Posts Tagged ‘Ghost Festival’

Blog Banter 28: CCP, the CSM, and the future

Sep
13

With CrazyKinux recently retiring his blog and hanging up his coat as the “blogfather”, several cornerstones of the blogging community were relocated to a new home. Rixx Javix took it upon himself to maintain the Blog Pack, and now Seismic Stan stepped up to keep the Blog Banters going. That makes Blog Banter 28 the first set up by our new host, and right off the bat we’re getting a very hot topic to discuss:

In recent months, the relationship between CCP and it’s customers has been the subject of some controversy. The player-elected Council of Stellar Management has played a key role in these events, but not for the first time they are finding CCP difficult to deal with. What effect will CCP’s recent strategies have on the future of EVE Online and it’s player-base? What part can and should the CSM play in shaping that future? How best can EVE Online’s continued health and growth be assured?

For those of you who aren’t too sure what this about now — didn’t CCP give us a dev blog in which an accord was reached? — you best read Seismic Stan’s post, as it has a good amount of resources, before continuing on. All read up, or know exactly what this is about? Good, here we go then.

First off, this Banter is a bit on the late side. One of the reasons being my dad getting remarried at the end of the week, so I’ve been out and about to get everything ready for myself, from a dress to makeup to dropping by the tanning salon. The other reason, however, ties in perfectly with this topic. My motivation for EVE seem to have hit an all time low. From experience I know that summer is a terrible period in online gaming, because even the most die-hard players cannot say no to sunshine outdoor activities a nice BBQ. But this summer has been particularly bad, and then not just because most days were filled with rain, though that may have made made have rubbed in the issue a bit extra. There is a big loss of faith in CCP amongst my alliance members, myself included, and that results in activity dwindling. “I just don’t feel like internet spaceships anymore”, several people told me. Others simply filed an absence due to work, real life, or plain out lack of motivation. And sure, some of them will be truthful, there are jobs that are just not able to combine well with gaming, especially if you also have a family and social life to maintain, but if you really like a game you will find the time to play it, believe me. Currently Ghost Festival has about half its members on some kind of leave, and even the core players who are on every day are spending less time logged in on average. And this is a trend I only see continuing unless something is done about the cause.

Normally, I’d not post those numbers, because they don’t exactly help recruitment along. Or people will conclude that I must simply be failing as a CEO / Co-Executor. Well, I can tell you with confidence that this is not the case, or at least what mistakes I am making are not at the core of the problem. I’ve prodded enough members who I know are frank in their judgement and asked them, so unless everyone is out to kiss my behind or dead afraid of me, I think I did my homework right.

I have been discussing the issue to great length in the last few days, and there are certain things that keep returning. First off is the fact that we are a niche corporation / alliance. In fact, just slapping roleplay on anything already cuts your recruitment pool quite a bit, unless you take a really light approach to it, which on a sidenote is the only way to continue going if you reach a particular size like CVA or U’K. Then there is the fact we live out in 0.0, and then not the sov kind, but the NPC kind. That’s right, we’re a roleplaying alliance that bases out of Curse, you know that region most people know as the place alliances go to die, or use as a staging point, or grumble about because it requires an extra cyno to get from here to there. Welcome to niche play.

However, recruitment is not really the issue, we’re overall seeing a decrease in applications made but nothing that we didn’t see every summer already. Nor do people cite any particular issues with how we operate. Yes, we have a new neighbor that lost their sov and is now running around the neighborhood like they own it, but that’s something we’ve seen before. And it’s quite certainly going to be temporary, because alliances who consciously decide to live in Curse are few and between. It’s also my experience that once a sov player, always a sov player, which explains why losing sov can be a killing blow. It’s kinda hard to go back from there. This is just Curse being Curse and we’ve learned to deal with the eb and flow and carve our own path through that.

When going over what I will call “annoyances” like a former sov holder or the unprobable nerf or the summer activity slump, when digging in deeper, the core of the problem seems to be there is a whole lot of uncertainty going on which traces back to the current state of the game. The drama may have well passed, but it still lingers in the back of everyone’s minds. This ranges from performance issues with Incarna — though the recent patch that fixed load times and system temperatures has done a lot, but we did lose people due to not being able to replace hardware — to the NeX prices to there still being only one CQ to patches that patch patches which are fixing patches that broke patches (I feel for QA here) to the stagnant nature of flying in space. And even though we were presented a nice dev blog with 0.0 design guidelines which I wrote about previously, these are only guidelines, and long term at that, meaning that for the time being we have to make the best of what we do have. Fair enough, people knew when they joined what we do, and that would be quite alright, if only people were still motivated to do it. Not to mention that the things that Incarna brought are not things that will keep players entertained all day.

