What a Difference a Mouse Makes

For the last several years, I have been using the standard mouse device that came with my personal computer - a generic laser-based unit that did its job adequately. It moved the cursor, scrolled windows and selected things just fine. I honestly didn't think about it very much - I simply used it every day.

Farewell, old and dirty OEM mouse - and thanks for your service.

Farewell, old and dirty OEM mouse - and thanks for your service.

A couple weeks ago, the scroll wheel began to fail. I first noticed it while playing Stellaris - you tend to scroll a lot in that game to zoom in and out. We do the same thing quite a bit in EVE Online - we undock, admire our cool-looking ship for a moment, and then zoom way out to attend to the serious business of Internet spaceships.

When my scroll wheel finally stopped working altogether, I realized I needed to acquire a replacement mouse, pronto. At first, I thought I'd just buy a cheap device from the local office supply store - you can buy entirely functional mice for as little as a dollar these days. My needs were fairly simple, so I didn't give it much thought.

A quick Google search for "best PC mouse" altered my perspective immediately. There are a lot - and I really mean a LOT - of options for mouse users today. Somewhat intimidated, I took a deep breath, and waded into the morass of alternatives.

Professional-grade Gaming Mice

I learned that while there are many general-purpose mice available at low cost, serious gamers only consider devices that are tuned to their unique needs. More than any other kind of computer users, gamers push their mice to extreme limits, requiring the very best technology and reliability.

Although any typical car can transport me from point A to point B safely, I'd never try to win a professional automobile race in a standard Honda Civic. The mice designed for gamers are the Formula 1 devices of computer interaction. Hardcore gamers need extraordinarily rapid and precise clicks and movement all the time, every time they play. General computer users' needs are far less demanding, and it doesn't matter if their mouse misclicks from time to time - for a gamer, however, such an error can be fatal (virtually, that is). After reading about the technical superiority of professional-grade alternatives, I realized that I'd been using the equivalent of a Ford Model-T mouse for far too long.

The more I researched, the more amazed I became at the engineering limits that mouse developers are pushing to serve the serious gamer market. An excellent example is this video showing the types of testing that pro-grade mice are undergoing:

Incredible stuff, this is. Who knew that something as simple as a mouse could be taken to this level of technological sophistication?

Perhaps this is an indicator of a mild mid-life crisis, but after all this education, I decided it was time for me to move into the modern age and get a cool "sports car" mouse, instead of settling for another boring economy sedan, so to speak.

Wireless Competitors

As the above video shows, a high-performance gaming mouse once required a wired connection, but that is no longer true. My old mouse was wireless, and I liked being able to move it freely on my desktop without any hassle. I hoped that my new mouse would give me that same untethered ability.

That single requirement reduced the number of viable options very dramatically to only two: the Razer Mamba Chroma and the Logitech G900 Chaos Spectrum. While there are other wireless mice for gamers available, these are the two that consistently appear at the top of the comparative reviews. I liked the clean design of the Razer, but the performance of the G900 was consistently lauded in all the reviews. After watching some head-to-head comparison videos, like the following, I chose the G900.

Neither mouse is cheap - at about $150, both cost a lot more money than I had originally envisioned spending. As I placed my order, I wondered if I was over-investing. Was the higher level of performance worth it? Would my gaming experience really be that much better than using a standard mouse? I grit my teeth and clicked the order button, hoping I wasn't going to be disappointed.

Where have you been all my life?

My shiny new mouse arrives!

My shiny new mouse arrives!

My new mouse arrived in three days, and I eagerly opened the box. It comes with a heavy duty braided cord, which is used to recharge the mouse, or to operate as a wired connection, if you desire. There is also a small USB connector that you can use with the cord to place the wireless receiver right next to your mouse pad, or you can just plug the tiny receiver directly into a USB port on your PC - I tried both configurations and it works well either way.

The G900 is an ambidextrous mouse, so if you are left-handed, you will appreciate the design. You can configure the two side buttons on either side, or you can use supplied inserts to cover them and have no side buttons at all, if you wish. There is a center button for changing the scroll to a free-wheeling mode, which is great for scrolling rapidly through long documents or screens (like this article, for example). The standard incremental scroll mode works refreshingly smooth.

