Monday, 27 June 2016

Brexit: how Game of Thrones can help explain what just happened

There's a very interesting series of Youtube videos that teach leadership using Game of Thrones examples. Here's his take on the persuasive leader: Tyrion Lannister. Tyrion is effective because he finds out what people care about then offers it to them.



The outstanding persuaders of the Brexit campaign were Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson and Rupert Murdoch. 2 ex-public school very rich men and a billionaire.

The notable persuaded demographic was the "Left Behind." In this video Matthew Goodwin explains who these disenfranchised voters are and why they are drawn to the radical Right. Briefly these are older blue collar working men who lack the skills for a modern career.

The interesting thing about the Leave campaign is how effectively they offered British people, particularly the disenfranchised Left Behind group, what they wanted. The key themes are "ordinary British people" v foreigners, skillfully muddling fear of radical Islamic murderers with immigration from ordinary European citizens; "taking back control" - a key theme in the lives of the economically disadvantaged Left Behind; and support for the NHS - a primary concern for older voters. And a strong appeal to patriotism which saw Leave supporters decking themselves in Union Jacks or England flags, conflating the referendum with the football tournament that's happening just now.

And as for Murdoch along with reasons to vote Leave he gives the British people Game of Thrones and the Premier League - the man knows precisely what people want.

Now let's go back to the Game of Thrones videos. This one is about how the Starks always manage to make people to betray them. They never pay attention to what other people want and take it for granted that other people will respond the way they do.



And this runs so very true for the Remain campaign. They offered dry economic facts and statistics which might be persuasive to a Westminster technocrat but are unappealing to a population that has been bullshitted with statistics for decades. They reminded people how well the economy is doing which might be appealing to politicians driving their Range Rovers around London but has no appeal to Leave voters some of whom have said in interviews that they chose Leave because they don't see how things can possibly get any worse. Remember over half a million Britons use Food Banks.

The people who fronted the Remain side were awful. Cameron and Osborne who are associated with the austerity that has made so many voters feel poorer. Corbyn's heart wasn't in it. Rich businessmen urging people to vote In was disastrous because those people symbolise the winners and losers situation that the Left Behind feel they're in. The Bosses were asking the Workers to support the status quo. Both sides were led by very wealthy men - one side downplayed that and appeared relatable and ordinary; one side smugged about how prosperous economic union was making them and showed the voters graphs.

However.

Chaos is a ladder.



The one positive to come out of this fiasco is that the information politicians need to build us a better country, so that in time we can repair the damage we just did to the rest of the world, has been brought into sharp relief. It's a wake up call for politicians, activists and ordinary citizens who want to influence policy - find out what people want and how to offer it to them. It's actually a good thing that the losers of the last few decades have had a chance to say "Hey! We're not happy.". This MP gets it. Let this be the last time someone talks to their MP then thinks

You know nothing, Jon Snow.


Tuesday, 14 June 2016

What's next for the North?

One of the burning questions for many Eve players is: Is the War over?

For The Imperium the answer is no, although some elements of the coalition have quietly ended the war on their own terms with 4 alliances having left, numerous corps and a steady bleed of about 250 individuals a week from the main Goon alliance.

Ratting statistics from CCP Quant and Croda show that ratting activity is back to pre-war levels which perhaps suggests that a number of the displaced Goons have found discreet ways to rat, perhaps using a Horde or Test alt to continue working the same space as before while maintaining a loyal Goon pvper in their lemonade factory hideout.

For the attackers however the war is over. Sure people will form to fight Goons and will form to defend space or assets  but the notion that we are at war is no longer true. Both KillahBee (PL) and Gobbins (PH) have stated that they consider the war over and as for Waffles we left the war zone over a month ago.

Inertia is a powerful force however and it's unlikely that PL will want to undertake the onerous chore of moving until after Alliance Tournament season which is expected to start any day now.

Nonetheless the forces holding The Imperium down will slowly lift and.... well, what will hppen next?

