Archive for October, 2011

Changes

Posted in Site News on October 28, 2011 by khalia

My Loot, Your Tears, hasn’t changed much since creation in June 2009. Until now.

With the increase in readership and articles the limitations of the current setup went from annoyances to real needs to fix. At least for me! Like everything else in our partnership, Paul starts with a good idea and then leaves me to handle the real problems. =)

Upgrades have been made to the comments section which I regarded as the weakest part of the blog. You are now able to register as a user on MLYT. Doing so will keep you from having to enter in your username and email address every time you wish to make a comment on an article. Following replies to your comments is now also easier. At the end of the comments section you will now find an option to subscribe by email to replies – to your comments, or to any comments made to the article at all. You can also subscribe without having to post a comment.

The layout of the comments section has also changed. The default WordPress behavior was to nest replies to other comments, and reduce the font size of each reply. This ended up with me frequently wanting binoculars to read some replies. I have stolen the comment code from the default WordPress theme and applied it to our custom theme. Nested replies are no longer possible, which means you’ll have to indicate if you are replying to a particular person. The update is far more readable and should be easier on everyone’s eyes.

Some people seem to get confused over the author of an article – mistaking my posts for Paul, or forgetting that Captain Charismatic exists. He’s a Canadian, so this is forgivable; but to reduce confusion the avatar for each author will now show up next to the article title. It didn’t seem fair to give ourselves avatars and leave everyone else out, so avatars are available for commenters. If you have a global avatar from Gravatar, it will be used by default. If you register as a user, you can choose to upload an avatar directly, or choose your Twitter avatar to be used.

These may not be the only changes in the days ahead, but they should be a good start. Enjoy!

Do We Need Tier-3 Battlecruisers?

Posted in CCP on October 25, 2011 by khalia

So Jester has written about the new Tier-3 battlecruiser information that has been leaked. They look great…. but here’s the thing: Will anyone ever use a Tier-1 battlecruiser any more? Does anyone even use them at all? Should we have been balancing ships that exist before we add new ones?

Some one will eventually make the “Tier-1 battlecruisers cost less than Tier-2″ argument. If you can afford the 20-30m ISK for a Tier-1 BC, you can afford the 30-40m ISK for a Tier-2 BC. It’s really not much difference for what is a substantially better class of ship.

Let’s take a quick look at the Tier-1 battlecruisers.

Prophecy: The Amarr tier-1 BC has a big tank as you’d expect from an Amarr ship. On the other hand, it’s slow, it does poor damage, and only fits six guns. The Tier-2 Harbringer can do significantly more DPS due to bonus and 7 gun slots, has the same speed, more power grid, and better base armor and shield HPs.

The only time I’ve seen a Prophecy seriously used is as a bait ship. With Battlecruiser V, a bunch of plates, and some resist mods, it can sport a lot of EHP for a BC hull. Just don’t expect to do any useful damage with it.

Ferox: The Ferox has the same bonus to shield resists as the Drake, but it has one less mid slot – key for shield tanks – and less base shield EHP. With a bonus to hybrid optimal range, it manages to make blaster suck less, but that isn’t saying much. On top of this, it’s even slower than the Prophecy! Good luck getting in range for blasters. With only six gun slots verus the Drake’s seven missile slots, you won’t be doing much damage either.

I don’t know of anyone seriously using the Ferox, but if you’ve got a reason, post it up. I have heard of some odd fits with autocannons, but these are the stuff of comedy.

Brutix: The Brutix is perhaps the best of the Tier-1 battlecruisers. With seven gun slots, a damage bonus, and an armor repair bonus, the Brutix is able to do a lot of DPS and a lot of tanking. The weakness of the Brutix is the weakness of Gallente ships in general: Hybrids aren’t that good. If they get fixed as rumors say, the Brutix may get a lot more popular. The other weakness is that you need a lot of speed to get into range for blasters; a microwarpdrive plus blasters plus armor repair is a lot of capacitor.

