I Owe You Nothing

My industrial alt's corp received a random war declaration by another so-called "leet" high-sec "mercenary" corporation, so I packed up my manufacturing arrays and stored them in station. In a way, it was kind of nice, as it gave me a convenient excuse to take a break from my EVE Online maintenance routines for a week.

Today, I checked in to see if the war was being renewed. As expected, it isn't - and as expected, after checking the war report, I saw there were no kills on either side. Typical.

There were certainly targets available for our allegedly "leet mercenary" foes to bash. I'd left my POS tower hanging in space, albeit stripped of anything valuable, and there were a couple of POCOs nearby that could have been fun to pop. But apparently they couldn't be bothered.

After looking at their rather garishly colored killboard, they were obviously too busy lurking around trade hubs in Tornados, one-shotting ignorant haulers at long range - something our corp knows all too well to avoid in wartime. The result: another wardec passing with no blood shed on either side.

Thus ends another impressive show of PvP mastery from one more super-elite high-sec mercenary corporation, eh?

For those immune to sarcasm, allow me to be more explicit and point out the blatantly obvious, yet again: EVE Online's wardec mechanics are seriously broken.

And, I must admit, mercenary corps who exploit the currently bizarre war rules owe me nothing. They are under no obligation to demonstrate their supposed combat prowess. They can pay their wardec fees and hover outside of trade hub stations, waiting for easy kills, all they want. (Gosh, that sounds like fun, doesn't it?)

Surely, CCP and our current Council of Null-Sec Management (plus good Steve Ronuken) have talked about our long-suffering wardec mechanics at length, and are close to announcing some exciting ways to improve them. Surely, yes?

CSM Radio Silence

It's hard to know if our virtually all 0.0-based Council of Stellar Management cares, because they have been amazingly quiet since they took office three months ago. In fact, I'm a bit disappointed that there hasn't been any crazy drama from the CSM, so far.

I was looking forward to entertaining reports of leaks, in-fighting, backstabbing, public posturing and political intrigue that characterized the last few months of our previous CSM's term. It's a tribute to CCP Guard's supervision that he's kept such a tight lid clamped down on CSM internal discussions. If there are any shenanigans going on, nothing has seeped out to the EVE media yet.

All we've heard from Guard is that the CSM is "working hard", and that everything is super hunky-dory - although it's interesting to see who really is showing up for the meetings (only good Steve Ronuken and The Judge have a perfect attendance record, so far). 

The next CSM summit is scheduled for mid-September, and CCP has announced that all 14 representatives will be invited to attend. Clearly, the developers at CCP are looking for a wide diversity of opinions about the EVE Online player experience. Oh, wait - they're all null-sec guys (except good Steve Ronuken). Well, at least they can talk about critically important issues like the drag range of bubbles. I'm sure the entire EVE community is sitting on the edge of their chair waiting to see how that finally gets addressed.

To be fair, I admit I am extremely cynical about the CSM (can you tell?), and have personally written them off as almost completely unrepresentative of my preferred play styles in EVE Online. As a result, I have no expectations whatsoever from them. Like the high-sec mercenaries, they also owe me nothing.

I'm certain that the CSM is focused on improving the game that they and their peers play in 0.0 space. If they do anything that also just happens to help the game in high-sec, low-sec or w-space, that will be a serendipitous by-product, and I'll be delighted to benefit from it. But frankly, I have little hope this will happen.

Perhaps my cynicism is misplaced - I certainly would be thrilled to discover that it is. I'll read the minutes from the September summit, and we'll see how much the CSM even considers issues in the game that I care about - like wardec mechanics, for example. Then we can confirm whether we have a broadly-thinking CSM in office, or just a narrow focus group catering primarily to null-sec concerns.

Waiting for Upwell

I took a quick inventory of Tech II items I've manufactured over the last couple of months, and discovered I have nearly 10 billion ISK in value waiting to be sold in the market. Not bad for 15 minutes a day, grinding out boring routine tasks. Invention and manufacturing in a POS has become very repetitive and dull, and I'm eager to embark on a new project in EVE Online, and hopefully re-invigorate my level of engagement once again. 

And so, I eagerly wait for the new industry array structures to be released by the Upwell Consortium in the fall. The wait feels interminable, and there is still quite a lot of mystery about exactly what kind of specifications and mechanics they will entail. If they simply operate like a POS, with new paint and snazzy graphics, I'll be disappointed. The general assumptions are that they will use the same asset safety mechanisms that citadels use, but will be weaker with less defensive capabilities and a longer vulnerability period, but none of this has been validated for certain yet.

