Friday, May 2, 2014

Eve memes & other myths

     Eve players tend to be pretty full of themselves when talking to other gamers, or talking about other MMOs.  They're pretty arrogant, as if other non-Eve players should talk in very quiet voices, whispering about how cool <insert player name> is because they play Eve.  It's a small player base, and Eve is infamous for it's hard style of game play, and it's unique mechanics.  Eve and its players are also pretty good at taking something that may or may not be a little unique, and inflating it, sometimes, often times maybe, way past the realm of fact.  Eve players have been regurgitating the same memes, and sometimes flat out bullshit for so long, and so many times, they've started to believe their own rhetoric.  That rhetoric is also the kind of advertisement, to the rest of the gaming world, that is pretty effective at keeping the overwhelming majority of MMO players, the fuck away from Eve.  The vast majority of these misdirected, uninformed memes/myths come from the null sec minority, and the high sec gankers (even a smaller minority).  Let's look at some of them, and the real world interpretation of said memes, shall we?  :)

- "Eve is a sandbox"  Complete bullshit.  This is spouted everywhere Eve is mentioned and is used so much, to describe so many games, it's as meaningless as the phrase "homepage".  Just a FYI, a "homepage" is where a browser goes when you click the little icon at the top of the window that is shaped like a house.  The ignorant masses had and still have no clue, that a homepage is not at all the same as a "main page" or the "index".

     But I digress, all the "cool kids", the zealots and fanboys, like to chant about "sandboxes", and they have no clue what a sandbox is - likely never even seen one let alone been in one, real or virtual.  A sandbox is all about the content that users CREATE.  Eve has far more mechanics than likely any game out there, and that completely controls the actions of the players.  Regardless of how creative Eve zealots think they are, they're all operating inside the game mechanics.  Doing pvp is governed by mechanics.  Building ships and stations is governed by mechanics.  WHERE you can build those things, is governed by mechanics.  No one has, or can, create some new ship, or market or station, or quest/mission.  You can only use what's there.  99% of what is going on in Eve is any different that anything that has or is going on in any one of scores of MMOs.

     Mouth-breathers, especially the F1 null sec types, seem to think an "open world" style of game design is "sandbox".  It isn't.  Eve is a space theme park, just like Guild Wars and WOW are fantasy theme parks.  While WOW has a far more linear style of play where you have to go to a certain area to start, and follow the quest lines before going to another area, etc.  Eve is open world like Guild Wars/RIFT/etc where you can go in any direction you like, and while you still have to follow a "leveling" progression to graduate to higher level ships, components, scan sites and missions/quests, you can go almost anywhere in the game and do it.  That's not "sandbox", that's open world.  The only sandbox part of Eve is all the ways that people can be assholes to each other, ways that would get players kicked out of any other MMO with far more players.  Null sec is no more sandbox than the open pvp zones of many other MMOs where you can claim territory and get bonuses and money for owning and controlling them.  Maybe calling Eve a "sandbox" somehow makes dullards, and the unimaginative F1 mashers feel good about their "creativity" by doing the same shit everyone else does. ?

     Real sandbox games?  Minecraft is one blazing example.  The basic, core game mechanics are there in the engine, and the players can do whatever they like with it, go anywhere in the game world, build anything they like, and mod the hell out of the game.  Two other prime examples of space based REAL sandbox games are Starmade and Space Engineers.  Both games allow you to build whatever ship, station, machine, weapon, etc you like, anywhere you like, looking and coloured any way you like, already doing many things that Eve has only promised for years.

Translation?  "I have no clue what a "sandbox" is, but I'm a special, mouth breathing snowflake playing Eve, so I'll parrot what every other F1 pusher says".  Eve is a space theme park.  Always has been.

- "Eve is not a game for solo players"  This is parroted mostly by the mouth breathing MINORITY in null sec who seem to think that being told where to go, when to go there and what to fly is somehow the most "fun" that anyone could have in Eve, and that everyone should play that way too.  Anyone who feels like thinking for themselves, and playing an open world game the way THEY individually decide to, is some how mentally flawed.  Apparently, they derive a lot of herd courage, herd intelligence (to whatever lacking extent) and a sense of cozy security knowing they can hide in a mass of players.

     Apparently, these deep thinkers haven't heard of any of the missions in Eve, just about exclusively which can be played as a single, solitary player/ship.  Apparently they also think they need to be in a herd of players to manufacture any item in game or to buy and sell at a market.  Researching, running scan sites, SOLO pvp, mining, wormhole spelunking, living in wormholes, running a POS, hanging out in an NPC corp, cloaky camping, ganking, etc.  Any of these activities can be done quite easily as a solo player.  So I guess in real terms, the actual translation is "I'm a bit of a mindless follower, so if I'm too lazy/stupid/mindless/scared to play a game other than in a herd of people, OBVIOUSLY, everyone is".

- "Eve is all about the end game, which is null sec"  Laughable.  So, this being the case, the reality of the game environment completely refutes this.  The last official report by CCP put null sec active accounts at 12% of the total in Eve.  If null is the end game like so FEW like to claim , 88% of the active accounts plainly demonstrate that idea is complete bullshit.  At any time, look at the starmap statistics, and where are the most kills, most logged in toons, the most player activity?  NOT nul sec.  There are vast numbers of accounts, (ignoring the active accounts information), that have been playing Eve for every bit as long as the mouth breathers in null, and they hang out exclusively in game space other than null.  Once again, for whatever reason, people decide to be a mindless F1 pushing drone in null sec, and they have decided that in order to justify that decision with a stupid claim that null is the end game.  Apparently, the coolest thing to do is be able to claim "I was there" as you sit in a 4 hour fight where you managed to hit the F1 button twice.  At the same time, if the "end game" is sitting in some null system, afk, while you're  alt-tabbed out playing WOT - the Eve end game is fucked.

     At the same time, apparently this "brilliant" claim is supposed to make other players sudden exclaim "OMG!  We've TOTALLY been playing Eve wrong!!" and then immediately move to null sec where the other "cool" players are, so they can be a mindless drone like the other 15% of the player base, and sit  there being a little renter puppet and be told how to play the game.  The translation?  "I wish more people were stupid enough to go hang out in a broken part of the game like I do, and be told how to have "fun" like a good little puppy.

