29 December 2014

Mandatory for Fitting

It's about time people stopped bitching about the warp core stabiliser (WCS) module. Nothing says "I'm not looking to fight" like a WCS module or three. For those of you unfamiliar with the WCS module it works something like this: Ships in EVE need a warp scramble strength effect on them of 0 or less to warp. The vast majority of pvp fleets have several if not all ships fitted with either warp disruptors (points) or warp scramblers (scrams). Disruptors give a +1 scramble strength to ships they are targeted at. Scramblers give a +2 or +3 effect. To counter these offensive modules we have the WCS module. Despite the variety of strengths of the offensive module we only have access to WCS modules with a flat -1 strength (negative because it removes from the warp scramble penalty on the ship). For those of you who are mathematically challenged this translates to a mandatory fitting of three WCS to guarantee you will be able to warp away unimpeded from a single tackling module. In addition to this lopsided equation of lost fitting options the defensive ship has its targeting range and scan resolution reduced by between 40% and 50%. To continue with the above guarantee we find our WCS-fitted ship needs to lose three lowslots and gets a 78.4% penalty to targeting and lock time.

I regularly read comments from bloggers about how EWAR is evil and wrong. Oddly this never seems to include points and scrams even though they are technically counted as EWAR. If a PvP ship doesn't have a point of scram it is a terri-bad fit. For some unfathomable reason, if a non-PvP ship is fitted with a WCS this is a terrible travesty to the game (even though this is the natural counter to the PvP fit) and the witch hunt is on for the modules to be removed from the game. This is despite the high cost of fitting these WCS modules. Removal is demanded with absolutely no proposal to replace with some other suitable counter to the point and scram EWAR-fitted ships. So why is this? The answer to that question is easy - there is a belief that once you get a ship tackled he or she is committed to a combat engagement. This belief exists even if the tackled ship is a weaponless industrial ship. If the tackled pilot still has the audacity to warp out there is a feeling of being robbed of that fight. In the case of the industrial it would be a very one-sided 'fight' but the robbed feeling still exists. How dare that pilot counter my active modules! Yet countering fits is inherently in the nature of EVE.

The statement "EVE is a PvP game" is often rolled out. The same people tell CCP to "stop messing with the sandbox" when they propose some change that will negatively affect the particular commentators play style. So which is it? Is EVE a PvP game where everyone must participate in combat or is it a sandbox where people can chose their own career path? Personally I believe EVE is the latter and I'm sure CCP agree. In my opinion EVE is a universe where people can choose to never undock and spend their entire time market trading, using hauling companies to move their goods from station to station. I believe industrialists are free to mine their minerals, turn them into ships then inexplicably sell them for less than the market value of the minerals. Finally, I believe it is every pilot's prerogative to attempt to counter any attack with the tools provided within the EVE universe.

So to the solution. Well, do we actually need a solution? Is there even a problem? Well yes, there is a problem. But it likely isn't what you think. The problem is people who think fitting a point or scram guarantees them a fight. Those people are wrong and they need to adjust their expectations. If you really, really feel it is your Bob-given right to kill defenceless industrials who have no intention to fight; if you really can't stand they neuter their ship to within an inch of its life on targeting and locking then put your money where your mouth is. For 120 Mil you can get a +3 faction scram. A mere two of these and you're going to stop just about everything. The question is: Who's unacceptably gimping their fit now?

9 December 2014

Goodbye Clone Costs

Halfway through today's upgrade to Rhea I happened to flick past EVEMon. The warning message that strikes fear into the heart of many wormhole pilots was present on all of my characters!

The reason for the fear is any wormhole resident permanently lives undocked in space. When you are undocked with an out of date clone Murphy's law dictates you will die and you will lose skill points. It took a moment for me to remember that it is the turn of clone upgrades themselves to die with Rhea. It took another moment to notice the "Clone Limit" in EVEMon showed 0 Skill Points.

I won't be sad to see this particular feature go away. As a new player I avoided PvP because I couldn't afford to replace ships, implants, and my clone. The first two can be ignored to a certain extent, the final one cannot. Losing skill points equated to losing time. As I got older I cared less but still having to shell out another 10 million ISK because I had dared to fight other players seemed pointlessly harsh. Finally, the one time I was a victim of losing SP due to not updating my clone was because I was rushing to get back into a fight too quickly.

