Monday, February 25, 2013

SCL wrap up

This weekend saw the first (mostly) player run Eve Online tournament, the first month of the SCL. I did a little coverage on this event as it started up on Saturday, but honestly I wasn't expecting such a quality event.

Sure the commentators weren't 100% every time, but then I don't expect them to be. Yes, there were delays, both on the stream, the 7 second UI delay for one, or cutting to the repetitive ads before commentators finished talking, a by-product of clicking the "advert" button without accounting for the lag. Here's a tip for the SCL guys, three seconds of dead time allows all commentary to finish around the worth, but you press that "start adverts" button and that happens instantly. Sorry side tracked by the small things...

Yes there were scheduling delays in the macro sense, ie the hour long delay the start of the second day along with matches being delayed while things were worked out.

All that crap, forgotten. The quality of the event not only showed that the idea of competitive play in Eve is possible, it works great. Let me cover the winning formula.

  1. Great teams of competitors. Pulling from the best in Eve, I'm sure there are other great competitors out there, but the ones that were present were showing off the skill of flying in a match as well as the meta surrounding practicing, fits and counter fits.
  2. Knowledgeable staff, in both the Eve knowledgeable sense, but also technically savvy, experienced in streaming, experienced with the tourney.
  3. Huge, amazing, stunning support from CCP Fozzie (more on this later).
  4. Solid backing, in this case done by Eve-Bet, Monocle Madness and Somer Blink.
  5. Good prize pool, contributed by the above sponsors for the players
  6. Great in-event competitions for the watchers, both in the Eve chat channels, the SCL stream chat and other venues, like the Monocle Madness in game chat, and probably others, I'm sure the eve bet channel and the Somer channels were just as active as the MM channel.
  7. Interim music - Even the music was good. Sure it wasn't exactly what I would have chosen to pass the time, as I was trying to solo pvp during the breaks, but still good stuff. Thanks to Pretty Lights for the music!
  8. Three match format, forcing more than just a single win to determine the course of the tourney. Adds to the enjoyment, even adds to the drama. Reduces the chances of a miraculous finish like the Thorax rush, or the Rote Kapelle win against PL, but I think the trade off is worth it.
If you missed any of the action the replays are all parsed out, and up for review on twitch here.

My favorite matches :
  • The marathon of matches for Insurance Fraud, Match 11 round 1 through Match 12 round 3. Some crazy back and forth matches there, just amazing that IF was able to come back after matches of that calibre again and again. Impressive stamina.
  • Just about all of the Exodunks. matches - Match 3 Match 6 Match 7 Match 13 and Match 14
  • Matches by Warlords were just an effort in dominance. Very impressive.
Congrats to Warlords of the Deep, winners of month 1 of the SCL! exciting to the last drop.

Now here are a few things I would suggest to make the event better in March.
  1. More commentators. By the final matches the few that were available were burnt out, hoarse, and emotionally drained. They did great, but more "talent" in the pool would only help the situation.
  2. More resources behind the scenes. Both for the AMAZING CCP Fozzie who not only worked a weekend without pay, BUT ALSO worked the event through the night, while sick (uphill both ways, naked, while in a white out blizzard). No shit, this guy is amazing. I know he reads this blog occasionally, Fozzie, you seriously blow my mind with this kind of work. Even if nobody else realizes it your dedication to events like this is why Eve and esports will only get better. Thank you! If you didn't know, you are my favorite Dev, SORRY PUNK!
  3. Player resources behind the scene for SCL, in the form of guys on Twitter, taking over when the matches end to update the site and do some number crunching, update the site in more real-time.
  4. Better community interaction. By better I just mean more-of. More interviews, more fansite/blog previews of the teams. Getting community buy in on the teams is super important, but unfortunately it isn's something that a small 300 word blurb about each team can do. I'm talking about a web-page for each team, dedicated coverage, interviews of key members, or strong performers.
  5. Choosing a match MVP, especially for the finals, and single this person out for an after-match interview over skype, or perhaps a little after match gift, of isk or PLEX? Who knows, but individual acknowledgement is always good. And it doesn't have to be the team Captains every time, but they'd be a good start!
  6. More post-match review. Including the tipping point and strategies used. Especially when people show up with non-standard fits that people not in-the-know can understand what those fits could have been useful for.
  7. Mid-month review of the previous month's action. Like a one to two hour show detailing the action of the previous month, having the talking-heads, as it were, speak to the tactics and strategies used and ships used. Talk about the winning team and the tournament in general.
All in all, an amazing first showing, so much better than I was expecting. So much good PvP, great bets (even if I lost all my iskies). Bacchanalian posted up a great summary on the Eve forums from his perspective, that is well worth the read as well, and can be found here...

