Bits & Pieces: December 2015

A few miscellaneous items have been piling up in my EVE Online-related inbox - here's a quick comment on each.

Morning Maniac Grants 

I announced a new program to fund worthy projects for EVE Online players, called the Morning Maniac Grant Program, over a week ago, and the response has been gratifyingly positive. So far, I've awarded five grants, or more than 1.1 billion ISK, to these constructive projects:

  • 250M ISK for a +3 attribute implant subsidy program for an alliance's newbros
  • 150M ISK for frigates and fittings for a null-sec corp's new pilot PvP training program
  • 250M ISK for ships and fittings for another alliance's PvP in low-sec training program for newbies

I also donated 250M ISK each to two already well-established programs for helping new players, Sindel Pellion's Angel Project and Mike Azariah's Operation Magic School Bus initiative, because they can both put the funds to very good use.

I was also very humbled and gratified to receive an amazing 6.5 billion ISK donation from Asayamani Dei, w-space expert, CSM member and long-time friend of novice players. My most sincere thanks for this extremely generous contribution go out to him. I promise it will fund worthy projects and programs that will make a positive impact on our community!

If you have a project in EVE Online in mind, and could benefit from some in-game funds, consider applying for a Morning Maniac Grant. You can find full details here.

The Fountain War book Kickstarter fiasco

The Mittani announced that the Kickstarter campaign to fund the publishing of a book about the Fountain War in EVE Online has been cancelled. 

I was very critical of this project. While I supported the book's potential for attracting new players to EVE Online, the Kickstarter campaign was badly mismanaged. You can read my criticisms in this article on Crossing Zebras, along with others' observations, most of which were similar to mine.

But  I must say I've been impressed with how The Mittani has accepted and adapted to this failure. I was convinced that the Mittani Media team would not learn anything from their mistakes, but I've been proven wrong. They intend to re-launch the project in March, with a more reasonable goal and better planning for a renewed Kickstarter campaign, and I am sure they they will be successful on the second try. I look forward to contributing my own donation to the project.

In addition, the drama around this episode has indirectly generated some fun content in game, with the announcement of a Viceroy tribute system, which the Imperium alliance intends to impose. It has been fun to see how players have reacted, and it is clear that there will be considerable resistance. I'm sure many ships will explode and much mirth will be had. This is a good thing.

Here's an example of how some players are reacting to the Viceroy tribute demands of the Imperium - this shirt is available from  Rixx Javix's store .

Here's an example of how some players are reacting to the Viceroy tribute demands of the Imperium - this shirt is available from Rixx Javix's store.

Farewell, off-grid boosts. Hello, giant grids.

Though CCP Games devs have stated their desired intention to reduce the range of boosting ships from system-wide to local-grid for years, it now seems likely that this will finally happen in the near term. CCP Fozzie has been especially vocal about this. The impact to combat in the game, when it actually happens, will be enormous - and I think all for the better. 

This is one of the reasons why the new Command Destroyers, to be available in the update coming next week, will include limited support for boosting modules. This will provide cheaper ships that can provide small boosting advantages on grid, if fleet commanders don't want to risk more robust Command Ship battlecruisers or boosting-fit Tech III cruisers. 

I can't wait to get a new Magus Command Destroyer - because Gallente rule.

I can't wait to get a new Magus Command Destroyer - because Gallente rule.

More interestingly, these new destroyers will include a new area-of-effect module, the Micro Jump Field Generator, that will, when activated, move (nearly) everything within a 6km radius of the ship 100km in the direction that the ship is facing. This will be the ultimate anti-blob weapon, and should break up concentrated fleets to hilarious effect. Speculation about how pilots will use this new capability abounds, and I can't wait to fly one myself.

As for me, I'm thinking how on-grid boosting limits will affect how I use my Orca for mining support. I usually just park mine next to a station, under the nominal protection of nearby station guns, and then enjoy mining boosts throughout that system, but that won't work anymore with the elimination of off-grid boosts. I suspect that gankers will love this change, as it will make nice, juicy Orcas much more vulnerable as targets. This is going to make high-sec mining a little more interesting. This is a good thing.

Also coming soon are much, much, much larger grids.  Currently a "local grid" is a cube that is 250km in all directions from a central point. This relatively small space has enabled smart pilots to manipulate grids for tactical advantage. With the imminent introduction of citadel structures, which are enormous, and the change to on-grid boosts, making local grids much larger has become a practical necessity. The new grids will expand to a whopping 7,800km from a center point in all directions - a grid size that is over 30,000 times larger. (Thanks for correcting my math, Sjaandi HyShan.)