- "Eve/DUST514 has hundreds of thousands/a million players"  Point of fact, it was "let slip" by a CSM member on a podcast in the late summer of 2012 that there were about 160,000 actual individual players, not "hundreds of thousands".  CCP has done little to renew any vim or vigor in the player base, so while there might have been a positive blip in the player base after DUST went live, according to Eve Offline, even with the latest "brilliant" uh . . . updates, the average player counts are well on their way to slipping back into peak 2008 numbers.  It's not a surprise that CCP tries to milk every last cent it can from the small player base, and they are zealous enough that they are quite willing to pay ludicrous amounts of money for a perma-beta game like Eve.

     Interesting thing?  The more the player base and subscriptions tank, the more "innovative" ways CCP finds to get people to buy/spend/use PLEX.  The latest of course being that players can now pay $45 a month per account, so they can ghost-train all the toons on each account if they like.  Another interesting thing?  Those daily player count number for Tranquility?  Yeah, that also INCLUDES DUST514 players.  So, taking the average ~3000 DUST bunnies (on a good day), the real Eve player numbers are even lower at sub 25k per day.

     Same for the DUST "stats" that fanboys and CCP like to spread around.  There is much talk on how many million characters there are, but again, good luck getting into a PUG group without waiting for a (short) 10 minutes.  DUST player activity has tanked and stayed that way since shortly after launch, meanwhile a game like Halo 4 is claimed to be "struggling" at a daily average of 30,000 players and Halo 3 at an average of over 100,000.  Other "old" FPS titles are also thoroughly trouncing DUST in interest levels.

     So, for "reals"?  "It would be nice if Eve and DUST had as many PLAYERS as accounts, and I could more easily maintain the myth that the games are thriving".

- "CCP can't fix <insert feature name here> or the GAME WILL EXPLODE!" (or something to that extent).  I call total bullshit on this.  Every time they don't want to be bothered to fix some busted chunk of the game, they pull this out.  Every time the players want the devs to work in a direction that they don't want to go, they pull this bullshit out.  If the feature that people are raging about is mostly already in their sights, then CCP might be motivated.   The more broken something is, the lazier CCP is about fixing it.  Having coded in another life, while there are sometimes many ways to skin a coded cat, there are still established methods for writing clean, tight, well commented/documented code.  Lazy people write sloppy, bloated and un-commented code.  Lazy coders with lazy/incompetent leads write terrible code.  Too bad CCP didn't have someone to oversee that process.  Oh wait!  That's what the fucking lead dev/programmer is for!  To make sure the coders work to a standard!  So, even if the code IS shitty, which I have no doubt a certain amount of it is (based on the way CCP does other shit), I still think it's a bullshit cop-out every time they don't want to do something USEFUL that the PLAYERS would like.  The real translation is "Fuck you, we're not interested in that right now, we want to make sure the fucking crap in the PLEX store is minimally passable so we can try to get players to pay MORE real money for it".

- "Eve is all about pvp and shooting people in the face".  Moron-speak.  Yeah, aside from, well, NINETY NINE fucking percent of the game, it's "all about pvp".  There are only small things like ALL the indy jobs, all the missions, all the scan sights, PI, the markets, ratting, incursions, and mining.  Huge, incomplete and generalized list.

     "But hey!  If it wasn't for blowing shit up, there wouldn't be any reason for the other things in the game!!"  Yeah, maybe for the indy side of things, and a few exploration site and rat drops, but then if it wasn't for all the non-pvp stuff, there would be nothing to blow up.  Now granted, you can claim ratting is pvp when two guys are going after the same rats.  You can claim incursions are pvp when two fleets are going in after the same site.  You can claim pvp is the market games as people try to undercut and outmaneuver other players.  You can even claim it's pvp when a coupe miner fleets are trying to out mine each other.  So, if you're really desperate, you can claim just about anything is pvp, even for the "carebears' that supposedly don't do it, but in reality, like so many other things in LIFE, it's a symbiosis of supply and demand.  Adults see and realize this, people with the mental maturity of a spoiled 7 year old do not.

     In the end, if there was no PVP, people would still be building shit, flying missions, running sites, and shit would be super cheap.  What the pvp mouth breathers don't get, and never will, is there are more people than them who just like to fly spaceships.  They're not trying to hide some kind of self esteem issues that a pvper has in real life, by being "the man" and blowing things up in a game, usually, preferably, someone/something outnumbered, unarmed, or both.  In the end, it's really "I'm too thick to see or understand anything beyond my own small view".

"The majority of players play in null sec"  For anyone but a mouth breather that has no clue how to operate the stats options of  of the starmap, this is one of the more stupid claims by the F1 heroes.  On pretty much any given day, null sec space is pretty much a ghost town while there is the typical huge flare of activity in faction war space and high sec.  Aside from a big, pre arranged battle, with no stakes involved, I am pretty sure that the 12% active account figure is even lower than 4 years ago, which could also be a big part of the reason why CCP quite with the annual reports.  Additionally, if the majority of players were already in null, why would CCP be trying so hard to give null players everything while nerfing the shit out of low and high sec?  The answer?  They wouldn't.  Every once in a while null produces some nice PR spin footage for CCP in some epic battle that amounts to little in the world of Eve, but that's it.  The real statement would be "Look how thick I am that I have no clue how to view the starmap stats, even though I'm one of the "elite" null sec players".

- "There are no low grade ores in null sec"  More bulllshit.  There is exponentially more ore in null, including veldspar and other low ends, but null sec players can't be bothered to mine it.  They claim it's not worth their time in isk/hour to mine it, and then at the same time claim that high sec miners are making too much isk, too easily.  Fact is that even ignoring the thousands and thousands of belts, with much higher yield and bigger roids, the easily upgradeable indy system levels can yield grav sites that produce 5 times the isk per hour that high sec players can get, and that is by mining EVERYTHING, not just the ABCs.  Fact is, the null sec players are too lazy, so they bring their ores in from high sec, while complaining about high sec, and build everything with that.  Lil Mittens has said multiple times that there is no reason to have any indy types in null, even though he talks about the farms and fields myth, because it's far easier to import everything from high sec where players get 20% of what a null sec player would get.

     At the same time, these mighty "elite" pvpers complain that they CAN'T do hard core mining in null because it attracts pvpers who come in and blow up their hulks.  Seems they don't like it when combat ships come in and blow up their unarmed indy ships.  REALLY?  Too bad you didn't take your own advice to high sec miners that get ganked when you say they need to a) dock up, b) get some other players to fly security patrols for them, or more often 3) harden the fuck up or go back to WOW.  Their hypocrisy is epic.  Fuckin whiners.

