Category Archives: In Person

Home From EVE Vegas 2017

That went fast.  Very fast.

EVE Vegas 2017 – SOLD OUT

I was sitting there in the big auditorium with Nosy Gamer and Dire Necessity and Mynxee and Johnny Splunk as CCP Guard and CCP Falcon said from the stage that EVE Vegas 2017 was over and I think the reaction among several of us was, “Wait, it’s done? That’s it?”

It seemed like too short of a weekend.  Still, a lot happened.

CCP Presentations

CCP expanded on some of the things they were talking for the upcoming Life Blood expansion.  We already knew the Guristas were going to get a shipyard in north null sec, a mirror of the Blood Raiders in the south.  We learned that there would/could be up to three Guristas shipyards up at once as well as the capital ship blue prints they would drop; they include a faction version of the Phoenix dreadnought and Leviathan titan, which both can launch fighters in keeping with the usual Guristas theme.

There was also some updates on the new moon mining structures, how they will work, and some video of them in action.

But I think High Sec got a lot more attention than in past presentations.  There were, of course, the Guristas and Blood Raiders outposts, mini versions of the shipyards to find in empire space.

Then there was the announcement that moon mining would be coming to high sec with the new structures.  It will only be available in 0.5 sec status systems, and only deliver ore and not moon goo, but you can still get supercharged rocks out of it that boost yield for your mining op.

There was also the update to The Agency, which is slated to be the all-in-one place for finding PvE content.  It won’t just be for events any more.

But I think the big thing for high sec will be Resource Wars.  That is a new, co-op PvE system where you can join in, but don’t have to fleet up, to either mine or kill pirates to help your empire gather resources for rewards.  Semi-sorta public quest-like in nature, it touches on the three things I was going on about with EVE Online PvE.  They will provide progression of a sort with some meaning (akin to missions), have predictable return on investment, and are somewhat on demand through The Agency interface.  I want to try them out when they go live.

In the grand tradition of the game, I am sure somebody will be complaining about all of this.  CCP can’t add anything to the game without some people saying it isn’t enough while others bitch that it is too much focus on somebody else.  I just see new stuff and am happy.

Then there was the expansion of Alpha clones, which created what might be called an “Alpha Plus” or “Alpha Prime” class of players.  That will need its own post, but there is an article about it up at PC Gamer. (Also, I briefly met Steve Messner, the author, and got to thank him for linking to one of my posts last month.)

And, in addition we got updates on Project Nova and heard about the new Project Aurora (which some people got to play), both of which represent CCP figuring out that maybe they should team up with other developers when they make something in an arena they have not mastered.

Anyway, there are many other articles on the presentations and I will probably do posts about individual things later.  Suffice to say, much was learned about upcoming releases and plans going forward.

Player Presentations

EVE Vegas always features some player presentations, and the ones I saw this time around were all excellent. These are the ones I managed to sit in on.

Mike Azariah of A Missioneer in EVE spoke about finding your own path to “win” in EVE Online.

Eveline Vos and Keskora Yaari talked about the nature of life and conflict in wormhole space which, as an outsider to that corner of New Eden, was very interesting.

Emmaline Fera, a friend from Twitter, gave a simply awesome presentation on EVE Online leadership skills and how they transfer back and forth to real life.  I would love to see this again or at least get the presentation.

Matterall gave an hour long presentation that followed the experiences of a single NCDot player from the OTEC era through to today.  This was especially interesting as my own time in null sec started just before OTEC (I came in during the war against White Noise) and closely paralleled the story, only on the other side of every conflict. Addendum: Somebody recorded it off of the Twitch stream.

Debes Sparre (who used to comment here now and again) and Elise Randolph gave a presentation about building fleet doctrines that was very good.  I liked that they framed as a parallel to ship fitting.  As you pick modules for your ship, so you pick ships to fill out your doctrine.  They also promised to put their presentation and final fittings up on the web.

And then there was the usual Max Singularity presentation.  This time around his New Eden Physics Class 101 developed a consistent tech lore as to why ships in New Eden behave the way they do.  This was, in part, covered by his submission to the Frigates of EVE book, but he gave us the expanded, one-hour presentation as to why our ships work they way they do.  I can only hope that this all ends up some place where we can reference it at some point.  Anyway, now I have to buy that book as well.

Demos & the EVE Store

CCP had the usual array of demo stations and such setup in another room.

I went and tried out Sparq for a bit.  It is interesting, but perhaps not as accessible as Wii Sports, to which it has been compared.  The VR aspect of it is cool and immersive, but I still had problems just getting my hands to go exactly where I wanted them.  I don’t know if I’m just clumsy (high probability) or if the PlayStation 4 VR just isn’t as precise as I expected it to be.  Also, I could never quite get how big the shield on my hand was for deflecting shots.  It looks tiny from your own perspective, but you can see your opponant’s shield and it looks much bigger.  The fact that you cannot have local matches is probably the biggest hindrance to the game. (Unless your friend brings over their PS4 and VR headset to play.)

EVE Valkyrie: Warzone was on display of course.  Oddly though… or perhaps not… there were no VR headsets with that demo.  They wanted people to play the non-VR version, with stations setup to use keyboard and mouse and others with the XBox controller.  I didn’t try that out, but I bought a copy on Steam, so I’ll have a post about that later.

And then in the same room was the EVE Store, which finally had some decent items available.  And I mean simple things, like a T-shirt that just said EVE Online, that should have been there by default last year.  Also a year late was a Warp to the Dance Floor T-shirt.