Goodbye clone upgrade. Not going to miss you. I do, however, look forward to where this ISK sink is reimplemented.

8 December 2014

On A Mission


I awoke in an unfamiliar location. There was a bed beneath me, clean sheets around me, and the smell of reprocessed air. I was tired and had a thumping headache. Experiencing another unfamiliar sensation, I swung my legs out of bed and onto the cold floor of my captain's quarters. Captain's quarters? Shit, it all came flooding back to me in an instant. The drinking; the idea for the alliance to fly out to lowsec with assault frigates; the return to Jita in pods; still more drinking and then flying out again in cruisers. To confirm my suspicions I dragged myself over to the viewing platform and, sure enough, there was no ship floating there. My shiny golden pod was intact on the unloading platform. That at least meant I was still in the same clone although the way my head felt I was wishing I wasn't.

I gathered my possessions and took advantage of the free Velator provided to me by the wonderful people at Pend Insurance Inc. Checking my list of assets I noticed I had belongings in another station in this same system. I flew over to see if a ship was amongst those things. On docking I was disappointed to see I appeared to have all the fittings for a ship but no actual hull. I crammed everything into my Velator and headed somewhere I knew I could get myself a more suitable ship to fly home in. Home... ah yes, where was that currently?

On my way to Jita I checked the alliance map software for the current status of connections to my own wormhole system. My chances of getting home were currently not good with nothing convenient leading there. I needed another plan. I would have to think of one after completing the tricky docking procedure at the 4-4 station. The docking procedure at Jita 4-4 isn't actually different to any other station, the difficulty lies in the sheer number of other capsuleers (and wrecks thereof) in space around the docking ring. This station was often compared with a certain space port featured in one of many holoreels depicting an idealistic view of how space politics should be conducted. In reality Jita 4-4 was much worse than Mos Eisley ever was.

Once docked I stashed my cargo with all the other modules and ammo I left lying around my hanger, trashed the Velator, got in to a shuttle and headed for New Caldari with the beginnings of a plan in my head. In New Caldari I swapped my Amarr Shuttle for a Leopard and headed for Auvergne. With the plan formed in my head I was now moving quickly and there is no finer ship in New Eden than a Leopard to get somewhere rapidly. The attraction to Auvergne was one of a homecoming. As a very green capsuleer I had spent many months living in and around Auvergne running missions for the Federation Navy. I still had a number of ships there and I had decided to go back and take stock of the old birds. That and reconnect with my old contacts and possibly run a couple of missions for the for old time sake.

Arriving through the gate to Auvergne I checked my old bookmarks and found one labelled 'Head Office'. That brought back very old memories of my time in Ambivalence Cooperative, a corp whose main focus was avoiding the corp tax charged by the non-capsuleer run corporations prevalent in New Eden. Back in those days I still thought belonging to a corp was only good for getting subjected to wardecs and being forced to stay docked for a week at a time. Mind you, these days I still think the same, I just don't care as I'm normally found in wormhole space where anyone can kill me all the time.

The ship hanger in Auvergne was testament to my old mission running habits. A salvaging Catalyst, a Noctis, a Dominix and a Navy Domi too all lay relatively neglected cared for by only maintenance bots. Some other special ships were there too - a Primae and an Echelon - echoes of changing times which are now taken for granted. My eyes passed over all those ships, even past the Myrmidon which had been my first wormhole ship used to fight sleepers. I was looking for something smaller. My eyes settled on an unfit Vexor and, stripping most of the mods from the other ships, I put together something which would be more than sufficient for running a couple of missions.

Now I had my ship put together it was time to see if any of my old contacts still existed in my former home system. Either my memory was getting old or people had moved on. The only agent offering me a job was Amerique Jostalie and there was not a flicker of recognition from either of us when we spoke. In retrospect this was likely due to her working for Federal Intelligence Office rather than the Federation Navy. All I was offered was a very low level, lowly paid mission but I still took it. She told me to go to Aunia and kill some pirates who were causing a disturbance in the area. Dutifully I undocked, crossed Auvergne to the Aunia gate, jumped in and warped to the deadspace acceleration gate. I still remember the excitement and anticipation from the first time I ever took an acceleration gate but this time I knew I was going to vastly outgun anything I found at the other side. The gate dropped me off in the vicinity of eight frigates. Half of them were dead to my drones before they knew what was going on.

