Tuesday, January 14, 2014

streams versus blags

Over at Kane's blag, he posed a question regarding the upswing of live and recorded video media, and the steady downturn of blagging.  I have a lot to say on this topic; I'll try to do my best on addressing each point rather than rambling on about the merits of each exhibition medium (live video, recorded video & journal).  I've copied his query here for review:

Is blogging about EVE still relevant?

My thoughts have been veering towards this more often as EVE streaming picks up steam, eve videos have become almost the norm, is it human nature to pick the easier, more bling route of entertainment? All flashy lights and for the most part crappy music.

Is blogging, like solo piracy becoming something of myth and legend?

Video recordings of fights, often accompanied with voice communication recordings have become a lot more common than 3-4 years ago. I'd attribute this to players having more knowledge and resources available to them on the subject - better recording software, better editing software, ease of encoding and hosting. However, these presentations all to often do not share the story of the engagement, or include any kind of battle reporting. Indeed, I would say there's been a general decline of narration in videos, with more focus on highlighting engagements than explaining the fight. With this in mind, I never thought recorded videos competed with EVE journals.

Streaming's the latest gaming fad that's had some success with EVE Online, similar to journals just a few years ago. However, there are many limitations to streaming as a broadcaster: the need for high bandwidth, a modern computer and viable content. The first two requirements are often only partially met; many would be streamers have one or the other, but not both, due to personal income or regional limitations on internet providers. This alone heavily regulates the population of broadcasters, unlike journals. The final requirement of content is entirely variable, but in my eyes the most important.

There are many different forms of content; these can be grouped into game content and broadcaster content. Game content would be focus on aspects of the game, such as PvE content (incursions, DED sites, mining), PvP content (FW, solo, gang, griefing), highsec versus lowsec versus nullsec, focus on end game high SP/ISK/knowledge related content or novice friendly content. Conversely there is less focus on the game, and more on the broadcaster and viewer community. This includes podcasts, viewer fleets (PvE & PvP), polls, games, themed events and general dialogue.

Successful streams strike a balance between the two forms of content; I'll use mine as an example. My stream is a PvP focused broadcast, which of late is exclusively focused on FW. I roam FW regions and look for fights. My PvP content usually involves low to medium ISK investment fittings, and the broadcast attempts to be new player friendly, while engaging in high SP/skill fights. However, given the common downtime between fights, I do my best to fill the gaps between engagements with music, talk about the game, dialogue with viewers, and quite often take requests for ship/fitting selections.

If a broadcast favors a less balanced approach to content, and heavily favors one aspect or another, it tends to have a much harder time picking up a viewership. This is especially true for unpolished presentations, which throw caution to the wind in favor of getting their content live, similar to submitting a journal entry without editting.

So, with regard to content, live video media tends to mimic journals in terms of scope - there are a lot of broadcasts covering most aspects of EVE. Live video which successfully incorporates the broadcaster is as personal and individually unique as writing styles for journals, and often enough can develop, embellish and portray content as a story as well as a journal entry. However, where the great disconnect occurs, and where I feel journals win out versus recorded and live video is with how the game is portrayed.

When I broadcast, and for the majority of PvP streams I know, I focus on generating game content quickly, versus intelligently. I focus on regions in the game, and ships selections which best deliver consistent engagements, versus what I truly enjoy or how I'd rather take a fight. Streamed PvP more often than not is STAGED: many engagements are knowingly taken in an 'unrealistic' manner for the sake of viewer enjoyment, and many aspects of the game are ignored (cost effectiveness, acquiring and usage of intelligence, use of alt accounts for scouting, gang PvP & voice comms). What a viewer sees on a typical EVE PvP stream, and what they'd experience once they hop into game would likely be pretty different, as they'd have to play the game in its fullest, with all its 'boring' nuances and quirks which so often are hidden.

Conversely, EVE journals often focus on the little details that are left out from live video: scouting a target, history with a target, how an engagement developed, with intricacies such as use of alts, neutral friends, outside forces, etc playing part. Even more glaring is the use of strategy, tactics, ship selection or gang compositions which are too inconvienent, risky, gimmicky, inflexible or otherwise 'not fun' for the immediacy of live content. A personal example is the use of ganglinks - I usually refrain from using them while streaming, as moving the alt and setting up links is a time consuming and distracting process which the viewer can't take part in, and is not in any form fun to view. Conversely, stealthily setting up a link alt before a fight occurs could be a high point in a journal entry.

