Sunday, October 7, 2007

Easy Come, Easy Go...

...yep, you guessed it, blastified again.

This time, it lasted longer. The first Level 4 mission I drew (yes, I did go in right after I posted last night) was "Worlds Collide". Figures, right? I'd never gotten this one on Level 3, so I really had no idea what to expect, other than I knew it was a big one.

In the first room I nearly lost it immediately, but got out, with about a third structure left, minus my drones. After repping and replenishing my drones, I went back in, a bit more cautiously. After managing to finish the first room, I had two gates to choose from and went to the Guristas gate. Apparently, that was a major mistake. I was immediately aggroed and in a pod before I even took out a single ship. Oy...

Now, having done a little reading on the topic, I know that the Serpentis route is probably best to take here and that's what I'll do next time, which will hopefully be soon...though I suspect that if I draw this mission again first time out, I'll take the standing hit and get more experience on others first.


Saturday, October 6, 2007



I spent the day getting my Dommie ready to hit space, and now, after hours of zipping around in one of my Tristans collecting mods and ammo, it's finally mission-ready. It's currently sitting at a station where there's a Level 4 +13 agent ready to send me on my first actual Level 4 mission.

Funny thing is, after all that time and ISK I spent waiting and getting it ready, you'd think I'd immediately want to get right out there and start running missions. While I guess that's true on the intellectual level, when I finally had everything ready to go, I logged. I really don't know why exactly, except that I guess I felt I needed to jump out and take a breather, and also one other thing...fear.

For those who came in late, I put my first Dommie in space several weeks ago, only to lose it to the lagmonster on the very first mission I took it out on. It wasn't even a Level 4, it was a Level 3 that I'd gotten my last Myrmidon vaporized on previously. This time, as last time, I've basically bankrupted myself getting this thing ready and if it happens again, I'm back down to frigs with almost zero ISK. Yet, if I'm to make any sort of headway here, I need to start making ISK again and running frigs just isn't going to do that for me. I know I'm going to do it because I have to, but I just felt compelled to wait, at least a little while.

It's just after midnight as I write this. I really not sure I want to go back in tonight and and yet, at the same time, I really want to. Since I'm busy most of tomorrow and probably won't get a chance to go in-game until at least late tomorrow night, the thought of waiting that long isn't really what I want, but still, there's that fear...

Shit, who am I kidding? I know perfectly well that as soon as I finish writing this, I'll probably find myself heading off on my first Level 4. I've been waiting too long. You, however, will probably have to wait until tomorrow night to find out how it went, though.

Alright, here we go...ready...set...I dunno...maybe...


...tomorrow, my EvE life restarts.

The Dommie is in my hangar, so tomorrow will be spent fitting it, and beginning my return to regular play in EvE. Of course, I'm very excited and I've sworn to myself that I'm not letting this fucker get blown up anytime soon.

Now, you might be wondering where I've been all this time. Mainly, three things have been taking up my time. First, the RL radio show is returning and I'm getting ready for that, but more importantly, I've been doing my bit for the US civil rights movement. Since I really don't want to spend any time talking about that here, if you really want to know what's going on (and if you're a US citizen, I especially hope you do because your support would really help the cause here), check my other blog and here, where I'm one of the newly-appointed Associate Editors. Also, please sign this petition. Thanks, and I'll shut up about this now.

The second thing that's been taking up my time (what little I've had of it anyway), has been a video game, but obviously not EvE. Since I was waiting for the Dommie, I decided to play something else in the meantime. Since I started playing EvE back in February, I haven't really been playing anything else. I thought a lot about what I wanted to play, and decided that I wanted it to be as completely unlike EvE as possible. What I ended up choosing was Max Payne 2. Like it's predecessor, it's got a film noir theme...guns, drugs, booze, rain, the city, cops, mobsters...kind of like a Sam Spade novel you can play.

Needless to say, it's about as completely unlike EvE as you can get, and it was a nice change. Ironically, I finished it tonight, just before I popped into EvE and found out that my Dommie was ready. Since it has tougher modes available, I'm going to hang onto it and probably play it when I need a break from EvE for whatever reason. I've also decided to get the original game and replay that at some point as well, perhaps as a continuous, two-part thing.

If you're into this kind of game I highly recommend it. The story is good, the gameplay is unique and fun, and it's engaging enough that they're actually making a movie based on the game. Good stuff.

Anyway, that's about it for now. You'll start seeing more posts here now, but I am still very busy in RL so, you probably won't see me posting with my usual frequency for at least a few weeks yet. Some things just gotta take precedence, and right now, I've got a list of them. Still, I'm back, and that means I'll be writing so keep checking...

Til next time, fly safe.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Holding Patterns...

...yep, still waiting for that ore, but it seems that's going to take care of itself one way or the other very soon. We've working on it and I expect I'll be back in space very soon.

In the meantime, while I'm waiting, I decided to check out the first free episode of EvE TV this morning. Very well seems this show gets better and smoother all the time. If it stays free, I doubt I'd ever miss an episode. As it is, Jalipo is just an unjustifiable expense for me right now. No it's really isn't all that much, but right now, it's one of those luxuries that I'm doing without to save's gotta come from somewhere, and the food and gas budget ain't it. Once again, I quietly thank myself for paying for EvE for a full year in advance.

I have no doubt that if EvE TV becomes a free show its viewership will skyrocket. I heard SpiralJunkie say during the show that the Alliance Tournament got about 17 million downloads...not too shabby and more than enough to justify a profitable rate for commercial ad sponsorship. This week's free episode was described as a test, and what I really hope they're testing is if there's really enough people who will watch the show for free to make it worth trying to fund the show through sponsored ads, or perhaps for CCP to fully finance this great big ad for their product themselves.

If I had my choice, I'd much rather it were CCP paying the bills. Not only could players be confident that CCP would take as hands-off an approach to the show as they do with the game itself, but viewers wouldn't have to deal with the ads, making it a much more attractive media offering in general over the long haul. The other reality, as Spiral alluded to on the show, is that a lot of EvE's players and potential viewers of the show are college students who have very little disposable income. It's my guess that many players aren't watching EvE TV, not because they don't want to but because, like me, they just don't have the extra money to shell out for it. I'll be interested to see what happens here. I'm smelling the possibility of something big.

Oh and you may not see a lot of posts here over the next several days. Yeah, it's busy time again. My radio talk show is about to return from hiatus (October 4th, 7pm eastern check my other blog for details...fair warning though: It's not really about EvE, though I do occasionally talk about it on the air.), so I've been focusing a lot of my time on getting ready for that.

Til next time, fly safe.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

E-Uni Blogger Coolness

As a former member of Eve University, I enjoy keeping up with what's going on with them, and it seems that two of their higher-ups, Director Dee Carson and Fleet Commander Silentbrick have started blogs of their own. I know Dee is a reader of this blog, and I'm enjoying the entries I've been reading on his. Silentbrick is also an interesting read as well. I highly recommend both, especially if you're an E-Uni member perhaps looking for a better picture of who these sometimes enigmatic corporation leader-types really are. I've also added links for both in the list.

Hmm, funny to see myself writing that, considering I'm now a corporate leader-type too, even if we currently don't have even 1/5oth the membership E-Uni does. We all start somewhere. I suppose even Goonswarm was a tiny corp once.

Can Ya Believe It?

I lost the Dessie too. I'm down to frigs now. I'm sitting on enough ISK to put a Dominix in space right now, and I think I've reached the point where I want to do it, even if I have to pay full price. One thing I did was go to the E-O website and copy the amounts of minerals I'd need to have one built. If I buy the minerals on the open market, it'll still cost me substantially less than if I buy the ship itself at full price. I'm going to have to think about this.

Basically, I'm now at a point where if I want to continue doing something significant in this game I have to buy another ship of some sort. I've got some salvage I can sell to the corp, but at most that's a few million. Once I've done that, anything I buy will be cutting into what I have, so I'm thinking that as long as I have to buy something, it might as well be a ship I actually want to fly. Of course, sooner or later I'm going to have to replace all the ships I've lost recently, but for the immediate future I want the most efficient moneymaker I can afford, and that means a battleship. More specifically, since I can't realistically put a Megathron in space, it means a Dominix.

Right now, I've got other stuff to worry about. It's a big day in RL least, I think it might be. Hopefully, I'll be able to pop in for a while tomorrow evening. I need to start directing my efforts in this game outward again rather than just remaining in this holding pattern I've been in for the last several days. The only way that's realistically going to happen is if I get myself a Dommie.

I have a feeling that my next several days in this game will prove more interesting than my last several....just call it a hunch.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

I Am The Goddess Of Drones...

...or, at least, I'm going to try to be.

I'm currently training up Drone Interfacing V, to be followed by training Advanced Drone Interfacing all the way as well. By the time I'm done with those, sometime around the beginning of November assuming I don't stop and train other stuff in-between, I'll be able to put ten drones in space at the same time.

I decided to make this a project because the bonuses are so good for doing it. When I finish Drone Interfacing V, on or about October 10th, not only will I be able to begin training to control more drones, but I'll have also raised the damage my drones deal out by 100%. Considering that my next ship is going to be a Dominix, basically a drone boat, it's well worth the time spent in my opinion.