The most common role lately for the Brutix is that of a suicide gank ship. Is anyone using them in PvP, and if so, how?

Cyclone: The Cyclone has all the weaknesses of Minmatar ships and not much to help it out. Eight high slots will let you fit five guns and three launchers, but only the guns are damaged bonused, and for ROF instead of pure damage. The lack of powergrid compared to the Hurricane increases the difficulty in working around the issues. The shield boosting bonus looks good on paper, but the Cyclone’s shield resists work against this – the EM hole in particular.

I don’t see much reason for using a Cyclone when a speed-fit Hurricane will run circles around the other guy and do a ton more damage at the same time.

Comments? What would you do about the Tier-1 battlecruisers? Do they have a role besides “slightly cheaper”?

The Curious Case of the DPC

Posted in The More You Know on October 24, 2011 by khalia

Some months ago I switched my graphics from an NVIDIA 9800GTX+ to a pair of cards: An ATI Radeon 5770 and an ATI Radeon 5750. I did this mainly to mine Bitcoins as I wrote before, but I figured it also gave more video power for multiboxing. I run as many as three clients at once, so this is not a trivial issue.

While mining for bitcoins, I would keep all my clients at low quality settings, and still get good frame rate. In the last month I’ve stopped mining bitcoins due to lack of interest and the prices going into the toilet. If I’m not using that GPU power to mine, I can crank up the quality settings on my EVE clients. Or can I?

After turning client settings up to medium-high, I started to notice occasional audio crackles and pops in my audio. I bitched about this to Paul for a while before actually doing something about it, of course. My first attempt was to move off my front-panel audio to the rear connectors and assuming EM interference, but this was without improvement. I also double-checked the headphones on another computer to be sure they weren’t the problem.

Going back to the issue itself, I lowered the video quality on my EVE clients and the audio issue went away. I also noticed it only happened if I had at least two clients open and if they were in “windowed” mode at near-fullscreen resolution. Smaller windows, using “fullscreen” or “fixed window”, made the problem go away. Why was I not using fullscreen? Multiple monitors make that a pain in the ass; fixed window mode works better but only for as many monitors as you have – two in my case. The third client has to be “windowed”. I prefer to use three clients all in windowed mode but not if I was getting audio issues.

By this point I was really dying to know what was going on here. After some google-fu research I discovered a common cause of this issue was DPC latency. DPCs are a queuing method Windows uses to handle multiple requests from hardware. If a device driver takes too long doing it’s thing, the amount of time a DPC will stay in the queue becomes very long – too long and the system just drops it. For audio devices this means the popping/snapping I was hearing.

First step was to download the DPC Latency Checker tool. Just run it and then exercise your system to see if you get latency. I ran it when I got audio problems, and sure enough, huge DPC latency problem:

DPC issues are almost always caused by bad drivers or hardware conflicts. I first updated my video card drivers, motherboard drivers, audio drivers and NIC drivers; no improvement. I then removed all drivers, ran Driver Sweeper to remove all traces of the drivers, and re-installed them all over. No improvement. The next step being a hardware conflict, I disabled everything possible on my system via the BIOS. COM port, LPT port, floppy drive, Firewire, onboard audio, NIC – all went away. Again no improvement.

So now I’m getting rather stumped and annoyed. More google research turns up two more ideas: Some people have issues with ATI’s PowerPlay feature. This power-saving driver feature will downclock the video card and memory when the GPU is idle. So I disabled it again without any improvement. As a final stab in the dark I started disabling everything on my system – services and running processes. Every non-microsoft service was disabled, and most of the Microsoft ones too! Down to complete bare-bones services. Additionally I uninstalled my firewall and antivirus software. No improvement.

I had about given up when I ran across this excellent post on how to find the actual driver involved with the DPC problems. Hope! I downloaded the Windows Performance Toolkit from the Windows SDK (just chose the ‘Tools’ part, uncheck everything else) and followed the steps listed to get a profile of what was going on during this high DPC latency.

