Saturday 31 March 2012

Eve Online: just when you think things couldn't get any lower

The Mittani's real life address has been published on the internet. Someone responded by making a threat to go round and rape his wife.

Surely it's time to call the police. Does someone have to die before people wake up to the fact that this activity is not purely virtual?

Thursday 29 March 2012

Eve Online: tackling discrimination

In response to a comment of Spinks' I've decided to push for a change in the way Eve players use the word jew.

Responses were negative, even outraged, with some extremely hate-filled.

The thread is now nuked after it got extremely nasty. Still I received several supportive posts and 40 Likes amidst all the rage it provoked.

I hope we as a community can clear our act up. It's only a matter of time before someone reports an Eve Youtube as a racially aggravated public order offence and the police get involved.

Mittani - resolution

He's received a 30 day ban from Eve which makes him ineligible for the next CSM, the one he won with a landslide 10,000 votes. He's resigned as Chair of the current CSM. He also apologised both publicly and privately to the player concerned and sent him the contents of his wallet (10 billion isk).

I think that's pretty fair. Everyone does dumb things and in this case fortunately there were no repercussions. In fact the miner is probably a little bewildered by all the sudden attention.

The only stronger action that could have been taken was a lifetime ban or calling the police. I don't think a lifetime ban is appropriate because I think CCP is partly to blame. It's a really bad idea to mix public streamed broadcasting with a culture of getting paralytically drunk. As for the police that should be a matter for the victim, if he doesn't wish to press charges the matter should end there.

I'm sure too that The Mittani has learned a lesson and I hope he continues to enjoy roleplaying a villain without letting it cross over too far into real life consquences.

Eve is a brutal pvp sandbox with no safe zones (other than staying docked up). Highsec isn't a safe zone it's a pvp is punished zone. However it does attract a lot of players who are quite happy doing their own private introverted thing. Possibly the game could do more in the New Player Experience to help people understand the nature of the universe they're entering.

As for the Mittani I'm sure he'll continue to make headlines and I imagine he'll be Chair of CSM 8 if he's still interested (and if his wife lets him).

Tuesday 27 March 2012

Muddling gaming with reality: The Hungerford Massacre

This is quite a long time ago now so possibly not many people remember it. But I think there are parallels between recent events in the Eve community and the tragic story of Michael Ryan. One day he just snapped and killed 16 people (including his mother) and wounded 15 more.

At the time I was working for a play by mail (PBM) game. It was basically the same as an online game except actions were delivered by a postman rather than a near-instantaneous internet connection.

One of the other PBM companies had had Michael Ryan as a client. It was an immersive role-playing game and he was a keen player. In his last communication with the game before he snapped he was told to go out and kill.

The people running the PBM company were never charged but they felt devastated and gave up running their business entirely. I felt very sorry for them because I very much doubt there were any clues that they could have picked up on.

Did the game influence Ryan? We'll never know. It may have.

But Ryan's actions had huge consequences for the games masters who had been innocently involved. Everyone I knew who worked in the industry felt chilled.

Even when unforeseeable if, with hindsight, you find yourself in a position to wonder whether you contributed to something evil and horrific it will change you. It's not your fault but it will change you, that's just human psychology.

It's worth remembering that the people we play our games with are real people and that their lives and safety matters. If we get caught up in the narrative flow of our games to the point we lose sight of this we risk damage not only to other people but to ourselves.

Mittani update

His wife posted this:

[He will resign]^^ Just the chair, not the CSM entirely. Though I kinda want him to resign the whole thing. (But then I hate this game and everything associated with it.)

It was interesting that she added this:

I am continually grateful to my foresight in keeping my own last name. Bad enough when he gets stalked and people threaten to kill our dog. 

Eve is real. Too real.

Further updates:

The jita scams have started:

Slaatibartfast > Hi, I'm a family member of a victim of cyber bullying who is currently in hospital following a failed suicide attempt. Unfortunately we have no medical insurance and will soon be forced to pull the plug. Please donate your isk now! Furthermore

And someone convoed the suicidal player in game. He's alive and well and hadn't paid any attention to Fanfest. He was happily mining and was wondering why loads of Goons suddenly turned up to gank him.