I'm already able to use Tech II Heavy Attack Drones, so I'm thinking that by the time I get all of this trained I'll hopefully be a pretty formidable mission runner and, with some more help and experience, an equally useful asset in PvP combat.

Once again, I find myself marveling at the craftmanship and finesse that has clearly gone into so many aspects of creating EvE. Just as it should, the farther along I find myself in this game, the more complex an undertaking it becomes to make it to the next logical step. The bigger and more valuable the prize, the more risky, expensive, and time-consuming it is to make it yours.

In this case, I know exactly how to get what I want. It's just a matter of time, money, and effort to make it happen. There's still the possibility of an unforeseen disaster, and it's going to take plenty of time to have this project fulfill it's true potential. The potential payoff is big, but so are the risks. Yeah, not too much like RL, huh?

Right now, I feel like I'm kind of on the cusp of something, though I'm really not quite certain exactly what. Of course, the new corp, Stonewall Interstellar, is a big part of it, but it's also as an individual character and even perhaps as a player. It just feels like my own role in the game is in kind of in flux right now, that many things are changing and will continue to change for me in this game.

It also may be stuff from RL spilling over as well. It's been a busy time for me and it shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. I jump into EvE when and as I can and that hasn't been much over the last several days. Most often, I've been popping in to do a mission or two before bed while I listen to my favorite radio talk show (besides my own ;)). It's really an interesting juxtaposition to be blowing away a squadron of Amarr ships while listening to a lesbian sex talk show. I've actually carried on on-air conversations as a guest or as a caller to various shows while in combat or salvaging. Weird perhaps, but it's a marriage that works well, for me anyway.

Chances are, if you see me in-game during the hours of 10pm to 1am eastern on a weekday, I'm listening to Diana Cage. From 2pm to 6pm eastern weekdays, it's Michelangelo Signorile. Other times, probably a CD or my mp3 collection. On very rare occasions, I'll even turn on the game sound.

Ok, that's enough for now. I think it's time to actually jump in-game for a while.

Catch ya out there, and fly safe.

Gettin' Itchy...

...just so much longer I'm going to be able to wait.

I flew my first mission in my Catalyst tonight in probably three months or more, just for fun. It was the first part of a four-part storyline, "Whispers In the Dark" I've done it a million times before, but it'll be a good distraction until I decide what I'm doing in terms of my next ship.

It's getting to be about that time...all in all, I'm pretty damn tired of flying Level 2 missions. At least I'm collecting a little salvage out of the deal...not much but enough, for now.

For now.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

That Was Quick...

...and if this isn't a classic case of pilot stupidity, I don't know what is.

I was doing another Level 2 mission in the Thorax tonight, and I learned a valuable lesson I'd expect every EvE player who occasionally has drink or three now and then probably does sooner or later.

It was one of those missions where you just fly in and kill NPC's until you get to a big. powerful fleet and then fly away. I was a bit slow on the uptake and didn't fly away fast enough.


Yeah I think it took about five missiles, maybe six. How utterly stupid...I literally walked right into it and didn't realize what I was doing until it was too late. Bye Bye Thorax...for now.

I will replace it eventually...just not right now. I have bigger concerns. We're waiting for an ore delivery, one that will contain what Nealla and I need to build some stuff to sell and ourselves a couple of Dominixes to fly. It's late, no word, and we need it. Hard to believe it was only a few weeks ago that all I really had to worry about was my own character's issues. Being a Director, even of as small a corp as we still are, is different, very different.

And yes, I was flying while intoxicated. Totally my own fault, of course. I knew I was wasted and I did a mission anyway. Funny thing is, I kicked major ass through all of the ships I was actually supposed to kill, it was only when I got to close to the ships I was supposed to run away from that I was blastified. If I'd just stopped when I was supposed to I'd have been fine.

The insurance payment put me back over 100 million for the first time since I bought my first Dommie. I don't care. I'd rather have the ship back, and not just because it was worth more than the insurance payoff. For more on that, read the previous post.

I've still got my Destroyer, but that's the last thing bigger than a frig I own right now. I've been intentionally waiting to do something here because if that ore comes through I want to put more of my resources into fitting the Dommie I'll get from that rather than having to pay full retail. If it doesn't happen in a reasonable period of time, though, I'm going to have to do some thinking about whether I want to just say "Fuck it!" and buy the minerals on the open market, even though it'll cost more that way.

Now, though, I have to answer the question: What exactly is a reasonable period of time to continue waiting?

This is one of the ways that business in EvE is very different than business in the real world. In the real world, your business partners don't suddenly disappear for extended periods without least, not usually anyway. So many lower-level suppliers small corps depend on seem to be little more than single-person operations, that when that one person doesn't log on for a while it can throw the plans of those who depend on them out of synch for while. On the other hand, the price is right and how much aggravation is that worth? While the economy of EvE may share many characteristics with reality, actually doing business in EvE can obviously be an entirely different animal in some ways.

Tonight, I am a pod and I will stay a pod.

Tomorrow, I've got some thinking to do.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Thorax: It Ain't Just Any Old Ship

Sometimes, you never know how good it can be until you actually see it for yourself.

A couple of days ago, a friend upgraded my computer for me. In doing so, I went from a 1 gigabyte processor to a 2.5 gig and substantially more RAM. Last night, I took EvE for a test run with it for the first time. When I upgraded from a 660 mhz to a 1 gig about a year ago, I thought it was a major improvement. I had no idea.

Not only is flying through space an altogether smoother, less jittery experience overall now, but things like making choices from right-click menus and, most importantly, targeting are now lightning-fast. It might seem like a minor thing in theory, but in practice it can make all the difference in the world, and, as I discovered last night, quite literally the difference between life and death.

I was doing a few Level 2 missions in the Thorax just to test out the new processor. I drew one of those missions where you fly toward a target and at some point as you approach it NPCs pop out of nowhere and start pounding on you. Usually, I get to the point where the NPCs appear, warp out, and then warp back in at a range that enables me to take them out from a longer range than I usually find myself at when they appear. This time, with my enhanced targeting ability and responsiveness, I felt I could stay and take them out on the first try, so I targeted some ships, released my drones and went after them.

After the first few ships were gone, I decided that I was taking too much damage and it was time to warp out and regroup. I didn't think I'd have enough time to call back my Hammerheads and I knew I had a decent supply of them back at my staging station, so I tried to warp out immediately, but found myself with an unanticipated problem.

I was too close to the ruined starbase that had been my original fly-to target and the Thorax was swinging back and forth, trying to align itself to warp out as I continued to get tagged by nearby ships. It quickly became apparent that I was going nowhere fast. My shield was just about gone, but my drones were still popping ships at a fairly decent rate. At this point, I concluded that this was going to probably be the last flight of my Thorax no matter what I did, so I figured I might as well take out as many NPCs as I could, that if I were going to go down anyway, I was going to go down fighting.

I turned on my hardeners, targeted some more ships, and then my armor repper and cap recharger as the damage level started to get into my armor. By this time, the Thorax had somehow shimmied its way into the body of the starbase itself, and I was certain I was a goner. Yet, I was managing to keep my armor up enough that I felt it was worth trying to manually maneuver the ship toward the one area around me where open space was still visible, assuming I had nothing to lose by trying.

The Thorax began to realign and slowly made its way toward the opening as I continued targeting, my guns and drones continuing to take out NPCs. My armor was now almost gone, but I was still doing plenty of damage, and for the first time since I'd gotten into trouble, I had the slightest glimmer of hope that I might actually survive this. Then, just as my armor was no more and I was beginning to take hull damage, I suddenly broke free and found myself in open space.

A check of my overview told me that I'd taken out all of the NPC ships and only a few stationary guns remained, but they were still hitting, taking small chunks out of my hull each time. While getting myself to a safe distance away from the starbase in order to ensure that I wouldn't get entrapped in it again, I called back my drones. A few seconds later, my drones safely aboard, I again tried warping out. Just as my hull integrity fell below a third, the warp drive kicked in and I found myself streaking out of the area, ship and drones intact.

Whew. A narrow escape to be sure, but my adventure wasn't over just yet.

I arrived at my staging station with smoke and fire streaming, docked, fit a hull repper, and undocked again. Just after I finished repairing my armor and was still orbiting the station, waiting for the hull repper to finish, I noticed that the hull repair seemed to be taking an unusually long time to do its job. I was sitting there trying to figure out what the problem might be when all of a sudden, my screen went black.

At first, I thought it might just be that some other program on my computer which might have caused it, as has happened many times in the past, but this was different. The screen stayed black for far longer than usual when this kind of thing happens, and when it came back to my desktop, the icon for the client wasn't there. It had been a while since I'd had EvE completely crash to desktop on me, but even before the client automatically rebooted itself I knew that was what had happened. When I took a look at the client, though, I saw something I'd never seen before.

The server status message said "PROXY NOT CONNECTED". I'd never seen this before, so I tried to log in anyway. When I did, a message popup window appeared, saying "Proxy not connected to sol server.". I had no idea what this meant, other than that I was unable to log back in, so I immediately went to the E-O forums and found a thread already going, in which players who seem to have far more experience in this particular variety of server issue had written that we'd been the victims of a node crash.

