15 December 2009

Names you learn as a child

Some time ago I was watching the video by DireLauthris, about Admiral Tovil-Toba and his defense of Caldari Prime. Wow, what an excellent video! Makes you proud to be a patriot, n'est-ce pas? All my Caldari friends were so full of themselves when it came out...

Anyway, it's because it is impressive! Go take a look, if you haven't yet...

I showed it to C. and he was very impressed. All the way until "to this day he is revered as a national hero and his name is one of the first things every Caldari child learns."

That's when I got an earful...

Anyhow, I was reminded about a story from RealLife(tm), of a XIX century war between the two Matari Tribes, shall we call them Chilestan and Peruvia. I already knew about it, but C, he went into excruciating detail.

It's story time!


Once upon a time there was a young naval officer, Captain Arturo of Chilestan, who was in charge of camping an enemy harbour. He had been left by his FC with strict instructions no to let anything through while the main fleet sailed away to some big battle. He had two wooden ships (T1 frigates, I kid you not!), badly fit and in worse shape, but that would suffice in a place where there was only civilian traffic to block.

Only there was not just civilian traffic.

The enemy was spotted by dawn. As usual, intelligence had sucked, they had crossed the main fleet in the dark and were fast approaching the port with two lean, mean hi-tech armour-plated ships. Captain Arturo was so screwed. Not able to call for reinforcements ('cause vent had not been invented yet), he roused his crew with a moving speech and they went to battle, intending to fight till the end. He was brave but he was also smart, fighting a gun battle inside the port against one of the iron ships -they were not his civilians being shot at port anyway- while his wingman took off distracting the other ship. When the enemy FC decided to ram his own ironclad into the wooden frigate, Captain Arturo did the unthinkable and took a small boarding party across. They all died as heroes. Shortly afterward, his ship broke in two and sank straight to the bottom.

The enemy had broken the camp.

But Captain Arturo became a rallying cry in Chilestan for the rest of the war, to this day he is revered as a national hero and his name is one of the first things every child learns.

Captain Arturo had not really meant to be a warrior; he was but a young lawyer who had left an even younger wife back home when he enlisted. He had not asked to be a hero. He just did what felt right.


Captain Miguel from Peruvia was a military genius, an officer and a gentleman. He had come back from a cushy retirement seat in Congress to fight the war, commanding the very same ship he had seen built to his specs fifteen years before by the Brutish, which he had then updated, refitted and rigged. As the FC, his mission was to harass and interdict the much bigger enemy fleet, a juggernaut that included wooden boats, ironclads, logistics, advanced ammo, some of the first battleships to ever exist and maybe the kitchen sink. His tools would not be brute force and firepower, but stealth, finesse and surprise.

Captain Miguel saw many successes breaking enemy camps, capturing transports, messing with enemy pets, bombing ports, sinking stuff. His small gang would appear from nowhere, strike and then vanish. At a certain battle, he rammed his ship into the enemy frigate once and again until it broke in two, sank straight to the bottom and, hear this, he then had all the survivors picked up from the water and carried to safety before x'ing back. And after the battle, he sat down to write a poignant note to the young widow of his adversary, which he sent the very same day with her dear husband's belongings and his deepest condolences.

A true gentleman if there ever was one.

Silly politicians back home wanted to promote him to Grand Admiral of All the Fleet, a honor he protested would not allow him to do what he did best, FC'ing from the front in their best command ship. So they compromised.

Rear Admiral Miguel met his fate at a fleet battle in high seas. As usual, politicians had sucked, ordering more raids and ignoring his calls for refit. Following orders and against his very own judgement, he would thus fall to an enemy BS gang rigged for gank, speed and devoted solely to hunting him down. He died in the gun battle and his legendary ship was captured. Losing the war had become a certainty.

But Admiral Miguel became a rallying cry in Peruvia for the rest of the war, to this day he is revered as a national hero and his name is one of the first things every child learns.

Admiral Miguel was a warrior, a genius and a gentleman. He left three loving widows: his wife, his ship and his country. He was probably always destined to be a hero, whether he asked or not.


You can't make these things up.

Both stories happened at the same time, over a hundred years ago. Every nation has a national hero but what is remarkable is that in this case is that two Heroes that fought in the same war and fought each other, ultimately became their own countries' greatest. Both died on the very same deck.

