Gilles de Rais in the Lake of Fire 3

Turns 1-7
Turns 8-14

Turn 15 - Nobody expects the Infernal Inquisition
Lilith hires the Usurpers Own. The immortal bitch begins to gather quite the army. She might become a threat, after all.
I increase the Intelligence of the avatar to 4, which means one more order slot per turn for Gilles.
Bifrons is assigned to the defence of the stronghold. If it falls, everything is lost.
The Infernal Inquisition goes on a spree of investigations and tortures. Gilles de Rais manages to deflect their attentions to his neighbors.

Turn 16 - I need hellfire
Sitri hired the Legion of Blood.
As usual, I am in dire need of hellfire. Gilles demands a tribute from his legions.
Asmodeus needs to conquer four Cantons before Gilles can become his Blood Slave.

Turn 17 - Rebels
Asmodeus and Murmur try to recoup their losses (apparently the Inquisition was quite harsh with them), by hiring respectively the Hammers of Hell and the Grinning Legion.
The sudden loss of the Palace on the Lake of Fire does only slow Asmodeus but not enough for the other archfiends to hope to surpass him anytime soon.
Gilles promotes the Slaves and demands tributes, including curiosities such as magical parchments.

Turn 18 - Switching my stare to Sitri
Paimon has taken possession of the Altar of Abomination.
Since Lilith's domain extends continuously on my Eastern frontier, and I would need warring against two different enemies before reaching the Palace, I do not plan to wage war in the East for the time being. Instead, I move my Slaves in the proximity of the Gardens of Infernal Delights. This way, they can better guard them while keeping close to the borders of Sitri's kingdom. The official pretext for this move is the celebration of their recent award, the Infernal Order of the Black Ring.
More resources are demanded.

Turn 19 - Playing to lose
More resources are demanded and consolidated. Gilles de Rais remains passive. Unfortunately, Asmodeus seems to be stuck at 27 Cantons while 32 are necessary for the master plan. Gilles de Rais wonders if he will have to engineer a war only to lose some territory.

Turn 20 and 21 - Hellfire is the new oil
Hellfire is still missing in the coffers and resources are gathered by the legions for the pleasure of their master.

Turns 22-28

Gilles de Rais in the Lake of Fire 2

Turns 1-7

Turn 8 - Test of Loyalty

Gilles de Rais demands tribute from his minions. More souls, ichor, hellfire and darkness!
Gilles de Rais wishes to please the Conclave. He needs the Conclave, and he needs some Prestige to use in aggressive diplomacy. But Eligos is too useful at this stage. Gilles de Rais chooses to defy the Infernal Conclave and accept the loss of Prestige. To make a little show of this act of independence, he orders the Slaves led by Eligos to march in front of the gates of Pandemonium.

Turn 9 - All disobeyed
It looks like every archfiend disobeyed the decision of the Conclave and incurred a disastrous loss of reputation. Good; Asmodeus was beginning to pull ahead.
A bit of a situation is developing next to Pandemonium: a standoff between my army and Lilith's. Lilith blocks the shortest path to the North where my undefended stronghold remains.
I could try to provoke her into a Vendetta:
- advantages: after an easy victory, my territory would surround Pandemonium and my logistics would become easier;
- disadvantages: Lilith is not a threat to me; she might prove useful as a meatshield between me and more dangerous foes.
Alternately, I could turn around and go all the way back around the mountains.
In the end, I decide that I will leave the Slaves in the South to protect the Gardens and watch over Pandemonium, and that I will build new armies to protect the North. This plan, which is merely a part of the devious master plan of Gilles de Rais, is going to cost a lot. Tribute is demanded twice.

Turn 10 - The Gluttony of Asmodeus
Asmodeus, on a rampage, conquers the Palace of Gluttony.
Gilles de Rais bids on the Burning Legion and demands tribute. He orders his seneschal to prepare fortified barracks in the outskirts of his infernal city.

Turn 11 - The Burning Legion
Seduced by promises of mayhem, the Burning Legion joins the ranks of the army of Gilles de Rais; it is stationed next to the master's stronghold.
Asmodeus is, once again, far ahead everybody else in Prestige score (30, vs. 7 for Gilles).
I decide to spend a few resources to increase Gilles's pathetic Martial Skill from 0 to 1. Joan of Arc's epic military campaigns are but memories for the archfiend, but cunning will not be enough to win the throne.
More tribute is demanded.

Turn 12 - Bullying Lilith
The Praetor named Phenex was acquired by unknown parties. At last, Prestige is high enough again for Gilles to begin to make bold statements in front of the Conclave. Specifically, he claims that Lady Lilith's servants crossed over his territory and he demands some tribute in compensation. Archers wielding poisonous bows are waiting for the order to strike...

Turn 13 - Not enough hellfire
I am in desperate need of some hellfire to raise Gilles's Intelligence from 3 to 4. I demand tribute again but, in the meantime, I decide to bid on Bifrons (one more soul is given away to win the auction) to help in the potential war against Lilith.

Turn 14 - Asmodeus, again
Lilith has taken the Wall of Envy but Gilles de Rais is not afraid, especially with Bifrons on his side. What scares him is Asmodeus's instoppable advance. The archfiend's legions have sieged and conquered the mythical Palace on the Lake of Fire, which is sure to boost enormously his already impressive powers.
Lilith concedes wisely to my demand - I need to wait two turns before I can make another one.
Besides demanding tribute, I consolidate existing tribute in order to make it possible to pay the next avatar improvement.

State of the hell at the end of turn 14:
- movements of troops suggest a conflict with the Marquis Sitri might be brewing, both in the North and in the South; Gilles de Rais will keep fortifying his assets;
- the Prince Asmodeus is a superpower, earning 8 Prestige per turn. At this stage, Gilles de Rais can hardly oppose his meteoric rise to power. If you can't fight them, join them? Asmodeus is an obvious candidate for the role of Blood Lord. Gilles now has a frontier with Asmodeus (west of the Gardens) and that is a necessary condition for this relationship to develop. However, he owns too many Cantons of Hell to be eligible for blood slavery, according to the Protocols of Hell. Gilles will watch, avoid unecessary conquests and then officially submit to Asmodeus. If another archfiend becomes Asmodeus's right hand before him, Gilles will try to destroy this rival.

Turns 15-21

Gilles de Rais in the Lake of Fire

This is an after action report for the turn-based strategy game Solium Infernum.

Archfiend creation
A pervert heart pulses again. Gilles de Montmorency-Laval, also known as Gilles de Rais, was a wicked diabolist in 15th century France and used to sacrifice babies in black masses. After his death, his soul was fittingly hanged in the Gardens of Infernal Delights, to be abused by the patrons of this horrific grove. The suffering experienced under its branches warped Gilles beyond anything recognizable. Consumed with lust, he wishes to inflict these pleasures unto others until Hell itself gets old: his public objective is the conquest of the Gardens.
Somehow, armed with but his wits and forbidden knowledge, Gilles de Rais escaped from the Gardens. He transformed into a demon with the help of dark sorceries that were never meant to be. The face he wears nowadays in the streets of Hell is new and barely hides unbound ambitions. He has risen to the position of Lord, the lowest rank in the Infernal Conclave. Other archfiends deem him to be an obscure upstart and a nobody. A mere French sorcerer does not hold much clout amid mesopotamian gods. That is their mistake. Gilles is a seer and, as such, can potentially master incredible rituals of Prophecy, which will help him in the great game ahead. This knowledge may even be enough to make him the Power Behind the Throne: if he becomes the Blood Vassal of the one who would win the war for the throne of Lucifer, Gilles will become the true victor. Controlling the crown of the Lightbringer would become his stepping stone before the conquest of Paradise itself.

