Wednesday, November 30, 2005

EVE Online Case Study

When I started playing EVE Online about a year and a half ago, it had about 40,000 subscribers and 5,000 concurrent players at peek hours, usually Sunday afternoon (evening in Europe). Those numbers slowly grew and by the fall 2005 were reaching about 70,000 subscribers and around 12,000 concurrent users. This was great for the EVE community except in one regard, the servers were getting extremely slow on those peak hours, to the point of servers crashes and downtime. It was difficult logging in, and both EVE players and CCP were getting fed-up with the situation.

Then in late October CCP announced they had purchased a
RamSan solid state disks from Texas Memory Systems, and the flood gates were open. What a difference this little (but probably expensive) piece of hardware made. Stability returned to the EVE universe even though more and more players were joining.

Yesterday, TMS and CCP released their case study on the installation of the solid disk array. I find it always interesting to read up on the technology behind virtual world and what hardware and software systems make possible these adult playground.

Earlier, in September, CCP, with IBM this time, we had be given a first joint case study, "Pushing the technological barriers of game design with IBM technology" on how the UK-based server farm (on which EVE Online runs) was built and is operated remotely from Iceland. This one is filled with interesting facts and figures, which will make the geek in you drool.

I hope we'll be treated to more of these in the future. Now let's get back in the EVE.

On a scouting & trading mission

Originally uploaded by crazykinux.
Late last night I completed a long trade expedition through federation space. Though not a profitable run, it allowed me to explore some low sec systems and determine the risk level of running this backwater trade route.

After gathering the necessary goods from my hangar in Stacmon, I headed on the 33 jump mission that would take to the fringes of Gallente space. First stop was Intaki, where I sold some cheap holoreels. Then off to Mollin, Ansou and finally Espigourne, where I respectfully released, first some synthetic oils, then dairy products and last, some polytextiles.

As I said, this was the most profitable run at about 150,000 ISK, but it was more of a scouting mission then for any other purpose.

This screenshot was taken just as I was about to warp out from Intaki towards the Mollin gate.

I'm currently training for 4th level Industrial, with the goal to get to level 5 in order to purchase and operate a Gallente Iteron Mark V.

Trading is good and honorable!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

RF Online, the lore...

One of the most important aspect of an MMORPG, often overlooked, is the background story, the lore. While a game is being developed it helps create the mood, the atmosphere and provides hints and teasers as to what to look forward to in the game. When the game is live, it keeps the story moving forward, keeps the players interested, wanting more. It's crucial, specifically in an MMORPG.

Last Monday, RF Online released the 1st chapter of its lore, and quickly followed with chapters 2 & 3, on Friday. And...

...I'm disappointed. It sounds somewhat childish, even goofy. I'm mean the "Arcane Club". Please!! I just don't know. I was expecting some much more from such an original setting. I really hope they either change the lore or at the very least tweak this story so that it has a bit more weight, and can hold it's own. Look at the lore of WoW, or EVE Online. I mean here are stories, legends, that have substance, content and bring the reader into the virtual world.

Now, I may be over reacting at such an early stage in the development of the game, and as the months go by, I'm sure more content will be added, which will bring the RF Online alive. It's just not off to a great start so far.

[UPDATE: I've since given RF Online lore a second read, and I have to say, it's not as bad as I thought at first. I'm curious though, because it seems they've updated chapter 2 and 3 since they appear to have been modified after Friday.]

Keep your fingers crossed until then, and in the mean time, enjoy this article over at with Michael Rowland, the RF Online Community Manager.

E:ON, the second issue out in January '06

The second issue of E:ON magazine will be shipping out on January 2nd and I can't wait. The first was worth every penny, as it embraces all of what makes EVE and it's community an amazing experience. I'm still not yet done with all the short stories, but the articles were amazing; things like the future expansion of EVE with Kali just around the corner, capital ships, bookmarking, trading and all the rest.

I really enjoyed the magazine and cannot wait for the second one. I only wish it had more pages, more content, more EVE. As for the second issue, we'll just have to wait and see what makes it to press since they have yet to announce the content.

I can't wait!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Skyland, tonight on TELETOON!

SkylandI don't remember the last time I got excited about animation. Probably back in highschool when I used to get up at 7:00 am in the morning on the week-ends to watch Robotech. Man that was good anime and it brings back lots of fond memories. I remember the feeling of having come upon something few of my peers knew about at the time, and how excited I was.