Of course, I was not happy. My Thorax was still circling a starbase with a fiery trail behind it with its hull repper going. Anyone who came upon it before the repper had almost finished would instantly know that it would be easy pickings. As we waited for the server to be restarted, several of us who'd been in-game at that very late (or very early) hour continued posting in the thread, really doing little more than keeping each other entertained while we waited to get back in-game. Finally, at about a quarter after three AM eastern, the server came back up, and I logged back in to discover that my fears hadn't been entirely unfounded.

When I got back in-game, the first thing I noticed was that the Thorax wasn't orbiting the station where I left it, but was simply floating in space, about 45 AU from where I'd last seen it. The second thing I noticed was that a chunk of my armor, which I'd already finished repping before the node crash, was gone. While I didn't see it and chances are I'll never know for sure, the evidence seems to indicate that the Thorax was, in fact, attacked while I was unable to log in and had automatically warped itself out of the area to avoid being destroyed.

In all honesty, I wasn't really all that worried about losing the Thorax in monetary terms. Chances are, I'd have about broken even with the insurance payment. It was really more of an emotional thing. I'd just successfully piloted that ship through one of the narrowest escapes I've ever had in this game and losing it because of a node crash would have felt like an especially cheap and unfair end for a ship I've been through so much with. Of all the ships I've flown in EvE thus far, it's the one that's survived the longest by far, has the most battle scars, and been the one I've flown during some of my most memorable in-game moments.

So many firsts for me in this game have come while flying the Thorax, it would probably be impossible to try to list or even remember them all, but I think of that ship with the same kind of fondness you might have for a favorite car or pair of jeans. It's certainly not the most powerful ship I've ever flown, nor has it made me anywhere near the amount of ISK I made flying all those Myrmidons, but it's still a viable, useful ship, and I have such an intimate familiarity with it and its capabilities that sometimes it seems that if that Thorax is capable of doing something, I'm able to squeeze every erg of potential power out of it to get the job done. There's a reason why I went back to using the name of that ship in the title of this blog and kept it even though I've had several other ships since, and it's not just because I like the way it sounds.

For those wondering when I'll get back into a Dommie again and what's taking so long, the answer is "soon". There's a good reason, but it's not one I really feel comfortable talking about here just yet. In the meantime, I'm happy taking the Thorax out on some Level 2 missions, getting more familiar with how the game runs with this new, much faster processor, and training up some skills I've needed to get done for a while now.

One thing that was especially nice to see in the Alliance Tournament was being able to watch Star Fraction defeat the formerly undefeatable BoB...with ten Thoraxes! From my perspective, seeing BoB suffer its very first-ever Alliance Tournament loss at the hands of an underdog team of SF pilots was truly great to see. Seeing it happen at the hands of a fleet of Thoraxes...well, after that I can believe that just about anything's possible when you're flying one of these babies.

Til next time, fly safe.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Piss. Me. Off.

Oh, I am SO not a happy camper right now.

Usually, when I lose a ship I blame myself because generally I'm responsible. This time, some extraordinarily badly-timed lag slowed my frame-rate down to virtually non-existent, just enough to watch my Dommie's armor and structure disappear in about four or five frames over about twenty seconds or so. Not damn thing I could do but just sit there and watch about eighty million worth of ship and fittings go boom.

I hadn't even taken it on a Level 4 mission yet. I was finishing up the Level 3 mission I'd lost my Myrmidon on before I went on to Level 4's. Sure, I got the insurance payoff, but it doesn't even begin to cover what I had invested here. The worst part is that I'd only had the thing a day, and I'd spent most of yesterday figuring out a fitting for it with the Eve Fitting Tool. Ah well, at least I still have the fitting I worked out for it.

One of the biggest pains in the butt about losing a ship for me has always been trying to recreate my setup from memory because inevitably I'll have been too lazy to actually write it down. EFT keeps track of it for me, has an interface that's much easier to understand and work with than QuickFit, and does pretty much everything I need and want it to do for me when I'm trying to figure out how to fit or refit a ship.

If I'm lucky, I'll basically wipe myself out financially in order to replace the Dommie, but I'm going to do it because I'm sick and tired of flying Level 3's. If it ends up that I need more ISK than I currently have (a very likely possibility) I'll fly the Thorax until I get what I need that way or get some help. It would cost far too much to set up a Myrmidon and use that and I already have the Thorax fully insured and fit. Yeah, it would probably take a while, but it's better than setting myself back probably 2/3 of the way by buying a new Myrm and putting it in space.

Ah well...such is EvE.


Monday, September 3, 2007

The Difference Between Flying Big And Flying Smart...

...can be pretty huge sometimes.

I was all excited about buying a Megathron, but I didn't really completely think through how I was going to put it in space. Once I had it, I quickly discovered that there was just no way I was going to be able to afford to fit and insure it. I went back to doing Level 2 missions in the Thorax for a day, but then I decided that the best thing to do was to just fix my mistake and get realistic.

I repackaged and sold the Megathron, and used the proceeds to buy, insure, and fit a Dominix instead. After selling the Mega I had about 108 million ISK, and by the time I was done making it spaceworthy I found myself at around 13 million so I can only imagine how long it would have taken to actually put that Megathron in space by running missions with the Thorax.

Really, it's a classic case of having eyes bigger than my wallet. Yes, I was able to afford the actual purchase price of a Megathron, but it would have cost me another 31 million just to insure it and probably at least that much again to fit it properly. On the other hand, I've already got the Dommie in space, just about fully fit and ready to start taking on Level 4 missions instead of having to probably wait weeks before being able to put a Megathron in space. Yes, a very big difference indeed.


It seems my post about "gay" and "lesbian" being censored on the the E-O forums has drawn some attention and support from CCP and hopefully some positive action as well. I hesitate to go into too much detail here as yet, but I will say that I'm very happy to see attention being paid to this issue and I have every reason to expect to be able to report positive developments in the future. As always, more when I have it.


Ok, that's it for now. Til next time, fly safe.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Bad News, Good News, and...

...I'm not quite sure what kind of news. Hopefully, interesting news at least.

I lost another Myrmidon two nights ago. Once again it was my own stupid fault, I kept myself in the kill zone just a little too long. That's the bad news, as you might have guessed.

The good news was when I got my insurance payment for 40 million, and I ended up with about 120 million I bought myself a Megathron. Yeah, a fucking battleship, my first one, great except for just a few things.

First, I didn't realize until after I bought it that I need to have Gallente Battleship trained up
to Level 2 in order to just fit it, much less fly the thing in the first place. That'll be done by the time you see this post. Of course, another little problem is that I haven't been able to make it my active ship yet, so I'm not sure exactly how much I'll have to pay to insure the thing. The estimate is about 30 million. I've got 27 million and I haven't even started fitting it yet. Oi.

I clone jumped to Korsiki and flew the Thorax back to Gallente space last night. I expect I'll be running some missions with it for a while to build the wallet back up to the point where I'll be able to put the Megathron in space. A pain to be sure, but worth it in the long run, I think.

I'm also thinking about retaking the Agony Unleashed Basic PvP class and then moving on to some of their other classes. Now that I'm not in E-Uni anymore, I've been thinking it would be a very smart idea to get a refresher because I haven't really had much of a chance to use these skills at all since I first took the class. Retaking the Basic class won't cost me anything, so it's something I can do without slowing down the process of getting the Megathron ready to go. I've set up a jump clone at the AU staging station and I still have the frigs and mods I originally put together for the class, making it very easy to do without taking a lot of extra prep time in the process.

More soon...til then, fly safe.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

What's New?

Actually, right now pretty much everything.

Yesterday, Nealla made me a Director in our corp, with the same authority level as he has. Pretty cool, though I really need to become more familiar my new abilities and how to use them. Nealla's also begun helping me learn the finer points of research and manufacturing. I really started out with pretty much zero experience in these, aside from one basic instructional mission I did a while back. We're also working together to decide the direction of the corp, and plenty of other related issues.

Of course, this is all totally new to me. The only actual grantable role I've ever held in this game before now was being approved in E-Uni for Freshman hangar access. Now, like Nealla, I've got controlling authority in every single aspect of our corp which can be had. I have a feeling this is going to be a hell of a lot of fun as we grow and really develop into something worthwhile.

I've also begun adjusting my own gameplay in light of my new role. I'm training skills I probably wouldn't have bothered with for a while otherwise, and I'm saving certain types of salvage and loot that will be useful in our manufacturing. I'm still running missions, of course. Right now, it's still the most effective way for me to make ISK and help the corp get off the ground.

As you might imagine, I'm having a blast doing it. As much as I liked being a member of E-Uni and interacting with the people there, I'd gotten into a bit of a rut in terms of just doing the same things over and over most of the time. One of the problems was that my standings are best with the Gallente Federation Navy, and when I tried to start operating from Korsiki I frequently found myself returning to Gallente space to run missions because I was able to make so much more ISK there that it just didn't make sense with the limited available playtime I've had in recent weeks to build my standings up in Caldari space to a similar level. I just didn't have the time to put into doing it in any sort of a timely manner. I've been looking for new things to do in this game, and in making this move, I've now got that in abundance.

In addition, it's the chance to put my RL values into practice in EvE that makes this adventure especially exciting to me. It's not very often such an opportunity presents itself. And again, it's also the newness of it all. In some ways, I'm now playing EvE in a completely new way, a way that makes it more interesting and involving and less monotonous than before. Not that I didn't enjoy it before, but it had been a while since I'd really explored something completely new and different about this game.

