Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Corp Security - Part 2 - Interviewing and API

Eve Online Corporation Security

Part 2

The Interview process and API keys (CAK)

Despite the risks, adding new members to a corp is a huge part of Eve. Just like any other MMO it has to be done, well if you want to grow, become successful and fly with other people. aka that mystical thing called "having fun"

I think there is a right way, and a wrong way to go about recruiting.

No spamming in the recruitment channel, look for people who say "I want a new corp" and contact them directly. Explain your options to them directly. Don't sell your corp, mention it, be straight about what you do, judge their interest.

Be suspicious of unsolicited (all) requests to join your corp. Now I didn't say dismissive I said suspicious. Pay attention to those players who wish to get in.

Recruit during peace, expel during peace and war.

Recruit in chunks. Set a recruiting goal. Let's say 10 people like the Tuskers most recent drive. Why 10 people? because it's achievable. 10 people is not too many but also it is enough that you can get a good base of players. Chunks allow new players to blend with older players and older players to get used to the new guys. As soon as you get 40 new players and 20 older players you get a fragmentation of the corp. New players will Clique up and so will the older players (for the most part). Even if they don't then you still get the "feeling" for the newer guys that it is.

Limiting recruitment drives also helps to limit recruitment officer burn out. Good recruiters will do all the steps below and understand why they are doing them. You should not ask them to do that all the time, they will burn out, and quickly. Recruit, wait a quarter, recruit more.

Require a full access "account" NOT "character" key, Full API key. Let the applicant know you will be checking their key carefully and then check it carefully, ie make sure it's a account and not a character key... use it to check their contacts, use it to check their email...

Steps to check the key

  1. load the key into eve-mon, look at their skills and their wallet, in fact you can just use EveHQ for everything but Eve-Mon is an alternative so I am including it.
  2. Load the key into EveHQ and look at their contacts and mail, orders, history, kills, etc.
  3. Use the following URL to determine the type of key the applicant gave you = https://api.eveonline.com/account/APIKeyInfo.xml.aspx?keyID=THEKEYIDHERE&vCode=THEVERIFICATIONCODEHERE
  4. Check their contacts, Check their recent sales, player trading in station, check their eve mails!
  5. Check their killboard history, losses especially. Look and see if they tend to work with a group of the same people and if they are suddenly breaking away.
  6. Examine that killboard again, look at their kills, are they getting in fights solo, are they whoring on mails, are they suicide ganking? Are they avoiding combat? Look at their fits, note bad fits, note good fits (for pvp corps) ask about them in the interview.

Steps for the interview:
After you check their key, interview them, can be right after or a day later. Take your time, if they are more interested in joining another corp in that time they will not be a good asset to that other corp, and wouldn't have been good for your corp either. Have rank and file members in recruitment at all times, not to be active all the times but to provide conversations with the news guys that your recruiters can look at or get information from.

  1. best to have a video for them to watch that outlines the intent of the corp, have the video ask the player a few specific questions, IE tell the recruiter what your favorite sandwich is and tell them the code ALFA ROMEO. See if the applicant actually watches the video by waiting for those questions.
  2. Ask real interview questions. If they are applying to be a miner, ask them how much M3 each of their strip lasers pull on their Mackinaw, or how much Veldspar roughly they pull per cycle. Ask questions about fitting, find out what they know, accept "I don't know" as an answer only if you have to, but give them time to do homework during the interview process. IE if they don't know tell them to go find out, see what resources they use. Battleclinic or eve kill or the forums, or FHC or what.
  3. Ask about everything, play time, interests outside of eve. Sense of humor, thin/thick skin. Interests, what is a "good day in eve" for them.
  4. ask about their path in Eve, where they are headed, where they came from. What is interesting to them?
  5. talk to previous corps. At worst the corp they are coming from will try to troll you, but ask the applicant first if it's okay that you talk to previous employers. See if their reasons for leaving that corp matches up to why the CEO saw them leave.
  6. lay out your expectations of the person, and find out what they expect from the corp. See what they want and see if it is a fit.
  7. give them time to ask you questions. Find out what questions they want to ask, examine the nature of their questions. Are they asking to be promoted, are they asking what the Corp is going to provide them in terms of access or free stuff. Sure people will be interested about that but you should downplay the answers to those questions.
  8. If possible, interview via voice chat. Listening to answers is always better than reading words. It also saves you, usually, from having to ask the sex question!

