This. This. This.

This is why we play.


Naglfar Art Print Poster
Click to embiggen

The series continues to grow with nearly 120 posters now. I posted the Nag image because that has been the most complicated and time consuming one so far. As a general rule the Caldari and SOE ships have been the easiest and the Minmatar have been the hardest, with Gal and Amarr somewhere in the middle. The Nag is especially difficult given its rather distinctive size, shape and orientation.  The base image of this ship was built out of about 14 different images and took some serious photoshop work to get just right. And then about 14 hours of vector painting, layering, and effects to get the details down. I bet I pulled about 20 color channels when everything was said and done. It was totally worth it, I think it turned out especially awesome.

Anyway, back to work.

Mistakes of Men

Last month I wrote a post detailing my day long attempt to fit and fly a Hull-Tanked Comet. The post was clearly titled "experiment" and concluded that the Comet simply doesn't have enough base structure to make the fit work properly. As detailed by several fights which eventually ended in the ship exploding in a situation were a normally fitted Comet should have prevailed. No one reading that post should have walked away thinking, "I need to try that."

And yet, suddenly, a wave of hull-tanked Comets are whizzing about in space. I even bumped into, and killed, one of them myself yesterday. This is not new of course, my previous Comet fitting posts and others (like my Slicer) have become rather popular in space. I should have expected it. Apparently people listen to me, except when I tell them to stop fitting WCS in their low slots!

I am sorely tempted to recommend all sorts of horribly fitted ships, just to see what happens. But I won't. I am not Evil, only Ebil. And there is a marked difference in a V being a B. I've said it before and it bears repeating. I am not, nor have I ever claimed to be, a fitting Master. I do not use EFT or Pyfa to come up with fits for my ships. I know everything there is to know about fitting ships, modules, cap usage, faction, the ins and outs of ammo, signature radius, and the thousand other things that go into making awesome ship fittings. I know these things because this is ALL I do in Eve. I fit combat ships to undock and engage in combat. That's it.

I may have a working knowledge of every aspect of Eve game-play, and I do, but the only thing that I actually study, learn and apply daily is PvP. And it has been that way for six years now. I fit something up and undock in it. Testing it in the real world out in space against other players. If it doesn't work there then it doesn't matter what the paper says, it is a bad fit. If it works in space then it is a keeper. Simple.

Except it isn't simple at all. This is Eve after all and as much as I know, as much as I have learned, applied, tested and worked on - mistakes still happen. Head scratching moments. Things do not always go your way. And often, something that should work, simply doesn't work. And this is the part that is hard to teach new players. And it is something that I've written about many times before.

Every situation is different.

Nine times out of ten the fight you are about to take, you should win. But eventually, no matter how good you are, you will lose that fight. It just happens that way. Maybe that Incursus is dual web fitted and has a neut? Maybe you didn't pull range soon enough? Maybe you forgot about the over-heated prop mod and poof you lose it? Maybe you manually fly your ship at the wrong angle by accident and lose speed just as his drones finally catch you? Yeah, all of those I did yesterday.

But it was a great day in Eve for me. Lots of good fights yesterday.

The most important thing to be in Eve is smart. And it has nothing to do with the skills you've trained, the years (or lack of them) that you've flown, or who you steal fits from, or where you've flown and with whom. It has everything to do with you, the player behind the character. Be smart. Learn your trade. Eve is insanely complicated and insanely easy, accept that and move on. Eve gets much more fun to play when your head is the right place.

And no, I would never, ever recommend that all of you reading this play Eve the way I play it. Feel free to approach the game on your own terms, I have. And it works for me, it may not work for you. All I can do is tell you what I know, what I have experienced and what works for me. Your results may vary.

I hope to see more hull-tanked Comets in space.

Rhea New Ship Review

The new release "Rhea" has a bunch of new ships and updated models of old ships for us. I thought I'd take a moment and give you some of my own thoughts on these new ship models.

The Bowhead

Johnny Pew has posted a great review of the new ship you can watch.

God this thing is ugly! Let's be honest here, the new Bowhead is not going to win any beauty contests and I'm already loathing the day I have to sit down and draw this thing. But Freighters and Transports are not intended to always be beautiful, function is certainly more important than aesthetics when it comes to moving payload - so the Bowhead takes its rightful place among some pretty ugly ducklings.

I was shocked to hear it is longer than the Providence. I didn't expect that. From all the images and even from the above video, the size is not apparent. This is curious and I hope it feels differently when it is in-game. I can tell you that I will be using this ship ALOT! Right now, as things stand, I have no good way of moving fitted ships in and out of High-Sec space. If my alt can't fly it, it is pretty much stuck. Or I have to strip it down and get it to Low in my Freighter. So this ship immediately fills a big hole in my own supply chain.