     They need not fear though, apparently CCP is thick enough to cater to every whim and whine from a very small portion of the game so the null sec players will get an ore boost whether it's needed or not.  It would seem though, that catering to a very small null sec player base is going to bite CCP in the ass, based on the latest promises of their indy "patch".  In real terms, "We're too fucking lazy, and arrogant, to mine all the ore that's available in null".

"Eve players aren't devs".  Nope, they aren't, but that doesn't mean the player doesn't have better insight into what Eve needs than the devs.  It's a "forest for the trees" kind of thing.  Does every mechanical engineer automatically become the world's best race car driver because they could design a car?  Is a person with a garden automatically the best cook?   Is a person that can cut down a tree the best choice for a carpenter?  There are millions of examples and while a person might be able to write code for a game, that is no different than a plumber or an electrician.  CCP has demonstrated time and again by their stupid fucking updates and by their own staff's comments, that they don't play Eve much at all, even though there's lots of bullshit talk claiming that just about everyone in CCP DOES play Eve.  They have no clue for the most part how their game mechanics interact with each other, and they are too arrogant to listen to people who do.  Any player who is extremely proficient or skilled at a certain aspect of play is going to be light years better at commenting on game dynamics compared to some chair jockey who pounds the keyboard all day on an isolated aspect of Eve code.  Every once in a while CCP gets their head out of their ass and hires someone like Fosi with a player-based insight on the game mechanics, but that is rare.  So, no, Eve players aren't devs but CCP and the players are pretty thick if they are narrow minded enough to think that a player can't know more about the game than a dis-connected dev.

"High sec players are risk averse"  This is what the pvpers with self esteem issues claim is the matter with any one who isn't desperately trying to show how much of a "man" they are by blowing up pixels.  Their personal validation issues prevent them from seeing, possibly ever, that there are people who are happy and content, with jobs that give them a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment, who just like to relax and fly around in a spaceship game.  The same mouth breathers that say stupid shit like this are also the ones who don't want to mine in null sec because their ships will get blown up, and they're also the same hypocrites who don't want to fly around in COMBAT ships with a "cloaky faggot" in their system because they might get hot dropped and blown up.  ??  Fucking really?!?!?  Big bad pvpers, looking for the "gudfights", supposedly, yet they whine about afk cloakers who might drop a cyno as they are flying around in their pvp ships.  Morons.  Obviously, they need to get a real job where they actually expend energy and feel like they've accomplished something in a day and feel like they matter to the world.  So, it's actually "I'm pretty much a loser in real life so if I can cast aspersions at someone else in a sad little video game, people might not notice that I'm a loser".

- "Eve is a social experiment - an ant farm"  Wow, I don't even know where to go with something as arrogant as that.  In other words "We have no fucking plan, no vision, and no fucking clue how the game's pieces interact with each other, so let's use "a social experiment" as a scapegoat if anyone asks".  What a fucking idiot.

Lastly, "Icelanders are cold, stoic people who find it hard to apologize".  I've been to Iceland, I know all kinds of Icelanders.  When I ask them about this "Icelandic stoic - find it hard to apologize" mentality, they ask me what the fuck I'm talking about.  If that's the prevailing attitude and environment up there at CCP, it's not really a surprise that 3 top CCP execs have tipped the fuck out recently.  What's actually going on is "I am an arrogant fuck who is convinced I know everything, and being Icelandic is just a convenient thing to blame that on".

     I'm still waiting for CCP to get their heads out of their ass and resub with 10 accounts.  I'm not holding my breath though.  The biggest problem with Eve is all these bullshit myths about what it is.  Before any problems will ever get fixed, players and devs need to get their heads out of their asses and acknowledge the problems in the first place.  The balance and game issues are primarily player generated by the way they've decided to play in null and low sec.  All the changes aren't going to solve a thing unless CCP first admits what the problems are, listen to help when and where needed, and then comes up with game mechanics that prevent players from making the game boring and toxic to millions of gamers.  They nerfed moon goo to break up the coalitions and monopolies in null, and all that happened was renters got turned into the new moon goo.  It's still fucked with a big blue snooze fest that's spouting all the same tired rhetoric, and more, that I listed above.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Same 'ol same 'ol

Back in Mar '13 I think, CCP came out with one of their typical "broken" patches and memory and CPU usage just about doubled on my machine.  Previously, I could run ten clients, have a couple reference we pages up, and be listening to mp3s or a podcast at the same time.  After their patch, I couldn't run five clients by themselves without the machine seriously chugging.  I reported the problems on the shit-show Eve-O forums, along with others having the same issues (not to mention all the other shit CCP broke) but after a few more patches they were doing nothing about it except fixing bullshit like t-shirt and tie graphics, so fuck em, I let all 10 accounts lapse.

With the idea that I might give it a shot if CCP ever got their shit together, I left enough plex and isk to run all the accounts for a couple months.  Time has gone by, and I have little urge to play, and CCP seems to have learned little.  Players are still raging, subscriptions are still apparently comatose, daily player counts are still dropping (even though they are now adding dust players to the online player count), the blue donut went from moon goo farming to renter farming and no fields and farming at all, lots of gud-fights/big fights but no "real fights" where new organizations get to play in big-boy null without sucking off CFC first for permission.  Lots of ship changes, UI changes, industry and finance changes that favour null, and daily player counts still tank.  CCP has cleverly found another way to get more money out of the zealots by "allowing" subscribers to not just pay fifteen bucks a month per account, but FORTY FIVE dollars a month per account for the "privilege" of ghost training your other two toons AND CCP is once again/still using Eve players to fund other projects that they hope won't die like White Wolf - aka Valkyrie.  CSM had a reduced turnout for the vote, and this one is projected to have even lower voter turnout because apparently players are starting to think/see/believe that the CSM is more a PR project than a player representative body.  not a surprise. Yawn.

Some stub articles that I started are still relevant even with all the changes and a year going by.  Pretty lame and obviously CCP has learned little.  Mind you, how is that a surprise when players having been saying exactly that for more years than I have been playing.  More to follow though.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

CSM 8 candidates, at the post, sort of

     I've read through a bunch of the initial posts on fora, and listened to Xander's interviews.  Xander, by the way, has a refreshingly candid interview style of the CSM members, CCP and the CSM candidates.  He asked straight up questions, without all the soft balling and smarmy prancing around that most other podcasts seem to do.  While he isn't always able to escape his own opinions and prejudices, he does a pretty good job on his short, and to-the-point candidate interviews over at Crossing Zebras.  A few days ago, there was also a wormhole candidate gathering at Down the Pipe, and it was pretty good too.  In the order they had their CZ interviews, my thoughts . . .

