Wednesday, December 19, 2012

My New Job

With my recent appointment as Director of Operations, I felt that I should take some time to talk about my view of the Uni. I must admit that I was both honored and slightly trepidatious when Kelduum first approached me about taking the job. I have been very happy as Director of Logistics, and the thought of having to fill the job occupied by people such as Kelduum, Dee Carson, and Kassie Kelmar was overwhelming. I can only assure you that I will do my best to rise to the occasion and live up to the faith Kelduum has put in me.

Now, considering my last 2 months as Acting Director of Operations, and my previous 4 years as Director of Logistics, I don't think anyone is expecting any drastic changes in how the University functions. That being said, E-Uni, like any organization, must continue to evolve as the game changes and the community grows. This last year has been a great one for the University, seeing the rise of great programs like the LSC, NSC, WHC, and AMC. I will continue to support these types of changes that make a positive impact on the University as a whole, while still remaining true to our core values.

For the near future I will continue to function as the head of the Logistics Department. It will pass on to someone else at a later point, but, and I'm sure this is no surprise to the people that know me, I actually like spreadsheets. I enjoy that job, and would like to continue until I have the Department in a great state to turn over to someone else, instead of the work-intensive mess I've created for myself. I don't want to inflict the current Dir Log duties on anyone.

I hope that everyone will realize that I am open to ideas and positive discussions about what can be beneficial to the University. If you feel you need to discuss something with me, feel free to convo me in-game or send me a forum PM. I will do my best to address everyone's needs.

Fly safe (or dangerously)

your newly condemned Director of Operations,
Azmodeus Valar

-Previously posted to Eve University forums

Monday, September 24, 2012

Another reason why I love the Uni

Last night my wife had something to do for a few hours, so I hopped onto mumble and joined a fleet.  Now, this was no normal fleet. This particular fleet had been advertised for weeks, and had a very specific purpose: to let new players see what it is like to kill a carrier.

Its amazing what type of participation you can get when you announce a purpose like that.  Our fleet quickly passed the 100 player mark, with some older players deciding to bring out some fancy toys (faction BS, some carriers, and one or two T3s) to mark the occasion.  The bulk of the fleet, however, was t1 ships, ranging from frigs to battleships.

Now, I joined late and only had a jaguar in the station with me.  But, no one considered turning me down, no matter how little I would bring to a fight like the one planned...  the uni accepted every single player who wanted to try some PVP. The cap ships we were going after would be the first pvp kill for quite a few players in the fleet.

Once in the fleet, it was a great mix of strict combat coms when needed, to joking around and linking some pretty funny pictures while we were waiting for the targets to take the bait. 

Our opponents, PHEW and RnK, are incredibly talented PVP corps that we were lucky enough to have engage at a time when they didn't have reinforcements available, or scouts to see the main body of our fleet a few jumps away.  I can only imagine their surprise when local jumped up by over 100 players, a few of our players jumped in carriers, and their 2 carriers and 2 dreads starting melting.It was a bit close at first, with one of our carriers forced into triage, but we quickly started pulling ahead.

I have no doubts that the fight would have ended entirely differently if RnK had a chance to bring a full fleet instead of the isolated pilots we got, but even with the rather 1-sided fight, they were incredibly classy about the encounter. I already had a lot of respect for them, but that really drove home what a good group of guys they are.

And this is why I love the Uni.  We accept anyone, go out into fights that could go either way, and just have some fun.  Forget the drama, the forum wars, etc....  I have a lot of fun flying with the Uni, and no matter which way the fights go, meeting some great guys. Occasionally we blow them up, and occasionally we explode, but either way, its fun to do it with my corpmates.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Where to draw the line? Setting standards

One topic that frequently comes up in the Uni is how to balance the idea of having a minimum standard of skill in order to do certain areas of the game with the desire to be inclusive and allow new players to participate.

Previously, it had popped up in the idea of PVP training.  Some players wanted to start training in more specialized types of fleets, which by their compositional requirements would necessitate a level of SP that new players couldn't have.  Others fought for the idea of inclusive fleets so new players can have some fun and learn the basics of PVP.

In incursions, we have a similar conversation happening now, with some people wanting to raise the standard (somewhat low already) for fittings in order to join a Uni incursion fleet.  This is to address the new changes to incursions, which tend to result in higher demands in the site, and higher Sansha controls, which exacerbates the issue.