A welcome addition in my opinion.

The Confessor

As much as I would have preferred T3 Frigates, T3 Dessies will do just fine. Right now we don't know a lot of details about this ship but it certainly sounds interesting. The ability to change "on the fly" is a good one I think. And this new line should fit rather nicely into a good niche between Destroyers and Cruisers. This wouldn't have been true a year or so ago, but the balancing that made Dessies a more viable option has laid the groundwork for this introduction.

I can only assume we'll be getting these new ships in a phased roll-out, which is also something new that can be achieved thanks to the new six-week release schedule. I have a feeling this won't be the last new thing rolled out this way.

Count me excited for this new transformer ship. Or Trans-Dessie.


I'll try to keep my personal feelings about ECM out of this. No doubt that the base model for these three ships was old and showing it. Not only the design, but the textures themselves seemed increasingly to belong to another age. So it is a good thing that they are being updated.

Having said that, wow. This is way beyond what happened to the Scorpion. And it is taking me some time to get my eyes used to seeing what I'm seeing. Don't get me wrong, I like it. But it is a large step and a rather radical departure for Caldari design. However, if this represents a new direction for the Caldari ship design ethic, then I am totally on-board. Plus, to be honest, it looks like it'd explode into some really nice pieces doesn't it?

I might actually break down and buy a Rook. That isn't quite a ECM ship is it?


I know there is some consternation around about these two new hull designs based on the recently updated Gila/Moa hull, but I don't see it. I think they both make sense and fit well within what seems to be a slightly new direction for Caldari design. As I discussed above. It is good to see variants when they are needed and these two ships deserved them.


There are a lot of Frigate base hulls I would have chosen to upgrade before getting around to the Incursus. So this is totally unexpected. Let's be honest, the entire line of Minmatar hulls needs some love! (Mostly just updated textures btw, don't get all angry on me!) But here we are anyway, with an updated hull that we didn't really need.

Having said all of that, these upgrades work and they pass my LAPZ Test.

L - Lineage
A- Animation
P - Progress
Z - Z Factor

Yes, I just made that up. Lineage. Does the ship adhere to a stream that connects it to the past? Essentially does this new model "look" like an Incursus? Did they whack away a Frill or two? The answer is clearly yes, this still looks like an Incursus. They managed to keep the lineage while updating it at the same time. Nicely done.

Animation. We pretty much demand spinning bits, rotating things, warp effects, and other more dynamic models these days. So the new Incursus model comes along with some nice warp effects that move the wingy bits in and out. Nice.

Progress. Does the new model move the hull forward or backward. I'd say this upgrade moves the Incursus forward slightly. Again, not convinced it needed an upgrade right now, but I'm cool with it.

Z Factor. The unknown. The hip. Is it cool? Is it fun to fly? Does it FEEL right in space? Dunno yet, but I suspect it'll be just fine and in three months we'll all think of this model as the actual Incursus and laugh at all the old screenshots.

Man, we can only hope that more ship updates will be coming in the months ahead. So, what are your thoughts about these new ships?

The Personification of Piracy

The rumble is the thing. The thrummm of power beneath your Captain's Chair. The slow build of the warp engines, spinning up, the whine, the high-pitched scream of particles colliding, space-time bending to your Will. You feel it physically in your bones. Electronically in your implanted connections. And spiritually in the ether. The vibrations raise dust motes in the air, your fingers brush metal, your mind soars.

Anticipation is the thing. Hurtling towards the unknown. The silence of death, dark and cold, surrounds you. You are the execution of your own Will. Your body, mind and spirit are one. United with pure power, intertwined in electronic biological glory. Incomprehensible rage. You are the Angel of Vengeance. Roaring towards destiny.

You are the scourge. Space belongs to you. It is yours. You alone demand control. You choose. You make your own choices. You alone or in concert with others, but always on your own. You choose when, where and how. No one demands from you because you demand more from yourself. Man, machine, spirit. Power. You fly where you fly. You engage when you engage. Your rules. Your life.

You are feared. You are hated. You shudder time when you enter space. The ripples of your passage drive the chaff from their holes. You are a great disturbance. A stone thrown violently into the dark waters. You revel in your power. Without fear. With cold sinew and clear mind you calculate the advantage. You are the hawk. You are the hunter. You are always on the side of destruction. You are feared.

