Toldain Talks

Because reading me sure beats working!


Toldain started as an Everquest character. I've played him in EQ2, WoW, Vanguard, LOTRO, and Zork Online. And then EVE Online, where I'm 3 million years old, rather than my usual 3000. Currently I'm mostly playing DDO. But I still have fabulous red hair. In RL, I am a software developer who has worked on networked games, but not MMORPGS.

Sunday, January 31, 2010


When I logged on to EVE Online this morning, I had mail from my alliance leadership declaring today to be "D-Day", the day we show maximum strength in our war with Tri and allies.

When I logged on, there was some confusion about where the coalition fleets were and whether it was possible to join them. So I started on a plex, only to find out that the confusion was minor. So I finished the plex and jumped to my pvp clone in ROIR. Without too much effort, I found a fleet and joined up with it in a gate camp in the J-CIJV.

The two hours I spent with this fleet were mostly uneventful, but still highly interesting. "Gate camp" isn't really a good word for it, more like a "gate horde".

The prize for the day were two stations in the region which were currently owned by Tri, which were coming out of reinforcement. The Northern Coalition had a reported 300 capital ships working on this: Shoot at a station enough and it changes over to your side, it seems.

However, they didn't want any more ships on that grid, as they were worried about crashing the server. So the rest of us spread out in support fleets, trying to shut down any counter forces. Reports had 1000 NC pilots in the field, and there were screenshots of some 40 Titans attacking the station.

We got involved in one engagement that went something like this: An enemy carrier engaged friendly forces outside a station. Two friendly Titans (both Erebus) uncloaked (!) and fry said enemy carrier, while we warp in and clean up the minor crap.

After that, I had to log.


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Blue Fail

One of the reasons I switched corps to Skyforger was that I wanted to see some of what goes on with 0.0 and with large fleet actions. I've got my wish.

Skyforger is part of the Tactical Narcotics Team (ticker TNT) alliance. This is, in turn, part of the Northern Coalition (NC). Some of the other alliances in NC are Mostly Harmless (ticker "-42-", which I love, by the way), and the Tau Ceti Federation (TCF), who are our landlords. Also are Morsus Mihi, Majesta Empire, RAZOR Alliance, Stella Polaris, and Wildly Inappropriate.

According to Evelopedia (linked above),

The Northern Coalition is non-expansionist, as it does not generally seek to capture territory outside the North. It's member alliances operate independently on a day to day basis, coming together only for large conflicts especially in defence of the north.

What we are currently engaged in is exactly that. There have been incursions by Triumvirate (TRI) into Pure Blind. SOV markers dropped, POS's anchored, and so on. We are trying to boot them out.

The political structure seems very loose and weak to me. On top of that we have been under a Call To Arms continuously for the last two weeks, and will continue to be so. This is somewhat exhausting.

The other night I logged in and an a couple of POS-bashing operations were scheduled. Considering that I wanted to see more of this kind of thing, I grabbed one of the Incursus tacklers I'd fitted and came along.

NC fleets accomplished all objectives that night. Two POS's which came out of reinforced mode were destroyed. A Tri fleet that attempted to raid the ROIR-Y system was repelled in a very protracted fleet battle.

This kind of protracted campaign puts a lot of pressure on members, alliances, and coalitions. A lot of cracks were showing, both for the blues and for the reds.

On the red side, there was a Titan in a POS in Roir that we used to generate a jump bridge for all the non-capital ships in our fleet. However, the Tritan pilot was refusing to hand out the password for the POS force field. Instead he maneuvered the Titan close enough to the edge of the force field to allow ships to approach within the necessary 2000m. Some fleet members were unhappy about this lack of trust, the Titan pilot retorted, and not especially calmly, that he was tired of being bumped, which slows the whole process down by minutes.

