Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas

Or Happy Holidays, if you'd prefer.

The frigid cold, sleet, and ice has relented, at least for a few days, which will make our holiday road trip a little more enjoyable.  As much as I like a White Christmas, it's really no fun to drive in the stuff.

So, be safe, don't eat too much candy, if you drink - don't drive.  Otherwise, fly it like you stole it and have a fabulous time.

While I'm typing, I'll add a few bullet points.  Bullet points are cool.

  • The Kingdom Death campaign will wrap in 14 days.  The next week will be slow, but it managed to top $8.35M this week.  It looks like it may topple Exploding Kittens from the #1 board game slot.
  • I have a few days off next week and hope to get some miniatures painted, some WoW played, and will hopefully bounce around EVE a bit killing Sanshas.
  • The Man in the High Castle is on my list of streaming for the break.  Season2 was added to Amazon Prime, and we've made it to e4 so far.  I think it's moving better than S1 and I really liked S1.  My advice is to read the Wiki entry on the book so that you can better understand some of the backstory, and heck, taking a Wiki-dive into WW2 history isn't a bad idea either.
  • The Expanse returns in February.  Read the books, watch the show. 'nuff said.

o7 all
Abavus

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Holidaze

We are now 50% through our holiday travel schedule.  That's a big deal.  In years past we have made some poor planning choices and drove 1,000 to 1,200 miles in a 10 day period.  That gets old fast.  This year we were able to optimize the route and be there and back with 2 trips totaling about 400 miles.

Likewise, this Fall and the Holiday season (or the Holidaze as I call it) has been much more sane. I've posted a lot about last Fall's schedule - we were home only a couple weekends between Labor Day and Thanksgiving in 2015.  We were on the road a ton, I started the new job, and the period from late August through January was just an eye burning blitz of highways and airports.

This year we strategically declined several invitations, consolidated our vacation plans into a single trip, and for the most part have been home.  With winter finally settling upon us, I'm relatively caught up on yard work at the 10 acres, we've burnt a lot of wood in the fireplace, streamed some classic Christmas movies on Amazon Prime, and actually enjoyed our property. I'm far more relaxed and far less stressed than this time last year.

Game news:
For the past couple weeks, I've been consumed by the spectacle of the Kingdom Death: Monster 1.5 kickstarter.  It grows a healthy bit each day, and may go through $8M today with almost 3 weeks remaining.  It will probably flatline through the holidays but still has potential to knock off Exploding Kittens as the #1 KS board game before it wraps.

Specific to the Kickstarter, there's a little mini-community that's sprung up, with heroes and villians/trolls.  It's an interesting petri dish to watch develop.  For the most part it's a positive vibe - there's a cadre of volunteers that answers questions in the comments as people pass through - while the KD Staff do what they can, with almost 100k comments logged it's impossible for them to answer everything.

There are a handful of very well done fan pages (see Vibrant Lantern and Dobby's Pledge Helper) and google doc pages that help explain exactly what's going on, because the KS campaign is so vast that it's easy to get overwhelmed.

This next week promises to see a lot of activity - the founder has promised to reveal all the remaining Expansion content, but then he's taking a break between Christmas and New Years (and I don't blame him).  Then after the holiday lull, I expect the final week to be a bit nuts.

One of the more interesting evolutions is the group of guys trying to min/max their pledges.  Early in the kickstarter, folks started generating lists of content to try to figure out the "best" pledge level.  They developed elaborate google doc spreadsheets to estimate each pledge level's value based on MSRP, and then cross referenced that against addons that offer "Gamer's Content" vs. visual/cosmetic only perks.  Some of the higher pledges include mostly cosmetic perks, so early on, some of the groupthink/peer pressure was that these pledges didn't add value for "real gamers."  People started dropping these higher pledges as "not worth it" even though there was really no reason to finalize your pledge until the last day or three of the campaign.

But, two things:
1. Not all of the content was revealed.  All of the min/max nerding was premature.
2. Although the higher pledges were limited in availability, the KD staff continued to open more spots, so guys felt comfortable dropping out.  But - the saturation point hit and the staff stopped adding more spots.

As more content became revealed, and more hints about remaining content were dropped, it became apparent that the initial analysis was way-the-fuck-off and now guys that dropped want back in.  Replacement pledge levels have been added at a significant $$ increase, so now the same pledge that they dropped costs more.  Oops.

Anyway, I'll wrap this post here.  One of the things that's been on my mind is that Kingdom Death has a lot of parallels to EVE, i.e. the same reasons EVE appeals to me are the same reasons KD does.  In a future post I may explore that idea bit more.  But for now I need more coffee.


Saturday, December 10, 2016

Monster

This is a post about tabletop miniatures-based board games.  It's perhaps the first of a few; as my EVE career continues to cartwheel in space like a dead frozen corpse.

My current EVE career.  In stasis, awaiting a resurrection and a splitting headache.

Back in August, we went to GenCon in Indianapolis for our 3rd year, and I scooped up armfuls of new limited release Brimstone goodness (and still have a pile of it waiting to be assembled and played with, sigh).  We had a great 'con, played a lot of games and spent a lot of money, talked to game designers of 2 of our favorite games, and had dinner with old friends.

We toured the show floor repeatedly, and there was one booth that stopped me in my tracks early on day 1.  I don't say that figuratively. I actually stopped in the aisle, blocked traffic, and gawked.

It was Kingdom Death: Monster.  Hence the title of this post.

KD:M Box Cover

The models/figures were fantastic.  The art/cards/books/packaging was all so exceptionally well done.  I lurked during game demos and the gameplay seemed to hit a lot of the mechanics on my wish list.  It's a co-op game, so it's something that we can play on game night without someone having to "lose."

I could hear my visa card buzzing in my wallet.  Abavus didn't know what this was, but he wanted it.

KD:M Core Box - weighs 17 lbs.
The Flower Knight

Alas, they were sold out, but I had been ensnared.  

There's a parallel between KD:M and CCP:EVE that only occurred to me this week - what stopped me on the floor at GenCon was how gorgeous the game was.  The figures, cards, board, packaging - all done in a style that EVE players might find familiar.  CCP's branding has always been very intentional, minimal/clean, and very very consistent (even to the level of detail of how their offices are decorated).  KD:M had a very similar feel -- artful but practical, and done with an amount of talent and care not present in any other product on a very crowded GenCon floor.  KD:M is described as a "Labor of Love" by its creator, and I believe that.  He's poured his soul into this, and it shows.  

Secondly, the content of KD:M is visceral, dark, and gritty. And intended for mature audiences.  Just like EVE.

This video shows some of the art.  These very figures were the ones I saw in the case at GenCon.  The statue-motif completely rocks it.




Ok, so why am I rambling on about this now?  That was August and it's now December.

Here's why:  The second kickstarter for KD:M is currently underway.  It's becoming a big deal.

As I type, it's north of $7.3M pledged.  For a 4-person company that is self-publishing a boutique game without any corporate overlords, centralized distributors, etc. that's a big damn number.  It's the #8 kickstarter ever by size, and #2 in the tabletop games category (Exploding Kittens being #1 at $8.7M). 

The stats of the campaign is impressive:  they blew past the first edition's kickstarter within a few hours of the start and had a first 48 hours that was simply nuts.  Even if you're not a board gamer, it'll maybe interesting to watch how the next 4 weeks unfolds.  And right now everyone is talking about what a huge success this is, but nobody has really thought through what the longer term implications for the gaming market might be.  There are implications to assumptions regarding distribution channels, expected art quality, expected figure detail.  And certainly, there are some old assumptions about 'mature' content not selling well that this seems to be balking.  I don't think I'm overhyping it by saying this the kind of thing that's going to send shockwaves through the industry.

PS:  I am, of course, pledged into the KS and will be adding KD:M to our shelf.