There are also two buttons on the top that control the sensitivity level of the mouse. The G900 allows four adjustable levels of sensitivity. If I was playing first-person shooter games, this would be a critical feature, but for games like EVE Online and Stellaris, it isn't that important.

One reason I picked the G900 over the Mamba was the design of the two main mouse buttons. On the Mamba, these buttons are extensions of the mouse shell - you are bending the plastic every time you press down on the button. On the G900, these are mechanical switches, which do not flex - the entire button moves intact on a lever, which activates the switch. It's a better engineered design, with less resistance.

My new Logitech G900 Chaos Spectrum wireless mouse - I am now "professional grade".

The entire mouse is extremely light at just over 100 grams - half the weight of my old mouse, which was powered by two AA batteries. The G900 feels like it has no battery in it at all, which is amazing since it can operate for more than 32 hours on a single charge, if the lighting effects are turned off. With the LED lights on, it can run for almost 24 hours. The mouse has a sleep mode to extend battery time, which engages if you leave it alone for a few minutes. I found it takes about two hours to recharge - and of course you can use it with the connected cord while it is recharging, if needed.

After playing a variety of different games for two days (Fallout 4, Civilization V, Stellaris, EVE Online and the newest Deus Ex), I never detected any lag in performance - the wireless connection is rock-solid reliable.

In fact, I'm amazed at how quickly I got used to the G900 - it really took me only a few minutes before it felt completely natural. I use a palm grip, and the mouse fits neatly in my average-sized hand.

The mouse comes with a very easy to use application that enables you to customize buttons, lighting effects and other functions. It also tracks battery life, and the mouse's topside LEDs alert you when it is getting low.

The Logitech gaming software makes it easy to configure the G900.

The Logitech gaming software makes it easy to configure the G900.

The gaming application tells you how much battery life you have left.

The gaming application tells you how much battery life you have left.

Most high-end gaming mice include LED lights, and the G900 does, too. I always thought these were just pretty decoration. I've since discovered that it's a handy way to know if the mouse is in sleep mode, and that is actually useful. The Logitech gaming application lets you customize the LED light effects to whatever colors or pulsing rate you wish.

After playing with the G900, I am now acutely aware that I had trained myself to tolerate the gross inadequacies of my clunky old mouse. Now that the G900 has shown me how moving, selecting and scrolling can be effortless, I realize that I had been fighting with my mouse for years. Those of you who stuck with really horrible girlfriends or boyfriends for far too long will understand what I mean. Comparatively speaking, the G900 is an absolute delight, and I'm embarrassed it too me so long to upgrade. I feel silly for worrying that I wouldn't be able to tell the difference - the contrast is definitely palpable, and I don't regret spending the extra money for the much improved gaming experience.

But what about EVE?

Since this is a blog that focuses on EVE Online, I want to describe how the G900 has affected my playing experience with that game, specifically.

First, having a mouse that works much more smoothly and reliably just makes interfacing with the EVE client easier. This is definitely a quality of life thing, and not a functional advantage. Scrolling faster and easier makes zooming in and out simpler and more precise. Not worrying about misclicks means I don't have to fret about hovering my cursor over on-screen buttons as I jump through gates, in fear that I won't be able to do so fast enough. I am now confident that when I click on something, it will actually work as intended. As a result, I feel more relaxed when I'm flying around in New Eden with the G900 than I ever did with my old mouse.

There are mouse devices that are designed for use with MMORPG games that have a bevy of buttons on them. For a game like EVE Online, this is definitely overkill. But the few extra configurable buttons on the G900 have proven to be useful, though I'm still experimenting with different combinations. I set my back side button to issue the Shift-R command, which recalls drones, and found it very convenient in missions and mining. Now, rather than navigate through the on-screen menu, I just reach back with my thumb, click, and bingo - my drones dutifully return to their bay.

Setting one of my side buttons to retrieve drones - easy peasy.