The driver in question turned out to be dxgkrnl.sys, the DirectX kernel driver. My DirectX is fully up to date. The DirectX diagnosis tool (dxdiag), also confirms everything is good. I am out of ideas – save one. I pull my old 9800GTX+ out of the box and install it, removing both ATI cards. Then I run the same latency-inducing setup:

The latency isn’t perfect, but it’s a hell of a lot better than it was with the ATI cards!

Conclusion: ATI, your drivers suck.

Hope this helps some other poor soul with a bad-audio issue.

Winter Expansion Poll

Posted in Polls on October 22, 2011 by khalia

I’ve been wanting to add a poll feature to MLYT for a while, and I finally installed WP-Polls. Here’s the first poll to get things started!

[poll id="2"]

Ice Miners Go Boom

Posted in Capers, Delicious Tears on October 22, 2011 by khalia

I was hanging around yesterday in the Gonegalt channel where Goons & friends connect to share intel and coordinate ice miner ganks. Someone mentioned a Mackinaw in Ignebaener. Fellow blogger Planetary Genocide perked up, and so did I. We coordinated for a gank, but the target had fled by the time we were in position.

Not being content to go without miner death, we found a Covetor in Ardallabier and reduced it to scrap metal. PG got the killmail, he’ll have to post it, but the response in local was worth it:

[ 2011.10.21 20:54:41 ] sminatore lupacchiotti > Aaron??!!
[ 2011.10.21 20:54:45 ] sminatore lupacchiotti > why you kill me
[ 2011.10.21 20:54:46 ] sminatore lupacchiotti > ??
[ 2011.10.21 20:55:38 ] sminatore lupacchiotti > guys look for Aaron Sarukake and Commander Derpy Hooves they kill me in belt

PG had to go back to real life, so I scouted unsuccessfully for a while. Quite a few hours later, just before bed, I decided to have a look in my now-favorite system of Stegette. Stegette is a 0.5 system surrounded by low security systems. Miners some how think people won’t brave the low sec to get at them there.

My suicide Rupture landed on top of a Covetor, who warped off before I could target; but he returned a few minutes later and started mining again! The obvious result followed, along with threats of REVENGE:

[ 2011.10.22 06:06:24 ] Mr Hunk > now you will be hunted down
[ 2011.10.22 06:07:05 ] Khalia Nestune > lol
[ 2011.10.22 06:07:14 ] Khalia Nestune > gl with that =)

That’s a lot of stuff to promise

Posted in CCP on October 21, 2011 by khalia

I’m really liking the turn-around we’ve seen in the last month with CCP. Hilmar has fallen on his sword to make nice with the EVE community following the Incarna PR disaster, and then we’re promised a whole bunch of nice stuff for the winter expansion.

Then player owned custom offices, and then new tier-3 battlecruisers, and then implants on killmails, and then engine trails and new backgrounds.

I am in no way faulting CCP for thinking big and awesome. I am slightly concerned about if they can actually deliver all of this by the winter expansion. Assuming “winter” is pushed out to mean “February”, that’s only 4 months. It’s a big list of stuff to make in just a few months. Particularly since they just axed 20% of their workforce; this always causes some people to start looking for other jobs, and lowers morale.

The worst disaster they could have would be another Incarna-release which didn’t meet player expectation at all. I think we all would have been OK with “this stuff for winter, all these other things between winter and next summer”.

Comments?

CCP Layoffs Discussion, Continued: WoD Must Die

Posted in CCP on October 20, 2011 by khalia

Lots of excellent discussion going back and forth on the CCP layoffs. PyroTech at Wandering the Void wrote about players complaining that the community team was hit hard:

Where’s the next logical step to downsize? You cut out developers, art, and designers from EVE….you go back on your promise of improving EVE. That’s where the community team comes up. In a lot of companies that have these PR Community team’s, they are the most disposable. Their job can be taught relatively easy and therefore easy to replace. So the Reykjavik positions mentioned were likely the community team members.