During this and other friction points our FC chanted his mantra, "Don't stress, don't stress", and urged us to "help each other, guys". In general, he was good, if a bit irritable himself. Besides his tactical competence, the best other policy was his determination to keep sniping off of Teamspeak. "Don't spam my TS, don't spam my coms!" was a repeated call. And I appreciated it. When there are that many people involved (somewhere between 100 and 200), you need to just shut up and do what you're told, and if you can't do what you're told, find a way around the obstacle.

At another moment, when our fleet was picking up the loot/salvage from the fleet one battle, one pilot called another out for being a greedy salvager/looter. The reply was, "I'm docking up, you emo". Since I had been exploded and was only seeing coms, I'm not sure what happened, but I think shots were fired. We were under instructions to loot all, then dock up and contract stuff to people who had lost ships. I didn't x up as having lost a ship, since my loss, a frigate with no T2 gear, was insignificant, and easily covered by insurance.

The Red side had their fractures as well. But first, the fight itself. We had intel that a fleet of roughly 20 Tri battleships was headed our way, so we formed up at our side of the gate they would use to come into ROIR. And come they did.

FC gave the order "jump to G95 gate at optimal". "Jump to optimal" means pick the range that best suits your firing setup. As the red force hit the opposite side of the gate, the order came "bubble the gate". Then the gate fire came.

At that point there is the delicious suspension of time while the enemy fleet remains cloaked to load the grid, get everyone in, and pick the first targets before they uncloak. And uncloak they did. I just picked a target and tackled it. I lasted for maybe 2 or three minutes, I think a smartbomb was what did me in. But the fight went on for much longer. (I didn't get podded because people were way too busy to target capsules).

I didn't have second ship so I watched fleet chat and listened on teamspeak. At one point our FC got exploded, and passed off target calling to someone else. One fun quote was, "Switch off of X, he's being repped, oh, never mind, he's dead". The battle lasted for perhaps 10 to 15 minutes. Serious action. And I missed most of it.

In the end, we held the field. They were tough though, and killed more ships, I believe. And they sent in a few stealth bombers to try and destroy the loot and cause general mayhem afterwards.

One way to tell that the fight is over is the flood of "gf" (good fight) in local chat. However, just after the first or second "gf" was posted, their presumed commander, SuperTwinky posted in local the words "blue fail". Further chatter revealed that he was disappointed in the performance of allied non-TRI pilots. So the stress is getting to them, too, perhaps more significantly than for NC.

I've heard people say, "Hey, it's just a game, it's just pixels on the screen." Mostly they say that to justify ruining your day by ganking or scamming or whatever. It's clear that the game means a lot to the people who play it. Emotions can run high. In a sense, this is what attracts me. I recognize the importance of keeping your head in battle, but it's not an easy thing to do. It requires practice, mindful practice. Which Eve PvP will provide.

I'd like to be more involved in these actions, and I'd like to feel like I was a bit more useful. Maybe I orbited too closely (I used 500m). Maybe I just got unlucky to pick a target with a smart bomb. When the fight started, tackling was maybe a bit irrelevant, as they had come to fight us. Maybe I should hang back until the enemy maybe actually wants to run away. It's hard to say. But most of all, I need to keep my head.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

So Far Off Topic...

...It kind of reminds me of some of the discussions that Phritz and I have. For all the Econ geeks out there.


Friday, January 15, 2010

Irrational Actors

Quoth pi to i: "Get real!"
Retorteth i: "Be rational!"

Brian Green left this comment on my Hulkageddon post. Bravo to him for reading through that. I was feeling enthusiastic, what can I say?

I don't really understand why people aren't "rational" economic actors in EVE.

For a lot of the same reasons they're not in offline life. Plus, for some people "it's just a game" so it doesn't make sense for them to do something they may not really enjoy to get a bit of extra cash. I suspect this isn't quite so common in EVE, though.

I have a friend who just doesn't like to use the AH in games. I think a large part of it is that he doesn't want to bother to learn how to maximize profits even in this simple case; yet, he's happy grinding out daily quests at an alarming rate. :P

Too true, too true. This reminds me of a story. I had found a nice little profitable venture in EQ2. With one of the class/skill revisions, it turned out that Rangers, a very popular class at the time got their only backstab ability at about level 6 or 7, and it never upgraded, due to the class tree branching.