Setting one of my side buttons to retrieve drones - easy peasy.

However, I'm not entirely sure that using mouse buttons in this way is in compliance with the EVE Online EULA. It says:

You may not use your own or any third-party software, macros or other stored rapid keystrokes or other patterns of play that facilitate acquisition of items, currency, objects, character attributes, rank or status at an accelerated rate when compared with ordinary Game play. You may not rewrite or modify the user interface or otherwise manipulate data in any way to acquire items, currency, objects, character attributes or beneficial actions not actually acquired or achieved in the Game.

I'm only replacing single keyboard commands with mouse-button clicks, so I think I'm OK. I'm not doing anything that performs "at an accelerated rate" - the time it takes to click a mouse button instead of a keyboard combination is arguably the same. But CCP Games' thinking on what is or is not a EULA violation can sometimes be murky. I intend to ask CCP Falcon about this at EVE Vegas and try to get a definitive ruling.

I have found that in a game that relies heavily on mastering a relatively complex user interface to succeed, using a high-end mouse like the G900 when playing EVE Online does make a difference in the quality of the experience. Does it give me a distinct advantage over other players? Not really, I think. But it definitely feels like I'm playing better - and that extra bit of confidence is certainly nice to have.

Fly safe! o7

What Do You BeliEVE?

Once again, expert EVE Online conversationalist Dirk MacGirk invited me back to the Open Comms show, this time to chat about the latest developments on Alpha clones and PvE (player vs. environment) content. I enjoy being a guest on this show, though I am invariably exhausted afterwards. The regular panelists all bring very passionate perspectives on the game, and this always produces very animated discussions that can feel like verbal jujitsu, as everyone wrestles to include their points of view.

We discussed the recent PvE "town hall", which was hosted by CSM representative Jin'Taan on EVE University's Mumble server last week. Dirk and I were both a little disappointed in that event, as it was mostly a qualitative review of different types of existing PvE experiences in the game - missions, complexes, exploration, incursions, anomalies, etc. Not a bad discussion to have, by any means, but not exactly the format to elicit any new and groundbreaking ideas.

CCP is definitely working on PvE content. CCP Seagull teased some "exciting new developments in PvE" at the beginning of the most recent o7 Show. The question is: are these developments simply incremental iterations of existing PvE options, or will they be something truly novel? I suspect we will have to wait for EVE Vegas at the end of October to find out.

EVE Content Religions

I'm always surprised at the intensity and diversity of responses that the subject of PvE in EVE Online provokes. It's like stating a religious opinion - sure to generate a strong reaction, and in sometimes unpredictable ways. Simply mention PvE in EVE Online to a fellow player, and you'll immediately know the brand of content religion to which they hold allegiance.

There are the fanatic PvP extremists who intone their mantra, "EVE is a PvP game" with fervor, as if it was a declaration of divinely delivered truth. These players believe that any investment in PvE is a blasphemy against the "real EVE", and diminishes their dearly-held sacred dogma that nothing truly matters except players' ships killing other players' ships. Suggest any kind of equivalency of importance of PvE with PvP, and the extremists all go into apoplectic spasms of violent rage and utter disgust. To the PvP fanatics, PvE is a sin, and all who choose it over PvP must be ridiculed and expunged vigorously, in tribute to the god of the almighty F1 key.

There are the money counters, who belong to several different orders, but all are devoted to the idea that "EVE is ISK" and nothing matters but money. They want PvE to be invariable, predictable and lucrative, so they can generate as much in-game cash for as little effort as possible. Their principal tenet is the holy credo of "ISK per hour", which is the only true measure of goodness. Suggest that PvE could be made more dynamic, and money counters go berserk with revulsion and shock, as such sacrilege threatens the essence of their ideal - a state of infinite ISK inflow with nil effort or time.