You sleep, eat, and dream of your ship. Together you are one. Entwined in every way possible you stride on the wings of propulsive speed. You speak the tongues of fire, the language of volley, the tears of rockets, the ratt-a-tatt-tat of rapid fire. The silence of flame. You smile when armor bends, you laugh when engines burn, and you revel in the anticipation of violent encounters.

Some call you Pirate. Some call you scum. They laugh, they run, they hide, they burrow their brains behind stabilizers, bait, blob, cajole, beg, plead, taunt, and fear what they do not understand. What they will never understand. Death and glory on the line. A taunt string between courage and insanity. Everything on the table. Risk. Risk is power. Risk is where all the glory resides.

Some call you Brother. Or Sister. Friend of carnage. There are those willing to risk it all beside you. To follow when called. To die in fire if need be, over and over and over and over again if that is what it takes. Your brothers. Your mates. They are behind you to the deepest level of Hell itself. They are you. They are the ones that know. They feel it. The thrumm of power. The call of the dark. They are you.

Label us if you must. We care not for your labels. We are the free.

We are Stay Frosty.

Hydrostatic Podcast

I am a very busy Rixx right now, this week has been nothing but pure motion and lots of things are happening. Almost all of it is good and much of it has to do with Eve, so hang in there.

Until my head stops spinning and I can get back to a somewhat normal schedule, you should go check out the latest episode of the Hydrostatic Podcast!  Phy, Lock and Ash had me on last week to record the episode with them and I had a lot of fun talking about Piracy, Stay Frosty, Crimewatch and the Persuasive Awesomeness that is Low Sec! Fortunately most of my blabbering ended up on the cutting room floor and I sound smarter than I actually am!

Check it out. And eventually I'll get back to writing again.

That Hydrostatic Logo is pretty awesome!

I dunno

I have an original 12" Boba Fett action figure, with all the stuff, even the Wookie pelt. I saved up the original Kenner stamps and sent away for the very first Boba Fett action figure (not available in stores!) that I still have sitting on my bookcase. I've even created fan art for a dream stand-alone Boba Fett movie.

I honestly pretend Jango Fett never happened. And that whole "clone" army is just a figment of someone else's imagination. As sad as that is.

So yes, I never once imagined the dood playing Boba looked like someone's Uncle. This illustrates my thoughts when I shared the details about how I make those ship posters... sometimes you are just better off not knowing things.

I'm going to shuffle this back into my brain and file it under "Boba Fett's Stunt Double". For safe keeping.

Gate Crow from 2009

Click to embiggen

Nothing special about this heroic shot of my Crow circling the gate in a menacing manner down in Providence. This was July 17th, 2009. Today I was just going thru some old screenshots and happened to open this one first. Which is weird if you read the Fleet Chat window.

Here it is actual size.

Stay Frosty indeed.

This is only five years ago, but is already starting to look like another age isn't it?


Stay Frosty and A Band Apart Alliance are proud to announce the winners of the most recent FFA held on November 8th, 2014 in Basgerin. A special thank you to all players that showed up and had a great time at the event. In all an estimated 1,200 players participated during the six-hour event and somewhere around 5,000 ships exploded. In all we handed out just shy of 3,000 fitted T1 Frigates to participants. So those are just some of the insane numbers we've been crunching all week.

Once again a special shout-out to the pilots of Suddenly Spaceships for excellent Security Force work! And to Argos, Oma, Joffy, Draiv, Skir, Nix, and everyone else in Stay Frosty-ABA that assisted with the preparations and in-event work that made the entire thing function properly! A very special thanks to Jason/Archangel for his help with the Data this past week, he plumped the depths and organized everything into an awesome Google Doc for me. Amazing and much appreciated.

All winners are final. This is ultimately the judgment of the judges and all decisions are final. As usual some of you will not see your names in this list, that is because you flew ships you shouldn't have, used links, flew in gangs, or happened to pod a few people when the rules clearly state you shouldn't do those things. It was your choice to do so, which is fine, but then don't come crying to me when you don't win any shiny things. Just to be clear the "judges" are me. I live in Ishomilken and if you have any problems feel free to come hunt me down. I'd really enjoy that.

Yadda Yadda. Here are the Official Winners and Losers and Prize Getters:

• 1 BILLION ISK DAREDEVIL - This prize will be given out on Sand, Cider and Spaceships, so check there for his final decision.


• MOST KILLS - 1 x Carrier or Dreadnought of choice to be delivered in lowsec + 1 billion isks

- The winner is: Ulric Markson of Zeura Brotherhood - Ulric was the highest scoring non-cheater in the event with 328 total event kills.


• 2nd MOST KILLS - 1 x T3 strategic cruiser of choice with respective choice of subsystems to be delivered in Jita + 300 million isks + 500m from Joffy.

