Wednesday, 26 October 2016

An entry into this year's Pod and Planet, the foremost Eve writing competition.

Find out more about it, here.

This piece is an entry into the "Other Things Just Make You Swear and Curse", though I have perhaps taken the name a little too literally...

Enjoy!  ;)

Legacy and Watchwords

Neath the hellish light, one dying thing judged another. The last gasps of the sun lit the laboratory like dying fire; their yellowed skins and blackened veins cast in sharp relief.

“You cannot stop it, Sheeyt” said the second. “It is untameable, like them. They will spread it, themselves, wherever they tread.”

“Impossible,” muttered the first Jove. “We made it, together, we controlled it, we can stop it!”  He thrust hysterically at a haptic keyboard, limited to unfamiliar analogue commands by fearsome protections, now bypassed.

“I am not so reduced as to give you that chance,” announced the second. “It is out there now, and they shall be forever afflicted with it. It will become their legacy and their watchwords.”

Sheeyt accessed long buried code, wreaking chaos tens of light years distant, as he shut down star gates and fluid routers, micro-networks and soft, wetware repositories. He was outpaced, out-thought, out-pathed at every turn.  It was fruitless.

 The shivering Jove thumbed off the haptic interface and turned. “How could you be so stupid? You know what danger it was, to us and them.”

“Oh, I knew. Why do you think I released it? It will make them exactly what we feared they would become.” It gave a hollow, stilted chuckle. “I was always watching you, brother, stumbling into barriers I stepped over, even as we collaborated. You’re still stumbling.”

“Not so stumbling. You released but the weakest of them. My protections held. Why not the Mon, or Py—?“

“Because they’re so slow, like you always were. This will never be caught or tamed. It will live, eternal, within them and their souls.”

The typist slumped into the chair, muttering the distasteful words, “You’re right. Can it be mitigated? Can they be protected?”

“Hah! Never. You remember what we did; the distributed AI, the micro-gene adaptors? Your finest hour, my tube mate. ” The second’s face stretched and contorted into a smile. “It will remove their soft hearts. It will extract their souls. It will make them masters of numbers and bearers of might. They will become obsessive, inane, insane things. It will be”, he sighed, “perfect.”

“You’re feeling it now, aren’t you, Sheeyt?” he continued. “The rush of inevitability, the pressure behind your heart. Unfamiliar, painful, aren’t they? No wonders the oldest of us cast them away.”
Sheeyt rocked back and forth slowly, rubbing at its chest. He breathed in pained gasps, air jerked in and out by his lungs. Above him, the diagram showed the virus spreading into space, system by system, gate by gate.

“That slow drip realisation of truth, they call acceptance; the too-fast throb of your heart and the thumping in your ears, they call anxiety. Did you know that this…emotion will kill you? Your heart will beat too fast, your blood pressure will spike. You will go into shock, and you will die. In the Shrouded Days, we gained much, but lost more.

“A small price to pay for such glories and such space as was ours, I think.”

With that, the second, older Jove rose slowly from the chair and limped towards the exit. Behind him, the first Jove wept, black tears leaking from dimmed eyes. The retreating Jove turned at the sound and raised one hairless eyebrow.

“Really?” He frowned, “You never even had a chance, oh ignorant brother. The first rule of E.V.E, an Ex-cell virus? It spreads, Sheeyt, in space.”



Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Blog Banter #74: The Most Important Reveal at Fanfest Was......

So when this Blog Banter goes live Fanfest will be over. Hungover geeks from around the world will be departing Reykjavik after a five-day binge of important internet spaceships and partying. Whether you were there in person, watched the streams or read the dev blogs on your mobile hidden under your work desk there was probably something in there that gave you a "nerd-boner". What for you personally was the most important thing to come out of Fanfest 2016?
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If the last post was the nice response, this is the nasty one. If you don’t want to read angry/whining/rude posts, please don’t.

This is your warning.

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So, I’ve been staring at this blank page for the last 2 days. I couldn’t find a way to describe my problems with the Fanfest. I have, at last, succeeded.

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A Blog Banter of two halves…

I have a question for those of you who watched/attended Fanfest.

What new content/development for Eve was announced?