If the new industry structure just turns out to be an easy-to-pop loot pinata, designed for "leet mercenaries" to plunder, it will be the final death knell of high-sec manufacturing. I doubt that is CCP's intention. I've been hearing dire predictions of the end of high-sec industry ever since the Crius update, but have found ways to make a decent profit regardless. But perhaps I'm wrong, and these new structures are indeed designed to finally drive all profitable manufacturing into null-sec, once and for all.

If that turns out to be true, then I will shrug my shoulders resignedly, and recognize that my high-sec manufacturing days are over. After all, CCP is not obligated to give me any guarantee of profitability for my preferred method of earning ISK - they owe me nothing.

We'll just have to see what the new industry structure specs look like when they are finally released. And so, I wait.

With thanks to  @TheNeocom

With thanks to @TheNeocom

Walking the Walk

I read with interest the recent article by my friend and editor at Crossing Zebras, Niden, about "walking the walk" in EVE Online. Niden criticized EVE media pundits who do not actively play the game, but who eagerly spout increasingly uninformed opinions in every forum they can find. In his editorial, Niden describes these self-appointed commentators:

On podcasts, reddit, Twitter, forums, and streams they appear. Their bread and butter is fame; their currency, visibility. They are the politicians and cheesy salesmen of EVE. Making noise and having an opinion is what matters, not the substance of what they're saying, or actually having a perspective anchored in reality, or some kind of real need within the player community.

I think Niden makes good points, but as I was reading his harsh indictment, I wondered: "Am I one of these people?"

After all, my activity in EVE Online has subsided ever since Fanfest in April, as I've since documented several times in this blog. I've become disenchanted with the game, and have not actively pursued new avenues of play. Instead, I've simply reduced my level of involvement to a trickle, and settled in to wait for the "next big thing" to revive my interest.

And yet, despite my currently low level of activity, I have been eager to post some aggressively critical opinions in this blog, without reservation. This sounds like I may indeed qualify for Niden's definition of "unrealistic motherf***ers" - those who have no real business issuing public opinions about EVE Online.

Perhaps he's right. Perhaps I should wait until I'm more engaged in the game to post any opinions about EVE Online or our community. Perhaps I am out of line, until I am logging dozens of hours in the game each week, once again.

But I remember why I started this blog in the first place. Before I ever posted my first post here, I wrote a mission statement of sorts, which you can find in the "About this blog" link:

What is this blog all about?
Good question - glad you asked. This blog is a learning tool for me. That's it.  
With the depth and complexity of EVE Online, I have found that one of the best ways to learn the nuances of the game is to write and dialogue about it. Therefore, I decided to start this blog, to give myself the opportunity to discover insights that might be useful.
Since the sole intent of this blog is to help myself become more enlightened about EVE Online, the primary audience shall forever be me - and only me. If you are entertained by reading this blog, that is well and good, and you are welcome to it.

My level of activity in EVE Online is indeed lower than it has been in the past, but I still love and care about the game, and about the community of players it brings together. And I hazard to suggest with only a bit of humility that my opinions are more informed than most people playing the game today. Most importantly, I'm still learning things about EVE - and this blog is still helping me learn.

And so, whether or not anyone likes it, I'm not going away anytime soon.

To be blunt, dear reader, I owe you nothing - except honesty and sincerity. It's up to you to decide if my words are useful. Keep reading or discard them as you see fit.

Fly safe! o7

Staying Classy

Yesterday, I discovered this tweet from Brave Newbies:

Please note that I favorited, retweeted and replied with a supportive comment. If you haven't done so already, go ahead and read the original thread in reddit - it's worth reviewing.

Fear is the Mind Killer

I've wanted to write this post for the last few months, but every time I started, I've given up. The reason: fear.

I've been afraid of what other EVE Online players might think about my particular point of view on this issue. I've been afraid of how they might respond. I've been afraid of what they might do - in game and out.

I feel a bit ashamed now. I should have written this a long time ago. It took an inspiring tweet to motivate me to finally do it. For that, I owe the folks at Brave Newbies a debt of gratitude.

What is the big issue I'm talking about? It's too much tolerance of some truly bad behavior in EVE Online.

The Nature of Badness

I can practically hear all the eyes rolling now. "Come on, Nev, get over yourself. This is EVE Online we're talking about here," I'm sure some of you are thinking, "It's supposed to be about bad behavior. That's what a lot of the game is all about!"

We all love a good villain - especially in EVE Online.

We all love a good villain - especially in EVE Online.

And I agree with that perspective - to a point. I actually like that horrible and terrible behavior is allowed in EVE Online - even encouraged. I read about players who earn players' trust, infiltrate a corp, and then pillage everything in a massive theft, leaving only an empty shell - and I smile to myself, and say, "Well done, dude. That took some skill." I admire these kind of evil deeds in the game - they impress me.