Turn 1 - Far from the Gardens
The Garden of Delights is located far away from Gilles's fortress (and close to Pandemonium).
Getting beyond these southern mountains first will be difficult:
- Lilith, Lord of Hell (objective: pride), reigns east of the Garden;
- Sitri, Marquis of Hell (wrath), reigns south of the Garden and north of Gilles de Rais's little empire;
- Paimon, Baron of Hell (wrath), reigns far away in the East;
- Asmodeus, Prince of Hell (envy), reigns southwest of Gilles's fortress;
- Murmur, Lord of Hell (wrath), reigns northwest of Gilles's fortress.
The Black Altar of Despair, in the East, looks like a tempting target for the Legion of the Slaves of Gilles de Rais, provided they can first reinforce a little bit.
Gilles de Rais demands tribute twice. Let the damned in his path pay the ultimate price!
Gilles de Rais does not wish to enrich his enemies. This event will not take place.

Turn 2 - An ally
In the Infernal Bazaar, Asmodeus buys the Ten Thousand Screaming Bastards and Lilith buys Acheron's Butchers. The Slaves of Sitri beeline southward for the Dark Altar of Despair; Lilith's army does also move south.
Gilles de Rais bids on Great Duke Eligos (overbidding with 1 soul ) then demands a tribute of souls. His soulless archers could use a commander such as Eligos.

Turn 3 - Irritated by Marquis Sitri
News tell the story of the siege and fall of the Iron Staircase by minions of Asmodeus. Howls from beyond the horizon announce the acquisition of the Hounds of Hell by Paimon.
No fanfare salutes the arrival of Great Duke Eligos in the service of Gilles de Rais. Quickly, without a whisper, Eligos takes the lead of the Slaves of Gilles de Rais and heads south, since the Black Altar of Despair is obviously lost to Sitri.

Turn 4 - Despair is Sitri's weapon
Sitri, indeed, now owns the Black Altar of Despair. Murmur hires the Lethean Phalanx.
I need 1 more hellfire before I can raise Gilles's Intelligence and thus Prophecy.
The army moves south, tribute is demanded.

Turn 5 - Places of Power fall to demonkind
Murmur appropriates the Pillar of Skulls while Paimon climbs the Summit of Mount Erebus.
The army moves south, tribute is demanded.

Turn 6 - The rise of Asmodeus
Asmodeus overtakes the Gates of Hell; his power and prestige begin to impress his peers.
I increase Gilles de Rais's Intelligence from 2 to 3.
The Slaves, led by Eligos, shoot a dense cloud of poisoned arrows against the Gardens of Infernal Delights, while the army of Lilith begins to show up at the horizon.

Turn 7 - The Gardens are mine!
So many arrows... When the Slaves move in with their swords, the guardians of the Gardens are already incapacitated.
I decide to keep and use as soon as possible this new event in order to reward the Slaves.
Gilles de Rais demands tribute twice. More souls to eat!

State of the hell at the end of turn 7:
- no more Place of Power in reach; it means that the powers that be will begin to look at ways to encroach on their neighbours' territories and strongholds;
- no direct confrontation impending; Gilles de Rais has some time to build appropriate defences against would-be invaders;
- borders: Paimon with Lilith Asmodeus and Murmur, Murmur with Lilith Asmodeus and Paimon, Lilith with Paimon Sitri Murmur and Gilles de Rais, Sitri with Lilith and Gilles de Rais, Asmodeus with Paimon and Murmur, Gilles de Rais with Sitri and Lilith.
I decide to adjust threats in this order: Sitri (who "stole my altar"), Asmodeus (powerful, prestigious), Lilith (close, too close), Paimon and Murmur (not my neighbours).

Turns 8-14
Turns 15-21

The power of many

The Oracle of Eve speaks: "Looking ahead to 2010, come up with either realistic predictions of new EVE features, or wild speculations of what might happen in game during the course of the year."

Y112 is over. Let us remember how the masses became more powerful and how communication made the universe so much more eventful.
It all began with the implementation of a CONCORD-sanctioned communication technology generally known as New Eden. Specifically, the events that shaped the cluster in such a decisive fashion were made possible by the introduction of so-called transwarp microblogging, some time after the Dominion Wars. Quite simply, transwarp microblogging allows any licensed capsuleer to communicate instantly with as little or as many of his peers as he wishes.
Corporations leaped on the opportunity to enhance their internal communications. In time, capsuleers developed commercial services with this technology and discovered its paradigm-changing potential. It all began with a mercenary venture which broadcasted short-term needs for military support to licensed dogs of war. The service had humble beginnings. If you were trapped in a solar system, you could potentially buy within the minute protection from random thugs in the vicinity thanks to the mercenary broker's extended network of followers. A low-sec outfit later stationed cyno-enabled ships in countless systems. Alliances attacked by surprise began to summon "cavalries" of carriers on top of their threatened space stations. Another broker specialized in selling the services of freelance covops pilots.
Content delivered with transwarp microblogging is not meant to be archived but consumed on the spot. Pilots must act fast to seize an opportunity when they see it. They have less time to think about any given piece of information. Scammers, threatened by the rise of corp-branded storefronts, found here another venue for their carefully crafted lies. The market changed, too. Professionals of contract trading switched massively to this platform, making the specialist economy that much more fluid. Goods became to move more quickly, as offer and demand benefited from enhanced communications.
Some began to use the technology to organize parties in stations, communicating about time and location at the very last time to their select followers. "Barbarian orgies" were also organized by charismatic pirate overlords. Provided with a star system and a target, unaffiliated followers would congregate from all parts of low sec and go on a rampage in a given location, destroying infrastructure and overwhelming resistance with swarms of ships.

Many smart capsuleers have found ways to harness the power of the crowd. Today, corporations and alliances fear Joe the Nobody. The communication wars have begun.

The tale of Eric and the inflatable wife

S.McD. Even plastic people have the right to be loved.

Clone monologues 15

Hello, me.
Ok, if you wake up and it's not Villore anymore, don't panick. It's just that I needed to part ways with Strix Armaments and Defence. The shareholders agreeing to sell a third of the corp to Ishukone had nothing to do with this decision. Strix captains still fight the good fight with their allies of the Villore Accords and other friendly FDU corps, the same breed of men who helped me destroy a Provist freighter in Kassigainen with my Coercer.
No, I had to do it because of the Guristas. Never before had I realized how tentacular their mafia was. I uncovered a secret base in Black Rise, then many more and finally a hidden research outpost in the shady region of Syndicate. The final fight was something. We finally overwhelmed the stronghold when it was recharging its super-weapon, and destroyed it with Velators!
I need to infiltrate the Guristas's backyard and, perhaps, find a flaw in their organization. I am heading for Deklein where I will join the fleets of the Tau Ceti Federation against Guristas terrorists but also against capsuleer madmen and world-rapists.
So, you might be in the North when you wake up.

EVE Conquests: Federation victory!

A science-fiction boardgame
At the Fanfest, my friend Felix and me bought copies of the boardgame EVE Conquests. This game designed by Pétur Örn Þórarinsson is set in the same universe as the massively multiplayer game (MMO) Eve Online. After one missed opportunity at Nils's place, I managed to actually try the boardgame at Felix's place yesterday. We were six players and formed two tables, one with four players (Felix, Björn, Dani and Rüdiger) and the other one with three players (Christoph, Dominic and me).

Playing a game of EVE Conquests is not necessarily easy. It thrives on complexity but at the expense of clarity. The game is huge -the board needs a real table.
While the MMO allows you to pilot your own personal space ship and do whatever you want with it, the boardgame addresses the strategic scale of the war to end all wars: a conflict where you play the role of one of four interstellar empires bent to conquest.