Kingdom Death: Monster 1.5 -- Kicktraq Mini


Saturday, December 3, 2016

Humbug

A Christmas Carol (the George C. Scott version) is currently streaming on Amazon Prime, so the title is appropriate, although I don't feel particularly crass or grumpty.  It's cold outside, but I have a healthy glass of 2008 Port from Cass Winery, a screaming fire in the fireplace, and a full belly.

Life doesn't suck.

But this blog has been in desperate need of updating for a long time.  And for that I apologize.

Reality is:  I've not been playing EVE much.  And by "not much" you should interpret that as I may very well have a pair of accounts with empty skill queues and I kind of don't care.  Maybe the min/max nerd in me should, but that's the truth of the situation.

I've been busy.  Very busy.  I could type a lot about work being hectic, or family being demanding, or a half dozen other "real life" excuses, and all would be true stories.  But those are cliched excuses for not writing, and you deserve better.

But for the sake of completeness, let's get the obvious out of the way:  work has been mega-busy.  My boss, the guy that sought out and hired me a little over a year ago, transferred up and out of our area back in May, and in his absence myself and 2 others have been backfilling him.  His replacement was only named in October, and in the nigh-6month interim I was taking on tasks 2 pay grades above me.  Great exposure, great experience, but no additional pay.   But it was a peek behind the iron curtain between "executive" and mortal, and these are dividends I'll reap later. Count on it.

On the PC, I've been playing WoW.  Yes, the evil Warcraft.  The latest expansion (Legion) struck a chord with me, and for the most part it's been the best gaming experience since Wrath launched.  I picked up my old main (a Warrior that I ran from 2005 through mid-Cataclysm) and have him sitting on a pretty good set of gear and have been abusing the raidfinder and world quest system.  It's not EVE-level of complexity, but it's accessible in the time that I have available each night.

I gave up Overwatch.  It was fun, but gave me headaches.  I'm happier for dropping it.  I likewise don't play Hearthstone any more.

I'd like to revisit Guild Wars 2, but haven't made the attempt yet.  I bought the expansion but actually never played it.

And EVE.  I followed the EVE Vegas updates and try to keep up on news.  To be honest, I'm disappointed that the Drifter storyline hasn't advanced.  So much momentum was initiated with Caroline's Star, and Burners, and the promise of advanced AI making its way to the average mission runner.  So much opportunity squandered.  I'm not bitter, but to be blunt, I've consumed the available content and need a refresh before I can think about venturing back.  Nostalgia may drive me to fire up the Golem and go bash some lvl4s, but feelings of nostalgia are sated quickly.  I have little interest in Alpha accounts, revamped NPE, and such.  But that's where CCP is deciding they need to invest.

And that's fine. The game needs customers to continue.  I'm not challenging the decision, but I am perhaps a casualty of their approach (although technically I'm still a paying customer, so maybe the joke's on me).

I'll sign off with a happier note - tabletop games and miniatures.  I meant to post a GenCon update and never got around to it.  We attended for our 3rd year this past August and had a blast. I spent a LOT of money at the Flying Frog booth.  In spare moments, I've been painting Shadows of Brimstone miniatures and we've been playing through the content as I've had it painted up.  I still have a lot of painting to go.

I'm a dude in his early 40s that enjoys table top games. Oh no, I must be a nerd.

Meanwhile, Flying Frog did another Kickstarter for their 3rd core set.  I went all in and spent more nerd money; I have an absurd amount of miniatures and expansion packs inbound whenever the guys at FF can deliver.

And a few minutes ago, I chose to support Kingdom Death's 1.5 Kickstarter.  This was a game I fell in love with at this year's GenCon.  The KS is currently at $6.6M and climbing - a runaway success.  The miniatures are insane and the game looks challenging and fun.  Back in August at GenCon, I kept steering Mrs. Durden back to their booth even though the core game was sold out.  I just wanted to look at the miniatures and lurk while the demo games played.  It's got some adult themes (i.e. "boobies") but the entire game is simply saturated with the same grittiness and darkness that draws me back to EVE year after year.

Thanks to the port wine I'm drinking, I also spent too much money on the KS than I should, but I can always amend the pledge level once I sober up.  I'm going to have to figure out a better storage/display option for this stuff.

Enjoy Christmas.  Enjoy the winter chills and the icicles and snowball fights and snow days.  Fall and Winter is the absolute best time of year. Enjoy it.

And in the immortal words of Bill and Ted, be Excellent to one another.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Enjoy Vegas

As I mentioned below, I'm not in Las Vegas this weekend, and that pains me quite a bit.  Sure, we'll be on the road next weekend for our competing vacation option (which I am excited about) but THIS weekend I should be out west talking about nerd things.

So, for everyone that's out there, please enjoy the event. Hang out at Holsteins as much as you can afford, and come home safely after.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Housekeeping

Quick notes, no particular order:


  1. I'm not currently active in EVE.  I'm still a paying customer, but for all practical purposes I'm on a hiatus.  I don't see that changing until cooler weather sets in, and until then it is what it is.  I've weathered worse storms and still came back, I expect this will be no different.
  2. I won't be at EVE Vegas.  This isn't related to #1; the decision was made when I was still very active. We had such a great time last year that I'd still love to attend, even if not entirely active in the game.  But, we had 3 potential vacations in the window of a 2 week period and opted to spend our vacation time (and airfare budget) on a different option.  In particular, I owe a particular someone a large adult milkshake at Holstein's (Cosmo) and it pains me to not deliver.
  3. Work is ok, but busy.  Life is generally otherwise pretty okay.  As I've mentioned before, life for the past 12-18mo have been so weirdly stressful that I'm trying to figure out what the new normal is.
  4. I had to give up Overwatch.  It was giving me headaches and I believe was affecting my sleep patterns.  I find that I haven't missed it.
  5. I see PVE in the current conversation.  I haven't delved into the details, but I think in general ANY conversation about PVE is a positive thing.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Escape

Regular readers will know that the past year has been a rolling wave of "busy" for me.  New job, tons of weekend commitments, and a family that is trying to retain their usual meet-ups despite expanding geographically (and somehow, "damn, that's a long ways to drive for dinner" never seems like an acceptable reason not to attend when it's me doing the driving and not them).

At any given point since this time last year, I could look out 2-3 weeks and see relief, but as those days and weeks ticked by the next large hurdle would become apparent.

The past few weeks I've become bone weary in the core, and have been nagged by headaches and other physical manifestations of long stress.  The heat and humidity hasn't helped my mood either; summer is by far my least favorite season and July my least favorite month.  I'm very much looking forward to the dry, crisp mornings of Fall and the first frost.

This weekend offered a welcome escape.  Mrs. Durden had a planned trip with friends out of town this weekend, so I've been a bachelor the past few days.  When she asked me what I intended to accomplish in her absence, I responded simply, "sleep."  I wasn't kidding, she knew I wasn't kidding, and that in itself was funny enough that we both laughed.

I managed to leave work early on Thursday to work from home for a few hours (still legit "work" but I was out of the office doing email in shorts and a t-shirt), and on Friday I expended some vacation time and came home early.  Other than a touch of yard work and a load of dishes, I've not done much over the past 48 hours. It's been a welcome escape.  I've written some fiction, watched a few movies, and tinker with some game titles that I haven't messed with in ages (GW2, Starcraft2, and even a bit of EVE).

Whatever guilt I felt for not tackling one of the dozen or so projects awaiting my attention here at the house has been pushed away by the notion that we expend a vast amount of effort and rarely truly take time to enjoy the house, property, and neighborhood for what it is.  I'm always doing something, going somewhere, and thinking about 20 things I should be doing next.  Just sitting on my ass doing nothing has been a different experience and the hours of the day have stretched and become longer; weekends are usually gone in a blink but this particular weekend has felt stretched and time has moved slower.