Of course, it isn’t the EVE Store without some sort of screw up.  They were supposed to have EVE Vegas 2017 pins, but they were delayed so didn’t make it to Vegas.  I was told I would have to order them through the online store.  But the online store was completely failing to work with my phone browser, so I figured I would just order one when I got home.  But they were apparently only for sale during the event, so I missed out.  Bleh.

I did buy my daughter a Permaband T-shirt.  Her response was very “meh.”

People

There were many.  Over a thousand.  I did not speak to nearly enough of them.

Nosy Gamer, Dire Necessity, and I went to Holstein’s over at the Cosmopolitan where, once again, Dire order the shake with the comically large addition.  Last year it was a whole slice of pumpkin pie.  This year it was pretty much a whole ice cream sandwich in his cookies and cream shake.

Gonna need a bigger shake…

I also had a great dinner with Debes Sparre where we did the usual thing that long timers in the tech industry do; exchanged work horror stories.

The Venue

The Linq hotel was a strange bird.  I couldn’t quite place my finger on it until somebody pointed out that it used to be the old Imperial Palace hotel, the one-time cheapest place to stay on the strip.  Caesar’s bought it and spiffed it up, but it was still a matter of trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.  So I had a room with very nice decor, but the hot water system isn’t of the recirculating type typical of nice hotels, so you have to wait for the water to warm up.

And nothing screams “high class” like soap dispensers attached to the wall in an otherwise very up scale shower.

They all dispensed similar clear liquids too

There were also not enough elevators.  The main set were slow, heavily used, and glitchy.  I got in one that insisted on going up on every other stop, which made getting to the lobby a 10 minute ride.  The elevator car of the dammed.  And this situation wasn’t help by signs like this.

This sign is a complete lie

There was an elevator four doors down from my room with this sign, so I didn’t use it on the first day.  Later I discovered that it would put me on the second floor about a dozen steps from some steps and a door that put me on the casino level, which is where you need to be to get anywhere.  Those elevators were never busy.  So, I guess technically there were enough elevators, but the hotel was scaring people away from some of them.

Also, I got lost at one point, as all three towers… or districts… connect on every floor so I ended up going to a room with almost the same number as mine.

So it wasn’t the Bellagio, but I have to admit that the room prices were pretty good for what you got.  Of course, it probably helped that CCP didn’t book the event during Halloween again.

The Party

The party venue was like the Chateau of previous years on steroids.  Bigger, better, and many more bars to serve up free drinks.

Club Drai

CCP Guard and a few other got up and sang some of the Permaband numbers, though Killing is Just Another Means was left off the play list due to recent events in Las Vegas.

Not being the party person I was 30 years ago, I went back to my room and went to bed after that.  But there were many after parties and some people looked the worse for wear the next day.

Goodies

Of course there were things to pick up, both from CCP and players, as part of the event.

CCP had a goody bag that came pre-loaded with some items, including three SKINs.

EVE Vegas SKINs

I redeemed them and immediately activated the Megathron SKIN on my main.  I left the other two unredeemed wondering if I should send them to my Gallente Alpha alt, since he actually has the other two ships.

I have to send a special shout out to Dirk MacGirk who gave me one of this year’s Open Comms show T-shirt featuring the show advisory on the back.

Not mentioned: Alcohol Consumption

I wore the T-shirt from last year at the event, as it is one of my prized EVE Online possessions.

There were other nice items, including a Signal Cartel card and poker chip from Mynxee and an event T-shirt featuring one of the new moon mining structures.  I tried to sum that all up in one picture.

EVE Vegas Loot

That star on my badge is from Mike Azariah certifying that I have “won” in EVE Online.

Blade Runner 2049

I went to the charity showing of Blade Runner 2049 that CCP hosted.  No spoilers, but it helped to have seen the original… or the director’s cut I suppose, if you want to be technical…, it didn’t feel like 168 minutes sitting there, and you probably want to see it on the big screen.

Summary

A good time was had.  I would do it again.

I haven’t covered nearly enough of what I saw and heard, and I am nearly 2,000 words in.  More for further posts I guess.  I am sure I have forgotten something major I wanted to mention.

And, naturally, after a weekend of EVE Vegas I feel like I need another weekend right away just to get back in my day-to-day stride.  This no longer being young stuff sucks.

Where I Started Typing

My Aunt moved earlier this year and, in cleaning out her house, came across any number of items that had been stored away for years.  One of them was a typewriter.

Nothing to do with deviled ham

Probably one of the reasons I have done as well as I have in the computer age, or the information age, or whatever we end up calling this era, is that I learned to type at a fairly young age.  And the first place I started was with this typewriter.

A look under the lid, the ‘N’ key is the one sticking up in the bunch… we’ll get to that…

That is a 1937 Underwood Champion portable typewriter that my grandmother hauled off to college when she was 18.  It was portable by virtue of the fact that it came with a hard carrying case with a handle.

Typewrite and case

The typewriter sat in that case in the hallway closet at my grandmother’s house and when I would come over to visit I would often haul it out to bang away on it just for the feel of putting words on paper.  There was something about that action that made words feel more “real” or “official” to young me.

Later I would take typing in school and get my own typewriter, an Olivetti Lettera 32.  It was also a portable, though considerably smaller and lighter than the old Underwood.

The baby blue Lettera 32

(Picture source)

That was probably a fitting choice of brands as the Underwood company was purchased by Olivetti back in 1959.

I do not know where the Olivetti ended up.  With the coming of my first computer I immediately started shopping for a printer and what passed for a word processor back then.  After some fumbling about I got a copy of AppleWorks for my Apple //e and was off to the races.  At that point the typewriters went back into storage, rarely to be heard from again.

And so it goes.

