Monday, March 14, 2011

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Voting has begun!

Voting has now begun for CSM 6. You can vote at Log in with your account, and go find Joshua Goldshlag (I look like an old man, some folks say I look like some guy named Sloan from Star Trek DS 9). If you have more than one account, you will need to log out, click the link again and log in with your other accounts.

The direct link to vote for me is

Thanks for your support!

0.0 Perspectives

It has been a long time since I personally have lived in 0.0 space (not counting w-space). Because of that, my personal knowledge is somewhat limited. If elected to CSM, I would be relying on you, the players, to pass on the problems you are having.

That being said, I do have some thoughts. Firstly, the current sov system is rather unfinished. Very few folks use any of the sov upgrades other than the one that generates sanctums (pirate detection array). Clearly CCP needs to look at boosting the other types to make them competitive.

Right now there is a lot of worrying about the possibility of removing/nerfing jump bridges. I think it is important to separate the two issues in play here. Firstly you have logistics. Logistics work sucks, and making it harder is just going to cause players to leave the game. At the same time, if it is too easy, you make it easy to supply large areas of space. I am not in favor of making logistics work any harder then it is currently (and would like to see improvements like POS fuel pellets to reduce the work involved).

The second issue is force projection. I think force projection is far to easy currently. Alliances are able to bounce from one side of the map to the other way too quickly and with fairly little risk. This makes attacking an alliance on multiple fronts ineffective, and emphasizes numbers over strategy. This is where I think tweaks need to be made to jump/titan bridges. I do think any changes in this area need to be compensated by changes to make actually taking space less of a boring waiting game and more of a fight. I am unsure of what exactly the changes that need to be made are, and I don't see the role of the CSM as playing junior game designer and designing these systems.

I would also like to see some changes made to local chat. Again, these changes probably need to be accompanied by a change to the directional scanner, but I like the no local effects in w-space. I think it encourages people to actually fight, as you cannot easily tell when you are outnumbered. Perhaps a short delay, the length of which is tied to the sov system?

Another major 0.0 issue is the proliferation of supercapital ships. I think pretty much everyone is in agreement that something needs to be done here. An easy first step would be to restrict fighterbombers ability to damage anything other than other capitals/supercapitals. I would love to see some dedicated anti-capital subcapital sized ships, perhaps Tech 2 versions of the Tier 2 Battlecruisers.

Friday, March 4, 2011

You aren't done when you ship

As I said before, my RL job is a software developer. One thing I have certainly learned though my career that CCP seems to have forgotten is that you aren't done with a project when you ship it. Barring major bugs, it seems like CCP moves their developers onto new projects right after a major expansion ships, which is a terrible idea. CCP is already working with an agile development model where they deliver working chunks of code every few weeks. I would like to suggest that they devote an extra 6 weeks of work to every feature *after* they ship it. A recent example is Incursions.

They shipped incursions which were generally working and were actually fun. The problem is, at a given level the difficulty of a site varies rather widely. In a vanguard system there is one incredibly easy site, one slightly harder site and one site that takes forever. If CCP had a team still working on incursions, they could have tweaked the difficulty to make the 3 closer together.

This sort of pattern is often repeated. CCP cannot always predict what players will do with a new feature, and they need to be much more responsive right after the feature is introduced. This is separate from the work they also need to do with expanding the features long term and not just abandoning them (COSMOS, FW, etc.)

What is wrong with wormholes

I've been getting a lot of questions from people about what exactly I think needs to be changed in wormhole space. I'd like to say first of all that I don't think my role as a CSM delegate would be to push for my specific proposals, but to push for things that would help the most people, both in and outside wormholes. With that being said, I have two major areas that I would personally like to see CCP devote some attention to:

POS life

The biggest area I think needs improvement is POSes. The current POS system is clunky and a security nightmare. One of my biggest complaints about running a wormhole corporation is that I have to spend a lot of time and effort managing security issues. I would love to be able to have a lot more folks out in wormhole space, but every wormhole corporation end up having to deal with huge trust issues that the rest of EvE has much better tools to deal with (though I would still like to see plenty of improvement in that area for everyone). A wormhole POS only has a very limited number of security options, some of which are tied to roles that you effectively cannot give out (Starbase config, for example). POS passwords help some, but are incredibly buggy and annoying to use. Here are my concrete proposals:
1) Allow corps to give POSes a simple allow/deny list, for characters/corporations/alliances that can enter the POS shields. The UI that is used to manage chat channels is exactly the sort of thing that is needed here. It would also be good to be able to use the same sort of list to manage access to hangers and SMAs.
2) Allow Capital Ship Maintenance Arrays to be anchored in non-sov space. Up until Incursions, basically every w-space corp out there was using offline SMAs to store extra ships. I understand CCP wanting to fix that bug, but now we are left with huge issues trying to store capital ships.
3) Fix issues with containers in corporate hangers. Currently you cannot open a container in a corporate hanger at a POS and use it like you can in a station. Again, many wormhole corps place bookmarks in a can in a corp hanger to distribute.
4) Allow people to rename all POS structures (except offensive ones). Currently you can rename production structures, like the component assembly arrays we often use for storage, but cannot rename SMAs or CHAs. This is dumb, and seems like it would be a quick, easy thing to fix.
5) Report POS CPU/Grid in the API. I know there are some apparent technical challenges here, but it really should have been fixed long ago.
6) Make low fuel warnings less annoying. AHARM currently has 40+ POSes in our home system. At least one of them is crying for fuel every day. I would like to see a couple changes here. Firstly, people with the starbase fuel technician role should be getting low fuel warnings. Secondly, it would be nice if the corporation management interface listed POS towers with their fuel statuses. Thirdly, my corp members need to stop slacking and fuel their POSes.