Too meta?

Eve Online is famous for blurring the line between the video game world and the real one. It has a special website for Eve history and stories called Eve is Real. It has a history of players acting in peculiar ways as when a player attempted to cut the power to a rival player's house or when a Russian billionaire spent a small fortune on game money.

But the line has rarely been blurrier than this week when at Fanfest, Goons CEO The Mittani conducted his Alliance's official policy of harassing and teasing miners from the stage of the Alliance Panel. A drunken Mittani encouraged players to laugh at this player after receiving a reaction from him that he was suicidal.

Mittani takes the mic to give his presentation at 57.30. There's a joke going around about him being a LARPer and they've given him a wizard hat and he's getting into the spirit.

His talk is an explanation of why Goons play Eve. He starts off with a slide of a prayer that apparently a player actually used in the game to save his Eve alliance. In the prayer this person recognises that Jesus Christ intervened to save his internet spaceships.

He then posts a slide of a post written in atrocious English by a player extremely angry with what he perceives as Mittani's orchestration of a nerf on titans (the largest class of spaceship in the game).

It's his third slide, from 1.01 onwards, that's rather alarming. He introduces it by saying that "we're sure he's not dead."

OK so now I'm going to guilt trip you all. I want to read a little disclaimer before I read this post. He's not dead. We think. He might actually have killed himself but ... going to lie to you all and say that we're sure that he's not dead (he might have committed suicide).

The Goons encountered this player during the Gallente Ice Interdiction. He had 23 accounts all running Mackinaws and was farming ice. Ice farming is (when people don't harass you) a laid back placid pastime. Ice collects much slower than normal mining products. You only need to move a block once every 5 minutes or so or once every 10 minutes if you fit for cargo space. This player would have had a peaceful soporific game experience until the Goons started picking on ice miners.

So they ganked him, then they charged him 1.3 billion isk to register in a phoney protection programme then they ganked him some more. He wrote a heartfelt and very upset letter than The Mittani used in his presentation.

Since my divorce all I want to do is die and I've been doing that a lot in this game.


Sorry for making you mad at me. I'll leave you alone now and never enter your space again. I will be off looking for a nice quiet corner somewhere.

(They told him Amarr high sec was Goon owned territory and they were punishing him for trespassing).

OK, it's kind of appalling to read in text but I think this is the end product of a chain of events.
The Goon bandwagon has rolled along on the energy and humour of its leaders. All Goon CEOs tend to be eccentric and given to ever-increasing dramatic stunts to appease their fractious membership.

The Mittani in particular has been drawn into his alter ego as no one else has. He even gave up his job in a law firm. And he's been far more successful than other Goon leaders, becoming a recognised MMO expert, writing a column at Ten Ton Hammer and giving speeches including one at GDC.

So like many performers he's to some extent had to become the part in order to perform to the hilt.

Equally the miner clearly has problems separating in-game actions from out-of-game actions. He conflates people ganking him with his wife divorcing him, he seems to just see that as what people are like.

After the event CCP launched an investigation into The Mittani's behaviour. Possible sanctions include sacking him from the CSM or banning him from the game.

The Mittani has apologised. A little disingenously I feel, claiming that you were mean because you were drunk isn't plausible when the meanness is part of a slide presentation that clearly took time and forward planning to make.


I feel absolutely ashamed of my behavior at the Alliance Panel. It's one thing to play a villain in an online roleplaying game ... But I am not that character in real life,

He's considering resigning from the CSM.

Perhaps it's time we started seeing game behaviour as not something hermetically sealed away from real life. Particularly with generations rising who have never not known online interaction you just can't separate the online space from the "real" world. It's all real.

It's been a harsh experience for both players. I have some sympathy for both of them.

To the miner I send my very best wishes and hope you feel stronger soon. I hope and believe it's just a dark patch you're going through, things will get better.

To The Mittani it's probably time to ease back a little. You've clearly got too sucked into the Eve narrative to the point where it's taking over. Just be a player for a few months, a follower, an eminence grise.