Post Interview

  1. Judgey judgey is what I always say. The vast majority of applicants will be clean. Some will be obvious and others you just won't be sure.
  2. Take some chances, but hedge your bets. This is some advice my Father always gave me about life. It's fine to take a chance if you hedge your bets. This means allow people in you are unsure about, but then keep an eye on them.
  3. Introduce their interview into corp forums or emails for quick review. Try not to wait more than 24 hours to decide if you want them in your corp. If you don't be honest and direct but don't point out why. IE you find a spy trying to get in, his contacts are all your enemies, his wallet has trades with people who hate you, or are aligned against you. Don't gloat, just politely refuse the application. Let them agonize over why you said no. Blocking them is enough, expose them if you want, but don't try to shame them. That will just lead to much harder attempts to sneak in.
  4. Ask follow up questions by eve mail, displaying interest in their answers makes newcomers feel welcome.
Make a decision Checklist
  1. Have you checked their wallet history looking for zero isk trades with random people?
  2. Have you listed and checked all their current contacts?
  3. Did you ask them why they are leaving their current player corp OR if they are in an NPC corp ask why they never left the NPC corp (unless brand new) OR why they left their last corp?
  4. Did you search for money transfers to the character, like start up funds, or something odd coming in
  5. Has a third party reviewed the interview/asked follow on questions
  6. Is the applicant interested in joining, do their goals match your corps? Can you see them sticking around or will they move on soon after?
  7. Make a decision. Some corps make a decision by committee, some by singular preference. Both work for different reasons, both don't work for different reasons. Recruitment officers should always have the final say. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Oh look Gevlon's making more terrible arguments

Honestly I am not sure why Eve News 24 ever extended the offer to Gevlon to become one of their writers. He already has his own near cult like following, his opinions might have been valid in the analysis of trade, but now. No.

The other day I was thinking about why the whole "New Order" thing is just another instance of exploiters and pirates plying their trade. Why their noble quest is nothing more than a poorly veiled excuse to do as they want to do.

It's like Gevlon was thinking the exact opposite at the same time, because he comes out with this gem of a post on EN24 - "Game Harshness, Death Penalties, Miners".

In this article he attempts to start logically, but nearly instantly falls off what I like to call the "doesn't have a clue cliff." In re-reading the article I start wondering why I am starting to agree with his premise and then it hits me... No, it's not when he basically abandons all sense and once again tries to draw direct correlations between WoW and Eve. A tricky task AT BEST and not one that should be tackled by someone without a heavy use of caveats.

It's when he starts talking about the direction, in cost, of fights in Eve. He refers back to a old mechanic, the AOE doomsday where people "had" to risk their caps to defend their space, because two titans could kill off the conventional fleets. But then fails to recognize that the reason that Titan's lost their AOE doomsday is that fleets started showing up with more than one Titan. HAI PL, wonder how much they would love to show up with 40+ titans and kill every cap/subcap on the field in a mass of coordinated AOE DD's. The DD penalty of not being able to move wouldn't matter because the field would be clear. Their removal made for a consistant need for subcap fleets to support capitals, a wise move made by CCP not a bad one. For example in real life where Carrier battlegroups come in, as you guessed it, a group.

Then he comes up with this oversimplification gem

Harshness (of a game) = Death Chance * Death Penalty

Well that is pretty simple. You know, the chance you die when you engage in combat, times the penalty of dying, yup, that's the only two things that make something harsh!

To me the 'Harshness' of a game is determined by a host of sub factors. To break it out into my own harshness equation;

Harshness = Amount risked + chance of destroyed items (not just lost) + skill or knowledge required to be successful + "sloppy play" deficit / ability to recover "dropped" or lost items

In this measure of measurement of course Eve is one of the most "harsh" environments out there.

Eve is harsh because of a lot of factors, not just two. So from there his post just stands more and more assumptions on that faulty logic.

The idea that cheap ships are bad for the risk or for the amount of PvP in Eve is ridiculousness. First, cheaper ships actually lead to a more dangerous galaxy for many reasons, the most simple of those being that cheaper ships lead to people taking greater risks with those ships. Where an individual ship is mere "pocket change" a consistant PvPer, or in other words something Gevlon is CLEARLY not familiar with, would rather fly and use a host of cheaper, but still good ships rather than be forced into more expensive ships.

Even the "casual," read : anyone who can't play 6+ hours a day, (that doesn't make them bad) player would rather have cheaper ships, and it's not because it makes the game less harsh, it's because they are more likely to risk their ships or the ships of their friends if those ships are easier to replace. Risked ships equal more combat. As the price of ships rise, then most players become more risk-adverse, not less.

How does all this tie into the New Order? It's very simple. Gevlon tries to make his entire post neatly tie into the idea that by killing "afk miners" "Botters" and other undesirables, the New Order is doing some kind of good service to the people who play Eve. Clearly anyone who has experience in eve can see this for what it is, where experienced players, greifers and pirate types take advantage of newer or more pacifist players to make money and derive their enjoyment of the game.

James 315's words/goal is not something new, various 'pirate' cartels have been 'controlling', read : extorting, belts in highsec for a vast and long time. When I started playing(2005) there were plenty of highsec griefing corps who claimed ownership to entire systems or constellations. There's nothing wrong with that, if they can enforce it and get away with it, but that doesn't make it any less silly to call it a crusade for benefit of the miners.