So here's my advice:  grab a drink and sit down. The world can wait a day.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Where's Abavus?

Where the heck have I been?

Following the BDR, I let myself unravel a bit. I normally live a very structured life, with certain days for certain chores or workouts, and fitting EVE in whenever there's a hole.  After months (years?) of this cycle, it was time for a pause. I didn't do it intentionally, but it's been a month already.  I haven't been on the bike since BDR, haven't been to a gym, and haven't been booting the PC as regularly. 

What online time I've been consuming has generally been in Overwatch.  Which is a fun and meaningless time consumer.  But even then, I think I went 5 nights last week without any time on the home PC. My infatuation with Overwatch has been sated, and I think the headaches I've had recently are related.

The time away from my (ab)normal routine has been welcome, and I don't think I'll return to it completely.  It has been nice to be a normal guy for a few weeks without the pull from either the online world or the bike seat.  So, this is how the muggles live?

This isn't my first time through a sprint-and-coast cycle, and won't be the last. Experience has shown that there's no cause for alarm. It's just time to relax a bit, take stock of things, pick new goals, and set out again.

As always, there are things to do in EVE that I could tackle, space to explore, and resources to collect. But while the weather stays mild and bug free, it's going to be nicer to spend time on the deck in the evenings and soak in a little bit of 'normal.'

Saturday, June 4, 2016

BDR is Done

A dreary, rainy day for a bike ride.  If this had been any other Saturday, I would have waived off and stayed indoors to drink coffee.  Instead, we were in a hotel room putting on our biking garb and I was grimacing at the lobby coffee.  I chose not to actually check the radar on the phone - it didn't matter, I was going biking unless they closed the course.

I'll cut to the chase.  I cleared my goal and closed out the course at 101 miles and change.  Wind was thankfully minimal, and the temperatures were quite moderate.  However, the nice-then-rainy-then-nice-then-rainy forecast that I'd been watching the past week actually chose a middle ground - constant spitting rain with a few downpours, but no actual heavy stuff that would have caused a safety concern.

101.15 miles on the trip odometer

I wasn't actually sure that I was going to make the distance until about mile 80.  By mile 50, I was struggling a bit and was worried about being able to continue.  I had planned to stop every 15 miles or so, but from mile 60 forward, I increased the frequency and had a short break every 10 miles. This made the interval distance more manageable (instead of saying "gawd, I have another 40 miles to do," I was saying "ok, another 10 miles to 70, I can do that...").

The rain sucked; was a huge distraction and was effectively another layer of discomfort on top of the normal discomforts of a long day on the bike.  But I'll take sucky rain over sucky wind - wind grinds you down without remorse.  Light rain is manageable.

I hesitate to give stats, because there are lots of guys faster than me, but here's what I did today:

  • Total Distance: 101.15 miles / 162.8 km
  • Moving time: 6:07:55
  • Avg moving speed: 16.5 mph
  • Avg speed (including time for stops): 15.6 mph
  • Calories burned: 2,342
  • Avg cadence (crank rpm): 82


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

BDR Final Prep

A few people have asked -- the Big Dumb Ride (BDR) is now a few days away.

Mechanical shakedown ride will be tomorrow (Wednesday). This is a final check that all is well with our bikes.  Thursday I am taking entirely off (I'm having dental work done) and then on Friday we'll come home from work, pack up the gear, and head to the hotel near the venue.

Sign-ins start at 6am on Saturday and I'll be rolling on the course around 7:45am.  The course is open until 4pm, though I hope to be done by around 2pm. Mrs. Durden is also doing the ride, but is signed up for the 'fun ride' while I'm headed for the century (100mi).  We'll see each other regularly around the course, and plan to ride together for parts of it.  But for the majority of my day, I'll be on my own, or making friends with strangers as best I can.

I'm as ready as I think I could have been.  I followed a 10 week training plan, but started it knowing that I'd fall short of it due to weather and RL commitments -- and I did.  I fell well short, actually.  But I'm exiting the training period stronger than I've been in a long while, perhaps ever.

I'm also far smarter about what I need to eat and drink to function at a high aerobic rate for 3, 4, or 6 hours without leg cramps, gastrointestinal distress, or early energy drop (aka "bonking").  I've been doing endurance events for awhile now, but hadn't been happy with the results of my nutritional plan until this year.

As I type, the forecast for this weekend continues to churn.  The past few days the long term models have been highly favorable for a good riding day.  At the moment, it's 80% chance of rain and thunderstorms, which makes me less than happy.  Hopefully the weather systems involved accelerate or decelerate and give me the day I need to be successful.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Easing Back Into Reality

Spent the last week out on the U.S. east coast; rented a half a house on the oceanfront with my family and Mrs. Durden.

The drive out and back is best done in 2 days, but we saw fit to complete it in a single session on both the outbound and return legs.  We rented Saturday to Saturday and got up very early yesterday to say goodbye to family and the ocean and make the drive home.  It's a holiday weekend in the U.S., so we arrived back home to cookouts, high school graduation open houses, and the usual summer kickoff events.  Which is a little weird - my vacation is "over" but all around me the party is just beginning.

We'd been looking forward to this trip for quite awhile.  The past 6 months here have been a sprint with the job, house, and other "real life" problems.  I went to the ocean with only 3 main objectives:

  1. Sleep a lot.
  2. Drink a lot of coffee by the ocean.
  3. Read a book.
I accomplished all my goals.  Book of choice was Tom Clancy's Red Storm Rising, which I first read in high school and try to pick up every 5 years or so.  The coffee was mediocre, probably due to the local municipal water quality, but I drank it anyway.  

The house we rented was oceanfront.  From the deck, we could watch the tides coming and going maybe 50 yards away.  We made up our daily agenda as we went, but I spent a lot of time just sitting and reading or watching the water.  I'm not one to sunbathe or sleep on a beach, but a comfortable chair within a short walk to the coffee pot (or fridge, for beer) and an ocean breeze is a good way to spend the day.

The first few days, I was jumpy and generally bitchy about perceived offenses committed by my family members.  By about Monday, I found my irritability draining out of me as I caught onto island time and cared a lot less about things that the others said or did.  I felt more like myself than I have in awhile.  

If you've never truly experienced island time, I highly recommend it.  In western civilization today we live such regimented lives in a world of schedules and rules and routine.  But left to our own devices, it's interesting to me how quickly those rituals fade in importance.  Some structure, I suppose, is a good thing over the long haul, but the lack of almost any obligation was liberating.

I had my laptop with, but didn't sneak away much to spend time on it.  I bounced through EVE every other day or so to check on things and read EVEmail.  The time away was good and I came home with a short list of goals that I'd like to accomplish.

I plan to ease back into reality.  I spent this morning brutalizing some Serpentis and have AE4 on deck.  When the dew burns off, I need to mow the lawn.  We have some tuna steaks for dinner that will go on the grill.  I have very little idea of what I'll do tomorrow, and right now that's fine with me.

But for now, it's time for more coffee.


Friday, May 20, 2016

EVE That Was


EVE has been occupying my idle moments lately.  That's good, and bad.  Well before the 85% post, I was pondering things, and dark thoughts flitted in and out of my head.  Upon close inspection, these thoughts would evaporate; I could not force them to congeal into a concise position.  But yet the feeling of unease lingered, and the comfort that I sought was elusive.  I've felt like I've been fighting a blanket that's too small on a cold winter night.  The cold keeps creeping back in.

And that's why, when Neville's 85% post hit, I jumped on it with both feet.

And yet, with time, that single post doesn't quite keep me warm at night either.

Oddly enough, it was mowing the lawn that I think has finally caused a breakthrough.  Mowing, me, and EVE go way back.  At the old house, in the summers of 2003 and 2004, I'd have to afk for an hour every Saturday so that I could go push the mower around our postage stamp in the subdivision.  During that hour, I'd hatch plans and create a mental map of all that I needed to do and all the folks I needed to contact when I returned to my comfortable chair.