I'm trying to be careful because I don't want to imply any sort of real preference here, it's really far more about personality than sexuality, but it can sometimes be a lot more comfortable to interact with people who get it, who get you, those who you don't need to explain stuff to or watch what you say around for fear of possibly offending or of being offended. After having to be so careful in that way in so many aspects of our lives, it can really be nice to be able to just let your guard down and just speak from the heart sometimes without having to worry about how others might take it. That's something I find in GLBTA chat and nowhere else in-game right now. I'm hoping that when Stonewall Interstellar really finds its wings, we'll be able to boast a second place where that's true as well.

Anyway, I spent the better part of the day in-game yesterday, but I've got just too much stuff to do in order to do so today. Frankly, I'm amazed I managed to squeeze in the time to write this post. I'm hoping to be able to jump in for a while later tonight, though. Fingers crossed.

Ok, that's about all I've got time for right now...til next time, fly safe.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

I'm A Big Girl Now...

...well, in EvE, anyway.

Earlier tonight, I officially left EvE University and joined a new corp created by a friend, Nealla Fraer, Stonewall Interstellar. It's a corp that's welcoming and supportive of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and allied pilots. We're a pretty small group right now, but I think we'll grow as time goes on and as more players find out about us.

As excited as I am to be taking this new step in my EvE career, it's also a little sad. I've truly enjoyed my time with E-Uni. It's without question the best group/guild/corp/bunch of folks I've ever had the chance to game with. I've met several folks who I'm quite fond of, learned a hell of a lot from, and just had a great time playing with in general. I leave E-Uni knowing that should I have the opportunity to assist during an attack or just be in a position to help them out in some way in the future, it'll be my pleasure and honor to do so. It's the very least I can do for all I've gotten from them. I can truly say I don't think I could possibly have been more fortunate than to have spent most of my first seven months in this game with such a great group of people.

Even so, I've been casting my sights outward for a while now, and when Nealla asked me if I wanted to join I felt it was the perfect opportunity to take that step and explore aspects of the game I haven't as yet. Add to that the fact that I'm able to do it with someone who's already a friend and help create a safe and welcoming corp for GLBTA pilots in this game (not that E-Uni isn't absolutely wonderful in that of the many things I love about it), and I knew this was the chance I'd been waiting for.

I will admit it's kinda weird not having a corp chat with lots of people in it at any given time, but that's ok. We're just a few days out of the gate right now. It's a new experience, and one I'm looking forward to with great anticipation. Needless to say, you'll be reading a lot about it here as time goes on.

If you're interested, we're recruiting. While I'm sure most of you right now have jokes formulating in your heads about gays recruiting, we are looking for pilots of all specialties, and no, you don't need to be any one of those first four letters in order to qualify, all you have to be is cool with people who are and talk about it sometimes, along with everything else. We're doing a lot of research and manufacturing, so if these interest you, we're especially interested in talking to you. Just get in touch with me or Nealla in-game and introduce yourself.


By the way, if you've got an EvE blog or other game-related site and would like to do a link trade, please get in touch with me. I've been thinking about creating a decent-size link list for this blog, and I'd like to do it in a way that helps promote this blog as well. You can post here, or get in touch in-game. EvE-related sites only please.


Ok that's it for now. I'm beat. Til next time, fly safe.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Wow. I'll admit, I'm pretty stunned.

When I wrote ""Gay" Is NOT A Dirty Word!" several days ago, it was my hope that maybe it could inspire some policy changes or something along those lines, but nothing prepared me for what I discovered when I checked out the E-O forums yesterday.

What I found was a DevBlog by Kieron saying that both ISD and the Aurora events team were basically being disbanded and would be replaced with a new system for handling their duties once their policies and procedures have been reviewed by CCP. Of course, I'm nowhere near arrogant enough to believe for even a minute that my post alone brought down the ISD, especially given the fact that the events team, which I never mentioned, also got the axe. At the same time, I suppose it is possible that what I wrote here might have added to the issues CCP felt needed to be addressed with a revamp of the system and guidelines under which the forums are moderated.

In all honesty, I didn't expect this when I wrote my post. I felt strongly about the issue I addressed and my hope was (and is) that I'd be heard, agreed with, and changes would be made as a result. That, in my opinion, is both the best and the most someone like myself, someone who's both a regular player and a commentator of EvE, can hope for. As activists of any stripe know well, you can't realistically expect to be able change the entire world as an activist...the best you can really hope for and effectively work toward is changing your own little corner of it for the better, or, at least, doing what you can to help that change occur. While again I certainly can't rationalize taking any sort of credit for the changes in this case, it nonetheless does feel like a victory anyway.

There's a lot of overlap between what I do in RL and in this situation. Many, in fact probably all, of the community organizations I interact with in the course of being an activist and community commentator rely chiefly on volunteers for many, if not most, of the non-leadership positions within their organizations. As CCP has no doubt learned, there's a very big difference between what you can expect in terms of work performance between paid employees and volunteers.

Paid employees usually (if they're good) take a certain proprietary view of their jobs. When what you're doing is putting food on your table and paying your rent, it's hardly surprising you'll tend to take it more seriously than when you're doing something without pay, solely for personal fulfillment or enjoyment. It's also not unexpected that unpaid volunteers who are volunteering essentially to become more involved with something they do for enjoyment will be more likely to want to do things their own way, and try to bring their own attitudes and desires into the process more aggressively and more often, and take more liberties in their jobs than those who have the added concern of protecting a paycheck.

That isn't in any way an indictment of any ISD volunteers specifically or of volunteerism in general, it's simply a reflection of human nature. When push comes to shove, protecting one's paying job just takes a greater priority in most cases than volunteer work, especially when it comes to playing by the rules. Not every volunteer does so for altruistic reasons. For many, it can be an "insider" status that's the draw. For others, it may be the opportunity to insert one's own agenda into the mix in a more impactful way than can be done as a mere participant.

Not everyone wants to be a leader, and fewer still are really capable of actually being one, but certainly more than enough want to be that companies and organizations which rely in whole or in part on a staff of volunteers to handle certain jobs can find themselves with a situation where too many people are going "I, I, I..." instead of "we, we, we...". When that happens, the entity employing these volunteers may have to periodically take a step back, look honestly and critically at the overall situation, and ask the question "Is what we have here what best serves the interests of our organization and what we do?". If the answer is "No", then changes will likely have to be made, and I suspect that's what happened here.

Another reality of working with volunteers versus paid employees is that when you're offering some form of authority or power over others as a aspect of the job, volunteers are more likely to see that power as a perk and a status symbol than as a responsibility. Some volunteers will likely be much more enthusiastic and possibly even overbearing in finding ways to wield that power. After all, what good is being given power over others unless you use it, right?

On the other hand, paid employees are more likely to simply see authority over others as a means to an end in getting their jobs done, and will use it in that way, instead of going out of their way to use their given authority just because they have it. In addition, the larger the group of those in authority, the more likely it is that someone, or several someones, are going to choose to put their own agenda and interests before those of the entity which gave them that power in the first place.

I've had a lot of time over the last several days to think about these issues. I've been a forum moderator on several different boards and email lists, and I've dealt with these issues from the top of the authority food chain as well as from the bottom. With all the experience I've had as not only a moderator but also one who's been subject to moderation myself, I've got a pretty clear idea of the kind of changes I'd like to see here.

I don't know if CCP is looking to hire people to take on that job, but if they were to offer it to me, I'd take it in a second (I am, as a matter of fact, looking for work right now), and I think I'd be damn good at it. I've been through best of it and through the worst of it, and I think I've got an insight into this kind of public discussion forum and how they function which would allow me to recreate the moderation system for the E-O forums in a way that would be more welcoming, more inclusive, more worthwhile, more enjoyable, and more in concert with the actual game itself than what we've had until now.

Among the first things I'd do is get rid of the word filters, or more specifically, the way in which they've been being used. Personally, I think it's kind of silly to ban cursing in a game intended for teens and older, but even if CCP wanted that I'd try to avoid having to ban any words which can be used in polite conversation. Words that are exclusively used as slurs are another issue, and there's no reason not to exclude words that are only used as slurs to express hate. Curses, on the other hand, are used in common (if not polite) discussion a lot, and if they're not being used to attack others there's really no reason to ban them. In fact, banning these words and replacing them with asterisks actually makes forum readers think about them more as the mind automatically tries to fill in the sentence with correct word.

Basically, I'd try to use the game itself as the best model of what CCP wants EvE and the official media around it to be, and use that as guideline. Key to this goal would be taking an issue on the forums, examining how it's handled or dealt with in the game (if at all) and then using that as a guide to formulate policy.

For example, if I were charged with dealing with the word filter issue, I'd ban words like the N-word and other racial, ethnic, religious, etc. slurs, but only those words which have one, clearly offensive meaning. Words that have common, acceptable usages wouldn't be subject to this. I'd then deal with bigotry, bias, and other offensive posting on a case by case basis. In other words, I'd make the guidelines for moderation of the E-O forums based more on what people actually do rather than the specific words they use.