Imagine the cost of minerals (therefor everything else) if the profits from mining in highsec was equal to or greater than incursions or lowsec or parts of Null.

How does that encourage people to leave highsec? How does that make people more willing to engage in fighting? Or wars for nullsec space that earns nothing for the rank and file that they can't already get in highsec.

T1 frigates would cost more than a couple mil isk each, just for the hull, cruisers would cost about as much as 40 mil isk? BattleCruisers would cost more than 100 mil isk, unfit. What do you think the chances are that people would want to risk their now super expensive ships more than the cheap ships flown now? The only tactic that would see wide use is fly in a herd or die to one. Even more so than now. Not losing then would be even more important than it already is. A true risk-aversion culture.

The risk of combat in eve is some very simplistic level inversely related to the cost of ships. Lower cost ships means more people in those ships in space, looking to fight. Higher priced ships means less people wanting to fight in and lose those ships. Sure, it's an oversimplification. A valid one.

All this ignores one faulty premise of the article. That ships in Sov Null fleets are getting cheaper. Tell that to the supercap pilots, or the Tengu fleets, or the Maelstrom, Navypoc, Abaddon, Tier 3 BC swarms prevalent in current Sov nullsec fights. Cost isn't down, its up on average across the board.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Corp Security - Part 1 - Risks without Security

Eve Online Corporation Security

Part 1

Risks without Security

In my various travels and incarnations throughout Eve I've seen various takes on how risky it is to not properly screen entrants into any corp. Opinions range between EXTREMELY OMG DANGEROUS to "It doesn't matter, if they steal from us we will just kick them and move on." Strangely the thoughts don't seem to be linked to corp size, wealth, assets, or risk. Instead are linked to "that's just the way we do things around here.

I've also never seen a clear and concise list of all the risks taken just by simply inviting a new player to join your corp. While there are several good security guides out there, most of them are out of date or rely too much on knowledge of the CAK system as to be vague for players and corp recruiters who aren't actually versed in the functions of API key/CAK in relation to recruiting and Eve. I digress, that's for the next part of this series...


Risk 1 - Welcome to your new Corp, aka "awoxing"
Just by accepting a new applicant to the corp you are willingly signing a contract with that player that puts not only your assets at risk but also the assets of other corp members. This is a pretty huge deal. The risk of this is not widely spoken about other than "awoxing." So what is the baseline, no-privilege level recruit have access to?

Because they are part of the corp, they can now shoot at, warp scramble, pod and look at the member list. Now of course with the advent of evewho.com the member list isn't nearly as important, since it's fairly easy for anyone to get a pretty comprehensive list of corp members, it's still a risk.

How about that shoot at, warp scramble part? Well just by being "in corp" new members can aggress and attack other players in the corp without CONCORD interference. Let me say that again; new members, from the first second they join the corp, can aggress, attack and kill ANY other in corp player. Let me throw out a few examples:

My missioning alts have joined new corps and within a few minutes to a few hours, to even a few days, have been surrounded by other missioners in several faction bling ships. With disgusting ease I could have refit my ship for PvP and tackled and killed one or more of these ships, within the first few days of joining a new corp. I'll cover what can be done about this risk to help mitigate in another part of this article, but I do want to point out that while this risk is taken on by people flying those bling ships in the first place, it's the recruiters, directors and CEO who can put them in a very vulnerable position.

Another example is a corp accepts a new player and a corp freighter pilot 'finds' that new member sitting on a gate in highsec, locking, webbing, scrambling and killing them. That's at least a few billion isk risk there. Maybe more.

A commenter brought up the overlooked risk that the new corp member will be able to see all members in space, via the map function in Eve, so even if you don't mention where your multi-billion isk BS is operating out of, they know... they know. Also the corp management interface shows the users in the corp, when they were last online and can be sorted by title, which can mean various things, like being able to keep tabs on if directors or CEO's are online, or if FC's or higher ranking members are online. Thank you MinorFreak!

Risk 2 - The POS, aka WH's delight
In addition to automatically allowing agression, with current POS mechanics, being in corp is enough to grant you an all-access pass in most cases to the inside of the POS. Even if you can't access the SMA's or anything else in the POS, you still get to go inside the shields. 

The seriousness of this risk can vary from putting Titans in dangerous positions, via being bumped out  down to having un-piloted ships in the POS force field, all the way down to no risk at all because everything is neatly buttoned up. I call this the WH's delight because this is the exact risk that living out of a POS in WH space places on every WH corp in the game. Now I think that POS access can be better managed now than it used to be, but I am not 100 percent sure if it is possible to block access to the POS shields for corp mates.

