With Apologies to CCP Oracle

The hardest thing to do in the world is to apologize

I’ve been putting off this article for a couple of weeks. In fact I already wrote a couple of drafts just a day after the incident but I kept putting it off. No one wants to face their own shortcomings, and other things like CCP Games introducing gambling to EVE Online and igniting my rage happened, which felt like they needed addressing first.

That is a lie of course, I simply used the new controversy as a way to further delay the inevitable but its finally here. CCP Oracle, if you are reading this, (and I hope you do as I will tag you on twitter) I am genuinely sorry. I was rude and out of line and I shouldn’t have written that tweet. It was disrespectful, period.

Of course that is not enough. Its not enough to just say sorry. By itself the word is meaningless. What is important, the reason behind writing this entire article that seems little more than an act of public self flagellation, is to find out the reason why the incident happened in the first place and address that cause. Without it there is no in point apologizing so bear with me as we deep dive into my twisted psyche.

The innocent tweet about seeing more Korean players, including female streamers, flock to EVE Online following the launch of Korean localization, shouldn’t have elicited such a visceral response from me. That said I had mistaken CCP Oracle for a male developer and considering the current atmosphere in gaming and streaming services such as Twitch, made the wrong inference. That is all on me. When one assumes things without checking them first, one gets being made an ass. Its just logical. However like an ogre, lets peel the layers and dig deeper. Why would I even care about what a CCP Games developers had to say in the first place?

Lets start with the issue of Korean localization. A few years back CCP Games killed all localization efforts in the game, including the Korean language one. Being bought by Pearl Abyss, a Korean gaming giant, suddenly Korean language localization was back on the menu and done in quite a short time all considering. Yet at the same time, other, more established communities, must continue and play EVE Online in English rather than their native tongue. It feels both unequal and a tad hypocritical of CCP Games to praise the surge of Korean players after years of dismissing localization which is a barrier of entry for many people and not addressing the needs of other communities.

Then there is the part of the tweet that was the highlighting female streamers. I am all for more female representation in games, gaming and whatnot. Having more streamers covering EVE Online would be good for the game though I don’t think EVE Online translates that well into streaming. Its not a very fast paced game after all but that is not the point. The point is, CCP Games have a terrible track record with female players. The toxicity of some of the player base had worked to drive away many a female gamer, and I heard enough horror stories from female players to make me ashamed of having a penis. Its tough, its bad, and the fact is, CCP Games had done so little to protect its female players that promoting female streamers can almost be seen as throwing meat into the water. You know a shark is just gonna bite into it.

Okay, not great optics, but nothing worthy of lashing out. Obviously I was frustrated with what I saw as hypocrisy and irresponsibility but still nothing to send a mean tweet about. Time to delve greedily and deep to unleash the Balrog.

This tweet came only a few days after CCP Falcon resigned. A few weeks before that, Snuffed Out, my last home in EVE Online, shuttered as the content drought in the game continues. Friends keep quitting EVE Online one by one or reducing their activity and selling their super capitals. In this atmosphere of hopelessness its not hard to get frustrated, especially at CCP Games that helped create this situation. After all, its up to the game developers to, well, develop the game and outsmart the playerbase in order to promote conflict and engagement.

A lot of us waited with eagerness for some sign that CCP Games had a plan, that there was a solution to the horrible stagnation the game had fallen into in the last few years. The Las Vegas convention was seen as the place where CCP Games would unveil real solutions. We held out collective breath for the presentations and we got… Nothing. Absolutely nothing constructive was said in EVE Vegas. The entire event might as well have been cancelled. Instead of a roadmap or some acknowledgement of the rot EVE Online is in, we got a roadmap to a roadmap. Yes, we got a presentation about how CCP Games will implement short term roadmaps. I wish I were kidding.

That was it – the moment something broke inside me. The moment when I knew the game was well and truly gone because its developers have abandoned it. CCP Falcon’s resignation afterwards only cemented this feeling. CCP Falcon was the face of EVE Online and one of the main points of contact with the company for the community. Hate him or love him, he at least engaged with the playerbase. His departure pretty much created a gap between the community and the company. That void could not be easily filled especially after other community managers had either left or were let go in the last couple of years. With the last bridge burned, there was not even the pretense that the company was listening to us.