Now I write a blog on much more sophisticated (or bloated… or both) software and share some of my words not on paper but electronically across the world via the internet, but I still put my fingers on the same keyboard layout I started to tinker with back in the early 70s.

And it was the internet that helped me figure out how old this typewriter was.  There is no date of manufacture stamped on it that I could find.  But I could see a serial number stamped into the frame.

Serial number inside the unit

With that number I was able to use Google to find the Typewriter Database site which includes a page of Underwood Champion serial numbers by year.  That pinned down the year, which lined up with my grandmother graduating from high school and heading off to college.

The typewriter itself still looks to be in prime mechanical condition.  “They don’t make them like that any more” might be cliche, but it has some grounding in reality.  And among the other things you can find on the internet are ribbons compatible with it.  I am sure the ribbon in there hasn’t been replaced since the 1950s at the latest.  There is scant print ability left in the dried out husk that is in it currently.

Some words are just visible

Actually typing on it requires quite a firm touch.  I recall how my grandmother used to brutalize the IBM Selectric in the library where she worked, pounding on those keys that would activate with a much lighter touch.  The mechanical operation requires you to push it, and hitting the shift key lifts up the entire platen unit, so not something you can do without a pinky that has been working out at the gym.

And then there are the quirks of early keyboards.  Each key cost money, so they only included what was necessary.  You will see there is no key for the number one.  The lower case ‘L’ was deemed sufficient for that.  And with no key for the number one, there is also no key for the exclamation point.  To make one you would type a period then backspace and type a single quote over it.  And forget about your angled, square, or curly braces.  Straight up parenthesis is all you better need.

You do, however, get a special key for the fractions 1/2 and 1/4, while some of the other standard punctuation is scattered about the keyboard in places you might not expect to find them.

The keys work… mostly… save for the ‘N’ key, which sticks.  It used to stick occasionally, now it sticks every time you hit it.  The arm of the key is slightly bent so gets stuck as it strikes and you have to reach up and pull the key back every time you used it.  Nobody will be typing the great American novel on this machine… not very quickly anyway.

Also, there is a little bell that rings when you hit the end of a line so you know when to hit the return lever to start on a new line.  I had forgotten about that aspect of manual typewriters.

The case however has seen better days.  The hinges on the back are broken, so you can no longer carry the case by the handle.  You have to carry it like you were carrying a cake in a box lest the typewriter come loose and fall out.

Now I have to figure out what to do with the unit.  This 80 year old typewriter is a minor bit of family history, but not really an heirloom.  My daughter was interested in it momentarily before going back to her iPhone.  I expect I will find some room for it in my office with the rest of the junk I hang onto.

Kitten Time

My wife has been looking at kittens for a few weeks now.  It is the season and the local Humane Society has pictures posted up on their web site.  Then my daughter got in on the act, and the deal was pretty much sealed when she started texting me pictures of a kitten in her lap at Petco up the street.  And so we have a new member of our household.

Miles at home with us

His name is Miles.  For the moment.  Names are a contentious issue.  He came with the name Barry, which my wife was for but my daughter was against.  Miles came up after much back and forth.  It might stick, or he might end up as Milo.  We’ll see.

He is a dozen weeks old, is full of energy, and has a purr like a mini two-stroke engine that he revs up the moment we’re in the room with him.  He is all over my wife’s home office.

Now it is just a matter of getting Miles introduced to Rigby, our current cat.  Rigby is still young-ish, coming up on four years of age, and has been missing having a playmate around.  He knows something new is up and has posted himself outside the office door for long stretches to see what is up.

Rigby watching the door intently

We did have a test encounter earlier.  Rigby was in the office doorway and Miles jumped out, arched his back, hissed, and hopped/bounced in that posture straight at Rigby, who retreated in the face of the aggressive fuzz ball.  We’ll have to work on that.

Oscar at Peace

After we moved into the old house… our first real, single family detached dwelling in the mold of the suburban American dream… and had settled in a bit, it became time to get a cat.  We had a cat at our old condo, a charmer named Woody, but he had passed and we decided not to think about another cat until we had settled down in a new home.  Getting there took a while, but once we had ourselves established in the autumn of 2000, we went looking for a cat.

Two cats actually.  The thought was that a pair would be happier.  And so one weekend we picked Felix from a rescue shelter.  He was an adult can of unknown age who had been living in the parking lot of the IBM facility on Cottle Rd. in San Jose.  When that was closed, the woman who had been feeding him collected him up and brought him in to find him a real home.  He was happy and friendly and liked people and warmed right up to me, so he came home with us the day we met him.

The next weekend we went searching for a companion.  Since I had chosen Felix… or maybe he chose me… my wife was looking for a cat for herself.  After some searching we came across a black kitten with a white tummy, white paws, and a little diamond shaped white spot on his forehead.  He wasn’t a tiny kitten, but about five months old.  My wife thought he was adorable and so we brought him home.

Earliest known picture of Oscar

Earliest known picture of Oscar, hiding under our bed

He came with the name Dylan, but we changed that to Oscar, to match Felix as the “Odd Couple” of cats, and it turned out to be quite the fitting name.

When we brought him home we followed what we had been told and set Oscar up in the guest room with the door shut to keep the two cats apart until they grew used to each other.  That lasted for about 30 minutes.  They were almost immediately on either side of the door sniffing and meowing and obviously anxious to see who was on the other side.  There were no hostile signs, so we said, “What the hell” and opened the door and the two became immediate buddies.

Felix sharing his catnip pillow with Oscar

Felix sharing his catnip pillow with Oscar

But while the two of them were pals for life, they had very different personalities.  Felix had to be around whoever was over to visit, greeting every guest, and was always happy to sit in anybody’s lap.  He was the good cat, gregarious and happy and always in the thick of things.

