Archive for July, 2011

How to Get EVE GTC for (sort of) Free

Posted in The More You Know on July 26, 2011 by khalia

About a month ago, Paul introduced me to Bitcoins, a form of virtual currency. The mechanics behind how Bitcoins work involves a lot of math and cryptography; if you’re so interested, read the Bitcoins FAQ page. Like other currencies, Bitcoins can be bought for or sold for actual cash. The current trading value is about $14 per bitcoin. Like regular cash, bitcoins can be used to buy things from other people, or you can accept bitcoins for your goods.

The more interesting part for us is how bitcoins are created:

How are new Bitcoins created?

New coins are generated by a network node each time it finds the solution to a certain mathematical problem (i.e. creates a new block), which is difficult to perform and can demonstrate a proof of work.

Read ‘network node’ as ‘your computer’. People solving a ‘block‘ – which is used to validate transactions like sending and receiving bitcoins – get some bitcoins as a reward. To make an analogy with real cash, pretend someone wants to give money to someone else. You act as the witness, saying “Yes, party A gave X dollars to party B”. As a reward for this, you get a small amount of cash.

Shorter version: Your computer can generate bitcoins. Since they are tradeable for real cash, you can make money; or buy things directly with bitcoins. More on that in a moment.

In turns out that modern video cards, particularly those made by ATI, are extremely good at solving these problems. If you’re not familiar with using a video card for non-video work just remember that a graphics card is essentially a miniature computer made to handle graphics issues. It can be made to do other things quite well. Take a look at the Bitcoin hardware chart to see the relative comparison of cards. Making bitcoins in this manner is called Mining.

Solving an actual whole block is a ton of work, even for a fast video card; it might take months. Instead participate in a mining pool. This works like other distributed-processing projects. Small chunks of the problem are assigned to a lot of people, and when the problem is solved, everyone gets a payout based on how much work they did.

If you’ve followed along so far, you’ve figured out that you can use your video card, the same one you probably play EVE with, to generate bitcoins which can be turned into real cash. Alternately you can do what I did, and buy a GTC directly for bitcoins, from Bitcoincodes. For 2.88 Bitcoins, I received a GTC, with no issues at all.

I have two video cards, an ATI 5770 and an ATI 5750, which gives me a total of about 0.15 bitcoins per day. This gives me a single bitcoin every 12 days or so; or a whole GTC about every 4-6 weeks. The price of a GTC will vary based on the actual cash value. I could convert my BTCs into cash and buy a GTC that way, but this is more trouble for me than just buying the GTC directly.

Like Paul you may determine that your extra electric cost of mining cancels out the value. If you have cheap electric service or don’t pay for your electricity (college kids I’m looking at you), then this is a win.

To get started download and setup GUIMiner, the easiest way to start mining for coins. You’ll want to use a bitcoin pool. I recommend deepbit.net, but there are several other options. Finally you’ll want the official bitcoin client so you can store bitcoins in your ‘wallet’ and buy things with them.

I leave my client running all the time. Performance under EVE is very good. I see a reduction in mining speed, but it’s still excellent. If you’re really serious about mining, buy a modern ATI video card. An Radeon 5770 can be had for about $100 and will give you around 0.08 bitcoins per day.

Another day, another confused bear.

Posted in Uncategorized on July 26, 2011 by captain

So after being back in EVE for a couple weeks, mostly bearing it up for standing to access pretty locators all over the place, I finally decided that enough was enough, and I needed to do something other than mission. I wanted to kill something.

I had been missioning for Gallente for the past couple hours in Dodixie, and the agent I was using kept sending me to Botane. So I decided to start my shenanigans there. I had a Cyclone I’d been dying to get a kill with and figured why not. I’ll use it and see what I can do.

I started scanning with an alt, and warping to hits with the ‘clone. Yup, that’s right. Looting in a gank ship. It’s not quite as bad as you might think. All in all I’ve been shot about as many times flying a hurricane with a salvager as flying a vigil. Most of my hits though turned out to be duds. One or two had really long ass burns I didn’t feel like doing over multiple rooms, even with an ab.

Others had people just finishing and warping out, and yet others had my favorite type of bear – the instablue bear that abandons everything the moment you arrive.

About 20 minutes after I started scanning, I got an odd hit. Brutix, Prophecy, and Raven. Huh. Groups always feel more cocky and therefore shooty, so off I went. Jumped into the first room with the Cyclone and started looting and salvaging, with both BC’s and the Raven sitting random ranges.

