Thursday, 31 March 2016

Sockets, Sockets, Sockets

Socket was Closed

I've been getting seriously pissed off with EVE Online the past fortnight and all thanks to one of the most annoying error messages I've ever seen.
Socket was closed.
That's the message. It would appear seemingly at random when I was trying to login or doing things in EVE Online. So much has this appeared that I could not do anything but the most basic operations.
I wasn't even able to run my normal scheduled JF'ing in and out of null sec. Courier contracts came very close to expiring because I could not login more than one or two characters at a time without:
Socket was closed.
I persevered and eventually I've been able to get done what I needed, some contracts came close to expiring though. And moving through high sec in a freighter was so painful that for three days I didn't even login to EVE.


Other games I've had zero problems with. World of Warships has worked without issue, so has Steam and about five or ten other heavy bandwidth using applications.
Honestly no idea what the problem has been. It's never been the same character doing the same actions so I really can't reproduce the issue, I just know it happens when the dialog box appears.
I've had people suggest corrupt installation or asset downloads to others saying its a ping/route/ISP issue. I've done a fair bit of diagnostics and spoken to both my ISP and several experienced network engineers friends to no avail.
I have reinstalled, twice, and cleared cache and temp files. I've setup network monitoring and even swapped my ADSL router out for another brand (I keep spares so it didn't cost me anything but time). My ISP reported no problems, and I even pushed for Level 2/3 assistance which they allowed me to speak to, no blocks or throttling of traffic found to any of EVE Online servers.
I'm at a loss to cause, things have settled down a little but I'm still expecting to get the error message appear whenever I login.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

But I don't want to... *throws arms in air*

One of the most annoying interruptions to my real life is about to hit. Today I'm heading off, for only two days fortunately, to my in-laws for Easter. I'm not a religious person but they are and my wife "pretends" to be somewhat like them when we're at their house. It's a pain in the arse especially as I'd like a steak tonight for dinner but i'll only get Fish or Chicken.


Still, I've got my iPad loaded with drafts of posts I'm working on and I'll be able to do something of use at least during this trip. Of course, should I be seen using the iPad there will be "stern faces" and "comments" but I'm used to that.

I really wish I could spend some more time playing with the Carrier changes on SiSi. RocketX did an excellent video on the changes that Trinkets Friend has posted, go watch that if you haven't and you'll see why I'm wishing I could stay home and continue playing with that.

Have a good weekend all, enjoy as much chocolate as you can and try not to throw up on the keyboard :)

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Free Skillpoints due to Upgrade Woes

CCP have been upgrading their back end systems in February and we had a really good devblog from CCP DeNormalized, CCP Quant and CCP Gun Show. Even better we had CCP Seagull herself present a video that detailed the changes that happened and apologized for the unscheduled downtime which she then used to announce 200,000 free skillpoints would be given to all active and in-training characters.

The video can be viewed here. Two videos in six months from the Exective Producer. Wow, aren't we lucky :)

The devblog however was about ten times better than the video in terms of nerd information and I really enjoyed reading it and finding out more about how the back end systems of EVE Online are setup and work. The graphs were especially nice and I think at least one squeal of delight escaped my lips as I digested them.

The skillpoints were a nice present, I would have been happy just to know the problems were fixed but CCP do have great Customer Service these days. I've put mine to good use, Amarr Frieghter V on four characters is now that little bit closer. Fleet of Ark's is going to be a reality.

EVElopedia is dead, long live the EVElopedia

This is old news, I'm still catching up, but on the 25th February CCP announced that they would be shutting down the EVElopedia and suggested people:

[use] the amazing (and far more up to date) player run wikis out there such as the EVE University Wiki and the Brave Newbies Wiki

They did provide a download, of some of the content, for a few days but as of the 29th February the EVElopedia has gone.

I'm in two minds about this, I'm happy we have possible replacements through 3rd parties but I'm pissed off that CCP is handing off such a major resource without so much as consultation with the community. I believe that CCP should be maintaining this and 3rd parties add to it, either via their own sites or via content added to the EVElopedia.