Well earlier this week I had the same feeling! On Thursday night I watched an amazing new anime series called Skyland. And I'm really excited about it. It's visually stunning, hell I'll even go as far as say it's breathtaking. The setting is very interesting, even if it's a bit deja vue. But I enjoyed it so much, that I'll be watching it again tonight when it airs on TELETOON at 7:00 pm, here in Canada. I think it airs an hour later in the states, but I can't be sure.
Skyland is an international production between France and Canada, and is being aired in the USA, UK, France and Canada. Tonight's 2 episodes are a sneak peek at the series which will start in January 2006.

This is the synopsis of the show:

In 2251, the earth shattered into millions of blocks that now float in orbit around its core. These blocks remained suitable for living, and life resumed on them. Water is now the most precious resource. The Sphere, a council of leaders assembled from all over the world, has installed a dictatorship that controls water distribution. Their immense army is composed of robots, called Brigadiers, and is led by an elite force, the Guardians.

Marcus and Mila, a married couple who spearhead the pirate resistance movement, seem poised to fulfill an ancient prophecy telling of Skyland's rebirth, thus raising the hopes that the Sphere will be toppled. They have a dangerous but happy life, bringing a son, Mahad, into the world soon after their union. Shortly before the birth of their second child, Lena, Marcus and most of the pirates disappear during a major offensive against the Sphere. With hope for the freedom all but collapsed, Mila decides to raise her children under a new identity: as a Mansa farmer on a quiet block called Babylonia. Mila is kidnapped by Oslo, the evil leader of the Guardians. Her children manage to escape, and find refuge living near an eccentric savant, the Vector, in Porto Angel, a port led by the pirate Aran Cortes. Mahad and Lena will try to free their mother while Oslo tries to capture Lena, who is the key to absolute power. At first, Oslo thought that the prophecy spoke of Mila and himself, but now he's convinced that Lena is the "light" that will allow him to dominate Skyland.

The resistance movement believed that the prophecy spoke of Mila and Marcus. When Marcus disappeared, this interpretation was forgotten. Very few people now believe in the prophecy. This is a major dispute between the Vector and Cortes.

Mila has learned that her daughter is 'the light' spoken of in the prophecy. She decides to keep this from her children until they are adults, so they may have a normal childhood. They learn about the prophecy and Mila's past soon enough.

The Sphere leaders do not believe in this prophecy. The inhabitants of Skyland believe that the prophecy speaks of human beings, referring to Mahad and Lena.

But seriously, words cannot due justice to this series (well anyways to these first two episodes). You have to see it. So check your local listings and if you miss it, it airs again on Sunday. In the mean time, read up on it at the following sites:

Speaking of Attitude Studio, here is an interview (in French) with one of the 3d Graphic Designer who worked on the series. Adds a different perspective, and there are great screen captures.


Thursday, November 24, 2005

Destroying platforms, all part of the job

Originally uploaded by crazykinux.
Thursday nights are usually EVE evenings, where I can spend a few hours immersed in EVE. But tonight I had other distractions, which I'll get to mention in a few posts; once I gather all my info and am allowed to discuss. Let's just say it involves an amazing new anime, TELETOON, and a great story line.

So instead, I did a simple level 2 agent mission, just to remind me of how fun they were. This one involved an agent in Stacmon, a thief in Dastryns, a document to bring back and a platform to destroy. Makes for some nice screenies.

Check out my latest flickr pics in my EVE Online set!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

No such thing as an easy trade!

Originally uploaded by crazykinux.
As you may know, I've decided that my EVE character will become the universe's greatest and wealthiest trader. Until these delusional plans of grandeur come crashing down, Treenara (my EVE character) has a lot on her plate.

A few weeks back, with the help of 3 members of my corporation, Coreli, I placed a sell order for 145 "800mm Steel Armor Plates 1" in a relatively safe system for 750,000ISK (EVE currency). Well they're still on sale, the whole 145 of them. And if you check the chart on your left, you'll quickly see that we were a bit over optomistic with our pricing. We'll need to readjust it soo, or else we'll end-up with the merchandise still in our posesion. EVE's economy is player driven and fluctuates with the needs and desires of the players. It makes for some pretty complicated trading.

Long live the capitalistic utopia!!

Monday, November 21, 2005

My EVE Online screenshots

Using flickr, I've been uploading all my EVE screenshots. I'm using the 2Gb monthly upload capacity of my flickr pro account to take a few shots when ever I play, and upload them. Gives me a chance to show EVE to friends and for all of you to see the beautiful environment in which I immerse myself on a daily basis.

Now you'll get to see one of the pleasures of EVE. Follow this link and feast your eyes.

Oh, and if you've noticed, the little applet on the right, shows my latest EVE Online set on flickr. So you always have an easy access to them.