Oscar, on the other hand, was quite reserved.  He loved Felix and my wife, but held himself aloof from the rest of the world.  I joked that it took him five years to get used to me, but it was about the truth.  He wouldn’t go out of his way to find me, but would seek out my wife day and night to be close to her, preferably in her lap.

Felix would be in the thick of thing and Oscar would be peeking around the corner or sneaking around the periphery of any event, keen to know what was going on but not willing to go out there with all those strangers.  He was also always getting into everything.  While Felix was content with things as they were, Oscar had to know what was under, behind, over, and around anything in the house.  He could be quite the wiener, and his nickname quickly became Oscar Meyer.

And then my daughter showed up and there was a whole new world of adventure for Oscar Meyer.  There was some combination of new stuff and a little human that was constantly around my wife and who, no doubt smelled a bit of her, that made my daughter and all of her stuff of immediate interest to him.  I don’t think my daughter had been home for more than 10 minutes before he appeared at her bassinet to see what we had brought home.

What do we have here?

What do we have here?

Of course, he immediately tried to get into the bassinet with her and curl up.  She was nice and warm and that was a trait he loved in people.  We had to keep a close eye on him and even had to get a mesh “kitty tent” to go over my daughter’s crib to keep him out once she started sleeping there.  But her stuff was his stuff as far as he was concerned and looking back at the pictures he was around her and my wife a lot.

Life with Oscar and Felix was good.  They were pals and Felix, who would welcome anybody in our house, took up the slack with visitors as Oscar remained wary of strangers and really only liked my wife and daughter for years.  I remained under suspicion.

Of course, when it came time to go to the vet, I was the one who had to stuff the kitties in their boxes.  Felix would go easy, but Oscar… who could somehow sense I was coming for him even if left no evidence about… would run and hide under the bed the moment I glanced his way.  I recall once having to take the mattress and box spring off the bed to get at him.  Still, once in a while he would show up and hang out with me.

Hey, is that Age of Kings you’re playing?

Felix, older and having lived a harder life in his youth, passed away just about eight years ago.  Oscar though, he was in his prime at that time.  He was king of the house and soon had to rule over two new kittens.  The coming of Fred and Trixie worked out well, and the three of them became pals, with the two younger cats cuddling up with Oscar.

Black and white fur at rest

With three cats, everybody in the house had one.  Oscar remained ever my wife’s cat, while Fred would sleep with our daughter, and Trixie would hang out with me… though she would cuddle up on my wife in bed.  She knew where the warmth was.

Fred and Trixie were not with us long however.  They both suffered from a congenital issue that cut both of their lives short, feline aortic thromboembolism.  Fred went a year before Trixie, and in the interim she had to have a new cat to call her own, so Rigby joined us as a kitten.

Not being black and white, the new tabby kitten wasn’t welcomed very warmly.  It took a while for Trixie and Oscar to accept Rigby, but eventually they did.

Trixie, Rigby, and Oscar together on the tower

By this point Oscar was slowing down.  He was still king of the house, and held court on the couch where he would welcome any guest and sit in their lap… so long as it was warm… but he was more interested in sunny spots and treats than running around and playing.  Then Trixie passed and it was just Oscar and Rigby.

Those two were not pals.  When Rigby was young he wanted to play when Oscar wanted to sleep.  Later when Rigby came into his adult size, he stated testing Oscar over who was really the boss.  There were the occasional fights, but mostly it was the kitty equivalent of “I’m not touching you, I’m not touching you!”

Oscar trying to pretend Rigby isn’t there

They could be cuddly at times, but their rivalry was never far from the surface.

 

And Oscar was getting older and slowing down even more so.  The vet told me a couple of times that 12 to 15 years is a good life span for a healthy cat.  Oscar hit 16 last year and was closing in on 17 this year, but time was telling on him.  His hips were bothering him, so we got him a heating pad to sleep on during the day.  He had gone deaf at some point, which meant that an already vocal cat had no real way to gauge his volume. He then got a bad ear infection about 18 months back that took a long stretch to go away with antibiotics, a respiratory infection late last year that sapped his strength before it was over, and then this past January an episode that looked like another ear infection (head tilt, problem with balance) but which the vet thought was an issue with his brain; not a stroke but some sort of episode.  His blood pressure was very high and in addition to his other symptoms he was blind in one eye.

I started writing this post after that day at the vet because he looked to be done, even crawling under our bed to be some place dark, something past cats I have owned have done that indicates their time has come.

Then he bounced back a bit.  The “maybe this will help” medicine the vet gave us seemed to actually help.  He got up on the bed with us the next day.  His balance improved, he could get around the house on his own, and he started eating again.  He wasn’t eating much though and he was far from his old self.  We made him as comfortable as we could and offered up food he really liked just to get him to eat more.  Even Rigby (mostly) stopped being a pain to Oscar and would groom him.

But it was borrowed time.  Oscar was eating less and less and was losing weight.  Even for an older cat who slept a lot already, a lot of his time was spent asleep.  And then when I got home from work Wednesday I found him in the middle of the floor of office.  My wife said he had used the litter box, but then just stopped in the carpet there and wouldn’t move.  She had food and water close to him, but he was just sitting there.  I found a cat bed he would occasionally deign to sleep in, put it down next to him, then placed him in it.  He curled up there and slept.  He did not move until the next morning when he was trying to walk to our bedroom.  I picked him up and put him on the bed in the dark room and he curled up again and stayed there.