Games played
The first group finished first. Apparently, Dani had positioned her empire in a corner of the star cluster, and by pure chance she was able to claim high value regions there. The other empires were not even adjacent to hers and were not able to attack her quickly enough. Björn suggests the randomness induced by the 'political landscape' mechanism (claimable regions) is a tad excessive. It nevertheless guarantees replayability and provides dynamic tension. Players need their empires to be central and close to any potential target but also to protect them and their assets.

Our group finished one hour later. Dominic chose to play the Amarr slaver empire, I picked the Gallente cheese-eatin' surrender monkey empire and Christoph settled with the Minmatar rabble. Dominic quickly claimed two core regions which gave him a slight headstart. Christoph began to expand in the East of the star cluster while I headed for the North. There I was able to claim two high-value regions, including, ironically, Deklein, current home of the Tau Ceti Federation (a French-speaking Eve Online player alliance). At this point, my opponents felt threatened. Christoph attacked first and took a few regions, stealing one of my region cards. The Amarr Navy soon joined the fray on my southern flank. By chance, I was able to stop the advance of both invaders and even prick them here and there. The decisive moment in the game happened in the second semester of the third year of the war, when I used a special card to postpone the logistics turn of Christoph by one month, thus becoming able to attack him first. I recovered one region, put an outpost over it and claimed another pair of regions, which widened the victory point gap to the point where I just had to wait out a couple of months to win the game. Long live the Gallente Federation!

A fun game, but
Overall, we had a lot of fun and I recommend EVE Conquests to players who like ambitious boardgames and/or Eve Online. Playing in the same setting but on a different level is refreshing and fun. We are all Eve aficionados except Björn, Dani and Rüdiger, who are "mere" boardgame geeks.
Both Christoph and Björn like especially the calendar-based turn mechanic. The dice-based battle system is also popular.
Somebody suggested that the boardgame could be converted into a web application but I do not see the point. The laughs we had and Felix's bolognese could not be electronically emulated.

Now, to the "but".

The resource tokens, though easy to use, add a layer of rules I am not endeared with. After the first year or so, everybody had enough outposts to fund wars until the end of time. I heard a comment around the table about the Eve players of the Pandemic Legion alliance and their R64-made warchest worth trillions of isk. At that stage, resource tokens become irrelevant. A bit later in the game, you hit a second wall when your number of units reaches 60 and the only way you can build more is by losing some first -but that limit is meaningful and helps the endgame be battle-heavy.

The color scheme is a source of confusion. I call it "the rainbow of pain". In EVE Conquests, colors are associated to one of three phases: development, production and logistics. Our 'National Seals' (used in the calendar system) are of three different colors, and so are our outposts. It contradicts my habits both as a boardgamer (to every player his color) and as an Eve player (golden Amarr, greenish Gallente, etc). What is more, the colors of different components do not seem to perfectly match each other. The fact that colors are also used to differentiate the four empires, the four nebula of the star cluster and the three rows of the 'political landscape' does not help either.

The rulebook is obscure. Spending the first two hours stumbling over various issues and wondering how to play the game, after reading the manual, is not a good sign. The other table had it easy, Björn is a boardgame mutant who feeds on arcane rulebooks. Reading the manual again, I just discovered that there are, in fact, page numbers... grey on black, smallest possible size letters are, for practical purpose, inexistent.
The thing is, game authors may not be the most adequate persons to write the rulebooks. Rulebooks should be written for gamers who want to play right now, by the guy who did the demo at the gaming convention. This guy has thirty seconds to convince the passerby to play and just a few minutes to pitch everything: the setting, the victory conditions and the mechanics that make the game tick. The pitch gets polished like a rock in the middle of a river. Right now, the rulebook tastes too much like brain soup.

EVE Conquests Rules For Dummies
I may or I may not be a dummie.
In a 'Revelation' game of EVE Conquests, you want to be the first to reach a set number of victory points. Victory points are earned either by claiming regions (you appropriate the cards and score the numbers on them) or by destroying another player's outpost and stealing a card from your defeated enemy. To claim regions, you need them
a) to be available face up on the 'political landscape' section of the board
b) to have outposts of your own
c) to be connected by your units and
d) to "match" (same part of space or same letter/color on the 'political landscape').
You want to claim regions and to destroy outposts from players who have claimed them!
Beware, you cannot destroy your own outposts, so each one you build is a potential target for the other players.
The regions which can be claimed are different each time and change each time regions are claimed. Every empire's army will probably focus their attention to different places on the board during the war.
That's for the grand strategy. You want to build outposts and destroy outposts.

Outposts allow you to do more actions because, each time you build one, you get a resource token which can fund additional actions. Outposts generate resource tokens of the same type (orange logistics outposts generate orange logistics tokens).
Each empire has three 'National Seals', one for each turn (development, production, logistics), which you will move on the calendar. If, for example, we are in January and your development National Seal (the blue one) is the closest to the center of the calendar, it's you turn to play. On a development turn, as displayed on the empire card, you can always do at least one development action and your next development turn happens then two months later (move your National Seal to March). If you choose to spend one extra development resource token, the empire cards indicate that you can do three development actions and your next development turn is four months later. Etc.
You still want to build outposts and destroy outposts.

First of all, you can build units in your headquarters and in your outposts during your production turn. Three max per region per production turn.

To build an outpost in a region, you need units of your own in all regions connected to it. Expand into the region you want and all adjacent regions. That happens during your development turn. If some adjacent regions do already belong to another empire, just plant an agent (a spy!) - a unit which does not give you access to the region but who stays dormant until you attack there or are attacked from there.

The logistics turn allows you to move stacks of units to any connected point in your empire and to destroy enemy outposts by attacking the regions they are in and killing all units guarding it.

Go forth now, align the stars, build outposts and destroy outposts. Pretend to be the innocent carebear and attack the other players. Make alliances and honor your word or resort to devilish backstabbing. I intend to play the game more in the future, now that I have managed to get some sense out of it. I just need to find myself more Germans!

EDIT: After reading the rules for the fourth time, I think I am making some progress and the resource tokens system does now make sense, at last.


Tl;dr
EVE Conquests, good.

Clone monologues 14

Hello, me.
I have spent one good month fighting the State Protectorate and the 24th Imperial Crusade by raiding enemy high-sec space, and I feel happy about the number of ships I have destroyed. Those ships will not be used against the interests of the Gallente Federation. Destroyers are very efficient vessels to use against miners, haulers or young pilots who forget they have enlisted in a CONCORD-sanctioned war effort. Overconfident interceptor pilots are also fair game. The difficult part is escaping the enemy Navy.
I must say I felt a strange sensation the first few times I podkilled capsuleers with one or two days of pod experience. I got in touch with a handful of them with advices to leave this war or, failing that, to be more careful for the sake of their crews. However, after encountering this type of prey day after day for weeks, I began to lose my qualms. I don't see myself in them anymore. Their corp left the Amarr militia. I would have killed again. Have I become a monster?
If I am, and if you read these lines, I am a dead monster.

Confidential report

This post is part of the EVE Blog Banter, a monthly EVE Online blogging extravaganza created by CrazyKinux. Any questions about the EVE Blog Banter should be directed to him. The thirteenth topic comes from Zargyl, the Sebiestor Scholar, who asks us: "On the EVE Fanfest 2009 page are pictures of prizes for the Silent Auction that was held during the event. One of these photos was entitled “Design your own EVE mission”. What kind of mission would you write if you got that prize? What would the mission be about? Would it be one using the new system of epic mission arcs? What would be the story told by it?"

Let us imagine what could be a epic mission arc using the Incarna 3D station environment. The idea here is to have the PC (player characters) meet shady fellows and work off the book. I describe only the first mission, then I summarize the rest of the arc.

