We Do It for Love

My mobile phone pinged at me this afternoon, and I saw that it was a Twitter post from the ever affable Crossing Zebras podcast host, Xander Phoena:

That made both of my eyebrows spring upwards in curiosity. So I opened up the dev blog page in the EVE Online community site, and found a wonderful write-up on my corp by CCP Eterne, Community Representative and Live Events Author for EVE Online.

Go ahead and give it a read, if you haven't seen it yet: http://community.eveonline.com/news/dev-blogs/community-spotlight-eve-university 

It's very nice to be recognized for good work, and also a bit humbling. Thanks, CCP Games, for the recognition of the UNI's contribution to the community. We do appreciate it very much. 

More is Better

Probably not coincidentally, CCP Eterne is also leading a series of new pilot training sessions, and the EVE University leadership has been talking with him about ways we could support this initiative. Now that he's run a few training seminars, I'm sure he realizes the amount of work required to do them well - something that we in the UNI have known for a long time. It's a lot harder than it looks.

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When CCP Eterne first announced that they were going to offer public training sessions, I received a few messages and tweets from players, asking what the UNI was going to do about it. Apparently, some people thought that the CCP seminars represented some kind of mortal threat to the survival of the UNI.

My reaction - and that of all the UNI management - was the exact opposite. We can't have enough classes and events to educate EVE Online players, and we really don't care who does them, as long as they are being done, and done well. In fact, we were very pleased to see CCP's initiative. "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery", as Charles Calem Colton once said - and that is certainly the case here.

We're very sincere in supporting CCP's efforts to host more training events. We've offered instructors, replacement ships, fleet commanders, and squads of pilots to spar with. We've offered use of our public Mumble channel, like we provide for the CSM Town Hall meetings, and other UNI resources, if needed. We've not yet arrived at any firm plans, but I'm confident that we'll be involved somehow.

Teacher's Pet? Hardly.

At last year's Fanfest event, a couple EVE Online players asked me why CCP Games gives EVE University "special privileges". I almost did a spit-take on my beer.

"Ha! What special privileges are you talking about?," I inquired, amused. 

"Doesn't CCP send all the new players your way?," one fellow asked. "Yeah, and didn't they fix the wardec system to protect the UNI, so no one can afford to attack you?," another asked.

"No, sorry, we don't get any help from CCP," I replied, while doing a quick mental count of the many wars since the Inferno expansion changes.

"Oh, yeah, sure," they said, with knowing smiles. One of them gave me a playful little nudge and a wink. "I understand - can't say anything official in public. We get it."

I hear this sort of thing from time to time. I don't know why, but there are some EVE players who think that the UNI enjoys favoritism from CCP.  And no amount of denial will deter them from their belief.

In fact, CCP seems to goes out of their way to avoid doing anything that might even appear like favored status for the UNI. Make no mistake, they like our corp. One CCP dev told me at Fanfest that their statistics show that if a new player joins the UNI, they are far more likely to continue subscribing, compared to other corps. The UNI is good for CCP's business. But that's as far as it goes.

And that's why the community spotlight from CCP Eterne was unexpected, and so much appreciated. It's nice to be recognized for good work, every once in a while.

We do it for love

Last week, a former corpmate asked me why I returned to the UNI to once again take on the burden of director duties. To be honest, I simply missed helping people, and the UNI provides an opportunity to do that. When I really think about it, that's where I have found the most satisfaction out of "playing" the game: giving those new members of our community a helpful hand.

I know that probably sounds like carebear gibberish to those players who see New Eden only as a place to assert their power and dominance in a cutthroat and hostile environment. And I agree - it certainly is that kind of universe, and I wouldn't have it any other way. But the harshness and difficulty of EVE Online just makes having a group dedicated to nurturing the interests of new players all the more special.

Those who make the UNI what it is - the staff and teachers and mentors - do it out of love for the game. And because they want to help others love it, too.

If you want to be part of that, as a teacher or as just a guest lecturer or fleet commander, let me know. I guarantee you will like it. 

