Virtual Reality
Sunrise Aigele

I found it interesting that, in the wake of Fanfest, Wired Magazine published this article. Not because I imagine some collusion with CCP, but because it reflects the incredible transformation of virtual and augmented reality from an academic footnote to a mainstream reality. The article is principally concerned with the mysterious startup Magic Leap, but it provides a reasonable survey of the entire landscape, including questions of surveillance, data mining and privacy that are raised by the technology. I encourage everyone to read it.

Back? Good. Let us talk about the Future Vision video, and avatar gameplay. CCP Seagull is apparently on record as saying that she wants to encourage people to want to be their characters more than to want to get with them, though of course now that I need the link I cannot find it. It certainly sounds like her. This emphasis tends automatically to a first-person view through the eyes of the character. But what happens when you introduce VR? This happens:

First-person point of view is the default stance for many of the videogame franchises dominating best-seller lists. Among them is Minecraft, which is played by more than 100 million people [….]. Inside the game you see your hand or a pick. But in the virtual-reality version of Minecraft that Microsoft is building, […] Minecraft developers discovered that performing the same role in VR feels far more intimate than it does in first-person on a flatscreen. We might call this new immersive VR view the “you-person” view, because it’s the position of feeling rather than the position of observing.

Researchers found that the you-person view that VR creates is so intense that it’s emotionally taxing. People need a break after an hour. […]

The degree of presence can be so strong in VR that you have to tone down the evocation of base emotions and the depiction of brute force.

If the effect is so pronounced in Minecraft, imagine how it could be in the far more sophisticated rendering of EVE Online. It could be astonishing. The technology does not allow this yet, but when it does, it will be breathtaking. EVE could be a truly social game. But what about spaceships?

Once this small display perfects realism, it becomes the one display to rule them all. If a near-eye screen offers sufficient resolution, brightness, breadth, and color richness, it can display any number of virtual screens, of any size, inside it. While I was wearing the photonic spectacles of Magic Leap, I watched an HD movie on a virtual movie screen. It looked as bright and crisp as my 55-inch TV at home. With Microsoft’s HoloLens on, I watched a live football game on a virtual screen hovering next to a web browser window, alongside a few other virtual screens. I could fill my office with as many screens as I wanted, as big (or small) as I desired. I could click for a screen overlaid anywhere in the real world.

This is technology that Microsoft has also been hard at work on. Does that look like a pod interface to you? Virtual screens that can be brought up and dismissed at will, at any size, at any distance? Or perhaps the screens automatically enlarge when you move your head to stare at them for a second? There are many possible variations, all of which would rely on the vastly more intuitive and communicative interface of our heads and hands, instead of the bottlenecks of a keyboard and mouse, or moreso of a controller. As to the lore, CCP need only explain that “recent advances in capsule technology pioneered by the Upwell Consortium/researched by the Sisters of EVE from captured Drifter corpses/provided by the Society of Conscious Thought…” After all, just because the empires did not fully understand the technology of the capsule when it was given to them does not mean that they never will, nor does it mean that cloning technology would never improve.

Even if you do not see the direct relevance to EVE spaceship piloting, there is the fact of the real-world equivalent: if you can summon a full-resolution 55 inch television wherever you want one, what use would you have for an actual television? Why keep a monitor for your computer when you can will six of them into existence at any time? One way or another, EVE Online will have to make the transition to VR eventually. The only question is how. In the near term, certainly, you could summon a screen running the current EVE client, but if you are already looking at it through the eyes of your character that is an unsatisfying experience. It could be so much more.

And it should be so much more. The grand vision of CCP is perhaps not so far from being realized after all. No wonder, then, that they are so excited about virtual reality.

 

Fanfest Grab Bag
Sunrise Aigele

The Amarr Championships: I am gratified that God has blessed Lady Catiz Tash-Murkon as the next Empress. Her name was in my morning supplications. I must concede that the victory was narrow; God clearly wishes for us to move forward, but never far from the roots of the civilization. I continue to pray that one day, one of my people will be so blessed. The influence of the Empyreans is waxing. Perhaps one day it will be so. [OOC, I am glad for the emergence of an EVE-like endgame in high sec: not a boss spawn, but the ability to make your mark on the game. It ties very neatly into CCP Ghost’s approach to the NPE.]

CCP Ghost: I love this man. His intensity is compelling. I believe he is on the right track, and I am looking forward to seeing the results of his work. It is refreshing to see someone wholly committed to engaging people, not just building Skinner boxes or blindly applying low-effort solutions to one of the game’s most serious problems. 1.5 million people tried EVE last year! 1.5 million! This could be a completely different game!

