Thursday, February 23, 2012

BB #33 Left Adrift in Space

Blog Banter 33: The Capsuleer Experience

Like mana from Valhalla (yes I know I'm mixing my religious metaphors), the latest Dev Blog by CCP Legion asks questions which make for perfect Blog Bantering. To quote him "...we want to make the first days, weeks and months in EVE enjoyable and not just something ‘you have to plough through in order to get to the good stuff’" and the newly formed Player Experience team will focus on "...where and why people lose interest in EVE...".

"We invite you to pour your heart (or guts) out and tell us what you think is good or bad with the current new player experience and what you think could be done about the problems."

Blargle, yeah that's how this post started. I know I want to write stuff in here, but that was the first thing that came out.
Are those Lasers on your Merlin?
Now more on topic;

I think that we could add the following to greatly improve the new player experience and leave them less "in-the-wind" after the tutorials are completed.

1. The first good step a player should take is to get out of the damn NPC corp as fast as possible. Even if the players end up in corps that aren't really what they want to do, they will make friends, gain confidence and have an audience, a mostly captive audience, to ask each of the one million questions they have about the game. Perhaps what is needed to facilitate this is for CCP to add Corp recruitment tutorial IE "This is how you find your first corp" Making it optional, or have them join to their first corp through the tutorial just to get a taste of the corp recruitment interface, and get them exposed to other active corps and people quickly. This would be a whole new tutorial as it is not covered in the NPE at all.

2. Provide further guidance at the end of the second line tutorial missions, perhaps something like "If you enjoyed this type of this go talk to XXX security agent, or XXX distribution agent or whatever for the appropriate agent type. I think this would be pretty straight forward and send players towards other "like" and nearby agents. For that matter provide more tutorials for game features, ie exact scanning tutorials, not the really basic stuff they have out there now. Or maybe d-scanner tutorials or instructions. This is really just a logical extension of the current tutorials, linking them back into "regular" missions and gameplay by giving the player a next step to take into Eve.

3. Skill tree suggestions in conjunction with #2. IE: If they liked scanning and WH, link the skills they should look at getting, what level they should get those skills to, and warn them about sleeper damage. Just overall provide a basic guideline of skills they should try to focus on to head down the path that interests them, be it PvP or PvE combat, mining, exploration, hauling, or WHATEVER. Give some guidelines in game so that the new player isn't just dropped off at that point and expected to know or learn the ideal skills all for themselves. This would be brand new content, but not terribly difficult to drum up, in fact a ton of blogs already have suggested skills posts that would be great templates to start generating from.

4. Give an advanced PvP tutorial, create a special NPC just for this tutorial. Make it similar to a sleeper frigate, give it sleeper frigate AI, and a 100% chance to web and scram. Teach things in video form like transversal, tackle, optimal range vs falloff. make the advanced PvP tutorial difficult, force new players to die, provide a fully fit high-end frigate just for the mission. Give the player that ship at the outset of the mission and take it back afterwards. Eve if it is a "close, but not quite" simulation of PvP, at least introduce the basics. The would be the truly new and probably difficult addition, it would require a new type of NPC, using of sleeper AI in regular space, and a high difficulty and loss of ships for the player just to get them started in PvP. Even if that start is PvE in nature.

5. Auto-populate the "saved" fittings of new pilots with some "decent" starter fits. name them appropriately, IE for the Caldari line, give a merlin PvE fit, and PvP fit pre-saved, also the same for the Kestrel and Condor, even if they are jus tthe idea of basic tackle, use all tech one, unnamed mods, but have it there ready for the new player. So they can go use these basic setups as a baseline to build new fits off of. They don't even have to be 100 percent correct, but at least something close would be nice. Mining fits for the Bantam, etc etc. Just having some examples is key to letting new players focus on other things at the get go instead of "how do I fit this ship." Instead they can look at the skills suggested in #3 and the baseline fits and be able to try the things they want to. This would just be adding some fits to the tool already in place, just an extra thing that gets initially installed. Easy to remove in game if you are done with/past the starter fits, but it ties in well with #3 to help point players in the right direction initially.