It will depend on Goon leadership - their choice will set the location and some of the participants for the next war. I  think it will be a reconquest of Deklein, the toughest option and the richest prize. If Goons were willing to settle for a lesser region surely they would have already deployed to take it.

The difficulty here is that the conquerors are in many cases now rather entrenched. If Deklein is attacked then the regions in front of it - Pure Blind and Fade - are likely to be attacked or to support Deklein anyway and regions further back - Branch Tribute and Vale contain ex-MBC members who have everything to lose if Goons can re-establish themselves as sov-holders. This is the rough force composition:

Deklein: Guardians of the Galaxy (approx 10k pilots).

Fade: Pandemic Horde (10k), French Brave (400).

Pure Blind: PBC (1k), MOA (1800), NC. (2750).

With the Imperium now at about 25k that means numbers are even against the residents of the regions directly in the path of a Deklein invasion.

So even if PL leave the Goons won't have a huge advantage, even against the locals now living there.

Let's add in the residents of ex-Imperium space nearby:

Branch Out of Sight (750).

Tribute: OSS (1350), MC. (800), CO2 (3500)

Vale: Test (7k)

This means even if the nomadic alliances leave, let's include MC. and NC. too the Imperium is still significantly out-numbered just by the new locals. I think this means the only chance Goons could have to win is if they use their supercap fleet and if they started doing that PL would be back before you could say "third party."

Something pretty seismic needs to happen for Goons to get back into the game and it's not simply waiting for PL to get bored, that alone isn't enough. A Goon/Test axis would make it interesting but it's time for the Goons' famous corps diplomatique to shine.

Meanwhile the future of nullsec is stalemate, until something game-changing happens like The Imperium going south or hiring PL as mercs or something even more unexpected. But I honestly think Goons will still be in Saranen at Christmas.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

An Eve for everyone: #1 the New Player Experience

In my last blog post I voiced a strongly worded objection to Neville Smit's influential Occupy New Eden post.

Let me be clear: I disagree with the method, not the goals. The Monoclegate player riots of 2011 saw CCP lay off 150 staff, saw alarmist articles about the company's over-extended financial position and a threat from The Mittani to take his people to a different game. Eve could have closed. Player rebellion is a nuclear option and one that once started is impossible to control.

But Neville's goals?

Broadly they're based, I think, on the feeling that CCP  has experienced some kind of "regulatory capture" where the influence and political shrewdness of the nullsec alliances has placed their concerns front and centre, to the detriment of the 85% of us who inhabit other parts of the sandbox.

I'm going to write a short series of articles exploring how we can make an Eve for everyone, no playstyle left behind.

Today: the New Player Experience.

So I started a new character and responded to what I saw on screen. I clicked through the opportunities until I got stuck. I got stuck at the opportunity that wants me to fit a low slot module. I didn't have a low slot module. I had been given no information about where I could get one. I couldn't progress to the next set of opportunities until I solved this one.

I decided to try killing a couple of rats to see if they dropped a module then realised I had no information about where the rats actually live. In games like Wow you walk out of town and the rats are just there. In Eve you undock and it's just you and a couple of other newbies there.

I "cheated" and used prior knowledge to warp to a combat anomaly where I killed several rats without getting a low slot module. So I "cheated" again and bought an armour repper off the market.

This is concerning.This is a clickout point, a point where an internet user loses interest, gives up and clicks away or alt tabs and does something else. Giving new people a task that appears to be essential but which is not solvable is disastrous.

With the opportunities chain unfinished I next went off to do Career Agents. In fact I'd forgotten how to find them and was told by helpful people in Rookie Help Chat to press F12.

These are clickout points 2 &3.

You can't finish the initial opportunities chain without going off  to do something else. I think a lot of people will want to finish what appears to be the tutorial before going off to do a completely different quest chain in a different area of space but in practice you have to. You can't, for example, complete the Fit a scan probe launcher to your ship opportunity when you're in a rookie ship in Duripant with no money. So broken quest chain is one clickout point.