With all this build up and comparison, I think live video won't, or indeed can't replace journals, as the two mediums are not synonymous for portrayal of content. As long as there are members of the community interested and willing to work each form of media, both will exist. Frankly, what I feel is more disasterous for both types of media is how the game evolves with each expansion. For instance, my stream used to focus a lot on solo BC/BS primarily in lowsec and nullsec entry points. However, due to changes in the game, with sentry mechanics, ship balance changes, and changes to ship warp speed, it is no longer viable to roam solo in BC/BS, ESPECIALLY in a live format. Even if I was willing to endure the stream ghosting, stronger gangs, and weaker sentries, BCs and BS in particular are so slow to move across regions that its not fun to watch or talk about. So, like solo piracy, solo BC/BS PvP has gone the way of the dodo.

To me, the more EVE Online shifts towards group gameplay, and less from solo gameplay, the less you'll have individually created and focused content such as journals and live video. While it'll still be out there, with diehard masochist enthusiasts taking on one or another 'dead' aspect of the game, I feel the media will shift towards community hosting, such as RvB or Mittani streams and blags. Individual blaggers and broadcasters will widen the scope of their craft, taking on other games and pursuits or quit.

Or so it tends to go.

Friday, November 15, 2013

full tilt

This is a response post to a query Miura Bull made over at his blag. I suggest you head over there and read up for greater understanding of what I'm commenting about.

When I first began solo PvPing in ernst, my goal was to be self sustained, to not take what I felt were unintelligent losses, and have as high as of a K:D ratio as possible while taking interesting fights. A lot of what I did back then was belt piracy, defensive PvP (fighting with sentries on my side) around station and gates, and eventually mission and complex piracy. I built up enough experience and eventually skill in the matter that I could reliably identify good engagements to take on, and comfortably walk away from losses where I was outsmarted or trapped. My confidence was such that even while I was beaten regularly, I knew that I was a good player, a notion that was regularly reinforced by more victories than defeats, by making isk from PvP, and by few mistakes made in PvP.

In the past year or so, where much of my time spent PvPing has been with the goal of showcasing solo PvP through video livestreaming, I've lost much of the edge that classicly was so effective for me in winning engagements. That is, I have stopped listening to my experience regarding taking fights, and this has lead to a lot of frustration with PvP, leading to a near constant state of 'tilt' as Miura described it. I've been sucked into the need for quick satisfaction brought on by bad streaming habits. As any veteran PvPer could attest to, hungry and reckless solo players make for great targets, and I don't enjoy being on the receiving end of a loss due to poor decision making.

For the more immediate sense of frustration brought on by getting ganked, or making a mistake in a fight, etc, I find stepping away from the game to do a chore, exercise, play a different game or other distractions are great ways to cool frayed nerves. For my greater issue as described previously, I'm currently trying to manage the frustration by changing my expectations and my goals when playing. Ultimately I'm working toward updating my sense of what's right and wrong, good and bad about a play session of EVE, and finding (or relocating) a sense of comfortable satisfaction when PvPing, whether I win, lose, or take no engagements at all.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


With the Odyssey expansion in full effect, and factional warfare space moving into full zone control mode between Amarr/Minmatar, I decided to move back to Molden Heath to see how my old home was doing with all the changes.  With Dust 514 interaction, tags for sec and exploration being the in thing at the moment I was hoping there’d be room for an old pirate to ply his trade once more.  I had also heard that Black Rebel Rifter Club as well as possibly Stay Frosty were moving into the area, which hopefully would yield ample targets for some PvP fun.

Stay Frosty hasn’t materialized, however in the past weekend alone I ended up putting countless hours in belt piracy, exploration complex and mission busting, gate and station PvP, you name it, all the old lowsec PvP fixings.  Changes to the region with Dust in particular have drawn so many players into lowsec that the region is reminiscent of years ago, in the 2008-2010 times where piracy was a viable profession in the game.  While I don’t believe there’s enough valuable stuff to be had in lowsec for this kind of activity to be sustainable, between fresh exploration content, Dust offensive and defensive related fleets and tags for sec, there’s at least a reason to be in lowsec in some numbers.  I’ve been glutting myself in action, in part for fear that this will be a fleeting experience gone in but a few weeks’ time.