EVE Online Upgrade: Red Moon Rising

Well this is not Kali (the next EVE expansion), but it's something that should keep us EVE players happy until it comes out. If you purchased E:ON, then you know what's coming to EVE soon: humongous ships that will redefine fleet battles. They should make things very interesting, though it may take a while before we actually see any of them flying through soon.

In it's press release , CCP hinted on some of the cool things RMR will bring forth:

  • Titans: The largest, most fearsome space faring battle vessels ever created
  • Carriers: Front line capital ships providing fighter coverage and support for fleets
  • Bloodlines: The addition of Asian bloodlines available to each of the races
  • COSMOS Constellation Expansion: Addition of constellation missions to Gallente and Amarr territories
  • Fighters: The main offensive and defensive weapon of the Carrier
  • Starbases and sovereignty: Additions of roles to improve control access of services and improved calculations of player-determined Sovereignty
And this is all free! All thanx to CCP's amazing customer offer for EVE Online. And so will Kali. I'm really amazed that they're able to do so. I'm sure it has a lot to do with CCP's superb management skills and the constant and steady success of EVE popularity. Which says a lot about the quality of this galaxy spanning virtual world. When I joined EVE, over a year ago, there were about 40,000 subscribers and about 5,000 concurrent players. Now it's somewhere about 80,000 and 17,000 players (on one server).

I can't wait until the holidays!

P.S.: click here to get a zipped file of all Red Moon Rising screenshots.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Speed surfing with the Google Web Accelerator

Another cool utility from the Google beta labs: Google Web Accelerator Download. Came across it this morning and I must say there is a noticeable difference in the speed at which some of the sites load.

I'll see if this perception last over the next few days. The download and installation were very quick and simple - very Google-like. It works both for IE and Firefox. Once installed, it loads in your systray, so you can have it running or not. When it is though, on the top right corner of Firefox it will let you know how much time you've saved by using it.

It the few sites I've loaded to give it a run and see a difference, according to it, I've saved 14.6 seconds as I write this. This doesn't seem much, but you do notice a change; especially on sites with a lot of graphic content. The EVE Online home page loaded a lot faster than usual. A great lot.

So I'll blink Google Web Accelerator as a 'coolutility' (my BlinkList tag) and it'll appear in my Cool Utilities links section of this blog (lower on the right column).

Happy speed surfing!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Escapist - A Deadly Dollar

A new week, a new issue of The Escapist. This week's edition is on 'griefers'. Something that we, EVE players, are very familiar with. Ever lost a ship while mining some asteroids in a low security system? Or have seen ore thieves fly away with hours of effort? Had a new employee (EVE's guild equivalent) steal for the corporate hangers?

Then you've been hit by a griefer! And as J. Rossignol elaborates in his article, A Deadly Dollar, griefer, as long as they stick to the setting, are part of game, and as such, should be taken as part of the experience. Though it's a bitch when it happens to you (and believe me it is), it makes the game that much more poignant and real. I guess that the difference between a game and a Virtual World. In the later, you risk loosing much more, but it makes for one hell of a better time.

It's when you can loose something dear to you, that you become that much more involved. Makes the virtual that much more real.

Beta Testing: RF Online offer from

Received an email today from to win a spot as a BETA tester for Codemasters' upcoming MMORPG "RF Online".

I've been keeping an eye on this one because the setting is interesting, the graphics are great, and, though not a totally new design in the current MMO offering, it's got a nice balance between the western and eastern influence on the genre.

On one side you've got the Lineage, Xenosaga, Final Fantasy et al. and on the other, your Star Wars Galaxies, World of Warcraft and Everquest. RF Online seems to have aspects and features from both, in a original setting that is a mix between science-fiction and fantasy.

In the end though it all depends on the execution of the developers - trailers, screenshots and feature lists are nice, but how the game plays is what makes it or brakes it. Still, I'll be very happy if I do get a spot in the BETA!

Here are a few links to RF Online related information:


Saturday, November 12, 2005

Exploring Arnatele

Originally uploaded by crazykinux.
I've decided to switch career path for my character in EVE. Treenara Mazouk will now start training trade skills to try to become a successful trader. As such she needs to explore new systems, new regions and new constellations.

Here she is on her way home to the Bereye system after doing some mining in Arnatele's vast asteroid belt.

If this sounds completely off the wall to you, don't worry, it's called an online virtual world. It's called EVE Online!

Friday, November 11, 2005

My U10, the ultimate gadget!

A bit over a month ago, while attending MAX 2005 in Anaheim, I got an iriver ultra-portable player. A U10 that is, as part of the promo material given out to the Experience Forum attendees. And let me tell it's a fun little gadget.

