what they wanted to do. In the end, I've focused everyone's work onto a handful of things which we've desperately needed for a while but have been able to make due without. It would have eventually caught up with us, so it's good that we're finally working on these things. Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, we're getting a modern authorization service set up to manage all our tools. We're creating a contract payment calculator that will ensure as fair a payout method as possible. We're also working on a new killboard that will work with our payment calculator as well as adding the ability to add a pilot to a kill as a scout or logistics. I'm also trying to get a website made still, but we really just don't seem to have any experienced web developers, so it's a struggle. I hope to be able to write more about this website soon, but I don't want to reveal my hand too early. It's a big project and I can't rush it. It has to be just right!

We've still got a long way to go, I'm sure, and I don't know if we're going to be able to use the current auth services that are out there or not, but it's really nice to see us beginning to move into this type of coordinated era.

More importantly, the alliance is deploying for the first of a series of upcoming contracts. This one is going to be a pretty standard event, but it's always nice to get out there and do some work. Obviously I'll write more about this once it's over.

The second one is going to be a lot more fun. Clearly I can't say anything now, but this is going to be an awesome contract. It's an amazing contract type, one of my favorites in fact, and it's in a really promising area. I can't wait for this one to start, and I'm sure I'm going to have a lot of really great stories to tell from it.

Of course, the moving part of deployment is annoying these days. It takes a long time to get everything done, and we can't carry nearly as much as we used to. But as I've said before, it's a price I'll happily pay for living in a post-Phoebe universe. Having a carrier of my own makes this much easier. Our deployment loadout for a single pilot almost fills up a single carrier, so it's quite a task to get ships out there for the guys who don't have carriers yet. I've been trying to brainstorm interesting ideas for moving ships that isn't overpowered, but there's really no easy solution to that problem, and I honestly don't believe there is a solution. Moving a lot of ships rapidly is overpowered, and despite how much I may complain, I'm really happy to struggle through our deployments.
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January 12, 2015

Diplomacy is Awesome!

Noir. Academy had perhaps its first real diplomacy issue since its inception. Woops. You see, what had happened was . . . well, first let me back up and go over how students in Nior. Academy progress through our system.

Noir. Academy has, of course, joined Of Sound Mind alliance as part of HERO. As I've stated before, this decision was made for a handful of reasons, among them the fact that when Noir. Academy was permanently deployed with Noir., students had less incentive to graduate. Secondly, this gives them a great area for content without having to rely on instructors all the time, who may be busy on contracts. Students stay with Of Sound Mind for the first two of the three stages in the program.

Once they progress into the third stage, they deploy with Noir. wherever we are. They remain in Noir. Academy however. We brainstormed ideas of what to do with stage three students previously, but came to the conclusion that it would be too much trouble for the short time a student spends in stage three to make big changes. It'd be easier to leave them in Noir. Academy, and the risk would be very low.

Well, that pretty much turned out to be true, but it did finally catch up with us. Two of our stage three students joined a going away fleet for one of our alliance friends who is leaving EVE to join the army. The fleet was made up of about 150 or so people comprising of Suddenly Spaceships, No Holes Barred, and many others. It started out in Providence, but moved over to Catch, at which point it ran into a HERO fleet. Of course, the two Noir. Academy students were blue to the fleet and were more than certainly ignored by HERO.

I talked with the students afterwards and they confided in me that they felt pressured to perform in front of fellow Noir. pilots. I reminded them in no uncertain terms that what they did was against our rules, against Of Sound Mind's rules, and made us look bad. In short, it was an absolutely stupid call to make and they should have known better.

After putting out some fires thanks to Sovereign Apocalypse, one of my full-time instructors, and the directors from Of Sound Mind, I decided to remove the two students from Noir. Academy immediately, have each of them pay 1/3 of the costs that HERO was asking for in reimbursements, and submit apologies to myself, Sovereign Apocalypse, June Ting, and their fellow corporation mates. By this point, I think that they began to understand the gravitas of their actions. I hope that this event will be the spark that ignites some changes to how our stage three students are handled; I certainly don't want a repeat of this situation in the future!

Outside of the game, I've had one interview with Cap Stable which should be published soon, as well as finishing up Marc Scaurus' lowsec questionnaire. The CSM season is heating up now that the holidays are over, and I look forward to the next couple of months!

If any of you have any questions for me, I'd love to speak with you by the way. You can send me any questions or comments via my CSM thread, my email (psianhauvyander@gmail.com), Twitter, EVEMail, or even here on my blog!
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January 11, 2015

Where Have All the Objectives Gone?

Look at all the objectives!
I've been thinking about writing this topic for a while now, and after having it brought up on the CSM X interview I did with Cap Stable, I figured now was the time. As you can see, I've obviously been playing so much Arma lately that even my EVE posts are being influenced by them! No, that's not a bad thing.

On Cap Stable, we were talking about my experiences as the CEO of Noir. Academy and how it had enlightened me over the years, specifically about how new players treat or think about what you might consider "high level" PvP. When a new player asks for advice on how to get started with PvP, the answer is so often to buy 100 frigates and go lose them. And that's honestly good advice in some ways. There are aspects of the game that a new player won't learn without doing. You can read about slingshotting, but after consuming all the articles out there, you'll probably still fail on your first couple of tries. But for me, and I think many others, it takes more than the gameplay itself to keep one interested.

It's often said that EVE has some very . . . let's say special mechanics. The gameplay itself is often not intriguing or interesting. That's especially true for things like corporation management (meaning in the game, utilizing the corporation tab), POS management - or any type of management really. But it's also said quite a bit about the combat. It's not a terribly interesting area of the game for many people. I enjoy it personally; I enjoy being able to read the overview and understanding the battlefield, of keeping tabs on a couple of scouts and understanding where the enemy is moving to and for. That's fun for me, and that fun exists solely within the battle - there aren't any outside variables that enhance that enjoyment. But I fear that most new players don't see that fun when they take their 100 frigates out. They're learning important mechanics, yes, but if they're not enjoying it, then they won't stay around.

For myself, if the only enjoyment of PvP was found in the fight, I probably wouldn't be as involved or have stayed a player for so long. Instead, the  Fight Joy (shall we call it?) has to be coupled with something more, something bigger than the fight itself, something more permanent. Objectives. Of course, for me as a mercenary, my objectives are the contracts. A fight has a place inside of that contract, winning it increases our chances of completing the contract successfully. Losing it means that we have to work harder.

Obviously there are an innumerable amount of objectives out there for people. Not all objectives even have to relate to PvP. And of course not all pilots are going to be concerned with objectives. Some people do truly play for Fight Joy and don't care about the extraneous. What's so interesting to me about Objectives, however, is that Fight Joy can be found within an Objective without considering the Objective. That is to say, someone who cares about Objectives, like me, can coexist in perfect harmony with someone who only cares about Fight Joy. We can both fly in the same fleets, shoot the same targets, and partake in the same Fight Joy and come away from the experience both loving EVE.

But someone who isn't like me, someone who perhaps does enjoy Objectives but not Fight Joy would be hard pressed to stick around if they're thrown into pure Fight Joy situations with no direction, no Objectives. As older, more experienced players part of our duty should be to encourage new players to undock time and time again, learning by doing, but also ensuring that those who need it have the objectives to focus on. So next time you give a new player some advice, think of the Objective too.
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