26 Apr 2010

The Bastards and The Ransoms

Yes, your votes and your love for Mynxee!

Give her your time, your love but more importantly - your vote! I think she is one of two pilots who are entering CSM 5 with an almost exclusive low-sec focused agenda. I can't argue with this and support it 100%.

Campaign broadcast over...what else in this post?

Ransoms and isk
Ransoms are still an important part of what we do and I went over our ransom board to get an update and was pleasantly surprised. Here's a snapshot for the month of April and it looks like Persephone Astrid is the leader. She's a patient one I can tell you and when she's got her sights set on you, there's very little you can do to shake her off.

Some readers may also recognise Persephone as the organiser of our first Bushkazi frigate contest and there's now going to be another one organised soon.

Of course, most of us will have a while to catch up with RoninData and Happy San in terms of the total ransoms and the amount of isk from ransoms but with this board, it is hoped that their efforts are recorded and recognised. On our own forum boards, we encourage our pilots to write up accounts of anything noteworthy from either ransoms, ransom attempts or funny talk between them and our customers. Now, I have decided to shamefully steal content from Persephone in one of her recent ransom runs. So take it away Persephone:
So it's late night in Evati, and I'm out in my covops prober looking for trouble as usual. This time the trouble was a mission runner in an Eagle. Since nobody flies Eagles, I had to look it up on the EVE Wiki. I quickly probed him down and took a peek at the spot: there was an acceleration gate with wrecks on the outside, and the Eagle was presumably inside the mission. I docked and got a Drake, just to play it safe.

The first time I landed inside the mission, he was 50 km away. Even so, he was slow to align and I'd lumbered to within 30 km before he warped away. I docked and counted to sixty, then undocked and went right back to the mission.

The second time I landed inside the mission, he was 20 km away, but aligned. He warped before I could lock him. I cursed my luck and docked up, and switched to a Blackbird with all Caldari racial jammers, a long point, and heavy missiles. I undocked and went to the mission.

The third time I landed at the acceleration gate, he was still outside, but near the gate. I quickly warp disrupted him and hit the ECM and missiles. I was about 15 km from him, and he began to burn away. Startlingly, he outran me on afterburner by about 100 m/s, and I could not keep up, even overheated. (AB fit for inside the mission, you know?) After getting clear of my overheated 24 km point range, he escaped again.

I decided to try yet another tactic. I convoed him:

Persephone Astrid > Hi there!
Sin SoLeXX > yo
Persephone Astrid > For five million ISK I'll not camp your mission in a covops. Instead I will log off and get some sleep.
Sin SoLeXX > psh
Sin SoLeXX > it's not that important lol

I thought five million was a bargain. Oh well. Since he was determined to run the mission, I was determined to get him no matter what. About that time Zemledok logged on, and he volunteered to camp the landing spot inside the mission in a Curse. We quickly formed a fleet, he warped to me and went into the mission, and I warped away to hide.

Not twenty seconds later, he announced on Vent that the Eagle had landed atop him, and that he had three points on him and was neuting him for good measure. I quickly returned and laid on some ECM just to be mean. I invited him to Yarrsom:

Persephone Astrid > Hi! We're pirates
Sin SoLeXX > ?
Persephone Astrid > We'd like to discuss the value of your ship now.
Sin SoLeXX > o
Sin SoLeXX > lol
Sin SoLeXX > you are wasting my time
Sin SoLeXX > what do you want
Persephone Astrid > Money, say 50 million ISK
Sin SoLeXX > will you go and leave you are annoying
Persephone Astrid > Of course we will. Our reputation is built on honoring ransoms.
Persephone Astrid > http://www.the-bastards.com <-- our site

(*my wallet blinks*)

Sin SoLeXX > k bye
Persephone Astrid > Have a good mission!

Zemledok and I split the 50 million ISK and laughed all the way home. :giggle:
Persistence paid off handsomely.