To date, people from Chilestan and Peruvia learn these names as the Hero and his Enemy, and vice-versa. To date, after more than a century, they are still taught to hate each other's guts. As children, no one is told about the flip side of the coin; as grownups, only a few wonder if there is a flip side at all.


And there is a reason They teach you that stuff as a child in Real Life, so you don't question Them.

That keeps you a good patriot and a good tool.

The ugly face of patriotism, captured with such a simple phrase in Admiral Tovil-Toba's two-hundred year old story.

"To this day he is revered as a national hero and his name is one of the first things every Caldari child learns."

((Don't you just love it when they bring worlds to life, warts and all? ;) ))

08 December 2009

Racing Spy #3

December 109, ISGC Season 4,
Between Races 5 and 6

It had been weeks since my racing interceptor had been scanned at a training session, by a friend. Only problem was, this friend was the owner of a rival racing team, had scanned me and Kay unawares while on a friendly flight.

To mend our friendship, I had entrusted him with something of incredible value. To get even, I had asked him to promise the impossible.

I had offered him a miracle and a curse. He took them both.

Oh boy.


Races 4 and 5 went by and ISGC had lifted Ken's suspension from racing; he had already brought the ship I gave him to a race already and much to everyone's surprise.

The cynics thought it was just a rumour, that it could not really be my beloved Wing; others really believed it was -and it was, mind you- and chided me for being too kind with Ken, after what he did.

Maybe I was too kind. But I also wanted to get back at him.

Yin. Yang.

In spite of everything I still wanted to remain friends with Ken so, sometimes, I invited him to tag along when I explored in my Covops. The idea was, I would go in and find a radar site, Ken would then warp his Domi in and deal with the Sansha rats, and finally I would hack and salvage.

That's how we ended up in lowsec Sukanan.

It seemed such a good idea at the time.

Making a long story short, there was this radar site that took ages to pinpoint, we were a bit careless... and ended up with me hastily cloaking and Ken warping out in his pod. Before that, I had no idea you could be probed out so fast.

I know what you are thinking but, no, it was not my doing. Too crude and, besides, we were genuinely making up.

Afterwards, he gave me the chance to speak at the Fed Navy for the dedication of his replacement Domi.

As I prepared, I could not help but notice the irony. It was him that was being too kind to me. I did not deserve it.

Damit, he did not deserve it.

That was what I had in mind when, blinded by reflectors in my eyes, in front of the assembled crew of the Enduring Friendship (awww) I made my way to the podium and read a passage from one of my favorite poems.

If you can make a heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

People must have thought those were tears of emotion.

They... were, but not quite the one they would expect.


As soon as I got back from the ceremony I called some files to my desk.

"Mirror, mirror, may I see the files tagged dagger and twist please?"

The nice synth baritone voice replied "Quin, I do not have anything to show. Additional files may be available to you if you plug in, would you like to try again?"

He can be so discreet. "Yes please."

I plugged. Two files were conjured and appeared as if hovering over my desk. Anybody else would have seen me stare into thin air.

I checked the dagger file carefully to make sure it was what I was looking for. Anonymous contract for a mercenary hit on an Executioner-class racing frigate.

Yes, that one.

Ken had promised to race to win and had also promised to bring my ship back. No one, not even Ken himself expected to... but it was still possible. Unless one made sure that, ah, expectations would be met.

The twist file was a draft of a personal note where I explained everything: "Ken, it was me all along..."

Drive the dagger home. Then twist it.

But there was no need for it anymore. "Cancel the contract, discard both files and please confirm no backups remain."

"Quin, all done and confirmed."


We were even already, my friend and I.


((OOC: Now again, who says that roleplay is dead in this game?

Anyhow if you are wondering, we only got halfway there. Eventually, Ken himself withdrew from the season, returned my ship safely and would not race ever again. In the meantime, he wrote some short pieces of fiction based on this, which I think were beautiful.

There is some difference between what I am willing to do in-game and out-of-game. Ken's player became more and more absorbed by RL and at some point in time I felt that going ahead and hurting him in game would hurt him in RL. That was a no-no, so I just dropped it. A few months later the Ken character died in his sleep and was biomassed. I am still friends with the player or at least I like to think that.