Related to my previous entry on sentry turret mechanics, part of my experience has been using sentry avoidance as much as possible to explore gameplay options with the current status quo.  I haven’t run into many occurrences with which avoidance was a factor in a “fair” or “equal” matchup, rather enabling my alt to apply sustained EWAR from his blackbird on a multitude of targets with impunity, using gate pounces to only have minimal downtime while warping away and back to the fight.  That said there were an appreciable number of engagements versus passive or reactive PvPers that allowed us to take the initiative by using avoidance, and give up their sentry advantage.  However in these cases fights were usually ganks even with sentry intervention, as our intelligence advantage of being “the locals” meant we were able to form counter fleets to just about everything that flew through the region.

More insidious has been the use of my alt account to apply non-aggressive support effects to myself and other fleet mates during piracy work.  Typically my alt has been flying a Vigil (5 midslots) with meta support modules such as remote sensor boosters and ECCM casters to help us catch fleets or resist EWAR; an incredibly disposable combination for the effect afforded.  With it we’ve been able to catch a few ships that otherwise may have slipped away from our ganking attempts, as well as provide a very inexpensive means of boosting our ships against EWAR.  I’ll probably be trying T1 logistics frigates or cruisers next, as the risk versus reward of friendly support effects, without any sentry interference brings on the notion that you’d be stupid not to be doing this, much like use of off grind boosting alts for PvP.

Flying with my alt in this manner has been a refreshing change of pace compared to the strictly solo approach that I’ve adopted over the past few months for streaming.  It also reminds me of how disconnected I’ve been with your typical EVE PvP of silly notions like flying smart, being patient and application of overwhelming force.  I’ll probably attempt to incorporate some elements of this play into the future with my streaming, as I’m always in an arms race with individuals using my stream to counter my efforts.

Other than that, there’s been some patch woes related to Odyssey, related to interface lag and the new onboard scanner.  While changes to the UI have been positive, something in the patch has introduced considerable desync with myself and everyone I’ve talked to, with effects such as ships having no pilots in space, ships becoming unlocked during combat, warping out under tackle, blackscreen on jumping through a gate or exiting a station, and overall horrific interface lag on the order of 0.5 to a full second of delay on actions. 

Related to the onboard scanner, the graphical effect leaves scanned sites in space as brackets you can mouse over to bring up a tooltip, with various options such as saving the site as a bookmark or warping to it.  If you have onboard scanning hidden, once the initial sweep of the system is complete, the brackets will hide after a few seconds.  The utterly maddening aspect to this feature is that if you’re attempting to mouse over brackets in space, such as to warp to the star, a planet cluster, what have you, is that if a site bracket is next to the bracket you’re trying to interact with, the tooltip will pop up, blocking your interaction with celestials in space.  In simpler terms, onboard scanning is interfering with player’s ability to interact with objects in space, retarding efforts to rapidly conduct actions that are vital to PvPers such as I when time is of the utmost importance in conducting PvP.

I don’t advocate for onboard scanning graphical effects to be removed, however if they have been set to be hidden, I feel these infuriating tooltips should be disabled until the onboard scanner is set back to its “on” setting.  Also,  FFS CCP bring back noticeable stargate jump animations to Minmatar gates.  Not being able to see a gate fire when Gallente gates are just as noticeable as they were in the past is unsettling.

Sunday, May 26, 2013


Current sentry mechanics:
  • Sentry aggression incurred due to security status penalty.
  • Security status penalties occur through the following actions, against players not under the effects of a limited engagement, suspect, criminal flag or war target:
    • Offensive module activation (against players or player owned entities, ship, cans etc).
    • Property destruction (ship, cans, drones, structures, etc).
    • Capsule destruction.
  • Further, flags only occur once per target per PvP flag.
    • In that, for the duration of the PvP flag, activating modules more than once on a target will only incur one security status penalty.
    • Unknown whether multiple poddings of the same target would incur multiple sec status penalties; likely.
    • This means that after initial security status penalty, for the duration of the PvP flag, further aggression against a player will not incur sentry aggression.
  • Further, flags carry over through systems.
    • In that, a player can initiate a hostile action, follow his target to another system, and continue to initiate hostile actions without security status penalties, for the duration of the PvP flag.
      • This effect does not carry into highsec space; offensive actions in highsec space without ‘consentual’ PvP flags (limited engagement, suspect, etc) against the opposing player will incur concordokken.
  • Further, any additional hostile actions will renew the PvP flag.
  • Non-offensive module activations on players or player owned entities, such as the use of remote repairs, sensor boosters, tracking links and other modules, do not incur a security status penalty.
    • PvP status flags will be inherited however, such that suspect, GCC, and weapons timers will be inherited by the supporting player.