After maybe the third wreck, the Prophecy yellowboxed me. Ah, good sign. The Brutix followed suit and so did the Raven. I started to feel like I was in the line of fire of a firing squad.

I just kept looting, minding my business, and soon enough the Prophecy opened fire. Woot. In what was probably a bad call, I rushed over to him to give him some hail as the Brutix now opened fire as well. Brutixes usually have crappier tanks, but hey, it was the heat of the moment and I had already started burning, so I went with it.

I stuck my neuts and everything I had on the Proph, and he tanked well. The Brutix then got into range and started pounding my shields with Antimatter, which wasn’t fun. To make matters worse, the Raven, now 40km off, was pelting me with cruise missiles. I went into armor as the Prophecy went into structure. I just wanted a kill, and then to bugger off and maybe return.

Then, my damage suddenly all but stopped. I wondered why… My neuts had turned off too… Awwww… Stupid me.. I had left overheat on and promptly burned out all my highs. With my armor draining away and the Proph regaining his, I took my defeat and warped off at 2% armor.

But, this was FAR from over. I called in Ninja Dojo for assistance and Urian Kandor responded. He had no RR available save for one rep drone on his cane. But, he was a jump out, and perhaps they’d try to shoot him too, which would give me a little breathing room.

I docked in station to repair my poor modules and stock up on some more hail with a 15 minute agro timer running on Xisevals, and 8 minutes on his corp. I undocked, and told Urian Kandor to jump in system with me. We then went to his mission, and went through the first gate. If they came in, they’d end up right on us, which is where I wanted them.

I told Urian  to keep watching dscan, as was I. After about 5 minutes, Urian announced that Xisevals was now in system once again, and shortly thereafter, his friends were too. I looked up at my timer – 14 minutes on Xisevals, and corp aggro had gone. Perfect. Urian had stolen, and therefore had corp aggro, and I hoped we could bait them all into shooting us, because if they weren’t all dogpiled on me at once I could handle the raven, and then them.

However we didn’t know what they were bringing, and I told Urian to get to around 30km away in case they had brought some points. I was prepared for a 1v1 as his corpies could not interfere. But they could all kill Xisevals, so I didn’t want him where they’d land till we knew what was up.

Seconds later they all landed on dscan. Proph, Brut, Raven. Kay…. Generally when this happens, the bear has either assumed you’ve lost aggro, or has come back with what he THINKS is a PVP fit, which usually means a point and little else. I was betting on the first one.

I was right. They all ran in together, apparently oblivious to us being there. I was confused for a moment as the Raven wasn’t red to me, but about 5 seconds later he went red and started blinking, exactly as he should 🙂

I immediately locked him up and started everything going. The two BC’s locked me but they couldn’t do a thing but watch their Raven die. I love it when that happens. Wensley over at Rifter Drifter has said many times that he enjoys getting a kill while the enemy’s friends are forced to watch, helpless. I think I have that same enjoyment.

Urian reported aggro from one of the BC’s, but I never saw shots, so I dunno what happened there, but I was merrily tearing into the Raven, who was tanking me quite well. I kept having to redirect my drones to his as they were slowly killing me. What was more insulting was that they were hobgoblin I’s. He just kept spitting them out. I have no idea where he stuffed them all, but it felt like he brought out 50 of the damn things one at a time.

However, I finally got through them all, and directed my drones and everything I had on him. I overheated at his peak, careful this time to not push my guns too far, and he hit armor as I hit 10% shields, at that point I overheated my invuln and forgot about it, which ended up burning out….. But Xisevals lost his Raven a few seconds before that, dropping a crappy 6.1 million ISK worth of modules, for a 100m loss.

It’s okay though. Xisevals  was apparently confused as to what I’d done, which made up for the drops. He didn’t seem to understand how the timers worked, and considered Urian to be some funky shenanigans played by me, thinking he had played a role in the kill, while in reality, he really only kept the BC’s busy for me, though I wish the Raven had shot him, so he could have gotten in on the kill as well.

Here’s the chatlog from local:

[ 2011.07.24 23:35:04 ] Captain Charismatic > I think

[ 2011.07.24 23:35:12 ] xisevals > why he could agress me?

[ 2011.07.24 23:35:25 ] Captain Charismatic > What?