     First one is Mynna.  He's fairly high in the Goon directorate and is one of the people who was responsible for the multi-trillion isk FW exploit a while back.  I was pretty critical of the Goons and the players involved at the time, but in retrospect, if CCP and their "economics expert" (whatever) were incapable of figuring out in months prior, what the Goons figured out in a matter of days, that's CCP's problem for being too fuckin' stupid.  At any rate, Mynna is not quite as flamboyant as Mittens, and I'm not sure how much of a puppet he will be for Mittens, but it's pretty much guaranteed that he'll get onto the CSM.  He's obviously a null candidate, but refreshingly, he mentions the fact that he feels fucking up high sec isn't going to fix anything in the game, nor will it force/cajole/persuade high sec players to move to low or null sec.  He also mentions that while he hasn't done much indy play in a while (as he's a market/finance guy), he does think the indy UI needs to be addressed.  I would agree on that point too.  I'm not voting for him because he doesn't need my votes.  He's a shoe-in right now.  *

     Nathan Jameson is a wormhole rep, and founder of Talocan United.  I've read their site numerous times for info on wormhole space and POSs.  Great resource.  For Nathan though, he sounds like an intelligent and articulate guy.  A pretty good communicator, and I think, he would be a great spokesman for wormholes.  How much he represents other areas of the game is, by his own admission, limited, but I think he wold be a great CSM addition that would and could speak up knowledgeably if something was mentioned that might fuck with wormholes.  The two main issues with wormhole space are pos's and dreadnauts.  2 things that are also a thorn in other parts of the game.  If I was concerned about wormholes being represented, I would seriously consider voting for this dude.

     Next is Roc Weiler.  He's a FW role player, a music writer/composer, a fiction writer, 3D artist and coder.  He doesn't really have a specific platform or a specific block of players he represents, instead, his platform is to use his skills to represent all players to the best of his ability.  That may sound mamby-pamby to some, but he's a talented dude, in a lot of areas, he's articulate, intelligent and a great communicator.  He's run multiple times in the past, but lost.  Mainly I think, because in the past, the CSM members were mainly representatives of big in-game voting blocks from null.  With many of the block candidates not running this time, I think "every man" candidates like Roc have a good chance for CSM 8.  Depending on the rumoured "new" voting system that CCP might implement, Roc is definitely in my top 3 choices.

     Next is Mark Scaurus.  He is a low sec rep, and also an editor over at Mitten's news site.  He wants to fix low sec to make it more attractive to players.  I believe the problem with low sec is the way the current players use it, not anything game related, so to me, his goals are vapour.  He's also a fan of ganking, pirating, can flippers, etc.  In other words, many of the things that piss other game players off, and keep many more players away from Eve.  He's no one I would ever vote for, even though he seems an intelligent and articulate individual.  He doesn't speak for the majority of players, aka high sec, he only speaks for the 6 or 7% that play in low, and gank/grief in high sec.  As another possible "pet" of Mittens, he doesn't need my vote as he will be another one that is unfortunately an almost assured winner of a seat on the CSM.  *

     Xenuria is the next one.  He/she/it/whatever also ran last year on the platform of changing the options on Eve avatars so that tits could be put on the male avatars too.  Brilliant.  A few other public faux pas meant that he ended up not even being elevated to the height of "complete laughing stock".  No however, he claims, it was all role playing.  Riiiight.  Anyway, this year, his platform is balancing risk vs reward, and fixing the new player experience.  He is also playing the disability card with "Hey, I am autistic too!".  He also likes to mention his prowess in psychology.  The fact that he talks about "risk vs reward" as a mechanic shows me he doesn't know shit about it, nor shit about psychology, because risk is a personal assessment, not a game mechanic.  He's vapour.  The fact that he falls back on the new player experience, like THAT isn't already a panic button for CCP, also tells me he's vapour.  As someone who also is a card-carrying disabled guy, from personal experience, anytime someone plays their disability card when it isn't at all needed, is doing it as a sympathy gig.  More vapour.  He also states that his "disability" causes him to have communication and relation problems with other people.  As the CSM positions are all about communication and relating to all the players, the other CSMers AND CCP, what the fuck is he running for?!?!?!?  More vapour.  Anyone voting for this guy is proof positive that "the smartest players in MMOs are Eve players" is complete horseshit.

     Mike Azariah is another every man candidate with no fixed platform.  I've read his posts and blog, and I've listened to him multiple times on podcasts (Podside).  He's intelligent, articulate and a smooth communicator.  He's got plenty of time in Eve, and is currently in null sec.  He's not afraid to speak his mind, and more importantly, he's not afraid to ask questions about things he doesn't know, and he also listens.  He's not a fanboy of any specific style of play that I've seen, and I think he would be an excellent addition to CSM 8.  He's another guy who has run for CSM multiple times, and lost, and again, mainly for the same reasons that Roc ran and lost, I think.  With the change in CSM weather, I'm thinking/hoping that he has a good chance for CSM 8 too.  He's another that is in my top 3, and if the new voting system allows, he'll likely get some of my votes too.

     Night Beagle is another wormhole candidate.  His platform is to champion the concept of every player having a voice and a chance to vote on any/all the issues or game changes that CCP decides to implement.  In theory, it's a noble idea, I suppose, but there are so many problems and reasons that this wouldn't work, I can't help but think he's dead in the water before he starts.  How can CCP go out to the entire player base and ask us what we think about an idea that would be the same kind of thing that neither they or the CSM can talk to us about because of the NDA??  I can't imagine he's going to get many votes.

      Unforgiven Storm is a Goon, but running as an independent for changes to industry mechanics.  He also wants to get CCP to focus on a single problem and fix it before moving on to something else.  He claims to have fixes to an umber of the industry click-fest game mechanics and UI, which I'm in favour of.  His plan, however to get CCP to focus on single big game change items is a lost war.  Their new process of taking a bunch of game issues, and making a number of small changes to them, over a larger number of updates, is in completely the other direction.  He seems like he can communicate well enough but I don't know how much support he will get.  The fact that CCPs update methodology has changed means that there might be a chance that some small industry changes might make it into each update though.  He wouldn't be anyone I'd vote for though.

      Hunter Blake is a null sec Eve player of a number of years, and also a DUST player and an "official" DUST representative on the CSM.  DUST is still in beta and CCP has lots of unimplemented features for DUST and no hint of a release date, so I don't see what an Eve CSM member can do with DUST to any more of an extent than the current CSM 7 members have done.  I play DUST too and it's a long way from being anything but an FPS right now.  If the DUST players get Eve accounts and get behind him though, they get a DUST rep on the CSM pretty easy.  He's no one I'd vote for though.