- The winner is: Leokokim of Mining Industry Exile Foundation - Leo came in second with 268 total event kills.


• 3rd MOST KILLS - 500m Isk from Joffy

- The winner is: Mark Yanning of Zeura Brotherhood with 257 total event kills.


• MOST KILLS -- Garmur with drugs in cargo hold (20 Standard, 10 Improved and 3 Strong combat booster of choice)

- The winner is: Ulric Markson of Zeura Brotherhood - Ulric was the highest scoring non-cheater in the event with 328 total event kills.


• MOST KILLING BLOWS -- Dramiel with drugs in cargo hold (10 Standard, 5 Improved and 1 Strong combat booster of choice)

- The winner is: Leokokim of Mining Industry Exile Foundation - with 72 Killing Blows


• MOST LOSSES -- Prospect with Gas Cloud Harvesting skill book and 1 of each Synth combat booster in cargo hold

- The winner is: Darius Naskingar of Eve University with 50 losses


• Stay Frosty pilots with most Solo Kills - 1 x Pirate BS of choice to be delivered in Jita

- The winner is: Amenio with 8 solo kills!


• Full Set of Amarr AF - most Minmatar kills - The winner is: Ulric Markson of Zeura Brotherhood

• Full Set of Caldari AF- most kills with ROCKETS - The winner is: Knuk Eh  of C.Q.B

• Full Set of Gallente AF - most kills with drones - The winner is: Atlan Dallocort of Rough Chillbar

• Full Set of Minmatar AF - most Amarr kills - The winner is: Ulric Markson of Zeura Brotherhood

• Police Comet - Most pirate faction frigate kills - The winner is: Jiffah of Viziam

• Federation Navy Comet - Most frigate losses - Darius Naskingar of EVE University

• Caldari Navy Hookbill / Imperial Navy Slicer -- Most isk lost - The winner is: Zeppelinius Beardicus of Dirty Old Bastards

• Republic Fleet Firetail - Most top damage kills - The winner is: Mark Yanning of Zeura Brotherhood

• Worm - Most Navy Faction frigate kills - The winner is: Ulric Markson of Zeura Brotherhood

• Most Expensive Kill with an Atron - 500 million ISK! - The winner is: Anthr0

• Most Expensive Incursus Loss - 100 Incursus Hulls - The winner is: Joffy Aulx-Gao of Stay Frosty

• AWOXER - PLEX for the pilot who gets the most final blows on members of their own corp (in case of tie the one that got on the most killmails of corpmates gets it) - The winner is: Athrun Zahla EVE University

• Uni SRP - Eve Uni pilot (that is not Comrade Blade) who loses the most ships gets all their hulls replaced - The winner is: Darius Naskingar of Eve University

PLEASE NOTE: Most prizes will be contracted to the winners in Jita by Anastasia Javix during the coming week. Some prizes and winnings will be delivered and contracted by the individual donors on their own schedule. Please be patient and we will ensure that ALL prizes are delivered as promised. There are also, in addition to the above, a handful of prizes that will be awarded to top-scoring young players that participated in the event. These finalists have not yet been determined (this process takes a bit longer) but they will also be contracted in the coming week.

THANKS FOR PARTICIPATING! And we hope to see all of you at the next one!

Inspiration Grid

Is that a Garmur on the front page?!?

It isn't often that something originating within the Eve Community breaks thru into the real world, so pardon me while I make a big deal out of this. But this morning I discovered, during my typical morning rounds on the internets, that my recent illustration series had made the Inspiration Grid. It is one of two featured works today and will slowly make its way down the grid in the coming days and weeks, so the perma link page is here.

For those of you unfamiliar with the site it is an amazing place to visit and see some of the very best work in design, illustration, 3d, architecture, and more from around the world. It is an almost daily stop for me on my "non-Eve" rounds in the morning and I have certainly been inspired over the years by the work featured on the site. I've even hired and worked with artists I've found there, back when I did such things.

I remain hopeful that CCP will decide to work with me on providing the series to an even wider audience. I happen to believe that Eve needs to break from the more traditional avenues it has pursued over the past decade and present itself to a wider audience. This was one reason why I created the series in the first place and today's news only serves to show that it has the power to break thru into unexpected arenas. For me personally, even if CCP can't see its way to working with me, I'll continue to promote my work where I can. It is even more important for me to do so. As this is all part and parcel of my life. I'm not a hobbyist, I am a professional and need to make a living from my work. One way or the other.

And while I can't sell these pieces without CCP's help, I can use them as a tool to promote my other work. And I will.