This is also going to dramatically affect combat mechanics. The field of battle just got much larger. It's clear that CCP wants battles to be more spread out over a larger area, to give them a more expansive feel. With the coming changes to capital ships - in particular, carriers, which will employ long-ranging squadrons of fighters over considerable distances - this means that situational awareness is going to become even more challenging for fleet commanders. I can't wait to see it.

BattleClinic closes

I was saddened to hear of the closing of BattleClinic, a site known primarily for sharing ship fittings. Many of the fits there were frankly horrible, but it was fun to examine them and see what made them bad. I learned a lot about how to fit ships more effectively from this site, as a result. And occasionally there were some useful and innovative configurations to be found there.  

I'm not sure what this means for EVEMon, the invaluable skill planning and remapping utility which has always been hosted there, though I'm sure it will relocate somewhere.

Wardecs Revisited

As a result of my earlier post about revamping the war declaration mechanics, I was asked to contribute to a document about a variety of ideas on improving wardecs. It's been an interesting exercise and discussion. Not everyone likes my ideas, but that is perfectly OK. Perhaps even my bad ideas might stimulate a good one. Anything would be better than the mechanics we have now.

The document is interesting reading, and worth a review. Kudos to Jason Quixos for organizing this effort. Hopefully, it will stimulate some action by CCP Games, and we'll eventually see a wardec system that is more fun for everyone.

Until next time

That's about it for now - I'm looking forward to seeing how dirty my ships look when the December 8th update comes out. I suspect they will be filthy - I have some really old ships in my hangar.

Fly safe! o7



Time to Give Something Back

Despite many mistakes and setbacks along the way, I have managed to amass a small fortune in EVE Online, mostly in Tech II invention and manufacturing. My balance of ISK also jumped upwards recently as a result of some savvy PLEX trading, and also from a few lucky bets on Kelon Darklight and Team Tash-Murkon in the recent Amarr Championships.

Nev counts his piles of ISK, bored, and ponders what life holds next for him...

Nev counts his piles of ISK, bored, and ponders what life holds next for him...

Over the last few weeks, I've wondered what to do next with my success. I imagine my character, sitting distractedly in his captain's quarters, reviewing his accounts and re-counting his ISK for the hundredth time, and realizing suddenly that success soon leads to boredom, if there are no new goals to conquer.

And then I read Proto's latest column on The Neocom blog, and was struck by inspiration. Proto had written his post in response to the recent fluff-up about the failure of the "Fountain War" book campaign on Kickstarter - something I will comment upon in a future post - but that controversy was not what stirred my epiphany. More importantly, Proto makes an excellent point, which is sadly not often acknowledged: There are many, many ways that EVE Online players make a positive and constructive contribution to our community.

I will not enumerate the many selfless programs that EVE Online players have established to help people, in game and out, as Proto did an admirable job of doing so already. But as I read his post, I quickly came to the conclusion that I could do something similar, albeit more modestly, and perhaps make a more significant impact on our community.

Behold - the Morning Maniac Grant Program!

When they have more money than they know what to do with, the idle rich often become philanthropists.  I have found myself in exactly this situation, bored and wondering what I shall do to occupy my time in game. But now I feel my interest renewed in EVE Online. I can use my excess funds to give back something, and try to help our player community, at least in some small way.

So, I have set aside a sizable portion of my funds - 20 billion ISK, to start - to begin a new charitable service: The Morning Maniac Grant Program

For those who don't know, Morning Maniac was the founder of EVE University. Because of his selfless efforts, I found a place in EVE Online that enabled me to learn and develop the skills and knowledge I needed to succeed in the game. He was one of the most generous philanthropists in EVE Online history, and because of his contributions, thousands of players now fly successfully in corporations and alliances throughout all of New Eden.

Inspired by Morning Maniac's example, I have established a program where players can apply for grants of ISK, to fund creative in-game projects. I ask only that grant recipients pledge to help other players or contribute constructively and positively to our community in some way.

With this program, I hope to accomplish two goals: help more players to succeed in the game, and also foster a more positive attitude about helping other players in our community.

It's a small effort, compared to the success of similar programs with established track records, like Sindel Pellion's Angel Project or Mike Azariah's Operation Magic School Bus, but perhaps it will help enough people to make at least some difference.