     Ayeson is another wormhole candidate.  He also comes across as articulate, smart and a good communicator.  His "angle" that sets him apart from the other wormhole candidates is his interest and work with the API and CREST.  CREST is the new interactive system that allows both reads AND writes to the Eve universe, unlike the current read only API system.  CREST is also what currently connects DUST to Eve, so it is a powerful system and tool.  Ayeson would be another great choice for the CSM.

     Chitsa Jason is another wormhole rep.  He's another guy with lots of wormhole experience and likely also a great choice for the CSM.  His special "angle" is that he's also a mercenary.  He'd also like to see more random site spawns in wormholes to make pve less predictable.  If it was my choice, I might lean more towards Ayeson and Nathan.  This is the 3rd strong wormhole rep, IMO, and I think the voting system might allow multiple choices to be made, and if not, the wormhole community is going to hold a primary to pick a single representative.

     Daehan Minhyok is another "every man" candidate, a null sec player, and standing on a platform of a lot of general points, including the "risk vs reward" thing.  New player experience, "re balancing" high sec, etc.  I don't believe high sec is out of balance, it's just being used to it's potential, unlike low and null.  I don't buy the risk vs reward schtick either.  Daehan, known mostly as "Min" is also a regular on Podside.  He's a nice enough guy, articulate and been communicating with the community for a while, but overall, he's a "meh" candidate to me.  Not very strong.  For an "every man" candidate, I would go for Roc or Mike first.

     James Arget, is (in no real order) wormhole candidate number 5.  Nothing much to differentiate wormhole candidates from each other aside from what I call their "angle".  POS and dreads - check.  James' angle is he wants to teach CCP how to play Eve in wormholes.  I don't have any doubt at all that CCP devs know next to fuck all about playing Eve in any depth, and likely little about wormholes either, but I think it's an exercise in futility.  I think he's one of the weaker wormhole candidates.

     Cipreh is wormhole candidate number 6.  He wants to promote wormholes more to the player base and he wants to promote more small scale pvp in wormholes.  ?  Nothing he needs to be on the CSM for, and not much else is original or anything the other candidates aren't standing for either.  He's one of the weaker wormhole choices, I think.

     Ripard Teg.  For anyone even remotely familiar with the meta side of Eve, Jester's Trek is a blog that comes fairly easily to mind.  I think he's got a lot of qualities that would make him an easy and obvious choice for the CSM, but due to the amount of research and quality and quantity of his blog posts, he's also a guy that I think can have as much of an effect on CCP as a blogger as he could on the CCP.  My fear would be that his ability to write what he writes, and the way he writes, would be compromised if he was on the CSM and under NDA.  I've told him that a couple times.  According to CCP and the CSM, his blog is well known in Iceland, but also according to some CSM members, Jester's blog doesn't have much of an effect on CCP.  Now that statement, I think, is pretty funny.  Based on the personalities of some of the CSM 7 members, how critical Ripard was of CSM 7, and the egos of some of the devs at CCP, this sounds remarkably like "Well, I don't give a shit that you blew up my titan, I didn't want it anyway".  I, like many other players, think his blog has a definite effect on CCP, as it certainly has an effect on the player base.  While I don't always agree with Jester's comments, or opinions, he is also an every man candidate, and is also aware that high sec players are paying customers too.  I don't think he's always held that opinion, but I think that he will represent the entirety of the player base far more thoroughly than many other candidates would.  At the very least, if he makes it and only does one term on the CSM, it will give him valuable insight into the way CCP thinks and that would make his blog and analysis that much better.  This is the third guy in my top three, but I believe he is almost a shoe-in for a position, so I'm going to gamble on that belief, and save my votes for other candidates that I think might need them more.  Ripard is the third one of my top three so far.  *

     James315 is a claimed high sec representative for Eve.  In fact though, he doesn't represent high sec, he wants to tear it down.  He specializes in greifing and ganking high sec players (specifically miners), because he feels high sec is too easy, and there's too much money being made.  He waxes longingly about the good 'ol days of pvp when roaming pvp gangs would duke it out, and then he goes and suicide ganks high sec mining barges.  ?  He feels players should be forced out of high sec and made to play in null or low sec.  His views are way past extreme, and I believe he is a troll candidate.  To lend "legitimacy" to his play style, he wraps it in a pseudo-religious story and "role plays it".  He also believes the big blue bro-pacts in null sec are a myth, and that the amount of money players in null are currently making needs to be increased.  ?  Did I mention I think he's a troll?  No one, with any amount of game experience like this guy claims to have, could possibly believe any of his . . . "ideas" would do anything but make about half the Eve customers leave as soon as those changes went live, and then Eve would be history.  If he isn't a troll, and if people actually vote for this guy, again, it pretty much refutes the PR schtick that Eve players are some of the smartest gamers on the intarnets.

     Trebor Daehdoow has server on 3 CSMs so far, and is one of the few current CSM members that has decided to run again.  His CSM performance and experience, and Eve experience, are well known.  I think it's a great addition to CSM 8 if he gets re-elected.  I can't see how he wouldn't get re-elected.  A valuable source of continuity from CSM 7 to CSM 8.  A great choice, but again, I'm saving my votes for others that aren't a "lock" like him.  *

     UAxDeath is the perennial Soviet CSM choice, and on CSM 7 but no idea if he is going to run again for CSM 8.  If so, that is another position locked up for CSM 8.  *

     So, just spit balling for now, out of the ones listed about, there are likely 5 candidates for sure with asterisks, and you can pick one of the wormhole candidates to add a 6th.  That leaves 8 more players.  I hope at least one, or maybe two of those, will be Mike and Roc.  Still a long way off and more candidates to hear from.  I like hearing their voices.  Somehow that's important to me.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

CSM 8 Wishlist

     I have no illusions about CSM members being able to wield the power of real life politicians.  So politicians can't, won't or don't wield the power of real life politicians.  Any one running for CSM, in this new "age" of CSM influence with CCP, that makes promises like they are a politician, is no one worth supporting for the CSM.