Sovereignty and Capitals: Most of the people who use capitals seem excited. There are more, and more bitter, fights over the nature of sovereignty than their are fights over sovereign space in game, which never fails to amuse me.

Citadels: From my perspective, I see many sticks and few carrots. The medium citadel cannot support a market. The NPC taxes are punitive, literally. The Citadels are merely a way for the already-rich to take more money more directly from the many smaller players in New Eden. They will accelerate the consolidation of wealth and power in the game, which is already unhealthy, and which reduces the ability of smaller players to do anything of significance or consequence. CCP has still not learned that many players do not join larger corporations and alliances because they do not wish to. Or perhaps they have learned that, and they hope that these players will flock to enrich the larger corporations? I cannot say.

The Timeline: The farther behind we fall, the more difficult CCP Seagull’s timeline becomes to read. As of now, we have reached a fine white line bisecting a stylized double helix.

CSM: I have nothing new to add to my last post on the subject. Congratulations and best of luck to the new council, and to CCP.

New Mining and Industrial Features: Soon(TM).

Virtual Reality: It looks nice. I look forward to being able to enjoy it one day. It was not lost on me that CCP Hellmar brought up the Future Vision from 2011. It is a good vision.

The Wrecking Machine: 1980s hair metal with spiky fonts worked out well for WildStar, did it not? (Yes, that was low.)

Project Discovery: Excellent and highly absorbing. Please do something like it again.

In my original draft of this post, I was remiss in excluding Drackarn’s excellent in-person account of Fanfest 2016.

BB #73: Building the Original Dream
Sunrise Aigele

This month’s Blog Banter is fun:

“So soon(tm) we will have Eve Online, Valkyrie, Gunjack and the as yet untitled FPS to replace DUST514/Project Legion. Are we missing anything else? Are then any other games CCP should be looking into? Colony building simulators in the style of Sim City or Rimworld. Should it be on a grander scale link Civilisation or Stronghold Kingdoms. How about RTS games ala Command and Conquer. Survival games such as Rust? Planet based combat like World of Tanks? Would you like to see other game types expanding the Eve Universe or should CCP stick to what it knows?”

There has been a complete shift in development strategies at CCP. They have abandoned the high concept in favor of the deliverable, and so after many false starts they have two games, both in genres that they have never tried, that are well-supported and well-received. Neither Valkyrie nor Gunjack has the mad ambition of EVE Online, at least, not in the initial release, but both are beautiful and playable and rich with the lore of the EVE universe. CCP knows how to connect games now, so the potential for tremendous depth is there. It also knows that first, the games must be attractive in their own right. That was the lesson of DUST514.

I am entirely unsurprised that they are investing so heavily in virtual reality. Hilmar has been talking about building alternate realities for longer than a decade. Of course CCP would jump at technology that brings a new level of reality to the EVE universe! Nor am I surprised that they are expanding the universe: they had always planned to, from the beginning. Initially they may have believed that it would all happen within the EVE client, on the EVE engine, but now that they are free from that belief they are free to expand the universe in whatever direction they can imagine.

I hope that they continue their current course. Maybe, one day, they will release a new game that I can play on my platforms of choice.

Science!
Sunrise Aigele

Guess who just finished training Jump Drive Calibration V! But that is not the subject.

I am back to activity because of Project Discovery. What a marvelous thing!

Screen Shot 2016-03-12 at 1.49.44 PM

 

That is a screenshot I took of a particularly challenging slide early on. It is my wont to overthink, and so I cannot merely appreciate the diversion which returned my attention to EVE. What is remarkable about it is how it challenges many of the assumptions that govern EVE.

What is the risk? None! I look at the slides in the comfort of a station. What are the rewards, in the conventionally understood sense? Paltry! Even with the Sisters of EVE armor commanding a half-billion ISK per suit, the slog to the first suit is terrible if understood in terms of ISK per hour. (To be fair, the generosity of the rewards accelerates as your accuracy improves.) There are only occasionally right answers, and some of the slides do not have an obvious answer at all. Formally, one could hardly call it a game at all. And yet I find it entirely engaging and addictive. I dream of cell patterns!

Is it enough that it is a challenge? Is it a draw that Project Discovery is advancing science? Are the Sisters of EVE armor suits that desirable? (Apparently so!)

I freely admit to overthinking. But this has me curious. Can anyone else weigh in?

CSM
Sunrise Aigele

I have voted in the CSM XI elections. I am not going to offer explicit endorsements, nor will I offer my ballot.