How does this affect game play in lowsec?

These changes heavily influence game play around stations and star gates.  Immediately notable is that players engaging other players on stations or gates can remove sentry aggression by leaving range of the station or gate (note: cloaks do not count as leaving range of the defended object).  This mechanic allows for less downtime when camping a station or gate, lessens the need for strong local tanks or logistics ships, and allows players to move through star gates or stations without worry of sentry aggression.  Looked at alone, this makes PvP around stations and gates more casual (less downtime), opens camping to less expensive, tank dedicated ships, and helps promote fragile ship usage in lowsec as low tank ships can now continue through lowsec without a quarter of an hour of sentry aggression on stations and gates gradually destroying their HP pool.

The change to when sentries engage targets brings many nuances to PvP on stations and gates.  When a player engages another player with a hostile action (guns, etc) both players will receive a PvP timer.  If the attacked target shoots back, a limited engagement flag will occur, which enables those two players to fight each other anywhere, including highsec, for 5 minutes.  However, the initial PvP timer is what carries the initial cost of security status for attacking a player.  In that, for fifteen minutes, the attacking player can now engage the defending player anywhere in lowsec without sentry aggression on stations and gates.

This goes far to do away with station and gate games, where the defending player relied on attrition brought on by sentry aggression to wear down his attackers.  Now attacking players need only to incur the initial security status penalty, if done in range of a star gate leave range of the sentries and return to freely fire upon the attacked player without further sentry aggression.

Further, this mechanic promotes the use of highly fragile ships to attack other players in lowsec within range of sentries, where their use in the past necessitated logistics or strong EWAR support to survive.  The burden for the attacking party becomes holding down the attacked player(s) long enough for the attackers in vulnerable ships to leave sentry range and return to destroy the attacked player.  Alternatively, attacking players can chase down players after PvP in other parts of lowsec, and attack them on stations or gates, for the 15 minutes the PvP flag lasts.

Just as important is the derived change to support ships lending friendly logistics or EWAR effects (remote sensor boosters, tracking links, etc): these effects will no longer cause a security status penalty.  This means that regardless of the actions of the players you are lending support to, a support ship not engaging in hostile actions will not incur sentry aggression.

This lends strongly to the use of logistics ships in PvP in lowsec.  Unlike EWAR ships that use aggressive EWAR modules (such as ECM, sensor dampeners, etc), logistics ships will only be threatened by other players.  Indeed, whereas in the past logistics ships were preferred in pairs to keep each other alive under sentry turret attrition, lone logistics ships are viable as long as they can evade or tank player retaliation.

This does not however mean that support ships using aggressive EWAR are less potent with these changes.  Rather, the long targeting range of these ships, coupled with the inability to group EWAR like weapons, means that EWAR ships are very capable of aggressing large groups of targets, from relative safety of range, leave sentry range and return to lend support.  Indeed, the "incur aggression, warp off and back" tactic suits their game play very well, as these types of ships normally use range from other players to mitigate incoming damage.

These are the majority of uses of mechanics, and changes to old game play on stations and gates to the game.  While they spell out how players can use the new mechanics, what do they mean to game play at large in lowsec?

Being able to nullify sentry aggression can be a difficult task to accomplish; in a safe and timely manner, anyway.  Frigates often have difficulty executing this maneuver as their lock ranges are relatively short; they risk being tackled when attempting to aggress their target, then flee.  Larger ships, with their longer locking range are more able to use this mechanic from outside of tackle range, however they are less likely to be able to chase down the target after warping, or have a harder time aligning to warp, etc.

Use of this mechanic also requires much in the way of target selection: players are only able to fire upon the targets they have aggressed previously without sentry aggression.  This is due to the mechanic of attacking a neutral target incurring not only a PvP flag, a weapons timer, but also a suspect flag in lowsec.  Thus if their target is a gang of players, the attacking player(s) must engage all targets prior to dedicating to the fight, else the attacked gang will still eventually have sentry support.  Given that the task of activating multiple modules across multiple targets can be a somewhat arduous task that takes a few seconds, the attacking player is liable to take a round or two of sentry volleys before leaving the station or gate.  Also, if any additional players enter the fight, the attacking player(s) will then have to take sentries to fight those targets, unless they can evade tackle, etc to repeat the process.