I was working from home yesterday and my daughter was home sick from school, so we kept an eye on Oscar, but things did not look good.  There was no interest in food or water.  I let my daughter take him out in the back yard where it was warm (72 degrees) and sunny to see if that would stimulate him.  Oscar has never been outside and has shown no desire to ever leave the house.  But as a cat any new environment is of interest to him. He explored a bit, but could barely go a dozen steps before having to lay down and rest for a bit.

Out in the grass

While he was out there with my daughter I called the vet and made an appointment for one last check before the end.  We all went to the vet and cried a lot  as we said good bye.  He is at peace and suffers no more, but we are still sad today and miss him.

The end of an era.  We always grow attached to our pets, but after 16 years the bond is very strong and the parting all the more difficult.  Oscar had been with us since before my wife was even pregnant with our daughter, and we used to joke, when my daughter wanted a sibling, that he was her older brother.

It is even difficult to choose pictures to post of him.  We got our first digital camera as a gift just before we got Felix and Oscar and he has been a kitty of the digital camera and then the iPhone age.  There are literally hundreds of pictures of him to choose from.  But I think my favorites are from the early days, when he and Felix roamed our house and were such pals, and when Oscar just had to get into everything, so I will add a few more of those to the end of this already over-long post.

EVE Vegas – Like Finds Like and Other Things

Back from EVE Vegas and I am still tired.  And, since it was Halloween on Monday I flew back home just in time for more things going on.  No rest for the weary.  I heard that CCP chose the weekend because they thought it would be a good date for a party, but I am not sure anybody has problems finding a party on Halloween.  But I was there.

Various bits of EVE Vegas

Various bits of EVE Vegas 2016

Lots of interesting things were announced or talked about during the event.  My favorite tidbit of data involved how many citadels there were in New Eden.  The count, as of the art presentation (which also gave us the new explosions video) on Sunday, was:

  • Astrahus – 6,690 with 90 more coming online
  • Fortizar – 747 with another 30 in progress
  • Keepstar – 14 in space

That is a lot of citadels deployed in New Eden.

They didn’t say how many Keepstars were being deployed, but one went up in our own staging system last night.

Goons have a Keepstar

Goons have a Keepstar

Its deployment probably went unnoticed because our staging system has citadels the way Jita has station.

Anyway, lots of stuff at EVE Vegas that people are writing about.  You can find summaries over at The Nosy Gamer and at NevilleSmit.com (post 1, post 2, and post 3)

I have some thoughts of my own rattling around my head, especially about the bright future of ship skins in New Eden, but I am tired and there are kids outside looking for candy so I am going to save that for another day.

Instead I want to look at some minor bit of EVE Vegas that I find interesting, which is who I spent time talking with at the event.  The list, in no particular order:

There are probably a couple missing from that list, but since I generally can’t even remember what I had for breakfast by the time lunch rolls around most days, the fault is mine not yours.

Mark726 and I at the Chateau party

Mark726 and I at the Chateau party

So yes, there is a pretty clear pattern there.  That list is mostly people in EVE Online fan media whose work I had listened to or read before Vegas and who were, in most cases, at least somewhat aware of me and my blog.  (This blog, and not EVE Online Pictures, my official fan site blog, which nobody knows exists.)

Myself, Neville Smit, and Nosy (Note the unintentionally on point sign in the lower left)

Myself, Neville Smit, and Nosy (Note the unintentionally on point sign in the lower left)

And just to sort of round that theme out, I know Gabby through Twitter (she was literally the first person I spoke to at EVE Vegas last year) while Debes used to comment frequently on EVE posts here (until I went to null sec), so they really fit the pattern as well.

Which isn’t to say I didn’t talk to anybody else.  I spoke for just a bit with Robby Kasparic, who contributes to Imperium News and is in Reavers, and meant to get back to chat with him some more but never quite managed it.  For example, I also met DBRB, who is exceptionally pleasant in person, Lady Scarlet, and The Mittani at various points during the event.  But those were all in passing moments and as like as not I was forgotten pretty quickly.

Out of 800+ people at the event, that really wasn’t a lot of people.  I spoke to two CCP people during the whole thing; CCP Logibro, to give him a TNT pin to add to the collection he had on his badge lanyard, and CCP Guard, because I was on his team for the trivia quiz. (Hint: Always be on Mark726’s team for such events.  His team won while ours came in last with 9 points out of 40, though CCP Guard knew the answers when it came to questions about events in 2003.)

And part of that is because of me.  Manic Velocity gave a talk title “Scaling the Social Cliff of EVE Online” where he spoke about how it can be a problem for an introvert like himself to come to events like EVE Vegas and actually talk to strangers, which I would have loudly agreed with if I wasn’t too introverted for that.  It is nearly impossible for me to walk up to a group of strangers already talking and join in.  I’ll look away and walk past and hate me for being me while I look for somebody I know.

But another part is in my motivation in going to Vegas, which isn’t primarily to party or gamble or drink exotic alcoholic milkshakes, though I may indulge in that sort of thing.

Holsteins - That is a slice of pumpkin pie on the left milkshake

Holsteins – That is a slice of pumpkin pie on the left milkshake

And I certainly went to the Chateau party.

The DJ was pretty spot on picking music for the EVE Vegas crowd

The DJ was pretty spot on picking music for the EVE Vegas crowd

But I think my prime motivation in going to EVE Vegas was to talk about EVE Online with other players, and doubly so in the face of announcements that CCP puts out at these event.  And actually talking about the game, its people, and various related issues from running a stream to what makes a news site “work” for readers is difficult to do with more than a few people.  Even at the blogger lunch that Marcus Scarus threw together, where there was not a huge crowd, we broke into smaller groups at times to talk about different topics.