There are the technicians, who study various forms of PvE to levels of depth that would alarm even the most fastidious scientist. They see PvE as a puzzle to be solved, and they believe that EVE enlightenment comes from a deep and intimate understanding of the mechanics of their chosen specialization. Here you will find masters of minimization and maximization, who fret about discovering how to complete the exploration mini-game in one less click, or how to precisely place ships in an Incursion mission room for optimum effect, or how to identify the perfect fitting for clearing a Sleeper site most efficiently. They earn ISK from PvE, to be sure, but their primary motivation is the joy they feel from attaining absolute mastery.

There are the lore seekers, who see PvE as the means by which New Eden's backstory is revealed. They believe that EVE enlightenment arises from discovering tidbits of information in PvE that illuminate the previously unknown, and provide clues to the mysteries of the ancient races of New Eden. Any suggestion that EVE Online would be better with less emphasis on the mythos and legends of New Eden wounds lore seekers deeply. Lore seekers demand a constant stream of new PvE content - it is the lifeblood in which they revel and thrive in the game.

There are the dirty casuals, who fly lower-level missions and simple system anomalies only for the pleasure of seeing little red icons go boom. They are not interested in earning wealth, or solving deep mysteries, or becoming experts, and they do not have time to find other pilots to fight. They simply want to log into the game for a while, and have a bit of quick and easy fun. They are not interested in enlightenment, or in playing EVE with any kind of depth or intensity. All of the other more dedicated sects of EVE content religions regard the casuals with distaste, and hold them in low esteem. Soon, with the introduction of Alpha clones, the dirty casuals will find themselves in a lower caste of EVE Online playerdom - and they will embrace this with joy.

CCP's Challenge

The diversity of player opinions about game content, and specifically, about the "best" forms of PvE, presents a real challenge to CCP Games' developers. This wide range of beliefs virtually guarantees that whatever new PvE content that CCP produces will fail to win over everyone. There will always be some segment that will see it as "wrong" for the game, as seen from the perspective of their chosen EVE content religion.

As for me, I have always enjoyed PvE in EVE Online, though I am much less engaged in it as I once was. I became somewhat of a money counter in level 4 mission-running for a while, until I started earning more ISK from Tech II invention and manufacturing. The recent "Shadow of the Serpent" event revived some of my interest in PvE, and I enjoyed running many of those assigned tasks while the event lasted. But those assignments also reminded me of what I hope to see added to EVE's PvE options.

EVE does offer quite a diversity of PvE alternatives, but one thing it does not offer is a form of PvE that bridges more smoothly into PvP activity. Burner missions are the closest that we have to this today, and they can be quite challenging, though they too can be cracked and farmed, once a player unlocks how to fit and fly each of them.

Bridging PvE to PvP

To create this bridge, I long for a new form of PvE based on two qualities: dynamic generation and responsive design.

  • Dynamically generated PvE would be unpredictable. The construction of a mission, and the NPC targets that inhabit it, would be generated spontaneously on selection, and no two missions would look exactly alike. Ideally, the mission design would take into account the level of mastery of the player - perhaps revealed by their certificates - and adjust content accordingly. A player flying into a dynamically generated mission would not know how the mission room would be constructed, or even what kinds of targets they would encounter, except in a very general sense. This would force the player to omnitank and fit their ship as if they were flying into a PvP situation - something that current mission-runners rarely do.
  • Responsively designed PvE would scale up or down depending on what kinds and numbers of ships that players fly into the mission room. Whether they fly a solo frigate or a fleet of battleships, players in a responsive mission would see waves of reinforcements that scale up or down, relative to the strength of the player threat. With a responsive design, mission level designations become meaningless.

In addition, I would love to see mission NPCs act as much as possible like players do in PvP situations. I want to see them use drones, electronic warfare, and flight techniques that a player would see in a typical PvP encounter. CCP has been experimenting with greatly improved AI for NPCs for quite a while now, and we've seen considerable advances in this regard, but more work needs to be done. When a player cannot tell if they are flying against an AI or a real player, then we will have achieved the optimum state for PvE design.