I do not think I ever told him about the entire plan, I certainly did not warn him in advance of the RP angle. Yes Ken, I would have had my ship blown up from around you. Or maybe you would have surprised me, and I would have had to deal with the guilt. Real surprise gets you real emotions -> great RP. Now I can only wonder how this would have played.

What I do know is that by giving you the ship I loved the most, I did get to see some of the best RP I have seen, and most of it was actually for real.

In any case, if you are reading this I hope you can forgive me for being such an awful person. And enjoying it. Immensely. Thank you!))

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04 December 2009

Racing dev Blog

(Originally posted here)

I think we have learned a thing or two during the last couple of seasons... like, we are still too few racing and even fewer organizing, and that organizing does take a lot of time. That we need to keep the attention of spectators, sponsors and, if possible, of ISD (I wonder if that piece on Season 7 will ever be published?). We have learned that it is not good to race during holidays -wait... I think we knew that one already.

We also learned that we are not Gyra. We have been trying to do things Gyra-style and while she was good at that, we will never be as good as she was.

So we will change the rules.

We have been thinking about how to make ISRC-style racing more appealing to more racers, how to make it a bit less dependent on so few organizers, how to bring in and involve sponsors, how to make the calendar more flexible.

Finally, we have learned that sometimes good things in life come with dev blogs. A dev blog is a statement that says that what we are doing is not baked but under construction... under constant improvement, if you will. A dev blog says 'change!' and gives you the chance to prepare. A dev blog represents opportunity to change and the will to improve. It gives people (that's YOU) the chance to discuss what is on their mind and a forum to influence what kind of changes will come in the future.

So with this in mind, I give you the first ISRC dev blog.

Out of the comfort zone, shoo!

One of the issues that has plagued the ISGC first and then the ISRC have been related to the multiple-class racing format. I mean the part where ships of different classes like Interceptors, Frigates and AFS run on the same track at the same time.

One of the problems is that people tend to stick to the same classes so we would never truly know how great a racer is, for example the Frigates Champion vs. the Interceptors Champion? Also, there have been semi-deserted racing classes, first a destroyer class and then an AF class (with what, one race out of four having, you know, racers?). We have frigates and assault frigates overtake Interceptors because of team tactics, which is actually cool if you are on a good team, but maybe it lends lots of impact to team makeup. Finally, we have the same people winning the same classes season after season.

Based on the "Exhibition Race" concept that we have been running once in a while, it is actually fun when people step out of their comfort zone and race something different like Cruisers, Industrials or that little Frigate on the 0.0 rally. Also, we have found that more rookies tend to show up for exhibition races, maybe because the field is even, as opposed to season races where teams and scores are important.

So the idea is that now each race (or most of them) should be a single-class race. We would vary the class from race to race, but now everyone get to compete head-to-head with everyone else!

Update: Optional slowboating? KJ has suggested that we could allow out-of-class racers compete, as long as they fly a slower class. In other words, you could enter the Interceptors race on a T1 Frigate. It allows rookies to participate and gain experience, while keeping the competitiveness of the class race intact.

Roleplay Races

We will be giving each race a unique personality. Up to Season 7, we had ultimate bland "Race 1, Race 2, Race 3..."

Next season will see these, for example:

The Federation Grand Prix (Frigates)
The State Open (Interceptors - the Gariushi Cup?)
The Empire Championship (Assault Frigates)
The Republic Derby (Faction Frigates)

These would be our four big events. Each race will be held once yearly; 200M prize each one and, say, 2000 ISRC points to the winner (1200 to the 2nd place, etc, etc) . We go out there and get regional sponsorship and stuff, maybe local celebrities to host or race or just give it some flavour. Heavy ISRC publicity would be devoted to the race the region and the sponsors.

Then we could have the little ones: Interceptor races, Frigate races, AF races, 0.0 Rally, whatever races, worth 1000, 500 points and with varying prizes. Depending on the race and the score awarded, we could have the new hires (see the Organisation part) start out with the smaller races and earn the right to host the big ones. And if someday someone wants to scam us, like EBANK was, at least he would have to host a whole lot of races.