Fly safe! o7

Having Fun with "EVE Offline"

So, CCP Games had some problems with the EVE Online servers last night. They issued this announcement on Twitter...

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Yep, EVE Online went down on a Saturday night. It wasn't pretty. I wanted to play, but could not connect. So, I thought I'd share my feelings...

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It's this kind of pithy feedback that I'm sure CCP finds very useful as they try to restore crashed servers. I'm always happy to help.

I wondered why the servers may have gone down, and then I remembered that the static ice belts are going away next week, when the new Odyssey expansion comes out. Like many industrialist players, I have been spending most of my EVE time multiboxing three characters recently - all ice mining like mad to store up POS fuel resources. Clearly, the huge rush of ice miners assaulting the static belts had to be the source of the trouble...

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That prompted some fellow EVE aficionados to support my profound observation...

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Noizy's response led me to the natural conclusion that the ice belt systems became so jammed with frantic miners, it must have caused a fail cascade of the entire CCP network. I didn't actually see this, of course, but clearly it was the only obvious determination as to the root cause of the problem. My prescient diagnostic talents are surely wasted - CCP should definitely hire me. I felt I should share my confident observation with the world...

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Trolling is when you cast bait in the water, and then slowly reel it back, in hopes of attracting a bite from the naive and unsuspecting. I soon got this reply...

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Once you get a nibble, you have to set the hook, with a good, firm jerk...

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Alas, that generated no further replies. Looks like that one got away. I checked Chribba's handy EVE Offline site - and saw that EVE was indeed still down. And then I saw this highly informative Tweet...

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Oh, really? Thanks for the update, and the helpful advice, pal. The urge to engage 100% snark mode was overpowering...

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One thing I'll say for CCP, they are very good about keeping EVE Online fans informed about what's going on when things have gone wrong. Whenever the hordes of seething EVE subscribers grouse in displeasure, and the din of discontent begins to rise on the Intertubes, there's almost always a benign CCP dev popping online, just to say that they are working the problem, and all will soon be alright once again...

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I wanted CCP to know how dire my need for EVE was, however. So I got a little creative and expressed my sentiment in a short bulletin...

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At that moment, I was content to give CCP some space, and let matters progress naturally. But then I saw this wonderful Tweet from Ali Aras, one of the recently elected CSM8 representatives for whom I had voted...

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It's actually a pretty interesting post - worth a quick read. I respect the position. But to announce this policy in the midst of a giant, swirling maelstrom of an epic EVE Online meltdown crisis - in the middle of prime time Saturday night, no less - was simply too provocative a moment for me to let pass unresponded...

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That must have struck a chord with the CSM, because Mynnna and Ali Aras both immediately retweeted my post. But this only confirmed my deep suspicions that there must be a conspiracy here somewhere. Was the CSM and CCP colluding in an elaborate plot to deny the voices of EVE players from being heard? I felt I must share this revelation with the world...

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Nothing but silence back on that one - confirming my deepest fears. But perhaps I was over-reacting? I went to Chribba's EVE-Offline site to check the current status. Lo, and behold! Tranquility is back online, and accepting players! Hallelujah, we are saved! Oh, thank you, demigods of CCP, for looking with favor upon us and restoring the Universe once again!

I fire up my brand spanking new EVE Online launcher, enter my username and password, and click the inviting gold PLAY button... only to receive a terse message of denial back from the server. I share my pain and bitter disappointment with my fellow tweetfleeters...

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How could Chribba, the model of trustworthiness and reliability in all of New Eden, have misled me so badly?

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Good Chribba responds quickly, but the news is not good...

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And then, obviously seeing my distress, the CCP devs respond with a new update...

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Wait a minute! A terrible thought begins to form in my mind - a dark, sinister thought, full of evil animosity and paranoia. Had I angered the all-powerful denizens of CCP? Had they not taken kindly to my impertinent speculations? Were they now, in fact, trolling me?

Clearly, Chribba was in on this plot. How did they manage to corrupt him so quickly? Chribba - the only capsuleer with a sterling, pristine reputation?