Today, as regular readers know, we own 10 acres and I mow between 2 and 4 acres of it depending on the week.  Yesterday I was plotzing around on the Deere, and I happened to think of EVE in the early days, and those Saturdays long ago at the old address and how energizing that time was.  EVE was a central focus, mowing was a chore but a mental break (chainsaw therapy) that I needed to step back and look at the game strategically.

So, yesterday, I began thinking about the game in its infancy - May and June of 2003.  The feelings I had then for the game and the feelings I have today are so distinct that it feels like two very different game titles.  That's not to say one is better than the other - they're just different.  Imagine meeting your dad when he was in his 30s and interacting with him as a peer and contrast that to the father you know today in his 50s or 60s. These two individuals are the same man, but are probably very different people in terms of experience, intensity, interests, and perhaps even temperament/demeanor. Your own role as son/daughter vs. peer plays a role in how your interactions shape up - and that's similar in a way to how you approach EVE today as a returning bittervet or a noob undocking for the first time.  Your expectations and approach are different.

I think it's safe to say that the EVE of yesterday appeals to my soul better.  There's no way I can go back and relive those early days, so this is a moot thing to type about, but while the EVE of today is better in almost every way, I miss the crusty and simple aspects of the game of 2003.  I've known this for awhile, but on the mower I again realized that trying to recapture that feeling of the early days is what makes me continue to sub up.

Lately I've not been productive isk-wise or progress wise.  I've just been touring the highsec systems and regions and have been doing things more randomly; docking at different stations, visiting old systems, and just looking at the skeleton of the game that I know is still there.  I found my favored space-taxi (Amarr Navy Slicer) and popped through random gates without the shackles of using autopilot to plot my jump route.  I went to regions that I used to frequent as part of my trade routes and space trucker empire but no longer have a viable business need to visit.  I checked out some highsec citadels, visited some moons and asteroid belts, and looked at a sky that was Caldari blue.  I'd missed it.

The next 2 weeks are going to be a blur with work and Big Dumb Ride prep, but I'm hopeful that after the dust settles and summer takes hold, I'll be able to devote more time to investigate the EVE-that-was that's still within the EVE-that-is.

I say things like "more time for EVE soon" quite a bit... but one of these days, I'm going to be right. :)


Saturday, May 14, 2016

Brain Dump

Many thoughts have been swirling lately, so let me give you a brain dump.  Just for fun, I'll sort these by word-association.  These are in no particular order and are appearing just in the manner in which I begin typing them.

Behind:
Work sent me to the east coast this week for a series of meetings.  Productive and overall a good experience, but I really didn't have the time at home or at the office to be out of pocket that long.  Lugging the work laptop around, I didn't bring the gaming laptop and have been out of touch with most everything. A modern cell phone can do a lot, but only so much.  I got back to the house after 11pm on Thursday, was too wired from the trip home to sleep and was still awake at 1am.  Alarm clock went off at 5am and I did a full day at the office. Came home and crashed, then took Mrs. Durden for mexican at the local cantina since we hadn't really talked in almost a week.  There were a handful of things I should have done last night and I didn't do any of them.

As I type, I'm staring out the window at grass that's well beyond needing mowed.  So that's task 1 for today.

Discouraged:
Big Dumb Ride prep has again been interrupted.  When I signed up for the ride, I knew that I'd struggle to get the miles I needed in April and May.  The weather is unpredictable, and waffles between "super mega-nice" and "shitstorm rain."  I track all the miles I've ridden since 2013, and April is typically in my lowest mileage months, with some years recording a big fat zero.

Although I've hit some great high marks - longest unsupported ride, and a non-formal-event metric century (100km), I am not getting the less glamorous weekday rides in that I need to maintain and extend my base.  With the work trip this week, I'm behind on a thousand things at the house and the weather is again uncooperative - I may not ride at all this weekend.  The BDR event day is closing in and I'm now beginning to doubt my ability to hang on for the full Imperial Century (100 mile) goal.

Hopeful:
One bonus perk of the cold/windy/wet weather is that I might actually be able to undock this weekend and kill some Guristas or Sanshas.  It's been awhile....

Philosophical:
I've had a sequel post in my head for the previous "85%" bandwagoning, but will spare you the long dissertations and give a few thoughts with bullet points.  Bullet points are cool.
  • No, I don't agree with everything in Neville's post.  But I do agree with the overall sentiment.
  • I am not against Citadels.  I'm not personally interested in them, but I see the perks, and like the overall size/shape/flavor of the design.  For the past year or more, I've been pretty happy that CCP seemed to be balancing dev investments pretty well.  All corners of the community got something (sometimes big, sometimes small, but SOMETHING) in each patch.  
  • My beef with the 2016 plan seems to be that CCP is banking on "trickle down economics" of null driving interactions in other areas of space.  And yah, they will.  But it's that feeling of being second class citizens that chafes.
  • As a person pretty heavily invested in capship BPOs, I really do want to see capship Fleet warfare get fixed and come back to being en vogue.  But I wanted it alongside content directly focused at my preferred way to play.
  • I am not upset with CCP Affinity.  I think she's done the PVE community a few favors over the past year.
  • That being said, I stand behind my previous words about the lack of focus, clarity, and scope control from a project management perspective.  I'm not disappointed with any single hardworking dev; I'm disappointed with CCP as a whole for being unable to demonstrate reasonable management and having the balls to communicate directly with us.
  • Is it the end of the world?  Bah, hardly.  I can still rain hot kinetic cruise missile death down upon my foes, save the damsel, and poke the occasional burner in the eye.  I've said before and I'll continue to say: EVE today is the most playable state we've ever enjoyed.  And that's pretty ok with me.
Aging:
Abavus quietly celebrated another birthday.  He was born just after midnight server time on May 10th, 2003.  That's a few days after the original launch.  In those early days, owning a battleship seemed like an impossible goal; having 1B isk in your wallet (let alone 20B) was a laughable thought.  I don't exactly how how I pictured spending my time in EVE, but at the time it probably involved a lot of Merlins and Kestrels.  Every time I think I've peaked in this game, I find another goal and another plateau to climb to.

Pukin' Dogs was actually born several months before EVE's launch, notionally in October of 2002 (though the exact day and even month are now fading with time).  We existed in EVE's beta7 but because of skills and cost didn't actually appear in EVE until 31 May 2003.  So, around Memorial Day in the US, I'll be hefting an icy cold beverage to the Dogs.

Back then, the notion of playing this silly space game in 2016 was absurd.  Perhaps just as absurd as playing the game in another 13 years in 2029.  But who knows?


And with that, it's time to go mow the lawn... fly safe!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

I am the 85%


I've been trying to sum up my feelings on EVE lately.  After a generally surprisingly good EVE Vegas experience, some 'meh' things have happened.

  • I was underwhelmed by fanfest, I have little use for citadels in their current incarnation, and while the capital ship changes are good follow-thru from Vegas, I was hoping for new and exciting things in 2016 beyond fixes for null.
  • I've been largely disappointed by the non-announcement that PVE staff and devs had been redirected, or at best floundering.  Check the CSM minutes and read the Team Astro Sparkle entry (pg 32) and try to figure out wtf is going on with PVE.  If you can figure it out, you might want to explain it to CCP, because it appears they don't know either.  Best I can tell, "PVE" has been relabeled to "engagement" which is actually more about "holiday events."  It smells like a team with changing scope, poor management commitment, lack of clear goals, and no near-term deliverables.  In my day job, I call these "failed projects."
  • The PVE roadmap that CCP Affinity talked about apparently never happened.  (Note, I remember CCP Affinity making a comment on Sugar's blog about providing a roadmap, but now I can't find it and the bitter in me makes me wonder if the promise were deleted or perhaps it was all a troll/hoax).