I for one find this type of debate healthy, as it shows some trends I believe are very strong in the Uni, our desire to include our newer pilots, and our desire to improve ourselves in different aspects of the game.  I prefer a balance, where we have options for both types of approaches.  For the PVP realm, this means frequent fleets that include all players, alongside more specialized fleets to allow older players to develop and practice new skills they can teach later. 

In incursions, however, we an additional complicating factor, in that their very design influences what is a successful fleet composition.  A PVP fleet with a lot of new players just has to pick different targets or strategies.  An incursion fleet that is understrength simply can't complete the sites. As such, I think a raising of the bar in this area is probably called for, simply to allow Uni students to participate successfully. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Community Fansite Competition

The Guild Life is currently having a competition for the best Eve Online fansite.  I'd like to encourage all members to vote for the Uni.  Our website, including the wiki, is a great resource for a lot of players, both in and out of corp.

Take a minute to click here and go vote for us.  You will need a membership on the site, but its quick to sign up.  PS: Make sure you validate the email address you use to sign up and vote.


Saturday, May 5, 2012

Corp Mechanics

On mumble today, some of my corp mates started asking me some questions about how corp mechanics work, such as hangars, roles, titles, etc...  Luckily, the E-UNI wiki has a nice primer on corp mechanics :

I thought I'd take a second to just review a bit about corp hangars, and how we work around some of the limitations.

Corporations are given 7 corporate hangar divisions (these show up as tabs) at every single office that they rented or corporate hangar they possess (pos/ship/etc..) in the Universe.  The corporation can then decide exactly what each individual member of the corporation has access to. We can also rename these divisions to something that helps explain what we use them for.

First, we can set access per division, so one person can get access to division 1 only, while another gets access to divisions 2 and 4.    Additionally, we have a small degree of control over at which locations the person gets access.  For example, I can give an EUNI member access to division 1 (alpha) at HQ, Based At, or Other.  HQ is fairly self-explanatory, as it only covers the hangars at the corporate headquarters.  Based at covers a single other station of my choosing, as I can set an individual to be officially based out of a single station (but only one).  Lastly, Other gives access to literally every other division 1 hangar in the entire universe.  Inside of that, we can decide what kind of access we want to give them.  The options are to allow them to see inside the hangar (Query), take items (Take), or remove containers (Container Take). Obviously, you can see that this is not the fine-tuned mechanism for access control that a lot of people would like.

To further complicate things, hangars have no in-built access logs.  Anything left on the hangar floor can be taken by any individual with no record of it.  One work around is to place security locked containers in the hangar.  These generate an access log for anyone that opens the hangar, locks, or unlocks an item. We keep everything in the containers locked, and ask that people just unlock, take what they need, and relock the items. Thus, we can have a record of anyone who takes anything from a container by seeing that they unlocked 9 items, and relocked 8.  We don't give out the ability to move containers from corporate hangars.  If people could remove containers, they could remove the access logs. This way, the logs are always kept secure.

Another method that is used is through the use of restricted passwords.  We have some hangars where 4 or 5 different groups of people have "Access" to the hangar, but everything the need is kept inside of passworded containers. The groups each have the passwords for the containers they need, and nothing else.  Periodically, someone has the fun job of resetting all passwords (in case they leaked) and mailing the new passwords to the necessary people.

This works great for items and packaged ships, but some items (such as rigged ships), can't be put in a hangar.  These can be taken by any player with access, which is why we don't put anything like that in the generally accessible hangars.

Hopefully, this gave a brief overview of how we use hangars.  If you have additional questions, ask in the comments.  Maybe I'll talk about roles/titles next.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Directors Getting Rich

It seems like its the time of year again when people are leveling accusations that the Directors of E-UNI siphon off the wallet to make themselves rich. First of, it is a categorical lie that any director (or CEO) take isk from the corp wallet to enrich themselves. But, let me take some time to explain how you can know this yourself..

1. EUNI doesn't really make as much money as people think.  We've had .1% tax (so we can keep a record of who runs missions) for a while now, and even before that, had some periods with no effective tax rate.  This means our entire organization runs on donations and lotteries.  I will admit, some of our contributors are extremely generous, and it is a great help, but huge donations aren't common. Most donations are <50m.

While the latest lottery was a significant money builder (thanks Nev), this is the exception, not the rule.  I've run lotteries in the past that only made 100m for the Uni. 