I’ll give you a moment. It took me some time too.
Got your list ready?
Yeah, a bit bloody short, isn’t it?

For those of us who didn’t watch or attend, here’s the answer:

CCP announced only two three new pieces of content for Eve at Fanfest: 

1) Faction Capitals

2) CCP Ghost’s announcement cum TEDtalk cum statement of intent. 1

(Careful reading of multiple blogs has led me to discover that CCP did announce another thing)

3)A mining barge rework (details vague and undefined)

Sometimes it’s hard to say why you’re uneasy. It might be the attitude of the waiter, the decoration, or the other customers. Maybe it’s the stench of excrement that’s wafting from the kitchen. All you know is, something’s wrong.

And so I found myself after Fanfest. Initial hype (Wow, NASA) and initial pessimism (RIP Moonmining, RIP Titan safety) had passed, and yet I was still troubled. Unlike last year, which brought us the fantastic “Emergent Threats” trailer, the stunning initial concept art for Structures, and so many other things, this year brought 3 Faction Capitals, a guy with an impossible brain, a mining barge overhaul and a boat load of “Like we said, we’ll be doing this”.

Let me get into that, actually. A fitting name for this Fanfest would be “Confirmation Central”. We got all of the following confirmed: AoE links, capital changes, all of the new structures, new taxes and, most importantly the long-awaited Rorqual rework!3

But almost nothing new.

This attitude wasn’t just limited to Eve content. Many of the previously “Must Watch” fanfest sessions were reduced to question-and-answer-only, and what had previously been a exploration of CCP’s war against the black art of RMT-ing2  was completely absent.  I am reliably informed by multiple blog posts and player reports that most of the round tables were 100% similar to this, which is a change from the “looking for feedback” attitude roundtables are meant to espouse.

This absence of substance wasn't a short term thing: CCP’s “the players are everything” approach could be seen in the dearth of substantive CCP presentations and the explosion of player presentations. If, as Nosy pondered, CCP likes player presentations because they learn things from them, I'm not sure whether to be worried or pleased. If it’s just because CCP has given up, I know it’s the former.

All of this leads me to my final issue. I’ll define it with two quotes:

“CCP Seagull trotted out the same graphic, again, and everyone cheered, again”

“I’m pleased to gather that we’re now on a stylised double helix instead of four parallel lines”

The march of progress along an undefined route to an undefined timeframe continues apace. Progress is apparently being made, but we have neither the ability to measure it, nor the ability to disrupt it.  We, the blind, have only the guide, who tells us “just a little further to go, just a little more”.

One wonders what we don’t see.

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I was going to talk about Neville Smit’s “Occupy New Eden”, but it deserves its own post, which will come…soon™.

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1 CCP’s now caught up to a ~2013 blog banter. Once again, the players beat the developers by many, many months.
2 Whether that’s because CCP doesn’t want to step on their best story for many years (Lucas Kell's CCP = RMT theory), or because Team Security is just not doing much, we don’t know.
3 As this was announced (?) in the CSM minutes, I wasn't sure to include it as a new thing. 

Friday, 29 April 2016

Blog Banter #74: The Most Important Reveal at Fanfest Was......

So when this Blog Banter goes live Fanfest will be over. Hungover geeks from around the world will be departing Reykjavik after a five-day binge of important internet spaceships and partying. Whether you were there in person, watched the streams or read the dev blogs on your mobile hidden under your work desk there was probably something in there that gave you a "nerd-boner". What for you personally was the most important thing to come out of Fanfest 2016?
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A Blog Banter of two halves…

Sometimes there are unwritten subtexts to tasks or challenges you receive, and in the case of this blog banter, I think there’s two rather important words which are missing:

“What for you personally was the most important thing to come out of Fanfest 2016 from CCP?"

However, since you didn’t specify, I am free, FREE to write whatever I wish.
MUWHAHHAAHAHHAHAHAH!!

*Delusions of grandeur intensify*

Now, if there’s one thing that unites Eve nerds, it has to be space. For all of us, it seems that the void beyond our planet holds a certain undefinable attraction. Some of us will have had the luck to watch the moon landing as they happened, but most of us will have dealt with the static’d video and tinny audio. Even so, that had my school friends and I at rapt attention for the entire length of the video.