I also think it's time the Goons as a whole did some introspection. It's been a long time since a site was set up in the 90s to "mock itself and the rest of the internet". The internet is different now, our society is different. We're no longer separate from it. Something Awful isn't a cesspool of idiocy, people there really respect each other (sometimes at the point of a banhammer). If someone posted something suicidal in the SA boards they'd get mature and considerate responses.

However on Eve Online boards Goons are still posting things like:
Anybody who threatens to commit suicide over a video game deserves to be mocked.

You'd be banned for life if you did that on SA.

If you goons really want to represent Something Awful it's time to rethink. You are every bit as much to blame as your CEO, you drive your CEOs to act that way with your relentless and voyeuristic consumption of sensation.

Thursday 8 March 2012

D3 Analyst - my first analytical post

I've written a long post looking at Skill Doodling over on my new blog. If you're looking forward to Diablo 3 I hope you'll give it a look.

Tuesday 6 March 2012

Blog reorganisation

I'm reorganising my blogging a little.

First, I'm splitting off my Diablo 3 blogging into a separate blog:

It makes sense to do this for several reasons. I want my D3 blog to be a commercial blog with adverts. This blog is mainly about MMOs. I want my D3 blogging to eventually lead on to more advanced forms of communication such as podcasting or Youtube or a gold guide.

I'll continue to maintain Stabbed Up and will post about MMOs as the enthusiasms come and go. At the moment I'm just playing Eve in maintenance mode, otherwise it's all Diablo. I'm playing a lot of D2 and planning a lot for D3.

Next I'm disabling anonymous comments. I simply get far too much spam and it's a pain. Having said that I've had some excellent anonymous comments and I don't want to discourage you. If you've posted a quality comment here anonymously please don't feel unwelcome, just make an account somewhere and keep sharing your opinions.

And let me take this opportunity to thank the blogging community in general and my readers in particular for your support over the years. The number of hits seems quite staggering to me and the quality of the comments is a delight. I had no idea when I started blogging how much I'd grow to appreciate the dialogue. You're all quite wonderful.

Note that this isn't an exit post, in fact I think I'll be blogging a LOT more although for now that's mainly going to be on my new blog.


Diablo 3: Witch Doctor progression up to 30

I've been planning out my Witch Doctor using this excellent tool (many thanks to the author!). I'm constructing my builds towards a layout of
Single Target nuke
Multi-target Nuke

This aims to support a playstyle of run up to the monsters, drop the opener, nuke, loot and onwards.

Here goes:

Level 1 Poison Dart

Level 2 Poison Dart, Grasp of the Dead

Level 3 Poison Dart, Corpse Spiders (a single target spell and a multi-target spell)

Level 4 Poison Dart, Corpse Spiders, Summon Zombie Dogs (the dogs are effectively a passive)

Level 5 Poison Dart, Plague of Toads, Summon Zombie Dogs (the toads are clearly annoying to use but hit harder and instantly and there's no issue at this early stage running up to the mobs to spam it).

Levels 6-8 Splinters, Plague of Toads, Summon Zombie Dogs (big upgrade to the dart making it competitive with more powerful high level spells when considering it's also cheap to cast).

Level 9 Splinters, Haunt, Plague of Toads, Summon Zombie Dogs (our fourth slot gets used for a spell that's useful if cast early in a long fight).

Level 10 Vermin, Splinters, Haunt, Plague of Toads, Summon Zombie Dogs (at this stage of the game given a defensive passive or a damage passive we may as well take the offensive option).

Level 11 Jungle Fortitude, Splinters, Haunt, Firebomb, Life Link (at last a hard-hitting aoe to replace the horrible toad spell. Also an upgrade to the dogs. We'll swap passives if we're not using any of the spells affected by Vermin).

Level 12-3 Vermin, Splinters, Haunt, Firebats, Life Link (because of the passive the bats beat the bombs and at this stage I'm assuming it doesn't matter foregoing some ranged safety).

Level 14 Vermin, Splinters, Haunt, Explosive Toads, Life Link, Horrify (arggh bloody toads. Still 169% weapon damage times 1.2 is just too strong to pass up).

