Interview with Alexia Morgan of The EVE Online Blogging Community

If you’ve been keeping an eye on social media over the last week, you may have noticed Alexia Morgan (@Alexia_Morgan) talking about a new initiative for current and aspiring EVE bloggers. Titled The EVE Online Blogging Community – A Network of EVE Online Blogs, this new site is intended to take over for the incumbent EVE Online Bloggers Portal.

I wanted to catch up with Alexia to find out some more information about the site and what he hopes it will provide the EVE community.


Winterblink: Maybe to start off, give us the sales pitch. A blog of blogs seems to be a bizarre concept to some.

Alexia Morgan: I hadn’t called it that before – a ‘blog of blogs’ is a great way of putting it. I had just seen it as a portal for Eve Online bloggers, allowing them to access blogs and resources from the one site. It’s still a work in progress, but there’s going to be integrated blogs that will be published and shared along with the sharing of independent blogs and their updates. There’s also Groups and Forums for sharing of common interests, activities and even focused discussions around individual blogs. The whole idea is to build up a single community focused on Eve Online bloggers and helping them communicate and share with each other, while presenting it to the world, inviting more to get involved.

Winterblink: You make the distinction between integrated and independent blogs. I’m assuming that means that you will not only host blogs for people who don’t have one of their own, and support some sort of aggregation of blogs that are privately hosted, correct?

Alexia Morgan: That’s right. I know there’s been some resistance in the community at the distinction, but I’m not sure why. I’ve had some independent bloggers complain that they don’t want to be known as ‘independent’ bloggers, compared to those blogs built and published within the portal. While I understand their issues, I don’t accept them. There’s no easy way of putting together internal and external blogs on the one site. Internal blogs are auto-published to the front page, while the external blogs are auto-displayed via RSS feeds. You can’t please everyone all the time, however, so I don’t bother trying. But yes, Eve Blogs is for all bloggers, and it’s doing its best to share everyone’s blogs that want to be involved.

Winterblink: Being an independent EVE blogger myself, I enjoy the freedom that a privately hosted solution can bring, especially from a technical perspective. What kind of features or services will your site provide that you think are competitive to an independent blog?

Alexia Morgan: Well, firstly, independent blogs don’t have integrated forums. Depending on their blogging platform, they can certainly set it up, but it’s a mighty pain in the butt to do so. I’ve already done it, so it’s available to integrated blogs without them needing to worry about it themselves. They just ‘plug in’ and start using.

Secondly, independent bloggers are ‘mostly’ clueless about their site security and administration. One of the first things I did was setup extensive security hardening protocols for the site, to mitigate risks of hacking and losing content. I’ve also got all content being auto-backed up every three days, so if there’s any issues I can restore from backup. The security and continuity of members and their content has to be an important element of this, and it is, and so I’ve done what most independent bloggers never do.

And finally, I am the administrator of the site, so that if any integrated blog owners have issues, they have me to help them with it.

I think that overall, it’s the ease of setup and administration of an integrated blog compared to having to setup a blog yourself that will make this an attractive and competitive option for new bloggers that don’t know how to get started, and don’t have the time or interest in learning. I suspect that there are many Eve Online players out there who would just LOVE to blog about their experiences, but are hampered by the daunting prospect of having to set up a blog and maintain it, when they know nothing about it, and all they want to do is start writing. I help them get over that hurdle.

Winterblink: I’ve not seen anything yet on your site with regards to content ownership policies; for example, sites such as Facebook and others infer ownership and usage rights to images uploaded to their service. After having a taste of how magical life as an EVE blogger can be, some users may decide to branch off and go independent. Is their content considered theirs with all rights reserved by the authors, and will their content be made available to them freely if they decide to move on?

Alexia Morgan: When it became clear that I wouldn’t be taking over, I knew I had to create something to take over the responsibility that had. I built that site, so I knew it was based on RSS feed outputs provided by Google Reader – which was completely shutting down on July 1st. The result would be that would no longer be providing its service. So I worked hard to build a replacement, which was The site went live the same day Google Reader shut down (five days ago now), and has been a work in progress since then as of this interview, I haven’t had a chance to formalise the content ownership policies yet, but this is a good time to let it be known what those policies are going to be.

