Boy, it’s been a while since I’ve blogged on my own site. Warp Drive Active’s kept me pretty busy these days, but I’m back here and hope to continue the various article series’ that I have happening here. On to better topics, though!
The EVE Online Alliance Tournament 8 has been going on throughout the month of June, to great success thus far. The video streams have been silky smooth with no major interruptions of note, the commentary has been excellent, and the matches have been exciting to watch. A lot of the latter has to do with the rules this year, which streamline the combat nicely — no more ten minute long matches containing nothing but circle-jerk logistics setups. Instead we’ve been seeing some excellent fleet commanding, very capable commentary, and expensive ships melting before our very eyes.
In the past I’ve been allowed to attend the matches in order to do some visual documentation of the matches. For Alliance Tournament 8, the pictures I’ve taken can be found at my EVE Online – Alliance Tournament 8 picture set on Flickr. Players have enjoyed this in the past since full resolution images aren’t provided by CCP from the matches. Some have even been inspired enough to create their own content with the images, either just wallpapers for their own use or, in the case of Umega, an entire music video.
This all came to a screeching halt last Sunday, and I figured I might as well explain to folks out there what transpired. First, let me give some background.
Back during Alliance Tournament 5, I sent a note off to the organizer at the time and inquired if there was a way I could get screenshots from the matches. I was invited to attend the events in person so I could do this myself. I graciously accepted, and proceeded to do my work back then. Players definitely seemed to enjoy the results.
After the recent Alliance Tournament 8 podcast I worked with CCP to produce, I asked if I could once again attend the matches to document them with screenshots. They got back to me and indicated it was possible. Let me explain how this has worked for me in the past.
Obviously I can’t show up there in a battleship and mash my screenshot button. I’m restricted to a covert ops frigate with no mounted modules save for a cloaking device. I am to remain cloaked throughout the matches. Occasionally while jockeying for position with the EVE TV camera ships I’ll get bumped by one of them and summarily decloaked, but that’s only ever happened during the setup phase and never during an actual match.
During the first tournament I did this for, it became very evident that staying outside the arena was going to be a problem for the effort, since if the players impulse to or have initial warp-ins over on the other side, I cannot do a Look At to get my camera close. I had asked the organizer if it was possible to breach the arena during the matches slightly in order to get within the 100km Look At distance, and it was agreed to be alright as long as I kept as large a distance as possible.
My UI is always on until I’m actually about to take a screenshot. My overview shows me where everyone is, and I have my Keep At button set to 150km on standby in case I notice someone coming my way. I immediately hit it, and I’m usually out of the arena in seconds. The closest anyone’s ever come to me is around 20km, but in that instance I was 10km outside of the arena. GMs would nuke them the second they breach the border anyway.
There are two arenas in the tournament system for AT8, and between matches I’m warping to the next one along with other EVE TV camera ships at 100km, then moving off to a random position to cloak. Players aren’t on the field at this point at all. Last Sunday, the match organizer noticed me decloak at this point — again, no players on the field at all — because an EVE TV camera ship bumped mine and decloaked my Helios. After a short chat, I was relocated out of the tournament system because I noted how unreasonable it is to stipulate a 135km minimum distance from the arena beacon.
Think about this. 135km diameter sphere has a circumference of approximately 425kms. Lets say the teams all warp in at their spots on the other side of the sphere. At around 300m/s, by the time I circumnavigated the entire arena to get close the match would be over. The probability of a player heading straight for my cloaked ship and getting within decloaking distance is profoundly small, and that’s assuming I’m not constantly expecting that to happen.
So, a decision was made. That’s fine of course, again as I said before I don’t have any special access or rights for this kind of access. From my perspective it was more upsetting of how quickly a distrustful opinion was formed of me, after more than seven years of building up a relationship with CCP through my interactions with the community of EVE and the developers themselves though such efforts as the podcast and comic.
As much as I do these things for you, the community of EVE, they are in a way also homage to the creators of the game we all enjoy. The result is a kind of tip of the hat to say “this is how much I like what you’ve created”.
Am I upset? A bit. I’m disappointed that after the things that I’ve done I can’t be afforded the opportunity to take time out of my own weekends to provide another perspective to the community on an event that’s supposed to be all about the players. Twenty thousand people viewed the set on the first day of the tournament alone, with many more thousands to follow in the days since, and a fair portion of those (if referrer stats are any indication) are the alliances who were competing.
This isn’t a rant, and my intent is not to bash all of CCP here. There are some fantastic individuals working for them who are smart, creative, and passionate about the game. You won’t see me slamming the door in the face of future opportunities to work with them, such as providing the current set of AT8 pictures for their own use in marketing or dev blogs, or doing future podcast work with them to highlight upcoming EVE events or expansions. It’s just so you as players can know what transpired in case you were wondering why the screenshots end a week before the finals.
All that will really come of this is a firm knowledge of the widening distance between those of us trying to do work for the community, and the creators of the game that it has built up around. Currently, that distance has grown to around 35km. Who knows where it will be in the future.