In practice, any player or group of players that is looking to use this mechanic to avoid sentries is looking to engage a lone or very small group of players.  It can be difficult or impossible to effectively aggress all members of even a 10 man fleet with a similarly sized group of players to use this mechanic, which is why it is not often done.

Support ships, using logistics and EWAR gain much from these changes.  Logistics ships which are not engaging in hostile actions no longer are affected by sentries, and thus gain for that reason.  EWAR ships are the most common ship to be holding at range from a fight, and from the relative safety of range are able to avoid sentries through the new avoidance mechanic.

Players who take the time to create station and star gate tactical bookmarks further gain tremendously through use of the sentry avoiding mechanic.  Instead of having to warp to celestials, which can be a very time consuming process, tactical bookmarks can be very close to the minimum warp distance of 150km away, enabling players to only leave an engagement for a few seconds, instead of a minute or longer spent in warp.  Tactical bookmarks are especially important when put into context of station or gate camping, as the downtime for campers from the gate if their target is attempting to repeatedly crash to the gate is minimal.

For larger fleet fights where the bulk of players are present in durable ships, or have adequate logistics to keep their ships intact, sentries will still be an often ignored factor in the fight, if the fight would have occurred in the past with sentry aggression.  Fragile ships in this setting, such as frigates or support ships will still suffer, and be required to either have logistics repair them in anticipation of their aggression, or mindful of sentries cycling to their ship to either receive repairs or leave sentry range.  Effectively, little changes in these situations for fragile ships in larger gang fights in lowsec on stations and gates.

All together, sentry mechanic changes most affect smaller gang or solo engagements on stations and gates.  Typically, the party benefiting the most is the party with the greatest numbers, force multipliers, etc, which in the past already had their significant advantage.  The smaller gang or solo pilot will have difficulty exploiting these mechanics, as not only do the larger gangs have more opportunity through numbers to catch players in the act of attempting to avoid sentries, but the attacking player(s) must engage all important targets prior to dedicating to the fight.  Use of support ships, such as EWAR or logistics ships is highly encouraged through these changes; small gangs are less able to lever these assets due to limitations in player count.

Players who do not run in gangs to scout a threat, or with logistics to exploit their immunity, with EWAR ships to exploit their strength in avoiding sentries, who do not have bookmarks in place to exploit their usefulness, or in gangs with ships who can tackle and tank the target, while the rest of the gang leaves sentry range and returns, lose out.  Overall, smaller gangs and solo players lose out.  Players who travel frequently, without the benefit of bookmarks lose out.  Static game play found in camping and dedicating to PvPing in a known, mapped (with bookmarks and scouts) area is reinforced.  Branching away from larger gang combat becomes more hazardous, while gang combat becomes less risky.

Food for thought, proposed changes:

It’s my belief that the previous sentry system, which favored neutral parties travelling through lowsec, which heavily punished static game play found in gate camps, forcing campers to ship up considerably to sustainably tank sentries was a positive system for PvP interactions in lowsec.  Further, I believe current sentry system of cycling off criminal offenders who leave sentry range and return is too a positive system, which can be melded with mechanics of the past to help rebalance the risk/reward of criminal star gate and station PvP in lowsec.

This can be accomplished though several ways:

  • Actions that would refresh suspect or GCC timers, or aggressive module activations on neutral targets refresh sentry aggression on offending players.
  • Supporting module activations, such as the use of remote repair, remote sensor boosting, tracking links, etc share sentry aggression in addition to other PvP flags.

These two changes retain many of the positive changes to gameplay brought on by Crimewatch 2.0 changes, while helping to reinforce risk/reward gameplay which is so iconic of PvP in lowsec.  Firstly, renewal of sentry aggression aids considerably players who in the past relied on the underdog sentry mechanic to enable (safer) travel through lowsec, which acted as a balancing force against criminal players who preyed upon vulnerable players passing through their space.  Aggressors in this situation still benefit from the ability to warp off and back to ‘reset’ sentry aggression, providing an avenue for support ships to retain more presence in a fight, alternatively in instances of station or gate games allowing the aggressor to minimize damage caused by sentries.