Me, at a gate, late in YC111

I returned to hand in my mission to Amerique but declined any further missions. Clearly I needed something more challenging so I checked out the Agent Finder for something a little trickier. Heading back to Aunia I docked at a Federation Navy station where I had much better standings. Docking up felt much more familiar and all three agents instantly recognised me. After warm greetings, tales of old and adventures new were shared we got down to business. Malillier Epied gave me a local mission which was slightly better paid than the first mission I tried. It still boiled down to killing a number of frigates, most before they knew what was going on. Eladette Gelarbese sent me back to Auvergne for something she promised was more suited to my Vexor and drones. She was right that it was more suited but even with two pockets of deadspace linked by two acceleration gates the pirates within didn't cause me any problems.

With 1.6 million ISK fresh in my wallet I decided to park my ship for the night. With one more agent to talk to I decided to see just how well I could still stand up to the toughest of missions in hisec. Also, I could feel the call of those Sisters of EVE singing their siren song of promises to help repair my Amarr standings.

25 November 2014

Orea in Shock Interview

At the weekend I made my first ever appearance on a podcast. The podcast in question is called Holefire and is hosted by my long-time corpmate, director and friend Matt. The interview appears on episode two of his podcast. If you ever wondered what I sound like head over there and give it a listen.


Hopefully, if we get enough people listening to Matt's podcast he'll get episode three posted with less of a delay than between one and two.

24 November 2014

This Is EVE

The more observant of you may notice a new page hanging off the top of this blog. The page is titled 'This Is EVE' and contains the wonderful new trailer CCP have put together using real comms chatter submitted by real players. Let's take a few minutes to watch it here.


Did you enjoy that? I certainly did. The first time I watched it there was a chill up my spine. This video shows why I play EVE better than any other. The people I hang out on comms. The excitement of fleeting up in a group and doing things together. When I feel like some quiet there is the planning and execution of industry.

Thank you CCP for making this, and thank you all the players who submitted their comms chatter to make this possible. To celebrate this wonderful trailer I think I'll just leave that static page up there so I can watch it all the time. I even mangled the page format to make it really large!!!

I love EVE.

16 November 2014

Gladiators, start your engines!

For the first expansion since Apocrypha, in Rhea new wormhole systems are being added to New Eden's universe. It will not be possible to anchor POSs in any of these systems due to the lack of any moons. The lack of moons is being explained by every single planet being Shattered, leading to the classification of this new type of space as 'S-space'. As well as the lack of moons to anchor POSs at these new systems have several other features to distinguish them from the W-space I am so familiar with:
  • Landmark sites
  • High frequency of wormholes
  • Extra-rich asteroid belts
  • Ice mining
In addition to this list there will be no possibility of getting capital ships into S-space, either by flying, jumping or construction. It seems CCP are really pushing back to basics with this new space. I've read at least one comment suggestion CCP are creating new space to remove features (read: cap and supercap ships) they would like gone from K-space but could never risk the player outrage to do so.

Out of the 101 systems there is one extra-special new solar system called Thera. In addition to the above features Thera will also have four dockable stations. These stations have the normal facilities of industry, repair, medical and a market. Currently you can even install a jump clone in one if you want. The two things which distinguish this system from any other K-space system is the lack of jump gates and its massive size.


As mentioned Thera has a market to buy your ships, there are medical facilities so if you get podded you don't have to find your way back in, this is technically nullsec so there are no security status penalties for engaging in combat. In addition to the above Rhea also brings the removal of clone costs to protect your skill points after being podded. The sum of the above is CCP are essentially introducing a combat arena to New Eden. In true CCP style this is not an honourable arena where 1v1 battles are forced to be honoured, rather this is more like a free for all with no end.

- Want to fleet up to kill that Machariel?
- Sure, but can I shoot you after it dies?
- Okay!

There are already cries that the large nullsec alliances will just move in, assert control and ruin it for everyone. Those same arguments appear for almost every new feature CCP release. Yes, it is a possibility but rather than assume this potentially wonderful new feature will be a flop how about supporting what it could be. Go out and help to realise the potential of Thera as a bloody battlefield of epic proportions. Install a jump clone and when you want some casual, consentual, unprotected pewpew head over to Thera to die gloriously.

