29 February 2012

Scanning Practice

It has been quite some time since I've been able to go on a serious scanning-fest. Boarding my ship to find nobody else active in the system I decide tonight is a good time to lubricate the rusty scanning skills. Jumping to our static connection I find it's approaching the end of its life. I don't particularly want to get stuck outside my home system and this evening I have choices.

Heading over to a K162 from a class 5 system I find the connection to be sound so I jump through. The system appears quiet with five towers on d-scan but only 1 force field. Looks like these guys are ensuring invaders don't get an easy beach-head. They also only have five signatures to scan so I get to work.

From the five signatures I get two further wormholes, not counting the route home. I randomly pick one to warp to and jump through to find myself in a class 3 system with an alleged lowsec route. It's been ages since I was in any empire space so I find this exciting for some odd reason. My probes tell me there are seven signatures in this system so I set to work again and find three additional wormholes. If I had more time this evening I could positively get lost in this wonderful constellation we have this evening.

The first wormhole leads to more W-space in the form of a class 2 system. It would appear to be a busy system judging by d-scan, although the mining vessels I see on my initial arrival quickly disappear. I guess these guys run proper intel and were watching me jump into the system. Leaving the now-disrupted mining fleet behind I head for the first of the remaining connections. This takes me out in Alachene in Gallente space, and I feel like I am home. Only six jumps to Dodixie making me really tempted to go visit my collection of ships nearby, but there are more holes to jump through so back I go.

I jump straight onto and through the remaining wormhole and experience an odd moment of disorientation. For some reason I expected another wormhole system but instead I emerge in the Minmatar lowsec system of Hedgiviter. This is 12 jumps from the closest market hub of Hek making it vastly less interesting than the other lowsec system.

Just at this point a corp mate who was taking care of his planet infrastructure alerts me to hostiles in the home system. A Cheeta and a Loki have decided to make a very quick mess of his Iteron V. Thankfully he gets his pod away intact but I am now left with an interesting dilemma. The corp of the hostiles is the same corp as the POSs in the C5a meaning my route home is via their hole. More unfortunate is I am in need of sleep and could do with bunking down in my own bed tonight and not some rented quarters in hisec. As nice as it would have been to visit my ships I didn't plan on staying for any length of time.

I decide to risk the journey home. My corp mate gets eyes on our side of my wormhole home and I make the leap from C3b to C5a. I hang around for a bit but all seems as quite as when I left. Presumably because they were already in our hole setting traps. Warping to viewing distance of the wormhole connection home it appears safe, but is it? Both sides appear clear and I've decided I'm going home so let's do this. Bouncing off the local star I land on the wormhole and jump. I hold cloak on my home side to see if anything happens but it doesn't. Typically, I am too close to the wormhole to engage my cloak and there are no celestials in the  right direction for me to warp off to so I pick the best of a bad bunch, engage my drives and defences and wait for the attack...

...which doesn't come. I warp off cleanly, cloak up and breath a sigh of relief.

When I set off on my night's scanning I had definitely hoped for something to shoot at but, to be honest, a loki wasn't anywhere on my list.

27 February 2012

Skill Training Complete

I used to think skills that took a day or more to learn were long skills.
Then I thought skills which took 3 days were long.
Now I long for skills which only take a week.

New Eden: Welcome to the school of patience.

24 February 2012

Visions Of New Eden - VI

Dangerous Location
Even if you never amount to much you will at some point in your capsuleer career visit this spot. This is the undocking port at the infamous Jita 4-4 station. If you do ever find yourself in a situation where you are undocking from this point with a cargo worth billions of ISK you better have some good insurance as the passive scanner squad will have you earmarked for a proper ganking in no time.

22 February 2012

Awaiting Hulkageddon V

A friend and I have been awaiting the commencement of hostilities that is known as Hulkageddon. This is the perennial event which draws tears by the bucketful from the miners of New Eden. During the last Hulkageddon not even simple haulers were safe as industrial ships also became valid targets.