So, I discovered I could make Adept 3's (they were then called) using the T1 rares, which could be bought cheaply, and sell them for a nice little profit. I don't remember how much, but it was enough to get my attention, though not enough to get me rich on its own. The market seemed to support the sale of maybe one of these a day or so.

A guildie of mine noticed that I was doing this and decided that he would do it too. With great energy and enthusiasm he brought to every venture he began cranking them out, under the theory that more is better.

He completely flooded the market and destroyed the value of the item. I stopped making them. I never mentioned it to him because well, it was clear that there was no malice involved.

Another case is when we could go out and harvest deer meat in a T1 zone and sell it on the broker for 1g each to people trying to complete a HQ. I've come to realize that that was just a difference in opportunity cost. If you're high level, 1g is easier to get than deer meat, as easy as it is. But if you're low level, the deer meat is easier. Thus, trade enriches both parties. Adam Smith for the win. This sort of thing is really good for game economies, where low levels can get something that high level toons want but don't want to spend the time getting. Things that flow money from high levels to low levels are very good.

Here's the kind of thing that doesn't make any sense to me in EVE, though. A miner goes out and mines ore and then makes stuff with it when that miner would make more money and spend less time by simply selling the ore.

Or another example is why people would mine tritanium, which is stagnant in price, when thy could be mining pyerite, which has doubled in price recently, and shows no sign of abating. Do people really see themselves as "I'm a tritanium miner, I can't stand those snobby pyerite miners?"

Actually, I think it's just habits, and unexamined behaviors.

One of my favorite things about Eve is the situation is always fluid. It's never the same game twice. Even anomalies and missions will have some variation in spawns. And yes, I am bored with running shard dungeons that have exactly the same mobs in exactly the same places.


All ur Ironclads are Belong to Us

At Gamespy.

Just read it, ok? It's l33t, i'm telling you.


Thursday, January 14, 2010


Wilhelm2451 has posted about Hulkageddon, offering some fixes that might discourage this behavior. I must demur, but first I offer some background.

For those of you who don't play Eve, this was a contest organized around who could kill the most Hulks over a weeklong period. Hulkageddon is the sort of emergent behavior that I believe the game design in Eve is intended to promote.

Hulks are the premier mining ship. Mining is the primary way that all the minerals needed to make ships and fittings in Eve. These minerals can also be garnered by reprocessing stuff that is looted off of wrecks. But I don't think that's nearly as efficient as mining with a large mining ship.

As it turns out, mining in high-security systems is about as exciting as watching paint dry, though it is lucrative. This leads to people mining while AFK, or even using mods or bots to mine (this is prohibited by the EULA, by the way, but hard to catch, as it is in other games). Also, it's not easy to put good defenses on the Hulk, and doing so will probably detract, if only a little, from it's mining volume potential.

Mining in Eve consists of cuddling up to an asteroid, and turning on "mining lasers" that chip off the ore and deposit it in you cargo hold. Since holds typically fill up way too fast, miners will use giant containers in space to hold the ore, and a freighter type vessel to haul it to a station for refinement and sale. This might be an alt on a second account or a friend.

The next factor that makes Hulkageddon possible is insurance, which is a strange but important part of Eve's design. You may buy insurance for any ship you own. There is a variety of levels of insurance available for each ship. The smallest payout also has the largest payout ratio, of perhaps 6:1 for payout:premium. The payouts are fixed and do not change with the economy.

The economy in Eve is fairly depressed at the moment. Raw material prices are down and most ship prices are down. Many battleships sell so cheaply that the price of one plus the price of the top insurance premium is a million or more ISK less than the insurance payout that results when your battleship gets blown up.