1st mission - People die (Level Two)
Everything begins in a bar, on a space station. One of the NPC (non player character patrons) is a "fixer", an underworld agent operating outside CONCORD's laws. The capsuleer can discuss with the fixer. The conversation begins with innocent chit-chat:
- Howdy my friend. Care to join me for a brandy and an honest conversation?
- Cheers mate. [/drink] I have some business opportunity you might want to hear about. I am currently looking to hire a captain on a temporary basis. Good pay.
- Hey pluggy boy... Death in space means nothing to you. As for taxes, no need to pay any. For the record, this conversation is between you and me. That is how I operate, and if you want in on the payroll, please make sure to play my way.
The player can choose to make himself available for missions with this fixer.

If he does so, other npcs get new dialogue lines. For example, the barman adds a new rumor to its list:
[take tip] Have you heard about this convoy who arrived from [one solar system, randomly selected and located close to the current location of the player]?
[take tip] They got attacked just after they jumped here. No [local pirate type, e.g. Serpentis], but unmarked ships is what I heard about.
[take tip] How do I know all of that? Well, a ship managed to escape and bring the news back here. I spoke to the pilot. He is around and hiding. He just won't undock.
[take tip] Thanks mate. I'll stay on the lookout for you.

Back to the fixer:
- Look, let's be honest, I know you are the shit and everything, but I do not have a casino to rob tonight. I have this guy, though, a bit desperate, and he's looking for safe passage to [one solar system, randomly selected and located close to the current location of the player] with the requirement that he does not appear on the passenger list. This captain recently ran into some kind of trouble with unspecified characters of dubious morality who might still be around and he won't take chances and undock with his own ship. I would suggest you use a ship big enough to take an extra passenger in comfortable conditions. My cut is 30% of the one mil reward and I will ask you to kindly deposit a 100,000 isk guarantee, which will be refunded to you if you don't mess this. Are you in?

If the PC agrees, he loses 100,000 isk and the fixer says:
- Good choice. I'll send the man your way.

If the PC does not accept:
- My disappointment, your loss.

The next time the PC accesses his personal quarters on the station, a man rings at the door. He is a big guy with shifty eyes and a strong Gallente accent.
- I am Captain Cabroc, but please call me Marcel. Our mutual acquaintance told me that you had room for an extra passenger on your ship, no questions asked. The sooner we leave, the better. I can upload our destination in your nav system.

A deadspace mission beacon appears in the system in question (not publically). Its acceleration gate allows all ships.
Cabroc, when the PC's ship lands on the gate: This is a safe place. Just activate the old acceleration gate and fly ourselves to the dock.
A dock with a Thorax is located 15km away from the warp-in point. When the PC's ship gets within 3km, the mission is listed as completed. Captain Cabroc enters the Thorax, which begins to power its engines, without moving. A few seconds later, the dock is shaken by a violent explosion. The Thorax is instantly destroyed. The player's ship takes 500 EM damage. The exact amount can change; it is designed to kill frigates in case the player did not get the hint in the fixer's speech.
Cabroc: A bomb! I'm dying... Could have been rich beyond... Remember these names: Grygore Dan Riak and [static]!

Three unmarked ships with Gallente hulls arrive then 20km away from the warp-in point and begin to attack any ship present into the deadspace pocket. One of them warp scrambles, another one webs and the last one uses remote sensor dampers. If there are multiple ships, the unknown enemies select the closest one and try to dispatch it before attacking another. When no PC ship remains in the pocket, the hostiles pop Marcel Cabroc's Thorax's wreck.

If the capsuleer's ship is destroyed before it reaches the dock in the pocket, the dying passenger still drops his line about Grygore Dan Riak, and the mission is listed as failed, which does prevent the player from recovering the guarantee or getting paid.

If the PC loots the wreck of Marcel Cabroc's Thorax, he finds an item called Cabroc's damaged logs. The description reads:
The data seems irretrievable. A specialist of data recovery might get something out of it, but it is far from certain.

Getting back in touch with the fixer allows the PC to get its guarantee back, plus 700k as promised.

Marcel Cabroc's lost words (not a mission)
In which the PC manages to locate a good data recovery specialist in a station, and gets him to recover some data from Cabroc's damaged logs. The data includes a fragmented record of the second name Marcel Cabroc screamed before dying: Sophie.

Approaching Mr. Dan Riak: Naira (not a mission)
In which the PC tries to get in touch with Mr. Dan Riak, an extremely rich individual with properties in both Amarr and Gallente space. Nobody knows much about his past. Mr. Dan Riak does not accept calls from people he does not know. His bio lists Naira Dan Riak as his sole heiress.
The PC can get to meet Mr. Dan Riak's daughter, the beautiful Naira, in a station, after reading her bio. Naira shares her time between three stations, one in Amarr high-sec space, one in Gallente high-sec space and the last one in low-sec space. The PC may need to check one or two stations before finding her.
Naira lives a life of entertainment and luxury. She likes both men and women and has many pretenders she occasionally shares a bed with. The PC can date her provided he or she can wear clothes flamboyant enough to get past her bodyguards, "Mr Dan Riak's secretaries". Naira can talk endlessly about her overprotective father, nicknamed the "Ogre". She's a good-natured foxy lady and will not be dragged into talking about serious business.
If the PC presents her with a rare gift (such as an Exotic Dancer), she will invite her to a party held by her father.

The party (not a mission)
The private party is held in a station. The entry fee for the uninvited is 1 million isk. It is a masquerade and masks are distributed at the entrance. The PC will want to talk with Mr. Dan Riak, but the magnate will speak with only one person during the party. He is disguised like every other guest so the PC needs to interact with NPCs to find out which one is Dan Riak. If another PC gets to talk with him, he will have the option to receive a very lucrative mission. It is thus important for the PC to be present at the party as soon as possible; his advantage is the fact that he knows exactly when the party will begin. Mr. Dan Riak continually organizes new parties and lists the location of the stations where he holds them in his bio. The party lasts until next downtime or until Mr. Dan Riak has finished conversing with a PC.
If the PC manages to speak with Grygore Dan Riak, he can choose to accept a mission.

2nd, 3rd, 4th mission - A dead past dying
Grygore Dan Riak begins by showing a document to the PC: a complete record of his past activities and current assets. He wants the PC to know that his private spy network did their homework and that he could crush him whenever he wants.
"You're a fool, but not a silly fool, and I'm not un-generous."
He worries about his daughter and suggests that the PC stays clear of her from now on. He says he does not know Marcel Cabroc but that he recognizes a bold adventurer when he sees one and he would thus like to hire the PC for a mission off the book. He wants to know his past, because he lost his memories of everything which happened in his youth.
Dan Riak asks the PC to investigate and ask people about his own past. The people that the PC can meet are mostly retired criminals and smugglers living in deadspace strongholds. The PC will fly to their resting place, fight off random pirates trying to hassle these criminals, and get to speak with the grateful retired thieves. These people will each time provide the PC with a document that he will need to give to Dan Riak, and which will lead to the next step in the arc, the next witness of Dan Riak's past.
But when another PC, uninvolved in the epic arc, manages to speak with Dan Riak at the masquerade, the billionaire will ask him to go and kill the witness involved in the first PC's, former mission. That is because Dan Riak is not amnesiac; he is just trying to locate and eliminate everyone who knows about his nefarious past as a smuggler in Caldari space.
If the PC bookmarks the location of his former mission and comes back there, he can potentially intercept the other PC bent on killing the witness. Doing so allows the PC to loot documents that can be used to one-time blackmail Dan Riak.
If the PC does not go back to the deadspace pockets where he met the witnesses, he stays in the dark and keeps providing Mr. Dan Riak with the information he needs to clean his past by removing any witness of it.