What I will offer is the thesis that I used to vote: The CSM is not a formal institution, and it cannot be a formal institution. The various attempts to repurpose it as a committee of stakeholders, or as an equal, or to foist upon it any parliamentary measures and protocols, have all failed to one degree or another. The difference in responsibility between volunteers for whom EVE is a game and professionals for whom it is a livelihood is a chasm that no white paper will bridge. The people who have succeeded, without burning themselves out, are the ones who approach CSM as a group of individuals who are enthusiastic about the game talking to individuals who are enthusiastic about the game. The restraint to not become “passionate,” to use a frequent euphemism; the wisdom to approach different people differently; the empathy to see the other person’s point of view; the patience to realize that no CSM member can force CCP to do anything, no matter how important it seems to them; these are more important than any formal rules.

To that I would add that while CCP delights in the ways that we metagame each other, they do not appreciate being metagamed themselves. EVE is our pastime, but it is their livelihood. Metagaming the developers crosses an important line. Even if they cannot prove anything, they will suspect, and any suspicion heralds a breakdown in trust, which ends the effectiveness of that CSM and damages the institution overall.

Apart from those rules, I did not vote for any bloc candidates. It is the responsibility of their bloc to vote for them.

I urge everyone to vote. It does not take long. It can make a difference. Choose wisely.

Failure
Sunrise Aigele

What has happened?! I am called away for too long, and I return to a better launcher, a better game, and entirely too much stIr over a Kickstarter venture. There are too many people who take the metagame too seriously. They should know better. But that is not an interesting enough subject to concern me.

The Kickstarter failed. This is beyond any denying. It has been changed beyond recognition from its original, and awful, conception. It should be closed, and the moneys refunded. Its authors should go back to a clean sheet of paper and, when they are ready, introduce a new campaign. To do that, they must first acknowledge where they have failed. As Sion Kumitomo’s bitter flailing about makes painfully clear, to do that, they must first see that there is no shame in failure.

There is no shame in failure. In fact, there is no worth in any act which cannot fail, unless “cannot fail” is meant as if spoken by a mustache-twirling villain. To create is to fail, again, and again, and again, and again. As the great writer Samuel Beckett said:

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”

Once you adopt this mindset, as painful as it surely is, you gain as well the ability to discern who your true allies are: they are the people who are willing to tell you to your face that you are failing, and how you are failing. The people who are telling you sweet nothings about how you are merely misunderstood, or how the evil community has turned against you, may (or may not!) be your friends, but they are not your creative allies and they are not helping you to improve as an creator. No matter how it pains him to, David must listen to Nathan.

I doubt that The Mittani reads my little blog, but on the off chance that he does: you failed. That means you tried. Try again. Fail again.

Fail better.

 

[EDIT: The Kickstarter will launch again in March. Best of luck!]

[IC] Tragedy
Sunrise Aigele

In the blink of an eye, a reign has ended. Surely, this was the boldest assassination in the history of the four empires. The Empress was in a Titan, in high security space, in a system with a very high security rating. Nevertheless, she was ambushed and volleyed off of the field, then her corpse was taken from its pod, and—here the details become muddy—it seems that she was alive for a few days before her life was taken from her. Unless she has managed the same trick twice, she is truly departed, her status as a capsuleer notwithstanding.

I had no great loyalty to her. My sense of her was as complicated as my relationship to her Empire is complicated. Yes, my family freed itself from slavery, many years before I was born. But the Ni-Kunni still do not have the favor that the Amarr enjoy. Not for a lack of effort, certainly. It was with great joy that I was born into this new life, away from the Holder and his prurient interests and his favoritism. Were I allowed, I could buy his holding twice over. I understand that any ruler of this vast Empire must address the desires of its powerful. The Empress herself came from that power, as all must, so it would come easily to her. But has she ever heard the clamor of the bazaars? Has she ever elbowed her way to a stall and bartered a merchant down so that her family would have enough food for the week? Has she ever seen the suspicion that haunts every Amarr face that sees ours? The very thought is absurd! She was better than many, but I could not call her an ally. Not in good conscience. Not until she was taken from us.

Now I see what fills the vacuum left by her absence. It is fear. The next head of state must make a priority of preserving entrenched power at all costs. This is the natural reaction of any state under threat: It will reinforce what it sees as its bulwarks and defend what it sees as its foundations. I fear for the least, for my kindred who cannot escape to the stars, for the Minmatar who, however stiff-necked they may be, cannot deserve what will surely come to them.