The other is that you need to talk to people. In most other games the chat is where you call people names after you lose, or spam macros or generally crap in. Many people on starting a new game will minimise chat and never look at it again. For the game to require that you proactively ask the right question and then get helped by someone knowledgable is asking a hell of a lot and for many people this will be their clickout point.

On to the Career Agents. I actually think the agents are pretty good as quest chains, my concern is what they teach. After doing all 5 the only clearly viable way to make money appeared to be mining, Eve's dullest profession. Sure there's scanning down sites but most of those will be too tough for a newbie in an Atron, plus scanning is horrible with newbie skills even if you know how to do it. Those sites where with perfect probe positioning and lowest AU but it still won't get better than 99%: more clickout points. There's missions but the Career Agents don't point you to one nor show you how to use the Agent Finder. Plus the pay from missions is awful. I can go afk in the Venture with a day old character and come back to 1 million isk of minerals in the ore hold, why would I do some horrible level 1 mission for 20k? You're also set up with blueprints but so poor you need to do My time is free style mining to use them. One of the saddest things I saw in Rookie Help Chat was "where do I mine Kernite or Jaspet - I need some Nocxium for my  Career Agent quest." Props for the newbie for figuring out so much, and get it together Eve Online that you're giving people missions without the information needed to succeed.

I'll repeat: it's very bad game design if the new player experience game can't be solved without help from other people. Would it hurt to give the nearest systems with those ores in the mission briefing while reminding pilots to consider buying directly from the market? Maybe you could even give limited duration but unlimited "Civilian Ventures" so rookies could go mine in low sec,but get a new ship if they die.

Then I tried pvp. I went into a Novice plex, I got blobbed and killed, rip my poor frigate. The people who killed me convoed me and offered a corp invite so that was pretty nice.

I tried again but got killed 2 jumps in on the gate by a battlecruiser. As a newbie you're easy to tackle even in a frigate because it aligns a little slow.

This is my next clickout point. Although Eve is meant to be a pvp game there's no New Player pvp. Yes I'm aware Suitonia can beat people with 20  day characters but that's a very good pvper with a focused  skill plan. So for most new players the only option here is to join a corp you can't pvp without submitting to a whole host of rules and obligations that goes with joining a player corp. Even FW doesn't solve this - you're still going to be a free kill until someone helps you.

So I searched the recruitment page in the corp window and found a list. My search criteria were fw, new player friendly and low sec. Joined their public channel, asked about joining and they said no because I was too new. Another clickout point.

So then: an Eve for everyone.

I think the NPE is a good example of how the game can go in the  wrong direction if player feedback is collected from the very loud passionate invested communities that attend Fanfest and the other player meets. Ask players at those events about starting Eve and they'll say Eve is awesome , the community is awesome, join a corp. Clearly it isn't awesome, in fact it's deeply flawed for new players and joining a corp is fraught with clickout points - maybe they want intrusive background checks, maybe you have to install software, maybe you have to change playstyle (eg always be on comms and in fleet), maybe someone's rude, maybe someone simply doesn't want to group up. This may be a good case of where "listening to the players" is bad for the game.


CCP Ghost told us about the millions of players who try Eve then immediately leave, my look at the game as new character showed me a bit about why. If you're a blogger and want to add your experience to this discussion roll a new character and tell us about your clickout points. Alternatively for people without blogs just post it on /r/eve or Eve O. Link  it in the comments.

Finally I'd be remiss if I didn't mention our newbie-friendly cousin, Pandemic Horde. To join them click the little speech bubble in the chat window to join a new channel and type Join Horde as the channel name. I don't think  you should have to join a corp to start Eve but should you choose to they're one of the best.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Neville Smit's Occupy campaign is bullshit, here's why

Over at his blog, Neville Smit has called for player uproar because of his view that new content is "mostly to the interests of players who operate in null security space."