Nashh has stepped up in his efforts as one of our Euro Time Zone recruiters with a timely reminder. Be sure to pay his site a visit.

Alliance Tournament news
Well the signups have closed and we've paid our 2B isk and we're waiting like everyone else. The auction for eight of the remaining slots was NOT run, it looked like there wasn't enough takers for this one? Am unsure what this means but it could indicate a lower than expected turnout than last time?

Anyway, we've been theory crafting and working together (as much as possible) in joint-ops. I see a fair few Tuskers alongside our own pilots on our KillBoards lately and vice-versa. This is a good thing. There are only slight (but distinct) differences between our corporations and it is interesting to see how we have been working together. It bodes well if (when!) we get our place confirmed on the AT list of 32.

21 Apr 2010

Women? In MY SPACESHIP? Is she from Mars as well?

Welcome to another special installment of the EVE Blog Banter, the monthly EVE Online blogging extravaganza created by myself, CrazyKinux. The EVE Blog Banter involves an enthusiastic group of gaming bloggers, a common topic within the realm of EVE Online, and a week to post articles pertaining to the said topic. The resulting articles can either be short or quite extensive, either funny or dead serious, but are always a great fun to read! Any questions about the EVE Blog Banter should be directed to me. Check out other EVE Blog Banter articles at the bottom of this post!

EVE Online, as the saying goes, is probably the most hardcore MMORPG currently available to the gaming masses. Hell, let's be serious it's one a the very few true MASSIVELY MULTI-PLAYER Role-Playing Game out there, and one of a handful who's seen its subscriber numbers go up since its launch. But gentlemen, we have a problem.

I say gentlemen because, though there are few ladies roaming New Eden, the truth is, there are too few of them. As @Mynxee wrote about in "The Real Sisters of EVE", in a recent issue of EON magazine (issue #018 for those curious souls), EVE is an MMO that is overwhelmingly played by male, and where the female player population hovers at a about 5% of its total subscriber base.

I am one of those who believes that, though the game should not be changed to specifically go after that part of the gaming population, EVE Online would greatly benefit if somehow the balance the 2 genders roaming New Eden would lean towards an equilibrium. So I ask...
What could CCP Games do to attract and maintain a higher percentage of women to the game. Will Incarna do the trick? Can anything else be done in the mean time? Can we the players do our part to share the game we love with our counterparts, with our sisters or daughters, with the Ladies in our lives? What could be added to the game to make it more attractive to them? Should anything be changed? Is the game at fault, or its player base to blame?
I'm not trying to provoke or lay blame on anyone or any group. I'm simply trying to get your neurons and opinions working on finding solutions to this interesting problem we're are faced with. I know you can come up with interesting and innovative ideas. And I'm willing to reward for those...

So I want to try and break this down and make grand sweeping generalisations as I amble my way through this banter.

There are not enough women in New Eden.

Sorry, let me re-phrase: apparently there are not enough real-life-women-behind-the-keyboard in New Eden. There are plenty of female avatars for sure but most have a GIRL (Guy In Real Life) as the puppet-master. It does appear that the female of the species is sadly lacking in representation in New Eden. However, is the status quo of 5% women subscribers really an issue in New Eden and to whom?

It is an issue to CCP as bringing in more woman will help with their subscription numbers!
A strong argument here and one that I cannot find fault in. If a commercial company has almost 50% of a potential market population not using their product - for some unknown reason, it would pay dividends to them to find out why and to rectify the situation, without driving out the existing subscribers before someone else finds the winning formulae.

This alone would probably encourage CCP in fiddling with the game to increase the appeal of EVE-Online. I just hope they don't fiddle too much and in the wrong area (:-))

It is an issue to the Pod Pilots in New Eden as there a too few real women in New Eden and I need feminine company!
In my New Eden travels, I have had the pleasure of knowing a few real life women. Apart from their voices on ventrilo/eve-voice or teamspeak - there isn't too much differentiating them from their male counter-parts when communication is via chat only. Some women are noobs and clueless; bumbling around New Eden and crying when a nasty pirate (er, me) ransom their ship and pod and demand a ransom. This then might be a cue for some hilarious banter as they whine and complain. I love it, especially when they tell me they're a woman in real life.
I say, 'good on you' and continue to apply the pressure.