After all the details for everything come from the game, are stored in the database used by the game and thus are created and maintained by CCP. Now this changes how do updates happen, what about errors and corrections can we really trust these 3rd party sites to be accurate and not be modified to benefit others?

Actually I'm not in two minds, I think this is a stupid decision. CCP should be hosting this and if its very labour/time intensive to maintain why don't they just export the in-game database details direct to the website. After all the website is just a web version of what is in the game.

Details, Details, Details

CCP have released a couple of updates, not to mention major ones on Singularity, recently and there were minor things fixed but checking the details I noticed one underlying commonality. Changes were made that were not intended and screwed up other functionality in EVE than those intended.

A major change recently has been to fuel blocks BPO's. They've changed their names (rather than being racial they are now named after the isotope used) and had a small amount of strontium, 20 units per run, added to the requirements. It's not a huge change and finally means we have a use for the no doubt millions of m3 strontium that is sitting in hangers around New Eden.

Unfortunately CCP's QA department missed something in these changes, for some reason the amount of strontium used in Triage modules has now changed to 375 base with a 25 unit per level of skill instead of having the size of the strontium changed (from it's current 3m3 size). It's a mistake, CCP Ytterbium has said so:

But why did this happen? It's not the first time changes have happened that should not have, 99% of the time it's good and things work but then we get simple mistakes like that. QA is hard (I should know, I was a Test Analyst in my day job for 11 years) but its the simple mistakes that cost the most in goodwill and acceptance.

As the original reddit poster said, this change was serious as if people didn't check they could easily find themselves running out of strontium mid-battle and this could affect the outcome of battles when it should not have.

Friday, 11 March 2016

In need of a Socket Wrench

I've had a pretty poor week in EVE, I mentioned previously that I'd been having connection issues with our old friend "Socket was closed". Well after I posted it's like EVE read my blog and decided that I needed a bigger dose of errors.

It has been very odd in the pattern I've experienced. My cyno characters had issues every time I logged them in and had them idle for 5 minutes or longer. My main character experienced disconnections at very inconvenient times, once in the middle of a cyno jump but fortunately I was able to terminate the process and login again in less than a minute so I wasn't in any real danger.

But very inconvenient.

The past 24 hours have been better, I even managed to stay logged in with 3 characters for an afternoon as I did RL and EVE stuff. Not a single disconnection. So it looks like things are on the up and I've already had my launcher issues for this release and fortunately managed to fix that with a reinstall.

Going, Going, Gong.

That was a terrible pun, I'm sorry but it had to be done and yes, EVE does indeed have sound.

The patch notes for the latest release on Tuesday 8th March don't make mention of the change but introduced was a noise, categorized as a "dong", when a target lock is lost. Check the patch notes and you'll see nothing for the sound but there is mention of a graphical change:
The UI bracket is now animated when an enemy target is destroyed.
It's been mentioned a lot on Reddit and I'd agree it is a most annoying and distracting noise and there has been something of a current to get it changed, added as specific sound option or just plain removed.

Seems CCP is in a phase of listening to feedback and this appeared (overnight for me) on the Official Forums:

All Hail The Mob.... Community!

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Rorqual News Sighted!

I was reading the CSMX Summit Two minutes and on Page 20, the Capital Ship changes, the following paragraph appeared:

What is this sorcery, is CCP acknowledging there is a capital ship called the Rorqual! I do believe they are. Huzzah!

Drone Miners eh, well that fits with what people have been guessing is coming. People have wanted large mining drones/fighters for the Rorqual since it came out. Be interesting to see this.

An invulnerability button too, that locks a fleet in place, prevents them taking damage until help arrives. Interesting, I wonder if it could apply to only mining vessels or if combat ships would be protected too. Would be a great way of trapping an attacking fleet with a small bait one and then dropping a larger one on them.

Ah, the possibilities.