I think this is simply a mistaken impression, a result of what CCP is hyping, not what CCP is doing.

Certainly in the trailer for the new Citadels it looked a lot cooler to be one of the wreckers rather than one of the builders. On top of that CCP's excellent staff band released a new number, "Bring on the wrecking machine."

Smit goes on to add: "It was my hope that CCP was going to turn more of their attention to enhancing game play options outside of null-sec."

Well, sir, how about a whole new type of space, that isn't null-sec?



 For the past two years CCP has worked on a grand project: player-built stargates. This isn't an addition to lowsec, hisec or nullsec. Like the Apocrypha expansion of 2009 this is a whole new type of space, different from anything we've seen before.

How's that for enhancing game play options outside of null sec? A whole new type of space.

In addition there are a lot of things happening that are huge enhancements for the game play of people all over New Eden. Citadels have caused a huge and lasting boost to the profits of miners and PI managers. There simply aren't the materials to meet the expected demand, a problem that will become more acute as more structures are added to the game. This is great news in particular for people who make P4s, which are traditionally concentrated in high sec. This is because P4s are equally profitable anywhere while extraction of P0s is much better in lower security systems.

In addition to the Citadels that support player organisations there's the new player-made stargates to be built, another huge industrial project.

For the first time Eve players destroyed more than they built. The April Monthly Economic Report shows Empire looking very healthy relative to nullsec: it has 4 of the top 5 mining regions (over 1 trillion isk worth mined in each); all 5 of the top producing regions, the top 5 regions for market value (dominated by Jita) and. in incursions, one of the highest isk/hour activities in the game.

Meanwhile in nullsec the safe and tamed North West has been burnt to the ground and is now an unrecognisable mosaic of interceptor gangs, broken POSes and new immigrants. The vast industry of The Imperium is broken allowing miners and industrialists in Empire to claim a larger share of the profits.

Low sec is flooded with content. 28,000 homeless people have moved in and are clumsily flying around trying to belt rat or do sites or fight the locals.

High sec is flooded with value - isk has become worth more, accounts are easier to plex, competition has been disrupted or destroyed, demand is up.

Now there was a time before when something similar happened, and I'd say for a similar root cause.

In 2011 outraged players shot the Jita monument in a player rebellion against the introduction of a cash shop monocle. This was ridiculous. Who gives a shit if someone puts on a cosmetic item? Monocles have now been in the game for 4 years and I couldn't name a player who has one - not because I don't interact with such but because I simply don't notice. No one does. It's negligible.

The reason players objected is from a kind of bad place: "he's getting something that I'm not." Reacting in a kneejerk way to something that really doesn't matter, that doesn't really affect you. So what if they put something in that isn't specifically for you that isn't all wrapped up in a bow in a parcel with your name on it bestowed on you with a thank you thank you thank you? Throughout its entire history Eve has worked on certain elements of the sandbox one at a time. When they worked on battleships it was not a slap in the face to anyone who does not fly a battleship.

Consider. One of the occupy Eve bloggers, Drackarn, explains his outrage by referring to the crimewatch round table. A few years ago we had a whole 6 months expansion devoted to Crimewatch, frankly an amazing amount of time for something that's really rather incidental. But CCP fixing that formed part of a greater whole, where they make the overall game better. The rest of us didn't riot when crimewatch was added even though it has zero affect in nullsec, in wormholes or on peaceful people in high sec.

It really feels to me, like the Monocle, that this is a vanity issue. Sure CCP have added a ton of things that improve PVE like burners and new drifter content, that improve industry like citadels and Crius but they didn't specifically yammer about it at Fanfest and now some poor entitled bloggers are feeling insufficiently pampered.