All blog content provided by any individual is theirs, and theirs alone. This includes text and images. There will be restrictions, however, on the size of individual files uploaded as part of their blog, so the use of external image hosting sites will be encouraged. There will be backup plugins in place that can automate backups of individual content and sent to their email for their own personal storage. At any time, blog owners have the right and the availability of exporting their content to be used on an independent blog, and to delete their internal, integrated blog. There will be no restrictions with this.

Winterblink: There is some element of controversy behind this site, specifically with regards to Can you give us your own perspective on what happened there, and why you ended up having to produce a whole new site instead of updating the old one?

Alexia Morgan: Now there’s a contentious issue, and one which I already discussed in detail here ( However, the quick summary is that I gave to Marc Scaurus back in 2012, when I wanted to pass the mantle to someone else who would have the same passion for it as me, so that I could focus on some RL distractions. He gave me the impression he was dedicated, so I transitioned ownership over to him. But he did nothing with it, and then joined as senior editor. He also took ownership of the Eve Blog Pack, and did nothing with that as well. And then, this year, when the domain was coming up for renewal, he announced that he was letting go of it and would give it to someone who had never managed it before. Since I was the only one who had managed it before, it was clear he didn’t want me taking it over again, even though I had attempted to contact him numerous times over the past year to take it back, when I saw he was doing nothing with it.

Based on his actions, his words, and the background of his involvement with, I came up with the conspiracy theory that wanted to destroy the Eve blogging community, so that they could drive all traffic to their domain. It’s only a theory because there’s no direct evidence, but if there’s enough dots then a pretty clear picture can be seen.

So, because he wasn’t interested in giving it back to me, I had to create a new site to take on the responsibility of what I had started. I was extremely disappointed that he was engaging in actions to try and bring down the community portal, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me from continuing what I’d started in 2009.

Winterblink: You recently blogged that you have a “change of focus” in mind for your site already, which seems pretty early in a site’s lifecycle to happen. Can you describe what the new focus is all about, and why you chose to do this so soon?

Alexia Morgan: There was a lot of controversy about the ‘internal and external’ labelling of Eve blogs and bloggers in the context of the community portal. Some bloggers felt that such labelling was actually ‘dividing’ the community by considering them as separate. I thought it was ironic that this was coming from an independent blogger who wanted to remain independent, while complaining about someone else commenting on their independence. As I said in a comment on their post, “I’m hearing the cries of independent bloggers who don’t want to be labelled as independent, even though they are, and who want to be known as members of the community, even though they’re struggling to remain separate.” It was sarcasm, trying to present the irony in their arguments. But they didn’t see it. And it’s probably silly of me to expect those who are engaging in irony to actually see it.

But a number of bloggers are talking about the same thing. The controversy is real and seems to enrage them. It’s not beneficial to me to try and bring a community together by enraging them. So the ‘change of focus’ is to, put it bluntly, tell them to go screw themselves. If they want to remain independent, they can. If they want to struggle against the concept of community, they can. If they think creating ‘competition’ amongst various community sites or blogs is a good thing, they’re entitled to their opinions. What’s left for me to do is simply focus on those that want to be in the community and support the community. Those that don’t, so be it.

However, I’m pondering on whether or not I should allow independent bloggers to use Eve Blogs Network to promote their blogs if they’re adamantly against the idea. If you’re an independent blogger wanting to have your blog listed on a community portal, I think it’s a bit ripe to sign up to have your blog updates presented on the portal, and then start blogging about your resistance to the concept of community and a community portal.

So the change of focus is going to take all this into consideration as I move forward. Community is community – those that don’t support it, well, you’re obviously not into community and shouldn’t be part of it. Rotten apples, and all that. I’ll instead focus on those that do support it and want to be part of it.

I think that this is going to bring a lot of ‘new blood’ into the scene, and I’m completely in favour of that.

Winterblink: Thanks for taking the time to speak to me about the new site, Alexia.


If anyone out there is interested in trying their hand at being the “new blood” of EVE bloggers, feel free to go to to sign up.

Sean Decker Joins CCP

Hilmar, the glorious ginger CEO of CCP, announced today that Sean Decker will be joining the management ranks of CCP.

Decker comes to CCP from game developer and publisher Electronic Arts (EA), where he spent the last 12 years in a variety of key production leadership roles.  Most recently Decker was vice president of EA’s “Play4Free” group, built from the ground up as an integrated organization focused on building, publishing and operating games based on the free-to-play business model.  In that role, Decker ran numerous studios around the world that released games played by tens of millions of registered users.