Ok, let me show you some numbers, which you may have seen over at Jester’s Trek and in The Mittani’s Kugutsumen announcement. Unlike the latter, I will link both images, as I feel they must be viewed together to really understand what is going on. Not that I disagree with what Mittens is saying, on the contrary, I just want to broaden the scope a bit to make the point even clearer.

EVE Logged-in Players (rolling averages)
EVE Online Average Logged-in Players 2011

The first image is a total view, going from 2006 over to 2011, with the red lines being the changing of the year. It’s rather obvious, but I’ll state it extra that means that summer sits halfway in between those red lines. More on that later. The second image is a view of the current half-and-a-bit year. Now, go ahead and compare the two. See how summer is nearly always offset by an expansion releasing, except in 2009 where timing was a bit awkward but where the winter expansion made well up for it. See how Tyrannis shook up last summer. And most importantly, see what didn’t happen right after Incarna. Now ok, the graph doesn’t a whole lot further after Incarna, but if you look at how soon spikes in activity occur after a patch, it should have to have been visible on this chart!

Looking at the second image then, we can see much higher the impact certain things have. What were the only spikes for Incarna? The riots and uproar, and then the time around where some positive dev blogs appeared. Fun fact for the readers, of all the blog posts I made in the last year, the one I did where I called out EN24 on creating / feeding the mass hysteria received double the amount of views any other post this year did. Yes, most of my writing is as niche as my alliance is, and I assume my readers are people interested in some way in that niche, so either that post must have broken me out of the  usual niche (pretty sure it did!) or my usual readers must care a great deal for post-Incarna woes. Likely a mix of both, especially taking into account all posts on Incarna have been doing really well.

I’m not conjuring up these conclusions out of thin air, and neither is it a sentiment trapped within the borders of the usual crowd I play with. Three CSM members have written or blogged about this (Mittens, Seleene, Trebor) and likely more have forum posted, but I avoid the forums like the plague. Yes even the fancy new ones ain’t doing it for me, which shows that design isn’t everything (even though I secretly am fond of the like button). The fact that CCP has messed up, and that the aftermath of that is being felt and has a negative impact on the game, is a reality. And it is one that must not be ignored.

So, to answer the first banter questions, I feel CCP’s recent strategies have a negative impact on the playerbase. As for the CSM, I used to once have faith in the process, but what with CSM members have been revealing about the missing emergency minutes, and Seleene’s account of it, I think Mittens and his (unintended?) media campaign are going to have a much bigger effect. I’m a fan of playing things by the book when they can be done, but right now, I feel a revolution might be more in order. CCP may say that things are going as they should, but honestly, I don’t think they mean what they say. Yes, decisions were made in a past in a very different era (see Iceland’s role in the banking bubble), and it may be hard to let go of great visions that indeed would be truly great when achieved. The question however is if this is still feasible? I have great ideas that would be truly great when achieved for Ghost Festival and Naraka too. It’d be amazing to create the equivalent of what CVA had with Providence, but for Angel roleplayers. But I know damn well enough that such an idea is foolish to chase when you are at a stage where you realistically can only support small gang roams and mission running.

The kicker is that the investments have already been made, that DUST is going to release, that the WoD MMO is being developed, and that we now have Incarna. And yes, sometimes you have to force certain concepts down people’s throats because they will lead to greatness in the future. But that means you have to be able to cope with the losses of those who will simply not take it. And that is just bad when likely your business strategy was built upon numbers from previous years which looked a whole lot more optimistic and may today be a lot more forgiving if not everyone was a lot more prudent about their expenses.

I am of the opinion that at the end of the day, while a company owns a game and is thus entitled to do with it as it pleases, it is still a good idea to develop what players really want. And the Incarna numbers show that either players did not want this, or rather so far it’s been very lackluster. And that is a sentiment I share. While I like my CQ, certainly now it runs smoothly so I don’t have to stare at the dreaded door, I’d have been a lot happier with new things to keep me going through the summer. They’d have given a distraction, and something to work with other players on. Instead we got something we can all bitch about. And that’s a poor ground to build or maintain a corporation on.