Which leads us here, to that moment where a frustrated, tired player gets sent a tweet of a CCP Games employee. All that anger, all that frustration with the state of the game, with the lack of an outlet, with that feeling of abandonment just comes out in one ugly tweet. An unnecessary tweet which demeaned an innocent employee and saw malice where there was none. A tweet that sought to hurt people that really had nothing to do with the situation the game is in.

The people who did mismanage the game, the people who are deserving of a good tongue lashing have been deaf to the community’s plight from the start. They already sold off the game and are moving on to make a new game which they’d either ruin later on or fail from the start as they done so many times in the past. They are the ones hiding behind people like CCP Falcon and CCP Oracle, using them as disposable human shields while they count the money they make from stock options and bonuses. They have shown a complete lack of care for the community that sprung around their game and attribute the success of the game to their genius instead of the hard work of both developers and players in keeping the game going all those years in spite of the lack of leadership shown above.

It is those people I should, and am, angry at but its exactly those kind of people that won’t listen to my rage at the continued decline of the game and community I’ve come to cherish. You can certainly see why and how its frustrating. That said, none of this is an excuse to lash at total strangers who probably have nothing to do with it all.

Once again I am sorry CCP Oracle for the tweet. I am sure that much like other developers in CCP Games, you were a player yourself who dreamt of working in the company developing the game and finally achieved this dream only to be hurled abuse by anonymous idiots on the net. I hope my apology will go some way into alleviating this.

The House Always Wins

Looks like gambling is back on the menu!

Recently, CCP Games posted a new developer blog introducing the HyperNet thus resurrecting gambling in EVE Online. I wrote resurrecting because EVE Online already had a robust gambling scene in the past. Third party sites set up and managed by players offered a variety of gambling options from playing poker, taking part in lotteries and raffles, to betting on sporting events; real and in-game ones. All of this was done without developer intervention and using what few tools there were in-game for it.

The boom of EVE Online casinos would come to influence the game’s politics, the massive profits sparking a long and arduous war that by its end would see the Imperium, one of the biggest player coalitions ever, defeated and driven out of its north eastern strongholds. Defeated, but not destroyed. That said, in 2016 the party came to a close when out of game events forced CCP Games to ban the entire operation, shuttering many sites.

The event, for those interested, was a scandal involving the Counter Strike: Global Offensive skin gambling sites and several prominent video creators in the community. The skins for the game could be traded between players using real currency, leading to a robust market. It wouldn’t take long for sites to set up to allow people to gamble for said skins. Several video creators with large audiences promoted said sites and made videos showing them winning big prizes, neglecting to mention that they either owned or were partnered with said sites. Not only was there an issue about disclosure, but many suspected that the lotteries could, and were, possibly rigged for the purpose of the videos in order to dupe impressionable viewers, many of whom were teenagers.

This scandal got wide media attention, and later government one as legislators began eyeing the unregulated videogame market with its loot boxes and microtransactions aimed at exploiting the poor impulse control of teenagers and gambling addiction of adults. Though it would take a few years for countries to begin actual legislation in the field, the added scrutiny would be a welcomed change to an industry that was (and lets face it, still is) consumed by greed.

CCP Games got ahead of the curve by rightfully banning gambling in the game and thus escaping embarrassing headlines and possible fines or age restrictions added in many countries around the world where it operates. For a while, things seemed okay, well, in the standard that a slowly burning trash fire might seem okay. However on the 27th of November, CCP Games made its announcement and all hell broke loose. Well I write all hell, in reality just a heavily commented thread on the new feature as well as a few reddit posts. Who says EVE Online isn’t dead.

The scheme works like this: HyperNet will be a fun place where players can set up and buy tickets for raffles. The raffles will be player made of in-game items. In order to set up a raffle, players have to purchase the number of HyperNet Cores corresponding to the item’s value. Cores can only be bought from the New Eden Store (NES, formerly NEX) via PLEX (Player License EXtension, never said CCP Games were clever with their acronyms) or from market resellers. Once the raffle is up, players buy HyperNet Nodes, i.e. tickets, with in-game currency. When all the tickets, I mean nodes, are sold, the raffle occurs and a randomly generated number decides which ticket, I mean node, was the lucky winner. The winner then gets the item in their hangar (though in the station where the raffle was created to eliminate item teleportation).