     CSM members are advisors and message-passers.  If CCP is going to do something, the CSM says "hey, that's a bad fucking idea", or they say "it's a good fucking idea".  When information makes it out through the NDA filter, the CSM passes it on to the interested player base.  When some players have an idea or concern, and they think it's getting smothered in all the bullshit and whitenoise of the "official" forums, they can bounce it off the CMS members for passage on to the lofty heights of Iceland.  In theory, if CCP is going to plan something, hopefully they might deign it advisable to bounce it off the CSM members, who in their hopefully broad knowledge base of player gameplay, would be able to give them timely and informed pinions on what the player base might think.  At least, this is my "take" on what the CSM is and based on that take, I have a few criteria for who I think is worth a vote or 3.

     Anyone who neither understands or accepts all the styles of play, of all the players in Eve, has no right to be on the CSM.  If they are too fucking stupid to understand that all play styles have allowed Eve to remain financially viable, mostly . . . so far, is too fucking stupid to represent the player base.

     Anyone who doesn't understand that ALL the players represent financial security for the Eve game, is too fucking stupid to be on the CSM.

     Any mouth breather who parrots the a business killing and brainless meme like "HTFU or go back to <insert clever kids' game here>, is too fucking stupid to be on the CSM.  This is closely tied to the point above.

     Anyone who think that you HAVE to associate with other people to play Eve, is too fucking stupid to be on the CSM.

     Anyone who thinks that Eve is "all about pvp", is too fucking stupid to be on the CSM.

     Anyone who thinks all players need to be draggin out of high sec and/or NPC corps and turned into pvpers is too fucking stupid to be on the CSM.

     Anyone who thinks that fucking up high sec to "drive/force" players to move to low or null sec, is too fucking stupid to be on the CSM.

     Anyone that thinks that there is some imaginary "majority" that plays in null sec, is too fucking stupid to be on the CSM.  At ANY TIME, all anyone has to do is hit F10, and turn on either docked up pilot statistics, or current players in space, and it only takes a double digit IQ to be able to see where the MAJORITY of the dots live.  If someone can't figure that out, they're too fucking stupid to be on the CSM.

     In the past, lots of people have been representing some type of play, or play style.  That flew in the past because the most vocal part of the player base, is usually the most aggressive, and that is usually the pvp crowd.  That has been no different than just about any MMO I've played since the days of Ultima Online, Everquest and Asheron's Call.  The most vocal, are usually a minority, like on fora.  Voter turn out is low enough that organized entities can easily get a representative on the CSM.  The high sec players usually have the least or no representation, and yes, even with the one we currently have, she is pretty much completely fucking useless.  Not even worth the effort to Google her name.  A lot of high sec players don't vote, and don't care about the CSM or the meta game, because they just "play" a game.  They are casual players.  Eve is a part time distraction, little more.  As such, they have little interest in Eve politics.  In null sec, where being part of a herd is part of play, and also pretty much a necessity, it's not hard to organize a few thousand votes to get elected.  Same with tighter communities like wormholes.  While wormholes have the smallest percentage of active accounts, they are capable of electing their own representative to the CSM.  Faction warfare, mercenaries, you name it, all aggressive play styles and all able to represent their style of play on the CSM.  Even high sec corps like Eve University managed to get their man on the CSM, but he hasn't really represented high sec, mainly the new player experience I think.  No true high sec voice or opinions have been expressed by any CSM member, or even CCP member, aside from the new CCP dev who finally noticed that high sec, pve players, also pay for accounts.  Only took 10 years for that news flash.

     If a CSM candidate only plans to represent their little herd, like Mittens did for his mouth-breathers, that's a fine strategy (maybe) for the old CCP plan of focusing on a major item to patch.  With the new CCP plan of making small changes, over a broad range of game content, I think a new age of more open, and more general mindsets is required to match that.  Having an interest in one facet of game play is fine, but to the exclusion and prejudice of all others, is stupid.  I think with this new CCP plan for their game updates, we're going to see more general interest CSM candidates get voted in.  Sure, special interest groups will still likely get their guys in, like null sec, faction warfare, and wormholes, but I think players with a more rounded whole-game view will get in as well.

     A bigger view is what I'm looking for.  An adult view.  A long term view where all players' game play is included in Eve plans and where it's understood that getting the non-asshole players out in the MMO universe, to join Eve, is a smart goal.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

CCP's fucked up bounties

     Hypothetically speaking, of course, say I'm a space-rich asshole in Eve who gets my rocks off by using the chip on my shoulder (from real life inadequacies) to fuck with other people in-game.  For any old reason, or none at all, I think I'll take 500 million isk and drop it on someone, just for the lolz.

     In listening to a recent podcast, it appears lots of people don't understand how the new bounties work, including CSM members, so I thought I'd try it out and see how it works.

     First of all, the bounty is paid out at a rate of 20% of the UNINSURED value of the ship.  That part is important, which is why it's all big letters n' shite.  The bounty is also supposedly including the value of modules on the ship that were destroyed, but as the value of the ship is based on market price aggregates, I couldn't really speak to the surety of this.  For the purposes of this little experiment, I'll use round numbers for ease of matriculation.

     So, take a T1 ship worth 100 million isk. 
- top level insurance on that ship will cost roughly 20 million isk.  That level of insurance means you will get 80 million isk back if the ship is destroyed by mis-adventure or assholery.
- if you don't insure the ship, and it gets destroyed, you get roughly 20 million back in the form of un-insured insurance.
- if the ship is insured, the "uninsured" value of the ship is 20 million.  If the ship isn't insured, the uninsured value of the ship is 80 million.
- the bounty paid out in both examples is 4 million for an insured ship, and 16 million for an uninsured one.
- the total isk loss for the insured ship is 40 million (because of the extra cost of the insurance) and 80 million for the uninsured ship.

     Got the numbers straight?  There'll be a test later.

     Now, each time a ship is destroyed, 20% of the uninsured value of the ship is subtracted from the total bounty.  So on a 500 million bounty, it drops to 496 million isk for the insured ship, or 486 million for the uninsured ship loss.  Don't need to a be a rocket sturgeon to figure that out.  What isn't as obvious, is what the ACTUAL cost of a bounty is.  How much does it REALLY cost the player?  In this 500 million example, the "actual" cost of the bounty can be quickly calculated.  Best case scenario, at a 1/5th payout rate, it'll cost the bountied player

Insured - if all the ships bought are 100 million isk ships, we know that we lose 40 million isk and the bounty payout is 4 million per loss.  500 million/4 million = 125.  That means that the bountied player would need to buy roughly 12.5 BILLION isk worth of ships to clear the bounty, and that also means that the total isk loss from 125 destroyed ships will amount to 5 billion, 10 times the amount of the bounty.

