May 22, 2017

Spotlight: EvE-Scout Rescue Team

In early YC118, (former) Signal Cartel member Forcha Alendare had an idea: What if we sowed caches of probes and launchers in wormholes to help out any pilot who got stranded and was able to use them to probe their way out? Although we recognized that there are limited circumstances in which one might lose probes, it DOES happen. And many folks carry mobile depots so refitting is often possible. We thought it was a grand idea even if it could only serve a few. To those few, it would matter!

Thus the EvE-Scout Rescue Cache (ESRC) program was born.

But RL and other interests pulled Forcha away and the program languished. Until the dynamo that is Thrice Hapus proposed to Johnny Splunk and myself that he take over and manage it. He appeared to have good ideas, a great love for the ideals of the ESRC, and a very clear understanding of our Credo (which must factor into everything our members do).

You never really know what to expect when someone volunteers like this. Will they stay the course or fizzle out after a couple of weeks? Will they make changes for the better or just make a mess? Will they build successfully on the core idea or do a 180 to the original vision? It's always a risk but Johnny and I like to give our entrepreneurial thinkers the chance to shine. So we handed him the keys to the program and stepped out of the way.


That was around November of last year. Since then, the program has grown into a division within Signal Cartel called EvE-Scout Rescue which includes both the Rescue Cache program and the Search and Rescue (SAR) program. Thrice has recruited a great team of Signaleers to assist him, including:
Thrice and his talented team have made great strides in an amazingly short time:
  • Created theEvE-Scout Rescue web site
  • Developed easy to use search and data entry tools for those who sow, tend, and assist others to use our Rescue Caches
  • Developed a robust guide and "cheat sheet" for sowing and tending rescue caches and serving stranded pilots who need them
  • Organized a payout strategy so that those who serve the rescue cache or SAR programs are compensated
  • Brought to life an AI "co-pilot" named Allison who provides verbal and written Rescue Cache info and other helpful system info to our pilots as they move about space, as well as witty banter (not gonna lie, I think Allison is the best thing since sliced bread; she is an amusing and helpful companion)
  • Conducted regular Rescue Cache training fleets
  • Organized two very successful Great Cache Drive competitions
  • An awesome 2+ minute dramatized rescue reenactment trailer for the ESR program that (according to CCP Mimic) will air for the first time in the 15 minutes prior to this Sunday's o7 Show (and available on YouTube afterwards). 
But perhaps the most amazing accomplishment is that we now have Rescue Caches in over 40% of wormholes. That's 1066 active caches at the time of this writing, with new ones being sown and existing ones being tended every day. The ESR program provides a fantastic way for even our newest pilots to be part of something bigger than themselves--and earn ISK for doing it. As the icing on the cake, we have 17 confirmed rescues so far, as well as many contacts from stranded pilots that don't end in a rescue by us (typically because they either choose to self-destruct before we can find them or locals show them the way out to k-space).


I think it's safe to say that Thrice took those keys we handed him and has exceeded and continues to exceed our expectations. Given the energy and creativity of the ESR team, I can only imagine what is to come. So a big shoutout to Thrice and everyone on the ESR team for their dedication and hard work in service to our mission and ideals...as we like to say, you #cantstopthesignal!

Mar 26, 2017

CEO Rant: Impounded Items

I'm kind of a bad CEO. I haven't looked at Corporation Assets in forever but for whatever reason I checked them last night. And noticed that we had impounded assets in what looked like a couple hundred or so stations. What!? Seems I had forgotten that assets of biomassed characters convey to their (player) corp, and quite a few former members had terminated their characters.

Now, most of the stuff was not worth the effort to travel to get it or pay a courier, and some was inaccessible anyway. So I trashed a lot of it. But there were some goodies in there...7 Geckos in one station, some spendy implants and ships in a couple of others, lots of T2 gear in others. So, I thought...okay, I'll go on a wander and get it all out of Impounds, contract it to a hauler alt, and get it rounded up to put to use for the corp.

Only...I didn't know how to get the impounded stuff released and it was COMPLETELY non-obvious from within the Corporation window or Impounds tab. No buttons...no useful tooltips...no helpful context menu choices. Hmmm.

So I Googled "EVE Online corp assets impounded" and the first hit was a handy support article from CCP, which starts off with:
A corporation may find some of its assets to be "Impounded" inside stations, which CEOs and Directors may release through paying a fee that equals 50% of the current rental price for offices in the respective station.
The article then goes on to explain events that cause items to be impounded plus some industry-related issues, and ends with:
Should a corporation have re-rented an office in a station where it has impounded items, those can be delivered into the corporation hangar without additional fees.
Okaaay. I review the list of items left in the nearest station six jumps away and think, well, I'll just go there and figure this out. So I fly over, dock up and look again at my Corporation window Impounds tab. Nothing new there. Hmmm. I read the support article again. I'm sure not gonna rent an office here to get the stuff, but hey, might as well check what the rents are here. So I click on Offices in the Station Services panel and ... oh...



HOW INTUITIVE.


NOT.