Other fixes

There are also a bunch of non-POS issues that are very important. Here is my non-exhaustive list:
1) Corp bookmarks. I know this was a past CSM issue, and I thank them for bringing it up. CCP needs to get on this ASAP. Players currently waste hours of their time copying bookmarks 5 at a time to and from cans. It sucks, is not fun, and adds load to the database.
2) Deep safespots. This was brought up in some of the conversations I have had recently with other wormhole folks. These were supposed to be eliminated, but I (and many other people) still have some. You should not be able to bookmark more than 20 AU away from a celestial, period.
3) More variety in the sleepers. I have done the new incursion sites and they have some mechanics that would be interesting to see in wormhole space. I would love to see CCP add a couple of new sleeper sites using this technology. It would also be nice to see a little variation in the sleeper sites. Right now they are always the same. I want sleeper officers to show up. I want the sleepers to sometimes decide to attack my POS. I'd love to see them become a little more dynamic rather than their current melted nanoribbon dispensing machines.
4) More variety in wormholes. Why aren't there some longer lasting higher mass limit holes? How about putting some sort of 3 day wormhole at the end of one of the new and improved sleeper sites I mention above? How about some wormholes that are unstable and damage you when you go through them? Ones that dump you out at a random spot in the system the first time you go through them so you need to probe your way back?

That is my list for right now, though I am sure I have forgotten some stuff, and I am also sure that you guys have some great ideas of your own. I'd love to hear them, either here, in my eve-o thread or send me an eve mail or a convo request.

PAX East

I just wanted to mention that I will be at the CCP sponsored gathering at PAX East on March 12th. Hopefully I will see some of you there!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Worse than botting

One of the big issues that I would like to focus more attention on is python injection.

For the folks that are unaware, much of the EvE client and server are written in a programming language called Python. The usage of Python would normally be fine, though it does have some effect on the speed of the client, but the major problem is that people have been injecting their own python code into the client, in order to do a bunch of different things. Currently, one can easily find the following available:

1) A script that modifies the in game autopilot to warp to 0 km from a gate, instead of the normal 15 km.
2) A script that removes the session change timer when jumping, undocking, joining a fleet, etc.
3) A script that modifies the scanner to add the following features:
A) Load/Save probe positions. Lets say you get a hit on 2 different sigs in one scan. You can save the probe positions, scan one down, then load and work on the 2nd one.
B) Contract/Expand probes around their center point.
C) Load/Save signatures to ignore
D) Center probes around a signature
E) Make it so when people warp off, they stay visible in the direction they warped.
4) Several different bots, some public and some private. These bots can be much more advanced than bots that have to use screen reading technologies.

It does sound like CCP has at least started to crack down on the guys that are using python injection, which is a good sign. They need to be much more aggressive, as well as crack down hard on botting in general.

I realized I left out my last paragraph, about why this stuff is worse than botting. Other than the last one, all of these can be used by regular players to gain unfair advantages both in combat and out of combat.

Infinite Tracking? WTF?

First of all, this post (like the whole blog) is my personal opinion, not the opinion of AHARM or anyone else.

I wanted to take a chance to tell my side of the whole Magnetar "exploit" story. For those completely unfamiliar with the story, there used to be a bug involving combining the bonuses of Magnetar wormholes with ship bonuses that would allow one to get negative tracking, damp someone to a negative lock range and lock instantly with negative scan resolution.

I will start at the beginning. AHARM was living in a class 5 wormhole (not a Magnetar). We liked running Sleeper sites in Magnetars, because they have a 100% bonus to damage that doesn't effect the sleepers. We decided to move to a new home in a class 6 Magnetar. A couple weeks after we started moving, some guys were playing around with the bonuses in our new home and noticed that there seemed to be some bugs. We sent a petition to the GMs asking if things were working as expected, and at first were told they were. When we pressed to speak to a more senior GM, we were told that it was considered an exploit to use the effects, and they would be fixed. A month or so after this, I took a 6 month break from the game, and stepped down as CEO of AHARM. While I was gone, we heard from some other folks about them discovering and using the Magnetar effects, so a member re-petitioned the issue.

He was told, "wormhole effects are meant to be used". He did not press the issue more, he did not explicitly ask about the effects in question. If I had still been active at the time, I personally would have not accepted that as an answer, but folks didn't ask for the details.

AHARM started using the effects against Sleepers in May of 2010. We didn't use it in PvP until Rooks and Kings invaded in September. At the time, nearly everyone in corp, including me, though it had been OKed by the GMs (the member that had asked about it had left AHARM and EvE by then).

Rooks and Kings lost a fair sized fleet to us with us using the effects. After the fight, they were able to reproduce the effect and re-petitioned CCP. After much internal CCP debate, Magnetars had all ewar effects turned off, R&K had their ships reimbursed and AHARM was fined by CCP.

CCP removed around 97 T3s from our POSes in w-space until we paid them 60 billion ISK. We paid them, and the ships were returned.

Certainly if I had to do things over again I would have done some stuff differently. We certainly should have pushed CCP harder to fix the effects earlier, and we certainly should have confirmed with them exactly what they meant when they told us all effects were meant to be used.

I do think this issue is exactly why we need a wormhole resident on the CSM. W-space has some unique effects and challenges, and its fair share of bugs. See for an example of one that just showed up with incursions, and is still unfixed.