Threatening Belief Systems

When I described my vision of dynamic and responsive PvE design during the Open Comms show, I was surprised at the negative responses it received. Some fanatic PvP extremists dismissed it outright - they want to maintain a clear gap between PvE and PvP, as they believe this will encourage more players to abandon PvE and embrace their preferred playstyle. A couple of apparent money counters disliked the unpredictability, as that poses a threat to their "ISK per hour" efficiency paradigm. An obvious technician had a hard time wrapping his head around the idea of an ever-changing unsolvable puzzle - he decided it was an unreachable ideal, and that CCP could never produce it.

But I remain steadfast in my hope that CCP will one day introduce the style of dynamic and responsive PvE that I desire. I think it would add a whole new richness to the game, and help make it easier for more players to transition into PvP, if they so desired.

I await CCP's upcoming announcements on PvE development with great anticipation. It will be fascinating to see how the player community reacts, and I won't be surprised if it is a mixed bag, no matter how innovative and creative CCP gets with PvE design. If my experience is any indication, some players' beliefs about what kind of content is "good" for the game are too deeply entrenched, and anything that does not align with their idealized values will be summarily rejected.

As for me, I will take what comes, and try to find a way to enjoy it. One should be open to new possibilities, as they arise. I might even switch my own EVE content religion. Inner peace is worth changing my mind from time to time.

I wonder how many EVE players feel the same way?

Fly safe! o7

 

Changing My Mind (a little)

When free-to-play (F2P) Alpha clones were announced by CCP last week, I wrote a post exploring their potential abuse by high-sec ganking pilots. In that post, I urged CCP to lock safeties on for Alpha clones in high-sec space, as it seemed the only reasonable way to ensure that veterans would not use them for free incremental advantage.

I commented further on the Alpha ganking issue in a follow-up post, which asked people to remember that EVE is not only a PvP game, and that effects of new features (e.g., Alpha clones) need to be evaluated carefully in light of the game as a whole.

Reader reactions to my last post have been.... well, let's just say they've been an interesting mix. Some enthusiastically agreed, many had opinions that wavered between support and concern, and a couple taught me new things about the creative use of profane language. This is what happens when you dare to publish an opinion about EVE Online - you generate a broad spectrum of expressed perspectives.

This diversity of reactions is exactly why I started writing this blog - it helps me see the bigger picture, and learn new things about our beloved game, EVE Online. So, even though I have had to withstand a little verbal abuse from critics emboldened by their shields of anonymity, the feedback has been very educational and enlightening, on the whole. So, a sincere thanks to all of you who sent me comments, tweets and emails with your ideas and opinions.

I've learned a lot over the last week. And as a result, my original position on the Alpha safety locking issue has softened, with some qualifications. In short, I've become more open to an alternative approach to handling the Alpha ganking issue, and I'd like to explain why.

The Alpha Ganking Debate

My fellow blogger and EVE media personality, Ashterothi, posted a link to my post on Reddit, and it generated a huge spike of interest. (Thanks, Ash - much appreciated!)

CSM member Mr. Hyde posted an interesting comment there, in support of locking Alpha clones' safeties on in high-sec space:

The underlying goal of Alphas is to give NEW PLAYERS a free opportunity to experience enough of EVE at their own pace to convince them to go Omega and subscribe. Sensible limits as to what they can access are part of this experience:
(1) as a safeguard against abuse by existing players, but
(2) also to clearly show that going Omega will unlock the full potential of the game, without ruining the core game experience of EVE that will hook them into subbing.
So when taking feedback and evaluating what limits should be placed on Alphas, we need to see if the proposed limitation furthers these goals.
Is limiting Alphas from participating in high-Sec ganking going to achieve (1)?
Clearly yes. Existing players know enough about this playstyle and the associated mechanics to potentially exploit it. Given Alpha clone skill restrictions, do I think this will really give high-sec gankers substantially more power than they already have with existing alts? No. But for the sake of quashing any unforseen potential for abuse and distracting from the real focus of Alphas, I am fine with safety limiting Alphas in Hisec.
Is limiting Alphas from participating in high-sec ganking going to achieve (2)?
Yes. We are not going to fail to hook an ACTUAL NEW PLAYER by limiting their ability to suicide gank haulers in high-sec. Whether you like it or not, this is something that is perfectly acceptable to put behind the paywall and subscribe if you want to participate in. It is implausible to think that by limiting this type of PVP to Omegas only, that we are somehow doing a massive disservice to newbros and ruining the core EVE experience that will encourage them to sub. They can train into a t1 cruiser and go kill a titan in a huge fleet battle in null, they can fully participate in our player economy and make billions if they are smart, they can FC a fleet and be leaders if they want to; no one is stopping those things.
So TLDR I don't buy veiled attempts to allow existing players to abuse Alphas under the guise of "this won't let them experience EVE and they won't sub because of it".
(If only EVE Online players were more passionate debaters...)