Rich men's fate
The story arc can conclude one of multiple ways.
- The PC and Dan Riak can part in good terms.
- The PC can gather proof against Dan Riak, by recovering items in other PC's witness kill missions and by deciphering the logs of Marcel Cobrac; he can use these items to
(Bad) blackmail Dan Riak for a good amount of isk or
(Good) give them away to a police corporation for some big one-time standing gain.
In every case, Mr. Dan Riak's status will not be damaged; it is assumed that the billionaire will buy off every corporation agent blackmailing him.

I would like to thank Mr. Orson Welles who helped with the plot. Which, if you have not guessed by now, is a complete rip-off from Mr. Arkadin -very simplified but this post is wall-of-texty enough.

I would like to conclude with a "Georgian toast" straight out of the movie:
"I had a dream. I found myself in a graveyard where all the tombstones were marked in a curious way - '1822 - 1826', '1930-1934', always like that, always a short time between birth and death. In the graveyard was an old man. I asked him how it was he had lived so long when everyone else in his village had died so young. But no, he told me this: 'It's not that we die early, it is just that here our tombstones do not count the years of a man's life, but rather the length of time he has kept a friend.' Let's drink to friendship."

Check other Eve Blog Banter articles on the same topic.

  1. CrazyKinux's Musing - Your Mission, should you decide to accept it...
  2. Zen and the Art of Internet Spaceship Maintenance - First Blood
  3. The Elitist - Guristas Invasion
  4. The Wandering Druid of Tranquility - ...It's another episode of Design Star: EVE Style...
  5. Level Cap -Epic Battles
  6. Roc's Ramblings - The Cave of Time
  7. Aether - Teach a man to fish...
  8. Inner Sanctum of the Ninveah - Mission: Tangled Webs
  9. Adventures in Mission Running - I can haz spaceship?
  10. Nuke Thoughts - EVE Blog Banter 13
  11. Diary of a Pod Pilot - Distressing The Damsel
  12. Guns Ablaze - Dynamic Missions
  13. More to come...

Reporting about Eve for outsiders

I like reading about games I do not play or intend to play, especially after action reports.
I think massively multiplayer online games (MMO) are under-reported to the general gaming public after the initial release. Reviews and articles about these games should deal not only with the gameplay features but also with the community of players: the added value of any game which gives it room to express itself. If two MMO with identical features were released, they would provide different experiences to their players depending on the state of their community.

Hence this article. Its purpose is to provide time-starved journalists or bloggers with a peek at the many sources of information they can rely upon when
- trying to decide if there are news about Eve Online fit to print and, if there are,
- writing the articles.



Eve Online is event-rich due to...
- its features and philosophy (sandbox approach in a single shard),
- its free expansions policy (regularly expanding its scope and depth) and
- the sheer size of its community (500,000+ accounts).



How it does concern non-Eve-playing readers:
Landscape-altering events happen every few months, be they developer-driven (introduction of new mechanics and objects, such as the wormholes), player-driven (space wars, financial news) or a mix of both (the Fanfest convention, player-versus-player tournaments). Newsworthiness is subjective but...

- the stories are exciting on their own
For example, 2009's most significant event in the world of New Eden, in my opinion, was the destruction of the Band of Brothers player alliance after one of its directors turned coat and joined their nemesis, the Goonswarm alliance. The ensuing invasion of "Fortress Delve" by a coalition of thousands of players and the end of this war made for an interesting epic to tell to outsiders, a story of conquest and revenge, loyalty and betrayal, cunning strategies and stupid moves. By 2014, Goons and their allies control half of the world and are set in a standoff with the N3 power bloc.

- science-fiction talks about us
Science-fiction as a genre allows the exploration of themes and philosophies by addressing the limits of the concepts which define our existence. When the virtual bank Ebank encountered dire straits due to the betrayal of one of its directors, a NY Times article did draw parallels with the real world's bailouts.
In his 2007 book Exodus to the Virtual World: How Online Fun Is Changing Reality, Edward Castronova postulates that gaming design is going to affect public policy to some degree in the future. Whether this prediction comes true or not, an environment like New Eden (the game setting) can provide a basis for stimulating reflexions about the real world.

List of sources
official - First of all, when trying to report about Eve Online, begin the tour with an obvious but mandatory look at the game's homepage and/or Facebook.
A few years back, the ebbs and flows of the "null sec wars" were summarized in very readable "CORPS" reports on the official forum. These reports were redacted by CCP and aimed to be objective. Unfortunately, they were published with as much regularity (that is, not that much) as the Quarterly Economic Newsletter, also compiled by CCP and which used to reveal some economic data to the playerbase.
For more in-depth information about new features and projects, take a look at the Dev Blogs. Those are used by the developers to communicate their plans and ideas to the players. They can get quite technical for the non players though, so I suggest turning to the players' media for information.

blogs and forums - For a start, EveNews24 and The Mittani, two competing information blogs, will help you get an idea of the current vibe in the community. They publish pieces about in-game events, interviews with developers and prominent players, investigations, etc. Useful to keep track of null sec politics and battles. EveNews24 is older while The Mittani is headed by the eponymous leader of the biggest power bloc in the game, who previously authored Sins of a Solar Spymaster, a series of 88 articles written for the general gaming public about Eve. Just remember to take everything with a grain of salt. Everybody is trying to sell something.
And how do you know they are lying? Easy, they are posting. For some "forum porn" or the latest dirt - or some archive-digged jewels, direct yourself to unofficial forums: The Chatsubo (roleplayers), Failheap Challenge -formerly known as Scrapheap Challenge- (griefers and gankers) and Kugutsumen (hackers and spies). Sadly, Chatsubo (and roleplay) peeked in 2007 and is now quite desert. Kugutsumen is no longer a place about Eve but they advertise Zulu Squad 'Eve Uncensored' forum. For archives also, take a look at the Eve Tribune, which published weekly rants for quite a long time back then. Massively, a professional MMO blog, keeps covering Eve news.
In gaming communities you frequently find organiser types who give a voice and a link to  many smaller voices. For a long time, CrazyKinux's Musing blog was the "Grand Blog Central" of Eve Online. CK (CrazyKinux) maintained the Blog Roll, a list of Eve-related blogs you might find useful to understand the range of activities available to the players in the game, from pirate or industrialist to "salvage thief" or explorer. CK stopped attending his site and other players (such as Bill Dullemond for the Blog Banter and Eve Bloggers, aka the Eve Online Portal) stepped up to assume blog-aggregating activities.

other languages - If you happen to be French-speaking: les forums sont JeuxVidéo.com (le moins intéressant), Mondes persistants, Jeux Online (les deux historiques) et Frugu (sans oublier le forum officiel en français).
If you speak other languages and would like to point me at the relevant sources, please feel free to comment.


video - The CCP Youtube channel is another place to go to. The videos they make display very little user interface and are generally short and to the point. CCP are very happy with the Butterfly Effect video they released and you can bet they will release other such videos, designed to explain the game to people who do not play it (and entice them into giving it a try).
Some player-made videos are remarkable. Take a look at Clear Skies, for example; old video but good reference.

twitter - If you want to get an instant feel of the community, try the Tweet Fleet and, of course, the tags #tweetfleet or #eveonline.

