Monday, April 30, 2012

[Happy Monday] Simply A Perk

“I still don’t get it.”  His words echoed into the metal crevasse which normally hosted one of the seven turret hardpoints.  “It just seems like a bunch of asshole shit to me.  No offence.”

“None taken, but you’re only partially right, Nef.”  Her response was casual, but it was nothing new.  Most who lived as immortals among men maintained a constant air of disinterest.  Ary had been on the cusp of such a mentality since she became a capsuleer, but it seemed her time in The Swarm exacerbated that particular personality trait.

Nef was Ary’s nephew and gunnery man.  He also boasted the honor of being the only person Ary trusted with her ships and equipment.  The moniker was not his birth name, but a familial nickname she gave him when they were children.  She was the only one who ever called him Nef.  If anyone else did, usually found themselves on the receiving end of a black eye. 

“They cried for blood.  We are simply answering the call.”  The indifference in her tone bothered him slightly, but she didn’t seem to care. “It’s a basic tenant of survival if you think about it.  I’ll give you an example.  You find yourself in a thick jungle, unfamiliar territory.  You see one of the people in your travel party go down.  Is screaming out into the darkness, into the dense thick unknown for help, your best option for survival?”

He knew instantly it was a metaphor for what transpired a month ago.  The Chairman, leader of The Swarm, has been sentenced to a Concord sanctioned cloning freeze.  During a public festival; the leader of the large alliance and (at the time) Council of Stellar Management went into a crass tirade singling out a specific pilot and encouraging some pretty heinous behavior in a rather grotesque display.  The alcohol fueled display was disgusting, but most didn’t bat an eye... until the result of this year’s polls came in. 

The announcement of his re-appointment caused backlash almost as volatile as The Jita Riots.  Pilots from all regions were howling for blood.  Some simply wanted The Chairman removed from office and others screamed for his final death.  The pressure for Concord sanctioned action was so strong they had no choice but to give in.  The Chairman was given a 30 day freeze and through a technicality he was removed from office.  The sentence was taken with grace, but the ordeal roused new bloodlust throughout the coalition.  To mark his release The Swarm and their allies intended to celebrate the best way they knew how; utter destruction and annihilation.

Nef watched Ary as he considered her question, but she didn’t seem to notice.  The majority of her focus was trained on the holo-tablet in her hands.  Even though she seemed distracted, he knew she was studying and testing him.  What did she want him to see?  Nef sat up from his reclined position, his large form slightly hunched.  Full lips pursed as his mind milled over her question.  Dirty, grease stained fingernails scratched at the scruff of his beard.  Then, suddenly, it struck him.

“No.  That’s the worst thing you could do.”  Nef startled himself as the words left from his mouth.

“Why?”  The answer from him in low, cool tone.

“Because when you scream out anyone can hear you.  Friend or foe.”

“And we have heard them.”  He watched as a dark smile curled at the edges of her mouth.  He watched her approach him with the same grace a dangerous animal uses to stalk their prey.  Her fingers danced deftly over the holo-tablet in her hand. The image projected changed from a Thrasher to a Hulk.  “However, it goes deeper.  What do you see?”

“A Hulk.”  Nef responded numbly.

“And now?”   Her fingers swiped over the screen and the image flickered shifting into a jump freighter.”

“An Anshar.”  Nef’s response came a little slowly this time, but it wasn’t due to lack of ship knowledge.  She knew he studied at Pator Tech School, so what was she trying to prove?

“And now?” The holo-image flicked a final time.

“An Orca.”

“Now, why would it benefit The Swarm to destroy these ships?” She gently laid the tablet down on the large fitting console positioned near the edge of the ship hanger.  “What little side project would...”

“OTEC.”  He was breathless as the word left his lips.  Nef was so wrapped up in his own thoughts he didn’t realize her cut off nor did he realize he was holding his breath.  His response did seem to please her. 

“And what better way to show them the error of their ways then to have them pay us to destroy them.”  The sweetness of her voice frightened him more than the darkness that laced her tone, but her smile.  Her smile terrified him.  “Like I said, you were partially right.  It’s part business and part... re-education.  Being an asshole is simply a perk.”