Last I heard, the fifth iteration of Hulkageddon was due to start on January the 2nd but here we are several weeks later with nothing. Annoyingly a friend and I have been waiting for the start of this event with the aim of taking part. Between us we plan on joining both Hulkageddon and the defending initiative - Griefer Geddon - but I'm not saying who wants to join which side.

This time around, as well as Helicity Boson running the gank-fest, The Mittani has also become involved. The first delay to Hulkageddon V was allegedly due to The Goons invading White Noise's territory and I expected the actual start to be soon after that campaign was announced victorious. It has been sometime now since Mittens claimed himself victorious in that endeavour yet nothing has happened.

With this in mind it suddenly occurred to me why the games have yet to begin. We are very close to candidate selection for the next Council of Stellar Management and the proper voting should be soon after that. The Mittani, as a very serious space-politician must have his eye firmly on the ball to secure a second term as Chairman Mittens. As any politician knows, it is wise to avoid controversy during such times. Thus Hulkageddon V has been delayed further, presumable past the elections.

A little research led me to find a comment by Chairman Mittens himself stating the reason for the delay was an unexplained absence of Helicity Boson. I don't believe this for one minute. Clearly there was a conflict of opinion between Helicity and Chairman Mittens with only one potential outcome. So, next time you rescue the Damsel from Kruul's Pleasure Hub please have a check around, there may be another little someone held against their will.

20 February 2012

BB33: Needs More Cut Scenes

This month's Blog Banter is pretty much posed by CCP and asks:

"We invite you to pour your heart (or guts) out and tell us what you think is good or bad with the current new player experience and what you think could be done about the problems."

Now, it has been some time since I managed to work my way though the new player tutorials. To be honest I'm not sure I ever worked my way through them all. I did try about a year ago to go all the way through them with a new character but very quickly wearied to the way they jar with the experience of playing the game. They upset the flow of starting a new character by appearing as a somewhat unimportant pop-up box somewhere on your screen. The relevance of the window appearing is not always obvious. Personally, It almost screams "close this window" at me.

The most enjoyable new player experience should teach you a large part of what you need to know without you ever realising you are learning anything. I still (vaguely) remember playing "Final Fantasy VII". As I recall. this starts off with you at a train station and no idea how to control anything or any attacks to encumber you, yet you are expected to get going. I can't even remember if they actually tell you how to move but those controls are at least obvious enough to get you moving. Gradually attacks and other concepts are introduced to you as you acquire skills. The speed this is handed to you is fairly rapid but lets you get to grips with the game play without being overwhelmed. Most importantly the learning process is never more important than the story.

A similar vein of progression is generally found in car racing games where the track layouts become increasingly technical at a reasonable rate of unlocking, letting you get to grips with the physics of whichever game you are playing. Once you have unlocked all the tracks you are generally still unlocking ever increasingly powerful cars, but as you are lapping now familiar tracks you are not overwhelmed. An example of how well this works is when you take a turn on a friends game who has unlocked all the tracks and powerful cars and you jump right into a 600 horsepower beast and drive like a complete tool who's never seen a corner before.

So here's what I think - proper educational cut scenes and lots of them. Start a new character with the new 'Awakening' video. When she asks "what are you waiting for pilot?" this should open a prompt where you choose which tutorial you want to go to next. While it may be wise to go through all tutorials there is no way it should be required. A prompt at this point lets a new player focus on their choice of game play style. This can also be used to give the new player an idea of the potential play styles available to them.

Which ever training option is chosen should then lead on to a new cut scene explaining some concept, then a chance to try what you've learned, then more cut scenes until the topic has been covered. The actor could walk you through a mock-up  of whichever controls are relevant using a screen they have available in their classroom. This would also be the perfect time to give out tips ("dirty pirates are dirty" or "hisec canflippers are impotent mummy's boys"). Basically, the more information that is relayed as if you are actually being taught it in practical situations by someone with expert knowledge the more immersive the experience will be.

It should always be possible to walk away and come back at a later date to partake in some further education. The best way to control this is have the tutorials tied to starter stations. To access them you need to talk to the right agent in the right station. If you do try to engage the tutorials from anywhere else this should simple set your autopilot to the correct system and instruct you to get moving. Hell, if the character is less than a month or two old why not just teleport them and their ship to the correct place?