(If only EVE Online players were more passionate debaters...)

This was, I must admit, a little surprising. I honestly did not expect any of our current CSM to support ganking restrictions on Alpha clones.

On the other side of the issue, supporting the unrestricted Alpha ganking camp, Jin'taan, another CSM member, published an article on Crossing Zebras. Here's a pertinent excerpt:

... [Regarding]the possibility of ‘safety locking’ Alpha players to either yellow or green, to prevent expected abuse from highsec gankers. This is something I don’t necessarily disagree with, but I feel that it has significant downsides that need to be addressed, and is somewhat based on assumptions that aren’t truthful.
... Think about what the game loses by turning off ganking on Alphas. Not just from a real level, but from a perception level, from the mythology of EVE level.
EVE has long been seen as a game in which you can do whatever you want, and that there will be consequences for your actions. Not just by the players, it’s the general view of people who don’t play the game on it. There’s the whole ‘nowhere is safe’ and ‘only fly what you can afford to lose’ mantras, which are seared into newer players by veterans. What does it say to these new players if we restrict them from trialing aspects of gameplay, no matter how niche a part of the sandbox it might be?

As I suspected, it appears that CCP is leaning towards allowing unrestricted Alpha clone ganking, if CCP Rise's comment in the aforementioned Reddit thread is any indication:

I just wanted to chime in here and say that from our side, the idea that 'EVE is a PVP game', and some of the associated logic you mention, really has nothing to do with our position on this, or on anything as far as I know.
Instead, our driving principle for the Alpha design is to try and give the best EVE experience we possible can to Alphas, and only draw lines in cases where 'an unworkable or unsustainable imbalance in the game's cycle of gathering, building and destroying' (as you very nicely put it) becomes inevitable.
The only reason we haven't already committed to a limitation related to suicide ganking is that we aren't necessarily convinced that it does create such a pronounced imbalance AND we know we have a good tool to respond if it turns out that imbalance does emerge.
But! As the follow-up blog said, we are still in the thick of discussion and final touches so lets see what comes from the summit.

So, the door to locking Alpha safeties is still open, but just barely, and I suspect it will be likely be closed at the CSM summit meeting next week. I'm resigned to the likelihood that Alphas will be ganking in high-sec in November. But I may be alright with that, if certain limits are maintained.

A Reasonable Alternative

In his CZ article, Jin'taan hints at a possible alternative restriction for Alpha clones that would work well for limiting potential abuse (emphases mine):

...Assuming that accounts can be locked to one Alpha character per session, this gives us the worst case scenario of a ‘free’ alpha alt to any Omega ganker. Personally, I would prefer to limit Alphas as the only client able to launch, but that’s due to the usefulness of having free alts in other areas (specifically FW Griffin & T1 logi alts, though I’m aware there are other use cases which are degenerate). If this is implemented, your worst case scenario goes as follows: a veteran player will be able to have a sub-optimal gank alt to try out the playstyle, whilst still being vastly inferior to a subbed player. This is almost exactly the same situation as currently exists with trial accounts...

There are several important points to highlight here. First, Jin'taan recommends limiting players to one Alpha per session - no multiboxing of multiple F2P Alpha characters allowed. This is a good idea, as it will prevent individual players from assembling hordes of multiboxed Alpha clone ships to wreak havoc. But then he makes, but immediately dismisses, a very important suggestion: limiting Alphas as the only client able to launch.