Other women are savvy and blood-thirsty and I have their back in any fight. They can fly, have earnt respect and can mix with the best and one wouldn't want to cross them in this life or the next. I look at Mynxee, Shae and Persephone to name three.

To me, the sex of the pilot has nothing to do with their playing ability, desire to succeed and longevity in the game. However, men and women are different and these differences probably make a difference in certain decision-making the sexes make, in and out of the game.

So why is there a 95% male subscription base to EVE-ONLINE? Surely there is something appealing in New Eden that attracts the males more than the female?
I was attracted to New Eden all those years ago because it promised space ships and the freedom to explore. It reminded me of Elite, the first ever game that had me hooked. New Eden appealed to me. However, I think there is something that appeals to males more so than females, but it isn't solely related to EVE-ONLINE but online games in general. My own circle of friends and colleagues, it is approximately 50/50 in terms of male to female across a massive age range from 16 to 80. Most males of my age are active in one or more games, (EVE, BattleField, WarHammer etc) while females are also active online but in social networking venues such as Facebook and Twitter.

Interestingly, equal numbers partake in collaborative Nintendo WII games if opportunities arise.

A closer analysis (small sample of my own friends!) reveals that my male friends all started playing these games solo and only joined in corporations/guilds a few months later; many stay solo for their entire lives. The females were not attracted to the solo aspect (with one exception) of play but would be interested if they could identify with a group then they would go in as this group. For example: a bunch of female friends all decided to give SecondLife a try and subscribed en mass and had an instant community in place as they learnt the ropes. They carried on their social circles inside the game. Conversely, I had male friends who started EverQuest around the same time, they talked about it, egged each other on and all subscribed on the same night but they never identified themselves with this initial group inside the game past the first few hours. They frequently hunted each other down. They wanted the biggest weapons. They wanted to succeed and success was defined by winning and winning was through getting more points from killing / stealing from someone else. Maybe this is something inherent in how males need to find their place in the pecking order of their social construct, even if it is a fake one while females feel more collaborative from the outset? In real life, the definition of 'man-hood' has been changed, altered, to the point where many men are confused and when they think they've figured it out - existing institutions (usually the work place but social life as well), prevents them from achieving this goal through assumed male strength and aggression alone.

Are you saying that New Eden encourages such anti-social, pseudo-alpha-male tendencies?
New Eden isn't anti-social but because it is, ultimately, a fantasy, people feel that social norms do not apply. Attitudes that a 'politically correct' world would frown upon is simply not enshrined in any law or regulation in New Eden. Many pilots, feel that they can say and act however they want. Be someone they are not in real life, or may be, be someone who they would like to be but cannot in real life? Either way, some pilots I know act appallingly. They're juvenile and infantile and reinforce the unfortunate stereo-type of nerdy geeks with poor social skills. Introduce a female into this mix and it can cause all manner of poor social interactions as the boys try to first impress and then failing, attempt to apply power over the interloper. 'Hur, hur you're a girl!'

Maybe what I have just described above has entered into popular folklore that many people believe it is the truth and not bother with it? So this can be a massive barrier to the prospective female capsuleer's entry into New Eden. This crazy, fantasy universe should not be regarded by some as a bastion for the socially inept and the juvenile behaviours. Unless you're a Goon (or what's left of them) of course...

So you say that we keep this disparity in place and not seek to change it?
No, I don't think radically changing New Eden's parameters is the answer to a much wider social phenomena. What can one change when everyone is still trying to understand this question? No-one has identified the appeal/repel factor accurately enough. I also think CCP's own figure of 5% female subscribers is too low and 10-15% is closer to the mark. It is still 'low' but I come back to one of the central points: why do some people consider it to be 'low' and why do we want to change this?