Everything on Neville's list of demands is something they are actively adding to the game if only he'd pay attention. NPE? They've just hired a new guy who gave a major presentation on it at the Keynote. Lore-based PVE exploration? They've been developing drifter content for a year with continual updates and new features. Variety in harvesting? They've just added new frigates designed for extracting resources from danger zones. He wants mercenary to become a viable career? Wake the fuck up, Neville, half the game is currently on mercenary contracts.

So here's my message to the "85%." Rant less, play more. The content you want is in the game and more is coming. So what if CCP has picked some other people in the community to fawn over and tell them how special they are. Get over yourselves. The road map is not for nullsec. The road map is new space, it's for whoever wants to go there when it's unveiled. Just play the damn game.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Rest in peace, John Bellicose.


A cyno vigil was held in game for former player John Bellicose who we lost to suicide 2 years ago.

Friday, 29 April 2016

BB #74: Fanfest reveals the dragon's treasure

The Most Important Reveal at Fanfest Was......
So when this Blog Banter goes live Fanfest will be over. Hungover geeks from around the world will be departing Reykjavik after a five-day binge of important internet spaceships and partying. Whether you were there in person, watched the streams or read the dev blogs on your mobile hidden under your work desk there was probably something in there that gave you a "nerd-boner". What for you personally was the most important thing to come out of Fanfest 2016?


For me it was a reveal by CCP Quant that I believe shows the scale of the disaster that losing Deklein was for The Imperium.

The Wizard of Stats.


First have a look at what he says about null sec in his presentation during the Eve Keynote.

"And for opsec reasons we decided not to show you the top sov station."  (This has to be former Imperium capital YA0).

"However the top sov region holds 69 trillions." 

This is Deklein. Not only does the region hold what until a few weeks ago was null sec's busiest trade hub by a mile but also in nullsec most income is generated by ratting and Deklein is miles ahead. You can see on the Dotlan stats page Deklein has the most rat kills very comfortably for the year, despite ratting having come to an almost complete standstill during April.

On the 12th April I estimated there was 50 trillion isk worth of assets in YA0 station, a guess I'm feeling pretty happy with now. It's reasonable to suppose most of the region's assets are in the major trade hub.

To seal the idea that the Null sec region CCP Quant is referring to is indeed Deklein, see how he handles a question from the crowd:

Q: Which region?

A: You all know that (laughs).

I'm glad that we have this information because the official Goon line from Mittens et al has been that everyone had plenty of notice and got all their stuff out. Clearly this wasn't the case at all.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

A quick MBC entosis primer

A couple of points about taking sov in Deklein in the current state of play.


  • 2 entosisers isn't enough. You need 3-4 minimum. We did a timer the other day which went like this: we did 2 nodes, then 2 more, then 2 more, then 5 naturally regenerated. Making us +1 for 90 minutes work. Which sucked.
  • use a googledoc spreadsheet to track nodes and coordinate ships. Columns are system - node number - expiry time - entosiser. Eg: VFK - G58 - 07.56 - Callduron.
  • It's important to catch the older nodes that are about to expire so have your inty pilot direct traffic so entosisers don't waste time (eg by warping to a node someone else is doing).
  • Goons will send Swordfleet. 25-100 inties. With our small numbers we've mostly used destroyers. Most junior FCs won't commit their inties against 10 svipuls. In fact I've watched them bail when I was expecting them to come in and murder us. (It was 90 v 9 and I decided to take the fight because fuck goons but to our amazement they bailed).
  • Goons may send Caracals. Against 60 or so cruisers my small gangs just run away leaving the entosiser to die. It's very difficult for them to get a fleet like this all the way up from Saranen without attracting hunters so just chill in a freeport for 10-15 mins and it will probably be dead or gone.
  • The entosis ship needs tank, eccm, the entosis link and at least 50 stront. Anti-inty combat ability is nice too.
  • Other entosisers are helping you so work with them for ihub, tcu and initial station timers. For final station timers the game mechanics pit you against each other so agree who will get it and don't work against each other.
(Feel free to steal this for internal forums).