Great show guys. I look forward to next month! I will post dates and times as soon as I know them.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Syndicate CL!

I've seen some chatter about this, but not nearly enough! Even a dev focus blog isn't enough!

Last year a few Syndicate residents took up the challenge of setting up and organizing the "Syndicate Regional Alliance Tournament." A non-CCP sponsored event. This year the same people and some newcomers have taken it to the next level and are launching the first ever Syndicate Competitive League(SCL).

With some Dev support the matches are going to take place on Sisi or Buckingham, the test servers and hopefully also in relatively safe Jove space, outside of the prying forces of regular nullsec. This is pretty critical to any time someone tries to do something like this because the intent to meddle will always be present. With the matches properly isolated ala the AT tourneys it should be good fun, even if it's not on TQ directly.

In any case, the tourney is sponsored by various Eve groups, including notorious establishments like Monocle Madness, Somer Blink, and Eve bet. Monocle madness and Eve bet are both doing per match bets as well as other bets, ie stream going down, etc.

Anyways, back to the SCL, their website is very well put together. It's over here ->

It's setup with information about the teams, the schedule, the rules, and all the other information.

But most importantly, since it starts in just under a half an hour;

Here are the live stream links

Streaming through their website.

On twitch tv.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Corp Security - Part 4 - Post-spai recovery

Eve Online Corporation Security

Part 4

Post-spai post theft recovery

So you've been hit. Despite of or maybe because of your preparations or lack of, your corp has been struck by a corp thief, or has a spai(or more than one), and damage has been done. This post isn't going to be very much ABOUT security, more about how the reaction to the threat or actions of the thief matters.

How much damage, or rather how much the damage is allowed to spread is largely defined by the leadership or leading members of the corp.

One might ask - "Well, how is that possible, they just got away with "X" stuff, or isk, or intel, or ships!"

This is Eve, if every corp gave up after their first theft, there would never be any corp that lasted beyond the 35 person stage of development. FYI "studies" show that most corps will be hit with their first thief between 30-50 users. When the corp is small enough that leadership positions are still easily available, but big enough that strange activities usually get overlooked, and big enough to provide the isk and assets looked for in most thefts.

So in short, almost every corp, despite the precautions taken, WILL BE ROBBED. Sorry, now you can't say, "But LOGAN! I did everything you suggested in your articles and we still got robbed/ganked/spys!!!" It's my obligatory get out of jail free card.

With that said, the reaction of a corp as a whole and most specifically the corp leaders will determine the future course for that corp. Be that straight into the ground OR full recovery. First, a few things must be acknowledged after a theft.
  • You were robbed, it happened and they got away with : Whatever. (this is a prompt to go figure out what exactly they got away with)
  • Admit if mistakes were made. IE ships traded to one player and lots of trust placed in just one person, everyone has a price. Apologize, but don't overly apologize every time it comes up.
  • Do the corp's level best - even if it means having no isk or assets left for the corp - to replace member losses. Happy members stay with the corp and will rebuild it. Keeping the corp assets up won't.
  • Identify the cuprit if possible. If not possible, scale back all member access to the base essentials.
Understand the joining a corp and leaving a corp mechanics. Now I can't say that these will forever be true... but here is some of the stuff I know.

If a corp member has any roles, even if you want to kick them for being a dirty rotten thief, it will still take 24 hours before you can force them to leave the corp, and only IF they dock up and let you kick them out. I'm not sure on the in-space mechanic for kicking people out of a corp anymore, but this used to hold true, the member could stay in space and you could not kick him from corp. Sometimes a petition could be used by nice GM's to remove the offending member even in space.

While the thief remains in corp, Corp chat is pretty much useless, so setting up a new channel and explicitly allowing your corp to join that channel while explicitly blocking that individual (blocks take priority over allows) is the way to go. Alternatively you can setup a new channel and directly invite people in the mean time. Send out a corp mail identifying the thief, labeling them as potentially dangerous.

One common tactic is to corp theft and then jump in a combat ship and locate other corp members on the map, travelling to and killing them if at all possible. Re-iterate this risk to your corp members. If you see him join local, dock or fight.