Level 15 Gruesome Feast, Splinters, Haunt, Firebomb, Life Link, Horrify (I have no idea whether sometimes having +10-50% extra Int beats 20% extra damage but it applies to all spells and it lets us drop the toads for the much safer option of lobbing bombs from a safe distance. Even if the damage isn't better it gives us mana).

Level 16 Gruesome Feast, Splinters, Haunt, Firebomb, Life Link, Spirit Walk (Spirit Walk sounds like it lets us walk through walls, across rivers etc which seems pretty useful).

Level 17 Gruesome Feast, Splinters, Spider Queen, Firebomb, Life Link, Spirit Walk (straight replacement for our opener option).

Level 18 Gruesome Feast, Splinters, Spider Queen, Fire Pit, Life Link, Spirit Walk (straight upgrade).

Level 19 Gruesome Feast, Dire Bats, Spider Queen, Fire Pit, Life Link, Spirit Walk, Gargantuan (the big guy seems like another spell that's effectively passive, the bats are a very long range very powerful spell that reads like it's single target).

Level 20 Gruesome Feast, Vermin (or Pierce the Veil if mana is a non-issue), Dire Bats, Spider Queen, Fire Pit, Life Link, Spirit Walk, Gargantuan

OK let's review it now. Our two passives give us damage and some mana regen, also occasional resistance boosts. Life Link and Gargantuan are close to being passives, they may just occasionally need to be recast if the summons dies. Our offensive spells are Spider Queen at the start followed up by Dire Bats (single Target) or Fire Pit (multi-target).

Level 21 Gruesome Feast, Vermin, Dire Bats, Spider Queen, Fire Pit, Rabid Dogs, Spirit Walk, Gargantuan

Level 22 Gruesome Feast, Vermin, Dire Bats, Spider Queen, Acid Cloud, Rabid Dogs, Spirit Walk, Gargantuan

Level 23 Gruesome Feast, Vermin, Dire Bats, Toad of Hugeness, Acid Cloud, Rabid Dogs, Spirit Walk, Gargantuan

Levels 24-7 Gruesome Feast, Vermin, Resentful Spirit, Toad of Hugeness, Acid Cloud, Rabid Dogs, Jaunt, Gargantuan (I'm told that Resentful Spirit runes Haunt into a much shorter duration dot or even a nuke. It's worth trying it at this point and seeing if it's an improvement over the Dire Bats).

Level 28 Gruesome Feast Vermin, Resentful Spirit, Toad of Hugeness, Acid Cloud, Rabid Dogs, Jaunt, Humongoid.

Level 29 Gruesome Feast Vermin, Resentful Spirit, Toad of Hugeness, Acid Cloud, Final Gift, Jaunt, Humongoid.(Losing a bit of damage for more health globes seems a reasonable choice at this stage. This is around the end of normal/start of Nightmare so things may be getting a little harder).

Level 30 Fierce Loyalty, Gruesome Feast, Zombie Handler, Resentful Spirit, Toad of Hugeness, Acid Cloud, Final Gift, Jaunt, Humongoid. It's important at this stage to be picking gear that supports the Fierce Loyalty passive - attacker takes damage and health regeneration. We'll also drop Vermin for Zombie Handler so that we can face Nightmare difficulty with tougher minions).

Review at level 30. Stronger minions that benefit from our equipped items. Jaunt is likely to be the most useful utility spell, if not we've got lots of other options including Horrify, Mass Confuse and Big Bad Voodoo. I don't know which our best nukes to be, my next blog post will look at mana costs, area of effect and damage in the Witch Doctor nukes up to 30.

Friday 2 March 2012

Diablo 3: Tactical evaluation - Holy Trinity

Back in the day Diablo multiplayer was firmly an Everyone is Dps game. This was principally due to the lack of a decent heal. The Paladin class had a weak heal but it was unreliably and hugely over-shadowed by other methods of healing such as life leech and potions.

It's also true that the community was less aware of trinity possibilities. The internet only really became widespread for gaming in about 1996 so in 1999 when Diablo 2 came out most players had just moved from single player offline games where of course dps is the default playstyle (perhaps with self-heals).