Lately, I have written pages and pages of draft blog posts that basically sound like "I'm Abavus Durden. I quit, but you can't have my stuff."  And then I delete them, because that's not the message.  I'm still here, I'm still a customer of CCP, but I'm not entirely sure where I'm going or what the future looks like for my part of the game.  So I've said nothing, waited patiently for clarity, and written more about bikes.

And then Neville Smitt comes and writes this post that almost entirely captures my current sentiment.  Go read and support if you're of a similar mindset.





Sunday, April 24, 2016

Big Dumb Ride Prep

Looking at the calendar, there are 5 training weekends remaining until my long (100mi) charity bike ride (hereafter dubbed the 'Big Dumb Ride').  Normally this ride is later in June, allowing a later start to training, but they've moved it forward to avoid other conflicts.  I signed up knowing this, of course, and hoped that the March and April weather would let me get out and get some miles in.

Some background:

  • I'm embarrassed to admit that I've never done an Imperial Century (i.e. 100mi - a 'Metric Century is 100km).  
    • This is a rite of passage for many bikers, and a lot of guys do multiple Imperials per year. Now in my 8th biking season, I've never done a single one.
    • I've been close a few times; my longest ride is 75mi and I've done several metric centuries, plus a Half-Iron distance Swim/Bike event where I swam 2000m and then biked just short of 100km with one short rest break.
    • I've had several attempts thwarted by weather, injury (I almost scrubbed my entire 2014 season due to lower back pain) or making a snap decision early in the day to ride with family instead of scooting off on my own.
    • The past 2-3 years, I've focused on triathlons. Biking is my favorite, but with swim+run events to consider, training time gets sacrificed.  More, the TYPE of training that I do tends to be different, since my Tri events are far shorter (14-26mi), the training I do is more to prepare myself for a sprint and then manage the transition to jogging after.
  • This season, we have no, zero Triathlons on the calendar.  This is intentional.  If I miss my goal in June, there are 2-3 other events I could jump on to knock the Imperial Century off my bucket list.
  • The BDR is not a timed event (i.e. not a race) but there is a time limit to how long the venue will be open, and the longer I'm on the course the more weather plays a variable (in particular, wind is typically worse as the day goes on). So I want to turn in a decent average speed (and besides, going slow sucks).
  • We've done portions of the BDR in 2009, 10, 11, and 12, but due to cost and other commitments we haven't been back since then.  
  • I want to finish in good form, not just limp across the finish line and need help to get to the car.  On a perfect day, I could probably do 100mi right now.  Having some reserve strength will help me get past whatever the weather happens to be that day; and after 2014, I don't want to risk any sort of injury by being stupid.
Early march weather was fine; above average even.  But late March and most of April have been pretty poopy.  I don't deal well with biking in the cold, and although I got some time on the spin bike at the gym, my mileage overall was far below what I'd planned

That being said, I started the season stronger than any other season to date.  Dropping swimming in late winter let me focus.  Time on the indoor bike on the gym reduced the amount of 'acclimation time' to my bike seat (aka sore ass).  In 2014 and into 2015 I made several minor changes and adjustments to my bike's equipment and setup, and although my bike isn't the quickest/lightest/sexiest carbon-fibre beast out there (it is, in fact, a steel framed Italian bike designed for fast touring on questionable roads), I have never felt more confident on it.  Things just 'clicked' when I grabbed it off the wall this spring.  So, despite not hitting all my goals, I am better and stronger and in better condition of any biking season to date.


Looking at the calendar, it's make or break time.  Either I'm going to get the training miles or I'm not.  If I'm not, then I should admit it now and enjoy sleeping in on the weekends while I can.

However, last weekend the weather finally cooperated and I set out to extend my mileage and make up for lost time.  It was a COLD morning (46 deg F), but the temp raised 20 degrees while I was out and I was hot by the time I came in.  I turned in a 41ish mile ride with a decent average moving speed. I wasn't out to set speed records but was happy with the pace.

This week I set out for a 50 mile ride as the next stepping stone.  I left my driveway this morning (Sunday) a little before 8am and followed a slightly modified course to get the additional miles.  Temperatures were about the same - a chilly 46 deg at the start - but I was better prepared and broke my thermal gear back out of the closet.  Wind was far different - last weekend there was almost none, just a whisper from the NE; this weekend was a steady 10mph SE at the start that shifted to a 15mph straight out of the south by the time I was coming back home.

The grind home today was a rude surprise. Weatherbug had predicted steady 6-8 mph SE winds shifting South throughout the day.  I set out knowing I'd be returning into the wind, but 6-8 is very manageable.  However, the wind was actually double that (confirmed when I got home). The crops of course aren't in the fields yet and the area I was in was flat and bare - the wind simply howled at me and all I could do was pedal on.  At a few points, the wind funneled between trees and I'd drop into granny gear just to keep moving. Although it wasn't the worst wind I've ever ridden in, the amount of time I had to keep at it really wore on me.

Today I finished 50.3 miles with an avg moving speed only slightly below last week. I'm happy with this, considering the ~15 miles of grinding I did in the wind.  Garmin says my avg HR was 150 (146 in my 'all day' target) and I burned 1637 calories.  This represents the longest unsupported (no chase car, non-event) ride that I've ever done.  It's the 4th longest ride I've done since I got my Garmin in 2013, displacing last weeks' ride for that spot.  Training wise, I finished strong and could have done another 10-15 if I'd had to, though I would not have tolerated more time into the wind very well.

Next weekend my folks are in town; with an appointment on Tuesday and weather turning to shit on Weds/Thurs, I may not get a ride in at all.  But if I get lucky, I hope to add another 5-10 to the course and maybe even push for a metric century (100km, 62mi).


Friday, April 15, 2016

Chainsaw Therapy

Chainsaw Therapy is a category of yard work that I put under the category of "tedious, exhausting, and often good for the soul."  It started with any sort of literal chainsaw duty - with hearing protection on and the noise of the saw, you're alone with yourself inside your head for the duration.  While one part of my brain works on the puzzle of the task at hand (like how to safely knock over a very heavy tree without catching power lines, the house, etc.) the other part of my brain is chewing on EVE issues or work issues or whatever has been keeping me up at night.

Chainsaw Therapy is an expression I use with friends and often get blank stares in return.  Many folks don't get it.  I enjoy being outside, doing something manual, and losing myself within it.  For many, the only reference to a chainsaw is the one in DOOM or a random zombie movie.  These are the ones that might respond with a bad pun or a comment so idiotic that only demonstrates their lack of knowledge.  (These are the same people that seem to believe the scenes in the movies that show a 12ga shotgun knocking people backwards several feet with the kick, sigh).

But a few understand.  Usually people with property or farmers.

I took today off to work around our 10 acres.  I started the morning with a pot of coffee made from my special, expensive, and utterly delicious Hammer 53x11 coffee instead of the usual Folgers.  I drank coffee and made a list on an 8.5x11 inch piece of printer paper, folded in half.  The to-do list ended up taking up 2/3 of the half-page and resulted in 2 columns of tasks.  By 8, I was headed to the garage and began working down the task list.  I picked up sticks by the armload (thank you, wind storm), fertilized the lawn, seeded a bare patch, plugged a hole in the pole barn foundation where critters had been getting in, pruned several trees, mowed 2 1/2 acres, and a half dozen other tasks. I stopped only for a couple of breaks and took a 45 minute lunch (egg and cheese burritos, yum).  I'm now sitting on the couch, exhausted, happy, empty beer bottle next to me, and maybe a little sore.

But my mind is free, and my mental burdens seem lighter.  Chainsaw Therapy works, more people should try it.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

EVE Revenues Down

Saw this on MassivelyOP.  Link HERE.