So what about the future? My plan is to stick around and do all those things I’ve never really had or made time for before. If EVE is really “dying” then why not make the best of it while it lasts? That should fill up the time until the winter, where I expect / hope / pray that we will see good things again. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for any changes that will improve our situation in Curse, be it directly or indirectly. I’ll take what I can get. Maybe by then CCP manages to restore the faith of players, but that is going to mean that first off this current mess needs to see a definite end (at the very least, the minutes have to be released in a way that the CSM is pleased), and that a move forward must be made. We got a bunch of optimistic dev blogs, but it’s high time we get to see establishments, contraband, and some starting details on 0.0. And what if winter doesn’t bring anything good? Well, we’ll see about it then. There’s SWTOR, GW2 and D3 on the horizon, and maybe it is time for a change of scenery. But damn, that’s not how I’d want it to be. I would like EVE to be part of my gaming diet then, instead of dropped. Though if it happens, I suppose at least I’ll be ready for it.

EVE is Real, my perspective

Jul
15

Submissions are open for the EVE is Real contest. I must say this is a brilliant turnaround from the drama we’ve been having lately regarding NeX, the Incarna rollout and CCP’s poor communication skills. Time to focus on what makes us all play internet spaceships to begin with and all the things CCP in fact does right. Or I should say the EVE community, and CCP seems quite prepared with this initiative to celebrate its greatest marketing tool, namely us.

For my submission I’ve selected something that was not made by me, but rather something that really got my EVE carreer rolling. The Angel Cartel (Push Eject) by Kyoko Sakoda, aka that recruitment trailer everyone loves. And damn right that they do, it’s an excellent piece of work, even now. For those of you who’ve never seen it before, I’ve included it at the end of this post.

So why does this make EVE real for me? Well, this trailer reminds me of the time when my time in Apex Unlimited was coming to an end and I spent a good while on my own before finally taking the plunge. And from there on, for those who’ve been following Myrhial’s / my story since the beginning I slowly rolled into the position where I am now, CEO of Ghost Festival, Executor of Naraka. and the person who took us from Derelik to the Amarr FW area, over to Goinard, and now finally into Curse. My, it’s been one hell of a ride and we’re still going, with so much more to come.

And that’s what really makes EVE real for me, the fact that every day the work I put in matters to many people, and that they keep amazing me with their input, and that through all these years there’s been so much I’ve gotten out of the game that goes beyond the limits of what is virtual. Just look at my interview at Fanfest, or just Fanfest as a whole, my blog of course, the tweetfleet, and the RP community. And there is so much more I am sure I am missing out on.

The funny fact is that Monoclegate, for lack of a better word, really made me realize that if EVE were to die there would be so much I’d end up missing. So much that is being taken almost for granted, and so much things that haven’t been realized yet. I seriously hope that time won’t come soon, but it is also a good reminder that we should not be scared and live our lives here and now, both the real and the virtual ones. Cut the crap and focus on what really matters. And don’t wait until tomorrow with what you can already do today.

One month in Curse

Mar
21

Curse

Has it really only been one month? I feels like so much longer already. The 17th of last month was when we officially moved into Curse, so it must be true. Perhaps it feels this way because everything moved so fast. Once we were on location and began to get our pilots running through the standings redemption programma, applications began rolling in. Ironic, because initially we planned to get some more numbers first, and then roll it. But some diplomatic contacts changed that and we seized an opportunity that would have otherwise passed us by.

So here we are, one month in, and we’re doing well for ourselves. We have our little corner of Curse for ourselves to do agent work in, we have some like minded groups which we are on the same line with, and we’re actively working on getting combat operations up to “old” levels. We are also doing something that is pretty unique both presently and historically in New Eden, being a “pirate” faction loyalist alliance that bases out of the sovereign space of its faction.

We took a short stint into w-space a week or so ago, which was very educational, except that our potential targets vanished on us (a careless Heron did perish). Few days ago I also joined our new addition Deviance Cartel on a good old roam through Molden Heath. Got ourselves a Drake and a Hurricane in one of the asteroid belts, with an Ishkur just barely slipping away. The Hurricane pilot did try and run out, but at some point he just … halted and looked as if to turn back. I am not sure if it was an attempt to align out, but for once I did recall to overheat my warp disruptor to catch him out of regular reach. I swear it was as if I hear Yishal’s voice ring through my head, reminding me to use every edge available to ensure victory. Or maybe that clone just needs to be double-checked. We also snatched a pair of Bestowers later that evening, not sure what those careless sods were doing, but that should be a lesson learned for them. Shame they weren’t transporting anything of value, but well, can’t have it all in one evening right? I did end up blowing some of the hard work I had done to get restored into CONCORD’s good graces, but frankly I don’t really worry. I can hire help for logistical purposes should I need it, and with the way we are going, it looks like others will have to keep the Sansha incursions at bay.