2. Some of our services are expensive. People look at things like our skillbook wallet, and say "Its only 1m a day, it can't be that expensive."  However, when you look at this program across 1800 people, it gets much larger. Now, we all know that not every student uses this, and its not always used to the max for a person each day.  So,  lets assume that only 10% of our students use this on a given day, and only for 500k. 1800 * .1 * 500000 * 30 gives us a monthly expense of = 2,700,000,000.  2.7b isk a month isn't exactly pocket change.  If you think 10% is too high, even 2% of our students using this program on  given day brings us to a monthly expense of 540m.

Then, just look at something as simple as our hangars.  Someone could easily fit out a t1 rifter for 500k worth of items from our hangar.  The same math applies as above.  If we had 2% of our students grab a rifter each day, it would be 540m.  Larger numbers quickly scale even higher.  When you factor in cruisers (at over 10x the cost for the hull+fittings), it quickly scales to large numbers of isk.

3.  Any director can see the wallet logs for the entire corp.  For this to actually be true, all of the current and former directors would have to be running a perfect conspiracy where no one has ever broken silence. Additionally, some of the managers can see wallet logs as well, so they would also have to maintain the perfect conspiracy.   We have had several different managers over the last few years, and several new directors as well.  They just wouldn't all agree to be part of a conspiracy of this nature. Anyone who understands human nature knows that this isn't just implausible, but also practically impossible.

Our wallet is needed to support what we do.  We don't have the isk to spare to make ourselves rich, and we don't have a culture within the leadership that allows it.  As soon as one of us tried, they would quickly be removed and ostracized. 

Now, to be honest, that doesn't mean I haven't benefited economically from students.  Its just not been a direct benefit as a result of my position, or a benefit that couldn't be duplicated by any other eve player. As an example, as a private eve player, I've done things like haul in some t2 hulls/mods (which we don't supply as a corp) and sold them on the local market at our HQ.  So, I did make isk off of students buying my goods, but any other player could have done the same thing. This is also an activity that happens in plenty of corps, with some people working to make a bit of isk off of supplying a market used by the corp.

In fact, several of the Uni directors are quite poor compared to other players of their age, and a very few others are richer.  It has nothing to do with their position as a corp director, and a lot to do with how they spend their time in eve when they aren't doing Uni stuff.  Those that do t2 manufacturing, trading, etc.. have bigger wallets.  Those that avoid that stuff don't....its really as simple as that.

Why do I do it?

In a recent thread, someone asked why people would want to stay in EUNI and teach, be a director, or work as a manager. This isn't the first time I've been asked something like that, so I thought I'd talk about why I do it.

First off, I don't do it for some powertrip, or any of those common accusations.  Thats not the type of behavior I've ever really liked.  I will admit to enjoying the occasional trolling, but thats a bit different. I do it mainly because of  3 reasons.

1.  I actually do enjoy helping people.  My day job also involves a career in which I assist people, and its just part of my personality that I enjoy it.  Now, I don't do this my entire time in eve.  There are times when I just want to get on an alt and do something else, and I do.  Sometimes it might have involved scamming someone.  Other days it might be trying1 to blow up some unsuspecting guy. It depends on my mood. But, I do consistently find helping new players to be "fun".

2.  I enjoy the community in Eve University.  When I first joined, I didn't have any plans on sticking around for the long term.  However, over time I grew to like the people in Eve Uni.  Yes, the vast majority of the people from my first year have gone elsewhere, but other people have come in and become my friends as well. The people have changed, but the sense of community has stayed the same. 
3. For some bizarre reason, part of my personality enjoys puzzles and organiztion.  My job as Logistics director puts me in a position where I have to take things like production lines, BPO availability, corp roles, isk flow, etc.. and fit them together in a way to maximize our capabilities to efficiently meet our needs.  I know a lot of people would be bored silly by this, but for some reason I'm not.  Call it a major personality flaw, but it does make me find my eve "job" fun.  When someone asks a question about how to redo our title structure to accomplish xy while still being secure and not doing z, I do find it interesting.  God, I'm weird.

1I said trying because I am remarkably average in PVP.  I'm probably above average at the market and industry, but I am not a PVP god and will/have never claim(ed) to be one.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Its Just a Game

Every so often, I feel the need to remind people of a vital fact about EVE, its just a game.

