Daily Archives: February 11, 2015

Shot at Daybreak – First Casualties of the Acquisition

Today we learned that Linda “Brasse” Carlson has been let go as head of the community management team for the company formerly known as Sony Online Entertainment.

Brasse with beer and axe

Brasse with beer and axe

According to the post over at EQ2 Wire, she has been part of the community team at SOE for six years at this point, though it hardly seems like that much time could have passed.  It seems like only recently that her map of the Old Forest in Lord of the Rings Online, posted up on her site, was saving my ass from being completely lost.  But that must have been years ago at this point, as the game has had a built in map for that zone for a while now.

Anyway, her maps made their way into a number of official guides for Dark Age of Camelot, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, and of course, EverQuest and EverQuest II, in addition to all those LOTRO maps that have helped me over the years. (I used her hedge maze map last time I was playing in Middle-earth.  Still worth its weight in pixels.)

So she has had an impact on the community, both before as well as during her tenure.

A community team, by its very nature, can become the public face of a company.  So a departure of a prominent member of the community team can alter the relationship people have with a company.  I remember no small amount of wailing and gnashing of teeth (and a bit of cheering) when Greg Street, Ghostcrawler, announced he was leaving Blizzard.  That changed the community dynamic.  The same could be said for the departure of Rick “Sapience” Heaton from the LOTRO team.  Whether the change was good or bad is subjective, but things changed.

Things were different when Alan “Brenlo” Crosby was running the community team for SOE, things will be different when the next person steps up to run it under the Daybreak banner.  How different and how it will affect people… well, we shall see.

The real surprise here is how soon this move came.  I know there had been some doom and gloom regarding the whole acquisition, from myself included.   Bad news was expected by many.  But Daybreak Gaming Company doesn’t even have a new logo yet (though they were quick to pull down the old one), but already they are letting people go from jobs that I think are unlikely to be considered redundant.  Then again, they don’t need anybody running the SOE Live event this year, since that has been cancelled.  Maybe Smed, who has been out in the front lines engaging with the community… at least on Reddit, the new official SOE community home… will be the sole face of the company for now.  We will see how secure his job is.

Anyway, I hope Brasse will find another job waiting for her.

Somebody out there must need a proper dwarf.

Addendum:  It wasn’t just Brasse.  I wrote a post about her just in time for more bad news to seep out.  Dave Georgeson is out as well and there are reports of more people being given their pink slip today.  Good luck to all those affected.

Follow up: MMORPG.com has a list of those laid off posted.

Not So Elite and Dangerous Only to Myself

You are not prepared!

Illidan Stormrage, foreseeing my purchase of Elite: Dangerous

I am trying to give Elite: Dangerous the attention it deserves since I own a copy.  But it remains a difficult game for me to get a handle on.  Part of that is that it is one of those games that you really need to sit down with for a few hours and focus on, and part of that is because I like to play video games full screen on my single monitor… immersion you know, along with being able to actually see little fiddly bits of the UI… so the near constant need to tab out of the game in order to watch a video or find a command on a chart wears on me a bit.

Also, I am still sulking a bit that the game description speaks of all sorts of broad-stroke activities you can engage in, but fails to mention things like “the first time you successfully dock your ship it will feel like a major life accomplishment.”

But I persist.

Since my last post I haven’t hit many good stretches of time, but I found a couple and did manage to go back to the game.  Having fiddled with the tutorials and left feeling vaguely dissatisfied, I decided to just jump straight into the game.  Why not just bump around in real space?

And once I got into the actual game and was in the hangar and ready to undock for the first time, do you know what the game showed me?  It showed me a list of all of the relevant commands, right there on the screen as a checklist.  And the checklist displayed which buttons for the generic joystick settings (still could not find the specific in the settings for gamepad) activated the action and made me activate each and every control on the list before it would let me proceed.

Absolutely brilliant.  Best bit of interface I had seen up to this point.

Of course, that immediately raised the question as to why that wasn’t in any of the tutorials I had seen up to that point.

It also left me really wanting a way to toggle that option on so it came up every time I wanted to undock until I knew the commands by heart through sheer repetition.  No joy on that front.

Finally, I also wanted to take a screen shot of it so I could show everybody this brilliant bit, but Elite: Dangerous has mapped the screen shot function to the F10 key, something I only found out later.  Seriously, it is 2015 and somebody still thinks that the Print Screen key isn’t the go-to choice for screen shots?  Do they not have that key on keyboards in England?

Anyway, I eventually sorted that out and found where the game stored the pictures on my drive, but by then the moment had past.  The brilliant bit was gone and I was just there in the station ready to undock.