This leads to "insurance fraud" where pilots buy ships, fit them with a target painter, undock and target paint the station. This counts as an act of aggression, and the station kills them. Dock, and repeat. I think killing rats in 0.0 would be a faster way of making ISK, but to each its own. And here's the thing. I think the game designers like the fact that there is insurance fraud. They are quite interested in emergent behavior, in seeing players do interesting and differentiated things based on a few choices.

By the way, I think the insurance structure ensures a vibrant PvP sector. Losing a ship isn't that big a deal, though you have to go through the trouble of getting another one. I think, therefore that the insurance system will stay the way it is.

However, a Hulk is a Tech 2 ship, and like most T2 ships, the insurance payout doesn't even begin to cover the replacement cost. Hulks are very expensive.

I don't really understand why people aren't "rational" economic actors in EVE. I have observed people who made and sold items for so cheap that one could buy them, reprocess them for minerals and sell the minerals, making money. I don't understand why they do that, but I'm willing to take advantage.

Ok, so people are mining their way to ever lower mineral prices, and manufacturing Tech I items to aggravate a glut in many cases.

Ok, so here's what Wilhelm said:

And you can take the cliche attitudes that people throw around in EVE. Don’t fly what you cannot afford to lose. Don’t ever assume you are safe outside of a station. Don’t AFK. EVE is about PvP. Sandbox, landmines, blah blah blah.

But all that amounts to is throwing a teaspoon of kitty litter over the steaming cow turd that is the loophole in the way things work in EVE Online.

Here's the thing. This, in my opinion, is not a loophole. It's meant to be that way. Insurance is meant to facilitate free PvP play, as long as you are using T1 ships. If CCP were to follow Will's suggestion and make no insurance payouts on CONCORD kills, then a whole new form of griefing would break out: baiting noobs into aggressing you so they lose their ship AND all their money. And how would this work in lowsec? Would any hits on you during a Global Criminal Countdown cancel your insurance policy? This would utterly smother lowsec pvp, which I think is contrary to the game design goals.

Hulkageddon, in my opinion, is a response to the above factors: AFK mining, crashing mineral prices, expensive Hulks, the insurance structure and one other thing: the human propensity for predatory behavior.

I have been the target of predatory attacks on several occasions (see "I came here to be podkilled"). Predators are not looking for a fair fight, they are looking for a kill that is as easy as possible, with as little risk to themselves as possible. I've been engaged in fights which were a bit more "fair" in that both parties engaged with full knowledge, yet each was striving for every advantage.

Being the target of a predatory attack isn't fun, even when it's in a videogame. For me, it strikes at the self worth. Usually I can't go back to playing without doing something to calm myself back down (often that takes the form of writing about it, for your entertainment and my therapy.)

My personal thing is that I want to face that danger. I want to overcome it. To operate in spite of my fears. The attraction of lowsec and nullsec is that the danger keeps others away, which makes the payoffs bigger. I've used lowsec materials research lines before, there's much less of a wait. Fewer people scan for signatures in lowsec systems, for good reason.

In nullsec, there is predatory behavior, but it's different. We know who the enemy is, it's anyone who isn't a friend. At least that's the assumption. And as a statistical thing, it's pretty accurate.

Anyway, I came here to be podkilled. But that doesn't mean I'm not going to try my darndest to take you down.

I think all human beings have a "predator mode". Some keep it safely locked up and never, ever, let it come out to play. I respect that choice, I respect it a lot. I don't share it.

Let me be clear. I haven't and I don't think I ever will engage in suicide ganking of players I don't know. Or even ganking for no reason other than I want the killcount.

A revenge suicide gank, on the other hand, is on the table. I have a few people on my list that I'd happily lose a destroyer to blow up.

I see clear economic motives for a Hulkageddon. Hulk manufacturers, for one thing, or those with large mineral stockpiles, for another, might both be interested in blowing up some Hulks, and put up the money through a front man.