I have to give it to CCP Games, it really managed to make one hell of a scummy, poorly thought of, system. PLEX is an in-game resource that can only be generated via paying real money then re-sold on the market. The HyperNet cores require PLEX to be purchased and the costlier the item, the more cores needed, meaning more PLEX is required to set up the raffle. Not only as a friend commented is that an unfair tax levied on the person setting up the raffle, it also devalues the in-game economy, not to mention re-introduce gambling into EVE Online. This of course is meant to fuel demand for PLEX (which may be dropping with decrease in player activity) which will tempt people to generate more PLEX by, of course, buying it from CCP Games and offsetting subscription loses. Truly genius.

Players of course, have begun defending the practice because many fans are dumb, and the dumbest sycophants really tie their identity and human worth to an aging, broken videogame that is past its prime. The excuses made in the name of an immoral feature are really mind boggling but I think I’ll tackle a few of the prominent ones. That said I’ll be doing this without harping too much about the immorality of gambling or the actual psychological damage it does too much. I know this is akin to writing “I don’t want to criticize the moral aspects of cannibalism as much as its hygienic practices” but it is sort of.

Its not gambling – It is. Full stop. Period. Exclamation mark! Raffles and lotteries are gambling. Here is a simple test: Does it cost money to take part in and do you win something out of it? If the answer is yes, then it is gambling. I know this a hard concept to wrap the head around but gambling is pretty much any game where winning is largely dictated by chance and involves money. You might say that in EVE Online it shouldn’t be counted as gambling since money in the game is all made up but I counter this with the next argument:

EVE Online money isn’t real – The next goalpost is to simply say that the Interstellar Kredit (or ISK for short) isn’t real and thus has no real life value. That is not even remotely true and anyone holding this notion should probably be completely ignored and/or shunned from polite society. ISK has a real life value because CCP Games has made an exchange rate between PLEX and real money. Since PLEX is sold on EVE Online markets for ISK, we have a direct translation of worth. At time of writing 1 PLEX was sold around 3,500,000.00 ISK. Since the smallest batch of PLEX sold at the cash shop is 500 for 19.99$ dollars, 1$ can be converted to 87,500,000.00 ISK. Fact is, CCP Games often advertised many of the big fights in EVE Online as having real money equivalency, bragging about losses mounting to thousands and even tens of thousands of dollars in assets. It can’t just now run away from it when its inconvenient. That is not how life works.

Its a closed economy – Demolish the first two defenses and the defenders quickly retreat behind the idea that EVE Online is a closed economy, or more correctly, semi closed since real money comes in but value can’t be taken out. Again, this is erroneous to such a degree that it makes me think that the defenders of this feature are either children or have child like intellect. In the legal definition they are right, but legal definitions are like expiration dates, followed by most people but ignored by some. The fact is there exists a whole grey market in EVE Online that enables converting ISK back into real money. Sure its illegal, sure its risky and those caught are often banned, yet the illegal activity in EVE Online hasn’t decreased and in fact certain sectors of it have seen a marked increase in recent years that not accounting for them is pure stupid.

Its legal – When all previous arguments fail, cry “Its legal” in a nonsensical defiance of criticism. Of course gambling is legal IN SOME STATES. That means that in other countries its illegal. What more, many countries have recently moved to ban or legislate gambling in videogames and bringing back gambling to a game that already banned it once in such a stormy climate is truly stupid. Not to mention that in some countries gambling is heavily regulated in order to protect minors. Considering EVE Online doesn’t have a uniform rating around the globe with some countries allowing minors to play the game and you can almost see the negative headlines and future lawsuits coming. It only takes one case of a minor using the HyperNet and sinking their parents’ credit card to start a riot, and justifiably so.

It will fund more development – Stop. Stop right there. Moving from questions of legality, we arrive at the fanciful idea that the money generated from gambling will fund more developers for the game, thus tackling many of the major problems plaguing EVE Online. This is a fantasy, full stop. Let’s forget for a moment that CCP Games had been bought by Pearl Abyss, a Korean gaming giant with deep pockets that can easily fund more development for the game, the idea that this extra revenue will be funneled into game development and not investor pockets is laughable. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver already showed what happened to state controlled lotteries aiming to increase public revenue for education only to squander those funds, but you are telling me a for profit entity that doesn’t have the pretense of serving the public is going to invest those funds better!? At this point you aren’t deluded, you are disingenuous and possibly a lobbyist for CCP Games.

