As I was watching some of the matches today, I remembered some of the older bits and bobs I had picked up along the way from previous tournaments.

As such, I would like to present the alternative commentary of a match from the first Alliance Tournament. This one did not have EVETV coverage, and even the official coverage was audio only, broadcast on EVE-Radio.

Al Haquis was a legend, and the community was lessened by his departure.

I have more from him in the second Alliance Tournament, where he was (perhaps mistakenly) invited into the EVETV studio as an expert. I’ll save that for another entry though!

Thisisprettytrcikytoreadwhenitstartstogetlong. Right? Readability is very important. It can make a concept easy to understand, or utterly bamboozle the reader.

But it’s not just something for words. Lets take an example:

  1. 227,690,938
  2. 227690938

The first one has a comma separator to break up the number into easier-to-read chunks. Its easier to scan the image and know roughly what the value will be. It makes counting the digits a very quick and painless process. In some countries, it’s replaced with a full-stop; the point is, there’s always something to denote large figures. The second one does away with that nonsense and goes with the cold, hard number value. Both are perfectly acceptable number formats.

In fact, both would be accepted to paste into a numerical field in EVE. At least they were until Escalation to Inferno hit in April of this year. Once this pre-expansion hit, the game would no longer accept comma-separated values in numerical fields.

So? What’s the big deal?

Well, the thing with EVE is ISK is king. Missing a digit because its late and there’s no commas for you to easily tell the difference between derping your market-empire away while you doze and awaking the next morning to being filthy rich, is kind of a big deal.

I’ve been working with separated numbers in all my spreadsheets since the dawn of time. It makes it very, very easy for me to quickly see if something doesn’t look right; I can quickly see if I’ve made a stupid error earlier in the process because the number looks incorrect. Without the commas, it’s a little tougher.

Sure, I can still use the comma separated values in my spreadsheet, but I cannot copy-paste them into the game. It just won’t let you do that any more. I’m going to have to create duplicated value cells for totals that just strip out the commas purely so I have a visual aid and a value I can paste into the game when I need it.

It’s a small thing, but it makes a hell of a difference!

About a week ago, I passed my ninth EVE-anniversary. Its be a long, strange trip on various Internet Spaceships. I’ve seen big events ranging from the Amarrian championships and would-be player-driven revolutions to alliance tournaments (all 8 so far that were broadcast visually) and all those crazy miner-ganking Hulkageddons.

I made a post about this sort of thing a couple of years ago. It was probably more inspiring than this one, but that’s not for me to judge.

I’ve watched corporations rise to fame and then fall to pieces leaving just an empty shell, and alliances burn brightly only to be decimated by subterfuge or be utterly ruined by years-long wars.

People I met in the early day have left and come back again. In some cases, several times. Some of the friends I’ve made in space have gone through college and university. Others got engaged, married and settled down with kids.

It’s really quite astonishing to think about playing a game for so long. The prospect of playing an MMO for more than a few months seems preposterous these days – with big development houses building massive marketing hype, fuelled by gamers’ desire for the “next big thing” – so I really do surprise myself sometimes when I think about how long I have poked around in the void.

But what’s left to do? What’s left to train? Nothing. I have (for several years now) been sitting docked, socialising with people I know and respect, and tentatively prodding promising newbies, fostering a new generation of awesome spacefriends. My skill queue consists primarily of items ‘just because’ rather than ‘wouldn’t it be nice if…’; things that I’m training to level five for the hell of it, and to stay competitive on pointless things like eveboard.

So why stick around?

That’s the big question. Everyone I know leaves. They almost always come back, but for the most part, space is a lot more empty for me than it used to be. I still enjoy the company I keep, though. I have met some truly inspirational and beautiful people in this game, and as long as it keeps delivering on that level, I’ll probably never leave.

So here’s to more Internet Spaceships and the Internet Spacefriends they bring!

“With the Inferno expansion upon us, new seeds have been planted in the ongoing evolution of EVE Online. With every expansion comes new trials and challenges, game-changing mechanics and fresh ideas. After nine years and seventeen expansions, EVE has grown far more than most other MMOGs can hope for. Which expansions have brought the highs and lows, which have been the best and the worst for EVE Online?”

Interesting topic this round. Not that they are mostly uninteresting or anything, but I’ve been around for every single expansion, and while I’ve forgotten the reasons I liked and disliked some of them due to senility, I still have opinions on a few.

The Good

I think a lot of the time we focus on bad things and not good things. Its something intrinsic in human nature. It makes for more exciting news and it’s certainly what keeps soap operas running year after year. Being based in the UK I also understand and appreciate the need to complain about big things and little things as I see fit. And I usually do. But before we get on to what I feel to be the ‘bad’ expansions, let us first consider a couple of the more awesome ones we’ve had over the years.

Empyrean Age. The content for Factional Warfare (FW) under-delivered compared to the ideas for it that we players had built up in our heads over the years – something only exacerbated by the second issue of EON, which made the emergent gameplay of FW seem a lot more epic than has ever come to fruition. But there should be no argument that it was a decent expansion for anyone interested in EVE’s story or lore. We’d had years of rising tensions between the empires, and everyone knew at some point or other that the brown stuff was going to hit the spinney thing. It was nice to see that happen – even if it was a little weird how everything happened all at once.