By so doing, they enlist the predator instinct in other players, and get them to commit admitted terrorist acts. Kind of like real life, isn't it? You don't see Osama Bin Laden out there getting on airplanes with bombs in his pants, do you? No, he gets someone else, someone who frankly, isn't quite well, to do his work for him.

I get why some might not find it fun, though. I really do. It isn't fair, it isn't nice. Not in the least. It's not supposed to be. And personally, this lights a fire in me. I want to succeed in spite of the gankers and scammers. The best revenge is living well. Revenge is a dish best served cold, etc, etc. That's the fun for me. I don't want them to change a thing.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

My MMO of the Decade, (and the other 4 top games of the Decade)

Is Everquest. Not Wow, not EQ2 (though I believe, correct me if I'm wrong, it introduced some really important mechanics).

Because it got things started. The argument for WoW is basically, "WoW is hugely popular, 100 times more popular than any other MMO. And that means it has reached the conciousness of popular culture."

These are big accomplishments. But Everquest really put together the package and got the ball rolling. Most of the architecture of all MMO's are based on that of Everquest, with variations.

Wow has certainly changed the industry, as company after company tries to be "the next WoW". But they have all failed. So which is more influential?

Ten years from now I might decide that I was wrong and should have picked EVE Online. But I think that's an long shot. EVE is successful because it it contrarian, I think.

Ok, the other four games of the decade are:

Texas Hold'em. This game was televised regularly during the Oughts. And featured in a James Bond movie, replacing the baccarat game of the original Casino Royale.

Guitar Hero This game came before Rock Band, which I think has surpassed GH. But it gets the nod for showing us a whole new way of interacting with a video console, and opening up entire new markets. Near misses are Wii Sports and Wii Fit.

Carcassonne Board gaming is back and much more interesting than it was in the days of Monopoly and Chutes and Ladders. Settlers of Catan may have led this charge in the 90's, but the 00's belonged to Carcassonne. Right now the hot game is Dominion, but it's too early to tell how influential it will be.

Dungeons and Dragons The last decade has seen 3rd Edition, released in 2000, 3.5, released in 2003, and 4th edition. WOTC also rewrote the rules on how supplements and modules are released with the Open Gaming License. And with very few exceptions, all MMORPG's and lots of console RPG's use D&D's basic model: characters with stats that kill things, level up, get new gear, get new abilities. D&D had a great year.

This is my personal list. What's yours?

UPDATE: I hit publish yesterday by accident, and the resulting post showed an inability to count to 5. It's fixed now.


How is Blizzard like Nintendo?

I've been reading this post by Psychochild and this one by Cuppycake.

Of course, there is the usual discussion of WoW, and whether it is innovative or not. I won't address that directly here, but something that gets overlooked way too often. And it's why I continue to think that Nintendo and Blizzard are the smartest of their fields when it comes to making money.

Brian says:

Even now, a lot of people are dismissive of the Wii since it does not have the graphical capabilities of competing consoles. But, Nintendo took a huge risk that went against the grain and it paid off spectacularly. I'm certain that if Nintendo had been trying to compete directly with the graphical prowess of the XBox 360 or the Playstation 3, they would not have had the ability to try an innovative controller design.

You know, people said the same thing about Blizzard. The graphics are stupidly simple. They are over saturated neon colors, with highly exaggerated features. This is in keeping with the art design of previous Blizzard games. It isn't a displeasing look, but it isn't "bleeding edge". This has two big qualities that win for them:

1. It says "this is a game, it isn't real. It's supposed to be fun, and funny."
2. It means that it could be run on any old computer that you had laying around.

Number 2 is far more important in my mind. It has a lot to do with why there are 10 million WoW players. Mom and Dad didn't have to upgrade Billy or Susies computer for them to play it. Or their own. If you read the first posts on this blog, you will see how much trouble I had getting a computer to run EQ2 well. It wasn't easy. And EQ was sold with much fanfare about how they had designed the game to keep updated in its appearance, as gfx cards got better.