Let's make the Federal Navy Academy and all the other starter corps actually behave like their name suggests and properly teach something for once.

17 February 2012

Customs Music

An interesting thing was noticed but not properly realised by myself during the Interbus customs office bash mentioned earlier this week. At the time, I was aware of music being transmitted to me but just thought it was my pod jukebox malfunctioning. Unless I'm doing something incredibly boring I usually have the jukebox volume set to zero. At that time the presence of music merely triggered me to actually increase the jukebox volume and I though nothing more of the phantom music.

A few days later I found myself at one of our own customs offices and I heard the same music as before. This time I was certain the sound was not coming from the jukebox and I realised it was the actual customs office triggering the sounds. I find it most unusual that the customs office is either broadcasting soothing sounds into space or my pod environment deems the presence of the structure to require these calming effects to be streamed into my brain. I can totally understand why one might want to hear chillout sounds after manipulating the planetary structures into an efficient workflow.

16 February 2012

Visions Of New Eden - V

Ring-wearing rocks
Not really much I can say about this. Impressive leap of imagination to build a station around an asteroid. Crazy Caldari engineers.

14 February 2012

Interbus Must Die

One of the delightful things about living in a wormhole system is the lack of requirement to spend hours orbiting a structure while firing round after round of expensive ammo at it. This all changed with the takeover of the planetary customs offices by Interbus. With CONCORD out of the picture there was a sweet little opportunity for us capsuleers to make a profit from the import/export business.

The unfortunate part of our non-consensual deal with Interbus is the sheer toughness of their customs offices. I'm sure this is only to be expected with such a massive structure, but it is mildly annoying in a wormhole system where ship storage space is at a premium. And it was thus I found myself in a Drake firing round after round of my precious faction missiles at a dumb structure. These missiles are meant to be presents for the Sleeper drones I introduce myself to from time to time, but not in this case.

Thankfully I had been ignorant of the goings on whilst my colleagues chewed through the first 80% of the customs office shield. Sadly this still meant we were only about 50% through the whole structure when I joined the mission. I set myself up in a lazy orbit, put my launchers on auto-fire and tuned into some aggregated news from around the rest of the known universe. I should probably thank Rixx Javix for compiling these news packages which keep me sane in my extended absence from 'known space'.

Fly my pretty missiles, fly!

It didn't take a massive amount of time subsequent to me joining the party for the customs office to go down. I'd love to say I single-handedly swung the balance but I'm a terrible liar. I almost feel bad about taking another office from Interbus. I'm sure they can't have made any profit from this deal of theirs. Well, if Interbus hadn't linked their sudden takeover of the customs offices with a hefty increase in the tax taken for exporting goods this wouldn't even have been necessary.

But then, did 'necessary' really come into it?

p.s. How the hell did CONCORD get one of these offices orbiting every planet in every wormhole system anyway?

13 February 2012

Letter From Dhal


From: Dhal
Sent: 2012.02.12 12:14
To: Orea

Dear Orea,

How is life in the wormhole. I've been busy on my get rich scheme making T2 ammo. Thing is I seem to be having the same bad luck I always do. Every calculation I do suggests I should be getting something like a 45% return on my inventions but it seems I barely hit 30% just now. I'm sure this is just a temporary dark cloud in my otherwise clear sky but it can be mighty frustrating.

I regularly have to visit your favourite system. I know how much you now hate being somewhere with more than twenty other pilots in local (local channel, remember that?). I can't imagine your distress at being in Jita with 1600 other pilots. These days I tend to close the local channel as best I can but sometimes it can be fun watching the scams flash by. Surely nobody actually believes any capsuleer is going to retire and give their life savings for one unit of Tritanium. What would they even want that Trit unit for?

I understand life in the wormhole took an interesting twist for you recently with a promotion to director level. How is that working out? From what you were telling me it shouldn't be long before low level financial analysis is pretty much doing itself. If you need any help reviewing the system you're creating then let me know, I promise not to share your authentication details with anyone, honest... Oh dear, I've been in Jita too long.