A casual creeping of Sean’s LinkedIn profile notes that he’s been involved with EA, “Re-imagining great EA brands across a number of platforms using the MTX model”. MTX, for those who don’t know, stands for microtransactions.

“Sean’s extensive experience in the games industry will be extremely valuable for us as we enter the second decade of the EVE Universe,” said Hilmar Veigar Pétursson, CEO of CCP.

I suppose if one were to speculate, could we be looking at a free to play future for EVE Online?  It makes some sense, I mean CCP has already gone down that path with DUST 514, and the rest of the MMO market has already shifted in that direction.

I’m sure it’s being considered, and it’s quite possible that the addition of someone with proven experience in this will help them find a way to implement a free to play methodology with EVE Online.  As a person who’s been playing the game since its launch, my list of concerns about that would be long as hell, most obviously that this wouldn’t introduce pay to win mechanisms somewhere.

But that’s all just speculation of course. :)  For now feel free to toss a welcoming tweet to Sean at his Twitter account and join me in hoping that he brings some fresh new ideas to the CCP boardrooms.


Number Crunching Exploration

CCP Bayesian breaks out Excel to run the numbers on Odyssey now that the expansion has been out for a few weeks. Specifically, the Data and Relic site activities performed by players.

All of this has been made possible by a push towards gathering a lot more metrics from the game. Team Data, our dedicated metrics guys have given us some really powerful tools to crunch logs and generate the information below.

Ruined Guristas Monument Site

It’s pretty clear from these three graphs that usage and completion of these sites has increased immensely since the launch of Odyssey.

Other than winning the 2013 Captain Obvious Award, CCP Bayesian’s series of graphs does prove that player interest in exploration content has been not only initially strong, but has backed off to a level which continues to be significantly higher.

The entire point of the expansion was to put exploration on the table in front of as many people as possible, and almost everyone I’ve heard from has tried it at least once. Most people have figured out that the sites are basically free ISK, with the minigames not being a huge barrier between pilots and the exploding pinata of loot. Hell, even in empire space I’ve made fifty million ISK in a single site; while this isn’t a huge fortune by any stretch, it’s almost effortless to obtain and the grind is fairly fast.

Scatter Ratio

We can see within a week of release that the player population had generally worked out what was and wasn’t worthwhile to take. This graph also shows that quite a large number of cans are going uncollected, losing whatever value they happened to contain. We’ll have to do some more digging to see how much value is represented there.

Yep. It didn’t take long for sites like Neural Boost to provide handy loot distribution information for folks to figure out what they should be focusing on.

As for what digging to CCP needs to do, here’s a freebie from me to you: ditch the scrap containers. They’re ignored by everyone except for the newest of explorers, and provide nothing for the effort. Get rid of them and ponder the distribution of loot in the remaining cans.

One of the things NOT touched on by the blog is resulting value of the items dropped in the sites.  I can imagine the next economic report blog will be an interesting read with regards to this.


Taking a look at the image above, see if you can guess the point where the expansion was released. Decryptor values have nosedived almost across the board, and there’s plenty of people and organizations in the game who have invested in them pre-Odyssey that saw the value of them disappear within a week or two. I’m no market nut, but I’m willing to bet the folks who deal with Invention have a thing or two to say about it.

Like any other mechanic and economic pot-stirring feature introduced to EVE, values and opinions will stabilize to a level that everyone will eventually accept. For now it seems that plenty of people are at least giving this a try, and that CCP are paying attention to how we’re trying it. Hopefully this means that future iterations of the features refine things for the better.


DUST 614

One month has passed since DUST 514 made its official debut on the PlayStation Network as the PlayStation 3’s first free-to-play shooter, and I figured it would be an interesting idea to take a step back and see how the industry has received what many have touted as a groundbreaking shooter.

Player reactions to the game have been as mixed as any game of this sort can get, ranging from those who have panned it outright to those who have dedicated themselves to it so much they’ve joined the Council of Planetary Management. However DUST 514 is a console game, and the importance (however misguided) of games industry reviewers has a significant impact on new player interest and uptake. To that end, lets see how DUST is doing in the eyes of the industry by using one of the most popular — and infamous — review aggregation sites: Metacritic.


At the time of this writing, DUST’s overall score by critic reviews is 59 out of a possible 100. This isn’t as fantastic as CCP would hope to have seen, I imagine.  But as with most serious game reviews, staring at a number is the tiniest part of the story; the devil is in the details. Note that I’m going to be cherry-picking from each review, obviously for the full context I encourage you to visit each site and see their complete opinion.