I also offer up an example where female gamers did come together. Mynxee and her woman only pirate corporation, The Hellcats was a fine example where a bunch of likely minded ladies got together and formed New Eden's first (and only) all-female pirate corporation. So not only a corporation made up of real-life females but exclusively those who wanted to deliver piracy to the masses wearing lipstick, nail-varnish and mascara. Sadly, it was the only example (that I know) of this type of corporation. It still continues, albeit in an alliance and without Mynxee at the helm.

OK, Flashfresh - you've convinced me that there isn't a definite answer but I do want to attract more female subscribers as they add to CCP's bottom-line. That's good for everyone. So what do you suggest?

I know I ramble so let me collect these stray strands together and offer up some suggestions:

1. New Eden should not change in its tone and feel. It will attract those who want a truly massive, persistent, MMORPG that has space-ships, planets and warp drives; regardless of their sex. Am sure that there will always be a heavy bias towards the males, rather than female. Sexual parity will not be reached. We don't even have parity in the workplace in real life. I honestly don't think this will change any time soon in New Eden.

2. While women make up a small percentage of the New Eden population, social norms and attitudes need to improve to ensure that they stay in the game for the long term. In short, some sort of harassment policy needs to be in place and widely publicised. Policing it is another matter however. CCP has a decent one in place and forum and account bans are useful policing tools.

3. Everyone who cares for the game should attempt to challenge engrained sexist and racist attitudes. Yes, it is a game and everything is pixel but the social interaction is real. The challenges needs to be tempered within the bounds of reason but most people will know when certain lines of behaviour have been exceeded. Action then needs to be taken.

4. By attracting more players, CCP and New Eden will bound to get more women subscribing - just through probability alone. With Incarna and Planetary Interaction, it adds more features to an already exciting world and will pull through more players. Incarna and PI are not exclusively female centric additions to New Eden and should attract more players, a % being female. This is a good thing.

5. CCP should explore more innovative ways to spread the world of New Eden and it's dynamic content to the world at large. The depth of social interaction inside the game and the bounds that form between players and corporations and alliances needs to be celebrated. More exposure = more interest = more potential players. More potential players = more women.

6. Don't do anything gimmicky to appeal to women gamers - they're gamers first and foremost. Most don't want to be treated any differently from their peers anyway...

So, some ideas, half-formed and half-baked but there you go. With a large demographic, it isn't possible to appeal to everyone. We just have to accept it and move on. Spaceships isn't for everyone (men or women) but I do love a woman who gets excited over a 425mm auto canon loaded with hail ammunition.....

Other blogs along the same theme include:

20 Apr 2010

Alliance Tournament 8 - we've signed up

Have been busy with 1000 things but The Bastards and The Tuskers linked up for the purposes of the Alliance Tourney and we've signed up and handed over our 2B Isk.

Fingers crossed!

I have kept the blog post a bit quiet as I wanted to keep the project under wraps but with our monies handed over and the cut-off point for new teams/alliances now over - I feel that one can talk more openly about the AT.

The Bastards entered AT6 and had a blast and it was our intention to re-try in AT7; we were on the back-up list and was called to step in to replace an empty slot but it was very last minute (less than an hour!) so we reluctantly had to accept our spectator status. This time around, we're hopeful that we can get a drawn slot. Am unsure of any pirate alliance signing up apart from us and The Jerk Cartel (Python Cartel of Spectre and Golden Helmet fame) so some pirate teams would be a welcome addition to the AT. Certainly, if we get in we will be trying very hard to ransom our opponents!

I have much more to say but if there are any well wishers out there, keep your fingers crossed and wish The Tusker Bastards a place in the Alliance Tournament. I promise you, if (when) we get in - we have a number of surprises.