Enjoy the Outback: Station camping on Sisi

11 November 2014

Recruiting Again

Z3R0 Return Mining Inc., proud founding member of the Illusion of Solitude alliance, is once again recruiting. Formed over four and a half years ago we have a wealth of experience gained from years of living exclusively in wormhole space. Our current home is a class 4 wormhole with class 3 and 5 statics which provide us with many opportunities to take advantage of. Active in EU and East US time zones we do not focus exclusively on any one area of wormhole life. We prefer to take advantage of what we find each day, be that people to shoot, sites to run, or just sitting on comms talking nonsense to each other.

If you are interested in joining us you need to be a mature and relaxed player who doesn't take things like killboard efficiency too seriously. You must be able to warp cloaked and should have decent scanning skills. You should have reasonable armour tanking skills and we can help guide you on your training. Whilst we try to avoid dying too often you should be comfortable with ship and pod loss accepting this is normal for EVE. You should also have Teamspeak available with a mic and headset although you are not expected to use this every time you are online.

We are not generally active enough to PLEX your account each month so players expecting to do so will be disappointed. There is an expectation that you will spend the majority of your time basing out of our home system. You will also be expected to do your fair share of scanning. In return the corp makes it as easy as possible for you to earn ISK with corp buyout of PvE loot and all PI generated in the hole. This removes any necessity for you to haul loot out and sell it in order to be paid.

If you are interested please fill out our recruitment form or contact me in-game for more information. The recruitment process involves an API check and Teamspeak 'interview'. Please do not apply directly to the corp until this process has been followed.

30 October 2014

Hoi Fozzie, gimme a t-shirt

Last year I went to Fanfest. There was a massive number of t-shirts for sale. One of the things announced that year was the relaunch of the EVE store and. As my suitcase was already well packed I made the bad decision that the t-shirts would likely be for sale on the new EVE store and I could just order a bunch when I got home. History shows this was a terrible idea and over a year later the EVE store still only has a pathetic selection of clothing to choose from. The couple of t-shirts they do have to offer, whilst nice, are overpriced and not what I'm after at all.

Also wanted in Gallente and Minmatar (and Caldari I suppose)

In the Phoebe sneak peak video CCP Fozzie appears wearing a t-shirt listing Amarr ships. Not the race I would pick but still more in line with what I would buy. Please, CCP, please release more t-shirts like the ones you sell at Fanfest.


...please.

28 October 2014

CCP Buff Vacations

One of the annoyances for any EVE player who cares about continuous skill training is figuring out what long skill to train whilst on vacation. The other tricky part is padding in shortish skills on the lead up to vacation so you can start whatever skill you want to train so it doesn't finish halfway through your holiday. Today CCP released a devblog talking about this:

Good for two years or so
No more rocket-scientist levels of planning. No more Gantt charts to ensure the correct set of skills go in the correct order at the correct time. No more sneaking a laptop on holiday because you could only get skills to go 12 days into your two week holiday.

CCP's best buff ever! Coming soon in Phoebe.

26 October 2014

The Infinite Universe (part 2)

I should know better than to have promised part 2 of this during the week. Life rarely leaves me the time to focus on a long post like this. Plus, when I do have spare time during the week I prefer to actually play EVE. Crazy, huh?

If you've not read part one click the link and read it now.

***

The Arrival


With a loud bang our intrepid corp of explorers arrives in the distant system. As the Rorqual was using the sun as a destination lock the ship naturally lands in relative close proximity to it. There are no planets, no asteroid belts, and definitely no gates or stations available from the right click menu nor on the overview. The only thing on the overview is the sun and the system doesn't even have a registered name. The first order of business, therefore, is for the other pilots who travelled with the Rorqual to take their clones, jump into scanning ships and start scanning the system. The scanning pilots start hunting down the celestials, warping to them and making assorted tactical bookmarks like any good scouts should. This way they find where the planets, moon, and any other items of interest in the system are.

The Rorqual is vulnerable at the jump-in point and needs to be moved. Our Rorqual pilot, eager to secure the situation gets himself to one of the new tactical bookmarks as soon as possible. This is where the Rorqual reveals its next new trick. Once in position at a bookmark the pilot selects the 'Anchor' option for the Rorqual then moves his pod into another one of the ships stored in the Rorqual. After some period of time the Rorqual goes online and a forcefield is erected to protect the exploration group. Why carry a POS when one of the ships serve the function perfectly well? Our explorers are now working against the clock. They need to do whatever they came here to do and be ready to head home before their safe haven runs out of fuel for the forcefield.