I'm looking forward to seeing applications from creative capsuleers, and issuing grants to worthy recipients soon!

Fly safe! o7

Many thanks to the ever-awesome Rixx Javix for the logo design for the Morning Maniac Grant Program! 

Nice Guys Finish Last

In the fall of 2009, I was mining veldspar in a belt somewhere near Aldrat, the EVE University home system. I had fitted a Navitas frigate (the dedicated Gallente mining ship back then) to crunch some 'roids while I studied Halada's Mining Guide, the best tome at the time for learning the subtle nuances of successful purveyors of ore and minerals.

Ah, the good old days, before ORE Venture frigates...

Ah, the good old days, before ORE Venture frigates...

Surprisingly, I enjoyed mining in high sec space. It was dull work, certainly. Other than dispatching a drone to fend off a rat every once in a while, not much happened as my mining laser hummed. But with each passing second, my cargo hold filled with ore, and I was earning some ISK with relatively little risk, so I was content. Besides, it gave me time to study the details of EVE Online - and as a brand new player, there were a lot of details to study.

One day, as my little Navitas was digesting rocks, a convo request suddenly appeared on my screen. A Catalyst had warped into the belt, and after selecting "Show Info" on the pilot, my heart sank.

"Oh, crap - a Goon," I muttered to myself. "This can't be good."

Though I had been playing EVE Online for only a couple of months, I had heard of Goonswarm's notoriety in corp chat, along with dire warnings to avoid them and their chaotic preponderance for ganking players just for mirth. My Navitas had no tank, and I didn't stand a chance against a destroyer fitted for vaporizing neophytes like me. I clicked the "accept" option, and held my breath.

"Hello there, little noob," the Goon said, orbiting my ship at optimum blaster range. "What are you doing in that cute ship?"

Oh, hello, Mr. Goon, sir. Nice ship you have there.

Oh, hello, Mr. Goon, sir. Nice ship you have there.

Though I was reading text on the screen, his smirk came through loud and clear.

"Just trying to make some ISK," I typed back, expecting searing hot death at any moment. "I'm brand new to the game. I see you've been playing for a year?"

Perhaps my naivete softened the Goon's heart - I don't know. But he didn't blow me out of the sky.

"Yeah, about that long," he replied. "Why are you mining? It's a lot easier to make ISK by being a complete asshole in this game."

We chatted a bit about ganking and scamming, and to my surprise, the Goon was open and somewhat friendly. I heard later that he had killed some other miners in the same system, so I'm not sure why he decided to let me live that day - perhaps he took my questions as a compliment. I recorded his contact info, and asked him if he'd mind if I sought his advice in the future. He agreed and flew off.

I'll never forget that encounter, or the Goon's guidance: It's a lot easier to make ISK by being a complete asshole in this game. He was sincere in his advice, and perhaps he wanted me to join him in his marauding ways.

It was at that precise moment that I decided, once and for all, how I was going to play EVE Online.

I had joined EVE Online fully aware that it encouraged and rewarded disreputable behavior. But I discovered something highly motivating about the Goon's advice: It's a lot easier to make ISK by being a complete asshole in this game.

When I started playing EVE Online, it wasn't because I was looking for something easy. In fact, it was the complexity and challenge of EVE Online that first drew me to the game. "EVE is hard," the CCP Games' advertisements said. The challenge of overcoming the vertical cliff of EVE Online's infamous learning curve appealed to me.

And so, if it was "easier to be an asshole" in EVE Online, I decided to be the opposite. I resolved to play EVE Online as one of the "good guys" - a white hat - maybe even a hero, despite the odds. I knew I was picking a harder path to success - perhaps a longer, more difficult, and much less lucrative one. My Goon friend would be disappointed in me.

But I like a real challenge. That's why I play EVE Online.

White Knights of New Eden

There are a few nice characters in EVE Online - and their rarity gives them special celebrity status.

The most famous example is Chribba, of course, who has amassed great wealth in the game, not by scamming and cheating, but by doing precisely the opposite - by earning it through dedicated work, indefatigable persistence, and adherence to honorable behavior. As a result, he is now the most trusted man in New Eden, providing escrow services for some of the largest and most sensitive transactions in EVE Online. His reputation is sterling.

Chribba is my hero - and I'll have the pleasure of interviewing him on our public Mumble server on March 21 at 18:30 EVE time - all are invited.