So talking to a lot of people wasn’t necessarily a key objective.  Talking to some of the “right” people was, and I think things turned out pretty well with the list of people above.  Thanks for spending time talking with me.

Also, a special shout out to Dirk MacGirk because conversation is enhanced when somebody hands you an awesome T-shirt.

The Open Comms Show T-Shirt, graphics by Rixx Javix

The Open Comms Show T-Shirt, graphics by Rixx Javix

So now to figure out how to get to Vegas again next year.

Also, in closing, there is one more odd aspect to all of this, which is what do you call people?  And how do you introduce yourself?  We all have our real name, our in-game name, and sometimes a different name under which we blog or stream.

When I met The Mittani we ran into him at the Cosmopolitan.  He introduced himself as “Alex” so I returned with, “John,” both our real life names.  But he came our way because I was standing with Noizy, whom he has met in the past, and started talking to him.  However, I still don’t know what Noizy’s real life name is and only vaguely recall his in-game name.  There isn’t any great message in all of that, just a glimpse at the oddity of our various identities.

Finally, I was told several times that there was one other person from TNT, my alliance, who attended EVE Vegas.  However, this always came up when I arrived and he had just left, so I never actually met him.  Ah well, maybe next year.

Friday Bullet Points from Waikiki

  • Sunny and warm; February in Hawaii is about perfect summer weather
  • Umbrella drinks in plentiful supply
  • About as Vegas-like as Hawaii can get, in a good way
  • Lots of Japanese tourists wielding selfie sticks
  • Jellyfish warnings at the beach
  • Taxi fares all end up being about twice what people tell you they will be
  • Wife’s birthday planned for Farrell’s
  • No Super Bowl craziness to deal with
  • Headed to Pearl Harbor tomorrow
  • Will be arriving back home when everybody is finally leaving

Also, we can see Diamond Head from our hotel room.

Diamond Head in the evening light

And, having climed up to the peak of the crater rim, I can confirm that you can see our hotel room from the summit.

Addendum: Our rental car for a drive around the island, a mid-life crisis worthy bitchin’ yellow convertible Camaro.

My daughter asked me to "do donuts" in the car...

My daughter asked me to “do donuts” in the car…

 

Leaving EVE Vegas

If you follow my Twitter feed at all… and hell, it is there on the side bar down towards the bottom, so no excuse even if you don’t… you probably figured out that I went to EVE Vegas this past weekend.

EVE Vegas Baby!

EVE Vegas Baby!

My wife and I actually flew in Thursday afternoon to have a bit of time for ourselves in Vegas before events started to take their course.  And then, suddenly it was Sunday evening and I was in a cab to the airport and the whole thing was winding down.

So, in order to try and organize my thoughts, possibly for future posts, I am going to go over some highlights of the whole thing.  This is more stream of consciousness than any attempt at a strict summary of things.

Keynote

The EVE Vegas Keynote was the big reveal, the introduction to the upcoming features, some of which had been talked about before, like the upcoming structures, and some new ones, like the capital ship rework.  Both of those appeared to be slated for the Citadel expansion in the spring.

Coming Spring 2016

Coming Spring 2016

There were also some smaller items, coming sooner, such as the new ice mining frigate. the endurance, and new hit effects for ships.  For the latter, some shield hit effects were shown,  and they look really cool. (They start at about 50:30 in the keynote video on YouTube.)

There are also changes coming to the camera.  You will be able to move the camera with being focused on a ship or other in-space object and you’ll be able to focus on things more than 100km away.  There is also a first person mode in the works.

Then there were media and goodies.  CCP had stuff for sale at the convention and announced that some items would be available before Christmas through the site Think Geek.  There was a mention of Andrew Groen’s upcoming Empires of EVE book that so many of us pledged for in the Kickstarter way back when, and a new initiative between The Mittani.com media and the author Jeff Edwards to create a pilot’s view telling of the 2013 war in Fountain. (For those who need a reminder, I have my own timeline of the war.)

Then CCP Seagull finished up by thanking us all for coming, said she would see us at the pub crawl, waved, and walked off stage.  The audience then, almost as one, stood up to leave… at which point somebody came out to remind us that the EVE Valkyrie keynote was up next and we should all leave.  I stayed for that… though I cannot recall a single thing… but most people wandered off.  Sucks to be the poor relation.

Anyway, unlike Noizy, I came out of the keynote quite upbeat.  Yes, that was in part because nearly every game related item they spoke of involved null sec, though I would point out that capital ships are a thing in low and WH space, while citadels will be everywhere… except Thera… which is where Noizy lives, so I guess I can see his point of view.

Social

A mistake on my part was to arrive in Vegas without any plan to meet up with anybody.  Going to a convention where I know nobody personally and, thus, have little or no chance of actually recognizing anybody and being somebody who can find it difficult to approach and start speaking to strangers, especially if they are already in a group and talking… well, not an optimum scenario.

Still, I muddled through, largely thanks to my wife, who was a sales rep for years and is the type who makes lifelong friends in the line at the grocery store.  Of course, there were some false starts.

In line for badge pickup… because a couple hundred of us decided that we needed to pick up our badges right at 11am when registration opened… I resolved to speak to the people around me in line.  So I turned to the two guys behind me who were chatting and said that we were all obviously EVE players and asked what part of the game they played in.

And they said that no, they did not actually play EVE.  Their boss plays EVE and he had sent them down to collect his pass.  This is who I end up standing next to.