The Escapist is a pretty reputable reviewer, they tend to give fair assessments of games, providing good descriptions to back up their numeric scores.

Some choppy framerate or the occasionally bit of wonky terrain geometry still hasn’t been completely smoothed out, and along the same line the textures are optimized for quantity not necessarily quality. Not everything looks that great up-close. However, the game has improved substantially over the years that I’ve seen it, and CCP is known for the constant iteration.

If you’re willing to really delve into all the facets of Dust 514, and a few technical issues, there’s a satisfying shooter with some stakes for you and your corporation mates to be found. If you’d rather not get that invested, then Dust 514 might not be for you.

Pretty even I’d say, and generally mimics my own feelings on the game so far.  There’s fun to be had, but it’s not a perfect experience.


Oh IGN. Not one of my personal favorite sites to go for …well anything.  However, it’s also extremely popular, so much so that CCP has gone out of their way to provide new trailers to IGN as timed exclusives.

For context, lets see what IGN had to say about DUST when it was previewing it back in March 2012:

But now that we’ve seen it in action and know that it actually DOES work, it’s safe to say that this is a game worth getting excited about for a whole array of different reasons. I now have confidence that CCP can actually pull this off

With that in mind, some highlights from their review:

Like a mad scientist, Dust 514 seeks to merge a free-to-play multiplayer first-person shooter with a skill system more robust than most modern RPGs, and battles that decide the fate of a vast MMO universe that exists on an entirely different platform. While it sounds amazing on paper, there’s a reason most games aren’t so ambitious: because so much can go wrong.

…such ambition is in vain if you don’t have a solid foundation, and Dust’s crumbles almost from the get-go. Its wonky mechanics, weak graphics, and microtransaction fueled grind make it numbing to play long enough to explore its depth, and its persistent elements are completely lost on anyone who doesn’t already have a foot down in the EVE universe.

The contrast is striking.  This is by no means a unique thing in the industry; previews are often all roses and bubblegum while the review showcases the real opinion. I tend to find IGN one of the worst offenders for this.  I’m not saying their opinion on DUST is wrong, as they do raise some valid points. It’s the two-facedness that annoys me.


It’s interesting that the lowest of the larger reviewers comes from EDGE Magazine, arguably a well respected source of game news and reviews.

Divorced from its ambitious, cross-game context, Dust is a lacklustre shooter that provides little more than the bare-minimum framework for large, objective-based battles. The functional visuals reduce a galaxy’s worth of planets to a series of smearily textured rocky surfaces that seem to have rolled off the production line next to the one making Dust’s prefabricated industrial buildings.

Combat has about as much personality as the bleak, dust-blown worlds. There’s none of Halo’s gently exaggerated physics, Shootmania’s relentless velocity or Call Of Duty’s immediacy. There’s just shooting people with guns, albeit while battling against some suspect hit detection and sludgy controls.

Now I don’t agree with the score nor do I agree with some of the points being made. The reason for this is that in some cases it seems like the reviewer may not have spent a significant time investigating some of issues noted, which may have given some more perspective on why certain choices were made with the designs.

To conclude, one has to take any professional reviewer’s opinion with a grain of salt. These folks usually don’t spend as much time with individual games as I’m sure they’d like, and there’s always the usual controversy of the practice of shilling for developers and publishers. Scores alone never tell the whole story, and even low scoring reviews will have some excellent points to make on what works with DUST 514.

So, why should we care about this at all? Well, EVE Online’s done really well for itself since its release, and I would have no problem saying the majority of that success was due to word of mouth advertising. Contrasting this, bad reviews are murderous to games like DUST 514. Lets face it, there’s a lot of competition out there for first person shooters on consoles, and the average shooter player is going to stick with franchises they’re both familiar with and can play with their friends. DUST being free to play lowers that barrier to entry significantly, but everyone can agree that there is a significant grind involved that can eventually degrade long term interest. Potential new players are much more likely to read a review and decide the game’s not worth their time.

After a month I was hoping for much more positive reviews for the bigger names that people tend to pay attention to. With luck, DUST 514 will be something they will stick with on their personal time and get the itch to revisit it later as CCP continues to support the game. It has a lot going for it with regards to long term play, not the least of which is the support of a developer who actively listen to what the players want and need.