Case in point, how state lotteries work to harm communities

At this point there is nothing left to argue. There are no further excuses that can be made in defense of this feature. If anything, there are only things to argue against it, like the fact its immoral. Yes, I wrote that I wouldn’t harp on it and I haven’t. I mostly addressed the arguments head on without moralizing but the reality is, gambling is immoral. There is a reason why many countries legislate it and restrict it. Gambling is a real issue for people with addiction issues. Teenagers exposed to it are more susceptible to it and the way the videogame industry had implemented it was done purposefully to target vulnerable populations in order to squeeze as much cash as possible from them. You’ve all heard terms such as “whales” and “dolphins” dehumanizing problem gamblers. If you watch Jim Sterling’s video on the issue you’d see both the ways the industry sees us, the consumers, through such mechanics and the real human cost it incurs.

Jim Sterling exposing both the predatory practices of the gaming industry and the real damage it causes

We banned gambling from EVE Online once when we saw the dangers of it. Letting it back now, when the legal field surrounding it is even choppier is a signal from CCP Games to us, the players. Its a signal telling us that the company won’t tackle the important issues that plague the game but is instead investing resources in harmful mechanics, both to the players and the health of the game, to further monetize said player base. Its basically an admission that the company is either unable or unwilling to face the desolation that is the current state of affairs but it wants to keep increasing its profits. Now can I interest you in some HyperNet nodes?

The Moomin Meta Game Failure of our Time

Moomin Amatin is what you get when you mix a dictionary with a kool-aid bottle

Disclaimer: Salivan Harddin is a member of Snuffed Out [B B C], a former member of Pandemic Legion [-10.0] and is acquainted with penifSMASH (we talked like, twice, omg bias!)

If you’ve played EVE Online for the last month and tried to keep up with any of the game’s news, the banning of Brisc Rubal would probably be something you’d be aware of. Not only did it make the rounds in the New Eden media circles, but even gotten coverage from the wider gaming press. To give you a short synopsis, Brisc Rubal is a member of The Initiative. [INIT.] which is part of the Imperium coalition that elected him to the Council of Stellar Management (CSM), a body that discusses and debates upcoming changes to the game with the developers as well as acting as a conduit for the woes of the playerbase. Since it gets privileged information, the players are bound by non disclosure agreements (NDAs). That said, the CSM had been embroiled with plenty of controversy since its establishment, with Brisc Rubal seemingly the latest in a long line of players to take advantage of their position to leak privileged information for personal gain. Of course, if you did follow the saga to its eventual conclusion, you would have learned that Brisc Rubal was actually innocent all along.

Of course, following the exoneration, people wanted to know who told on Brisc, and why? Theories cropped up and it all culminated in a confrontation between Killah Bee and Hy Wanto Destroyer on the Meta Show. I can’t comment on the regular quality of a show produced by the dregs of New Eden, also known as Imperium News Network (INN for short, flaming pile of trash for accuracy), but it was a bizarre episode. Killah Bee, himself a member of CSM, inadvertently confessed that he informed CCP Games on the possible breach following a conversation he had with penifSMASH on the upcoming changes to high angle weapons (HAW). As it turned out, penifSMASH had acquired Dark Shines’, one of The Initiative’s fleet commanders who got banned alongside Brisc Rubal, Molok titan and regretted it. The rest, as they say, is history. Killah Bee informed CCP Games, CCP Games banned Brisc Rubal and another two players, one of which is the aforementioned Dark Shines, and a whole rollercoaster of speculation and backpadeling ensued.