13 Apr 2010

Busy but can't keep a pirate down now can we?

EVE-Uni and HACS
A busy few weeks but little time to put it all down, it has all been a blur!

I did organise a HAC/RECON roam into low-sec, the initial plan was to take the northern route up through Paala and into LXQ-2T but we were blocked by a large and hostile force. Our ships were not really designed to sit long at gates against RR BS class ships so we opted to go 'south' and head into Metropolis and Faction Warfare country. I was piloting my lachesis class recon ship and loved the ability to through out the warp disruptor to a fantastic 50KM+ range. An excellent tackler and with a rapier in the lot, it made for a potent combo.

The night was an excellent roam resulting in our HAC/RECON gang popping ten ships and losing only two (both of them were Viginti's curse recon!) - the loot drop was very good but no ransoms from any of the targets.

The Bastards have been busy preparing and training and improving ourselves; New Eden is a harsh mistress and she punishes those who are ill-prepared or who take her for granted. I like to think that The Bastards are far from this. Recruitment is ticking over nicely and I will have to find time to put together a new newsletter for everyone. It is April 2010 already and so much has happened that it deserves a newletter.

Meanwhile, I have been informed that my dearest Mynxee has signed up with NOIR. A
well-known and respected mercenary corporation. She has posted about her move here. Shae has left the Hellcats (actually joined U'K for a bit) and moved to VETO while Venom Orchid has joined Ard Unjigo with The Tuskers. Change indeed across all fronts but it does appear that The Hellcats and HellFleet are in capable hands. As ever, The Bastards extend our best wishes to the Lady Pirates of EVE.

Due to real life issues, I missed out on an open panel invitation organised by EVE-University. Despite gunning down ten of their fellow pilots a week ago, I didn't think that they would hold it against me and was much looking forward to joining in. However, real life gunned me down and I found that I was unable to attend. All was not lost, Mynxee who did attend also had the time to posted an update for everyone to read. Verone, Ka Jolo and other notables also attended. Fine company indeed.

EVE-Uni Say Hi
A couple of days later, I was passing through Ofrold and ran into an EVE-Uni camp. It was a mix of frigates and cruisers and they all pointed my Lachesis and let rip. I couldn't warp but turned around and pulsed the MWD to get back to the gate. I noticed that all the ships there had red-boxed me so if I could just get back through the gate - then all would be ok. My shields held (thanks to ex-Bastard Jaxxon and his Lachesis fit!!!) and activated the gate. I whipped through and safed up. The campers were no doubt spamming the gate activation button frantically but alas, to no avail.

They eventually came through and we had some banter in local. It was ever funnier once it was realised that MrMasterShake was part of the camp. My cargo hold contained all his dropped mods. I was only making the trip this evening just to pick them up! Nice chaps EVE-Uni nonetheless.

Battlecruiser bruiser
So, onto last night - FC'ed a successful BC roam. We had some applicants with us and it was a typical Bastards roam: constant banter, focused violence and witty repartee. For the loss of one myrmidon (which we should have saved), we took down a domi (x2), harby and a catalyst. We failed to kill a drake and 'phoon. Decent loot but no ransoms. We were tracking a similar size BC gang with logistical support but lost the opportunity when the gang moved into high-sec. The best opportunity was at the beginning.

DeepSafe Nerfs
Deep safes are being removed. I wonder how many people will lose ships and anchored containers in supposedly 'safe' and un-probeable areas? I know without these deep safe spots, that gang we were shadowing last night would not have remained hidden for long.

What else?
Recruitment is moving along albeit slowly - our recruitment officers have been too busy with RL and with the spring here and summer coming along, people are (quite rightly) spending more times outside with friends and family than in New Eden. However, I have decided to pitch back into the recruitment pool just to take the slack off some people. If you have an application with us and there is apparently no movement or decision on it, drop me a line and I will seek out a solution.

Some exciting times ahead...