A good example of what I'm talking about is the use of the N-word. You can hear it said on hip-hop songs all the time by black performers and no one bats an eye. Yet, let it come out of the mouth of a white person in a public forum and it will often be seen as bigotry and a reason to fight. It's not as much the word itself that causes the problem as the context in which it is used and by whom it is used. The words "faggot", "queer", or even "girl" (when used by men) can elicit much the same kind of context-based responses which can vary greatly depending on how they are used and who's using them. Again, it's not so much what's actually said that's the issue as it's the meaning behind the use of the words in the first place.

Another thing I'd do if I were recreating this forum for the better is to allow more personality and localism in the topics and discussion groups. Have a bunch of people who are gay and want a gay-relevant forum for EvE players on the E-O forums? Submit an application, go through a screening process to ensure that you're not trying to create a hate group or other such negatively-based discussion group and that such a forum would have enough interest and participation to make it worthwhile, and let the players have at it.

All kinds of shared interests besides the game itself could be served and promoted like this, just as they are in-game. Not only sexuality, but nationality, ethnicity, lifestyle (i.e. popular culture interests outside of the game itself such as music style, profession, political views, etc.), and more could be valid EvE-related interest groups that could be given a place on the forums to be discussed by like-minded players.

With more freedom of expression, there would have to also have to be a certain additional amount of accountability as well. If you're allowed to create a new forum and there are problems and complaints regarding it, you're going to be asked why and what you plan to do about it. If you don't have a good answer or can show you're actively working on finding one, your forum is either going to go away or you're going to be replaced by someone who's better able to administer it.

One of the most basic overriding ideas I'd impose is that having the status of a moderator, paid or unpaid, or any other type of authority not offered to the average player is a privilege, not a right, and one that can and will be taken away if you abuse it or fail to demonstrate that you can and will use it wisely and in the best interests of both CCP and the EvE player community. Founders of these kinds of discussion groups and volunteers in general would be held to a high standard, with a hard and fast set of rules and guidelines to be followed. You break the rules, you pay for it in a significant and memorable way, just as a player posting there would. Break the rules too often or in ways that clearly indicate that you're looking to impose your own agenda and rulebook as the norm rather than CCP's, and you're gone, no matter who you are, how many friends you have, how long you've been doing the job, or how powerful or popular you are in-game.

I'd also create a zero-tolerance policy for any sort of real bigotry or other infraction that harms or negatively impacts the game or its playerbase in a serious way and makes EvE or the forums seem less friendly and welcoming. Yes, you'd be able to type the word "gay" and have it appear in print, but if you used it as a slur against another player you'd quickly find yourself whacked upside the head with the banning stick, plus probably lose the ability to apply to create or administer your own group forum, maybe even be banned from the game itself if it's serious enough. Do it repeatedly and you'll end up being banned in perpetuity or at least long enough that you're going to remember your mistake.

I'd also want to make sure that there would be a way to appeal a decision or action against a player that was both fair and effective. In-game, players with such an issue can petition to have it addressed, and if they're not happy with the result they can appeal it to a higher authority. I'd want to set up a similar system that was in concert with how CCP wants it done. If a moderator takes action against you in some way and you believe you're in the right, you'd have the right to petition and state your case, and you'd know that your petition would be carefully reviewed and investigated by those vested with the power to change the result if they feel it warranted. You'd also be informed, within the limits of what's considered appropriate for public consumption, of any decision made on your petition, what action will be taken as a result, and why that decision was made.

That may seem like a lot of rules (and this is hardly a complete list), but in reality there's a lot of space for individuality, personality, and just plain old fun in there, just as in the case of the game itself. EvE has plenty of rules, regulations, guidelines, and such things which impact the gameplay in significant ways, but the game is designed in a way that these things only come into play as necessary to keep the game balanced and fair, while still allowing the main purpose, fun and entertainment, to be the real goal, one that any player can seek and find within it, or even make it for themselves. In this way, I see no reason why the E-O forums should be any different from the game universe they focus on.

Anyone who's played a while knows it works. CCP hasn't made such things issues in-game except when they absolutely have no choice but to step in, and there's no reason why the same policies couldn't be incorporated into the forums with the same level of success. While there will always be those who create problems and require an authoritative response in the interest of the game and the players and a whole, the vast majority of EvE players participate in both the game and the forums because they want to play the game and talk about it. When the real troublemakers are dealt with quickly and effectively, the rest are them left to enjoy themselves, and most will do it in a way that doesn't mistreat or disparage others in ways that aren't acceptable within the EvE universe. When you get right down to it, the forums should be a positive and accurate reflection of what players find in-game, not the seemingly almost entirely separate entity unto itself with its own completely different set of rules of conduct it has been.

Yeah, I'd love that job, and I think I'd be good at it, in large part because I've given these issues as much thought as I have. I've been a forum warrior for a long time and I've learned a lot from it. I've also been a manager of both paid employees and volunteers that I know that experience would serve me in good stead in something like this as well. And hey, not for nothing, but when I'm motivated I can write up a storm when I set my mind to it, another skill that can be exceptionally useful in this kind of work.

Regardless of what CCP actually chooses to do here or how they decide to do it, I do hope they'll do it in a way that makes the forums and the way they're run reflect the values the designers have made a part of the game itself. To my way of thinking, it's taking one of the very best parts of EvE, the players and the in-game social interaction between us all, and making it publicly accessible outside of the game. If done correctly, the E-O forums can not only be a place where people already playing EvE can come and interact with each other outside of the game, but also where someone who's never played can go and quickly come to understand the biggest reason why EvE is so special, unique, and so very worth playing: the people, the community of New Eden...often rowdy, sometimes raunchy, rarely (if ever) afraid to voice an honestly held opinion, but most of all, just a pretty great bunch people having some fun together playing and talking about a game we all share a great love for. When you get right down to it, there's really nothing more or less to it than that.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

EvE TV: Third Take

I had the chance to watch episodes 7 and 8 today. I bet after my last post on this topic, you're probably expecting me to trash it again. Surprise...not happening. I try to make it a policy to commend as quickly and as enthusiastically as I condemn when I believe it's called for, and I'm very pleased to say it's called for.

These last two episodes show significant, no, massive improvement over the ones I'd watched previously. SpiralJunkie was clear and understandable almost completely throughout both. He's still gotta watch it when he does interviews, though. There were a few times, but only a few, where he lapsed into that fast-speaking conversational mumblespeak he tends to go into, but otherwise an excellent job. He's clearly making an effort and it shows.

In fact, my only real issues with these two episodes were not with the regular on-air staff or the production values but with the guest experts. Having a business reporter like Benilopax talk about the market and investment is a great idea, but this guy needs those same voice lessons I wanted SpiralJunkie to take. It was a little difficult to understand him just in general, and when the conversation turned to alphabet soup abbreviation references he became almost impossible to follow at points. Also, if this guy wants to wear a tie on the air, that's fine, but then he has to tie the thing right so that he doesn't look like he's just run into the studio after a quickie in the changing room. I also suspect it will improve his look and credibility immensely if he doesn't wear the same shirt and badly tied tie on every show.

Hippoking was very interesting contentwise, but watching him on-camera drove me absolutely batshit. I wanted to reach into the screen, grab him by the collar, and say "Look into the fucking camera, goddammit!!". This guy's eyes were everywhere, left, right, down, everywhere except where they should have been. It was so distracting and annoying at points that it actually became hard to follow what he was saying. He's good and knows his stuff, so if they have him on again they need to sit him down, point his face directly at the camera, and say "See that camera? Pretend it's the screen of your computer. You're in the middle of a pitched battle against BoB forces and you're fighting for your life. If you take your eyes off of that screen for even a second while that little red light is on, your mothership and your pod will be instantly destroyed.".

Really though, that was the worst of it. I'm thoroughly impressed by the level of improvement in this show in so short of a time. It's clear they're really working hard to make this show the very best it can be, and with great success. Therefore, I'll pay this show and the people who create it the very highest compliment I can in that regard:

EvE TV: It's now worth paying for.


I did send my previous post off to both ISD and Valerie "Pann" Massey, the woman who does EvE's PR. I'd contacted her a while back when I did a show about LGBT gamers to get her take on how these issues are dealt with in EvE, so I felt it was a good idea to do so in this case as well. I haven't heard anything from ISD as yet, but Val did get back to me to say she wanted to talk to me about it. I sent her my phone numbers and I expect to hear from her soon. I'm considering taking this topic on again on the air, but I want to see what, if anything, happens as a result before I make any decisions about if or how I'd do that. More on this as I have it.


It's been a hell of a busy time these last few days, so no chance to play a lot. I did jump in for a while yesterday though, did a mission, and had a very interesting conversation about an possible upcoming in-game career move. It's not something I'm prepared to talk about here just yet, but as time goes on I expect it will be. Again, more when I have it.

More soon. Til then, fly safe.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

"Gay" Is NOT A Dirty Word!

Since I started playing EvE and writing this blog back in February, I've always made it a policy to keep my RL and in-game realities as separate as possible. With only just a few minor chips here and two major dents on the E-O and E-Uni forums inflicted on that wall over that time, I think I've done a fairly good job of it. Now, however, real life and EvE life have suddenly crashed into each other so directly and significantly that I feel I can no longer rationalize maintaining that wall any longer, that to do so, to remain silent and uninvolved, would be in direct conflict with the values I believe in and live my life by. And so, the wall has to come down now and it has to come down hard. Bear with me as I grab my sledgehammer and hang on. This is going to get messy.