Secondly, these changes would bring into line the use of support ships used in supportive actions around stations and gates.  Currently, these ships are incredibly potent by virtue of their immunity from sentries, out of line with the relative risk of employing aggressive EWAR, damage or tackle modules found on other ship types.  Sharing of sentry aggression not only is sensible (the guy driving the getaway car in a heist is very much a criminal), but provides a sense of risk/reward to their use in station/gate PvP.  Lastly, it helps deny the use of support ships for very cheesy PvP heavily practiced by that jerk Missy Lorelai (skirmish, shield ganglinked logistics and tackle ship duo camping stargate).

Monday, May 6, 2013


Looking back through my past couple of posts, I'm partly amazed that it's been three years since the type of battle report content I used to document with this journal.  I don't think I'll ever move back to or recapture that type of writing, especially with the majority of my PvP documented in video form through my stream.  I love reading EVE through written language: attempting to capture the experience and translate it into writing is an act very similar to making strokes with a paintbrush onto canvas.  Writing lends to interpretation of events that are very unique for every participant, and to this day I relish the new entries made by friends and aquaintences across New Eden.

However, my stream doesn't capture everything that I want to say, or in a form that I wish to say it.  While I'm able to broadcast my PvP adventures, explain minutia, tactics, strategy, mechanics, analyze fights on the fly and enjoy PvP with an audience, there are times that discussion about game features, mechanics and quirks leave more to be said than answered.  I find myself fleshing out issues over and over, debating and refining my opinion to the point where I feel I've reached an apex regarding my thoughts on one topic or another.  A blag is a fine place to list said thoughts, and use the entries as a launching point for further debate and potentially action.

Thus, I'm going to attempt a different approach to EVE blagging and see if I can breathe life into Broadside once more.  After all these years, including the many dark years of content from 2010 to present I've stayed true to the path I'd found most rewarding in small gang and solo PvP.  My preference has still been with lowsec, though I've spent many, many hours roaming though nullsec looking for fights.  As such the focus of entries will likely be with game mechanics, features and issues which revolve around these areas of EVE Online.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

for Kane 2

In reply to a journal entry made by Kane,

I feel like I'm in a similar rut to the one you've found yourself in.  I decided to take a break from the game late November after giving Planetside 2 a try, and came back in February looking to see how the rebalanced T1 frigates, dessies and cruisers were affecting the game.  I really hoped that I would see more activity in lowsec and NPC nullsec where I've traditionally found the bulk of my action.

Empowering low cost ships didn't have a lasting effect on the population of solo or small gang PvPers from what I saw.  It didn't drive players into lowsec or nullsec to try their hand at combat.  While the metagame shifted to accommodate these more powerful ships, and established PvP organizations employed their abilities, joe solo/small gang pvper's experience of PvP has remained constant: it's stagnant. 

Piracy, or living off your PvP earnings and ransoms ceased being a viable profession for all but an insignificant population of players around 2011.  Changes to mission running mechanics with agent quality, incursions in highsec, coupled with players migrating to nullsec for cosmic anomalies, better paying missions and ratting removed much of the targets pirates thrived on.  Static complexes were the last bastion where players could find casual small scale fights, and be rewarded, fight or no, with the chance at some deadspace items to keep them going fiscally.  They provided motivation to roam, and a sense of accomplishment regardless of the PvP outcome.

With them gone, the systems that held them and surrounding constellation have become as lifeless as the rest of non-faction warfare lowsec.  The PvP community that based their livelihoods around their existence seems to have the choice of joining faction warfare or ceasing to exist.  Alternative lowsec PvP play styles of camping gates or hunting exploration runners or the odd mission runner, which frankly requires at least one alt account doesn't appeal to many of the static plex PvP community.  These were very small gang, primarily solo PvPers that were ousted by CCP's decision to remove these sites.

I don't know if I'll be able to recapture the magic of moving back into lowsec to try out solo PvP for the first time, and finding myself captured by the challenge for the next 4 years of discovery.  Joining faction war seems like giving up, but I honestly don't see any alternatives in either lowsec or nullsec for my solo/small gang PvP desire.  I'm in regular contact with the MH.net PvP community, talking to others about returning to the game, but the question I can't answer remains: return to what?