Uninsured - if all the ships bought are 100 million isk ships, we know that we lose 80 million isk and the bounty payout is 16 million per loss. 500 million/16 million = 31.25.  Rounding it down to 31, that means the player would need to buy 3.1 billion isk worth of ships, never insure them, and then the total isk loss from 31 destroyed ships will amount to about 2.5 billion, or about 5 times the amount of the bounty.

     I'm not rich enough or motivated enough to test if these 5x and 10x ratios extrapolate to most ship types, but I imagine they'd be close for the rest of the T1 ships.  For T2 ships, the losses would definitely be higher because insurance sucks and costs are higher.  That might mean a faster payout, but the total loss for the bountied player is still multiples of the actual bounty.  Also, just like with belt rats, player bounties are shared with all fleet members.  If the bountied player gets podded at the same time, that's more of a loss and I don't know how much more bounty, if any, is paid out for that.

     So, if CCP had a clue, bounties would, and could only, be applied to people with negative sec status.  You don't get a negative sec status unless you did, or tried to, fuck someone.  "But what about gankers/can flippers/thieves?" you might inquire.  Well, if they go flashy, that means they took a sec status hit, they are open to be killed by anyone, and, you could lay a bounty on their ass while they are all flashy, plus, you could/can sell the kill rights.  Assholes can grind sec status too.

     "So what about scammers and thieves that don't go flashy?" you ask.  Well, CCP needs to stop and actually think and come up with some method to deal with those, or not.  It's these . . . "features" of their game that are keeping teh regular online gaming crowd away from Eve . . . in droves.

     Bounties on corps and alliances are fine.  If that helps encourage pvp, so be it.  That's not the same as an individual bounty because a player can shed a corp/alliance bounty by leaving said organization.  A personal bounty however, is permanent until it is gone, or low enough to not be a motivator for someone to kill you.

     If a player is an asshole, I'm fine with the bounty system the way it is.  Unfortunately, it's another poorly thought out mechanism for griefers to fuck with people, and this time, there is no way to defend against it.  it's permanent.  I've read that players have left because of it.  No doubt.  Too bad the ship re balancing guy didn't look at the bounties too instead of whatever moron Hilmarr had do it.  Fail.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Eve: Themepark or zoo? Not so much sand.

     All the haters of high sec players and indy types like to throw around Eve memes like "pubbie", "care bear", "sandbox" and "theme park".  PVP types are pretty much incapable of understanding or even accepting anyone who isn't angry enough to try to attack other players with no more expected gain than an e-peen number boost on a kill board.  The same angry little pvp types will also be quick to advise that said care bears would be wise to go "back" to a theme park MMO.  Like many/most memes, many/most of the users have no real clue what they are talking about, what the meme actually means, and angry Eve types are no different.

     A "theme park MMO" is basically any MMO where the content of the games is decided by the developers.  Regardless of how often you try or experience that content, it's going to be the same.  It's like a real themepark.  You go on the roller coaster today, and it'll be pretty much exactly the same ride you took on it last week, unless of course Bill-the-maintenance-guy was off getting a little sugar from Suzy-the-candy-floss-girl instead of tightening roller coaster track bolts.  How many roller coaster type rides does Eve have?

     The most obvious place to start is any pve content, and contrary to the pro-pvp crowd, Eve has tons of pve.  All the different types of missions are a very obvious addition to the theme park list, regardless of the type.  Planetary interaction, research agents, COSMOS missions and epic arcs are four more.  There are grav, radar, and DED sites to scan down as well, and that too is pretty much clockwork, bog-standard pve content.  More theme park-ery.   How about grinding for rep or status?  Same.  How about crafting?

     In Eve, "crafting" is a sure magnet for hooting and derision, but the industrial player does pretty much the same thing as any crafting player does in any other MMO.  The player goes out, locates and collects crafting material, either from the environment or from killing npc mobs.  They train up specific skills in order to create whatever particular item or items they decide, and in some cases need to buy the recipes first.  Sometimes, the player even needs to go into hostile areas of the game where either pvp combat or high level npcs provide a higher level of threat to make it difficult to obtain special materials for higher level items.  The player takes the materials, builds the item, and uses it or sells it.  Are we talking about Eve, WOW, LOTRO, or GW2 here?  Doesn't matter, they're all the fucking same as far as "crafting" goes.  Pretty much full-on theme park.

     Eve has tons of theme park content but there's also another clever meme to learn, and that's "zoo".  In basic parlance, a "zoo" MMO is set up so that a particular game feature can be tried almost as many times as you like, but each time, the content of the feature will or can be a little different.  Just like in a zoo, where one day you walk by the lion enclosure and the lions are outside sunning themselves, and the next day you go by, they're up against the feed shed going halfers on a memory.  Lots of content in Eve was highly predictable pve, but since CCP jacked up the AI levels recently, higher end npcs can be tough little peckers to deal with, because you don't know what they're going to do every time.  I'm specifically talking about sleepers, complex sites and Incursion npc AI here.  CCPs plan is to jack up AI across the board to make npcs act more unpredictable.  Maybe not full on zoo-ness, but definitely zoo.  More zoo stuff is T2 invention.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.  Scanning down wormholes, grav sites and other random spawns are also on the "zoo" side of game play.  So, there are some "zoo" aspects to Eve, and more zoo-like features have been suggested for future inclusion.

     In a "sandbox", the content is player driven.  A "real" sandbox has sand and . . . well, that's fucking it.  Eve isn't a sandbox.  It has a shit load of rules and mechanisms.  Eve players like to turn up their nose and claim it's a sandbox, but I played in sandboxes a lot as a kid, and I can't do a fraction of the shit in Eve that I could in a sandbox with just a stick and a rock.  The closest thing to a "sandbox" that I've ever played on a computer is Minecraft.  In there, the only thing that limits you is your imagination.  If the standard game play in Minecraft is too plain for you, then you can always make your own mod and truly build your own content, in a world that is completely unlike anyone elses.  In Eve, people are obviously confusing a minimised EULA with a sandbox.  Being able to be an asshole doesn't make where you're standing a "sandbox", it just makes it a spot where an asshole is standing.  Being able to run around in areas with low level/new players and ganking them doesn't make it a sandbox either.  People could do that in Asheron's Call or Ultima Online, to name just two.  Being able to claim, upgrade and control in-game territory is also nothing new.  DAOC, LOTRO, WHO, and GW2 are 4 that quickly come to mind, where you could do exactly the same thing.  No body was yapping about sandboxes with them.  At best, being able to fuck other players around without the Eve devs stepping in, it might amount to a spoon full of sand.  Far from a box, unless it's maybe a little box that a ring might come in.