What changes with this?

Entry is easier. Anyone joining has a shot at a cup and a prize, no need to play the entire season.

Easier to skip races. We schedule the Grand Slams for dates no one has trouble with. We schedule little cups for conflicting dates. We could do this bi-weekly.

Vacant classes are no longer an issue. Everyone runs the same class on a given race. Or they can skip it if they do not like flying AF's or whatnot.

((At Roland Garros people either play on clay, or stay home.))

More Roleplay. Some of the ISRC executives, whom I am not going to name by name ;) , object to having races in the Amarr Empire. I feel this is a legitimate position to take... and I really look forward to working this out together. Maybe this is a challenge that the ISRC will have to meet?

Update: Militia? Eek. I thought I had no issues but then someone comes along and offers to sponsor in the name of a Government-sponsored Militia. I am not sure why, but I am not comfortable with that... we will see what happens.


Did I mention score changes? We are currently thinking of having yearly scores. You add 52 weeks of scores back, and that is your ISRC ranking at any given time.

This has a couple of cool things. Someone may be the champion at any given time; at the same time, someone else may still be the unbeaten ace of the Republic Derby. Maybe winning all Grand Slams is an achievement worth looking forward to...

From an organisation perspective, this allows us to run stuff in a more flexible schedule too... as opposed to having two yearly seasons with weekly races that should not overlap summer nor holidays. We did not want to interrupt the season because of holidays, nor wanted to spend the best days of summer laying track no one would race. With the yearly thing, the pressure to keep going during holidays goes away. If you race, you are scored, as simple as that.

What do we lose? The seasonal aspect. Bye-bye Season 8, hello ISRC Circuit. There is some sense of loss there, maybe you guys have some comments about that?

No more remedial races

We tried this officially for Season 7: best 10 races out of 12 are scored. The result was people skipping races, less racers showing up, less competition and less excitement.

Well, no more remedial races.

That's why we are also setting up a handful of big races and many small ones, so the pros can skip small ones if they want, and the rookies may catch everything and still have a fighting chance. So you can still skip races if you are ahead enough...

More people and mini-professions

There has never been enough people organising. From Season 1 to 5 we had Gyra Rho and her many alts. That's one person -albeit with superpowers- organizing the entire thing for a full five seasons and then half of season 6.

Starting Season 6 and then 7, we had Killjoy Tseng organizing the races, with some help by myself on the PR side. But, we were not truly backing each other up, he was race host and I was racer. But now that I have retired, we are two.

I do not think that two is enough.

So for season 8 we are introducing the mini-professions "Race Host" and "Race Designer" for all of you to play with.

(Yah, we could have called these 'roles' but, if we are already stealing the devblog concept, why not go all the way and steal some more? Plus, mini-profession sounds cooler.)

Someone willing to help as a Race Host will have the opportunity to, well, host any of a number of races. In the host role, he or she will be present during race time (Sunday 20:00 usually), act as referee for that race, call the start, make judgement calls during the race (ohmygosh, the waypoint is not here!) and note the official times. Two hours of work in exchange for the princely sum of... well, we are thinking about that. Maybe 20 million, but don't quote me on that.

Someone willing to help as Race Designer will have the opportunity to design and lay the racetrack. This has a theory part which is easy and a practical part that sucks. First, think where the real and fake waypoints go, some fifteen minutes. Then, prepare the waypoint cans and go anchor them, some 3-4 hours. Again, there is money on this one but we are thinking how much and how.

Eventually we could put a tutorial up on EVElopedia about these aspects of organizing. And speaking of tutorials, we could have one for racers too (it is a profession after all, right?)

Points exchange

The racing community is more than just the ISRC. We have friends in the House Rigel races (hi Julius!) and would love to make more. With all these different leagues and racers, the wild thought is that maybe we could have some other races assign ISRC points on a per-race basis.

In this mode, owners of the race would organize and operate the race as usual, ISRC would do some checks to confirm the race adheres to our so very strict quality standards (Got track? Check. Got racers? Check. No cheating, mkay? Good to go.) There would be some cross-sponsorship and publicity, and racers would get points for the ISRC circuit. Maybe ISRC could help run the race if needed.