In other news. We are on schedule for the Prize announcements from last Saturday's Stay Frosty FFA event and those should be posted this weekend. You can imagine the amount of work that goes into analyzing 5,000 killmails and determining who is eligible and who is disqualified. I have to especially thank Jason for taking on the brunt of that work for me. He even organized everything into an awesome Google Doc to make it easier to work with, so many, many thanks my friend.

Just a word to the wise about how prizes are awarded. While the rules we establish for the FFA are important, we try not to be rule nazis about it. If you are obviously an asshat you will be disqualified from winning, but there are a lot of judgment calls to be made and I always try to land on the fair side of those. This is Eve after all. In addition, the younger a pilot is, the more leeway I give them. We want to encourage young players not discourage them.

So stay tuned for that announcement this weekend.

Until then, undock and have some fun.

Morning Cup of Coffee: Redux

The internets are weird. Sometimes there is no explaining why certain things get ignored and why other things become extremely popular. No one really knows. Back in March I wrote a rather stream of consciousness style piece of fiction called "My Morning Cup of Coffee" and since then it has swiftly become the single most popular post ever on this site. Which is a rather staggering accomplishment given how awesome the posts on this site are. (!)

The post has been read over 300,000 times now. Which is just insane. The next most popular post was the Eve Memorial: Ring of Fire post which hovers around 150,000 visits. And yes young persons, that was written way before CCP built a memorial to the players in Iceland. I still believe an in-game memorial to fallen Capsuleers should be built by the way.

I don't write this blog every day to be popular. (All bloggers are required to say this at least once a month or we get kicked out of the Union.) Let's be honest, I don't write specifically to be popular. But we all write hoping we'll be popular. And if you are not honest with yourself about that, well then you are lying to yourself and that is not healthy. You could stop writing and then that would be sad.

It does me no good if no one reads what I write. If no one shows up at the events. If no one listens to me ramble on about one thing or another. And eventually, it does Eve no good either. And that is, ultimately, the single biggest motivational factor for me. I like to share my passion about this crazy game that we all play. Or that you should be playing.

I had a point when I started writing this post, I swear I did. I blame Kirith. And you should blame him also! Please take a moment today and wander over to Kirith's blog and spend some time there reading and clicking on things. Let's mess up his Google Analytics report for this month and show some love. He's been chugging along writing about Eve longer than just about anyone, including me.

Now I remember. I was reading thru the blogs this morning with my morning cup of coffee, which we call Coke in the US, and happened on his traffic report. Frankly I was a tad bummed by his numbers and it got me thinking about Coffee and traffic and then this post came out of me. I don't understand how things work sometimes. How one guy essentially re-posts Corporation forum posts every day and becomes extremely popular doing it, and how another guy writes really well for a hundred years and no one visits his site. And it kinda bummed me out. I've never met Kirith, but we flew together for awhile in M3 down in Providence and he was one of the bloggers that inspired me to start this blog. And I consider him a friend.

So I'm not even going to mention how many visitors this blog got last month. Or the month before that. I hate numbers. They warp your mind. And, like I said above, the internets are weird. Who can figure 'em?

The point I wanted to make is this: Support your Bloggers. If you read something you enjoy, learned from, or that made you smile - comment. Let them know. Most of us operate blind most of the time and it is encouraging to hear from you. Positive and negative. Trust me. Spread the love. Encourage a blogger today. It only takes a few minutes and the life you save could be your own. Or something.

I should be back to my regular schedule tomorrow. I've had some insane work related scheduling issues this week and I've got a huge court date looming in the distance that I have to deal with.

See you in space.

After Event Explosions

Right off the top HUGE thanks to everyone in A Band Apart that stepped up to the plate and helped out with the event this past Saturday! I can't thank each of you enough for being awesome individuals and a great team. I had to take a much less hands-on approach to this FFA due to RL and you all managed to make me feel superfluous. Well done.

Another HUGE thank you to the pilots of Suddenly Spaceships for scaring the beejezus out of everyone that jumped the Basgerin gate! An FFA is insane, complicated and horribly difficult to police, but you guys did a great job with aplomb, humor and lots of warping about trying to catch small, fast targets. I hope you all had a great time and thanks for showing up. A very special thanks to Alek for volunteering, much appreciated my friend.


The Big Red Dot blotted out the map on Saturday and that is just the way we like it. For six hours (plus) on Saturday the system of Basgerin rocked to the silence of thousands of tiny Frigates, and some not so tiny other things, exploding. That part of the event is exactly why we have these things in the first place. I can't begin to tell you how many people convo'd me, or emailed me, to tell me they were having the best time ever. And that is what makes us continue to do these insane events.