And so it was with the excellent presentation by Max Singularity, entitled “NASA - There is no lull”. I joined five thousand players in the Twitch chat, and three or so hundred living humans to be blown away by a presentation of unmatched awesomeness. Let me say, if Twitch chat had a “nerd-boner”, this was “nerd-Viagra

From rocket engines to rocket design, from space exploration to space exploitation, this was a presentation that proved NASA’s various departments deserved their hard earned tax dollars. Even better was the boundless enthusiasm of the presenter and actual rocket scientist, Charles White.

Whilst I can’t imagine what it would be like to be one of the lucky, lucky few who have the privilege of working on real spaceships, I do know that I had to consult my online doctor for a medical emergency which lasted more than 4 hours.

Watch his brilliant presentation here:



Note, the YouTube video does him a disservice, and I recommend you watch it on the twitch channel, where Max/Charles’ enthusiasm is even more obvious. It's Day 1, around 7 hours in.

Let’s get ready for Orion 1 in November 2018. I can’t wait.


Friday, 10 April 2015

Blog Banter #63 - Customization

The alarms howled in his ears, warning lights flashed dizzily before him. Space whirled about him as the camera drones grasped at the reality of what just happened. He willed himself to warp again, no luck, they had him scrammed. The hull integrity warning bayed again, fraying his already taught nerves. He knew this had been a mistake.

Was there anything he could do? A glance showed the answer. No. Everything was burned out, or close to it. He grasped the engine with a thought, and hauled it all the way to 0. No point in risking a misunderstanding.

An invitation hung in the space before him, pulsing slowly. It was from the traitor. He sighed, reached out, and was pulled into the channel. As the screen resolved itself, a cloud of Hobgoblins passed by, trailing the Vexor that now held him tight. He cursed himself again, bemoaning his foolishness. How had it come to this…?


It was the announcement that had divided them, pitting ally against ally. Of course, there had been bitterness before that, blue on blue incidents, but never anything like this. All from a few simple words, spoken by an insignificant face on a vid­-screen. They echoed in his mind, “Formalisation of ownership”…”Ratification of a de-facto truth”. Anyone could see what it meant, well, any capsuleer. The empires were losing their grip. He just hadn’t expected it to go this far…

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Yes, I’m going there, Nails are by the door, planks on the right. If you want to crucify me, make it quick…

It’s the post you've all been waiting for, the one, the only, the “Low-sec is just null-sec-lite” post.

I'm kidding. Lay the pitchforks down, don’t you know that jumping to conclusions requires getting out of your pods…

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(Content starts here)

Blog banters are all about thinking big, imagining a greater future. This is my first post, so I don’t know if I will quite reach the heights that others may cruise at, but I’ll try. I welcome any and all comments, even if they’re just pointing out my spelling and grammar mistakes. Here goes.

(Deep breath)

Low Security space is the red-haired step child of Eve, to quote various bloggers. It suffers from being neither vocal nor populous. We that live here are hardly the largest, or the most notable players of this game. In fact, I cannot recall any ‘outside the bubble’ news that focuses on the actions of people in low sec. Sometimes I feel that it is only through the actions of heroic CSMs like Sugar Kyle that CCP is reminded we exist.

Low Sec, in general, is a free-form environment. Excepting Faction Warfare, Low Sec space is neither defined nor limited by CCP intervention. Borrowing (badly) from Sony, Low Sec is ‘By the Players, For the Players’. Reputation is king, master and commander. When people whisper in channel about the dangers of Low Sec, they don’t speak of NPCs, environmental challenges or game mechanics, they talk about us, the inhabitants.

Some of you will have heard of Aeschee, the home of Shadow Cartel, who hold planets in their grasp, others, of Egglehende, where Dirt ‘n’ Glitter dominate the warzone. There are few systems in EvE that have the same name recognition as Rancer or Old Man Star.

Perhaps you’ve heard of The Tuskers, a group of pirates, or Stay Frosty, a group of pirates. Players too are famous names, notorious pod-killers or solo-ers. There aren't many people I know who haven’t died to Santo, Mystical Might or to Piir8.

So here’s what I dream of: Let us make this reputation a real thing. I want to let people know:

 Here I am.

 This is mine.

 Take it from me, if you dare…