Now, its obviously a very addictive game for many of us, and it is complicated by the fact that we develop friendships and a sense of camraderie with other players, but it is still just a video game.  I oftentimes see people get incredibly invested, to the point of actually hating other players in the game. No matter what someone has done, I don't think I've ever hated another player.  I will admit that they irritate me sometimes, but never to the point of hate.

This type of thinking even extends into groups, where group A hates group B, etc.., and the players in those groups start to demonize or dehumanize their opponents.  I have groups that I would happily blow up in space, and I really like some of the people in those groups.

 I see people create fake twitters, facebooks, etc... and spend good amounts of time attacking each other, not over good fights, but actually over their feelins about the other person, and I have to ask, why?  Is it really worth the time investment to try and marginalize someone over pixels?

Thursday, February 23, 2012


With CCP's announcement that they are redoing wardecs, I wanted to share some thoughts.

People seem to discuss wardecs with an “ideal” wardec in their mind, and assume all decs are like this. To see one possible issue with wardecs, lets look at a wardec between two corps. (based on real events)

Corp A is a small group of friends. They are relatively new to the game (<1 year), and like to run missions, mine, etc… Maybe every so often they will try some w-space and get involved in pew-pew. Mostly, they enjoy spending their time playing with one another.  The corp hangars and wallets give them a convenient way to share items and isk with each other. They typically fly in a pocket of a few systems.

Corp B is 1 guy.  It’s a 20m SP alt of an experienced player.  The main is unknown.  

Corp B decides to dec Corp A for the lolz. They didn’t do anything to him, he just saw 2 of them in hulks one day and was bored.  Plus, corp on corp wardecs are dirt cheap.  And he doesn’t just fly around space looking for them.  He has an unknown npc corp alt in a cov-ops run locators, probe out enemies, etc..  Only when he has a warp-in does the actual character in the deccing corp login, warp to the target, and kill it.  He doesn’t stick around for “goodfights”. He logs in, gets a kill, and logs out. If his target has backup, he has a neutral RR alt ready to login and rescue him, along with some friends running neutral RR.

What is Corp As response to this type of wardec?  They could fleet up, but then Corp B just won’t log in the combat character.  They’re fairly casual players, so they don’t have the numbers to always have a fleet going, and even if they get 2-3 guys, they can’t break the neutral RR. It also requires that they stop their normal operations (mining, missions, etc..) and just sit around in a combat fleet. 

What about hiring mercs?  Well, corp B wouldn’t be bothered by mercs. He doesn’t log in for that, its just an alt.  He’ll just play his main until he sees a moment of vulnerability to take advanatage of.  And what merc corp is going to fly permanent combat cover 24/7 in sufficient numbers to protect corp A if they want to mine or mission? The worst part is, they begin to understand that they are never safe.  If he isn't logged in, it means nothing. His alt(s) could easily be monitoring them at any given moment.

There is no effective combat response they can use.  Oh, they could move to somewhere else in high-sec, but he can just follow with no risk (alts or courier contracts to move ships, and a fast moving ship to move the character into position). They could move to low-sec, 0.0, or w-space, but that isn’t the style of play they want.  They don’t want to join a major group (0.0), and a group of their experience and size would be torn apart in low-sec.  They could do 0.0, but they are casual players that don’t want the logistics of living permanently in a hole. They could dissolve the corp, but most people seem to want any reforms of the war-dec system geared to prevent them from doing this.  They usually just wait until corp B gets bored while they don’t play, dissolve the corp, or quit playing eve all together if it goes on too long.

Now, corp B has put some planning into what he does, but does it really take much skill? No. Its something he does because its easy and entertaining. 

How do we design a system that allows for actual combat in high-sec, but involves more aspects of warfare then this?  Something that brings politics, logistics, tactics, and strategy into play? Something where no one is completely safe, but it also isn’t a pay for easy kills type mechanic?

You could say that no-one should form a corp if they aren't ready to handle it, but its somewhat niave to assume that all corps will start completely combat ready for any threat.  Do we expect any corp that forms to be ready to fight off a prolonged assault by (insert major corporation here) from day one?  No. We expect them to handle threats proportional to their skills, and to grow in skills, experience,and maybe players over time. We need a system were small corps can evolve, starting with that small group of friends, and maybe becoming a 200 person strong combat corp in 0.0 two years later.
Now, there is a place for all players to be vulnerable, and for no one to be completely safe, even in highsec.  Decs for the lolz have their place in the culture of eve, but how does it get balanced to give some power to the other corp as well? CCP has their work cut out for them to design a robust system that really enhances EVE’s gameplay, makes combat possible for all corporations, but balances aggressor/defender at the same time.