The logic here is sound. Particularly if the ‘community’ dropped by ~4500 people, that team suddenly looks a whole lot less important. BUT, I disagree with the outcome.

What CCP should have done is shit-can the entire World of Darkness project. Look, CCP, I’m an EVE player. As far as I am concerned your job is to make EVE as good as it can be and NOT ONE DAMN THING ELSE. I have no interest in a vampire MMO; and I’m guessing a lot of EVE players will agree.

Some people will make an argument that CCP has already invested “too much time and money” to drop the project. This reminds me of the “too big to fail” argument made for some financial institutions.

CCP’s income stream is from EVE players. Until they actually get the WoD game out the door, they’re banking on the future. Any loss they would take from dropping World of Darkness has *already been paid*. They can’t make the current situation any worse; indeed they can improve their fiscal position by dropping the employees assigned to WoD, and assign some back over to EVE.

Improve EVE, attract more players, get rich. You can do it, CCP.

DISREGARD FEMALES, ACQUIRE CURRENCY

CCP Layoffs: Do players share responsibility?

Posted in CCP, Developers! Developers! Developers! on October 19, 2011 by khalia

Fellow blogger Jester wrote an article earlier today about the CCP layoffs. However, he indicated some EVE players might be included in the responsibility for 114 people losing jobs:

One last thing: in a very real sense, EVE’s players have to accept a measure of responsibility for this as well. Back in June, when unsubs were at their peak, I wrote:

In context, we know that over the weekend, some 4500 EVE subscriptions have been cancelled and the number is still climbing. That’s $67,500 U.S. per month, or enough money to imperil the jobs of 15 or more CCP developers. There’s no question that CCP has to respond to “what their players are doing.”

Now, this does not not not mean that I’m laying today’s actions at the feet of EVE unsubscribers. As I said, today’s announcement was caused by CCP management biting off more than they could chew. Simple as that. Still… the choices you make in EVE always have a consequence. I think I heard that somewhere.

I took some exception to this, and wrote back the following:

You should have just left the comments about players out of this; otherwise a well-written and informative article.

Players having any ‘responsibility’ on the employment of the developer is about as accurate as saying drivers who switch from Ford to Dodge are responsible for lost jobs at Ford.

Jester then published a follow up article, quoting me and another commenter:

I tried twice in the comments to make it clear that I didn’t mean everyone that unsubbed or was vocal about CCP’s mistakes this year. Just the small majority that was turning CCP’s actions into a personal affront against them. I guess I wasn’t being clear. Stabs did a great job of responding to Khalia, making it clear what I meant:

In this case though the customers stood outside the Ford showrooms telling people Ford were evil and they shouldn’t buy.

It only applies to a small (but vocal) minority but the people who unsubbed and screamed all over the internet about how terrible Eve was and how everyone should unsub as a point of principle DID contribute to this crisis.

Yup, better than I put it myself. Those were the people I meant. Thanks, Stabs!

Now, to be clear, I think Jester is a great writer and don’t have anything against him, I just disagree with this point of view. Here is my response, in case he chooses not to publish my follow-up comment (his blog comments are moderated – MLYT doesn’t moderate comments),

Honestly, I don’t think the “CCP are evil” folks are don’t anything wrong either. It is a customer’s right to complain about a company, and a freedom of speech right (in countries sane enough to have that right) for them to do so.

Put it another way: If you stand outside Walmart with a sign and protest the company, are you responsible when Walmart closes a store or lays people off?

Stabs said: ” … people who unsubbed and screamed all over the internet about how terrible Eve was and how everyone should unsub as a point of principle … ”

Exactly. As a point of principle. What better way to send a message to CCP then to encourage other people not to play? Players wanted EVE better. CCP hired people that didn’t achieve this goal. They got dropped. CCP’s fault, no one else’s.

What do you think, readers?

CCP To Lay Off 20% Of Staff

Posted in CCP, Developers! Developers! Developers! on October 19, 2011 by khalia

In completely expected news, CCP today announced they are laying off around 20% of staff mainly from the World of Darkness project.