My favourite bit about Empyrean Age though, was the constantly updated newsfeed of what was going on during the ‘comms blackout’. It was incredibly exciting to read while waiting for the expansion to deploy, even if we were all secretly lamenting not being able to take part in the events ourselves.

Apocrypha. I don’t think I’ve met anyone that disliked Apocrypha, though doubtless there’s some. With this expansion we got some crazy number of new systems (4000?) to explore in lawless, uncharted space with a completely new kind of NPC enemy to go along with it. This kept both the carebears happy (with a new mechanic for exploration and new shiny things to find with it), and hardcore PVPers happy (with quick access to lawless space that couldn’t be claimed and new sneaky ways to ambush the aforementioned carebears). Finally, the introduction of our own version of Lego ships – T3 strategic cruisers – there was a place in these new systems for industrial types as well.

There was something for (almost) everyone, and I think this is what made Apocrypha so popular among the player base.

The Bad

Castor. The first expansion to EVE. So small that I don’t think it ever got a proper name, so it just stuck with its in-development name. This is the expansion that I mentioned in passing at the start of this post. I have only vague recollections of why I hated it so much. I know it totally messed with my mining – and I was big into mining back in those days – by making mining lasers drain a lot of cap, which in turn made battleship mining less workable, though still more than possible. These were the days before we had specialist mining barges, let alone exhumers. Beyond that, I can’t really say what irked me, but I’ll still rant about it if given half a chance in-game.

Red Moon Rising. What many remember as the most failish of deployments. A horrendously over-long deployment downtime and (if rolled in with the Bloodlines update) some conveniently Asian-inspired new characters just in time for EVE China to launch. Some of these new bloodlines had slightly more appealing attributes than others, further widening the gap in population between the Caldari and everybody else. The best way to sum up Red Moon Rising would be through a fancy and comical animation. If only someone would be so kind as to create such a thing. Oh wait, they did!

The Ugly

Exodus. The expansion that brought us official alliances. It also brought us POS and level 4 missions.

I think everyone still loathes having to manage a POS to this day; though to a lesser extent now we have fuel blocks for the lazy POS-owner. As time goes by more and more people end up resorting to them just to get things done in a timely manner.

Level 4 missions introduced a massive ISK generator. I still feel that this was the first big mistake in the overall devaluation of in-game items. It went unchecked for such a long time, that by the time the bounties were scaled, the difficulty tweaked and level 5 missions added for proper group activities, there was entirely too much ISK flying about (quite literally) everywhere. I remember when Exodus/Shiva first hit and we were surprised to see that the expected Alliance fee had shot up from 100m to 1b ISK, and we had to do a round-robin with the member corporations to raise the final figure. These days, an individual is considered poor if they have less than a billion just sitting in their wallet gathering dust.

Incarna. Oh my. Such a long time coming, and such shortcomings. We all know that Incarna was started and restarted more times than an Amarrian monk leers at choirboys in his lifetime, but we were given a room. One room. Could we leave the room? No. Could we interact with other pilots? No. Was there any more (but entirely non-necessary) functionality? No.

What we did get was a new currency and a virtual store to pimp out our characters in the latest designer fashions that nobody would ever get to see because we couldn’t have them leave their rooms. And then we got hit by a nuclear meltdown of PR with the leaked internal document that just made everyone rage. Although this wasn’t directly a part of the expansion, it was still a major part of its failings; I can’t help but feel that there might be more content for ‘walking in stations’ if the PR-bomb hadn’t happened. Whether this would be better or worse for the state of the game though, I won’t speculate.

Recently, I decided to have a bit of a tinker with my character portrait. I didn’t want a complete change-around that some people seem to go for; my character wasn’t about to go changing hairstyles, getting tattoos and magically gaining scars. I just wanted something subtle. A change of angle, pose, lighting, maybe some makeup fixes – just to spice things up a bit. And since its free to do so these days (unlike before we had the new chargen), why the hell not?

Brutor female character

This is how my character looked when I was editing her, and after I had finalised the portrait. The capture is from in-game shortly after I was done.

What ultimately made me decide on this portrait was the hair draping. Notice the curve of the hair on her right side as it drapes around her head in a natural fashion. Sure, there are going to be some minor clipping issues, but its nothing we can’t live with for the time-being.

However, after a downtime or two, I noticed something different when I logged in:

Gravity defying dreadlocks

I like (for the most part) when the server makes a pass and properly renders the new or updated character portraits – it means that newbies can have faces to look at, and it means everyone else has lovely antialiasing on their portraits.

But what I dislike very much is gravity-defying hair! I’ve yet to try this with some other hairstyles, so I’d be interested to hear if anyone else has noticed this one. I Imagine if its consistent, you could end up with some completely wacky character renders.

I got her to scour around her quarters just in case I had somehow missed it, but all I could find were empty bottles of Quafe, cans of some other drink, and holoreels; there was no industrial grade hairspray to be found!