I use it mostly as an mp3 player, but I can play flash games with it (comes with some), use it as a portable drive (1Gb), play movies, etc. It has a really intuitive interface/control scheme, which you pick up right away.

I was really excited about the mpeg capability, but I have yet to be successful at transferring a movie onto it. The whole format thing is somewhat difficult to adjust. So far, all transfered movies have not been able to play. At all. Nothing.

But I'll figured it. I've got to find a simple video converter to process the mpegs I want to view on it. I'll let you know what I can find.


Thursday, November 10, 2005

Cruising in my Gallente shuttle

Originally uploaded by crazykinux.
I finally logged in some hours in EVE Online last night. It had been a long time since I played and I missed it a lot. With the move a month ago and then my computer failing, I barely had any time to devote to my addiction (wink wink)!

Now, things should go back to normal and I should be able to play regularly. And I've decided to change career path for a while. My character, Treenara Mazouk, is a character with most of her skills combat oriented, with a good emphasis on pilot skills also. In late September, with 3 members of my corporation, Coreli Corp, we decided to go into production and trading. This was an aspect of EVE I had never really looked into and one that I always regarded as too complex. It's much easier to take down a few rats (pirates in EVE lingo), then to plan a complex trading operation.

But that's exactly what I've decided to do for now. This screenshot was taken last night, while on a visit of different regions to inquire about pricing of various merchandise we plan on selling.

We'll see what riches lie ahead for Treenara.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Back online! I'm whole again...

It's kind of stupid to say that since I had access from work. But the internet has been part of my daily life for over 10 years now, and it's something that I take for granted. So when I simply can't get to it, it's painful. Add to that the fact that I couldn't play the MMORPG Eve-Online, and you start to understand the extent of my devastation. I'm kind of pushing it am I? But you get my point!

Having said that, I took the better of this evening uploading our pictures from our trip to Italy this past June on my new flickr pro account. It's an amazing site/web application and once you've started using it, it's addictive. A prime example of the web 2.0 and what's in store over the next few years. So far I have about 550 pics up and I still have a few days left to add. You can see the latest pics added on the right in the "my flickr pics" applet.

I also spent the morning adding all my bookmarks to my BlinkList. I had started doing so last week with but found BlinkList had better features and a more practicle interface. It's still in beta but works fairly well. I strongly suggest you give it a try!

Off to bed now, have a good night!

P.S.: Oh, in case you were wondering, it was my mobo! The Prescott P4 I had installed fried my P4C800 Deluxe and it had to be replaced. A bummer, but a cheaper fix then replacing the processor. Oh, well!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Firefox 1.5 Release Candidate 1

Firefox 1.5 is getting closer to a release. RC1 was made available a few days ago, and I've been using it since yesterday - at work, since I still don't have a working PC at home! It doesn't work with all extensions yet, but it's just a question of time.

Get it here!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

No home access to the web since Sunday!

On Sunday, my home life as I knew it ended. My PC died or something and I lost my access to the net , the web, to the world as I knew it!! And I survived...

Sort of. Thank god for work or else I would be able to post this at all. My PC problem is something I had yet seen and still haven't resolved 4 days later. I mean, I've had to replace a faulty graphics card or a dead HDD, but I had yet to encounter the melodramatic voice message that came out of my speakers when I booted my PC that morning: "System failed CPU test". Repeated over and over. Actually I never figured it out until I asked my better half what she heard and pointed to the ASUS manual to that sentence above.

So I did the only thing I could think of: pull out the CPU, a nice little P4 2.6G a bit over a year old. Every looked normal; neither the CPU nor the heatsink were hot or anything. Cleaned the dust off and around the casing and put everything back in and booted up again. It powered up normally, or so I thought. That Sunday we had planned to work outside, get ready for winter and plant some tulips for next spring. So I shot it off and told myself I was lucky.

Boy was I wrong.

Monday morning, I get up, put on my PJs, walk into the office/PC room, boot it and go down for OJ. When I came back up the monitor was dead (led blinking) and only the fans were humming along. I rebooted the PC and that message of agony was back: "System failed CPU test"!!!!! Ahhh man!!!

Shut it off and go to work was the only thing I could do.

Once at work, I looked up some online forums and asked around the office. The diagnostic was the same: nasty problem which could be a bunch of things (CPU, PSU, video card, RAM, etc).

So here we are, Wednesday, and still no access to the net from home. No email, no web, no gaming, no MMORPG, no EVE Online! And to add insult to injury, my skill training in EVE Online finished over the week-end, and now I'm not training anything and loosing all these days!!

Tonight I'll be doing a few things I've told I can test, and if that fails then I'll bring the PC to Microbytes for them to fix. Which means no PC for the week-end either!!!