Now, I've been playing EVE for 10 years and should be used to this kind of thing. But apparently, all the QoL improvements made to the game in the last couple of years have ruined my "old days" EVE UI instincts. These days, I'm just annoyed when things that should take a minute take an hour due to lack of information or non-intuitive design. A simple change to the support article I linked earlier would have saved me that hour:
A corporation may find some of its assets to be "Impounded" inside stations. Using the Release Items button in the Station Services window's Offices tab, CEOs and Directors may release impounded assets by paying a fee equal to 50% of the current rental price for offices in the respective station. 
Sigh, heavy sigh. Now off I go to the next of 35 stations where there are assets impounded of sufficient value to hopefully be worth the trip. Gee, if only there were a MultiRelease button in the Corporation Impounds tab that listed all stations with impounded assets, their estimated value, cost to release, single station Release Items buttons, and one great big Release All button. Hey...a girl can dream, can't she?

Mar 16, 2017

Catching Up and Rebooting

This has been one seriously neglected blog. It's not like there haven't been things to talk about related to my EVE Online activities. It's simply that in the crush of the day to day, I either didn't have time, energy, or motivation. And to be fair, this blog has never enjoyed much in the way of engagement from its few readers so posting often felt like shouting into an echo chamber.

But lately, I find myself wanting to muse more about Signal Cartel, the things our amazing members do, the challenges of leadership in a corp like ours, and my own EVE-related fan art, among other things. Although podcasts and Twitch streaming seem to have trumped blogs in recent times, I still prefer a blog for my own blatherings.

Catching Up

Since my last post, EVE Vegas 2016 came and went and was awesome! Johnny Splunk and I gave our talk "Cultivating a Counter-Culture in New Eden" which was very well received.



In mid-November, the Ascension expansion brought Alpha Clones to New Eden. In anticipation, we ramped up on T1 fitted exploration frigates and new player welcome packages. As expected, we had a huge influx of new members. Our Alliance chat and forums were crazy busy helping new players get a good start in EVE. I wrote "Alpha Positive" for Imperium News to share our own and other new player friendly corps' experiences as a result of Ascension.


On January 20, 2017, Signal Cartel turned two years old. It has been quite an experience watching our little idea bloom and see our culture evolve and mature. I am constantly amazed and delighted by the interesting, smart, engaging, dedicated folks we are fortunate enough to attract to our ranks. To-date, we've received over 3,600 applications from those wishing to join us, with an average of 600-700 members at any given time (I rigorously remove 60+ day inactives in support of our desire that membership count should at least roughly reflect how many members actively log in and play). Our lean management and relatively unstructured organizational style have worked very well so far, both from a security and a "demands on leadership" perspective. Most surprising has been how well our Credo has held up after all this time, with relatively little change.


Rebooting 

I'm calling this a reboot but it's still my same old EVE blog. I'm just focusing my content going forward:

  • Signaleer Spotlight. Our folks have come up with some great programs to serve the community, such as the EvE-Scout Rescue Cache program, Signal Converter program, Johnny Splunk's amazing Twitch stream The Life Galactic, and more. Besides that, the stories of their encounters with other players are often delightful, with amusing or unexpected outcomes. I aim to give these things more public attention here.
  • Wanderings Illustrated. I started something like this before using the hashtag #podjournal; you can find those posts in the archive. Then the puppy LITERALLY chewed up my work and I stopped. But as an artist who is addicted to sketchbooking in real life, I am itching to create another illustrated journal of my wanderings, written in-character.
  • EVE Portraits. I'm going to start accepting character portrait commissions again on a limited basis but haven't decided on how to structure that nor how much to charge. Stay tuned for those details. Meanwhile, I'm going to do a narrated speed painting of the portrait for Illectroculus Defined. His commissioned portrait has lingered in my queue since last year. I got a good start on it, then things went wobbly and I trashed it, intending to start over. Then life got super busy with a book illustration project that went on forever and Signal consumed all the time I was able to allot to EVE. But things are calmer now, so I am ready to revisit this portrait and produce the video of its creation as a bit of a thank you to Illectro for his legendary patience. 
  • Leadership Musings. My co-leader Johnny Splunk and I spend a considerable amount of time discussing various questions and challenges related to Signal Cartel organization, policies, security, programs, culture cultivation, serving our players well, managing reputation in New Eden, and more. In the interest of inspiring or helping those contemplating or involved in their own leadership adventures in New Eden, I will share some of our insights  and lessons learned here.
  • In-Character Fiction. I love writing this stuff, spinning out the history and stories of Mynxee's life in character, in game.
  • Just EVE Things. This is a grab bag category for thoughts and opinions about game changes, community related stuff, or whatever I want to talk about that doesn't quite fit anywhere else.
  • Real Life. Because sometimes it's fun to get to know the person behind the avatar a little better.
My new goal is to post at least twice a month. And as part of the reboot, I've tweaked font size and color in posts for better readability and updated the sidebar with links related to Signal Cartel stuff.

So that's that for now, I hope you'll share your thoughts on upcoming posts and add a link to this blog on your own EVE media site.

Edited on 3/26/2017 to add In-Character Fiction to the content list above. How could I have forgotten it before?!