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Bad At Eve: Burn Jita

As I'm writing this, Burn Jita is in full effect and deep into it's third day.  It's been a fantastic experience which has been noted by gaming media [Euro Gamer|PCGamer], global media and all the savvy Eve Online players that take the time to pay attention to the meta game.  I mention that because even with podcast coverage, forum tears and a splash screen courtesy of CCP Games; people are still getting space murdered by the hundreds in a variety of expensive ships.

Seriously.  What the hell people? It's called "Awareness."

Now it's no secret that I enjoy a good gank.  I was a negative -10 and earlier this morning I manage to take my almost -6 back to a -8.8.  None of my kills were fantastically expensive or anything like that.  In fact most of my ganking attempts were pretty botched.  I could go on an on about all the external reasons why my ganks went to badly, but let's face it.  I'm just bad at Eve.

Above is a little video I made.  I've gotten in to the whole FRAPSing thing and I managed to remember to turn it on during one of my ganks.  For this particular fleet the FC was pmchem of Goonswarm.  In praise of pmchem; he was one of the few FCs mindful enough to incorporate tactics to allow pilots with already piss poor sec status to participate.  I'm thankful for that as I had been searching for a fleet since Thursday and was starting to get pretty pissed off about not finding one.

So let's take a look at this video.  Due to sizing I had to cut out the fit, but it was nothing more than a standard thrasher gank fit.  7 artys in the tops, 2 seeboos in the mids and 2 gyro's in the lows.  Pretty standard with faction ammo.  Some prefer fusion and others plasma.  Really it all depends on how close your warp in can get to the target.

The first thing you'll probably notice about the video is the opening warp.  I'm sideways.  It's a glitch, but it's a cool glitch.  It can most likely be chalked up to the local cap of 2200+/- and the 50% TiDi going on, both of which are clear in the video.

Now as I warp in, the intended target is already getting blown to smithereens.  Our fleet was mixed with positive and negative sec status pilots.  When the FC would call for the warp in, those with poor sec status would have to warp to an instant undock and then warp to the target while those with better sec status were able to warp directly.  This caused some of us to "show up late" and ultimately loose out on kills.  Couple that with the delightful "Are you sure? Please click yes/no" box (OMG can't wait for crimewatch safety trigger) and I missed the kill.  Pretty crappy, but dammit I will not be denied!

This is where the panic sets in.  Concord is after me.  Faction police are after me.  Other pilots are after me. If I'm going to kill something, I need to be decisive and kill something quick.  I take my chances, click on a bunch of random things, hot lock my grouped guns and hope for the best.  The best was a shuttle.  I'm not thrilled, but dammit it's something!

End of story; my ship explodes and I get my pod the hell out of dodge.  Not the best gank of Burn Jita, but it's my gank.

Shuttle Kill Mail:
My Loss Mail:

Opening Image: Sayyadinda Drain of MRCHI
Music: Lies by Big C TV
Terrible Piloting: Me

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

In Eve - Out of the Game

Gaming has become something more than just gaming. The word was once a simple verb, but now it has grown up and matured into a noun. Gaming is a thing, a way of life and an entity all its own. Eve Online is a haven that helped this transition come to pass.

I don’t think anyone sane would willing argue against Eve Online having a vibrant Meta-Game culture. In game, there’s a whole world of space ships, pirates, pioneers, carebears, politics, intrigues and all sorts of surprises. Outside the game, that delightful bouquet of in-game experience blossoms and flourishes into verdant fields of frienemies, gentleman’s agreements, news hounding, gossip and circles of camaraderie, knowledge sharing and interconnected experience that spans across counties, languages and any other barrier man could think to erect. Just thinking about it all makes me smile. It also makes me feel very unique and connected in a non-conventional way.