I have heard whispers that the Empress was insane, that she spoke in tongues. She is a powerful woman and, within the realm of the possible, a reformer. She had clearly made enemies, more than we knew, greater than we knew. Of course they would attempt to discredit her, to take away the power of her words. Now they have killed her. We will shortly discover what they would have preferred in her place.

For the first time in many long years, I pray for the Empire.

Sadness
Sunrise Aigele

In previous years, the Alliance Tournament was a source of great excitement here at BadWrongFun. Videos were shared, tactics dissected, wagers made.

This year, it is not. I do not believe it is the teams. To the contrary, everything I have seen shows players giving it their all, and being gracious both in victory and in defeat. But CCP seems defeated. The contests are nearly secret. The best streams are unofficial. The referees have made several basic oversights that have called into question the integrity of the results.

I understand that CCP is forced to play with a weak hand this year. I understand that everyone is doing their best. But after previous years, this is hard to watch. My favorite part is all the first time entrants, and some surprise performances by underdogs. Certainly, any lack of interest or excitement is not the fault of the participants!

Good luck to all the contestants!

Horses
Sunrise Aigele

Has it been an entire month? My, how the time flies. I will never be a roboblogger.

Sugar Kyle wrote this:

It is unfortunate that I can no longer count the amount of times that I have been told another player group does not deserve to be treated well in Eve. They do not deserve gameplay. They do not deserve development time. They do not deserve the ISK that they can gain. That they do not deserve the ships the fly, the modules that the fit, or the existence that keeps them logging into their client each day.

How angry it makes me. I can feel the bitterness washing over me. And I often wonder how we reached this point. This point where people can call out another and tell them that they do not deserve anything for they do not live, play, and engage in the right game environment for what they have and that it should be removed.

[…]

I listen to people telling me what others do not deserve. I’d like to hear what a player does deserve. What are they entitled to? What are the pieces of a good gaming session? What should fill up that spot that is gaming? That makes us thirsty to return?

With the focus so firmly on retention of new players, I would like to offer something I have not seen anywhere, not even from Mike Azariah, though I imagine that he would agree: What every player is entitled to is the dignity of error. New players will invariably come to EVE believing that PVP should be fair, or that missions are or should be instanced, or that the loot from the sites and deadspace pockets they visit should be theirs by right, or that corporations are just like guilds in other games. All of these beliefs are wrong. Many of them will expose new players to unnecessary danger when acted upon. This is not a problem: EVE is without parallel as a game. Some people may come to it with the right idea, but many will not.

All of them deserve a chance to make their mistakes and learn from them. Corporations started by new players will fail, and? It is a chance for them to learn something. Yet there are people who imagine themselves purifying the game when they drive new players out for making the wrong mistakes. The same people will turn around and declare that you learn by making mistakes when the subject is ship PVP, of course, but if someone decides that a new player doesn’t “get” EVE then they should be driven out. Why? Where is there merit in the assumption that everyone must “get” the game—this deep and singular game!—from the word go? They are horses: some will find water; some must be led to it. Of those, some will drink and some will not. The ones who don’t drink will leave. The ones who do will stay, at least for a while. Not all of them will drink immediately; some of them will find themselves drawn to gameplay that they did not expect to be drawn to, while others will know exactly what they want to do. Our responsibility as established players is to determine where they are and help them as necessary. By help I do not mean pampering them or isolating them from the dangerous parts of the game, I mean helping them to understand and acclimate to the game, danger and all. A necessary part of that help is giving new players the dignity to make wrong choices, make mistakes, fail, and pick themselves up again, and again, and again.

Fundamentally, that is what draws me to EVE. It is so big, and there is so much unknown, that I have a fascination with striking out just to see what happens. When discovery is the goal, failure is often more interesting and more useful than success.

Providence
Sunrise Aigele

There is change in the CSM. Providence stalwart corebloodbrothers is stepping down. The official explanation is “personal reasons,” and I have no reason to believe that core is being disingenuous. But I can only notice that he is stepping down as the sov changes are announced, all space can be upgraded attractively regardless of its true sec, and there looks to be a long-promised war on Providence. corebloodbrothers is one of their main field commanders. He will want to be on the field.

Running the STV algorithm again has declared his replacement to be low sec PVP expert Gorski Car. I am glad for this. He was similarly brought late into the last CSM, and he immediately distinguished himself. I hope that he is properly elected to the next one rather than being a perennial bench player. He is smart and good with ships and also very funny.  Conveniently, the first thing for him to sink his teeth into is the postponed balance pass on battlecruisers and battleships, originally intended for the Aegis release.

Such timeliness was certainly not intended, but it is—if I may—providential.

Providence against Tash-Murkon Prime