Exploitation


In addition to scanning down planets and moons there also needs to be some worthwhile reason for our explorers to come to this distant system. I've already established there are no freebies on this trip. This means there are no anomalies for people to simply warp to. Everything has to be worked for. This means all ISK will be hidden behind signatures and the dangers within. Given these locations are brand new areas of space I wouldn't expect known NPC classes to exist in any significant numbers. The ship sizes which can be transported needs to be taken into consideration when designing these sites.

Exploration sites requiring little or no combat would add to the empty feeling of space - "someone had been here but has long since gone". Other sites would be well defended by tough NPCs. Some leads could be taken here from the recently unveiled Burner missions. Any NPC living this deep in space is likely to be very self-sufficient and readily able to defend itself. Finally, the complete absence of anything to do should always be an option. Exploration should not guarantee riches or, indeed, anything at all. I'd be quite happy to see people going home entirely empty handed from time to time.

Our explorers now have as long as their Rorqual-POS has forcefield fuel to make the most of the wealth they have unlocked. Why do they need a forcefield? I was just getting to that.

Conflict


This wouldn't be EVE without there being a large possibility for explosions. A lack of local and no obvious pinch-points such as gates, stations or wormholes may make combat seem unlikely. Of course the initial arrival of the Rorqual leaves it fairly vulnerable. Anyone who happens to be combat scanning around the predictable arrival point of the sun will be able to warp in and grab point, hence the need for the explorers to take both exploration and combat ships on their journey. Once the Rorqual is anchored it isn't immune to attack either. Natural resists give it an appropriate number of hit points to defend from attack. This is particularly important given the lack of other automated defences. Should the Rorqual-POS be taken into armor the necessary reinforced timer starts counting down. No point messing around with hauling strontium on the journey for this, let's just use the same mechanism as POCOs and have the anchoring pilot set the time range for reinforced mode exit. If the odds are overwhelming maybe a rescue mission could be staged to save the Rorqual with a backup team (and another Rorqual). Doubling down is always an option.

Other sources of conflict are pretty identical to wormholes with the added difficulty of how the potential aggressors get themselves staged. EVE being EVE I find it incredibly likely that there would be the formation of corps whose sole mission in life was to build up a library of potential locations to jump to hunting for explorers to explode. Of course, this would just drive explorers onto deeper and deeper destinations. Without proper planning people have a real chance of getting stranded and/or need rescued.

Conclusion


I have no idea whether this is a good idea or not. I often feel there isn't enough mystery in New Eden, between the well mapped areas of k-space, the well documented routines of all NPCs and the triggers which affect their reinforcements. The infinite EVE universe could go a long way to addressing this. Simply going there should not guarantee instant wealth and sites should be slow to respawn. It should be hard to get there and challenging to exist there. Procedurally generated signatures would hopefully yield the randomness I desire and prevent people from being able to go into auto-pilot mode when running the sites. I also like the idea that people could scan themselves deeper and deeper. Of course, there would always be the challenge of getting home to Jita to turn riches of items into riches of ISK. Finally, there is no isolating yourself as people can arrive at any time. There is no wimping out on the commitment cost though so any potential gankers better be confident they can deal with the mysteries before committing their own Rorqual to the jump.

19 October 2014

The Infinite Universe (part 1)

There has been ongoing speculation for what the promised eventual future of player built stargates will bring. A lot of the speculation predictably revolves around finally unlocking access to Jove space. Others think the gates will unlock access to some other well defined long-forgotten region of space. My personal favourite is that CCP will use player built stargates to replace the distances about to be taken from carriers and other jump-capable ships allowing the largest alliance to ephemerally replace the logistical links they currently rely upon. I think it is time to stop thinking so small and really expand our online universe. Space is infinite so why shouldn't New Eden be so?