In other words, if you launch an Alpha clone character on your client, you would not be able to simultaneously launch an Omega clone at the same time, or vice-versa. Jin'taan points out that this would limit the usefulness of F2P Alpha as supplemental alts by veteran players, and so he discards this idea. But I think this is a mistake.

The intended purposes of F2P Alphas, as Mr. Hyde emphasizes, are to entice new players to try the game, and to encourage inactive veterans to return, both with a no-cost but limited play option. I do not believe that CCP intends to provide Alphas as a means to supplement currently subscribed veteran players with free utility characters, which could be used for intelligence gathering, logistics or EWAR support, enhancing ganking firepower, or other purposes. The likelihood that these utility F2P characters, existing only to support an existing subscription character, would ever be converted into subscribing Omega clones is nil.

This is why CCP currently disallows free trial account characters to multibox with subscriber account characters, as Jin'taan points out. According to CCP's policy statement:

...A trial account may only be logged in as the sole account on the computer. Being logged into a trial account will prevent any log ins to other accounts on the same computer at the same time, independent of their account status. It is also not possible to log into a trial account when logged into another account on the same computer. 

Without this limitation, veteran players would make free trial characters all the time, to support to their highly developed main characters, but with no potential financial return to CCP.

So, why should CCP treat F2P Alpha accounts any differently than the current trial accounts?

A Fair Compromise

The main concern that I described in my post was that gankers would use F2P Alphas as a no-cost firepower enhancement in support of their Omega clones.

I am not terribly worried about all-Alpha teams of pilots banding together to gank people in high-sec. As CSM representative Noobman very competently explained in his Reddit post, relatively large numbers of Alphas in T1 Catalysts would be required to gank successfully. Frankly, if that many individual Alpha pilots can organize into a large enough swarm, I say all the more power to them. But I don't think many new players will do this, and veteran gankers would prefer to use their more powerful highly-skilled Omega characters, if forced to choose between them less effective Alpha characters, even if the latter is free. But I can easily see veterans gankers gleefully adding no-cost Alphas to their fleets, to multibox in support of their subscribed Omega characters, for the free 30-50 percent bonus in firepower.

If they could do so today, I am sure that many EVE Online veterans would be creating trial accounts to establish free support characters to supplement their mains. But since CCP has banned simultaneous log-in of trials and mains, the risk of doing so is extreme.

Will CCP and the CSM come to a reasonable compromise on Alpha clones, during the CSM summit in Reykjavik next week?

Will CCP and the CSM come to a reasonable compromise on Alpha clones, during the CSM summit in Reykjavik next week?

By banning simultaneous log-in of free Alpha and subscribing Omega characters by the same player, CCP would simply be extending the same policy that they have in place today for free trial and subscription accounts. Such a policy would make the concerns that I expressed in my post irrelevant.

To be candid, I would still prefer to see safeties locked on in high-sec for Alpha accounts, but if CCP wants F2P Alpha accounts to be able to sample the wonderful world of ganking, then safety-locking is not a workable option. In that case, treating Alpha clone accounts with the same log-in limitations as on the current trial account policy seems to me a reasonable compromise:

  • An Alpha clone account may only be logged in as the sole account on the computer.
  • Being logged into an Alpha account will prevent any log-ins to other accounts on the same computer at the same time.
  • It is also not possible to log into a Alpha account when logged into another account on the same computer. 

Even with these limits in place, miners and haulers will have to be more diligent about watching for hordes of Alphas buzzing around, but that should be fairly rare. (If it turns out to be more common than expected, then CCP always has the option to lock safeties on in high-sec, of course.) The current state for veteran gankers would be unchanged from the status quo, which is good. And F2P Alpha accounts would remain true to the purposes for which CCP intended - as an effective introduction to EVE Online for new players, and as a no-cost incentive for veteran players to return - and not as a free incremental advantage for veteran subscribers.

It will be interesting to see what kinds of decisions that CCP and the CSM make next week in Reykjavik.

Fly safe! o7