Hat tip to marketsforISK blogger croda for digging into CCP’s 2015 financials, which were released to the public at the end of March. The good news is that CCP posted record post-tax profits of $20.7 million in 2015. Even if we exclude the one-off sale of the World of Darkness franchise, this a record year for the company, particularly since 2014 saw heavy losses.


The bad news is that studio revenue is down 16% since 2014, thanks largely to a decline in EVE Online, whose revenues are down to their 2009 levels. In fact, croda extrapolates a 16% subscription dip for EVE.
Edit:  Sorry for the horrible formatting.

Friday, April 1, 2016

And Then it was April

Things continue to shuffle along here.  The pace at work has slackened just a bit, and a few things that were hard for me a couple months ago are now getting easier with additional experience.  With the spring thaw has brought the return of yard work, and although I enjoy being outside a great deal, it's also a distraction.

I should have started an 8 week bike training regimen this week and I did pretty poorly.  I actually haven't biked (indoor or out) for over a week and a half.  Random weather and a sudden work commitment kept me grounded this week.  Wednesday was absolutely fantastic weather, but I opted to re-mount the mower deck and spend an hour mowing an acre out front that gets ahead of everything else.

I'm actually off work today; it's a premeditated vacation day with the intent of accomplishing more random things in 3 days than I could realistically hope to get in 2.  With the forecast, today was chainsawing and brush hawging until the rain came around lunch and drowned me out.  This afternoon we'll off for errands and a late lunch at a local diner we found a few weeks ago.

Tomorrow will hopefully be a 35-40 mile bike ride to jump start my training regimen, I need to pick a route that takes into account the amount of wind I suspect we'll get.  I hope to collapse in a heap afterwards.

Sunday's task will be to light the pair of brush piles I've built and toss on all the stuff I cut this morning.  Sounds simple, but will be 4-6 hours outside eating smoke.  Oh, and somewhere in there, I need to clean the gutters and pile some gravel in the hole the raccoons are using to access my pole barn.

This has left precious little time for EVE.  This year has warped past me at a blistering pace; I can't believe it's April already.  I've been in game a few times to try to keep some plates spinning, and I'm trying to follow the onslaught of the Imperium war, but most things I need to do within the game involve a lot of time investment.

Oh wow, now it's hailing outside.  We came inside just in time. :)

Saturday, March 19, 2016

5 Random Things

Stealing the format from another blog I read.  Here are 5 random things I did this week:


1) Signed my will.  As in my last will and testament.  We're old enough that we should have one, and it's been on my New Years' to-do list each year for the past 2-3 years (and if I say 3, it's probably been more like 5 years).  Last year I actually logged into LegalZoom but didn't actually purchase the form.  This year we found a local attorney to hammer out the details.  It was painless and far less expensive than I expected.

2) Was a featured speaker at a Lunch n' Learn event at work.  My part was less than 10 minutes, though I also coordinated the other 4 speaker's content and assembled the consolidated package.  I am not a great public speaker but it went well enough.  There were about 50 people in the auditorium and another 30 people online via webex.  Not my largest audience ever, but probably the most free-form speech I've ever given (since I wasn't giving a "briefing" against a standardized agenda).  My boss' boss was in the 4th row and has this eagle-eye stare that unnerved me.  I had to find someone else to look at during my hand waiving.  After starting at the new office in October, it was nice to be asked to speak and be a visible person in my new org.

3)  Rode 20 miles on the bike.  Early season rides are always a crapshoot around here, and normally this time of year I'd be happy getting a "real" ride of maybe 10 miles.  Last Sunday it was sunny and warm with only medium wind so I suited up and went out.  The route I picked started on some of my favorite roads and I ran into a TON of other bikers - the biking community here has really exploded in the past 5 years.  As I considered my return route, I opted to add another 5 miles and went out scouting a new return route on the way home.

4)  Patched up EVE.  I haven't undocked in awhile, but did manage to get my Desktop client patched up and checked training queues.  Everything is where I left it, although I'm noticing that some of my older burner setups are now broken (the Gila fit for the Sansha BC Burner in particular).

5)  This morning, we ran a local 5k.  Every triathlete has a least favorite event; running is mine.  I am neither a great runner nor a horrible runner, but I don't enjoy it and therefore don't train for it.

However, while I am focusing on Bike this season, Mrs. Durden is opting to chase down some running goals.  She signed up for this event long ago and I jumped on board last month (mostly because of the finisher medal, I must admit).

I went into this unprepared ... I have run exactly twice this year - the only other jogging session was a 5k event in February - and the time I got today was pretty good for not actually preparing for the race.  The weather was pretty cold (38 deg F at the start) and after I overheated in February, I undercompensated and was dressed for a day 15 degrees warmer.  Luckily, we were able to hide in a local pub before the start and once on the course I felt really good.  Mrs. Durden did also well and the finisher medal is cool and we're better off for having done it than sleeping in on a Saturday.

6) Bonus:  Tonight we're going to the Opera. We're season ticket holders, believe it or not.  I can take or leave the singing, but I really enjoy watching the pit orchestra. With dinner and the show it will make for a nice evening out.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Early Sunday

It's early for a Sunday.  It's not quite 8am and I've already been out of bed close to 2 hours.

At around 4:30 this morning, I awoke with a start.  I was having one of those pulse pounding dreams, and I wasn't able to really get back to sleep after.  The dream itself was new and interesting - Mrs. Durden and I were making our way somewhere late at night.  It was dark, horrendously rainy, and the headlights weren't cutting through the haze.  The road we were on was in the middle of nowhere, and very hilly, and we had someone tailgating us.  We knew there was a rail line ahead and could see the train in the distance; I began watching for the cross guards.  We descend into a valley, crest a small hill, and suddenly there's a bridge that's washed out by the rainstorm.  Mrs. Durden (who was driving) slams on the brakes.  We skid to a halt (Hollywood style) with our front tires teetering over the abyss of rushing water.  I'm urging her to back up before the bank collapses, and she's saying something about the car behind us maybe can't stop in time.  She begins to back up just as the bank starts to crumble....

...And that's when I woke up.  I'm sure it's going to be an interesting day today.  We have few plans, so I'm hopeful for a long nap this afternoon.


Anyway, the reason I'm here is that although EVE is somewhat on the back burner, I'll try to keep a feed here going, even if it's not game related.

March is already here.  I've done reasonably well with my Winter to-do list around the 10 acres we own, and if the weather cooperates will have knocked out the last of the pre-Spring prep perhaps next weekend.

I'm also looking forward to more miles outdoors on the bicycle.  I have a big event in early June for which I need to train.  Winter training (indoors) has been going well, and I feel stronger now than I did perhaps a year ago.  But the real test will be getting some 25-50 mile rides in to test my endurance in the saddle.

/Time to Ride...
Spring is both a horrible and a great time to ride here.  When the weather turns warm, there's always a strong south wind that brings it.  Wind is a part of biking, but after your 3rd or 5th ride in a grinding 25mph gusty wind, you've really had enough.  (Of course, in July and August when it's 105 degrees F and 95% humidity you're praying for a little wind).

But only so much can be done indoors; eventually you need the real miles on a real bike on a real road.

I have done what I can, I think, to make the season successful, but Spring is always a challenge.  The weather the next few weeks will be very important - if it's too wet, I won't be able to ride, and won't be able to knock off chores around the house.  This is important because the same days that are ideal for biking are also ideal for working outdoors.  I'll have to make hard decisions whether I work or play, and those decisions get harder if the weather windows are few.

If things cooperate, I'll be able to tetris my tasks/training together very nicely and accomplish much.  If things don't cooperate, it'll mean an unruly mess and a lot of compromises.

Last year was an unruly mess with a lot of compromises.  So far, this year is better.  But the next few weeks will set the tone for the entire season.  


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Work is Winning

I logged in to EVE last night for the first time in awhile and got asked, "where ya' been?"