Edited 2011/02/19: Eve News24.
Edited 2011/06/23: Scrapheap Challenge is gone and replaced by Failheap Challenge
Edited 2014/10/17: general update, removed dead links (CK's, etc.) and put some new media in

Worlds of Darkness 7: communication

"Our tweets will blot out the sun
- We will chat in the dark
"

Contemporary horror takes place in the future, because the future is now
The future World of Darkness (WoD) might well have a stronger cyberpunk flavor, if only because Earth 2009 is already a cyberpunk setting.
It also meets a design constraint in this game rooted in storytelling and roleplaying: communication and information need much more emphasis in a MMO than in a pen-and-paper game. If the game does not deliver communication and information tools on a level worthy of a cyberpunk-themed Matrix, the impracticality will hurt the community and the game, and the tools will be used all the same, only not through the game client and exclusively so -out of game communication will occur, there is no way around that.
The community is the added value and a fundamental feature of any MMO; you want to make sure that the players have all the means at their disposal to communicate between each other, to reach out to strangers and to feel connected to the community. The tools need to be able to cope with the numbers involved in any group gameplay the players want to take part in.

The Internet of Darkness
: ubiquitous, safe
In Eve Online, every player can access multiple chat channels (local, corp, fleet, etc.) which, along with all other communication tools, can be deemed to be in-character. Instant communication throughout a whole star cluster does not seem out of place in a science-fiction setting featuring extremely advanced technology. But do we picture the vampires and werewolves of the 21st century communicating this way? We have to, as outlined above. The communication tools we use every day online are bound to be used more and more to help MMO players interact. This is one instance where function is all that matters.
The genre of the setting does not matter, in the end. World of Warcraft, a fantasy game, already offers chat and mail capabilities to the players. It does not break immersion (with genre in mind) too much, by integrating the mailing system into the game world (a post office service using physical mail boxes) and by dissociating the chat tool from the game world. WoD might use this method: 'wodmails', like evemails, would be part of the game world and considered to be encrypted emails, while chat would not and would not materialize in the game universe. On the other hand, it is possible that user interface designers manage to find a way to make chat channels look part of the game world in a plausible way. Mobile phones are ubiquitous nowadays, and their capabilities, which include discrete ear plugs and mics, can expand into the realms of face recognition and subvocalized conferencing.

You also cannot offer the possibility to hack into channels through in-game actions, besides social engineering. In-game instant messaging and emailing needs to be 100% safe and efficient, otherwise it will not be used for any serious business (as, of course, Internet vampires are to be regarded). Plotting will be so much easier than on the tabletop version when you had to physically move to the kitchen or the corridor to whisper secrets to your fellow conspirator without risking your other half-friends half-enemies learning about them.

Speaking? Over my dead keyboard!
The most basic communication takes place in the immediate surroundings of a character: let's say another character enters the street where mine lurks. I wish to greet him. Do I type a greeting or do I actually speak in my microphone? Software can alter any voice in real time (because, doh, the disturbance in the Force caused by all those baritone chicks) -"voice fonts" are announced for Incarna. Technology could also allow the characters to pronounce text typed by the players. But all this fancy stuff is probably not in the works, as it looks cool but not necessary. Plus it had better stay optional. If speaking becomes necessary to communicate, some people will have a hard time socializing: for example, disabled players, players who need to keep quiet to respect their non-gaming entourage and players with a strong accent (besides the wonderful French accent of course).

Vampire TV is on the way
In a typical World of Darkness roleplaying game, characters feel isolated. They can work with small group of like-minded individuals but stay mostly oblivious of the earth-shattering occult events taking place in the country next door. The very definition of 'occult' precludes any concept of 'public'. Isolation and fear are rampant. For most of the characters, there is no secret TV channel broadcasting news about the occult world. Now, I bet there will be one such outlet, albeit primarily player-supported, in the MMO. Eve Online has its TV, its radios, its podcasts. "Hidden media" will become an integral part of the user-generated half of World of Darkness, making it much more different from the tabletop version we experienced.
The upcoming delivery of the New Eden communication platform for Eve Online and DUST 514 will certainly give us a first taste of what could be in store for WoD.

The fourth power
Players communicate, but what about the peculiar relationship between supernatural denizens of the World of Darkness and the media? Their continuing existence depends upon their hidden societies being kept away from the spotlights. Getting some kind of control over media outlets seems like a good if risky way to ensure secrecy.
The game might provide us with mechanics to try and become the media mafia or buy its services, something that would allow the mastermind to bend the rules of aggression to his or her advantage (ignoring transgressions of the Masquerade for example), but could also backfire in a very bloody way (some creatures frown upon the media being toyed with; other creatures could infiltrate the media organization and plot against the mastermind). The equivalent of Eve Online's high sec wars, perhaps.
In any case, in the World of Darkness, you hide from the media or you make it your weapon, but you do not ignore its baleful eyes.

Reykjavik

Wednesday, 30th of September
The hotel where I am does actually sell access to Internet. In Iceland, in 2009. I got pretty disappointed about that. (Tap water was free.) Moreover, it's the kind of access where you can basically just surf the web and not do anything remotely exciting like, you know, plugging a cable to upload photos -I might edit this post later. [edited!]

That was the compulsory rant, now let us speak about the city itself. Cold, but not that much, sunny and full of interesting things. In no particular order:

The National Museum of Iceland. Entry is free on Wednesday. Where we learn that there were Vikings, then the Sterlung Age (time of strife), then the Old Covenant bringing the island under the domination of the king of Norway, then the plague, the execution of the last Catholic bishop, the Icelandic Bible, fishing, more bibles and more fishes, nowadays. Ok, I may have taken a few shortcuts, but the point is that the question I had when I entered (what happened between Egill Skallagrimsson and the Fanfest?) was answered by, basically: nothing but fishing and praying.

The Reykjavik Cathedral. I like churches and temples. Europe can be proud of what its builders managed to erect in the Middle Ages and ever since. I also like size in a church. I do not think it is gross: bigger is not necessarily better, but I believe it helps the mind leave the human world behind and reach at the sky. Saying I was disappointed by the Reykjavik Cathedral would be an understatement. Though its age is quite impressive, it looks smaller than any of the churches of the suburb where I was raised. The Ausurvöllur Square in front of the Cathedral is also quite small. Places of historical significance can sometimes fail to impress the hurried passersby.

The Hallgrimskirkja Church. I was looking forward to bask in the huge shadow of the church built between 1945 and 1986. Unfortunately, Reykjavik's iconic building was wrapped in scaffoldings. Inside, I was happy to discover a very impressive organ.

The Reykjavik Art Museum.
There were wall-sized paintings of frames from films by Lars von Trier and Fridrik Thor Fridriksson -the Chinese artists who draw the frames seem to have been forgotten in the process and that is a shame; even craftsmen deserve recognition; I enjoyed the interesting video installation that was part of the package.
On the ground floor, kind of hidden among shipping crates, there was a series of crude drawings by an artist named Yoshitomo Nara and one member of the graf collaborative. I actually enjoyed the installation, which reminded me of underground comics.
There were other parts in the Museum but I am pressed by time so there is my best memory of Reykjavik so far:

Einar Jónsson Sculpture Garden. This Einar Jónsson was a great Christian sculptor and I enjoyed his sculptures more than anything else in the city. I highly recommend anyone visiting Reykjavik to pay a visit to the garden which is located near Hallgrims Church. I came back to the garden and visited the museum on Sunday (bonus: entrance was free on this day). Here is a picture of one of my favorite sculptures, The Crucible. The message it conveys seduces and inspires me. In the background you can see the museum and even the top of Hallgrims Church.

Sunday, 4th of October: evening at the Blue Lagoon
Along with a few other French-speaking gamers, I spent my last evening in Iceland in the hot (40° Celsius) waters of the Blue Lagoon. I took no pictures but eery is the word which springs to my mind when I try to describe the experience. I remember seeing naked heads emerge from some milky pool, surrounded by clouds of vapor, powerful spotlights checking on people from time to time, the starry night above and the frozen volcanic desert a few meters away. You would have believed yourself in some science-fiction movie, in a soup of clones waiting to escape or be reborn. It was physically enjoyable and the lagoon proved to be a fun place to socialize. I definitely recommend giving it a try.