Other bantererz:
Blog Banter: The Capsuleer Experience by Gilbert Hamilton @ Diary of a Garbageman

Improved Mini - BWAHAHAHAH Just Kidding PvP Tutorial by Corelin @ Haberdashers Run Amok

Blog Banter 33 - NPE by Lockefox @ Hell's Librarians

The First Five Minutes by Marc Scaurus @ MALEFACTOR

I Heart Newbies Too by Shalee Lianne @ Living a Lie

"The Capsuleer Experience" by Evehermit @ Evehermit's Blog

Pain by blastradius1 @ Blastrad's Tales

Blog Banter 33 by Drackarn @ Sand, Cider and Spaceships

The Capsuleer Experience by Kody Gloval @ Electronics Evangelist

The Capsuleer Experience by Ender Black @ Pod Goo

That Universe is Mine? by Emergent Patroller

Keeping the (New) Newbies by Ugleb @ Ugleb's Journal

Capsuleer is the Key Word by Mabrick @ Mabrick's Mumblings

Give the new guy a friend by Jac @ Dying in Lowsec (One Hauler at a Time)

More Options by Grimmash @ Warp to Zero

Needs More Cut Scenes by Orea at Notes from New Eden

The Capsuleer Experience by Urziel99 @ Urziel's EVE Chronicle

"So How Was it For you?" by TurAmarth ElRandir @ A CARBON Based Life

The Capsuleer Experience by The Scientist @ A Scientist's Life in Eve

The Capsuleer Experience by Crash @ Obfuscated Reality

How I Became a Capsuleer by Kat Robspierre @ Chasing ISK

Left Adrift in Space by Logan Fyerite @ Eve Opportunist

Thursday, February 16, 2012

SRAT Finals and Wrapup

Last weekend closed out the first Syndicate Regional Alliance tournament. Previously I interviewed Apathetic Brent, but now on to the results of the final weekend.

Unfortunately replays of the fights seem to be few and far between and the killboards are scrambled due to many matches in a short amount of time.

The second weekend allowed previously losing teams to turn their luck around, Groon in particular made a strong comeback after practicing for the week with Rote Kapelle, as neither were able to easily field a second practice team.

  • Match One : Qualifier last match, the two undefeated teams;

Rote Kapelle(STUGH) vs Flying Dangerously (FIGL)
Rote's Sleipnir team battled on a razor edge for this fight for a long time, only managing to pull out a clear win later in the fight.

Replay from Rote Sliepnir, Piloted by Ben Booley

  • Match Two : Losers bracket qualifier.

Clockwork Pineapple(GROON) vs Flatline.
Flatline's second loss here eliminated them from the competition, Groon advances to the semi-finals to face FIGL after getting revenge on their first loss in round one against Flatline.

Flatline. final killboard link here.

  • Match Three : Semi-Final, winner fights Rote Kapelle for the Championship!

Flying Dangerously vs Clockwork Pineapple 
Groon pulls off a solid victory here, knocking FIGL out of the tournament.

FIGL final killboard link here.

  • Match Four : FINAL MATCH

Rote Kapelle vs Clockwork Pineapple

Replay from Rote Sleipnir, piloted by Ben Booley.

Groon overall killboard link here.

Rote Kapelle final killboard link here.

Final standings were:

RK : 4 wins and 0 losses, SRAT Champions

Groon : 3 wins and 2 losses, SRAT Runner-ups

FIGL : 1 win and 2 losses

Flatline : 1 win and 2 losses

Narhwals. : 0 wins and 2 losses

Click here for Ripard's version of the events and commentary identical to what I was going to say in my own wrap-up.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Exclusive Interview with the Mind behind the Syndicate Regional Alliance Tournament

Today I am lucky to have with me Apathetic Brent, Pilot of STIMULUS and Rote Kapelle, organizer of the first Syndicate Regional Alliance Tournament(SRAT). A 'respected' poster on FHC, Brent decided to take his love for the Alliance tournament a step further and organize a multi-alliance, multi-standings, neutral ground, brawl to the death. The double elimination tourney began to take shape, with various Syndicate regional Alliances and near-by neighbors looking to enter the contest

On the weekends of the fourth and Fifth of February the first four matches of the SRAT took place, their outcomes linked here. And last weekend the final matches took place, crowning the first regional Champion, Rote Kapelle. Before we dive into those results, a look at the capsuleer and the struggle of the organization of the first Syndicate Regional Alliance Tournament.

Welcome to Eve-Opportunist Brent, it is a pleasure to have you.