So special thanks to everyone that jumped into Basgerin and played the game with us. You are the reason we do this.

Everything went exactly as planned. We handed out thousands of cheap T1 Frigates and thousands of explosions happened as a result. Our two big in-event events went off well. And everyone, for the most part, seemed to have a good time.

As usual Eve is full of those people that can't stand anything decent, or can't follow the rules, or just want to ruin other people's experience. Despite the fact that everyone is flying around in T1 fitted T1 Frigates, they see the need to bring much better ships to exploit the situation in their own favor. As usual they did not succeed in ruining anything. This is Eve after all and we fully expect them to show up and do their worst. The only people they harmed are the young players they managed to pod. For most of whom this was their first pvp experience in Eve. So nicely done.

And no, I won't be naming names. That only serves to give them publicity that they simply don't deserve. But anyone can view the killboards and figure it out for yourselves.

At one point Saturday morning before the event I had 37 new chat windows up and blinking on my screen. I flew Rixx down to the event pretty much blind, lol. I turned down no convo request, I never do. It is part of the responsibility of running an event like this. Another part is not being able to actually play in the event as much as I'd like. I set out this time deliberately with the goal to participate more than I've been able to before, but that didn't work out. On top of that, about four hours in, my youngest boy tripped and fell into a bannister on the stairs. I was sure his arm was broken. But after a three hour hospital trip it was only sprained and badly bruised. So I ended up missing the last two hours. RL > Eve.

It will take us about a week to pull the killboard data and figure out who wins what, so be patient with us. 5,000 kms is a lot and each one has to be determined eligible, so that means eliminating anyone that got on a pod kill, or flew an illegal ship, or managed to look at me funny in local. That last one is a joke.

I hope to have all prizes announced by this weekend, so check back often for a list of the winners.

Thanks to everyone that donated prizes. And to everyone that enjoys Eve.

As nutty as it sounds right now, we will be having another one of these.

THERA and The Golden Age

During an interview yesterday with Robert Purchese at Eurogamer I made the observation that Eve has recently come out of Beta and is entering its Golden Age. I'd like to officially name this age "Thera" based on what was revealed yesterday during the most recent o7 live broadcast.

And while it may seem a tad cheeky to suggest that Eve has been in Beta for the last decade, I truly believe we are well into what can only be described as its Golden Age. And, as such, the preceding years leading up to Post-Incarna Eve development seem rather Alpha/Beta do they not? And if you are reading this and being dismissive then I challenge you to think for a moment about pre-Incarna Eve/CCP. If you happened to be around for it, then take a moment to seriously think about it.

I'll wait.

Remember the stone cold silence? Remember development from the top down? Remember grand plans and expansions driven by expansion? Remember drama and leaks and memos and poorly executed development without feedback? Remember the non-spaceship dream? I do.

And now relax and let your younger self give a moments consideration to a more open world. A more aggressive expansion schedule seemingly pulled directly from player-feedback. A brighter, more colorful CCP that streams live conversations post-expansion. That communicates, that is receptive, that seemingly understands (finally) that they do indeed have actual players that care deeply about the universe they've built.

We were all so concerned during Incarna. Would CCP learn anything from that experience? Would Eve even survive? And, even if it did, what would it look like?

It is more than apparent that CCP did indeed learn valuable lessons from the Incarna experience. Not only did they learn these things intellectually, which I believe was always possible, but they implemented those learnings into actual, concrete and definitive actions. Something that was always more of a hope than an actual belief at the time. It is always difficult to change. It is fundamentally insane to alter, modify and course-correct mid-stream. And yet, the evidence is overwhelming that such things did happen. And continue to happen.

The Golden Age began with the hiring of CCP Seagull as Executive Producer. Right now, more than at any time in the past, there is a clear and definable path ahead of us. The difference now, as opposed to previous paths, is that while we still may not know the details - we can sense the truth of it. And that is huge. It cannot be understated. We may not all agree on the direction that certain elements are taking and we may feel passionate about certain elements of the path. But it is not only expansive, but it truly seems to be working.

And working can be taken in multiple meanings. New content actually works and when it doesn't, it gets fixed pretty much right away. And it is working as intended. Space is more open, more ships are viable, more content is available, more things work now. And we have no reason to believe they won't work down the road.

If Eve lives on for another decade or two, then I believe the first decade will be remembered for laying the foundation for what was to come later. And while it may not be "beta" in the traditional sense, I do believe as a metaphor it works to think of it that way.

Eve is well into its Golden Age right now. It is changing and evolving right under us. And in ways that few of us could have imagined. This is the pure definition of a Golden Age.