The Sounds of Change

If you look back through the history of EVE’s dev blogs, you’ll find hidden gems strewn throughout the patch previews, feature discussions, and other more mainstream dev bloggy type of writeups. Blogs like The EVE Cluster gave us some inside information about the hardware infrastructure that drives a single shard sandbox games.  There was the cool one where CCP strode along the at-the-time bleeding edge by switching their database storage to a solid state SAN solution that drastically improved ingame market performance overnight.

The list goes on, but now we’re lucky to be treated to a day in the life of CCP WhiteTrashNoise, one member of Team Klang who are largely responsible for me turning back up the volume slider in the settings menu after years of space silence. The audio in EVE has evolved massively over the last couple of years, and with Odyssey things continue to be tweaked and improved; this new blog shows us how these changes were accomplished.

To create a whole new jump sequence when the actual jump is performed I was greatly inspired by a feature I had previously made sound for, the micro jump drive module.  It has a charging period, a jump and an arrival which is different depending on whether you are the ship actually jumping or you are a 3rd party witnessing a jump. I took apart the old jump gate sounds and began manipulating the sound when being fired away through the jump gate and used those waveforms to design a sort of traveling sound, which could then be used to morph between the jump gate sound and going through the wormhole.  In this way no matter what jump sound is used, we are certain that the sound of traveling will always fit the actual jump as well as the arrival.

The complexity of the audio system EVE wields is quite impressive. Instead of just playing the same audio asset no matter what, thought is put towards contextualizing its use for the player and also the observers. The reuse of existing sound assets for new audio means that new sounds will situate themselves naturally with everything else.

The audio team is working hard to get more “Information” in EVE’s soundscape.  This doesn’t mean that this information is a game or experience changer, but more that this is sound that is adaptive to the current situation; it may be very small changes but they are, none the less, important.

Such changes could be that the undocking sound is faction dependent, so depending on your ship’s faction and the type of station you are in the sounds will generate differently.

It’s not so much that they put these little details everywhere, it’s the forethought to leave it open to even more depth to be added later, such as the above point about having faction specific undocking sounds.

The new experience will be that you are dying. And I mean really dying like only a frozen space corpse can.

The sound of the explosion is now much more prominent (to complement with the new visual sequence of the players body floating in space) and is accompanied by the sound of the defeated capsuleer choking in the vacuum of space and taking his or her final breath, along with a re-spawn sound which is race and station dependent.

Name another game where you’ll see the equivalent of “Dying now sounds more realistic” in their patch notes.

…the entire soundscape is changed once entering the hacking interface.

A combination of soothing sounds, atmospheres and interaction sounds will take over, with each type of node has a unique interaction sound depending on the result of the node once clicked.  Every type of tool or object picked up has a sound.

The most important and coolest audio feature in this case is the ability to hover over the yet-to-be-clicked nodes and, as part of the soundscape, hear very subtle changes to the sounds of the computer you are trying to hack.

Having been messing with exploration a lot lately, I started to notice these little sound cues and I honestly figured they were totally random.  For the most part I’m trying my best to be quick about a hack before someone else scans down the anomaly and goes after cans I’ve not checked yet, so I never really fully paid attention to the audio details. Thinking back on it though, I can remember there being a lot of different and interesting audio cues going on for both hacking and archaeology minigames, and I’m definitely going to be paying more attention to them as a hinting detail.

These behind-the-scenes glimpses are pretty rare in the games industry. I can’t think of any other game which delves into this kind of detail about how specific aspects of the game was developed.  The history of EVE’s dev blogs show that CCP is like a proud parent, always willing to point out the achievements of its creation, big and small, and the role they took in its development.

EVE’s always been full of these tiny meticulous details in places you’d never imagine, even though for the most part they’re completely unnecessary. That said, I still love that they are there.  They’re like little signatures made by the developers, indicators of the care and attention brought to the game by the individuals working on it.


Odyssey Unleashed

EVE Online’s latest expansion has been successfully deployed today, along with a new 90-second trailer to set the mood…

… and then ruin it, with that terrible voicework right at the end. Bleh. Still, there’s some great showcasing of new exploration content and environments, as well as the hilarious use of a Nemesis stealth bomber throughout.

EVE Online: Odyssey has been deployed. The 19th free expansion for EVE Online brings a new age of discovery to New Eden with new exploration challenges and improved career missions to support and guide pilots through the new changes.