[ 2011.07.24 23:35:43 ] xisevals > it doesn’t make sence

[ 2011.07.24 23:35:56 ] Captain Charismatic > Sure it does

[ 2011.07.24 23:35:59 ] Captain Charismatic > I extended aggro

[ 2011.07.24 23:36:02 ] Captain Charismatic > past your corp aggro

[ 2011.07.24 23:36:08 ] Captain Charismatic > your friends couldn’t do fuck all

[ 2011.07.24 23:36:10 ] Captain Charismatic > you died

[ 2011.07.24 23:36:13 ] xisevals > yea but that doesn’t give you killright on me

[ 2011.07.24 23:36:28 ] WeeDv2 > Myrmidon

[ 2011.07.24 23:36:41 ] xisevals > anyway petition

[ 2011.07.24 23:37:02 ] Urian Kandor > Ha

[ 2011.07.24 23:37:03 ] xisevals > also nobody in fleet was capable of fifghting

[ 2011.07.24 23:37:10 ] Urian Kandor > Learn2EvE

[ 2011.07.24 23:37:18 ] xisevals > explain me the mechanic then

[ 2011.07.24 23:37:27 ] Urian Kandor > Go read the Eve Online MOTD

[ 2011.07.24 23:37:37 ] xisevals > lol

[ 2011.07.24 23:37:41 ] LT Alter > lol, xisevals.  If you shot him after he took the can and he waited 15min after he took the can but not 15min after you shot him he has aggro on you and your corp lost the aggro from the can.

[ 2011.07.24 23:37:58 ] Urian Kandor > Ronin you gunna shoot me or what?

[ 2011.07.24 23:38:02 ] xisevals > well a corp mate took from him, defended him, we waited 15 min

[ 2011.07.24 23:38:05 ] xisevals > we went back

[ 2011.07.24 23:38:17 ] xisevals > and urian which wasn’t inviolved in the first fight starts shooting me

[ 2011.07.24 23:38:23 ] Urian Kandor > I never shot you

[ 2011.07.24 23:38:24 ] Urian Kandor > But ok

[ 2011.07.24 23:38:24 ] xisevals > after the 15 min

[ 2011.07.24 23:38:37 ] Urian Kandor > CHeck the killmaill my friend. i am not on it

[ 2011.07.24 23:38:41 ] xisevals > ow hang on

[ 2011.07.24 23:39:05 ] xisevals > ow the same guy

[ 2011.07.24 23:39:13 ] xisevals > altho timer was gone for me

[ 2011.07.24 23:39:13 ] Urian Kandor > Wha?

 

Yes, he petitioned me cause he doesn’t understand aggro extension.

So what did I learn from this… Well, first, pick the weaker tank of a group. Even if it means waiting a few moments for them to engage, I need to not be so quick on the trigger. The Proph was doing NO damage at the range I was at before I burned at him, and I could easily have gotten under the Brutix, who was most likely rail fit (I never saw him blasting, and he had no AB). Second… L2OVERHEAT. Damn. I failed pretty hardcore burning out my entire rack of highs, and then a mid later. I need to practice and figure out how much things can actually take before I need to stop. I also need to pay attention to them after I overheat, which I’m not doing enough.

All in all though it was a great fight, I honestly prefer fights like this that take some engineering to accomplish rather than the dry bait/switch that nets you billions in faction mods. Yes, richness is nice, but knowing you outsmarted your opponent(s) is always a better feeling, in my opinion.

I’ve vowed to myself to start getting more kills. I want my stats to be a little better than they are. There are a couple small changes coming around that should help me do that, as well.

Anyway, I like blowing up smaller, more fun kills into posts like these. Tell me if you guys like this length too. My fraps should be fixed now, before it was crashing my clients every time I started it. So expect some good footage from me in the future. Fly safe 🙂

An Acceptable Resolution

Posted in Uncategorized on July 7, 2011 by paul

I followed the results of the CSM Summit in Iceland as well as hitting the high points of the community response in my RSS reader. I would have kept blogging throughout the whole process, but on the first of the month I formally took possession of the game store I’ve purchased. What followed was two 12-hour days followed by three 16-hour days. I completely renovated and re-stocked a failing board/card/video game store, continued to deal with lawyers, accountants, and vendors, and generally worked my ass off.

I won’t go back and document in detail the events of the last week. There’s other people who followed that more closely and did better writeups of it. I will give you the TLDR version from my perspective.