Investigation


It's time to properly extend the exploration career to the discovery of entire new solar systems. Doing so should be a corporation wide endeavour requiring the expenditure of a large amount of resources. The basic premise of the discovery portion of this idea is a massive extension of the existing scanning skills except this will be on a galaxy map rather than a solar system map. In addition to this, each 'scanning bubble' will be controllable by a single character. This will require a minimum of four pilots to have any chance of successfully scanning a system and an optimum of seven or eight for more rapid discovery. Each pilot should be based in their own POS and each POS needs to be in a separate solar system. The further apart each pilot the greater the chance a deep scan will work.

Of course we're going to need new probes with their own mini jump drives. Like existing drives these mini jump drives will of course require fuel to jump to these distant regions of space. Deeper exploration may even expend all fuel on the outbound journey resulting in sacrifice of the probe. Will it be worth it? Of course the scan itself shouldn't be as passive as the solar-system scans. Let's introduce a new variant of the hacking mini-game. Rather than just be a random click-fest this should actually require some skill to play. Eight skilled players playing the mini-game at the same time... did I just create an online cooperative game *inside* an MMO?

Exploration


So what happens once our industrious corp pins down the jump coordinates of a distant star worthy of further investigation? Well then the real exploration begins. How do they get there and back safely? Clearly we need a new class of ship. A deep exploration ship. Sounds like something ORE would build? Meet the newly refitted deep exploration Rorqual. This refitted Rorqual comes with a modified jump drive. Unlike existing drives this one has the ability to lock to on to the single gravity well of the distant sun and jump much greater distances. The emphasis on singular gravity wells obviates the possibility of abusing the Rorqual in known space (although future use in W-space could be an interesting option which I won't consider here). Whilst making this a one-way journey would be an interesting choice it's probably not a good idea. A 'point of origin' marker would guide the Rorqual home at the end of the voyage.

So our corp is ready for their jump to deep space. They load their Rorqual with the tools of their trade - more exploration ships and quite probably a smattering of combat ships for defence from the unknown. They 'board' the Rorqual by attaching their current clone to the clone vat bay. Once prepared the Rorqual pilot initiates the jump to the distant system and all the involved parties jump as one ready to brave the dangers of the remote system.

***

This turned into a longer post than expected. I'll continue during the week with what happens next.

16 October 2014

Pretty Lights

Welcome to the light show
Due to the changes in wormholes we recently retired our ancient fleet composition of remote repair shield Tengus. Our new fleet composition is based around a core of logi. The dps is provided by whatever people feel like taking so long as it has the appropriate tank type and enough buffer to not stress the logi guys out too much. The long range of the logi can make for pretty light shows as you can see above.

12 October 2014

Bob giveth

Since Hyperion came out there has been so much more scanning to do in wormhole space. Sadly this additional scanning doesn't seem to come with additional combat to make it worthwhile. Either we find nobody, someone hiding in their POS force field, or a force who simply dunk us into the ground. The latter of those options is still more fun than either of the others but I'd rather be the one doing the killing.

On Tuesday evening I was sitting in front of the computer eating dinner when my corpmate, Rhianna, sent a message out on Jabber - "Orca outside POS forcefield in 5a1". A screenshot followed showing the ship sitting just outside the forcefield - a fairly safe position for something with a likely high EHP. A quick discussion and we decided to set up a bombing run to at least wake up the Orca pilot if not actually kill him. Bomb perches were set up as I logged in Orea and another toon. Once I was shipped into a pair of Manticores I jumped through to get into position.

I was barely clear of the wormhole when a pair of Armageddons landed on the connection back home. They jumped through and back, obviously looking to roll the wormhole. We decided trying to kill a 'geddon on the wormhole was a much more exciting prospect than just a wakeup call to the Orca pilot. I manoeuvred my two bombers into position whilst Rhianna got back to the POS to watch what happened there. What happened was the two pilots logged off. Boo. Clearly I didn't cloak fast enough as they landed on the wormhole and they got scared off. With that it was time to log off myself and go help my wife with the kids lest I risk non-consensual 'pvp' IRL!

Several hours later we decided to go help out our logged-off Russian neighbours by clearing their expensive gas site. Since we gained our new C5 static we've discovered a couple of the gas sites are actually worth running. In fact the ISK earned is comparable to running C4 combat anomalies yet the risk after clearing the initial sleepers is only a handful of Ventures. We get to about 85% of the gas cleared when the locals start logging back on. Their POS is off d-scan from us but a Revelation somewhere isn't. Not unduly concerned about the Rev (we're in Ventures after all) we continue to suck gas whilst a scout gets eyes on the POS and then probes down the Rev.