I am interested to see what approach they decide to take.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Secrets of "The Blob"

A lot of times, E-UNI gets charged with doing nothing but "blobbing".  I thought I'd take a second to talk about this criticism.

First, I've noticed that the definition of "a blob" depends on who is doing the talking.  A 20 person gang considers the 25 person gang "a blob" (if they lose to it.  If they win, they won in "the face of superior numbers"), while the solo guy considers 5 a blob.  For now, we'll just go with the definition of "more people than I have."  Tied into this concept is the idea that people should bring just enough ships to fight their target, and no more.  However, this isn't always that easy. First off, it would assume that you know what you'll be fighting when you start forming your gang, and most of ours are just the "roam till you find something" sort of gang.  Second, if you did know what you'll be fighting ahead of time, its probably a strategic target, and why wouldn't you bring enough forces to improve your chances to win? Lastly, it comes from a perspective of goodfights, and that definition tends to change depending on the playstyle of the person saying it.

However, these arguments neglect the main contributing factor to our "blobs"; simple fact that we're a large corporation.  When someone makes an "x up for fleet" type comment in corp chat, they could easily be swarmed by 20-50 x's. Other times, it might only be 5-10.  Those FCs usually take everyone.  They don't tell people who are interested in pvp to sit this one out, they say "sure, join the pew-pew".

Now, would I prefer to see more focused small-gangs? Yes.  There is definitely a place for more selective types of gangs, and there should be more in the Uni. They are a great way to teach some different tactics and approaches to pvp.  However, we will (and should) always have open regular open pvp fleets where we take all comers.  This is the best way for our new players to go out, shoot at an enemy, maybe tackle a gate (oops), and discover the wonders of blowing someone up or being blown up.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

EUNI- A Different Type of Corporation

One of the major problems I see when people discuss E-UNI is that they look at it as just another corp/alliance in EVE.  This makes them view it with the same lens with which all other entities are judged, while the goal is completely different.
E-UNI doesn’t try to be a typical corporation.  We don’t focus on PVP, PVE, Industry, etc…  Most of the corp doesn’t focus on teaching (mostly older more knowledgeable players do).  We focus on community.  Our goal is to try and create an environment that will support new players into sticking with Eve, which is hard for new players without some sort of group to play with or people to support them. 
Our players start out knowing little about Eve, what types of gameplay they can try, or if they’ll enjoy them.  Over time most of them find that there is an aspect of Eve that they have come to love, or a group of players that they enjoy hanging out with.  These people move on and enjoy the game as they want.  Sometimes they move on to a different corp/alliance to try their new playstyle.  Other times, a group will leave and form their own corp.  This is exactly what we want.  We are one of the few entities in Eve that wants to see our players leave us for other groups.
Some of our players will find that the goal of E-UNI matches what they want to do in Eve and will stay with us.  These players move on into mentoring, running hangars, leading fleets, teaching classes, or just hanging out in chat or mumble and sharing their knowledge.  That’s perfectly fine with us. We need these types of individuals to run the corp, and we aren’t about forcing people to do certain activities.  We want each player to learn the basics of eve, and move on to doing what they want in their eve life.  If being in E-UNI is that playstyle, good for them.
The best part of this system is the number of these players that continue to hang out on our forums, drop by our mumble, and share their hard won lessons with the next crop of students.  Some of the best and most instructional posts on our boards come from these ex-members (no, I’m not naming names. I don’t want to start a flame war or upset someone if I forget them), and it’s a great benefit for our students.  How many corps in eve allow their ex-members access to most of their forums or voice comms? Our students get to hear advice on small-gang work from people who do it every day in Eve, some of whom are taking time away from being directors of their own corp.  If they want to learn about wormholes, wormhole dwellers answer their questions or take them into the depths of w-space for a spin.  They see 0.0 players rehash battles and tactics (with the occasional flaming) across the board. In other words, they see many different aspects of Eve, not just a single one. At this point, we have ex-members spread across every playstyle, many of whom are actively trying to support and attract new members to join their segment of eve. 
This is our mission…to form a community that goes beyond corp and political lines…beyond carebear vs pvper…a community that focuses on the game we all love and to share the love of that game with new players. The in-game corp structure is just a mechanic that facilitates our true purpose, forming a great gaming community to help people get into Eve.