I'm most happy the Rorqual was mentioned with positive information. Last years minutes were lacking information but at least this year we get a paragraph. Perhaps next year we'll get two!

I like my Rorqual, and the other six I own. No I don't use them all for mining, I bought the others at various excellent prices over the past year. I'm holding onto them in a couple of locations ready for sale on contract when they get good again.

Final Thought(s) on the Watchlist change

I've been pondering the Watchlist changes at some length, I've spoke to various friends and one of the most interesting conversations I had with Bex gave me reason to consider the changes not from a gameplay point of view but a software design one.

With Great Power

People argue that the Watchlist is a powerful intelligence tool, it can be but it has to be used the right way. The introduction of tags or labels really increased the power but knowing someone is online is not the most useful of intelligence.

With the coming change the Mercenary, The Pirate and the Intelligence Assets of major alliances lose a way of tracking pilots of their targets. 

If you see them online in your watchlist then you instantly know they know they are watching you, because you're in their watchlist. Paranoia +50!

Brings back all kinds of "watching me, watching you, watching me" jokes. *shudder*

What Could They Have Done

As-is the watch list is a very useful tool in both gameplay positive and negative ways (probably more negative depending on whom you speak to) but it was poster StainGuy in a Reddit thread who (shockingly) provided, surprisingly excellent, constructive feedback on how it could be changed.

The new method can't be stopped and I doubt any major changes will take place before it appears in-game however I firmly believe that the watchlist should work based on a delay. The closer you are to a target, the sooner you see they are online and consequently the further you are from them the longer your notification takes to appear.

So you're in the same system, well that will be a waste of time as you could see them in local but with 5 jumps you'd find out within a minute or two. Get ten jumps or more then it starts increasing so if you're 50+ jumps away it could take up to 60 minutes before you see them online.

In a wormhole, well it should only work if you're in the same system but still delayed by a few minutes. After all no beacons to show local in a wormhole so no need to tell everyone someone is in the same system as you by having a pseudo-local instant notification system.

The Future?

The Watchlist is a feature people like and dislike, i think it will remain but its form will forever be altered. However I think the form is being altered not because it has to be from a gameplay perspective but from a software engineering one.

The time has come to change a feature and which would you rather spend time on, new features or old, buggy ones? With the exception of one developer I worked with every developer wants to do new things not fix old things they didn't design.

So comes the Watchlist, someone has been tasked to update it and they've taking the quick and easy route. I can't blame them but long term I feel it's shortchanging us, the players, we're getting a reduction in functionality in order for something to be updated but nowhere near the functionality we had before.

Why do this?

Two reasons come to mind, this is a short term solution (that in true EVE style will likely remain long term until someone notices it in ten years :)) or there is a lot of code for this functionality that is hard to maintain, no longer is efficent and needs to be updated. 

That's where I'd lay my bet, the code is old and needs to be changed in the modules (for whatever reason: CREST, BIAB etc..).

It's a shame, we're being shortchanged with this.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Good Guy CCP

EVE is experiencing some issues with stability at the moment, one of my characters keeps getting booted from the game saying "socket was closed". None of the others have issues but this one can't remain logged in for more than 10 minutes at a time.

It's a pain in the backside as I have things I want to do with this character. I was planning to use a quiet afternoon to get some mining done but I have to reschedule that I guess.


That said one thing that I have found out is that something is happening with towers and their use of fuel. I went to do my weekly fuel top up and found that I had more fuel in the towers than I was expecting. 

Even my out-of-game monitoring application was reporting the fuel to be far more than it should have been given normal usage. So I asked in the Help channel:
Grymwulf > they also most likely set it not to use fuel during the 'issues' to avoid people filing tickets due to offline poses that they couldn't refuel due to server issues
And there is the probable reason. It's nice to see CCP being proactive, I'm sure they've done this before but I hadn't even considered this myself and was assuming my towers would continue normally. 

Of course, database offline nothing can update, fuel can't be used.

Thanks CCP. It might be virtual fuel, but at least I don't have to worry about it for a few days extra now.