When I speak to friends who delve into other entertaining gaming options like Mass Effect 3, Skyrim (love that game) or World of Warcraft; they look at me a little funny when I tell them about Eve’s meta-game. They don’t understand that someone from an enemy alliance messaged me on skype to ask me if I’m up for a game of League of Legends or to tell me a hilarious story about them FCing a cruiser fleet. They don’t really understand why I pour so much of my energy in and time in a podcast I don’t get paid to produce. They don’t get why “standard comms” has extended to jabber and “optional comms” are now things like G+ and Twitter. They may not get it, but we get it.

I don’t think there are many games that can inspire so many of its players to creativity. The creative community in Eve gives me chills, laughs and at times causes my jaw to drop to the ground. There are movies better than main stream cinema, heart racing pvp videos, exploration documentaries, fan fiction stories, multiple kinds of art work including match stick and Lego models, paintings and digital art and even pumpkin carvings and baked goods. The best part about it all is that I get to participate in this too.

My participation in this type of meta-game is no secret. I have about seven parody songs published and even more written and waiting for me to catch the nerve to actual sing. I’ve been lucky to have a parody commercial highlighted by the powers that be behind the CCP Social Media camp (Hi Manifest!). Then the podcast is the obvious one. However, I’ve dabbled in to something new.

Recently, The Mittani has announced a “GSF Culture Revolution.” Really it’s more like a bad habits house cleaning. This particular revolution focuses on bad habits in fleet comms and over played idioms that have become extinct on the Something Awful forums. Rather than fill my blog with more :words: I’ll let my art do the talking. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.


What's propaganda without a little TSU? This also won me 500m ISK.

This was originally an ad for VD.  Photoshop is an amazing thing.

This one was the easiest, but I really like the final result.

Someone in jabber posted the original randomly and the idea came instantly.

I promised this was my last one. GSF directors were complaining I was going to break the alliance wallet.

At this point I'm checking myself in to re-hab.

And I fubared something. Kalaratiri left a comment on my blog.  I tried to accept it by using my phone.  My phone decided that I wanted to delete the comment instead.  Yay... touch screens.  Here's the comment.  
Not sure if Serious™
But I really hope you are :) It's be nice if Goons were actually growing up a little.
Yes, I am. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

[Happy Monday] The Fashionista

“You look absolutely stunning!” Clara gasped in delight as Ary emerged from the changing stall. Her words were breathless as she stood up from one of the overstuffed armchairs and approached the other woman.

Clara was one of those people you could only describe as delightful. She was sweet, charming and gentile with just enough sass and spirit to keep her on the level. Her smile was brilliant and sincere and the blonde that framed her face seemed to make her pale complexion glow with the warmth of a pink sun. Normally that smile was contagious. Normally.

Ary, on the other hand, was the very picture of unenthusiastic. Her lips were tight and her expression severe and stone set. Her posture mirrored her annoyance as she stood stiff in the open doorway. She stared at Clara for a moment before shaking her head in defeat and walking towards the viewing mirrors.

Her distaste magnified once she saw her reflection. Dark eyes rolled towards the back of her head as she got an eyeful of herself in the outfit. She turned toward her friend. Clara could see that Ary had arrived at “the line.” A long sigh pushed passed her lips. The frown formed the moment her mouth closed.

“I look like a tool. Who even wears this shit?”

“State officials, high ranking military officers, various public figures, the wealthy and elite…” The obviously masculine, but delicately intoned voice paused. “… and then those that should consider themselves lucky.”

Ri’chard Faliieur was a Gallente fashion designer. Once a lowly cog in a textile factory, holo-images of his designs caught the eye of one of the fashion houses that now dominated the NeX Market. His rise to fame and status was near overnight, but the entitled attitude of a fashionista was something he seemed well versed in.

“Not to mention you’re simply wearing it all wrong.” His eyes fluttered as he moved towards the capsuleer in a huff. “I hardly appreciate the design on you and it’s my design.”

The furrier he carried in his right arm was gently placed onto the ottoman that sat in front of Carla’s former seat. The rodent like creature skittered to the edge towards its Master before sitting and casting out a small whine and sneeze.