Icelandic food
I had two or three good meals in Reykjavik. One of them was a catfish plus chocolate cake for dinner on Friday in an Icelandic restaurant (I unfortunately do not remember the name). The other one I keep in mind was my Sunday lunch at Café Loki, in front of Hallgrims Church. The Icelandic meat soup was good and so was the combo flatbread plus some local ham if I remember correctly.
Later on Friday, I also had had some horrific experiences related to rotten shark, the typical Icelandic dish. Just know that when you see this, you need to run!

Who am I kidding? I enjoyed every bit of rotten shark, like a Darsh in The Face, thanks to the local Güll beer!

Trapped on Planet Horror

This post is part of the EVE Blog Banter, a monthly EVE Online blogging extravaganza created by CrazyKinux. Any questions about the EVE Blog Banter should be directed to him. The twelfth topic comes from CrazyKinux, who asks us: "First there was the MMO on the PC, and now with the recent announcement of DUST 514, EVE will soon be moving onto consoles. But what about mobile? Allow your imagination to run wild for a second and describe how you would see EVE being ported to mobile devices, whether the iPhone/iPod touch, Blackberrys or Android-based devices. Dream the impossible for us!"

The most important thing
First of all, of course, we need a title for this wondrous smartphone game. I spent a lot of time on the brainstorming and I am very proud of the result. The imaginary game will bear the name of Planet Horror. (To be pronounced in two steps: first "planet" in a casual voice then "horror" in a terror-struck moan.)

Gaming for multitaskers
Before actually coming up with an idea, let's consider iPhones and the like as gaming platforms: those are pocket-sized computers, used by their owners at home, at work and (almost) everywhere in-between. It should be possible to start and finish a game at a moment's notice and to enjoy gaming sessions as short as one minute, perhaps even a few seconds. The pace of the game could be, for example, similar to trading in Eve Online, when you log on to sell your wares 0.01 isk cheaper than the competition. Playing the game should not require undivided attention, instead allowing to watch a TV show or keep a child at the same time.

Not a support app
Smartphones are very good for support applications, but the goal here is, like for DUST 514, to reach a new audience (new friends!) and expand the reach of the brand, aiming for synergy and not cannibalism/raising average revenue. Thus, the idea is to design an autonomous and ambitious game and not to build the ultimate "playing Eve docked" software featuring Evemon, EFT and omgrawr.net. Capsuleer and other community-made apps can do that.

A pet game with a twist
Pet management games perform really well on small handheld platforms, such as the GameBoy -think about the bestselling Pokémon series. Another example is the success of the Tamagotchi, virtual pets you need to nurture and prevent from dying (and don't you forget to bury them on the Internet). The genre is known to function well. In Planet Horror -hey, that's why they call it a working title, ok?, your pet is a human being, born into the Eve universe and who now faces very detrimental conditions such as malnutrition, carnivorous flora or being Caldari. More specifically, he along with every other player character was kidnapped/bought from slavers and dropped on the surface of a prison planet by powerful criminal cartels/the media/Jovian scientists. Planet Horror could be located in high-sec and guarded by CONCORD or hidden in the depths of space, never to be found until the end of times and the return of INNOMINATE NIGHTMARE.
Your task is to ensure the continuing survival of your character and, eventually, his or her evasion from the planet. At a very basic level, it means that your character needs to find food (his reserve depletes in real time and not in game time) and shelter, and occasionally run from raptors or other amusing animals. If your character dies, there is no coming back but there are plenty more where it comes from (the game, like Tamagotchi, would feature perma-death). The endgame would be provided by the quest to craft or appropriate a spaceship in order to escape the planet and reach the orbital space station. Any character reaching the station is granted freedom, riches and relocation to a Gallente pleasure hub of his choice.

The gps mayonnaise
A new pet game would need to differentiate itself from the established competition. Trailblazing into augmented reality gaming is the way to do it. Augmented reality (AR) is a buzzword but also an actual phenomenon which promises to deliver new experiences by layering information or graphics upon our environment. An app using GPS to locate a friend on Google Maps is a crude example of augmented reality. Now wait until Apple releases the iGlasses and night club owners redesign AR deco every night. There will be much dancing between pink elephants. The point is, this fast evolving technology leaves a lot of room for evolution.
When you will connect to Planet Horror, the game will automatically download information about your surroundings. The premise is that the virtual and the real environment are architecturally similar. If you are in Paris under the Eiffel Tower, the game will not show otherwise (the Jovians recreated Earth!); it might also show/inform you that Champ-de-Mars is flooded with acid mud and you need to mitigate the effects or suffer the consequences.
You will need to choose how to react in an appropriate way, though the game will not require or incite you to actually move anywhere as it could prove dangerous and inconvenient. You will also be able to detect the other player avatars in the vicinity, but not to pinpoint their exact location (a bit like the Local channel but without any possibility to probe) in order to protect the privacy.

The link to Eve: bets
Planet Horror is a big reality show -the kind of shows that blends Survivor, SLA Industries and the Ultimate Fighting championships. I have still a little bit of trouble explaining why the Jovians would recreate a replica of Earth to study evolution and then stuff it with cameras and sell the rights to the Scope, but heh, Planet Horror.
Eve players would be able to run bets on the results of each season of Planet Horror. They would also have the opportunity to know that all the slaves or militants in their cargohold have a chance for a new challenging life on Planet Horror, thereby giving meaning to what used to be senseless trafficking.

Plenty more to say
And never enough time. The player could direct his or her character by ordering him around. A character can only do one thing at a time. At this point I hesitate between going the full Killer way, with characters doing their best to survive and prosper in a Mad Max environment, or mimicking more closely a game like Survivor, where everybody needs to balance his need of the other players' help against his need to get rid of her before she gets rid of him.

Look, you can change the rules of the game if you want, but the title stays!

Check other Eve Blog Banter articles on the same topic.


  1. CrazyKinux's Musing - Tying the dots and locking me in!
  2. A Merry Life and a Short One - I Don’t Own a Working Phone
  3. Yarrbear Tales - EVE on Mobile Devices? Eh.
  4. Hands Off, My Loots! - EVE Mobile…Possibility?
  5. Rettic’s Log - The Cronofile – Blog Banter: EVE Mobile
  6. A Mule in EVE - EVE Mobility
  7. Inner Sanctum of the Ninveah - EVE Mobile
  8. My Life in EVE - 12th Blog Banter
  9. My God, it’s Full of Stars! - 12th EVE Blog Banter
  10. The Wandering Druid of Tranquility - WOW, look at that ‘micro-Dust’
  11. Adventures in Mission Running - 12th EVE Blog Banter
  12. Ecliptic Rift - EVE Everywhere
  13. Roc’s Ramblings - EVE Mobile
  14. EVE Monkey - EVE on a Mobile Device?
  15. Nashh Kadavr’s EVE Blog - I-pod Capsuleer
  16. Escoce – EVE Trade - Dynamic System Security
  17. Break Vol - EVE Blog Banter 12
  18. Mikeazariah - EVE Mobility
  19. Pods and Pills - The 12th EVE Blog Banter: EVE on the MOVE!
  20. Lords of Space - EVE on my Iphone?
  21. Cle Demaari - Is that EVE in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?
  22. Life in Low Sec - Wormholes On the Go
  23. The Elitist - EVE On Mobile Devices
  24. Into the unknown with gun and camera - Blog Banter 12: Glue
  25. Zero Kelvin - A year of banting!
  26. Corrupted Datacore - Blog Banter #12: MyEVE

Player-owned arenas

Does Eve need arenas? Kirith Kodachi thinks it does. He lists both the reasons (give the players the option to self-organize consensual pvp) and the tools (similar to those currently used in Alliance tournaments).