  1. Leaked information from inside CCP seemed to indicate that they were intending to spring Pay2Win microtransactions into Eve.
  2. Rather than immediately address the leak and concerns of the community about Pay2Win, CCP indicated, both intentionally and unintentionally, that it was either unaware that Pay2Win was the real problem, or aware of the rage but unconcerned about it.
  3. Riots, mass unsubs (including your humble griefer), and a freighter full of bad/amused press coverage followed.
  4. CSM called to Iceland. Silence at first, then some positive tidbits, then the CSM stating that it believes CCP’s statement that the rage against Pay2Win is acknowledged and that there are not plans to implement it.

Was it really just a big misunderstanding? The intentional and unintentional communications from CCP seemed to indicate otherwise. After all, why even toy with the idea of Pay2Win in a company newsletter if it was already the position of management that it was unacceptable?

Either CCP made the mother of all communications screwups in the wake of this PR disaster, or it was really planning to turn Eve into a Pay2Win game? Ultimately, we’ll never know and it doesn’t matter. One way or the other, CCP was concerned/frightened enough about the united actions of the playerbase following the scandal to fly delegates into Iceland, print a very blunt statement from the CSM on the game’s homepage, and release a video in which the Senior Producer states that Pay2Win is a bad idea and there are no plans to implement it.

Could it all be a lie? Sure, but at this point there’s no better reassurance possible that it isn’t. I suppose that they could work up some sort of legal framework that would make them liable in civil court for such an action, but they’d be stupid to sign such a thing. The fact that CSM is satisfied and will be acting as a watchdog on this issue from here on out is reassuring to me. In fact, I’m guessing that this becomes the primary CSM focus from here onward.

CCP heard the player base loud and clear on this one, and I hope that they remember the events of June 2011. CCP has created the most profound gaming experience in history, in my opinion, and as long as the community remains united in its support of that game, CCP will be able to collect our golden eggs for many years to come. It’s not a bad relationship to have.

To the haters who said “Stop whining and just go away”: That’s not how this works. If Eve was a game that didn’t mean anything to us, then we wouldn’t be upset when it showed all the signs of making a terminal mistake. If nobody cared enough to make some noise to get CCP to stop and re-assess, then we’d soon lose part of what makes Eve amazing. I will laugh at all tears posted below about my return.

So there you go. I’m downloading the Eve client again and praying that my settings remained intact. I know that I lost my Evemon and EFT settings when I uninstalled those programs, but that’s not such a big deal. Optimistic tail-wagging may now continue.

CSM/CCP Emergency Summit Results

Posted in Developers! Developers! Developers! on July 2, 2011 by khalia

Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
– Macbeth

You can read the CCP and CSM statements here and see the video chat between The Mittani and Arnar here.

Comments:

CCP Statement

* CCP didn’t mention Hilmar’s email at all. I expected at least a statement from him, acknowledging that he was aware players were unhappy and was commited to fixing things. I would have been really impressed by an apology. CCP: -10 points

* “CCP acknowledges that the reaction following the leaked internal communication could have been handled better. Good communication and trust between CCP and the EVE community has always been a fundamental priority for CCP and will continue to be so.”

Is it that hard to write “we apologize”? I expected more humility. CCP: -5 points

* “It is CCP‘s plan that the Noble Exchange (NeX store) will be used for the sale of vanity items only. There are no plans, and have been no plans, as per previous communication and CSM meetings, to introduce the sale of game breaking items or enhancements in the NeX store.”

I’m sorry guys, but after we hammered and hammered and hammered on this issue, “no plans and have no plans” is just not good enough. We expected “will never be”. CCP: -50 points

* “CCP acknowledges that communication surrounding the launch of the virtual goods store should have been better. To address that, we will write up dev blogs that explain the pricing strategy of the NeX store and the price tiering system. We will also communicate that we intend to put the focus on further fleshing out the lower price range and give visual examples of upcoming items.”

Stop acknowledging, and start apologizing. No statement that $70 monocles and $30 pants are not micro-transactions, they are stupid. CCP: -5 points

* “The CSM raised concerns with performance running multiple clients after the Incarna launch where the minimum hardware spec will only support one client logged in when in a station environment. CCP will work on creating a minimum hardware spec that supports multiple clients, but wants it to be clear that the current minimum specification aims at single client with low settings.”