Thank you

What experience do you have in Eve? Give me a bit of a run-down of your eve-history and your AT history.

I started playing EVE in 07 as a carebear.  The bear corp i was in was wardecd by a group and I lost a few ships.  I asked the guy who killed me what to do to start pvping.  He told me to hop in a caracal and sit in a belt in passari.  I think we all know how that story ends.  From there I gained a little bit of experience in a low sec corp before leaving the game for a year.

When I came back, FW was out and I joined that and got my first 500 kills.  Cut my teeth in fcing, which basically just amounted to what not to primary.  I didn’t start learning about the intricacies of FCing until later on in my eve career when I flew under Garmon, Gobbins, and FMercury.  A bunch of us caldari FW guys made an alliance and we were about 100-150 strong.  We moved to Syndicate and started pewing.  The alliance started failing and some of us merged in to Important Internet Spaceship League.  This was before all they cared about was sov.  This was back when they were still decent.  I participated in every aspect of planning, practicing, and piloting in that years alliance tournament (2010?).

Once BDEAL moved to a sov holding entity me and some friends created our own corp and left bdeal.  We were true small gang.  Our normal activity was 2-8 pilots.  We had some really good pilots, and had a great time.  Most of us lost our will to play eve and started playing LoL.  After about a year I got the itch again and started playing EVE.   After I came back I joined Rote Kapelle, but too late to participate in last years AT.

So let's dive right into the tourney, When did you first have the idea for Syndicate Regional Alliance Tournament (SRAT)?

Well I'm all about making people in to better pilots.  I don't want anyone in Rote Kapelle to be an F1 pusher.  Things like the tournament force people to think on an individual level.  Getting some extra practice for the real alliance tournament didn't hurt either.

What was your first step to seeing if it was possible, and who were the first people you contacted, what was the general response?

The first thing I did was talk to my CEO, Cassius Longinus, and see what he thought about it.  He told me it was a great idea, and would speak volumes if I was able to pull it off.  From there I went to Failheap and posted in the Syndicate section of warfare and politics about it.  I was just trying to see if anyone else would be interested in participating.  At first everyone was saying it would be awesome.  But then when sign ups came, people rolled in rather slowly.  I came up with eight different alliances that were interested and decided to go with it.

When did you start fully organizing the event?

January third is when I had Entrox set up a sub forum on FHC for team captains to discuss rules.

How many hours/days/weeks did it take to come together?

Brent : After the forum was set up I spent 2-3 hours a night for about two weeks doing one thing or another related to organization of the event.  The biggest hurdle we ran in to was that I made rule making a democracy.  I wanted to get everyone's opinion on something before we made it an official rule.  We DID steal the point scheme from the normal Alliance Tournament, so other than Tier 3 bcs that part of it was rather smooth sailing.

Did you want to give the tourney up at any point?

Heh.  A hundred times.  Until we got to the "shootin people" part of it, there was a lot of effort for what felt like very little return, this compounded by that fact that our original eight teams dropped to five for various reasons.

Was there much friction working with groups that are otherwise unfriendly towards each other and our Alliance, Rote Kapelle?

Surprisingly, no.  We all behaved ourselves.  I was one guy on the forums, or talking in private convos to people.  In local or on public forums I was the same old guy calling everyone a faggot.  Everyone involved did a good job of keeping eve politics separate from the tournament.

How did you overcome friction if there was any?


Who were the participants, were there any alliances that were asked to take part but declined or Alliances that wanted to take part but unable to field a team?

The original participants were:
Rote Kapelle
Agony Empire
Flying Dangerous
Clockwork Pineapple

Sedition, I-Red, and Agony did not end up participating.  Agony ended up not being able to field a full ten man team and elected to provide refs instead, which ended up being invaluable.  I don't know why I-Red didn't participate.  It was a bit irritating that John Revenent wouldn't even talk to me and explain why.  Sedition had its tournament captain leave the alliance half way through the planning stages and they pretty much dropped out at that point.

Was it originally intended as srs tourney like it turned out, or was that a later development and it was just going to be a troll or trap for epic kills?

It was always meant to be a serious tournament.  Some of it was hard to keep that way because of a lack of defined structure and protocols, but we made it work.