Well I should probably get back to purchasing minerals for my new business. I start ramping up production big time in about a week and need to be ready for that. This time next year, Orea, I'll be a multi-billionaire. I'll buy you a drink in Jita 4-4 if you can stomach it.

Best Wishes,


10 February 2012

I Only Fly Gallente...

...or at least I used to. As a Gallente pilot I naturally understand that Gallente designed ships are the most beautiful and well designed ships available in New Eden. The problem seems to be that style over function is sub-optimal logic when choosing a particular ship for flying around dangerous areas of unknown space.

These days I am more often found flying in Caldari designed ships. My justification to allow my morals to slip was that in times of danger you should use the best tools available to you. Living in wormhole space means my time is largely dangerous.

It was a gradual change to Caldari ships. The initial catalyst came in the class 2 wormhole system we used to occupy. I had an double-rep armour Myrmidon set up to fight against Sleepers. I could run sites with one other person but found that if they needed to warp out for some reason I would struggle to tank the damage. I was aware others could solo these sites in their Drake so I took a look at some fits. At the same time another Gallente pilot with weaker morals than me went and bought a Drake and we worked on the fitting for it together. The other pilot reported such a world of difference between the two ships that it became hard for me to ignore the potential gains to be had by switching. Even if the ship I was switching to looks like a piece or armour blasted off a supercap ship.

Self-propelled armour plating from a capital ship?

I slipped further when I was asking for recommendations for a ship to use in combat against other capsuleers. I was told in no uncertain terms that I should go for a Drake at battlecruiser sizes. Around this time I found myself in Empire space so just went out and bought one without thinking. I was still running sites in my Myrm, but everyone else was in Drakes and I had relaxed my guard enough for it to become a no-brainer.

On our move to the new class 4 wormhole system I completed the transformation. I added a new Drake for running sites and did not bring my Myrm with me. The Myrm is stashed with all my other Gallente ships gathering dust in a hanger somewhere in Sinq Laison. I do have access to an Iteron in our class 4 so I can relax in comfort. No matter how much better the Drake is for actually earning ISK, style is always something we Gallente require to truly relax.

9 February 2012

Visions Of New Eden - IV

Orca Pilots do it slowly
Align times greater than 20 seconds upset me. Align times more than double that deeply disturb me. Thus I do not fly an Orca. If I did, I imagine I would need lots of pretty nebulae to stare at during the glacial align times.

7 February 2012


Returning my attention to the goings on in the system I was surprised to see comms very active again. Surely the battle hadn't resumed on the customs office already? Reinforced state wasn't due to end for over two hours. What was going on?

It turned out that our new neighbours were a little bit feisty. They'd already scored an easy kill when one of the other corp member accidentally drifted from the POS bubble (don't ask). Now we were scrapping near our POS. I jumped in to switched from my cloaky scanner to an appropriately fit Drake. Unfortunately I was too late to the party and, after losing a Drake each, our friendly neighbours warped off.

So, now the question was: Is this a coincidence or a diversionary tactic from the customs office fight?

With more corp members turning their attention to the shenanigans occurring in our system we were now able to put a proper fleet together. I was glad of the chance to take the covers off my shiny new Basilisk, although being the first time I'd flow logistics I was a little nervous. The fleet warped off to the wormhole connection to the neighbouring system harbouring our new friends. Our attention was mainly focussed on the customs office timer but we were meant to be on fleet manoeuvres anyway. Instead of dividing into teams we might as well try and have a real scrap.

We formed up and held on our side of the wormhole waiting for any action. A couple of times the neighbours jumped in and back out immediately, trying to bait us through. But we had another job to take care of and after hanging around for a while and getting nowhere we headed off to reorganise.

After making sure we all knew the game plan, and with the customs office timer almost at zero, we warped off to meet whatever may come. As soon as we landed we set to repairing the shields on the customs office and waited for any offensive action to occur...

Orea's first Logi chain
...and waited.

...and waited. All the while repairing the shields on the customs office. Once they hit a good percentage we felt safe to leave it to naturally recharge.