What "pilot issues" were they looking into, exactly? And how did they know about my issues, anyway? I made a note to speak to my therapist about that - I was sure she was supposed to be bound by ethical non-disclosure rules.

And how did CCP find out that I even had a therapist? And how did they contact her so quickly, and get her to speak so openly?

Everything was spinning out of control. I couldn't catch my breath. I peeked through the blinds on my window, but saw no one there. But clearly, CCP was after me! What would I do? Where could I hide?

But then, like a comforting siren song emanating out of the darkness, a fellow capsuleer tells me that she is struggling with the same fate as me...

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Realizing that I am not alone in my plight brings me a small measure of hope. Perhaps it's not a conspiracy of persecution against me, after all. Maybe - just maybe - CCP is just trying their best to bring the servers back online. I take a deep breath and steady myself - a stiff belt of good Irish whiskey fortifies my resolve, and I decide to try once again...

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My newfound friend sympathizes. We're all in this together now...

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I fire up the launcher with some trepidation. Will it work this time?

No, it fails spectacularly, and even sends back an even more ominous warning message...

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CSM Vice-Chairman Ripard Teg suddenly appears, and offhandedly gloats about his restored access...

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Strange - I voted for him, too.

His not-so-subtle taunt only restores my conviction that CCP and the CSM are all in this conspiracy together. This will not go unpunished, I vow. And I will not be deterred! You can't silence me forever! I will find a way to get back online and rejoin you in New Eden. And then you'll all pay... oh, yes, all of you will pay dearly.

Full of angry determination, I double-click on the shiny, stylized "E" icon once again. The results are worse than I ever feared...

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I'm at a total loss now. The force of this conspiracy is too strong - too overwhelming. I submit to the power of CCP and the CSM, and beg for sympathy from the Vice Chairman...

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His reply is not very comforting, and he reminds me that Odyssey, of which I was somewhat critical in this blog, is coming on Tuesday...

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Ah, ha! So that's what this is all about! You say a few challenging things about EVE Online in the press, and this is how CCP treats you - and with the help of the all-powerful CSM, no less! Oh, the gall!

Stubbornly, and now half-drunk on several good shots of Irish whiskey, I defiantly click my launcher icon again. It works! Victory is mine!

But wait....

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At last, the true source of this vast conspiracy is revealed. It's the Russians! And, amazingly, my new Cryllic launcher works perfectly. I'm back in New Eden, finally.

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I suddenly realize that CCP is just as much a victim as I am. Who can resist the strong-arm threats of the powerful and mysterious Russian alliances? They've clearly made their move, and intend to take over all of New Eden, once and for all. This news must be shared with the world...

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Obviously under assault by the insidious Russians, CCP issues a plea for help from the beleaguered but still loyal player base...

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I decide to respond, but I don't want to offend our new all-powerful Russian overlords...

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Still, I can't help but tweak the nose of our new Russian masters, just a bit...

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Even when EVE Online is not available to play, I still have a great time playing with the game. Kudos to CCP for overcoming the network snafus and oddities with the new launcher. Even when things seem to be going terribly wrong, I'm always confident that CCP will get it right, eventually, and restore flawless access to the universe we all enjoy playing in once again. Last night was no exception, and we all got back online before the evening was done.

Still, such difficulties certainly give one pause about how flawless the Odyssey patch will be on June 4th. As for me, I'm being cautious and setting a very long skill in the training queue for each of my characters, just in case.

Let me leave you with my final Tweet from last night, before retiring...

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UPDATE: ...and poor CCP is beset with another round of downtime yet again today. Those guys just can't catch a break! I am now anxiously awaiting the restoration of New Eden once again - and trying to avoid yet another descent into offline insanity...

UPDATE: CCP confirms that the current server offline status is due to a sustained and coordinated DDOS attack: https://www.facebook.com/eveonline/posts/10151629888734394

UPDATE: And after a long, long Sunday workday for the dedicated CCP techs, they defeated the DDOS attackers and got EVE Online up and running safely once again. Just in time for the Odyssey patch on Tuesday. Wow, I'll bet those people are tired. Set a long skill to train!