You are also one of the team captains for the (champion) Rote Kapelle team, was RK supportive of your efforts to organize the tourney or was it an uphill fight there as well?

I wish I could say that it was all roses and cherries, but it wasn't.  Isk wise everything was a breeze.  One person gave me the entry fee and the other gave me a large chunk for ship/implant costs.  It's hard for us to get twenty people to participate in practices for CCP's alliance tournament, and much harder yet for something smaller scale.  I kept my staff of advisers small, and they were all very helpful.  In the end we had to practice with another team in the tournament to get practices going.

Will there be another SRAT in the future?

I plan on running another one down the road.  As to when: who knows.  Once the bitter has worn off a bit

Will that be easier to manage in the second round?

Much easier.  Now that we have a set of rules in place and we know what we'll be facing in the future it won’t be such an ominous task.

Will you look for better promotion of the event next time or keep it fairly low-key. Like possibly a buy-in from CCP or promotions from BLINK lotteries or EOH?

Yes. This was fairly low dollar on the individual alliance level, and I'd like to keep it that way so it's still easy for smaller entities to participate.  We did some live streaming for this tournament, and that went well.  Our biggest issue is not being able to tell the whole story via live stream.  We don't have a nice interface like CCP does to show 20 ships at once.  Next time we'll probably get on board with EOH and/or Blink so we can get better prizepools.

What were the prizes for placing in the tourney?

We did a 1B isk buy in for each team, winner take all.  Rote put in an extra plex on top of that, but we won vOv.

Besides you as the main organizer, were there any other main contributors or people you would like to thank?

I'm sure every team captain has people on their end that they would like to thanks, but as far as tournament setup and organization is concerned I'd like to thank Crazy Vania of Agony Empire.  He was slated to be agony's team captain, but had to drop out because he didn't have enough pilots in the time zone to participate.  Instead, he was a referee for us for all of the matches.  He did his job very well, and made my job much easier.  Aside from that, I'd just like to thank all of the teams that participated.  This went smoother than I could have imagined and I owe it to all of the teams showing amazing sportsmanship.

Will Rote Kapelle repeat [as champions] next time?



With Brent at the helm of the Rote team, the future looks bright . Of course a little bit of practice for the upcoming CCP sponsored Alliance tournament didn't hurt either.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Syndicate AT First weekend recap.

After some serious organizational work by Apathetic Brent of STIMULUS and Rote Kapelle, the first weekend of the Syndicate Regional Alliance Tournament or SRAT for short, I just came up with that needs a better nick name, was held in XYY, with various Alliance teams all from the Syndicate region competing in a double elimination Bracket based tournament centered around last year's AT rules. One of the main changes is that Tier 3 battlecruisers are 15 points, just one point less than CS but two more than a tier 2 BC. The current bracket can be found here updated by the SRAT organizer Apathetic Brent.

pBump was nice enough to stream the event for those interested, and here's the run down,

No sound. Fights in the stream are timed thusly : Winners are highlighted

27:25 - Flying Dangerous vs. Narwhals (midway through - we had to probe out the location to get eyes)

Whole match from the Ref's perspective.

Killboard links Flying Dangerous and Narwhals. (Can't find the Narwhals kill-board.)

45:22 Groon vs. Flatline.

Ref's view here.

Flatline Scimi view here

Killboard links Groon and Flatline. (both BR are confused with their two matches.)

1:17:30 Flatline. vs. Rote Kapelle 

Can also be watched through an RK Sleipnir's point of view

Or the RK Scimitar.

RK Killboard linky

Flatline Killboard. (Battle report shows both Flatline matches.)

1:49:55 Groon vs. Narwhals

Killboard of Groon (BR confused with their two matches.)

Standings are as follows:

Flying Dangerous 1 win 0 losses
Rote Kapelle 1 win 0 losses
Flatline. 1 win and 1 loss
Groon 1 win and 1 loss
Narwhals 0 wins and 2 losses (not sure if eliminated at this point, should be.)

The bracket has not been recently updated, but I will add a shot of it to this post when it is added.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Streaming Eve, one fight at a time

I, like many other people, enjoy to watch "professionals" play games we love. Traditionally this has been the domain of pro's playing fast placed strategy games like Star Craft 2, or First person shooters like Battlefield 3 or Call Of Duty.