Fair question.

Snarky Answer:  Not in EVE.

Better Answer: Work is winning. I've not been burning extra hours, but have been arriving home exhausted each night.  I've been struggling to make a coherent dinner, and after that I'm without sufficient energy to boot the EVE client.  So I squander the evening on something else, mindless, and then generally fall asleep on the couch before retiring early.  Weekends have been recovery and some quality time on the bicycle when I can sneak in the miles.

The interesting part is that work has been good.  Excellent, even.  Longtime readers will maybe recall that I switched offices in October.  The first few weeks were tough. My coworkers viewed me skeptically and I was drastically undertasked.  The holiday season was interesting as things began to click, and by late January I was firing on all cylinders and picking up task after task after task.

I find it stressful, but stressful in that hectic way.  Every day is like trying to wrestle 27 squirrels into a minivan with all the windows open.  There's a hundred things to do and I need to be in many places at once.

The old job was stressful in a highly negative way.  The relationship with our east coast teammates had eroded to the point of being openly hostile.  I came to work every day and argued against the idiotic (and in my business, downright dangerous/hazardous) decisions that were being made.  And my counterparts were making them intentionally just to go against the advice my team provided.  Every phone call was a fight; every email an argument.  I came home mad every single night.

The old job was list trying to wrestle a grizzly bear into a minivan with someone holding a trash bag over your head tightly, suffocating you while you're trying not to get bit.

I heard from some of my old coworkers today. Their situation is miserable.  Most are biding their time until options are presented and the office is closed down mid-next year.  With pensions, buyouts, accrued vacation, and so on, they're in a position where it's better for them and their families that they "shut up and color" than resign outright like I did (although I got a pretty sweet deal and lost nothing in my transaction).

Contact from the old team made me pause and take stock of where I was.  I'm busy. I'm tired. But I'm happy, and I haven't been able to say that in a few years.

Anyway, I'm still here. Work is winning.  It's winning because I'm letting it.  My change has been a net positive and the opportunities in the new organization are almost endless.  I'm learning a ton. I'm making a difference.

But I'm also very, very tired.


Sunday, February 21, 2016

Begone Winter Demons!

This week, I hope, is the start of something different.

Fall and Winter are my favorite times of year.  I hate hot weather, and hate humidity more.  I'd rather be sitting by a fireplace under a blanket than at a back yard BBQ sweating and swatting bugs.  I'd rather be splitting wood outside at 20 degrees (F) than mowing the lawn at 85.

But Winter took its toll on me this year.  The past month has been especially hard.  Week after week I feel further into a funk.  It started with a sinus infection just after the holidays.  There were things I should have been doing outside, but weekend after weekend I'd say "it's too cold," or "it's too windy, and I don't want to get sick again."  This basically amounted to saying "screw it, I'm staying inside today; I'm tired and I earned it."  As things went on, I couldn't seem to get enough sleep, and the sleep I got has been intermittent and elusive.

My funk extended to games.  I've been in EVE very little although I have plenty to do.  I've been on the laptop on the couch a lot; but felt lethargic towards much of anything, including EVE.

The physical toll began to mount.  The longer I kept wollowing in my funk the worse I felt.  Aches, pains, swollen joints, and generally just feeling ... old.

Last weekend the weather was bitterly cold, but began to shift.  The sun came back and through the week the temperatures rose.  I decided it was time to expunge the Winter Demons and get on with Spring.

The only way I know how to do this is to flip the bird to feeling old and getting off my ass to MOVE.

On Monday, I reset my diet and began eating very precisely again; measured amounts at specific times of day.  It takes effort to do this, but it was something I could focus on.

Tuesday we went to a concert downtown at a small, historic theater and ate a fine dinner at a hundred year old building across the street from the venue.  The music was Mrs. Durden's choice, and was good, but perhaps more importantly we were out of the house and doing something social surrounded by young people.

On Wednesday we hit the gym, and I climbed on the spin bike for a 30 minute tempo session.  Instead of doing a precise "class" style workout against one of the Youtube videos I have on my phone, I queued up some of my favorite music and worked on my cadence.  I backed up and repeated my favorite songs and the session went quickly.  Doing something impulsive (vs. the regimented workout I had planned) and getting into music that I hadn't heard in awhile made the time fly by.

On Friday, I got the bike out of the garage and took a 30 minute loop around a training circuit that I like to use. It was windy but warm - 50 degrees (F) but wind gusting to 30 mph - and at times I was leaning so hard into the wind that I felt like I was riding sideways.  Rides like this can be a real grind; the brutal relentlessness of the wind can really take its toll on you.  But I had gone out impulsively by choice, not by guilt, and ignored the speedometer.  But the return leg was mostly downhill and with the wind and I simply flew home.  I hung up my bike in its place and thought, "this is why I ride."

On Saturday, we were signed up for a 5k trail run at a venue about 45 minutes from the house.  This was basically a bonfire party with a run somewhere in the middle.  We showed up early and hung out by the fire, and then hit the trail.  I hadn't run since last July and was doing the event very much unprepared.  While last weekend was bitter cold, this weekend was spring-like and I was shedding layers of clothes by the time I hit the 1/3 mile mark.  The crowd was big, but friendly.  The trail was challenging, very muddy, but along a gorgeous lake shore on a bright sunny day.  More time by the bonfire and then I splurged on the diet and had a cheeseburger and fries as a reward for a hard race.  We came home tired, but good.  We have already signed up for next year.

Today, I spent about 2 hours doing yard work - pruning my stand of Walnut (aka my retirement fund) - and I feel more alert and alive.

Checking the weather, it looks like Winter will attempt to come back for at least one more try this week.  But as far as I'm concerned, it is already beaten.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Building Roadmaps

Has been awhile.  No good reasons, no excuses.  I just felt like I didn't have much to write.

Sugar posed an interesting question, and instead of cluttering up her comments feed with a few paragraphs of stream-of-consciousness, I'll type here.  Because I can.

First, let's put the question into context.  Sugar is asking about Roadmaps.

We think we might know what that means, but ... do we really?  In response to her post I'm seeing well intentioned folks respond "I want feature X fixed."    That's great, but ... roadmap?  Not really.  That's a feature fix, a singular patchnote.

So back up -- Simply put - a roadmap is a plan.  In order to have a plan you need a goal (a destination).  The roadmap is the master plan of how to get from where we are to where we want to be, top to bottom, the whole game.

But first we need a destination, and we have to have some agreement that we aren't already there.

Agreeing on where we are NOW and where we SHOULD BE is no small task.  But if we could do it, then the gap between those two is the ground needing covered.  And then we can build the plan to get there.

Agreeing on the plan/route to get there is no small task (sensing a trend yet?) but if we could do that, then we have the tasks (or features) we need to implement to get to our destination.

Those tasks, written out and time phased is the Roadmap.

I'll beat this horse some more, but to summarize:
1. Grand Unified Vision (GUV) - Ideal Future State.
2. Assess current position.
3a. Determine Task/Feature List.
3b. Determine time phasing.
4. Generate Roadmap.
5. Execute Roadmap.
6. Review and include stray projects into GUV, then go back to step 1 and iterate.

I sometimes think that CCP thinks that the roadmap itself is the goal, the product, the destination.  As in, "see, Feature X is cool, will fix all our woes. Here's a shiny web page, we are doing stuff, trust us and send us more money."

At Vegas during the PVE panel, I raised my hand and asked for the PVE stuff to be added to the roadmap, or developed into its own roadmap.   Granted, I didn't ask the question very well, and those in the room looked at me like I had 3 heads.

What I was really trying to get to - but didn't articulate very well - was "How does PVE fit into everything else that CCP is doing?"  