We're going into space!

We’re going into space!

Undocking was not that big of a deal, in part because I learned where the thrusters were thanks to the checklist.  I was able to lift off the pad and move around the station well enough.  I did have to go adjust the dead zone setting for the analog sticks on my gamepad.  The one that controls roll was still activating in the nominally neutral position, leaving me slowly rotating counter-clockwise even with my hands off the controls.

I got that settled, but found myself somewhat disoriented as to where I was around the station relative to the point from which I took off.  I carefully nosed around the station, trying not to hit it of the occasional passer by.

That looks like the place... I think...

That looks like the place… I think…

Since I had already committed to space, and since I hadn’t gotten as far in the tutorials as actually docking back up, I figured I might as well fly around.  I actually remembered how to get the frame shift drive engaged… the faster than light drive that allows travel amongst the stars… and lit out for parts unknown.  Or, at least parts unknown to me, which covers just about every part of the 400 billion star systems mentioned so prominently in the game description.

Going fast! Wheeeee!

Going fast! Wheeeee!

Off I went.  I even remembered to retract my landing gear. Of course I had no idea where I was going and no plan as to what I would do once I got there, but I was headed out.

Or I was for a while in any case.  An inconveniently placed star eventually put an end to my first space journey.

Well, that isn't going to do the paint job any good

Well, that isn’t going to do the paint job any good

Still, I felt like I had gotten out and done something.  Yes, it was pointless and futile and ended up with me dead, but what the hell.  I was back in Trevithick station and ready to undock again soon enough.

This time I spent a bit more time just maneuvering about the station trying to get myself lined up on things and generally watching the world go by.

I think that is a landing pad for docking...

I think that is a landing pad for docking…

Then, as I was close to the station and fumbling about for controls again, I managed to do something to annoy the station personnel and they commenced shooting at me.  I pointed myself away and poured on the acceleration, but found myself dead again.  But, again, what the hell?

This time though I actually stopped at the postmortem/revive report.

The financials of being a goof

The financials of being a goof

Apparently I wasn’t just starting fresh again.  It looked like wandering about space and wrecking my ship was adding a burden to my character and/or account.  I was not sure if 440 Cr a crash would be a minor inconvenience or might end up hamstringing my character going forward, so I decided that maybe I should go back to the tutorials for a bit.

Docking seemed to be an appropriate item to focus on, since undocking seemed to be a snap and everything else in between docking and undocking is just details.

The docking tutorial is the last one on the list.  Presumably somebody believes that unless you can survive all that other stuff, you won’t need to land.  Anyway, upon starting that tutorial I can confirm that the whole rotating station thing that was brought up in the comments does exist in Elite: Dangerous.  The tutorial puts you outside such a rotating station, explains how to request permission to dock… sort of, I had to go to the wiki to decipher it, but it tries… and then sends you on your way.

And I want to say right now that I totally aced matching rotation and getting into the station.

There was some margin for error, but I did it...

There was some margin for error, but I did it…

I was not only surprised that I managed it… probably my biggest achievement in the game up to that point… but I was also pretty impressed at how the whole thing looked.  It was very nice looking, worthy of playing full screen in a dark room for the full immersion effect.

Then there was just the detail of getting to the appropriate landing pad and actually landing.  I had to get to pad 12, which was highlighted.

Pad 12 is over there on the... floor... wall... something...

Pad 12 is over there on the… floor… wall… something…

Getting into the station was a snap.  Working my way over to the landing pad, placing myself over it, lining myself up, and actually landing was another story.  The station authorities are very fussy about people getting about their business and not hanging about.  Loitering is a serious crime, as is wandering over the wrong pad or letting your timer run down.

I made a few attempts, but I think I am missing something when it comes to camera controls.  There must be a way to see below you… and external camera or something… that I am missing.  Absent that, and thus only able to do this by looking straight forward, I tried to guide myself in by reference points on the far end of the station.  After a couple attempts that got me to the point where the landing pad data came up on the control screen.  However, I never managed to get myself aligned and on the pad in such a way that the process was declared complete or successful or whatever.  And then the timer ran down, my docking clearance was revoked and suddenly I was just loitering, a crime that warrants the destruction of your ship.

But at least it was just the tutorial, so I did not accrue any further debt… and it looked pretty neat.

I am clearly still in over my head, but I at least made some incremental progress.  And we’re getting version 1.1 of the game… today I think… though I am not sure that anything on the long list of fixes will help me.  A co-worker dug out a joystick with throttle he had stored away, so I might give that a try when next I have an appropriate sized block of free time to devote to Elite: Dangerous.