I think Diablo 3 will see a lot of trinity gameplay. It's possible to make a decent Barbarian tank based on Threatening Shout which with the Demoralise rune becomes a spammable aoe taunt. For example this one has very high armour, stuns, damage reduction, resist bonus and self-healing.

It's certainly possible to make a decent Monk healer. This one relies on high spirit generation to supplement a formidable range of heals with heal on demand Cyclone Strikes.

What's more the other classes have methods of becoming more group friendly. I'll explore in more depth in later posts but to start with the Wizard and Demon Hunter can crowd control and the Witch Doctor can not only crowd control but adds that nice wall of meat to hide behind.

Regarding treasure generation there are two elements to the equation - kills per minute and magic find (or gold find) bonuses. Being in a group may allow you to sub in some magic find gear over other options because other people have got your back.

Regarding difficulty, well, if a monster is challenging to a soloer, is it really challenging to a very high armour Barbarian who is getting healed? Perhaps not. And the challenge can be reduced by burning the monster down fast.

We've been warned Inferno level D3 will be exceptionally difficult. The devs have reported that they're dying a lot in internal play tests. Perhaps one way to handle that challenge is with the Trinity.

A game designer friend is quite convinced that the Holy Trinity is an exploit that became a feature, that originally games were not designed to cope with a team that presents the best armour, the highest dps, and the maximum healing at the point of contact.

Thursday 1 March 2012

Diablo 3: My excitement is growing

Over the last week I've been playing a lot of Diablo 2. I've got past its datedness and been sucked right in by its fascinating range of possibilities and addictive loot generation system. Of course it helps that it's possibly quite a good way to prepare for Diablo 3.

So what have I learned playing Diablo 2 that might be relevant?

First, melee is harder than ranged. While we can't quite be sure that Diablo 3 will play similarly to its predecessors that's a view which is shared by some of those who've tried D3 in Beta. Initially in D2 the person I played with choose a melee paladin with a two-handed sword - he died constantly in Tal Rasha's Tomb at the end of Act 2 Normal. So we changed it to a trapper and a zookeeper and that seems like a combination that will do well in Diablo 3.

Both classes have off-screen ranged power. To get maximum range in Diablo 2 you need to set the display to 800 * 600; fire a spell that lands in a corner of the screen and which damages mobs off-camera. He uses traps to do this I use bait golem. Chuck a golem in and if nothing wakes up and attacks it, that spot is safe so move there and repeat. There are plenty of offscreen options in D3 (including summonses and traps).

One of the interesting differences between the games is the ease of respeccing. I've realised playing the modern version of Diablo 2 how fundamentally being able to respec has altered the game. Diablo 3 goes even further. Want to jump over that river? Swap in Leap Attack or Teleport and off you go.

This means that the "here's my build!" threads that I and others have made are slightly skewed in concept. You need several builds and should be prepared to alter them on the fly. Rather than being a "Whirlwind Barb" or a "zookeeper" a master Diablo 3 player will be able to use any skill situationally and will know the synergies.

Synergies brings me on to another fundamental difference. In D2 most people constructed their characters in a void. The game is based on a everyone is dps paradigm anyway plus there were few social skills and they were weak (eg Holy Bolt).

In D3 synergies between classes can be very powerful. Combined with the ease of respeccing you should be ready to swap skills in to suit other people. That's fairly explicit for the Monk where people are obviously going to ask for particular mantras. I also think many people coming from WoW is going to expect a Barbarian player to tank for them.

Here's my impression of what people will generally want from other players:

Barbarian - tank. My guess is most people who play Barbs will consider the class dps and most people who don't play Barbs will consider them tanks. People may ask you to use the shout that makes mobs drop extra treasure.
Demon Hunter - dps, snares
Monk - healer, buff. Expect to hear the most abuse if you join random games and don't heal people or buff them with the right mantra.
Witch Doctor - tank. People will expect you to keep up summons for them to hide behind (possibly while simultaneously complaining about how laggy you are to play with and how over-powered you are).
Wizard - dps

As ever playing within a more understanding community will insulate one from the horrors of the internet public.