Faliieur ignored the creature as his attention was focused on the wild pod pilot that stood before him. His hands worked quickly to adjust the uniform style dress Ary wore. It really wasn’t that bad.

It was a dark green color with small golden buttons down the front, on each breast pocket and on the cuffed sleeves. It was a simple design with neat pleats that made her look quiet official. The cut of the dress fit nicely to her curves. The length was short enough to show off a modest amount of thigh and the part of her calf the knee high boots didn’t cover. She looked stunning and the extra cleavage that showed when he straighten the hem line and adjusted her breasts didn’t hurt either.

“Hey! Watch it!” Ary shouted in shock. Her body automatically flinching back as the design got a bit too close for comfort.

“Oh please. I’ve touched all kinds of breasts and mine are bigger than yours anyway.” Faliieur quipped back as he continued about his task undeterred.

Faliieur was a portly man, but he carried it well. He was dressed in one of his own creations which a play on the Amarrian robe style. The tunic he wore was a rich pale blue material with elaborate patterns sticked in silver and sparkling green thread. Silver rings with green and blue gems flickered on his chubby fingers.

“Now, I just need to get the finishing touches. I’ll be back shortly... Ladies.” The final word was drawn out and his eye cut to Ary. Clara shot Ary a nervous glance as Faliieur departed.

“Ary, you promised!” Clara whispered urgently once Faliieur was out of ear shot. “This could be a huge contract for my corporation. I know you’re not into fashion or the NeX store, but the low and null sec markets have barely been touched. I know it’s a weird request, but he insisted on a... native.”

Ary’s left eyebrow rose, but she said nothing.

“Native of Null Sec.” This time it was Clara’s eyes rolling. “He wanted someone edgy, fierce and beautiful. Of course I thought of you first.”

“See... this is how I get mixed up in all the wrong things.” Ary’s voice and expression were still flat. “Some awesome person that I consider my friend goes around flinging incredibly accurate compliments.”

A sign of submission came as Ary finally smile, though faintly. Clara made it it difficult to be angry at any given length of time. “You owe me big time.”

“More than you know..” Clara’s words trailed off. A grimace coming to her face as Faliieur returned with the accessories.

It's Not Right, But It's Okay

It's not right but it's okay
I'm gonna make it anyway
Close the door behind you
Leave your key
I'd rather be alone than unhappy
- "It's Not Right, But It's Okay" - Whitney Houston
 Last night I took part in a series of fleets. It was a typical CFC roll through Tenal setting things on fire and burning Raiden.’s ho\use down. It was a pretty unremarkable night as we went from system to system putting this iHUB into reinforcement or shooting at those station services. Then the most unremarkable thing happened. A wild image link appeared in fleet.

A little while later this “article” was posted.

My reaction was to roll my eyes and close it for both. It doesn’t surprise to me to see a person touting racial slurs in a video game. The behavior has become accepted gamer culture regardless of TOSs or EULAs. If you’ve played any type of internet based game, you’ve seen or heard something similar. I’m sure there’s a statistic out there somewhere that says. “On XBox live every 5 seconds some over privileged child between the ages of 8-15 says the N-Word.” This is of course something I made up, but chances are it’s most likely every 2 seconds.

The word “nigger” has become a confusing and beguiling thing in the world today. In certain circles the word is mainstream and touted by entertainers, frat boys, 10 year olds (actual and mental-only) on internet, “street-folk” and hidden little gathering spaces where real racist people feel they can say it without any backlash. Even with its use, does anyone really know what it means anymore? More importantly what connotations does it carry from person to person?

Everyone comes from a different background and living experience. No two lives are the same and because of that our personal realms of reference are very different. Before I begin to talk about the word “nigger” and give my opinions; I feel I should give you some history. Let’s start with the definition of the word.

According to Wikipedia, the end all of all correct information on the internet [1], the short definition is this:
Nigger is a noun in the English language, most notable for its usage in a pejorative context to refer to black people (generally people of Sub-Saharan African descent), and also as an informal slang term, among other contexts.

My personal connotation of the word Nigger is this:
Less than a human being.