The 24 hour period can be a good time to get them "back" if at all possible, but it usually isn't. That's not to say you don't want to try, but often times a thief will take your stuff, end up in space and then at their lesure dock up and leave the corp or be kicked.

Once the thief has left the corp;

  • get full API keys, once again, 'account,' not character, from everyone in the corp. This is a matter of course, members who are suddenly unwilling to share their keys or are slow in doing so I would consider suspect.
  • Look at the API's and try to find links between the thief and any current members. Thief's often become more sloppy once they enter the corp, leaving ties between their other alts and themselves in the corp. Scrutinize members who engaged in direct trades with the thief, contracts with them. I said scrutinize, not kick. Explain to them that leadership is worried about more losses of assets.
  • If the thief is blatantly identified, ie they start shooting stuff, make sure his name is advertised and his roles stripped. Send out a corp mail, warn the alliance  do all the smart things you should be doing, don't expect someone else to do them or have already done them.
Be aware that you'll never quite feel safe again. Well, let's be honest, if you ever thought the corp was "safe" in the first place you have problems. The corp should never be considered "safe" because even if you had one thief attack, that doesn't mean that there isn't another one already in your corp waiting for his chance to make a break for it.

Importantly, as a leadership team;
  • Don't give up and walk away
  • Don't 'witch hunt' but as a leader you have to accept that it happened and move on.
  • Take your lump and learn from it. Figure out if the action was avoidable, or unavoidable. Place safeguards on the corp.
  • Follow up with members who lost assets, pay them back, reward loyalty in the corp.
  • maintain vigilance, corp theifs strike, they only really win when their theft causes a storm that brings down the corp behind them.

Friday, February 8, 2013

4 years later...

And I finally hit 100k visits. Well for every other blog this seems to be a special event, but for myself, I dunno, I just feel a bit let down that it took me this long. I guess I should have posted more regularly from the start and I could have expected to get more hits. Thank god there's dedicated bloggers out there other than me, see you at 500k!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Corp Security - Part 3 - The early days (months)

Eve Online Corporation Security

Part 3

The early days of employment

Well your applicants have made it through your rigorous (or not so rigorous) screening and now they are in your corp. Time to give them some access and set them on their way right?

Your corp, while a lot safer if after the steps outlined in part 2, is still never going to be totally safe. Smart and experienced corp thiefs and spy's can get around all current security with minimal work, and avoid or mislead your best recruiters with some effort. Every time you let someone join the corp, you still accept the risks from Part 1, but at least at this point you have weeded out all but the most determined. This usually leaves you free of most AWOXers, low level theif, part time spys, and your petty thief.

Problematically you are left with the worst of all, if you are left with a spy at all. These people either have it out directly for your corp, alliance, or maybe both. Let's see how we can mitigate, or at least continue to make it difficult for them. Remember, the first rule of security is being a harder target than the next guy can save your corp or if you aren't it can doom it. However the reverse is true. Be too strict with your security policy and people will go find somewhere else to play. It's about finding the balance that you are okay with. Where the risk and loss doesn't outweigh the fun of the game.

Let's talk about the "trial" membership tag. Trial/newbie memberships really will determine how a new recruit fits in. If you don't have a Title called "trial" or "initiate" or "noobie" go make one. This title should have zero permissions to anything. It serves as a visible badge for several reasons. First it clearly marks them to the other members of your corp as a new guy. Meaning they can expect to need a little extra help, have no access, etc. Next, It also points them out as kind of a gentle reminder to the rest of the corp. "Hey, this guy is new and doesn't have access to stuff for a reason." Last, it points them out to outside players that just because this trial guy is doing X that doesn't mean the whole corp does. For any value of X, ie smacktalking in local, scamming, etc.

Ideally in the interview process you find out when this player is most often active, and in doing so you can identify a current trusted player to play mentor or at least a supporting role to the new guy. Help them move their crap to the new location, let them know information about voice comms. Get them in on the loop with ops. Explain channels. Explain the Rules of Engagement(RoE). Set them up with good fits, etc.

I'll do ya one better. Create a form letter, in this letter you include corp Forums url, methods of acces, ie how-to create a username and password, Alliance forums (if you have one), it's use and access. Information about the channels used by the corp and what ones the member should join/stay in. Voice comms information, even if they already know it, send it again. Add contacts, like directors, experienced members, places to go for help, ie Eve Mon links, battleclinic, helpful blogs etc. And a short blurb about where the corp is currently, and where it is headed. Include information about the Corp's HQ, ships that the avg member should have, and a reoccurring OPS schedule if you have one.