Blizzard doesn't care about this. Lots of the hardcore MMO players didn't like the look. However, Blizzard understood that those weren't the people they were trying to please. They pleased the 10 million - 300,000 people that play WoW and nothing else. Was that dumb? No. Did it make me happy? Not really, but there are other games to play.

How is this like Nintendo? If you still haven't got it, the Wii is enormous for them. Sniff at the gfx all you want, but people are buying and playing Wii's that have never had consoles before. Wii Sports, Wii Fit, and Rock Band all appeal to non-traditional videogame audiences. It's huge, it's fun, and it marks them as much smarter than their rivals.

The only people that own an X-Box seem to me to be the adolescent males with inferiority complexes who have to have the "biggest" or the "fastest" or the "wankerest". I don't mean to be sexist. These days maybe there are some young women infected with this disease as well. But that's a small audience compared to all the adults out there who are playing Wii Sports, the people doing Wii Fit, and the grandparents who are playing Rock Band The Beatles.

The argument of "improve what you have" is the cry of the devoted base. Devoted base, I'm sorry to say it, but you are asking to be abused. I have been on the treadmill where you improve your game based on the requests of the hardcore customers. This is a losers game. Some of those hardcore customers are inevitably going to peel away, due to death, marriage, divorce, job loss, and other forces of, well, let's just call them Nature. No matter what you do. You may lose slowly or quickly, but the path of pleasing only your base is a losing game. (I think that's true of politics, too, but that's a subject I stay away from on this blog. Mostly.)

If your game is going to have life, you have to be growing your base. Figuring out how to make it, or the next game, appeal to more people.

And for every vocal hardcore who harps at your door saying they want a bigger death penalty, there are 10 people who like the death penalty just the way it is, thank you very much. They aren't talking to you about it though. Because it's fine the way it is. Though maybe it could be a bit easier, I mean the repair costs are killing me...


Saturday, January 09, 2010

We Interrupt this War for a Brief Reboot

We gathered in a station in preparation for an assault. We weren't told what or where, at least I wasn't. I figure that's for operational security. I'm new to the alliance, and I don't have a need to know. What I do know is that our alliance and our allies have told us to be ready. This is a Call To Arms, a CTA. Anyone who is online should be part of it. It seems to promise a large fleet action, which is one of the reasons I accepted the invitation to Skyforger, my corp, and TNT, my alliance, so I am there.

This is a collaboration with our landlord the Tau Ceti Federation (TCF), so we had to get onto Teamspeak 3. We have a lot of Europeans in our alliance, but operational communication for our alliance is generally in English. We just had someone come on to the channel and say a few things in Russian. Best comeback award goes to TwomtNW for "You know, I said that just last week".

There are many stragglers. We've had warning, though not as to date and time of this for about a week, including the fact that they need to download TS3 and get onto it. But now they are doing it. I've seen this kind of thing over and over in MMO's, people showing up late and unprepared. It's a game, sure, which is played in one's spare time. Still, I derive satisfaction from being ready on time. So I don't really get it.

We got our alliance's fleet formed up and moved to a POS (Player-owned station). "Station" isn't really a good name for them since the basic model consists mostly of a spherical shield and defenses. The ability to dock ships is an add-on. In any case, there was a Titan (shown above) there to generate a jump bridge for us, also known as a cynosural field or "cyno". We were forming a fleet with two other client alliances in our Region. They are late, or maybe we were called early and they warped to us and the POS we were at engaged them, which is to say, shot at them. SNAFU. That was fixed.

Two hours after the form up call, the FC calls "jumping in 30 seconds". In order to jump, we had to be within 2000m of the Titan, which made me feel very small in my Incursus. I am a tackler. I race to things and try to disrupt their engines to keep them from running away. I'm flying a cheap ship and I'm very, very expendable.

We jump through and wait for the capital ships that TCF, our landlord is bringing. We are in Pure Blind now, in a system controlled by The Servant Sisters of Eve, of all things.