My personal opinion of the word comes from a plethora of experiences most of them surrounding my family. My mother’s side of the family descended from slave and Native American blood, however my father’s side of the family is Louisiana Mulatto (blacks considered to be free persons due to bi-racial backgrounds). My parents did quite a bit to teach me about racism, how to cope with it and how to overcome it. Both of my parents took part in equal rights demonstrations in the United States and have had some pretty extreme racial experiences.

When my mother was in high school, she attended a desegregated high school in Omaha, Nebraska. My mother is an incredibly intelligent woman who works hard at what she does and strives for the best. Her work ethic showed in her studies and especially in English where she aced her homework assignments and her tests. When she received her final grade; instead of the A she expected she received a low B. When she asked her white female instructor about this she was told that she was a nigger and will never be good enough for top honors. She was also told she should be grateful for the lesson.

That’s not where the story ends. My mother was furious, but what could she do? She was a young black woman in a climate of racial hate. The principle wasn’t going to do anything. The black community already held marches and protests on a frequent basis. She turned to the only person that seemed to be in her corner; her mother. My grandmother gave her this advice:
Prove Them Wrong.
She did. She went onto graduate at the top of her class. She went to college. She became a successful woman who raised a family of strong, independent, intelligent children while maintaining a career. A career that has an annual income much higher than that of a public school English teachers.

I'd also to point out that perceived anonymity on the internet causes people to go a little stupid.  This is a huge thing to consider when you look at  internet and gaming culture.  Many of our "honestys" leak out when we believe there will be no repercussions.  We'll say things that we'd never say at work or in public.  We'd do things we never do in real life.  We all do it to some degree.  After all, how many of us fly spaceships in real life.  An image CCP Sisyphus posted on twitter drove the point home for me when I was writing this article.

A Rose By Any Other Name
In “modem times” the word nigger, as I mentioned above, is tossed around a lot. The black community is split about its usage. Some want to “take the word back” and turn it’s ugly degrading connotations into something else. The other camp wants to abolish the use of the word period. Both groups want the same thing and that’s for the word to lose its power.

My preference is to educate and ignore. It’s the reason I’m writing this blog post. For years the word nigger has been used to hurt and demoralize a group of people. It reminds me of the Three-Fifths Compromise where slaves were counted as ⅗s of a person to decide how many United States House of Representatives each state would get. It’s also the basis of my personal connotation.

I’ve had someone call me a nigger before out of hate. It came from the last person on earth I would have expected it to since I was engaged to the person saying it. Words are a powerful thing and with those words I became single and technically homeless since I crashed on a friend’s couch until I was able to get a place of my own. It was a jarring experience. I would not wish an experience like that on my worst enemy. In those days I did realize something.
That’s not who I am nor is it something I will ever be.

If It Doesn’t Fit...
It’s because of that, I don’t get too bothered and worked up when people say it. Use of the word nigger is a reflection of the person who says it, not of the person it’s being said to. It’s not a label that fits me, not because it inherently doesn’t, but because I don’t allow it to. I have the personal power to take that word’s strength away and I chose to wield it. I use my power like a shield. Those foolish enough to believe they can hurt me with such things are in for a rude awakening.

That said, I try my best not to judge. Everyone makes mistakes and I know I’ve made my fair share. I’m a firm believer that all people deserve some basic respect. Yes, there are people that do bad things, but we’re all someone’s child and we’re all human. I wish more people felt that way about all sorts of groups, but it’s a Catch 22 in its own way. To be truly tolerant, you must tolerate all and that’s a tall order. The positive thing is if I don’t agree with you or your actions; I can always choose not to interact with you. That, my friends, is a huge loss for those who find themselves on the cold side of my shoulder.

Well, I’ve said all I’ve wanted to say about this. Just think about it. Digest it. While you’re doing that, watch this video. I may not be able the change the world, but I can change me and adjust my views. By pulling myself above; I can set an example for others to follow. If no one gets it, I’ve still made myself better. If someone does get it; I’ve brought a little more understanding to human race. It’s a win-win.