Of course, mentioning penifSMASH’s name to The Mittani, one of the two hosts of the show, was enough to to cause the latter a stroke. I admit, I have never seen a grown man so enraged and possibly coked out of his mind. He flew into a rage, grilling Hy Wanto Destroyer for details and just constantly shouting that he is The Mittani and he needs no evidence because he is The Mittani! I mean, it would be entertaining if it wasn’t so pathetic. This is the leader of the largest coalition in EVE Online, a man boy so out of touch with the game that he has to assert that he knows whats up while obviously being utterly lost and trying desperately to gather crumbs of information from Hy Wanto Destroyer’s mutterings.

https://clips.twitch.tv/DaintyBoldEagleYouDontSay (I tried embedding it half a dozen time but either I am retarded or WordPress is)
He is The Mittani, he knows everything! (except not)

So why The Mittani was so enraged? Well there is a lot of bad blood between penifSMASH and The Mittani harkoning back to the days of GoonSwarm [OHGOD] when The Mittani was treated with the seriousness he deserved: None. Its not really clear to me what happened during those times and in the few public conversation penifSMASH had which I witnessed, he only said that the anger was justified, which already shows that penifSMASH, unlike The Mittani, is healthy enough to recognize when he is in the wrong and like a decent human being, own it and move on. I know this seems petty but as we go down the Moomin rabbit hole it will all make sense.

Regardless The Mittani, still upset and coming down hard from his drug fueled craze (allegedly), sent his lackeys to write a hit piece blaming the entire event on penifSMASH because of reasons. Thus enters Moomin Amatin, a sad little man so desperate to get The Mittani’s approval that he’d go to any lengths to appease his master.

Now I haven’t really followed Moomin’s career in INN closely because I have much better things to do with my life but I am no stranger to his writings. He has the Sion Kumitomo problem of needing to sound intellectual. You know the type; uses big words, long sentences and a lot of hyperbole. I get it, anyone who writes has that phase when they try to show that they are really smart. However most good writers grow the fuck out of it. For Moomin, that style is his life. His self esteem hangs on it!

Moomin goes about investigating the same way inspector Clouseau goes about gathering evidence: Like a blithering idiot. Once he gets the expected responses from penifSMASH and Hy Wanto Destroyer (that is, fuck all) he goes on to write his spin piece how it was all a clever ploy by penifSMASH who hates The Initiative because of reasons and how Hy Wanto Destroyer is nursing a snake and should act before its too late or The Initiative will have no reason to trust him and so forth. To be frank I skimmed most of the article because it was the most amateurish, blatant propaganda and disinformation piece I’ve ever seen, worthy of Fox News. Fuck the evidence, he is The Mittani!

Usually I’d just scoff at such blatant stupidity put on full display and leave a disparaging remark, insulting the intelligence and integrity of the writer, which I did. Of course my very respectful and totally innocent comment got deleted by the moderators who are obviously the enemies of free speech (when goons get banned, but weirdly not when others do), but I shrugged it off and made jokes about oppression to my fellow Snuffed Out pilots. However being linked excerpts of the article and reading them thoroughly as well as the comments of the imbeciles buying this blatant cow shit (equal opportunity insulter) made me quite mad. I admit it, I got angry.

Very respectful!

I got angry because, in the end, I care for the truth. I care for the whole story to be told in the most neutral and impartial way. That is why I have kept off writing about the whole Brisc Rubal situation since things kept developing and I felt like I didn’t have a complete grasp of the entire affair, which as it turns out, I didn’t. Its why I write battle reports on the New Eden Report, tired of spin, hype and general inaccuracies and wanting to do justice by the pilots and fleet commanders who actually participate in those struggles. Because I’d like to think it all matters in the end.

You might think its a bit naive of me, and you may be right. Yet the fact Moomin blatantly misconstrued the truth and sought to create a vast conspiracy theory with penifSMASH at its center is something I feel shouldn’t be overlooked, but used to repeatedly bash him until his empty skull caves in, in-game of course.

The problem with Moomin’s article, besides the fact his reasoning skills are limited by the tiny oxygen intake his mouth breathing allows him, is that it undermines itself. Moomin has no evidence to work with so he keeps insinuating, using the pilot’s employment history as some sort of evidence. He has no ability to process the idea that people can, and often do, change their perspectives and relationships. He also can’t point to any “End Game” plan that penifSMASH supposedly has. I mean if you are accusing him of conspiring to take down The Initiative and failing, at least explain what purpose it would serve in the grand scheme of things.

Moomin can’t do that of course, because Moomin is a propagandist. He is the Joseph Goebbels of INN, only able to spout lies that convince the faithful, the converted, the indoctrinated. Buying into his own kool-aid, he had long thrown away any critical thinking skills he possessed, if ever. Thus, the uncreative hack fraud works to keep the line members happy by spooking them with the specter of penifSMASH. He is also trying to drive a wedge between The Initiative and Snuffed Out, to keep the former chained forever in service of the Imperium. After all, The Initiative is a much better organized, more experienced PvP group in the Imperium. Though the Imperium has a few gifted fleet commanders and special interest groups (SIGs) of its own, The Initiative is still a formidable power within the coalition and losing it will cripple the coalition somewhat.