That seems like a lot of information to hand out in the first email, but it's all information you are most likely going to hand out anyways and if you don't some helpful member of your corp will. But this email really has another motive, it answers all those first timer questions and gives you and the member something to reference.

Okay, that's mostly just procedural, let's get back to security. Don't bandy about information about infrastructure pieces and get your membership out of the habit of doing the same. Just by lurking in channel, a spy can find out hordes of useful information with little to no effort. Things like "our research POS" location, you shouldn't have people broadcasting that information in the clear. People who should know, will, and everyone else can be ignorant. 90% of membership level security resolves down to "loose lips sink ships." In Eve's case, they can sink corps.

The best way to "turn" the risk of a spy is to include them as much as possible in everything that is being done within reason. What I mean is - Mining op going on? ask them specifically to come. Hanging out in chat? ask them to come join you. Be inclusive and friendly. Sure a spy is looking for information, but if you make him enjoy his stay he is less likely (though not by much) to betray you. After all, if they come to spy on you for one corp and then you make being in your corp much more fun, the chances of betrayal becomes much less likely.

The Trial Period

There's a lot of differing opinions here. Some people say 30 days, some 60, others until the member proves themselves "useful" which can be anywhere from a few hours to a few months depending on their definition of useful. Honestly, the time frame doesn't matter. For instance, if I say 30 days, then people will come up with reasons why their standard is better. So let's break it down into sections.

"Until useful" - this is usually the most often used phrase for smaller corps. IE until the person puts skin in the game or proves themselves of-use, or has something useful. This can be as simple as a battle cruiser to help with l4 missions or an Orca or even just a mining barge for corp mining ops. Not only does this not give corp mates a specific time frame to look for, but it also tends to favor the infiltrator who likely has something of use he can put into the game immediately. On the up side, it does allow for faster expansion on a day by day basis as players new to the corp can come in and make a difference quickly. In my opinion it is far to easy a standard to game for an infiltrator. There is rarely a baseline of activity taken and worse, this lends to the practice of giving too much access too quickly to new members.

30 days - This is a fairly common standard. However, how it's actually IMPLEMENTED makes the most difference. There are a lot of corps out there who say they have this policy, and then at the end of 30 days do nothing. IE never review the person, never let them know where they stand. Never review their activity or overall usefulness. This is very risky! Without any review of the player, how can you or the corp address if that player is working in the place they were brought in for, or if they are even still active? How can you tell if they even have met the requirements for passing the trial? Honestly you can't. Did I say passing the trial? yes, there should be standards, possibly not solid standards, but standards with regards to logging in, being active, participating in fleets and with other corp members that a new addition to the corp has to live up to. At the 25-28 day mark members need to be reviewed, activity gauged, see how they are fitting in, see where they are headed. Then another decision has to be made. Are they still a fit for the corp? If yes, then move them up to your next best rank, give them access to t1 mods, or a low level corp hangar. Obviously you want to wait before going buck wild with access even beyond 30 days, but give them some access at this point.

60 days or more - The long end of the stick. Once again the implementation of this can change the entire way it's looked at. I mean honestly, members should always be reviewed and kept an eye on throughout their career. If a member goes inactive for a year, it might just be time to drop them out after all. But I digress. sixty days needs to be handled just right, or the corp has to be so desirable that run of the mill people will be okay with waiting that long to become anything but a trial member. There are ways to limit this kind of burn-out / discouragement before a new members trial finishes, but most of those methods involve using the 30 day trial period methodology and then just following up again at the 60/90/whatever day mark, something that should be done anyways. Once again a review of the new recruit is essential. It's good so that recruiters can take a look and see who's successful and then give them the ability to judge why that person fit is/was successful or why they were not. It also lets the person know that at least for the first part of their stay in a corp they aren't alone, and that they need to work to gain access and not just sit afk until the end of the trial period and hope for full access. Instead people who can't even be active during their trial are removed from the corp at the end of their trial or near to it.

At least monthly the CEO or the recruitment officers should give a kind of state of the corp to the members of the corp. Include people who are passing and failing trials, point out places where the corp is doing well, and what it can do to do better. Messages like these keep everyone in the loop. Later I will go on into explaining what to do when things go south.

Corp Security - Part 4 - Post-spai recovery
Corp Security - Addendum - Errata   (coming soon)