PS: Kane, if you're interested, shoot me a PM on the MH.net forums with some contact details.  Perhaps sharing notes will help in finding inspiration for the next EVE Online shindig that will carry us into the game's second decade of life.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

the stream effect

So the past few weeks I've been getting some of the most enjoyment out of EVE in months. The reason? My stream!

I was really curious if streaming could work with EVE. It's such an information driven game - most aspects of the game are entirely player driven, and therefore player competitive. This means that by showing the player screen (MY SCREEN) I'd be giving away many of my 'trade secrets' which I rely on to win. Not only in PvP, but my alts, friendly alts, how I make money (niche market info) friendly activities, so on. I've really been afraid that this would be an utter failure, resulting only in people using the information against me.

Yeah, that's happened. In fact, I'd say at least 1/5 of my viewers are people I fly against regularly, or have in the past. There's been a few times where people I'm shooting are actively talking (and mocking!) me in my stream chat! In a way, it's only going to get worse as people examine the stream, or look up old footage with a keen eye to pick up intel. By streaming, everything eventually is made bare, and that sucks.

Has it been worth it? HELL YES!

There's been a huge shift in how I approach the game, how I fly, and how I spend my time in the game. I'm a lot more aggressive: I'm trying to make the stream as enjoyable as possible! I've pretty much abandoned using expensive implants, have taken to roaming frequently in nullsec, and have been getting way more interesting, and perhaps more importantly, solo and small gang engagements. Do I lose a lot more ships this way? You betcha, but I'm rediscovering what made me love this game by trying to show others how to have fun. The aggressive play style is a bunch of fun, though I'm not looking forward to having to build my ISK up again!

When I roam, it's not all explosions. In fact, most of the time I'm just moving through systems scanning for stuff and finding fuck all. To try the pass the time, I explain what I'm doing, how I'm doing it, and try to walk the invisible friend at my shoulder through the ins and outs of the game. I explain scanner usage. I explain how to learn a system, and how to scout quickly and efficiently. I explain why I check some systems, or parts of systems, and not others. I explain why places are busy, and why others are barren. I tell the stream about my fit, what I'm looking to do with it, why it works, the ways it doesn't, and tricks I use to make it better. The narration helps pass the time, and honestly has improved my play a fair amount, forcing me to focus on what I'm doing and why I do it.

When I encounter other players, I do my best to walk the viewers through the fight: often when soloing, I'll explain what I'm thinking, as I'm moving through the process of scouting the target, my approach to the fight, getting the fight, the engagement, and how I felt afterwords. This analytical approach to the game again helps get my mind working about tactics and strategy, rather than the rather dull approaches I've been using towards achieving PvP success in the past. Every fight is now a lesson, rather than merely a gank, a kill or lossmail.

Lately I've been getting burned out logging in only to find pilots working without cohesion; we don't have many FC's, and my guys have come to rely on me leading them about and organizing efforts. It's honestly extremely tiring when all I wanted to do when sitting down to PvP was look for a fun engagement, and end up managing several to well over a dozen pilots on moving around systems, organizing pilots, assigning roles, explaining tactics, so forth. The stream eliminated this: instead of the lengthy wait of all that organization and management, I've just been jumping in ships by myself or with one or two others and striking out. No hassle, no fuss, no bullshit. Just a few guys looking for some honest give and take PvP.

While I've been dreading stream interaction in the form of giving up information, and having it used against me, it's been quite the opposite in practice! I will often have pilots point out glaring errors (evemail: you forgot your drones! you forgot to update your clone!), give support or ask questions about the game. I've had a lot of people compliment me on the informative nature of the stream, on the ease in which I seem to PvP, and have had a lot of really good dialogue with stream viewers. While I'm in combat with those that are using the stream information to 'cheat' in playing against me, I feel I can deal with that well enough while giving the viewer a fun, educational and entertaining result.

All in all, it's been a huge success. I enjoy the game more than ever, I get as much fun and excitement as I ever remember having, and honestly think I see what most people which term themselves 'bittervets' did wrong: they forgot to focus on the things they love, and just have fun.

I'm currently brainstorming ways to improve the stream, mostly on how to get it out there, encourage PvP discourse, and interaction between viewers and myself. I'll write another post with the specifics of what I'm looking for, and let you guys lend your opinions: I can use the help!