Is there a coherent answer to that?  I can't really tell.  Or pick a topic - ingame store, PLEX prices, new player experience, mining, ingame social structures (corps/alliances), ship balance, Thera, POS, storyline, Capship rebalancing, small Fleet pvp, Faction Warefare, Planetary Interaction, Offgrid Link Removal, Citadels.  How does /any/ of this fit into the GUV?

So let's go back to step 1.  Grand Unified Vision.  Does EVE have one?  I'm not sure.  Has it ever had one?  I'm even less sure.  There are a lot of un-unified tasks being accomplished, and some sweeping changes being debated, but where is it all really going?  And how will we know when we get there?

EVE is so big that we think that we have to break the game up into these topics so that the context is comprehensible.  And as a communication strategy, that's maybe true.  But somewhere behind it all needs to be the GUV acting as the engine to move everything forward.  Somebody somewhere has to have a master plan.

Convince me that you have a master plan, and then we can debate roadmaps. :)

What's Playing:  Tool, Aenima, Stinkfist

Monday, January 18, 2016

Success Despite Being Sloppy

I came within a hear's breadth of losing my well worn Daredevil yesterday to the Single Guristas Worm.

The Worm is my very favorite burner mission.  I love the mwd-fueled dash under the barrage of the oncoming fire.  I love using blasters to melt his gurista face off.  I love the race of dps - dealing enough damage before my Cap Boosters run empty.  It's a unique fight in the burner world, and I always look forward to it.

I normally run a link ship, which makes the fight much more straightforward and reduces some of the overheat dance for lows and mids required if attempting fully solo.  Over the past many months, I've gotten pretty good at the mechanics of it, and measure myself by how many Cap Boosters that I return to the dock with.  (Normally that's 5, sometimes 6 of the 11 that I take with me).

Last night was a different matter.  The mistakes were mine, and they were many.

It was late in the day, and I am fighting off a case of the plague.  My head wasn't in the fight. I should have deferred.  That was mistake #1.

Mistake #2 was my approach.  I left the mwd run too long and I ended up bumping my target.  This put me out of optimal range, and required two more squirts of mwd to make the correction.  The repeated mwd use consumed additional cap.

Mistake #3 was not minding my armor rep.  With links running, the repper can get ahead of the inbound damage.  Depending on how the damage and rep cycles happen to sync up, I can turn the repper off several times a fight, thus saving capacitor.  Instead, I got distracted by the mwd tomfoolery and let the repper run despite being at 100% armor, pissing more capacitor into the wind.
Mistake #4 was turning off overheat on my highs too soon.  I've been bitten more than once while running burners by letting my guns burn out.  I normally turn my launchers off at about 60% burnt, as the heat grows much faster than blasters.  Blasters I let run to 70-80%.  As the gravity of the other mistakes began to register, I got too eager and unheated at 54%.  Maybe that would have been fine, but with the trouble of getting situated at the start of the fight, most of the overheated dps didn't actually land very well and the target was still at 40%+ shields.

By the time all of this happened, I'd run through my normal allotment of Cap Boosters.  Target is at 40% shields and I had maybe 4 reload cycles remaining on the cap before I'd fold up and explode.

Even this was surmountable, but as the target entered armor, a misclick (perhaps I was trying to spin the camera? not sure) turned off my guns with 4 rounds left.  Mistake #5.  I realized it too late, the target had begun to repair shields.  Instead of reloading, I turned guns back on (Mistake #5 1/2), ran the 4 antimatter out, and then waited for a reload.  Meanwhile the Capacitor clock was ticking and I'd let the target get back to 40% shields or so.

Weighing options, I overheated highs again and began to squint at the screen in preparation for the insurance payout.  Heat climbed higher, 70%, 80%.  I intended to unheat at 90% but now the target was well into armor.  I was loading my last Cap charge and was floating at 50% armor.  The UI's alarm bells were sounding every few seconds.  I made the only good decision of the entire fight and didn't unheat.  Target exploded with my highs at 95% burnt, one Cap Booster loaded but none in cargo.

A win is a win, but sheesh, that's no way to fly a ship as good as the Daredevil.

I type this out not to brag about the win, but as an example of how these encounters can sometimes trip you up through a cascade failure.  I consider myself a veteran of the burner mission, this one in particular, but I almost bit it last night.  Most of what happened was due in part to the very sloppy approach.  Dealing with that one error distracted me from other things going on, which cost me time and resources I didn't really have.  Had the approach been better, most of the other things wouldn't have happened or wouldn't have mattered.

Fly better next time, Abavus.  Fly better.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Back on Duty

Reposting this and editing lightly. Oddities from using the Blogger app shoved it to January 4th for some unknown reason.

----
Well, Evil isn't going to smite itself, so I have fired up the armada again, jumping back into the front lines against the Gurista, Sansha, and Angel menace.

Actually, I have been trying to get anomic agents to spawn as I haven't checked some of my fits in ages.  Considering the number of missions I got through this week, anomics were quite stingy. I did get World's Collide approximately 27,457 times, but very few burners. (And some of the ones that did get offered repeated.)

I will need to update my fit posts eventually, and ideally work out a more user friendly format.  I don't crave blog hits, but I see from my stats that many of you find this blog via google searching for burner strategies.  So even if I did update my fits and develop a better format, there's some significant web momentum behind the current set of blog posts.

Anyway, I digress.  I did determine that Blood Raider Cruor is still doable in my Jaguar and an off grid linker.  Guristas Worm is still fun in my Daredevil.  The Worm still holds its place as my favorite burner.  But the Team Enyo is no longer soloable in the kite fut Garmur. For that one I grab an alt in a mwd Kestrel to lend some dps.


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Playing a Game You Don't Actually Enjoy

It's the end of a game session and as you're shutting down, you think: why am I doing this to myself?

And no, I don't mean EVE.  I mean Hearthstone.

I resisted the game while we were under our data cap; I didn't need another game to patch up and consume data quota. Late last summer we got a different provider and I caved. 

I played horribly but enjoyed it. Single play was fun. And the matchmaker was able to find players as horrible as me.

But now, things have progressed. I'm apparently in a no-mans land of mediocrity. I am no longer horrible but not an expert. The matchmaker doesn't quite know what to do with me. I have very few "good" games. Sometimes I am stomping faces and my opponent concedes very early. Sometimes I'm getting stomped and deciding whether I ride it in or concede. And maybe 1 in 10 or even 1 in 20, I get the nail biter that goes 20+ turns with no clear dominance until a clever move or combo breaks. My point is that most games are decided by turn 3 or 4 and so very few games result in any sort of satisfaction, even the wins.

Last night I played a game where I was at 3 health looking at game-over the next turn. After a long game trading pretty evenly, opponent had 9 health and a small army itching to smash me. I had a few guys out but not nearly enough to win that turn. In a clutch draw I was able to send my guys across for 7 and then play a leper gnome. I then cleverly killed my own leper gnome to yield 2 dmg from his deathrattle. Stolen victory maybe, but it was a good game, made sweeter by my win. I requeued thinking it would be another many games before I got a match that close.

And so, I am here lamenting during my lunch hour, thinking "why bother?".

It's time to back off from the silly virtual card game and maybe check back in 6 months after Blizz has maybe figured out an elegant fix.

More time for EVE.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

For Science!



Happy New Year everyone.

While at EVE Vegas, we had a short chat with a nice Ph.D. candidate collecting data for his project on the psychology of MMO players.  He sent an update email today to say that he's close to having enough submissions to analyze the data, but needs a few more participants.

I'm posting the link to his survey with permission.  Please go help out if you have the inclination - I've done it, it doesn't take very long, and may give scientific proof as to why Jita is such a horrible place on local.*

Note:
*Probably not. Some things are best left unknown. :)  Seriously though, I'm not affiliated in any way with the research, just passing along the link to those who may be interested in helping out.

Perspectives

It's been an interesting few weeks here. First, I've been having PC problems the past several weeks.  I have new laptop inbound fr...