The Risks you bring on 'yourself'

Risk 1 - Let's give that new guy some access shall we? aka Corp fire-sale FREE!
A new corp member gets accepted and joins the corp and the first thing given to them? That's right, some level of corp hangar access. Sure it's pretty much standard that they get to grab one or two low cost ships, or maybe to a hangar full of "goodies." I think everyone reading to this point knows the risk here, you find that hangar empty and a corp theif on your hands. Sure it may only be a few hundred million isk or even a few kisk, but it's the uncertainty it spreads that is toxic and the biggest risk.

Risk 2 - They're an older player, let's give them more access! aka the early promotion
This risk is a little further down the road. Things seem to be going well, and this player is fitting in so well, I mean he's using his freighter or jump freighter to move small corp assets and help out as best he can. He's on a lot, is super helpful, has a bunch of useful skills. Maybe the corp is about to move, maybe the corp is about to setup an expensive venture. This guy has been trust-worthy so far... Handed to him are a majority of the corp's assets so he can "help" move. Only he helps himself.

Risk 3 - Director level theft
This goes hand in hand with the above risk. The player you just hired is doing so well, it's time for a promotion. Maybe they have some extra skill-points or single handedly fly a fleet of hulks and Orca's, or a mass of mission ships... You have an opening (especially in newer corps) and let that person become something fancy in the first few months like "Director of PvP" or Mining director, or L4 mission division lead. The player is given director level access aka CEO level access to corp funds, permissions, hangars.... Boom massive level theft. They clean out the wallet, clean out the corp hangars and or disband the corp just for fun! Sounds fun right? well not for you and not for your corp mates. Most corp do not recover after a major theft. Those that do, tend to be based around friends who weren't going anywhere anyways. You would think major thefts would make it more difficult for follow on thefts, but no, corps that are easy to steal from remain easy to steal from.

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

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

"Is local broken?"

Had you asked me this not to long ago, and I would have emphatically answered, "Yes, without a doubt, local is broken." I guess time changes all things....

Drackarn made a post I largely agree with, but more focused to lowsec/FW... this will be more about NPC null and sov Null where we do most of our roaming as opposed to Lowsec.

So the question remains to be answered, "IS the local channel broken?"
The easiest answer is also the most vague, that being, "Yes in some circumstances." or better put, "It has issues, and it's not perfect, but calling it outright broken, is overstating the problem."

Currently the "LOCAL" channel works the same in lowsec, null and highsec. WH space is the only place where Local is any different, and that's because it is put into "delayed" mode where you only show up in local if you speak in it.... And possibly only if another person is in your local to see it, I suppose you would appear on local to yourself even if nobody else was present.

So in Null and Lowsec I'd say that Local is used for intel rather than communication. By intel I mean the ability of a scout or soloer to jump into the system and at a glance, be able to tell if there even is anyone else in the system with them? It's not as if Local also gives their locations, so the scout or the solo pilot still have to try to locate a target, mainly done by flying around hitting on d-scan.

In Highsec intel is used for communications in some systems, and trade in others. Smack talk, or even friendly banter, depending on the situation. Now Highsec local CAN also be used as an intel channel, but it takes a lot more agressive settings of blues and reds, or perhaps just looking for WT's and non-WT's.

Competing issues with local as an 'intel tool' in Nullsec -

It seems like both sides, the defender (in this case that would be anyone already in the system, either looking to stay safe, or looking to find a fight), as well as the agressor (person jumping into the new system) have equal uses for Local. Neither really gains a disproportionate advantage.... but only on the surface.