It doesn't bother me a bit that carebears get ganked into oblivion in high security space. Or that players scam and lie and cheat and steal from other players, all day long. And I like that CCP Games doesn't interfere with this sort of brutal behavior - and in fact, condones and celebrates it.

Actions have consequences in EVE Online. And I think that is a good thing.

However, when player actions go beyond the allowed mechanics of the game - when they become vicious, callous, cruel, and over-the-top offensive - then I think that kind of behavior should not be tolerated.

I'm not talking about obvious cases that cross the line between in-game behavior and Real Life behavior, like tracking down another player and terrorizing them in person. That is not just bad, it's criminal, and law enforcement should be called and the offenders prosecuted, whenever it occurs. I don't think many EVE Online players would disagree with that view.

However, I see too much tolerance of players using language with the intention to attack, belittle and offend certain classes of people, or even worse, specific individuals. In fact, I have seen more than a few players who see that behavior as normal. And that disturbs me.

Words Mean Things

Make no mistake - I can utter an occasional string of profanity just as blue as anyone. When used on rare occasion to punctuate an emotional point, a profane phrase can be effective, as James Joyce and J. D. Salinger illustrated masterfully. But when players make rudeness and vulgarity the standard for all regular discourse, it can move beyond profane into alarming.

Profanity1.png

I'm disappointed when I hear people relying routinely on rapid-fire barrages of f-bombs and related curses in chats and voice comms, for no apparent reason - to me, that is just an indication of poor language skills. Much more troubling are slurs against certain religious beliefs, sexual orientations, or genders - specifically, insults against Jews, homosexuals and women, though these are not the only targets of unfair attacks that I've witnessed in EVE Online.

For example, the casual use of the word "jew" to mean the avaricious gathering of wealth in EVE Online worries me. I asked one EVE player about it at Fanfest last year, after he mentioned "jewing" as something he does when he's not PvP'ing. I asked him if he thought that was an appropriate word to use.

"Oh, I don't mean anything bad by it," he explained. "I'm not trying to offend anyone. When I use that word, it doesn't mean anything."

Then why use the word at all, then? Why not say: "I have to go blartch for a while to make some ISK."? Wouldn't that suffice?

No, it wouldn't - because the implied stereotype wouldn't be transmitted, and so it wouldn't carry the same impact. Words mean things. And words can be mean, regardless of whether one thinks they are or not.

I could belabor this point further with additional examples of anti-gay slurs or of insults against female gamers, the latter of which I touched on in a previous post. But I think the point is clear: this kind of offensive language is used too much in EVE Online.

HTFU

It's true that EVE Online's unofficial motto is "harden the f*** up", which speaks to its challenging nature. Recently, a player in our corp replied "HTFU, dude!", when I suggested he should use more refined language in our chat channel. When he refused, I banned him from the channel for a while, since profanity isn't allowed there under our rules.

But I confess that I've seen other EVE Online players behaving badly, and I've said nothing. It's easier to simply let the offensive language slide, and convince myself that it doesn't really mean anything. But I know I'm just fooling myself, and I don't feel good about that.

The users of offensive language say "HTFU" to justify their bad behavior. They insist that others tolerate what they are doing. But they forget that it goes both ways. "HTFU" also means that we should have courage to stick by our principles. And when colorful language morphs into the truly offensive, then it is up to the rest of us to simply say, "That's going too far."

Actions should have consequences in EVE Online. That is a good thing, which we all should support.

Doing the Right Thing

Matias Otero, founder of Brave Newbies, posted a reply in the aforementioned reddit thread:

I'm a tolerant guy. I can be understanding with almost any point of view, but if there's one thing that takes me off my hinges it's the wanton harming of others through ignorance, insensitivity or pure malice.

A friendly reminder: Harassment or the use of expletives based on culture, race or sexual preference is subject to a [z]ero-tolerance policy. Their use is pretty much the only reportable offence in BNI. We take allegations very seriously. HR handles these issues, and lacking a swift and satisfying response, you are encouraged to bring this directly to myself...

Kudos to you, Matias, and well said. I wish more corporations had this kind of policy in EVE Online. It's hard sometimes to stand up for the right thing, but you have done so bravely - pun intended. For what it's worth, I find that inspiring.

I'm not the only one who feels that way, apparently:

As for me, I intend to act more courageously about calling out bad behavior when I see it. I urge anyone who reads this post to consider doing likewise. I think it would make EVE Online a much more enjoyable game - for everyone.

Fly safe! o7