Though it wasn’t too bad.  They were game devs and they had both tried EVE at some point.  They worked on the game Gray Goo, which is available on Steam.  So we talked about video game industry stuff, the price of living in Vegas, and where to find alcohol cheaper than the cash bar that was setup near the registration desk.  My wife had them covered on that front. a conversation that spilled over to the people in front of us.

An extra shot is just $2.00 more, making them reasonably potent

An extra shot is just $2.00 more, making them reasonably potent

Soon several people had very large beverages in tow.

I did end up talking to some other people in line, including fellow Reaver Victor Fel.  But I was not particularly social.  I spent a lot of time at sessions and such sitting by myself.

Dinner Friends

I did however, manage to find some people to hang out with.  Thanks to the fact that Gabby uses an actual picture of herself for her Twitter profile, so I was able to spot her at breakfast in the PBR Rock Bar. (Which, by the way, serves the most excellent tater tots as a side with many of their breakfast items.  This was the only place we ate at twice.)  Later we caught up with her and some of her fellow corp mates from Signal Cartel, the people who run the EVE-Scout site that is so near and dear to the hearts of many space travelers.

Rather than go on the pub crawl, which was sold out in addition to likely being beyond my ability to handle, my wife and I joined Signal Cartel for a bit of Las Vegas exploration.  We were headed to Lotus of Siam, a place alleged to be the best Thai restaurant in the US.  I am not sure who says this, but that was the story and we were willing to run with it.

There were nine of us with a vague idea as to were the place might be at the cab stand.  But we figured how could a Vegas cab drive NOT know where the best Thai restaurant is.

We ended up split across three cabs.  The guy at the cab stand knew where we were headed and gave the driver the cross streets to head to, but before we got to the street in front of the hotel, the driver had lost all of that and was asking where we were going.

Pro tip: Short term memory is a very important trait for a cab driver.

We told him what the guy at the cab stand said and he started off in what we assumed to be the right direction, burning down the road in that little cab like he had an extremely lucrative fare to pick up after he dropped us off.  At one point, when he was weaving in and out of lanes and thrashing that poor little motor for a bit more speed, my wife dryly asked what sort of race car he was driving.  The driver, bereft of both short term memory and a sense of irony explained that it was a Scion xB and a very reliable car.

We did manage to arrive at the destination, though not before the drive had to pull out his Android phone, get Google maps running, and have my wife say the name of the restaurant so that he could get directions again.  I was a bit worried, as from the street side the place looked like it might be abandoned.  But the parking lot side of the building showed it to be open for business.  Gabby paid for the cab and, though I bought her a beer, I still owe her some money from that ride.  Next Vegas?

Of course, with nine of us showing up on a Friday night, there was something of a wait.  Fortunately they had a huge bar area… large enough that one might wonder which that wasn’t a dining area… where we were able to push some tables together and sit around and talk for a bit.  In a stroke of luck, Johnny Splunk brought along his wife Jamie who, like my wife, doesn’t play EVE, so they were able to have a non-video game conversation at one end of the table while the rest of us recounted tales of internet spaceships.

Eventually we were dragged from our reverie and had some dinner.  It was decent Thai food, but no better than the Thai place I go to near our house, so it seems like there is a very fine line separating “best” and “runner up” in the whole Thai restaurant category.

Sitting at Dinner

Sitting at Dinner

I like this picture because due to the way we present ourselves and my own short term memory issues (I could never be a cab driver or a waiter, I forgot stuff in two seconds) this is the only common baseline I have for everybody’s name.  I know some of their real names, I know some of their in-game names, for those who blog I know their blogger handles, but Twitter is the only place where I can identify almost everybody.

Anyway, a great time was had and a few of us decided to walk over to the Las Vegas monorail for the trip back to the hotel.  This involved a stretch through a pretty sketchy neighborhood… and, as always, everything in Vegas seems closer than it actually is… but we arrived safely and took a ride on the rail.

The Party

The party at the Chateau club at the Paris Hotel was quite a thing.  We were running late but felt we had best eat BEFORE starting in on the drinking.  As there were no snacks or hors d’oeuvres at the party, just free alcohol, that turned out to be a good plan.  My wife and I hung out with the Signal Cartel team for a bit and then circulated some.

EVE Vegas Party Time

EVE Vegas Party Time

We ended up talking to some smaller groups of people around the edge of the party.  The stratification seemed to be large groups of null sec players clumped about and smaller packs of low sec and wormhole pilots a bit further out.  I am sure this says something about the social structure of EVE Online.

We sat with a couple of low sec pilots from Edmonton for a bit, and my wife got to show her hockey chops as the Oilers now have Todd McClellan as their coach after he was cut by our local team, the Sharks.  We also hung out for a bit with a Provi bloc pilot who, when he found out I was in TNT, wanted to know where the hell we went during the Provi invasion.  He lives in one of the constellation that TNT was supposed to attack, but then we got called back to defend UMI-KK against MOA.

We also saw this guy

We also saw this guy

We stayed past the 11pm mark, at which point the EVE players got pushed over into a roped off section of the club to keep us away from the high rollers.  I suspect we did not stay long enough for such high rollers to show up however, as I didn’t see anybody ordering thousand dollar magnums of champagne from the menus they laid out.

Eventually we decided to call it a night, at which point we were faced with the trial of getting out of the club.  There are stairs, but that is an emergency exit only.  You have to line up for an elevator… and then walk a ways to line up for another elevator… before you are back in the casino.  This may have been the only club I have ever seen that had a line as long to get out as to get in.

EVE Valkyrie

During a lull I spotted a short line for the demo and queued up for a try.

I was happy to find that the VR headset would fit on my own fat head, something that is more of a problem than you might think.  When the game came up I immediately started moving my head around to test the whole VR aspect, which prompted the person from CCP to ask if things were okay.