Defender advantage : This advantage could and maybe should be classified as the "home field" advantage. It extends either way, that is, with or without current Local. It might even be justified to have this advantage built in, as there should be some kind of home field advantage that extends beyond just owning sov.
  • WITHOUT LOCAL : Roaming gangs and soloers would have to do a in-depth scan to find targets, making scan probes, t3's etc essential to be able to provide the scan for targets as well as the ability to kill the things they find. Roamers would be hard pressed to roam as far if they had to do a deep scan in every system to determine if a target was even there. Jump in, drop probes, search for ships, scan down all the ships in POS's in space, try to find the ship in a belt or in a plex, warp to plex, kill, or move on if no targets are found would make for a long roam even if it was just for two or five systems. Even then a good, smart ratter will keep an eye on d-scan, much like in a WH and see those nasty probes out there. Sure, the stupid will still be killed, but that's just the 'near side' intel. I say near side intel, because seriously, what major alliance doesn't have forward scouts in their pipes, or friends reporting intel to them anymore? The answer is, none. Those would be the far side intel gatherers. Even solo roamers get reported with ship-type, location and possible destinations when they are just a few jumps into sov space. Even without local, cov ops on gates or ships in offgrid safes near gates will keep the smart ratter alive without issue, yes these scouts will have to be more actively monitored, but it's far from impossible, especially if roamers will have to drop probes in each system. 
  • WITH LOCAL: When a new person jumps into Local, they have being more than ample time, in most situations, to avoid contact by either warping to a safe, a POS or a station or simply cloaking. This is especially important because botting programs can easily pickup the state change of someone entering local and then run immediately for the hills, making botting even more safe than it already is.
Agressors remain at a disadvantage either way Local goes.
  • WITHOUT LOCAL: it will be tough to tell if there are targets even present. Even with the star map tools, like avg pilots in space and active, or even docked and active pilots, the reports given would not be enough to find reliable activity. False positives are often given by gangs moving through the area or clumps of players ratting, with the scouts watching for encroaching agressors on the inbound gates. Players would have to spend time in every system scanning, or at least in major systems scanning for targets, both giving away their presence and making finding a target that much more difficult if their probes show up on scan.
  • WITH LOCAL: you can see if there are people in system, but still no idea where they are (at least not without further scouting, spais or other intel tools), but at least you can determine if they are present, making roaming faster and easier at some levels. But like I said above you also immediately give away that you are in system, allowing players to dock/safe up in some manner to avoid you/your fleet.
Impacts of a loss of Local to differing fleet types :
  • Sov. non-roaming, structure shooting fleets - Near no impact, as the fight at a POS, or IHUB or sov structure is static, as is the fight at a gate. Ships are jumping into the fight at a more or less static location. IE planet 10 moon 3, or warping directly to the TCU/IHUB under siege. Or going to the gate where the enemy fleet is jumping in. This may be a gross over simplification of sov fleet tactics, but let's face it, sov fights will be next to unchanged if Local was removed, or put to delayed mode. Maybe less smack if it was removed (+1 for removal ;) )
  • Sov roaming fleets - let's call these fleets of sizes 35+. Honestly these fleets can support having 1/2 dedicated scanners working in tandem as scouts, and honestly are rarely just looking for the solo ratter, though they wouldn't pass one up, they are looking for competition on their level. Gate to gate warping and d-scan would still suit most of their needs. Either scouts would be detected, or the fleet they are looking to fight would be scouted or revealed. Roaming would be effected, and slowed down, but not hugely so.
  • less than 35 person fleets in Nullsec (NPC/Sov) - Roaming would be significantly slowed down and fights would all but disappear as it would be hard to find people to fight. If local was removed then these fleets would have to near-rely on the star-maps "Active people in space" ability to hunt down similarly sized targets and things to kill. Finding a target once they arrived would take much more time and effort and overall slow the already slow "pace" of the combat game in Eve way down. Granted a lot of fights in 0.0 take place on gates, but it's more finding a similar sized fleet will become more difficult without local. Not to mention that larger alliances will be more able to exploit their huge numbers to trap a roaming fleet between response fleets if local isn't around for the back scouts to keep an eye out for the backside of the fleet. Yes, I realized that everything is counter-able and that fleets should employ intel gatherers just like defenders, I am just mentioning that it is much more difficult for the agressor fleet to maintain intel on many hostile fleets vs their one.
  • Bait fleets - Would just in general become horribly overpowered if local was removed. After all you could bait a small fleet into attacking your bait and the the first time they would know something was wrong was when the majority of your fleet suddenly appeared on d-scan.
Some of the possible solutions thus far follow...

New Intel measures
  • Sov anchor-able structures that "scan" for new people in local. So not only does the defender get the advantage of a network of scanning alts, but then ALSO gets the advantage of having a structure that can give it more intel, and that intel would only be supplied to the person or team launching that structure.... horribly unfair to roaming gangs and really doesn't help unless it provides the same information as local, ie green, blue, red, etc. If it does all that, then what's the point of even getting rid of local in the first place?
  • Some kind of module or deployable that could be deployed by either side, Once again, why force a whole new required module or item just to go roaming. Every FC will have to wonder, okay who has the primary scanner-thing, who has the secondary. Then you can't scout without one. And once again, if it provides the same information as Local, when why get rid of local at all?
  • Deployable "beacon" like scanner... same as above, but shows up in everyone's overview. Once again this slants towards the Defender. IE you are plexing and see one of those things show up in local, instantly you know someone is either hunting you or looking for hostiles. A quick check in the intel channel and you find out one way or another, instant disappearing act if hostile. Agressors will still have to run scan probes to find their targets in most cases unless they get lucky and find people on gates, or are in search of a fleet fight. Dropped scanners would be a good item to have fleet fights on though... Drop the beacon, wait for response, if any is coming, otherwise pack up and move on. Gives a static place to fight/defend and then the agressors have something to defend, some skin in the game as it were to keep them on the field to attempt to keep the beacons alive. Beacons would have to cost a decent amount of money though, enough so that keeping them alive would matter.
  • "Special" probes of some kind. I have seen this repeated over and over again, but requiring probes is just like requiring anchor-able structures, only maybe worse. It forces people into either a non-DPS ship or an alt into the same, forces slower progress, encourages bigger fleets to cover the extra utility.
  • Delayed Local - Already in use in WH space, why not in K-Space. Of all the options this seems like the front runner, not to mention the most repeated option. But the bottom line is as follows. Defenders get the same advantages with delayed local that they get with removing local all-together, and agressors get none of the marginal advantages that keeping Local gives them. Even with a 10 minute delay, or a 5 minute one like Drackarn mentions in his post, that would mean the scout would have to sit in system for 5 minutes to see if there is even a fight to be had? That's as bad as having to scan each and every system.
One thing I haven't addressed, and that's the fact that a lot of 0.0 "fights" take place on gates. One fleet jumping into the other... In these cases "traditional" scouting would still find some/most of these fights, IE your scout jumps into their fleet and scouts them, or the reverse. If local is removed then backup can just be 15 AU away, safely out of scan range, but close enough to reach the fight in the opening volleys, making a bait fleet even more viable than in the current meta, and they are already very viable. Support could arrive in just 25 seconds vice the main fleet being one jump back and closer to 45 seconds to a minute away from support. Lots can happen in that difference of time.