I dropped by at the one year anniversary costumed ball of Knighthood of the Merciful Crown yesterday. Not something I’d usually attend, but as I was in Empire space already and with no plans of the evening I accepted Vincent Pryce’s kind invitation and got myself sorted with an angel costume. Wings alas were not found on short notice, but once at the venue Shalee Lianne was kind enough to lend me a second pair she owns, and Nikita Alterana offered a pair for future use as well should I need it. Now I feel almost odd, being an Angel, yet not owning a pair of wings to dress up with. Am I missing something here? The ball was lovely however, and it was fun to dance, but as I am planet-bound in only a few more hours I decided not to stay too long. Nethys Axion has been put in charge of Ghost Festival during my absence, not an easy task for someone recently appointed a director, but I have full trust in her skill. She as well as many of our new pilots have been absolutely amazing and I am proud to have them call me their boss. I’ve got a real good feeling about this, now more than ever before I know this is the path I’ve always wanted to be on, and I will keep on pushing for success.

Getting to where we want to be

Feb
26
Curse

Our rightful home

Been a good while again since my last update. Not for a lack of action, that’s for sure. I dare say things are busier than ever. And while they aren’t always easy, for the large part I am enjoying myself. That’s right, I love my job.

So what’s been happening? Well, the most important part, which I somehow always mention as last when catching up with friends or other contacts, is that we’re now basing primarily out of Curse. All of Naraka except for PRELI is, in fact. Well, and Aria, but Aria does as Aria likes and that’s alright with me.

We’ve grown quite a bit and I really like our new pilots. They want to be here, too. That helps, having people that share your vision, rather than cater to their visions. Ma’asei Merkabah likewise has taken in some solid pilots. We work together as a coherent unit.

Diplomacy has been intense. Some capsuleers down here can be so difficult. And I don’t do that. Why make things complicated when they can be really simple? Less room for error, more efficiency, and not as much headache and frustration. I understand it though, how thing sometimes become the way they are. But this fear of change and the clinging to the status quo? A strange thing in a region that is constantly changing. I hope it is a pattern we will never fall into.

I met up with Vincent Pryce the other day. It was good to see him again, even though things haven’t been good at all for him. He’s changed for the better in the face of terrible events. Even though he sees it as paying a price for all the bad things he’s done. I hope my words gave him some comfort, as I believe he is far stronger than he thinks he is at times. But I am not a professional psychiatrist, the best I can offer is the advice of someone who cares.

Vincent told me a little about how things are with Veto now. A tricky situation. Until word comes from Venal they are told to not fight back any Sansha forces. I wonder how my other ex-pilots are dealing with that. I can think of a few that must be dying to open fire. Yet they can’t. What if Venal decides to ally with the Sansha? What will they do then? What will Ethan do, even? I am also curious about the future of Veto, now that all forces have been merged into one central unit. In his latest IGS announcement he hinted at further details being released at the start of April — an unluckily chosen date, if you ask me — but even with holding top-level clearance for a while I can’t do more than guess. But those are worries that are best not to linger on too long. What is important is that we can strike down every last Sansha if we please to do so and we’ll even get a pat on the back for it.

Now that I mentioned the IGS, I had a little fun with what looks like to have been Revan’s last public event ever. Both Velarra and I made it through the first round even and I had a long chuckle as Koronakesh’s commentary. Milder than I had expected it to be, actually. A shame the second round fell right into a period my agenda was already overbooked. But then things took a strange turn when politics and love meddled into it all, the short version being that Jade Constantine — Revan’s lover — did not approve and used her position to have things called off. Must say I am disappointed, though not surprised in the solution Revan chose. Shame, at least an event like this brought some change to the ever so predictable back and forth arguments.

I’m sure I am forgetting a thing or two, but time is precious and I have to get back to work. Paperwork is nearly all done, luckily, so now we’re getting to the good bits like making ISK and enforcing our position within the region. More on that in a future post, I’m sure.

2010: An EVE year in review – To quit and try again

Jan
11

2010 has come and gone, and with being 11 days into 2011 it is a good time to reflect on what has passed and how it has shaped the present, in order to clear the road for a better 2011.

Leaving Goinard

The start of this year was marked by the search for a new home. The search was long, and lead us to many places, but ultimately wasn’t very fruitful. When you are established in a location that has nearly everything to make life in lowsec easy, and share it with a group large enough to keep others out, you’re in a pretty perfect situation. Any other places with similar combinations of being an highsec bordering system, having a sufficiently large market hub nearby, having access to most of lowsec space, medical facilities in your home base, good rats and so forth are bound to be taken by someone, who likely will run you into the ground in the defense of their perfect situation.