What about “acknowledging” the heat issues created? Also, “wants it to be clear” translates as “multiboxing clients are low on our priority list”. CCP: -10 points

* The CSM helped CCP understand the emotional connection players had with „ship spinning”. They vehemently demanded the return of the feature, which CCP committed to introduce in some form at a future date. Until that functionality is added back in, the option to load station environments will remain in the Settings menu.

“Committed to introduce in some form at a future date”. My head just exploded from vagueness overload. So we might get a low-res, bad copy of the original in 2014? That would be accurate according to the above. Expected: “Will be returning in a patch in the next 3 months.” CCP: -10 points

* No mention of CCP about the $99 Eve license issue. Yes, this should have been included, as it was a serious issue of discussion in the last week. CCP: -5 points.

* No mention of the Fearless/Greed newsletter issue. CCP: -2 points

CSM Statement

* “Captain’s Quarters: We discussed the hardware and lighting issues within the CQ and we were satisfied that they were being addressed. We were pleased when Torfi announced that the current “Disabled Incarna Door” will be replaced with an environment that will provide similar functionality and performance to the pre-Incarna Hangar, and this environment will be available until Incarna performance is similar to pre-Incarna performance. While the final details and timelines have not been worked out, ships will once again spin all over New Eden.”

CSM gets points for going into more detail that CCP, but loses them by only getting “will be replaced with an environment that will provide similar functionality”. We want the original ship spinning back. CSM: -5 points

* “Noble Exchange Rollout Debacle: We were shocked and appalled to discover how badly the planning and implementation of the Noble Exchange was executed. Despite the fact that they did not have enough assets of the right types to do a proper rollout, they launched anyway. The CSM believes that if CCP had properly communicated the details of their vanity goods pricing strategy and had sufficient low-tier items available at launch, the controversy would have been greatly reduced. CCP will issue a dev blog in the near future explaining their vanity goods strategy and how it will be implemented in the Noble Exchange.”

We know all this; where’s the meat? That CCP will give us a dev blog? CSM: -10 points

* “Game-affecting Virtual Goods: We are convinced that CCP has no plans to introduce any game-affecting virtual goods, only pure vanity items such as clothing and ship skins. We have been repeatedly assured that there are no plans for ‘gold ammo’, ships which have different statistics from existing common hulls, or any other feared ‘game destroying’ virtual goods or services. We have expressed our deep concern about potential grey areas that the introduction of virtual goods permits, and CCP has made a commitment to discuss any proposals that might fall into these grey areas in detail with CSM at the earliest possible stage.”

I’m glad you’re convinced, but players want a concrete statement that game-mechanic virtual goods will NEVER be introduced. This was THE KEY ISSUE and you missed getting the commitment from CCP that players wanted. Close enough is not good enough. CSM: -50 points

* “The Fearless “Greed is Good?” Leak: We accept CCP’s position that Fearless is a deliberately controversial internal publication and does not represent the policy of CCP Management or of CCP Zulu, the Senior Producer of EVE Online, nor the direction of game design. ”

No problems here, I think only the most crazy conspiracy theory guys disbelieve this.

* “The Leaked Hilmar Global Email: We were appalled by the leaked Hilmar email and the atrocious and out-of-touch messaging it contained. We sympathize and agree with those players offended and disgusted by it.”

Nice language. I notice that Hilmar never shows up anywhere, and that you haven’t called on him to apologize or make a statement. CSM: -2 points

* “Arnar (CCP Zulu)’s Angry Friday Blog: We were disappointed by the tone taken in Arnar’s Blog, but we understand that he was in a state of extreme agitation and reacting to the leaks coming from within his company, which he saw as a breach of trust. While we may disagree with some of his decisions, we are united in our support of Arnar as the Senior Producer, and were pleased with his followup Apology Blog. We hope that his statement today will begin to restore your trust in his leadership and vision.”

No content here.

* “We believe that the situation that has unfolded in the past week has been a perfect storm of CCP communication failures, poor planning and sheer bad luck. Most of these issues, when dealt with in isolation, were reasonably simple to discuss and resolve, but combined they transformed a series of errors into the most significant crisis the EVE community has yet experienced.”

I believe part of this, but I also believe that CCP hasn’t come clean with enough humility, nor have they made statements strongly enough for me. I was hoping the CSM would get this out of them.

CCP score: -97 points
CSM score: -67 points

Losers: Players.