There are multiple ways to consider arenas. Let's forget a bit about consensual pvp and stick with the exciting word "arena", the associated concepts and the way they fit with the setting. The way I see it, an arena is:

a) destructive and therefore underground. Ships are blown up for no strategic purpose. Thousands of productive citizens die in space to satisfy the dark urges of humankind. Even though the high-sec states may conduct panem et circenses policies, I don't think they would actively encourage such a waste of resources. However, they might not outlaw it. Just remember the punishment inflicted upon Admiral Eturrer by the Gallente Federation, arguably the most humane empire. New Eve is a harsh place.

b) serious business: when I think "arenas", I think "Circus Maximus, thousands of spectators, hundreds of guards"; in a modern setting, I think "illegal fights organized by criminal organizations", as it happens in Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan; or I think about the sports leagues and the billions they generate. Ultimate fighting is a business with dedicated structures and an entry price.

Wish list
Instead of contracts, I would prefer CCP to introduce a set of physical mechanisms to organize arenas, allowing players to parameter the actual rules as they see fit, from 1 vs 1 to deathmatch. One such mechanism could be a starbase module which, when active:
- enlarges the force field by a factor of ten or more; the new boundaries would be delimited by a "daughter module" setting at the periphery of the new force field. This module, in arena mode, would be targetable by ships located outside the force field. When the arena is deactivated, the module would fly back to the main module. (This way, the arena can still be sieged by anybody in the mood for breaking the party;)
- allows targeting between ships inside the force field;
- generates a bubble wherein 0.0 rules apply (no security standings penalty, no CONCORD in high-sec). This bubble would also prevent warpouts;
- acts as a remote camera enabling every authorized pilot to watch the fight. To access this camera would require an invite, similar to a fleet invite but the arena owner would be able to charge camera access on acceptance of the invitation.
Guns and missiles batteries usually meant to protect the starbase could be directed against rule-breakers and troublemakers. Some new modules could function as "props" and flavor the setting of the arena.

With this solution, arenas are starbases that can provide both entertainment and, if popular enough, revenue. Asteroid fields and safespots with cans would still be places of choices for small-time shootings; but business-minded criminals would be able to set up their own arenas of death and organize leagues and championships without further intervention from high above. I, for one, would welcome our new arena overlords: you.

Worlds of Darkness 6: day and night

The hard parts
There is an ongoing discussion thread in the Planet Vampire forum about how the designers of the World of Darkness MMO would deal with the "hard parts" of the setting. What elements of the pen-and-paper Vampire: The Requiem roleplaying game would be difficult to adapt into an MMO format?

Daylight makes vampires fun
The day and night cycle features in the list. The question boils down to: should the MMO include a day and night cycle with, well, both night and day, and should vampire characters be penalized during daytime at the risk of detracting from the fun of playing them?

Horror literature and tradition list sunlight as the supreme bane of vampirekind. Firstly, basking in sunlight is, for vampires, akin to taking a plunge into a pool of acid. Not something you want to try out, but these anathema creatures don't get that much of a choice in all those movies. Secondly, they feel compelled to sleep in lightproof refuges during daytime. These characteristics are part of the very definition of vampires. They serve a purpose in regard to the theme (symbols), to the story (find the coffin before the sun sets, get rescued by sunlight) and why not to the game (dynamic tension).

MMOs are open 23/7
Should this weakness significantly affect the way players can play their characters? Some argue that the "rule of fun" should prevail. The rule of fun dictates that, in a game, realism must take a back step to entertainment value. In Counter-Strike for example, a game which aims to recreate somewhat realistic ballistics, wounded characters are not incapacitated in any fashion. In Eve Online, a ship with 1% structure left is still as efficient as the one fresh out of the assembly array. In the same spirit, in World of Darkness, the rule of fun could dictate that vampire characters should not be exposed half of the day to something that would penalize and impair them in a significant way.
Some kind of compromise can always be made. The vampires of the Kindred TV series are distinctly different from the vampires of Vampire: The Masquerade. If a vampire is playable at all time, it could be for one of the reasons below or any other:

a) there is only night ("Icelandic winter")
A little suspension of disbelief goes a long way to enhance fun. If World of Darkness is exclusively about vampires, the answer would be a no-brainer: night-time all over the place. Apart from, for example, a one hour daily maintenance period, labelled as "daytime", night would reign and ensure vampire characters are not hindered.
Even if mages or werewolves are part of the plans for the MMO, they have no fear of darkness. Eternal night would be quite thematic for a game set in a World of Darkness.

b) sunlight does not affect vampires ("it never did")
What if creatures such as prometheans (though a minor component of the World of Darkness) ever become part of the playable cast? How to reconcile the Divine Fire and eternal night? The weakness to sunlight would be dismissed as another of these myths surrounding the vampire condition, like White Wolf already chose to do with garlic allergy and cannot-enter-into-your-place-uninvited in their pen-and-paper games.

c) vampires have "alts" for daytime
Vampires could use mental powers to direct the actions of an "alt" (alternate character) during daytime, when their undead bodies rest in some basement. Ghouls, mortals bound by the mystical power of a vampire's blood, make good choices. Vampire-possessed ghouls would be slightly more powerful than vanilla humans, but not as formidable as vampires.
While interesting on paper, this solution would deprive some players of the possibility to directly play vampires due to conflicting schedules, a most frustrating proposition. Also, playstyles are playstyles, and some players will just scoff at the idea of playing a ghoul.

d) daytime repels vampires to ghettos
The night belongs to vampires. If there is only night, vampires lose a part of what makes them special. What if vampires can shrug off the need to sleep and survive in daylight, but their monstrous nature becomes apparent to all (burnt skin, shrivelled flesh), forcing them to hide in the darkest of alleys to avoid breaches of the Masquerade (enforced the CONCORD way)? The mortal world would become forbidden to them half of the day, but they would still be able to find poor sustenance in the worst and most secluded slums of the city, and to congregate in subterranean places.

Vampires: capes or no capes?
Compromising to abide by the rule of fun might be necessary, but hopefully game designers will make sure the vampire theme retains the symbolic components which resonate in our reptilian brains. Vampires in the shop mall at noon? No, thanks! Getting rid of the sun vulnerability altogether would lessen the intensity of the Requiem, the vampire's journey into the endless night. For the same reason I think that "taming" werewolves would destroy part of what makes a werewolf an interesting monster: a creature with urges it cannot fully repress. Each supernatural creature has characteristics that define its very nature. Making the vampires into blood-sucking super-villains, or werewolves into shapeshifting shamans, does not add to their appeal, on the contrary.

So, even if perma-night were to become the rule in World of Darkness, I hope the threat of the sun would still be used as a reminder that the vampire's continuing existence is stolen and that the very universe frowns upon it. I hope our mortal characters will be able to search for the resting places of vampires. I hope there will be times our vampire characters will run in the streets, desperate because their refuge has been located and they need another resting place within five minutes. I hope our mage characters will be able to carry attacks on the resting places of vampires at noon, provided they managed to locate them -even if it means that the attack is not played out but carried during server maintenance, leaving the vampire to deal with the consequences when he logs back to the game. Sunlight should be embraced as a tool for exciting adventures. I am sure it could be as fun for vampire players to avoid the sun as for hunters to hurry before the sun sets down.

You would not want to miss a good ominous sunset, would you? You know monsters are going to crawl out of their basements, and you are frightened because you are running out of time. But, if the sun never goes up, then the sun never sets. And that would be a shame.