TL;DR, I agree with Drackarn, well for the most part. I don't think Local as it is is "perfect" but in the current game, I don't see a real effective, solution to make it perfect by any definition. I would rather effort was put into other area's of the game than attempting to fix something that has been working (for some level of "working") for years.

This only focuses on the "obvious" intel you can gain from first glance at local, to say nothing of all the intel that can be gathered by show-info and out of game searches of players names. That slants the intel side of Local from one extreme to the other, where one is able to determine if their target is an old or new player, get information on their usual ships, setups, even fleet comps if you know where to look.

Friday, January 11, 2013

BB 43 : The 2012 Heroes of New Eden

At the turn of the year in meatspace, award season starts to spin up. Across the general media, folk are encouraged to look to their peers and recognise excellence and inspiration from the previous year. For the past two years I have attempted to do the same for EVE by distributing imaginary Free Boot Awards to an eclectic assortment of community luminaries. This year I thought it might be nice to expand the concept. 
For Blog Banter 43 I would like to invite every participant to nominate their peers for whatever awards you think they deserve. Let's celebrate the best and the worst of us, the funniest or the most bizarre, the most heroic of the most tragic of the past year. They could be corpmates, adversaries, bloggers, podcasters, developers, journalists or inanimate objects. Go nuts.
Man, what a task. Go nuts is right. Now originally I was going to try and do some out of the box awards, most with my tongue planted full in my cheek, Rixx Javix style, but then thinking about it I realized that I was having a very tough time identifying the blogs that I thought deserved mention, but that were not getting enough mention.

At first I was thinking Ripard could do with a well earned "Poasts too much Title."
Or perhaps Shalee for her heroic efforts to post a bog daily over the month of November, but then having RL and then Eve corp stuff and then back to RL issues de-rail her quest. I still wish her the best.
Or perhaps some of the lesser known blogs out there that I follow that would benefit in some small way from a mention on this blog.
In the end though, it wasn't that I couldn't find people to publicize, or a lack of what I consider 'good' content, it was that there was no way I could narrow that all down to just a few blogs. Like I always say, there's nothing worse than getting a "participation medal" just so I can mention your name.

All I can do for this popularity contest of a blog banter is just say that there are tons of blogs that do different things for me. In the end, all I can say is that (almost) everyone involved is a valuable asset that can't be measured by some title or award I could bestow.

Anyways the one award I will give out is the tightest Dev at CCP. For all values of tight.
CCP Fozzie is the winnar! My favorite CCPer though, honorable mentions to CCP Punkturis, CCP Bro and CCP Falcon (follow them on twitter)....

So in this popularity contest I will take the uninspired vote of "everyone wins!"

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Gevlon's changing post...

Well looks like even he knew he was wrong, but was just too proud to admit it. Today I wake up to another new set of comments on yesterday's post (thank you) and then went to read my morning Eve info dump and noticed the quick mention of Gevlon changing his post from yesterday. Well I just had to go take a look, I mean after all, I'm sure it was just minor changes....

So, his changes.... let's take a look.... Hmmmm, a mostly new paragraph close to the top with actual numbers replacing his fo-statistical analysis the had at the bottom of yesterday's post. Honestly I am surprised he didn't break them further down into percentages.... what else?

He removed a few graphs that didn't really show anything. And added a few more lines to his analysis on the graph I pointed out yesterday... but just to make it clear that the reason WH players have a higher average loss isn't because they have more expensive ships. OH NO! It's because they get caught in their bling PvE ships and get ganked more often! Of course, how could I have been so dumb?!