I came this realization late last night, when I logged into EvE and read an MOD (Message Of the Day) as I checked to see who was in the GLBTA chat. Our moderator was furious about something and offered a link. Since the link didn't work in the IGB, I copied it, logged out, pasted it into my browser, and found myself at the third page of an E-O forum discussion thread. At first, I wasn't quite sure what was so upsetting to Nealla that he'd post such an angry message, so I went back to the first post and read all three pages of comments, but I still didn't quite get it until the final post from an ISD forum moderator put a capper on it for me.

The thread was titled "Any other Homosexuals playing EVE and upset at CCP support?". The original post was from a newly-out gay player who was upset at the blocking of certain words from the E-O forums. He asked why words such as "gay", "lesbian", or even as commonly used and relatively inoffensive as "crack" were blocked. Even though I hadn't felt the question important enough to address publicly, it was certainly easy to understand why he and other players clearly feel otherwise. After reading the full thread from beginning to end, I decided that I too could do no less.

As I came to the end of the thread, a post by ISD forum moderator Jacques Archambault caused me to from from curious and mildly annoyed to downright furious, completely offended, and completely in concert with Nealla's feelings on the subject. It reads:

Please do not discuss issues regarding sexual orientation and adult content on the forums. We understand that many people feel strongly about this and inevitably a heated discussion arises between both sides. In the interest of maintaining peace and keeping the EVE-Online Forums a pleasant place to visit for everyone (irrespective of gender, sexual orientation, race, culture etc.), we kindly request to discuss adult themes outside of the EVE-Online Forums. Please understand that we have a teen 13+ rating and these kind of adult topics do not belong on the EVE-Online Forums.

As always, if there are any questions regarding forum moderation, please feel free to email the EVE-Online Forum Moderator Team at


And now, I've got my sledgehammer hefted and ready to go because it's time to tell you why this post made me see red.

Let's just get the basics out of the way right up front. I'm a transsexual woman. I was born male and lived in that gender for the first thirty-five years of my life. I've lived and identified as a woman and as a lesbian for the last ten and a half years. Both of these identities, as well as others I choose to label myself with, are integral to who I am and how I see myself. I could no more separate myself from them than I could change my skin color or my personal life history.

I take pride in who I am and how I live my life, despite the opinions of others who feel I have no right to do so. While my gender identity and sexual orientation were not conscious choices, my acceptance of words such as "gay", "lesbian", "queer", and others to define myself to other people certainly was. Labels, as opposed to orientations, certainly are consciously chosen. They are a way for people who's lives and outlooks on life differ significantly from that which is considered the norm can express to other people their pride in that difference, in their identities, and in themselves. They are the way we begin the process of helping others to understand who we are, what matters to us, and how we live our lives.

This is, as you might imagine, a pretty big deal for many of us, especially for those like the original thread poster, those who have only recently come to accept some of these labels and identities as their own. Hollismason was understandably upset that the very word he chose to define himself with, a word which is so commonly used it appears in most dictionaries and all over popular media would be banned from even so much as being mentioned in a public discussion area. As saddening as that is, though, I completely understand and share the anger and outrage so many Queer EvE players must have felt when Jacques said, in essence, that even simply the very mention of his chosen identity is considered by ISD to be derogatory and offensive. While I doubt it was intentional, Jacques further increased the level of offense by telling this young gay man that this action was taken in the interest of protecting children.

The rest of ISD's argument is even less credible. Jacques contends that the E-O forums have a "teen 13+" rating. Does ISD really believe teenagers have never heard words like "gay" and "lesbian" in common usage, or they would be somehow negatively impacted by seeing them in print? Considering what passes muster in video games rated "Teen" these days, the very idea is absolutely ludicrous.

Jacques also cites "maintaining peace" and keeping the E-O forums "a pleasant place for everyone (irrespective of gender, sexual orientation, race, culture etc.)" as reasons for the ban. The implications made here are nothing short of out and out anti-gay bigotry. The inference clearly made here is that simply the very inclusion of these non-heterosexual identities on the E-O forums would be considered offensive and unwelcome in and of themselves, devoid of any actual offensive context in which they might be used. In my opinion, the fact that words which directly describe a person's sexuality are censored but those which might describe the other aspects of human identity Jacques cites are not effectively puts the lie to this line of reasoning.

Given the evidence, there is no question here that banning these words are a direct, specific, and intentional suppression of gay and lesbian identity within the E-O forums. If this policy were universal in all aspects of EvE, it might be arguable that CCP simply felt the best way to deal with the issue was to completely eliminate it from the game universe across the board. It would still not be right in my opinion, but at least the policy would be consistent. As anyone who's played EvE for a while knows well, that simply isn't the case.

This is a game where alcohol, tobacco, firearms, and illegal drugs are traded as commodities, where violence, death, war, crime, and other happenings usually considered not-so-pleasant or even tragedies in real life not only occur regularly, but are considered the most entertaining aspects of the gameplay. It's a game universe where the Minmitar Gay Rights League roams the spaceways and where a chat called GLBTA (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Accepting) can be joined in-game. To allow players this level of freedom in-game but then deny it to us in the discussion forums indicates that the erasure of non-heterosexual identities is a decision made and enforced by the ISD forum moderators, not by the designers of the actual game itself. That places the responsibility for this censorship and for the anti-gay bigotry behind it not on CCP, but squarely on the shoulders of the ISD forum moderators.

Sexuality not only isn't an adult topic, but one which every teenager confronts and explores during their adolescence. Indeed, it isn't really sexuality that's being banned here, it's valid and accepted non-heterosexual identities which are being censored through the filtering of the words which define them. Does ISD really believe that every teenager who plays EvE or participate in the forums is straight? What about the right of gay and lesbian teens (not to mention gay and lesbian adults) to feel welcome and respected on the forums? Do they even care? As far as I can detect, the answer is a rather clear and direct "No.".

When you think about it, you realize that there's really no other possible reason than the homophobia of ISD moderators for filtering these words out of the E-O forum discussions. These words have perfectly valid and acceptable uses in polite conversation, it is solely their connections to non-heterosexual identities which are offered as the reason for their being filtered. Since these words are so commonly used and accepted in all aspects of real-world discourse but even those uses are disallowed in order to prevent even the possibility of their being used to describe non-heterosexual identities, the homophobia and discomfort of the ISD staff are clearly the true motivators at play here.

It's not an issue of context, as it should be. Of course, these words and others like them can be used to disparage and offend, but in order to truly prevent that CCP would have to take down the forum and ban all discussion. Those who are looking to treat others badly and express their hatred and bigotry toward those they don't like will certainly find ways to do so, without or without using those specific words. When such things do happen on the E-O forums, the ISD staff is quite diligent in editing and removing offensive posts and in sanctioning those responsible.

Yet, it seems that when it comes to EvE's queer players and our own rights to define and describe ourselves accurately within the limits of polite conversation, ISD apparently doesn't feel that we're entitled to the same benefit of the doubt, or even of the same level of effort to protect us from the the use of these words as attacks against us and the ways in which we live our lives. Rather than make the same kind of proactive effort in this regard they consistently make when other forum discussion guidelines are broken, when it comes to gay and lesbian players ISD uses only a computer-controlled, automatic gag filter to simply eliminate our identities from all forum discussions. Apparently, ISD just doesn't consider the comfort of gay and lesbian EvE players on the E-O forums worthy of the same effort they exert to ensure the comfort of those who are heterosexual. To call it bigoted and offensive doesn't even begin to cover it.

To those of you who are reading this and scratching your heads wondering what the big deal is, let me paint you a little word picture, in the hope it'll become more clear:

Imagine you live in a world where you're treated badly and disparaged, not because of anything you've actually done, but just because some people don't like or even hate you because they find the way you choose to live your life distasteful or even downright disgusting. You cannot attend your local church because the pastor and parishioners consider you so ungodly and sinful they aren't even willing to tolerate you worshiping in their midst. Your government leaders passionately speak out against your equality under the law and successfully deny you and others like you the most basic of civil rights protections, such as the right not to be fired from your job, regardless of your work performance, just because your employer decides he doesn't want someone like you working for his company, or even the right to enter into a legally sanctioned relationship with the person you love. If you rent your home, you can even be evicted because your landlord doesn't want your kind around. If you go to a local bar for a drink, you know you may be kicked out or be made to feel unsafe and unwelcome for no other reason than who you are, how you act, or the way you look.

And then, you try to escape that hard reality for a little while with an online game based in a fictional star cluster far, far away, set thousands of years in the future, and discover to your dismay that everything you were trying to get away from is still right there, in your face, and for all its fantastic sci-fi trappings the discussion forum focused on this universe marginalizes and demeans you, your identity, and the way you live your life, saddling you with much the same disdain and disrespect as the real one.

Starting to get it now? Welcome to OUR world.

As for the rest of it, why I care so much about this (aside from the obvious reason), let me take a few more swings and knock out the last few bricks from that wall. Many of you who have followed this blog regularly for a while probably know I host a radio show. You've probably also figured out that I'm a writer. Here's the parts you probably don't know:

I'm also a pretty well-read journalist, blogger, and op-ed writer. On my other blog (found here or here), I cover a lot of social and political issues, most of them LGBT or specifically transgender-relevant. My radio show is defined as "The LGBT Internet Radio Show That Puts The "T" First!", and covers much the same topics with a special focus on transgender-relevant content, as does my podcast. I do all of this, a lot of it without pay, because I'm also an activist, someone who has dedicated her life to helping people like myself become more informed and more in tune with the topics and issues that are important in our lives.