Will this translate into increased subscribers? Greater numbers of active loggers on? Will Eve reach new customers? Will older players give it a new shot?

I don't know the answers to those questions. But I will tell you this much. During the last two weeks I have talked to a half-dozen or so players that left Eve around 2010-2011 that have just returned. That is as many as I probably talked to in the previous year combined.

Eve is better now than it has EVER been. It is more open, more inviting, more colorful and more better in every single way it could be. This is undeniable. And, from all indications, we are only seeing the early beginnings of what is yet to come.

This is a very exciting time to be an Eve player.

Welcome to the Golden Age.

Forbidden Ships

Eidolon Art Print Posters
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Polaris Art Print Poster
Click to make bigger

Some ships in Eve can't be flown by us mere mortals, so these are the "Forbidden" ships flown by CCP, Concord and ghosts. When I set out to illustrate all the major hull designs in Eve I had already considered these ships to be a part of the collection. It wasn't until someone on Twitter named the idea for me (and my apologies but I've forgotten who that was. It was Dan Lo Bianco @DanDanikov!!) that the idea took root. I still have some concerns about Concord ships, I'm not particularly enamored with their designs - so we'll have to wait and see how I decide to handle them.

The output of these is going to taper off to a more normal level in the coming days and weeks. The lull in my schedule is disappearing (thank god!) and it is back to a regular level, plus we have the FFA this weekend. Lots to do.

For those of you that have asked, yes I have contacted CCP in regards to the possibility of working together to release these properly. Thanks to my good friends CCP Manifest, Erlendur and CCP Seagull for putting me in touch with the right people! We've exchanged quite a few emails back and forth and the ball is currently in their court. Everyone has been extremely positive and supportive so far and I remain optimistic. But, having said that, so far not much progress has been made. So we'll just have to wait and see.

My fingers remain crossed.

And no, I'm not starting a campaign or anything. Either CCP sees the value of a potential relationship or they don't. Either way the series will be completed and I will remain proud of the work. Personally I remain of the opinion that CCP is missing a huge merchandising opportunity in general and has since the beginning. Merchandising could be a much more vital part of Eve's growth and promotion. And that has nothing specific to do with this series of art print posters and everything to do with common sense. And business. Eve is an amazingly graphic science-fiction experience and when you look at what is happening in other amazingly graphic science-fiction experiences, like Star Wars for example, the opportunities for Eve become apparent. Especially considering just how passionate the Eve community is.

And now I'll get off my soap box and get back to trying to draw a Breacher! Sheesh that ship is weird.

Why You Should Fly in the FFA

Stay Frosty ABA FFA Wallpaper Poster
Click for additional sizes or to download

On Saturday between the hours of 16:00 and 22:00 thousands of ships will be exploded in Basgerin during the Stay Frosty ABA Frigate Free for All. But why should you come to the event?

This is your chance! Within the context of Eve the tables are often skewed against you. You know exactly what I am talking about. You're young, you like to focus on mining, industry, staying out of trouble...whatever it is you enjoy doing in Eve. This is your chance to let your hair down and have some pew pew fun. All with a minimum of risk.

And while I'd be the last person to tell you it is going to be perfectly safe, within the normal context of Eve, the FFA is at least balanced in your favor. It is as close as you can get to a fair shake in this game. For a few hours you'll be on the field with other players in the same kind of ships, with the same kind of skills, doing the same kind of things. Nothing is "fair" in this universe, but this is as close as it can get for a brief moment in time.

And when your ship explodes you can dock up in Station V and simply ask for a new one. Or feel free to bring your own, or warp off to hi-sec and fit up a new one. Whatever you choose to do all you are risking is a cheap frigate. 

This is, I think, the fifteenth player event I've organized in Eve. I can assure you that every single dime donated to this event has been used to organize this event, that every single donated prize will be awarded and that all of us will do our best to keep things, while not perfect, at least as sane as possible. We have to, if we want to keep doing these in the future. You don't get to do 15 player events by ripping people off.

Granted, there will always be the buttheads that show up to try and ruin things for everyone. That is why Suddenly Spaceships and Stay Frosty will be policing the event, to keep the buttheads from ruining the event. This is also part of the fun. It wouldn't be Eve without it.

We have plenty of in-event events planned to keep things interesting and you'll get a chance to shoot some fun things in your Frigates. So keep your eyes peeled for those!

You should plan on being there. 