Our fleet was then reorganized into a larger fleet, commanded by a FC from TCF. TCF is mostly, if not all French. The FC speaks good English though, and does so when he needs to tell us stuff. However, there appears to be an ongoing operation in which most of the ships are carriers which are in system but not with us. And the pilots of which are French, so he commands them in French.

They are repairing POS'es which had been attacked the day before. Taking out installations like this is a slow dance. They must be attacked and enough damage dealt to them that they enter "reinforced" mode. In this mode, the damage dealt remains, but they cannot be harmed. They will stay in this mode for a period of time predetermined by the defenders, but which is roughly 24 hours. Once that finished, the carriers and perhaps other ships have started repair operations on them. We are on standby at another POS in case we are attacked by our enemies, The Triumvirate (TRI) and allies.

They also serve who only stand and wait, and that describes us. We are on standby, and we are a deterrence. My alliance started this op at 11:00am my time. At 3:20, a conga line forms. Battleships form a line, orbiting the central tower of the pos. An enemy covert ops comments on it in local chat. We are bored and impatient.

The arc of ships is the conga line. Looking closely, you can also see that the Milk Board has apparently paid TCF for advertising space, since their defensive batteries are anchored to spell out "LAIT" -- French for "milk".

Meanwhile, other parts of the field are active. We hear that a fleet from Mostly Harmless consisting of 70 stealth bombers has engaged and destroyed an enemy fleet with 80 battleships with no losses. A subsequent look at Mostly Harmless' killboard shows this to be only a slight exaggeration. However it is just about this time that EVE crashes. Not our node, the entire game. Slowly we are booted out of the client. "Welcome to Dominion," says the FC. We wonder if the bombing attack was responsible, or whether the enemies will get their battleships back.

So, we sit on Teamspeak waiting for the server to come back up. Someone asks if anyone knows a good song. The reply is this:

The wheels on the bus go round and round,
round and round,
round and round.
The wheels on the bus go round and round,
all the way to the POS.

This unleashes a round of the "Who can play the crudest song on Teamspeak?" game. Eventually, we get back in the game. CCP says that the SQL server crashed. My best guess is that the enemies did not get their battleships back, and the only hard intel is that, but there are rumors to the contrary. Logging back in is painfully slow, and we've lost some numbers from our fleet during the crash.

Once I'm back in, there are onscreen messages of the form:
"Traffic Advisory: officials have closed the stargates and undocking ramps due to heavy congestion in the system... Travellers are advised to seek alternate routes."

There is one of these messages for each system in the game, I think. Including wormholes. These messages continued for about 40 minutes after logging back in.

At last the congestion clears, and the FC calls, "Ok, guys, we have some work to do." We are going to put an enemy POS into reinforced mode. We are told to to jump and "stick the gate"-don't jump through.

Moving giant fleets around is an exercise in cat herding even with highly alert pilots, which they may have been 4 hours ago, but it's approaching midnight in Europe, where many of our pilots live. And courvosier was mentioned during the downtime, as well as Jack Daniels. In any case, once we were gathered at the gate, we all jumped through and got down to business. All the difficulties give me new appreciation for why real militaries spend so much time on things like marching drill. You aren't paid to think, you need to just pay attention, follow orders, and "hurry up and wait".

The larger ships warped to the enemy POS and started firing at it. I was in "support", so I was at a system gate ready to watch and tackle anything red or neut that came through it.

Red had a larger group of ships than we did about a half dozen jumps away. They also had two ships in our system, so they could have opened a jump portal and dropped those ships on us. However, our FC said that our advantage was that we would be "on the grid" already, his meaning being that changing to another system can get very laggy when 600 ships are doing it all at once, which would work to our advantage, since we weren't the ones doing the jumping. Red decided not to engage, the POS was put into reinforced mode, and we called it a day, after gathering at the gate to leave.

So, success for the fleet, but no action for me. This is both good and bad. The good part is that I didn't get killed, which is very likely if there's action. I'm sure there will be more to come.