Watching these people play lets those of us who aren't quite that good, dedicated, or smart enough to be awed by the skill and ability of those players we watch. I watch with the added interest of a player who wonders, "how are they so damn good?" These streams give me insight into the gameplay of these professionals. Sometimes even providing tips and tricks that I otherwise would never have come across on my own.

Occasionally, these streamers even take the time to explain what they are doing and why, in an effort to teach us, the viewer, to be better at our game, if we choose to listen. Or at the very least to provide insight to how they are so successful, other than the often attributed "ridiculous amounts of playtime."

In fast paced games such as that, it is usually difficult to go into the exact why's and when's of everything, short of an after action commentary of where things went wrong. Unless the commentators, or a third party go through replays and commenting, in day9 style. Examining moves and common mistakes and pitfalls.

In a game like Eve though, remarks on strategy would be easier, but would make much more sense, since in most space battlez, the battle is won or lost before you even undock. Fits and strategy play such a huge role that really understanding and learning how the experienced play can make a huge difference.

Even little things like overview settings, chat window locations, scanner placement, module placement can radically change the way Eve is played. All these and more can be shared with a single screen sharing session or a glance at any of the popular Eve PvP video's.

I have often thought about the difficulties of streaming Eve gameplay. Just to appeal to any audience there are several entry level barriers. The initial barrier, knowing what the hell Eve is, then to add on top of that, the audience will be expected to have the knowledge of the game enough to understand fights and at least some idea of the tactics used. Perhaps not the nuances of each ship, or each fit, but enough to be able to understand why fighting/not fighting makes sense. Of course these streams always cater to players of the game, with rare exception. So knowing Eve would be a given, it's the second barrier that is harder to break. The last is possibly the most daunting, in a game like Eve, how do you keep your audience interested?

Your audience is now limited to people with the knowledge of what is going on, in screen and in game to follow, or appreciate the stream. For me, that (and that I suck) and the lack of extended, regular playtime made the whole idea problematic. Or at least not as easy as say, a blog.

Fortunately, others out there have more time, and resources to put towards such an endeavor. Well, okay, one other so far. Enter Sard Caid;

The dashing Sard Caid provides the service for this but Sard Caid provides the content. He streams regularly, weaving in and out of fights in the Molden Heath and surrounds with his compatriots in RANSM (Killboard banner is likely NSFW).

I knew of Sard for a long time before we spent some time in the same Alliance a while back. He's always up for a fight and willing to roam and take on the odds to get the elusive 'good fight.' He gets blobbed, scouted, his stream watched by the other side, killed, kills, but keeps playing.

It's his insightful comments prior to and after the fight that really make the stream infinitely more worth watching. As does the fitful pace that he engages in PvP. He doesn't wait it out in stations, he doesn't stop for very long, in fact this guy is a PvP machine. Like everything else in eve you have to create your own opportunities, and pvp is no different.

Last night I watched him get into a fight on a gate in Syndicate, he was roaming over by Poitot for hell knows what reason, but ended up in a 2 v 10 fight, managing to still squeak out a kill before going down to his 10 opponents. Just a few minutes later he has podded back out the MH and is back out looking for another fight, shipping up to a Mega, joined by two others, he then wipes the floor with 3 other BS, without taking a loss.

Streaming in Eve is a very dangerous proposition for so many reasons, most revolving around the amount of intel you are giving up by just having you screen shared with the internetz. Think of all the information you give up off the bat, your location, where you are headed, most of your fit, who you are with, what they are in, what kind of a fight you are ready for, exactly when that extra ship or two might be best served joining the fight.... etc etc. Anyone paying attention has everything needed to setup a counter-fleet and ample time to get ready for your arrival. Sard doesn't let this bother him, his theory is that if his opponents know of his stream, and use it to gather intel to counter him and his friends, they likely would not have engaged him without the intel provided by the stream. Although, to be polite, if he is headed your way he would greatly appreciate if you left his stream channel for the duration. Gotta keep some mystery in there right?

Sard also authors the not nearly updated enough blog, evebroadside. He is a true pioneer trying out the waters of streaming for the greater good of other eve players. He also does his best to stay in fights, limiting time docked up and ship spinning that would otherwise kill his stream and honestly make for pretty boring watching!

Sard goes more into his motivation and enjoyment of streaming in his post here :

If there are other Eve-streamers out there I would love to know! (and watch)