Fortunately I was given a pretty good briefing on the controls.  How missiles work was explained correctly, which I gather from talking to some other people, was not always the case, so I was able to blow some stuff up.  The Gatling gun was more problematic.  I *think* I hit some things with it, but aiming was odd.

Mostly I was just impressed with being in the VR space environment and seeing the big ships.  I could see CCP giving their new first person camera view a VR option.  But I didn’t walk away dying to get a VR headset.  15 year old me would have had to be dragged away from the game, but current me is a bit more jaded.  At least I didn’t feel any motion sickness.

Cosplay

My wife made an Interbus Jacket for me, which is the official Reavers jacket.

Jacketpals unite

Jacketpals unite

It was crafted from the finest materials the Minmatar Republic could provide… which is to say that it was done up largely with duct tape.  Not quite my in-game avatar come to life, but what can you do?

Wilhelm Arcturus in game

Wilhelm Arcturus in game

However, Reavers were not heavily represented at EVE Vegas, so far as I could tell.  I ran into Viktor Fel, but that was about it.  And not many people outside of Reavers know that we wear this jacket, so I while I got a few compliments, though the comment “We don’t see many Interbus Cosplayers” probably sums up the average reaction.

I was a bit nervous about wearing the jacket.  There is a pretty large impulse to not draw attention in my psyche.  But for the most part people didn’t seem to notice.  When it wouldn’t fit in the luggage for home, I just wore it through the rest of the last day, in the cab, and through both Las Vegas and San Jose airports.  Nobody looked twice.

Still, I did get my moment in this sun, a pose with Maximilian Singularity VI.

Looking into a bright future...

Looking into a bright future…

And, having dressed up as such, I then HAD to buy the Interbus luggage tag that they had for sale.

That yellow matches my duct tape!

That yellow matches my duct tape!

The only other cosplay I can recall seeing was this guy.

Chicken guy

Chicken guy

I had to explain to my wife what a chicken had to do with EVE, though honestly I was stumped for a bit until he let his Fweddit flag fly.  I hear they are recruiting, if you want some fun in Cloud Ring.

Vegas Itself

Las Vegas feels like a very appropriate place to hold an EVE Online convention.  For practical reasons alone it is pretty reasonable.  It is setup for these sorts of events.  It has many distractions.  It has a large and pretty well run airport that handles direct flights from a lot of locations.  People can get there, stay there, and find things to do.

But for all the lights and excitement, it can be as hard of an environment as New Eden.  If you forget for a moment that the place exists to separate you from your money, it will quickly remind you.  I ordered a Jack & Coke and a Vodka Cranberry for myself and my wife at the Heart Bar down in the casino and would have done a spit-take if I had had a drink in my mouth when the bartender laid out the drinks and said it would be $23.50 for the pair.  Plus a tip, you know.

Over at Bellagio I got two scoops of mint chip ice cream and goggled a bit when that came up as $7.50.  That seemed extreme until I ordered a single scoop from a place across the street and it rang up as $6.25.  The Bellagio serving had about four times as much ice cream and seemed like a deal after the other place! (Also, it was very good ice cream.)

And let’s talk about cigarette smoke.  It is always bizarro world odd going to Vegas from California.  It is a short flight, but we’ve been in the process of banning smoking for 30 years.  I don’t think people have been allowed to smoke indoors for the last 20.  So to be in a place where smoking is fine in most every public venue is strange… and painful.  Smoke in the eyes, smoke in your face, the burn in the back of your throat from being around it for a while.  That was why I was buying ice cream, to sooth my throat.

Then there is the reality of Vegas, which includes a lot of people working there… look at all those people in the casino… who are likely priced out of the glamour of the whole thing and live off the strip in a place that was essentially carved out of a desert.

I think Vegas was best summed up by a scene that took place outside of Planet Hollywood on our first day.  A person working for tips… and they are all over the strip… dressed up in a somewhat worn and dirty Hello Kitty costume accosting a pair of tourists who had taken a picture with her (or him, who knows) but hadn’t left a tip.  It was like a Sanrio version of Goodfellas, with Hello Kitty ready to get all, “Fuck you, pay me!”  Put Joe Pesci in that suit and let the camera roll.

Other Bits

I am sure I am forgetting half a hundred other things, but a few items that spring to mind that I want to call out.

Andrew Groen’s presentation about his book The Empires of EVE.  He has a great voice and stage presence and now I want to back the Kickstarter for him reading the audio book version.  He only had 30 minutes on stage, but could have kept us all interested for two hours if he had been given the time.  Really cannot wait for that book to arrive.

CCP Quant’s presentation and the return of the EVE economic newsletter, coming again in November.  Numbers!  We love numbers!

Max Singularity’s NASA session.  The man is passionate about far more than New Eden and gave a moving presentation.

The Broadcast 4 Reps video.  Help your fellow capsuleers when they need it.

A lot of being able to sit down and talk about the game with other EVE Online players.  Noizy and I sat at a table in a quiet area between sessions to talk about the CCP Quant presentation which itself sprawled into other topics.  As interesting as the presentations were and as much fun as the party was, I want more of that.

I’ll mention Signal Cartel again! It was great to meet you guys.  Mynxee was back in the original EVE Blog Pack with her old Life in Low Sec blog back in the day.

And, finally, I have to give a huge shout out to my wife who pretty much made the trip possible.

My wife and I at the party

My wife and I at the party

She put up with the internet spaceship stuff, and still managed to have fun… enough fun that she was already talking about next year.

Now to get back to playing video games.  The irony of such a convention is that I was away from games for four days.