The key point in this press release is below:

For the immediate future, our mission is to enrich the vast EVE Universe by strengthening the continuous development of EVE Online while preparing to bring DUST 514 to market on the PS3. We do this in order to realize our ambitious and challenging plan of joining the two in a cross-platform, truly massive online world.

World of Darkness will continue development with a significantly reduced team. This team will continue to iterate and expand on the gameplay and systems they have designed. We will also redeploy creative teams in Atlanta to support the launch of DUST 514.

I can only hope CCP’s senior management will take the hint from the flat-lined player count and drop the WoD and DUST514 projects entirely.

Fixing High-Security Wars

Posted in War on October 16, 2011 by khalia

Fellow blogger Jester wrote a post over on his blog (which I recommend) regarding high-security wars and the recent decision by CCP to allow corp or alliance hopping and other “tricks” to avoid high-security wars.

While I enjoy Jester’s blog and admire his writing skills, I disagree with him almost entirely on this topic.

What lingers for me today about this incident was the inherent unfairness of it. All of us that were fighting were sub-5m SP characters, trying to defend our right to mine veldspar in a 1.0 system. The aggressors were much older characters with tens of millions of SP and ships and income streams that we couldn’t dream of. They could keep the war-decs going cheaply for weeks, and we had no defense against them.

Some of you are no doubt bristling at my use of the word “unfair”. EVE is a dark, cold, risky universe where you can get killed at any moment, blah blah blah. Fine. I accept that. Wouldn’t still be playing this game if I didn’t.

Guys, I sympathize with high-sec PvPers and mercs. I really do. But in this, I have to look at the Big Picture, and the Big Picture says that such high-sec war-decs are often bad for the health of the game.

I’m all for teaching new EVE players that New Eden is dangerous. But I also feel like the true newbies — the ones that are still trying to learn how this game works — should be protected more than they are today. That’s why I say the current high-sec war-dec mechanics are badly broken.

This attitude is wrong because “true newbies” are immune to wardecs; they are already in NPC corporations. New characters start in an NPC corp for this very reason – they have to learn the game mechanics before they get exposed to the issues of warfare. Even non-new characters get a chance to avoid wardecs, at the cost of an 11% tax, the lack of corporate wallets, hangars, etc. and the inability to deploy and use POS towers.

Another fallacy is the “health of the game” argument. The assumption underlying this is that we want new players to keep playing the game. The fallacy behind this assumption is that not all players are equal. I do not want the EVE player base to increase with players who lack the resilience or determination to keep playing when the odds are against them. If you stop playing after your shiny new Hulk is killed by suicide gankers, then this is GOOD for the game.

EVE *is* unfair. That’s why many of us like it. That shouldn’t change.

This said, here are my own suggestions for fixing the current high-security warfare problems:

  1. The corporation or alliance declaring the war must produce a certain number of ship kills, pod kills, or ISK value destroyed in order for the war to continue for another week. The formula for this is determined by the game, not by the group declaring war, and is based on the number of players in the target corporation or alliance.
  2. The war can be ended early if the target corporation agrees to pay a certain ISK value to end the war. This is a fixed value based on the number of players in the target corporation or alliance.
  3. When a war has ended either due to surrender or due to the group declaring war not meeting their goals, or from voluntarily ending the war, the target can not have war re-declared on them from the same aggressors for the same length of time as the war took place. If war lasted six weeks, the target is immune to wars from same aggressors for six weeks.
  4. No member may leave a corporation while the corporation is at war. Members who are forcefully removed from the corporation may not re-join the corporation for one full week.
  5. No corporation at war can join an alliance. No corporation in an alliance at war may leave the alliance. Corporations in an alliance which are forcefully removed may not re-join the alliance for two full weeks.
  6. Warp scrambling of any sort prevents a ship from docking or using a gate.

I’d go into greater detail about the suggested changes, but the ideas should be clear if you think through the implications. I also have to be awake at 0500 local time and need my fucking sleep.

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