This gives ISRC more people, more visibility, gives other races more visibility and staff, and bring the racing community together.

Update: Keeping it simple. Julius had told us it looks like a great idea but that we seem to be throwing too much complication into this. I guess there is only one way to find out...

The Official ISRC Pace Frigate

The Gallente Navy Comet has a blinky on top. That's our new official pace car.

We are withdrawing our petition for ISD to lend us some Polaris frigates. We did not want them anyway ;)

(Credit to Julius Rigel for having the same idea before we did and, no, we did not ask for Polaris frigates. Teleport feature on the Comet would be nice though. Killjoy must train Gallente Frig up to 3 now :P)

Live Race Tracker

It is an insanely cool idea of Killjoy's and coded by Takashi, this one: sometime in Season 7 we started testing a live tracker. Basically each racer opens a browser window to the Racer URL, this will update the racer's location as the race progresses. Meanwhile the Spectator URL has a list of all the racers and where they are, and constantly updates the overall location.

We would like to make the Racer URL mandatory now...

Early on, this means that the Race Host will have a picture of what is happening with the race. As he knows the track layout, this enables him to do... live commentary!

Eventually, if we do this right, this could result in a cool live tracker in NOHi-color for the general ticket-buying public ;)

Update: The dog ate my tracker! Really. We got word from some of our racers in Singularity that the tracker would no longer work and, sure enough, come Dominion it stopped working. It has something to do with session changes not being reported anymore.

So, bad Moondoggie, bad!

We will have to send the code back to Tak for fixing, or wait for Moondoggie to learn this trick, or have the Teleport ability added to the Comet (so we can track everyone, right?).

Racing bets

Some time ago there have been several efforts to run bets on the ISRC circuit. It has sort of worked but it has never been permanent. It would be nice to have it done on a more official/permanent basis.

Personally, I have absolutely no idea how betting works... so I would be asking the expert: Kazuo, what would it take to make the betting side of races permanent?

So these are our ideas for now... The floor is still open!



02 December 2009

Patch the patch

See patch download.

See patch fail. Why do I even bother anymore?

See Quin download the installer.

See installer crawl.

See install fail. Rinse, repeat.

See some creative use of digital camera memory sticks -I am such a junkie. Maybe I should upgrade some of my stuff.

See? We are finally good to go.

Wait... what do you mean there is another patch tomorrow?

01 December 2009

Racing Future?

Season 7 is over. So what happens now?

We start all over again.

With one little difference, mind you: I will not be racing. I am done, I quit.

No, no, I retire.

Wow. I look back at three years in space and this has been what I have been doing: racing.

Getting up on Wednesday to look at the next racing region, setting up spares and moving jump clones... bookmarks... spying on the locals... jumping into my race clone on Saturday afternoon so I am ready for race day on Sunday, to either clonejump during the race (ha, ha :P but it worked only twice out of maybe thirty I prepared) or right after the race, for flying free.

I feel as if pro racing has been a freaking job.

And I am so going to miss it.

Also, I have the feeling that I have done so much. I got blown up many times. I started my own racing team, recruited people into, and gently kept people off it. I have been racer on the track and manager off the track; spent so much time coming up with ways to outrun, outlast or simply outsmart. We went through a merger with the best of the best. And then, I won three championships, one for each class. Who's the Quin?

I had to train skills to build wonderfully weird ship fittings. Sure, speed in the low slots, tank in the middle and who cares about the highs. Shield-tanked badass-neut large-polycardboard cloaking racing Malediction anyone?

I have met many interesting people within, around and outside the racing circuit. Fostered friends and grapevine the size of half of Auvergne. Kept deadly secrets, and saw mine revealed.

It has been so much fun.

So, there. I am done because I feel that I have done everything now.

So what happens now?

I think I will have more time to write my racing memoirs... Season 4 still halfway, there is quite a bit of writing yet to be done.

I am sure that Kay will do a wonderful job running our team. Her team now. It feels funny to say that.

I will take up that part-time job at ISRC and help KillJoy with race organizing. I will probably get to write on the races from a sports commentator point of view -I never really liked Bouchard's style anyway.

Maybe I will have some free time to try stuff I have never done, outside of the races.

It feels like an entirely different game. I have some ideas...

It should be fun.
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