EVE Online: Odyssey also brings a whole host of visual and usability improvements including the new radial navigation tool, an improved soundscape, and dynamic transitions that replace many of the loading bars of old, as well as four new Navy Issue Battlecruisers, a rebalance of Navy Issue ships, improvements to starbases andnull sec outposts, and a new spacescape for New Eden.

The full patch notes for Odyssey are available (link below), and are insanely huge.  So huge in fact that I don’t even want to start discussing them here, since it would turn this post into a book.  Instead, lets peek at a word cloud of the patch notes content:

Odyssey Word Cloud

As I’ve discussed in previous posts here, there’s a LOT of changes coming to facilitate the exploration concept of this expansion. But there’s also a ton of quality-of-life fixes and tweaks, more ship balancing, Navy ships, and just a ridiculous pile of updates and features that will no doubt affect you in some way no matter what you do in game.

The servers are up, the patches are ready, so get out there and get exploring.  I’m looking forward to seeing everyone’s opinion on this patch, so if you have something to say please feel free to toss an opinion or two in the comments.

Update 1:

CCP have released a neat training video showing off some of the archaeology/hacking concepts in Odyssey.  It’s worth of a watch if you’re curious what the new minigame is like.


EVE and DUST Back After Downtime

For a lot of folks, Sunday’s a great day to kick back and relax, to fly some internet spaceships or play internet space army. Unfortunately, the EVE Universe’s servers came under a massive distributed denial-of-service attack and traumatically forced everyone to interact with the real world for hours.

The good news: things are working fine again, CCP has plugged the security hole with space spackle, and reports that no customer data was compromised in the process.


CCP have released the following statement about the downtime experienced by both EVE Online and DUST 514 this weekend:

At 02:05 UTC June 2nd, CCP became aware of a significant and sustained distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS) against the Tranquility cluster (which houses EVE Online and DUST 514) and web servers.

Our policy in such cases is to mobilize a taskforce of internal and external experts to evaluate the situation. At 03:07 UTC, that group concluded that our best course of action was to go completely offline while we put in place mitigation plans.

While we initially reopened EVE Online and DUST 514, at 14:51 UTC we became aware of additional information that led us to re-evaluate our decision. With the highest sense of precaution we took the decision to take Tranquility and associated websites back down for further investigation and an exhaustive scan of our entire infrastructure.

What we can now confirm is that a person was able to utilize a vulnerability in one of the back-end services that support the operation of the Tranquility server. This vulnerability has now been secured and thoroughly tested.

We would like to stress that at no time was customer data compromised or accessible in any way.

The effort of returning the complex server structure of the EVE Universe and associated websites to service in a methodical and highly-scrutinized fashion began hours ago and Tranquility has now been brought online (at 10:13 UTC). Our teams will monitor the situation carefully in the coming hours to ensure that our services are accessible and that all customer data remains secure.

We will be looking at ways to compensate players in both EVE and DUST for the outage and expect to announce what that compensation will be very soon.

We would also like to take this opportunity to thank all of our players on EVE Online and DUST 514 for their patience and understanding during this unexpected downtime and the investigation. We are grateful for your support, as always.

Jón Hörðdal Jónasson,
Chief Operating Officer

With the recent attacks against gaming sites resulting in customer and billing data being lost and certificates being stolen for use in the proliferation of malware, I can only applaud CCP for their approach of shutting it all down in order to properly assess the situation.  Sure unplanned downtime like this is annoying, but at least the right steps were taken in time to prevent something more serious.

The Odyssey patch appears to still be on target for release tomorrow on June 4th, however CCP have already stated they have delayed the signups for the next Alliance Tournament by one day due to the downtime.


Dev Blogs Galore

It’s been a busy last little while for dev blogs so I figured it would be a good idea to do a single wrap-up post about the new ones. I won’t go into meticulous detail on each, however links to the blogs themselves are at the bottom for further reading.

Probe Scanning and other Goodies for Odyssey

There certainly has been no shortage of drama over the upcoming scanning changes. It seems that with every new release of information, be it official or unofficial by folks trying it out on the test server, there are more worries that the changes are reducing the complexity of probing too much. CCP SoniClover gives a giant infodump of details just ahead of Odyssey’s arrival.


Rather than delve into all the details, lets explore a few of the more interesting highlights.

The recall and expire options have been changed a bit – recall is now instantaneous and happens automatically on system jump or dock. Probes still have a timer, but instead of being lost when the timer is out, they automatically recall instead. The system remembers your last probe setup before they were automatically recalled so they can be quickly deployed again in the same pattern (by activating the launcher).