I love what I do, and I'm passionate about it. That professional media job I've referred to here now and then? It was to be a host on a new LGBT radio network called GAYBC. It still may happen, but the network is now on hiatus because the founders are having trouble getting the funding to keep it going. If you read the US LGBT community political blogs and news media, you may have seen some of my work now and then. I'm pretty well-known within those circles, and more and more so all the time. While I do usually make my actual living as a retail manager, I've made it my goal to try to make my media work my professional career.

At the age of 45, a career change of this magnitude probably isn't the smartest goal to have, but being able to rely on those who were creating this kind of media when I came out in 1997 helped me to understand that I wasn't alone, that there was a place in the world where I was welcome and wanted, a place that not only didn't have a problem with who I knew myself to be, but actually welcomed and even celebrated it. After having already tried to commit suicide once, discovering that place probably saved my life, and so I've dedicated my life to ensuring that such a place will be there for the next newly-out Queer person who desperately needs it.

Hollismason sought such a place within the EvE universe, but ISD, their policies and their soulless word filter not only denied that place to him, but communicated to him and to every other Queer-identified EvE player paying attention that who he is and how he sees himself are neither welcome nor wanted on the E-O forums. He learned that his very identity is considered so vulgar and offensive by ISD that even the very word he chose to describe himself wouldn't even be allowed to appear in print. I see myself in his place ten years ago and I know how I would have felt if I had reached out for support and companionship and received the same kind of reception.

These aren't just words that can be used to express hate, they can also be used to express pride, community, culture, and to reach out others in love and support. Automatic word filters cannot make such value judgments, they can only do as they are told to by those who program them. Requiring human judgment to be employed in the vast majority of actions taken by ISD, but leaving Queer identities to be moderated solely by an unthinking, unfeeling computer program is the very lowest form of bigotry and disdain for our lives, our personal identities, and yes, our right to have that same pleasant experience on the E-O forums Jacques claims to wish to protect for everyone, not to mention being completely inconsistent with the far more inclusive and positive values incorporated into the game itself by its creators.

I love EvE. I wouldn't have spent the last six hours writing this post if I didn't. Still, I can't help but be offended to the core when I'm told that my own identity is being automatically banned by a computer program because some people find it so offensive that they believe children must be shielded from even seeing it appear in print.

How would you feel if it were an identity you use to define yourself were being rendered invisible in this way? How about if it were someone you love, a brother, a sister, a child, a friend? Would you be offended? You'd want to fight back, wouldn't you? If your answer is yes, then you do get it.

I'll be sending a copy of this post to ISD. Honestly, I really don't expect them to care much, if at all. Any group of people who are comfortable treating a different group in this way probably don't have much room their hearts for us or our concerns, much the same as in most parts of the world. Still, I guess I've got nothing to lose by trying. If you feel as strongly I do about this, I hope you'll take a few minutes and drop them a note to say so. Thanks.

And of course, I'll continue to play EvE. Indeed, it is the game itself which is an escape for the institutionalized, mechanized, and standardized anti-gay bigotry and homophobia which has insinuated itself into the E-O forums not because of those who post there, but because of those charged with protecting participants from it.

So, the wall is down, destroyed because it had to be, because I could not be true to myself and what I believe by continuing to remain silent. I know it's possible that some of you reading this may be put off by some of my revelations here. I can only hope that's not the case, that you enjoy reading what I write here for its own sake and that knowing I wasn't born female or that I'm a lesbian won't change that. I understood that I was taking a chance from the moment I began writing this post, really from the moment I lost a longtime friend when I announced my transition from male to female a decade ago. This is a reality all of us accept when we choose to be true to ourselves, and it is a reality I know I may be forced to now confront again as I bring this to close and publish it for all to see. All I can say is that I hope you'll stick around regardless. Oh, and one other thing:

Thanks for listening.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Waiting Out The War...'s not really intentional, but unfortunately it's the way it has to be. For the moment, at least.

Now is a particularly busy time for me in RL, but in a good way. Of course, less time to write and play, yadda yadda, you've heard it all from me before. Suffice it to say that my posting here will be less frequent for a while. Funny how even as harsh and violent EvE can be, it's my escape from RL, which these days seems to be just overfilled with things requiring my attention. For the most part, professionally, this is a very good thing. On the personal side of the equation, though, sometimes maybe not so much.

With E-Uni at war, I just don't find myself with the kind of time that I'd need to go make myself useful in something like that right now. Therefore I haven't been doing anything in EvE at all this week other than jumping in to catch up on EvE-mail and change skills. At some point soon, I hope to have some real time to devote, but right now it's just not possible.

No answers and no promises, other than I plan to play and write as often as I can. It just may not be as often as I'd like for a while. Hopefully, a short while.

Fly safe.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Ok, Now This Is Getting Ridiculous...

...I mean, really.

Today, I decided to give EvE TV another try, so I used an alternate email address (yes, I admit it) to get another 200 J-credits. I figured "Well, maybe I've been a little too harsh...the show just started and there are bound to be some issues. Let's see if they've gotten any better now that they have two more shows under their belts.".

Not only hasn't it gotten better, but parts of this show were actually unwatchable. The parts shot on location were recorded at so low a volume that I had to turn my computer speakers up to about twice normal volume. This worked fine for the first location segment, but when I tried it with the second, a deep, reverberating tone completely masked the conversation to the point where I was afraid of damaging my speakers. When I did turn them down low enough to make the tone go away it became impossible to hear what was being said. The studio segments and those shot indoors were fine soundwise, but I found myself eventually just giving up and fast forwarding through the location segments. In other words, I was forced to skip about half the show.

Ok, I'm just gonna say it: You people have got to be out of your minds to charge money for this. I've recorded better-sounding live audio outdoors with a $30 mini-cassette recorder and so could you. To expect players to pay for such utterly horrible sound quality is absolutely unconscionable. Either get your shit together and record live remotes properly or don't have them on the show until you can. To offer this level of production and sound quality and expect people to pay money for it is nothing less than an absolute ripoff. If I'd actually spent money to see this, I'd want a refund...a pity I can't get a refund of my time spent trying to tweak my computer sound trying to make it listenable.

In addition, the studio sound was ok, but only ok. SpiralJunkie still needs those voice lessons but was at least a bit more understandable this time, but the slower playspeed version was totally out of synch with the video. At least they had the good sense to have StevieSG interview Fortuna Five, definitely the single most enjoyable part of the show for me.

I want to like EvE TV, really I do. I love EvE, I love new media, and I love the idea of combining the two (obviously, since I'm doing exactly that in writing this blog). As true as that is, though, I can't help but be disappointed as hell that so far this show doesn't have anywhere nearly the level of production values that it should. Those location segments should have scrapped outright. Better by far to delay the release of the show by a few days for extra production work or to just release a shortened version than to take money for unwatchable content. There's just no excuse for it, none at all.


The game? Oh yeah, right...

Well, basically I've been running missions when I've had a little time to jump in for a while, which hasn't been often over the last few days. I think I'm going to upgrade a few mods on the Myrmidon soon, but I also think I've finally got a fitting for it worked out that so far has kicked major ass every time I've taken it out. Once I had enough, I finally added a couple of salvagers and a tractor beam to throw in after I've done my mission killing and the ISK is rolling in faster than ever.

Really, my main problem now is having the time to run enough missions to get the ISK I need to start thinking about getting a Dominix and moving on to Level 4 missions. That's probably still a ways off, though. There always seems like there's something that needs doing in RL, and it's not at all a coincidence that this post has been written on a Sunday. It's generally the one day of the week when I can be at least reasonably sure I'll have enough free time to write up a post and maybe even go kick a little NPC butt.

In fact, I think I going to do exactly that right now.

Until next time (hopefully not another five days), fly safe.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Space: The Final Frontier?

No, not in this game, anyway. With the coming of walking in stations, EvE is not going to be expanding outward as much as inward, giving pilots a more human presence outside of their ships, with more than just a headshot icon to represent their human aspects. It's an interesting concept, and one I think is inevitable in order for this game to really add a new dimension to it. Not only that, but it seems to be an absolute prerequisite in order to stay competitive with what's coming soon in the MMORPG market.

Star Trek Online has posted its first devblog and the screenshots are absolutely stunning. This game will have planets that can be landed on, with terrain that's as just as realistic as you'd expect. It seems that right from the very start STO will offer players much more human-oriented experience than EvE currently does, which seems right in concert with what ST fans have come to expect in all aspects of the Trek legend.

Right now, EvE is more about the greater universe and the various ways to manipulate it, with the true human element of the game being the interaction between the players themselves, rather than the characters. Right now, that's limited to text or audio chat, while the true in-game player-to-player gameplay interaction really isn't person-to-person but ship-to-ship.

In some ways, I think this is kind of unique and interesting, but in others, maybe not so much. There's a certain detachment that comes with the lack of a real in-game human element, something that it appears STO will have in abundance. If you're an EvE loyalist as I am and expect to continue to be one for a long time, be afraid, be very afraid...if the actual game is even half as good as what's been released so far, STO is going to kick major ass.