     "But look at null sec!  Players control that whole area of the game."  And?  I knew of a guild in DAOC that controlled the whole RvR area of the game server and were operating no different than the null sec alliances in Eve.  That was also complete with battles involving all three races and hundreds of players fighting over keeps and resources.  Again, being able to lie, cheat, steal and grief in Eve, doesn't make it a sandbox, that just makes it a game that attracts assholes, generates lots of "bad" news for Eve, and simultaneously keeps the majority of "normal" gamers away.

     When you look at it, without the kool-aid glasses, Eve is maybe about 80% theme park and 19% zoo, with more npc zoo content planned, and 1% sand . . . spoon.  When it comes to null and pvp zones like Factional Warfare, the sum total of active accounts in those two areas is somewhere around the 20% mark of active accounts, and all those players are operating with 100% reliance on the theme park content for every item they own.

     So, the next time some meme spouting drooler of a pvp player tells a care bear to HTFU or go back to a theme park MMO, tell them to fuck off.  Tell them to then go get a clue.  Then tell them you already play a theme park MMO.  It's fucking Eve Online.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Saving Eve: 2 places to start

     Back a couple years ago, the common complaint was that CCP was pumping out too many big game features - the "Jesus features", they like to call it now.  Why were big, new features a problem?  Well, because for the most part, none of the features were complete.  They were like a house that had doors and windows that stuck because the house was cooked, and it had nothing finished on the inside.  CCP promised they would get back to them, but for the most part, they never did.  Eve is in perpetual beta.  It's got all kinds of things that were unfinished or patched and are still broken.  Null sec sovereignty, factional warfare (yeah, still broken), wormholes, corp and alliance UIs and player owned stations, to name a few biggies.  Contrary to the spin fests that David Reid puts out, even with these new, awesome ship changes in the latest patch, subscriptions are still in dire need of resuscitation.  CCP's penchant for grabbing PLEX money for anything and everything, to me, is proof that they are looking hard at ways to make some extra cash.  Most recently, anyone who wants to pay $20 for an overpriced EON magazine that costs $15, just let CCP know.  They'll pop one in the mail for you, but that'll probably cost another PLEX for mailing fees.  After all, who the fuck would want to use a PLEX to pay for their subscription anyway??

     So, the two ideas?  Well, not that they are anything novel, but they are simple, but not necessarily easy.
Players in station or active in systems
     First, drop all the other side projects, and put ALL the coders on fixing null sec sovereignty.  Make sovereignty performance based, and then alliances and corps will only be able to hold, what they physically can hold.  What they are living in.  No more dog-in-the-manger bullshit where big organizations own all kinds of space that no one does fuck all in.

      See the picture?  Right now, when I took that screenshot, there were ~40,000 players online.  You can see exactly how much of that population is in null sec, based on the display that is set to show how many players are active or docked in systems.  Two words:  GHOST fucking TOWN.  The biggest dot of the dots in the outlying null sec space is 92 players, and that was only one dot on the edge of the Vapor Sea.  All the rest of the big dots?  None were over 50 - I checked.  The vast majority of the small dots were 1 to 5 people.  Yeah, I spent about 30 minutes mousing over and clicking on that shit just out of curiosity.  Lots of podders and bloggers like to throw around null sec populations like 20,000 or higher, but the last real numbers of active null sec ACCOUNTS were just under 12,000 accounts, and that number went up from the previous CCP population numbers by .05%.  And yeah, that's not five percent, that's 1/20th of one percent, and that was the end of 2010.  For people to imagine that the active accounts in null went up by nearly double since then?  Whatever shit they're smoking is better than medical grade pot.  So for anyone interested in guessing, 12% of the online population is about 4800 accounts in null vs a very optimistic 20% of 8,000.  Look at the dots and decide for yourself.

     So anyway, performance based sovereignty.  Lots of easy-to-see unused space will no longer be claimed.  That leaves lots of room for other corps and alliances, that aren't part of and don't have huge super-friend daisy chains, to move down into null and maybe carve out a bit of space for themselves.  THEN they can spoon up with all the blue-fests down there.  And holy fuck, if that doesn't mean that there would be room and reason for some of the high sec players to move to null, like the players are crying about and CCP expects.  Also, with all the problems in null sec, and the sov grind that exists, lots of problems need to be fixed before other things like POSs are touched.  It'll be extremely easy to completely fuck up POS reworking when the space the POS is supposed to go in is fucked.  Fix the space FIRST, then you'll have more of a clue about what the players want and need a POS to act like.  Fix null sec FIRST, and that will sate the Eve vets, and encourage other players to go down there.  Fixing null is unlikely to bring in new players and more money, but new player features can come later and I'll touch on options for more money too.  More on that in another post though.

     2nd, ship skins.  Drop all the bullshit that the CCP artists are doing for all the NEX store crap that the majority of players don't give a fuck about, and get them on ship skins.  Supposedly, according to CCP devs, implementing individual ship skins is not that much of a difficulty anymore with the new V3 graphics.  Apparently, some CCP staff take issue with the idea of players being able to change the colour schemes on the ships, but too fucking bad for the devs.  I might give a fuck if they ACTUALLY PLAYED, but they don't, so I don't.  I doubt the players do either.

     My idea on how to do this is for another post, but basically, each player pays for a ship skin, once, for each type of ship.  There are over 200 different boats, so that is 200 individual payments, from 450,000 accounts.  Each skin only has to be bought once and while I doubt many would want custom skins for ever ship in game, I bet it would at least get 10 to 20 ships per player, not to mention start a new graphics industry going in-game for designing skins.  If you ever want to turn off the custom skin, there's an option for it in settings.  If you want a new/different skin, you pay for it and it's applied.  There's some money for CCP.  That way, CCP doesn't need to fuck with people actually using PLEX for what they were fucking invented for, by "allowing" players to buy $150 video cards for $400 worth of PLEX, or fucking $15 magazines for $20.  This, obviously, aside from being a big revenue stream for CCP, allows the many creative players to exercise their art muscles and would go a long way of appeasing the player base while CCP devs try to keep their heads out of their asses and hit the next big problem.  For that, I would suggest POSs for the WHOLE dev team to get on.  The more people working on it, the faster it gets done and the more people available to work on more patches.  Ship skins would also pique the interest of new players.

     That's it.  Forget about FW, POS, the fucking NEX store, UI tweaks and anything else.  Fix null, get ship skins, then move off to the next point.  Keep Greyscale and Punkturis away from the processes, and everything should be fine.