Thus Moomin works to saw the seeds of doubt and fear. Snuffed Out is bad! It tried to take down your leadership! It tried to destroy you with the dreaded “meta game”, a term so frequently misused as to be devoid of any meaning it once had. Fear the outsider, trust in the coalition, after all when was the last time The Mittani had led you astray (2015 and 2016 called, wants to know why you never call them back). Snuffed Out doesn’t have your best interests in mind, and so forth and so forth. God, just writing this down makes me want to go and chug a bottle of bleach to kill the brain cells dedicated to his infantile writing.

Yet for all of Moomin’s ramblings, he can offer nothing, no insight. I kept wanting to shout time and again: WHY MOOMIN, WHY IS HE DOING ALL OF THAT!? No answer of course. To answer the question would simply raise more questions. The reality is penifSMASH finally bought a shiny Molok only to be disappointed by his purchase and complaining to his friend Killah Bee which was a lapse in judgement, nothing more. Twisting it to some nefarious plot is a skill Moomin doesn’t possess. You need actual brains to try and and concoct a good conspiracy out of it, and brains are sadly something Moomin wasn’t blessed with.

The most insulting bit is the fact that there is no artistry to these lies, no delicacy or some complexity. Its so blatant, so obvious that it infuriates me that such scumbags get away with it. That they are considered a legitimate news site while in reality being a third tier tabloid rag. When you make The Sun look respectable in comparison, you done fucked up. Just to take a page from their playbook, I am going to show you how their loaded questions work:

Is Moomin Amatin a pedophile? Does he molest little girls or boys? Is he a member of an EVE Online pedophile ring that includes Dirk MacGirk and Xenuria? Is The Mittani aware that there is a pedophile ring operating in Goonswarm Federation [CONDI] and what does he plan to do about it? After all he is the leader of the alliance and the coalition. I mean, I am only asking questions!

Jesus Dirk! https://www.reddit.com/r/Eve/comments/bihnq3/maximum_overdirk_reaching_new_levels_someone_call/

This is what he does. This is what INN does. They keep insinuating and planting seeds of doubt and division. They have no evidence, no real knowledge or facts. Yet they push relentlessly the most absurd theories and notions to insulate their captive audience. When you call out their bullshit and expose it as what it really is, they hide behind the “Just asking questions” tag, feigning shock horror that you’d go and trample on their sacred freedom to ask misleading, loaded and malicious questions to lead their gullible flock.

There is no good faith basis here, no equal valley where we can meet and discuss facts, they don’t care about facts! These people are so twisted and deranged that they have convinced themselves and others that the entire game is against them. Everything that happens in the game is some sort of ploy or scheme to hurt them. Nothing is their fault! World War Bee? You mean the Casino War which CCP Games endorsed! The developers themselves are against us! More whining, more crying and of course, always spin things.

Some of you would wonder, well, why? Why do they do these things? The simple answer is fear. These are mentally ill people who invested their entire image and identity in the game. They built their thrones on lies and misappropriated credit and fear their exposure. People on the know how, people who had helped build those empires only to see themselves marginalized and thrown out are treated like the enemy. Endie, Darius JOHNSON, penifSMASH, all part of the founders of GoonSwarm, all treated like traitors and mentally ill. Because they know the truth, thus they must be discredited, persecuted and destroyed. Because they can see the emperor has no clothes and allegedly snorting cocaine.

Thus they have their useful idiots like Moomin spout off propaganda for the masses to consume and remain ignorant while suppressing any shred of the truth. Create narratives, build that “us” versus “them” mentality and always be vigilant of penifSMASH, for he may pop up behind you and snag your Vexor navy issue! The sad part this seems to work, but I’d be damned if I’d allow it to go on unchallenged.

Now when is The Mittani going to address the rampant pedophilia going on in his alliance? Just asking questions!

(I am in no way insinuating that The Mittani uses recreational drugs or that Moomin Amatin is a pedophile. Not so sure about Xenuria and Dirk McGirk though…)