EvE does have certain major advantages, of course. For one thing, it's long past the beta stage...the game has evolved into one with major political players, alliances, wars, a depth that seems absolutely unequaled in other games. It's going to take a significant amount of time before STO even approaches that level. And yet, it's Star Trek, and that might well make all the difference. Even so, STO is still in fairly early stages of its development, so by the time it does actually debut EvE will be even further evolved than it is now. It's also interesting to note that comparisons between the two games have already started in the gaming press, with EvE apparently being held up as the standard by which STO will be judged, as well it should be.

It's clear to me, and probably to CCP and anyone else involved with EvE in any capacity, that STO, when it finally debuts, is going to exceed EvE's playerbase in size faster than you can say "Engage!". That much, I think, is pretty much a given. The real question is whether EvE will survive it and for how long. Personally, I suspect that if STO draws the same kind of playerbase as WoW does, New Eden will continue to be a safe(r) haven for more mature and sophisticated sci-fi MMORPG players. If that's the case, chances are everyone wins.

Fingers crossed...

Friday, July 20, 2007

Late For Class...

...even though I didn't know I was going to be attending one until literally minutes before it happened.

I've had incredibly bad luck in terms of E-Uni class scheduling, but that's not the Uni's fault, it's my own personal fucked up schedule that's really the culprit. I just happened to be bitching about it in corp chat earlier and as luck would have it, a class I needed just happened to be about to start, a basic Tackling and Scouting 101 with Acacia Incana. While I do have some very minimal experience in these skills which I got during the class I took with Agony Unleashed a while back, this was something I really needed since so many other classes build on what's taught in this and other basic classes. The problem was that since the class was literally starting in just minutes, I had no time to pick up one of my tackling frigs. I ended up doing the class in my Thorax, and while it was great fun being a target and playing what amounted to "Interstellar Tag", I didn't get a chance to actually practice what was being taught. I learned what I needed to learn from this class, but because I was in the Thorax I really didn't a chance to actually practice it. Not a big deal, but I do think I'll retake it when I can.

In addition, I also learned a couple of important things that weren't in the class curriculum. For one thing, always check your overview settings after a patch. After the Revelations II patch, I lost all of my overview presets, and apparently after this latest one I lost about half of them, which I'd just painstakingly reconstructed about a week ago. Not only do I use the settings recommended in Romble's mp3 class, but I also keep the setting I learned in the readings for the AU class I took as well. The AU setup is slightly different from Romble's and I find it useful in certain situations. Just after the class began, I discovered that most of the Romble settings were gone, and certain settings from the AU setup had vanished as well. Fortuantely, I've now set these up from scratch a few times so I was able to fill the gaps as the class progressed by switching between the settings I still had and doing a few tweaks on the fly. Now, I know the first thing I have to do when I log in again is recreate these yet again. Ah well, I guess I can just think of it as practice.

The other thing I learned was something I should have known, that for me, someone who's done live radio online for over five years, should be filed under "Duh!". Of course, these classes require Teamspeak which I have and know how to use. At the beginning of the class I was having a lot of trouble hearing what was said clearly, and for some insane reason it didn't occur to me that the reason I was having so much trouble was because I wasn't using my headphones, I had the audio coming through my computer speakers. Normally this isn't much of a problem, but the room my computer is in is not the most effectively cooled by the AC, so I usually have a fan going when the weather is warm. The fan isn't really very loud, but it does make that "whooshing" sound fans do, creating a kind of low-level background "white noise". I'm so used to it I barely notice it most of the time, but it does effectively mask a certain amount of whatever audio I happen to be listening to. As a result, it was much harder to follow the conversation than it should have been, and silly me just chalked it up to less-than-optimum TS sound. This made perfect sense since Acacia's British accent led me to believe it was simply the distance that degraded the audio. Once I plugged in my headphones, though, it was like night and day, and I didn't have a problem again. DUH!

Pretty damn lame for my first class with the Uni, but despite the shaky start I'm looking forward to much more. One thing that kinda sucks is that I changed my email on the Ivy League message board and apparently my account has been put on inactive status for some reason. I think I'm supposed to get an email of some sort to reactivate it, but it hasn't arrived yet. If I don't get it by tomorrow when I check, I'll jump in-game and see if I can get someone in the Uni to help me get it working again. Until it is, I can't find out when the next classes I want to take will be held. I totally understand the need for security, but this is really a major pain. I'm getting notices about people posting in threads I'm tracking but I can't read them because until this is fixed I can't log in...grrrr...

Another interesting and cool thing I learned tonight is another of my Eve-Uni peeps is a reader of this blog (Hi Dee! :)). I also discovered that some of my classmates and Acacia didn't know I write one so I guess I'll have to post a link once I finally get back into the site. I do keep track of the amount of traffic this blog gets, and I've noticed that it's been slowly but steadily rising. Of course, like all bloggers, I love it when I see more people reading, and when I see people commenting here and in-game. It's a big reason why I spend as much time as I do on it, besides the fact that it combines two of my favorite pastimes, EvE and writing. Just knowing people are reading and enjoying it makes something that already gives me a great amount of pleasure and satisfaction even better.

Alright, enough for now. Til next time, fly safe.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Here We Go Again, Again...

Looks like in a couple of days the Uni will be at war once again. I've gotten the emails, and I know I'll need to be in Korsiki by then, I plan to wrap up the mission I'm on and get myself over there. Oh and speaking of that mission...

I'd finished nearly the entire thing last night, and was heading toward the final group of ships, drones out and ready to go. I enter attack range, cut off my afterburner, and begin targeting ships. Nothing happens, nothing at all. My afterburner is still blinking red, my drones don't respond to my commands, my ship ignores my commands to turn away and keeps heading straight for the blinking ships...and then, suddenly, I'm looking at my desktop.

After a couple of futile attempts to log back in, I check the E-O forums. The server has gone down, a GM tells us, but hopefully everything will be ok soon. Um, yeah, great...assuming I still have a ship left by the time I'm able to log back in. Since I know this is inevitably going to take at least a little while, I make a quick run to the store. When I get back, I immediately run the client and it tells me the server is restarting and will be back up in about two and a half minutes. I wait, I try connecting, again nothing. Sigh...

Finally, after waiting through another restart sequence, I get back in to find my newly-fitted Myrmidon still intact, but floating in the middle of nowhere and without its drones of course. By this point, it's three o'clock in the morning and I'm exhausted, so I just get it back to a station and go to bed. I know I'm now going to have to go back though this entire mission again in order to finish it....but hey at least I'll come out about a million and a half ahead. Even with the loss of five Ogre I's and the half-mil time bonus I should have gotten, I still come out ahead on the deal.

Tomorrow will be busy as hell...I doubt I'll have much time to play, but I'll do my best to get it all done in time. Since Korsiki is only a clone jump away it shouldn't be too much of an issue...hopefully. We'll see.

Ok, I think it's time for beddie bye...

Monday, July 16, 2007

Fool Me Once...

...shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.
Lt. Commander Montgomery Scott, USS Enterprise

I was starting the second part of the four-part "Whispers In The Dark" storyline mission. When I entered Egghelende, I noticed several Mutually Assured Distraction (MAD) ships so immediately headed for the nearest starbase and docked. Once docked, I flipped over to Local and saw these guys actually boasting about how they were picking off noobs for fun. I'm proud to say I resisted the temptation to suggest in Local that if they were trying to pick off ships it would probably be best not to discuss it in a public channel, but I decided that another option would be far more satisfying.

It was late and I knew I was going to be packing it in for the night soon anyway, so after watching these MAD guys make comments in Local like "fish meet barrel" etc. for a while, I got bored with it. I'd thought about clone jumping back to my Myrm and avoiding the whole thing, but instead I chose the easier option: I logged. Earlier today, I went back in-game and did the mission. I missed out on the time bonus, but it certainly beat getting my Thorax vaporized.

Yeah, I'm learning. Still, based on what I read in Local last night, a lot of noobs still haven't learned this lesson as yet...and, of course, these MAD guys had no way of knowing that I had fallen for this kind of setup by Veto less than a week ago, and there was just no fucking way I was going to let it happen again. As I've written before, this is the one game I've ever played where just simply turning the game off and doing something else for a while instead can be a valid and effective defense.

I'll admit I was surprised to see them in Egghelende...even though it is low-sec, it seems that almost nothing ever happens there. Still, it was really easy to keep them from attacking. As I always do, when I'm going on a mission I don't carry anything other than the ammo and cap charges I need to complete it. I guess, like Veto, they figured I was there to pick something up so they didn't come after me and probably assumed they'd catch me on my way out. I checked Local when I logged back on to change skills a while later and they were still out there, so I simply started a new skill, logged, and went to bed. If only all pirates were this easy to avoid.

In case you haven't figured it out by now, the lesson of the day is: Always check Local when in low-sec, no matter how unlikely it seems that you're going to run into just never know. It's the easiest and most effective way to prevent pirates from taking you out unexpectedly. It won't always work of course, but you up your odds significantly when you do, especially if you're facing pirates who are arrogant enough to assume you don't know better. In addition, set up your overview to let you know when you've got ships in the area from corps with low or horrible standings in general or against your corp. Just having that information handy when you need it can be the difference between life and death.

Hmmm...I wonder if this means I'm officially no longer a noob?