I’d like to chalk this up as a streamlined process, and sure it will save people’s time, but words like “instantaneous” and “automatic” scare me when referring to things in EVE.

We changed the terminology of some of the exploration sites:

  • Radar sites become Data sites
  • Magnometric sites become Relic sites
  • Gravimetric sites become Ore sites
  • Ladar sites become Gas sites
  • The Unknown type has also been split into Combat and Wormholes.

Updating the terminology makes a ton of sense to be honest. The current system doesn’t make a ton of sense when you consider that probes don’t have an explicit sensor type like ships do. This way you know what you’ve got in your results list right away so you can make an informed decision about which scan hit you want to pursue.

As part of the work Team Five-0 is doing, Ore sites (aka Gravimetric sites) are being made Cosmic Anomalies instead of Cosmic Signatures, meaning you no longer need probes to find them.

Every so often someone hints at the current mineral system of asteroid belts becoming scannable anomalies. While this isn’t being applied across the board, could this be a hint of things to come? With ice fields no longer appearing as belts with Odyssey, things could be getting more interesting in the future for miners.

Alliance Tournament Rules and Format

CCP Bro is probably going for a word count record with his Alliance Tournament blog. There’s way too much information there to comment on explicitly, so hit up the blog in the link below. They do want folks to pay attention to the following:

Major changes from previous years that you shouldn’t miss include:

  • Tournament format has been converted to one 64 team double-elimination tournament, with no pre-qualifying or group stages.
  • Minimum entry payment has been reduced to 5 plex, as we pass our cost optimization improvements on to you.
  • We will be providing a dedicated tournament practice server for competing teams.
  • We have a new tiebreaking system that takes advantage of time dilation.
  • Several ship point changes, remote reps allowed on T1 Support Cruisers and Support Frigates, and a limitation of one remote energy transfer module per ship.
  • Number of identical ships allowed reduced back to three.
  • Hardwirings beyond 3%s are not allowed (Leadership mindlinks are an exception)
  • The ship banning system from the New Eden Open is being introduced into the Alliance Tournament during the second and third weekends.
  • Flagships are immune from banning.

Whether you plan on competing in the event or viewing it, some or all of the following dates will be worth keeping in mind.

Alliance Signup Period – June 3rd until June 9th at 23:59 UTC
Live stream of the 32 team random draw – June 11th
Silent Auction Period – June 12th to the 16th at 23:59 UTC
Participating Teams & Schedule Confirmed – June 19th
Tournament Weekend One (Non-studio, no banning) – July 20th & 21st
Tournament Weekend Two (Studio, Banning active) – July 27th & 28th
Tournament Weekend Three (Studio, Banning, Finals) – August 3rd and 4th

U and I made some changes: Odyssey UI changes

CCP Karkur spills the beans on a fuckton of UI fixes coming, most of which centered around maintaining player sanity and improving quality of life for players.

The blog included the following screenshot of the right click menu improvements made to the Watch List.


This is the kind of thing that smacks you as a no-brainer for anyone designing a UI, and calls into question the decisions behind the “Before” layout. My guess is that while implementing the new radial menu changes, all of the right click menus came under intense scrutiny in order to identify most frequently used items.  However I do have to giggle a bit at an initiative designed to remove UI clutter, at odds with one designed to reduce menus within menus.

So we made a small change so now when the ship is popping off your target list because it’s dead, it will blink a few times before it disappears so there should no longer be any confusion about whether the ship went down in flames or managed to warp away. Tl;dr: It blinks: “He’s dead, Jim.” It disappears: “She got away, captain.”

The fleet window also gets some love, with current features being improved as well as copy-pasting of fleet compositions. Hit the blog for all the details on these and other changes.

I realize of course that UI is the front and center part of EVE for all of us so there are certainly efforts by other teams to improve other less in-your-face aspects of the game. However, these guys have really been impressing me with what they’ve done to the front-end of EVE. Their team is one whose blogs I look forward to reading.

EVE on Steam: Past, Present and Future

EVE’s been on Steam for quite some time now, but soon its presence will be a bit more than just a basic game storefront on the Steam Store. CCP Spitfire gives us some details about what’s coming.


Coming soon you’ll not only be able to log in to EVE with your Steam credentials, but you’ll also be able to pay for your game time through Steam’s billing service.