Our situation was further complicated by the fact that Naraka then existed of a lowsec piracy focussed group (PRETA) and a highsec industry focussed group (PRELI) and we wanted an ideal situation for both. Even when we eventually expanded our scope and were willing to give up certain benefits, we just could not make it work.

Operation Longshot

Since finding a new home was getting us nowhere, we opted for something similar yet different: Nomadic roams. One picks a location that looks interesting, sets up camp for a while, exploits the area and when things either get boring, or too hot under your feet, you pack up and disappear again, all thanks to the convenience of carriers. Operation Longshot was supposed to be the solution to our problems, and despite indeed solving them, it sadly was not in the way that was intended.

Veto

When faced with the choice of joining a big established corporation which does what PRETA did (lowsec piracy), or diving into the unknown depths of nulsec piracy with a corporation that is falling apart, well, it is pretty obvious what people are going to opt for. The great irony is that people leaving us for Veto was not really a threat when we were simply doing what we do best, but became an issue when we planned for getting away to eliminate the “danger” and put an end to the whole being called pets by certain groups. Oh well, hindsight is 20/20, I made the call, and it turned out to be a bad one. In the end it did clear the roster of people who’d probably be better off in another group anyway. Not that I hold grudges, I am happy they are now enjoying themselves, or eventually discovered that they were just done with the game.

Being a shadow CEO within Veto was educational. While it is not exactly positive, it was somehow reassuring they deal with the same kind of issues a small corporation deals with as well, and that there really aren’t that much differences other than more numbers. Summer inactivity? Yep, they got it too, and having more members might mean that more stick around through that period, but also means that more of them disappear. If you’d use percentages, they would be very similar. More was also learned by simply observing how situations are tackled, and even though ultimately Verone’s style of leadership is not one that suits me, it is one that gets things done and going his way. Respect to that.

As for what I did with my time besides lurking, I spent a while going on every possible operation I could go on, buying ships and training for them as needed, and good times were had. Over time however I felt my inner CEO nag, and set up my own operation “Platinum Halo” which brought myself and a few others to Curse to do mission work for the Cartel, and supply Veto members with Dramiels. I wasn’t quite planning on giving up my colors, after all, and made a pretty sum off of it. Alas, in the end nearly all my profits were destroyed when the Tengu I had invested in to run the missions with exploded due to ending up in a mission that was not quite speed-tank friendly.

Silence

Despite being the dream of many budding outlaws, life in Veto soon grew old. I think never intending to make more out of it than a temporary residence has a lot to do with that. So I simply fell off the grid for a while. Burnout and bitterness were catching up with me, too, and then there was the Tengu loss. Time for a breather.

Ghost Syndicate

Ah, Alexander Rykis, entering the roleplay community with a bang, shaking the foundations of just about everything, and having some ideas that seemed really good on paper. Had promise, too bad the execution did not live up to it. A shame he chose to lash out at everyone when things didn’t go quite as planned. Given more time and patience there could have really been something in the making here. In the end, it is not all his fault however, the roleplay community in certain ways is just way too stagnant for big revolutionary ideas to take liftoff within the span of a few weeks.

A slow restart

Ratting up my security status is one thing that took way longer than expected, even with help. Combine that with actually not being fully ready to lead a corporation again and not quite knowing what I wanted to do with it meant for a slow restart of Naraka. Not getting any members back from Veto other than myself and some alts — most play very casually these days — meant starting from square 1 again. Having all options open where to take PRETA next was actually not so good either, trying a bit of everything eventually gets nothing done. I am afraid I might have wasted the time of some good people there who joined to help build something.

But the end of 2010, and now the start of 2011 has things finally taking off: two new corporations into Naraka, differences of opinion within the Cartel community exploded with a bang which while not ideal does resolve a whole lot of headache, the second part of the Incursion expansion is upon us giving us many storyline hooks, and writing a year review has given me ample time to reflect upon mistakes made one final time, heed their lessons, and set off in such a way as not to make them again, but also not let them dictate me any longer. I now know what to not do again, and why. “Fail often”, they say, as well as “If it ain’t working, know when to quit, and then try again”. These wise words have made me realize that while 2010 may have consisted of periods of wasted time, they also served a purpose on a greater scale. I hope they will help in making 2011 a year of success for Naraka.