I mean other than that whole "High isk losses are always PvE" losses mechanic that he has thrown in there, that isn't, hmmmm, whats the word.... true.

So let's quickly delve into why WH losses are on average more expensive. Where I fly, I tend to do a lot of small gang warfare, but not really on the same "level" as WH small gang warfare, where you need to make every module, every single percent count because WH's limit the mass you can bring through. In WH space it actually does make sense to pimp as much as possible.

This turns a usually 2 bil isk Bhaalgorn into easily a 7 bil isk Bhaalgorn because those extra few percent more cap drain or percent more resists can, and do, more often turn the tide of a small gang battle. Gevlon likely doesn't understand this because he's never been in a small fight where those kind of percents matter. His eyes are so focused on Nullsec fights that he may not yet comprehend that there is a whole other level of fighting going on out there that he is not aware of.

So then spread that across the most used hulls in WH space, Tech 3 strategic cruisers, whose hulls and subsystems alone usually cost 500m isk, unfit, then you quickly get above the 1 bil isk mark on these ships with all that extra bling packed int here, be that bling for PvP or PvE for that matter. In short WH ships are more expensive because by FUNCTION they need to be more capable. Hopefully that's not hard logic to follow.

The other funny assumption that is still left in Gev's article....? That all of highsec is more dangerous than WH space, you know, because living in backward ass Amarr highsec, with 2 other people in local, at MAX is scarier than say, any WH system. When a "level of dangerousness" scale implies that the above is true and then is claimed to be fact. Well let's just say that doesn't hold up too well..

Also, lest I not forget, here were some great points made in my comments yesterday -

Azual ( of the blog The Altruist )  - "Jita sees about 6x the number of kills per 24 hours as Rancer (a notoriously permacamped lowsec pipe system), but you're far far more likely to get killed in Rancer than in Jita. It would make much more sense to analyse kills per resident or kills per jump, at which point I expect WH space would rank much more highly."

Anonymous - "I would like to see people like Gilgalaad or some of the folks in the Eve Uni trade chat to publish their knowledge about the market in a blog.

The knowledge itself is largely available, those guys give it for free, however a blog is a much more accessible way to learn about it."

I too would like to see more blogs about trading since I find that stuff pretty good reading. I did some station trading, what seems like ages ago now, but mostly meta 4 module trading, and made a huge profit while never leaving Jita 4-4. Lazy in my old age I suppose.

There were tons of other good comments, but mostly about how shitty Gevlon is as a source of information for things other than Market trading, and wishes that more people would take up that mantle. Even one great comment from the Gevvie himself. But I'll let you go read that off the article if you haven't seen it already!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A response to Gevlon's poor analysis.

@Gevlon post here. I know I shouldn't even respond as he has always shown a none too bright attitude towards how eve works and I could find fault in near every post he makes, but this one just stands out....

Here's the real baseline of the issue. Gevlon spent so much time trying to come up with data to support his position that he failed to actually interpret the data he was given. He disregarded or failed to notice data that did not support his notions, and then formed fallacious assumptions around those numbers.

To recap, he says...

"WH people are both extremely rich and that WH space is extremely dangerous. I used regional statistics from killboards to prove that WH ship losses aren't that expensive. They claimed that because they go to PvP in null (because they are so awesome that no one attacks them in their WHs). So I went to look for more data."

I ask you, to look at the "Average loss value MISK" graph again. The statement he is trying to disprove is, in short, "WH pilots, on average, pvp in more expensive ships and more dangerous area's."

First - Do WH pilots fly in "more expensive ships?" Yes, using his own graph, in every loss category, both in few losses and lots of losses, "WH people" aka Dark Blue, lead the curve. That alone, ALONE, is enough proof that indeed, WH people do fly and lose more expensive ships, on average than any other "Area," as defined by Gevlon.

Second part ("Dangerous area") - this is where it gets tricky, how do you define danger? Isn't this just a judgement call? WH people will say that WH space is pretty dangerous because of the lack of Local, or any wide ranging, local based intel networks found in low/high/null that can warn of approaching hostile fleets/gankers (by way of setting standings, or seeing criminal flags, long before they are a threat.

Now for WH space there is another wrinkle, it's the only true part of the game where fighting the PvE content is the only means for existence. Now what do I mean by that, I mean that in order for it to make sense to live in WH space, you must either be actively doing PvE or at least devote some of your time to PvE to make a living out in WH space using traditional methods.

Lowsec, Nullsec and Highsec are not limited in this manner. Lowsec does have FW plexes, or other PvE items, similar to those available, but much less profitable than, the plexes out in Nullsec, but you can still use PI and stations to evade, change or modify the combat. Nullsec has moon mining, reactions, drug, cap and supercap production just to name a few things that do not require active in-space participation. Highsec I shouldn't even have to cover because station trading alone is so profitable.