There have been some questions regarding what exactly a T1 Frigate is. I suggest you look it up. From 16:00 to 20:00 we'd like to keep the field to T1 Frigates as much as possible. I always tell people, feel free to bring your blingy Daredevil and warp into a belt with 800 T1 Frigates if you want to! Personally I wouldn't want to do that, but I'm sure they'd all be happy for the killmail. After 20:00 until 22:00 all Frigate and Destroyer class ships are welcome. This is usually when things get nutty.

More details will be available tomorrow or Friday. Until then the in-game channels are Stay Frosty FFA and EVEOGANDA

I hope to see you and your friends on Saturday.

And remember, DO NOT primary Rixx. He gets enough of that normally.

How You Do That?

There are 80 ship illustrations in the Art Print Series now.

A lot of people have asked me, "how do you do these?"  The answer isn't a secret, it's just complicated. For one thing I've been working as a professional, and making a living at it, for thirty years. Maybe longer if you count that drawing I did of Iron Man in fifth grade, that kid did give me five dollars for it. So sharing a technique is not something I've ever really done before. I've taught classes before, and I've taught fellow artists, designers, and others in the course of work. But many techniques are sorta, kinda, proprietary. At least that is always the "protection" part of my brain's answer.

Like I said though, it isn't a secret. But every ship I sit down to do is different. And no one answer relates to them all, this isn't a Step One thru Step seventy-five kind of process. Art rarely is. And I prefer to think of these as designs and not art, illustrations, and not fine art pieces. I'm much more comfortable in the design, illustration realm than I am in the fine art realm. The goal for me is always the final piece, not the process it takes to get there.

Having said all of that, I will try to share the general steps I take when working on these, to give you an idea of how they are done.

Please remember that from the beginning I intended these as practice for a big project I was doing at the time, I didn't start out with the intention that these would become hundreds and hundreds of illustrations. I self-imposed some restrictions on myself from the beginning. Each piece had to be 100% vector based and couldn't use photoshop for the final illustration.

The first step is finding good reference of the ship I plan on doing. This can be easy and it can be hard. In some cases I use Paul Oosterman's Jeremy Project to get my reference, or pull a screen cap from in-game, or combine elements found on-line. The point is to eventually end up with as perfect a representation of the subject as possible.

Click to embiggen

I've created this image showing the process on the recent Flycatcher image. Essentially the reference is used to "draw" over countless times, again and again. But the first step after getting a perfect reference is to pull an outline of the entire ship. This will be the darkest color of the ship, in the case of most ships it is usually very dark. After that the process grinds down to "painting" the ship backwards, from dark to light. And this is where some ships, like the Archon, take forever. And other ships, like this Flycatcher, tend to go pretty fast. Luckily the Flycatcher is mostly a combination of grays, from black to white. And there are not a lot of colors in the ship. This makes it pretty easy to draw.

All of this I do in Illustrator. I use the reference image and draw the dark colors, group them, then move them away. Repeat for the next darkest color. Repeat. Eventually I combine these layers into one image. Then I draw the details, lines, lights, machinery, whatever the ship has. I can do that part pretty quickly using the brush tool and the color sampler. That top layer is then combined with the others.

Now, depending on what that looks like, there is sometimes another step involved. Usually this only happens on bigger ships, but I have had a few small ones that needed it. I will take the reference image back into Photoshop and pull a grayscale hi-contrast image of the ship. This helps pick up gradients and shadows, as well as some details I may have missed. That image gets brought back into Illustrator and converted to vectors, then layered on top of the combined image. At that point I play with layer effects, multiple usually, until I achieve the desired result.

By this time I've worked out how I want to present the image, what colors I want etc. So it is copied and pasted into the poster template and effects are added as needed. This is when the design part takes over. Shadows, logos, lighting effects, all the little details that help bring the ship to life.

And boom. Done. Export to JPG and post to Flickr.

Why vectors? Because they can be used at any size for one thing. Plus this was intended as practice for a paying job and while I am insanely good at Photoshop, my Illustrator skills needed to be refreshed. So that was the original intention. Plus I love the look I'm getting with doing these this way. It is painterly without painting.

These illustrations look much more complicated than they actually are. It is a trick of the eye, an impression of detail that doesn't actually exist. I'll show you what I mean by posting a close up of the flycatcher.

Click to embiggen

And that is where experience and talent come into the picture, knowing what to include and what to leave out. Detail is better implied than actually rendered, shading is simple, colors and shapes are also extremely simple - there just happens to be a lot of them.

I was hesitant to write this post. Sometimes peering behind the curtain takes all the magic away. I hope that hasn't happened in this case and you, at least some of you, enjoyed hearing more about how these are done. Like I said, this process varies from ship to ship, but these are the essential basics.

If you have any specific questions, please feel free to ask them in the comments. I'll do my best to answer them.