First of all, tomorrow you might notice a new Steam icon on the EVE web login page. This means that you no longer need to manually create an EVE Online account after buying the game activation key on Steam; instead you use your Steam credentials to log into the game and the websites. This has been made possible by the Single Sign-On (SSO) technology developed by Team GForce.

Furthermore, players who have bought EVE Online on Steam from May 31 will be able to pay for their subscription on a recurring basis and buy PLEX packages directly via Steam, thanks to the back-end work done by Team Mammon.

One of the most compelling future possibilities was mentioned as well:

Other aspects of Steam we are potentially very interested in are the Community Hub and Steam Workshop – our community team has already started looking into the possibilities here, and we would love to hear your feedback on this as well.

Now those who’ve played other popular Steam games such as Team Fortress 2 will have already perked up their ears about this point. For those who don’t know, Steam Workshop opens up a whole world of community-created content possibilities for games. Who knows what kind of interesting things CCP could enable through this, but the success of the Steam Workshop with other games proves that it’s a viable platform for fan made content.


All in all, this has been a really busy week for dev blogs, not entirely unusual as the Odyssey expansion is right around the corner and major feature development has probably been frozen for a while.  There’s a lot of cool stuff coming, and it’s always nice to have the sneak peeks.



The Radial Menus of Odyssey

EVE Online’s had radial menus for a long time now, and I’ve personally found them to be terrible. Every so often I’ll be clicking around to do something and suddenly I’m having to confirm if I want to eject from my ship in the middle of a battle. When Odyssey was being previewed on the Fanfest video feed, it was mentioned that attention was being paid to revamp the game’s radial menu system; half of the me cringed, the other half was somewhat intrigued.

It’s no secret that EVE has a considerable reputation as having a user interface that’s more like an office application suite than a game. Over the last year or so, CCP has put a ton of effort into improving the game’s interface and making things a lot more usable, while at the same time keeping the functionality intact. With Odyssey, the first steps towards revitalizing the mouse clicks you make on your most common tasks is coming. I decided to take these new changes for a spin on Singularity.

Clicking and holding the left mouse button on your ship pulls open the new eight-slice radial menu. CCP has previously written that all the radials will contain eight slices, making sure the items on that menu will be the ones that should be there. The overall concept is simple:

  • Primary functions at 12:00
  • Submenu at 3:00
  • Targeting at 6:00
  • Show Info at 9:00
  • Navigation options each of the 45 degree slices

In the case above, the ship is missing a couple of slices since you can’t target yourself, nor can you do something weird  like orbit yourself.

Ship Submenu

Zipping your pointer to the right changes the side three slices to let you reset the camera and bookmark your current location. The action can be performed quickly.

planet1 station1 station2

Other menus are available for items like planets and stations, each with their own tailored set of commands.


Items on the overview will also show the new radials, and this is where the interface kind of accidentally hits itself in the face while reaching for greatness. Two competing visual styles come together like milk and lemon juice, turning the simplicity of the overview into a Mensa test. It’s still functional, but I wonder if the clutter at the wrong time might lead to an undesirable outcome.


The other place receiving radial treatment is the HUD. Specifically, the scanner button now flings out a four slice menu, letting you (clockwise from top) toggle on the new sensor overlay, activate directional scanning, analyze moons, and jump into the probe scanner.

So far I’m interested in the direction they’re going with this. Radial menus normally aren’t the most awesome UI concept, but CCP’s method of implementing them shows a considerable amount of forethought. Using them can be fast and intuitive, and the consistency of where commands are located means that with very little practice you can probably fire off commands faster than the normal right clicking method.

Nice job, Team Pony Express.

Comic #184: Pimp My Patch

Today’s epic patch contained a single patch note: “EVE Client fixes related to the new Single Sign On mechanism”. Sounds simple enough, but the result was a launcher that didn’t work at all. They got on a fix as soon as possible, and things are currently working just fine with the new launcher looking pretty snazzy.

The downside is for some people (myself included) your user preferences will be screwed when you fire the game up.  If that happens, check out the post by Byrrssa Crendraven in this thread that details a fix, which will involve moving around some settings files. Remember to back up both source and destination folders first.

Update: Just a heads up to folks, an easier fix for the user settings issue is to simply shut down EVE, close the launcher, and then reopen it.  Your old settings should then be ready to rock and roll for you.

Also, the comic is meant to be ironic, so yes it doesn’t fit the meme 100% on purpose. :)