On March 15, EVE University celebrated the 10th anniversary of its founding by Morning Maniac. During a recent interview, he described his intention for establishing an altruistic institution where new players could learn about the game.

"If you look at the big names in EVE and the people with the big wallets and the big reputations," he says, "they are not earned because they were particularly good at firing guns or missiles; it's because they are good at dealing with people, have good ideas, and make them work ... It's really the guy behind the computer."

There are other examples of EVE Online players who succeed by being devoted to the welfare of other players in the game, but I think they are a very small minority, unfortunately. New Eden could use more white knights like Chribba and Morning Maniac.

Built to Last

After my brief encounter with the Goon, I sent him a question every once in a while about game mechanics - his answers were short, but useful. But after a few weeks, he stopped replying. I figured he had just grown weary of my inane queries.

I learned much later that my Goon friend had simply left of the game. In 2012, I was sharing a beer with some null sec friends at Fanfest, one of whom had started in Goonswarm. I told him about my first meeting with a Goon. "I remember that guy," he said. "He joined EVE about the same time as I did, but he got bored and dropped out."

I was disappointed. I was hoping to reconnect and tell him how our brief encounter had influenced me - a perfect example of the butterfly effect at work.

Five years later, I continue to play EVE Online, logging in on one or more characters nearly every day. It has become a highly satisfying hobby. Though my in-game enterprises pale woefully in comparison to Chribba's, I am quite pleased with my modest ISK-earning efforts - from trading, hauling, inventing and manufacturing Tech II items, and some occasional mission-running or exploration. I now possess a few billion ISK in the bank, and several times that in other assets. I've become an avid collector of ships and weird EVE items.

Having some wealth in the game also lets me do some crazy risky things from time to time, too. The first law of EVE - Never Fly What You Cannot Afford to Lose - isn't something I worry about anymore, which is very liberating.

More importantly, I've discovered that my most rewarding EVE Online experiences come from sharing knowledge with new players, and helping them get started successfully - just as Morning Maniac envisioned over ten years ago.

Egoists and Altruists

Over the last half-decade, I've seen literally thousands of players come and go - and they all seem to fall into one of two types:

  • Egoists - they are centered on themselves and the gratification of their own desires over those of others. They derive satisfaction from the game solely to the degree that they can serve their own self interests, without regard for any other players.
  • Altruists - they are unselfishly concerned for or devoted to the welfare of others, above all other considerations. They derive satisfaction from the game to the degree that they can contribute to the success of other players.

Of course, there are blends of these types - this is a spectrum of two extremes, not a binary proposition. I don't deny that I act in my own self interest, sometimes.


But what I have witnessed is that pure egoists - those who think that "winning EVE" means being a complete jerk to everyone else, for their own self-gratification only - don't last very long. No one really wants to play with them. And the more egoistic they are, the shorter their lifespan in EVE Online.

Altruists, however, tend to last a lot longer, provided that they can withstand assaults by egoistic players. Altruists build things that last - not just modules and ships, but corporations, infrastructure, culture, alliances and coalitions. They seek to make things that are bigger than themselves, and be part of enterprises that expand beyond their own narrow, initial vision.

The altruists in EVE Online are the ones who endure, because they have an infinite number and variety of other players from whom to derive their own satisfaction. The egoists - the real "assholes" in EVE Online - have only themselves to draw upon, and are therefore always inherently limited in vision and resources. Egoists get bored easily, and eventually drop out. Altruists constantly discover new and bigger vistas to strive for, and they build for the future.

Nice Guys Finish Last

If you ever find yourself getting bored in EVE Online, reflect for a moment about how you are playing the game. Every so often, I ask myself, "What's next?" And then I set a new goal, and start working towards it - it's amazing what you can discover along the way. Five years ago, I wanted to amass enough ISK that I could be fearless about whatever I wanted to do in the game. I succeeded, but on the way, I found a new and better goal: helping other players develop the same fearless attitude, and thereby have more fun.

It's a shame that my Goon friend did not develop a little more altruism. He certainly had the opportunity - just as he affected my decision for my preferred style of play, so I could have given him a chance to help develop a new player, and find another way to enjoy the game. But when you only see EVE Online as the "domain of assholes", it's hard to see beyond your own egoism, and that can get very dull, very quickly.

Eventually, the altruists will inherit New Eden. It is inevitable. Nice guys finish last.

Fly safe! o7