Meanwhile WH space stands alone with the massive majority of it's ISK making ability coming from sites that need to be run and thus can be scanned down and pounced. This is such an important distinction because it goes to lending towards a much more risk based, high danger atmosphere to gain the benifits of living in WH space than anywhere else in the game.

Then, Gevlon tries to pass off the majority of expensive losses by semi-to low activity pilots as "PvE" losses, or ganks. Now while I don't at all agree with this idea, except in the case of highsec, let's look at things through "his" lens. Expensive "PvE" losses actually help prove that WH space is more dangerous than the average other area in the game.

Why is that? Well simple it's as simple as my above point about use of the content and also risk-aversion. Rarely will a Eve player just jump in their most expensive ships, and fly around in high-risk situations. With the possible exceptions of the super-rich. But really we are trying to focus in on the "average player" of each demographic.

I will say that the average Nullsec resident does not fly their pimped out ratting/botting ships unless they have the means to ensure it's safety. In WH space there is no real way be "safe" as one is in nullsec. Anyone with a probe or an anom scanner can jump in on their ships. Yet WH players continue to field and lose expensive ships, even though it is more dangerous.

If that is not your definition of 'danger,' Then maybe you lay more weight to the number analysis of Gevlon, however those numbers are flawed and easily refuted when looked at by a few simple factors.

For instance, Gevlon does not factor in the all important data about the 'opportunity of loss.' In WH space with it's MUCH lower population density, proved using both CCP's stats and the Gevlon stats, reposting a graph from Gevlon,
Clearly, the number of people living in WH is the smallest of all the "area's" people choose to call home, by both the CCP and Gevlon killboard based metrics. Gevlon attempts to provide some kind of "ratio" but this ratio value is completely useless. Like comparing apples and oranges.

Gevlon takes his ratio by using his 9.2% of the polled PvP losses are "WH" based pilots, and then he compares that to the supposed total population of WH space (5.5%). It's because it's a bad ratio... Look...

The problem with the ratio is, Gevlon is taking a full sum value (a percent value that adds up to 100%) and comparing it to ANOTHER DIFFERENT full sum value and coming up with a ratio. CCP based their population values not on PvP activity but where players spent the majority of their time. Gevlon is just looking at PvP values, comparing the two values does not reveal the % of pvpers or a ratio of PvPers to non-pvpers. The ratio is the difference between his PvP fed values and the values that CCP provided. Not his assumed idea that it shows the ratio of active pvpers in a group of players. That's value is just total statistical nonsense.

Back to my point... the importance of the 'opportunity of loss.' If you only have a relatively small number of inhabitants, that makes both fighting and losing ships more rare. Now THIS is where Gevlon goes COMPLETELY off the rails. He breaks down WH space into C1-C6, but then leaves Null, High and lowsec combined. Either he did this because the data when combined, ie C1+C2+C3+C4+C5+C6 didn't support his theory, or because he was just lazy. Now because I don't have his exact figures all I can do it make a guess.
If you add up the values for the different classes of WH and provide a combined WH stacked graph, it would show the true value of all WH systems, and that value would be much higher than either Null OR highsec, second only to Lowsec... But like I said that is just a guess.

Let's not fail to point ou here that by his own graph Nullsec has a lower 'value' than Highsec. Sure it's damning when a C6 doesn't live up to highsec but then Gevlon glosses over the fact that Nullsec also doesn't have as high a value. Also that's a simple explanation  Highsec has more people than either Nullsec or WH space, in fact more than both combined. This gives a much higher sample size than either AND much more opportunity for loss.

One last thing, Gevlon bases the majority of his assertions on the idea that in short "a player with a high isk loss but low losses per year is essentially a PvE player." This completely disregards the "casual" eve player like myself and many others. I'd be lucky to get 45 FIGHTS in a year I'd say, let alone 45 losses.

Using myself as an example... While not a very active player, I am certainly NOT a PvE player. One of my losses easily pushes me over the 50m mark in a year. Now I am not exactly a huge loss player, IE when I die in stuff it's rarely all that expensive, but still I lost a carrier this year, that was a 2 bil isk loss or so, Plus other assorted losses, and now according to Gevlon, I am either an "outlier" despite the fact that I know of many other players just like me, or a victim of being ganked doing PvE. Seems a rather stark contrast.

To remove the true PvE gank losses, Gevlon should have called high isk losses with high damage NPC values, indicating plexing or belt ratting, as PvE losses. And then taken steps to exclude those results from his findings, I'm sure the appropriate SQL command could easily do this... This would quickly provide a more accurate and stronger overall graph. I'd imagine with those results stripped out than Gev's assumptions would not be so easily passed off as fact.

So, in short, the statistical analysis offered by Gevlon is flawed, incomplete and uses flawed logic in an attempt to "proof" his conclusions.