All this build up and almost nobody to shoot. A bit of an anti-climax but a good outcome none the less. For a training exericise it was probably as good as it gets. We formed a good fleet, worked on comms discipline and flew under an FC who is pretty much new to us in that role. It all went well. Now we're wondering if it was all just a setup by the security team to shake us down.

6 February 2012


I was awoken by excited comms chatter. Normally I tune out completely but for some reason I hadn't this time. Oh well, guess I'll see what's up... Really? Someone attacked a customs office and it's now in a reinforced state? Okay, guess we'll be ready for the killing blow if it comes.

As it happens this was occurring over several days where we had scheduled fleet operations anyway so switching to live ammo wasn't really a problem. It would also give those amongst us who had no fleet experience the best possible environment for learning in - the deep end.

Our customs office was set to come out of the reinforced state early the following evening giving us plenty of time to form up, discuss tactics and generally get ourselves sorted. We scheduled the formal assembly for a short time before the reinforcement timer would end. I fell asleep that night with the taste of battle in my mouth, or maybe it was pod goo given my choice to sleep out of the tower that night.

The following day there was a tangible quality in the air. The rest of the corp were relaxed and yet also tense in their own way. No matter what else was discussed, one thing was certain - we would turn up and fight to defend our space. Thus far we had no need to defend any private customs offices. We built them in the aftermath of Interbus' ill advised deal with CONCORD and they had remained untouched. I guess we all knew this time would come but living out in a wormhole means structure affecting combat is rare unless someone really wants to move you on.

In preparation for the battle ahead I took myself off to a quite corner of the system and engaged in some quiet introspection. Yes I am essentially immortal but that doesn't shake my attachment to a given clone. I had shared a journey with this particular clone for many months now and it was, um, comfortable. And in any case, getting a route back into the home system can be a real pain in the arse.

Battle would come later: Now was for meditation.

3 February 2012


It seems someone had spotted me massaging tech 2 ammo profit numbers for my friend Dhal whilst hanging around the mess hall. What started as a simple complement about me being organised with spreadsheets quickly escalated to something entirely different. As of a few days ago I was elevated to the lofty heights of being a C-suite corp member. My remit? I am to look after finances as the corp CFO.

Interesting challenge accepted.

I quickly set to work checking out the standard set of tools provided by my corporation to manage the ISK flow. I couldn't find anything useful which would display anything other than a vast vomit of numbers; an archaic sorting list of charge types, most of which I've never seen used; and no way to filter out items I wasn't interested in. Oh well, time to create my own tools.

So far I've spent several hours mirroring the relevant data stored in our creaking finances database into my own, vastly more performant database. I now have the ability to view the things I am interested in, hide the things I'm not, and pretend the whole thing takes longer than it actually does.

Well, I'm still working on that last item. I need to do something about a pretty interface, but that can wait.

Guess I'll be spending more time in the POS shuffling numbers around. Oh crap, I forgot to ask about a salary...

2 February 2012

Visions Of New Eden - III

The wreck of 'Steve'

'Steve' was the first Titan launched in New Eden and also the first Titan to be destroyed. Lasting only 4 months of the year YC 108 'Steve' was destroyed in the nullsec system of C9N-CC. Intrepid explorers interested in a little bit of danger can still fly out to visit the wreck as I did recently to capture this wonderful image.

1 February 2012

Sometimes you shouldn't think

Sometimes, when it's quiet in system and all of my corp mates are otherwise engaged, I stare at the stars and the galaxies I see. I imagine only sub-light travel and to journey amongst these pricks of light would take an eternity. And if my wormhole should close forever I would be stuck, alone, with no hope of rescue.

Sometimes I can almost taste the desperation that must have been present in the first days, weeks, months and years of the closing of the original EVE Gate wormhole. As those pioneering forces realised their route back to Old Earth and home was gone forever.

Sometimes I like to wonder how life would have been shaped if the cataclysmic closing had not occurred. Would innovation under less trialing times have taken us as far? Further? Extinction? Would life still be so violent? Would I still be essentially eternal?

But then the feeling passes. I accept my chosen life and immortality. My unencumbered travel possibilities and violent tendencies. I look to my companions and realise I will never be alone.