Someone call the Red Cross?


"Second Rev at POS plus the Orca is back. Other Rev is running sites!" is exclaimed across comms. Really? This guy is running sites and knows we are here. Another voice pipes up "hole home is critical". Ah bollocks, that's why he's unconcerned. We can't kill either Rev, or the Archon which just appeared from nowhere, but we can finish the plan to wake the Orca pilot from his boosting trance. As we leave to drop the gas off and reship their scout, glupishkin, does the unthinkable and breaks silence in local to say "bye bye". His thoughts must have changed as three of us head back in Manticores for some mischief. As we warp to the earlier bombing perch made for surprising the Orca all the cap pilots warp back to their POS.

"The Orca pilot has logged off". I'm aligned towards the Orca and closing distance as this message comes over comms. I start counting in my head ready to launch the bombs at the last moment I know I can still hit the Orca before his emergency warp kicks in. Our three Manticores loose their bombs and warp off. Only one of us gets a PvP timer. I'm feeling disappointed at this when Rhianna says "won't he have a timer too?". Oh hell yes! And he logged off already so doesn't know! We have 15 minutes to scan down his Orca which is no longer under the safety of the POS guns. Now we can really kill it.

Image courtesy of The Wormhole Diaries


It feels like forever while the Orca is scanned down, but scanned down it is. We all warp to it and the earlier unthinkable but now inevitable explosion happens. The pod immediately warps off under emergency warp mechanics but a quick scan locates that too. We loot what we can, shoot the rest, then head home deeply satisfied with Bob's gift of Orca and pod.

2 October 2014

It's called "space" for a reason

Yesterday CCP announced the first wave of planned changes to address stagnation in nullsec. There is a 220 page (and growing) threadnaught in the EVE-O forums. Whilst CCP Greyscale has to dedicate the time to read all the posts in that thread I have no desire to. Instead I restricted myself to dev posts answering valid and useful points and then I did a random sample of a handful of pages to get a more general feel for how people are reacting. Not scientific but who cares. The mood of the posters is not entirely predictable, however.

Of course there are the posts from idiots who announce they will stop playing (hint: bye bye). There are the other posts from people who say nullsec is impossible to handle without caps jumping (hint: caps haven't always been in EVE). There have been a fair few posts from people who totally don't understand the point of this change and want to know how their alliance is meant to rapidly defend territory spread far and wide across New Eden (hint: you don't). Yes it makes force projection harder but that is exactly the bloody point. Space is big yet in New Eden it has been shrunk so much by jump drives that large alliances think nothing of crossing the whole map for a fight then back home for kippers.


The other half of the posts seem to recognise this shake up for the good thing it is. Force projection for the largest alliances will be reduced. People will have to think carefully about where they live as their 'big blue doughnut' won't be as effective any more. What's the point of being in a large coalition if they can't really help you? Maybe it's better to have neutrals to shoot in close proximity to home? Hopefully super-massive alliances start to shrink back on themselves and new alliances are able to get a foothold in nullsec.

There have been valid points about Black Ops ships receiving the same penalty as Carriers and Supers. Black Ops should be fast in and out guerilla style ships as opposed to caps which are meant to be deployed in more protracted battles. Maybe CCP should link jump fatigue to ship mass? There has also been the valid point about new characters joining corps deep in nullsec and how they join their new space friends out there. These issues can all be dealt with for the good of EVE. More issues will no doubt rear their heads but either the players will figure out clever new ways to handle those or CCP will make more balancing passes if it is
deemed necessary.

With the last expansion wormholes were nerfed with what is possibly the exact opposite of the proposed changes to nullsec. We have been forced into massively large chains of systems, all of which we have to scan and map in order to find people to shoot at or go run sleeper sites to make ISK when no targets are around. We have been forced into larger space and had our ability to control our environment reduced with the hole rolling nerf. We have survived by adapting and figuring out how to do so has been more engaging than much of what I'd been doing for some time prior to these changes. Sensible people play games to be challenged. I am fairly confident that the existing nullsec alliances will adapt equally well. Some will fall by the wayside and make space for new, more enduring corps to make their mark on New Eden. I look forward to watching how these changes pan out, but in the meantime I'm also enjoying the tasty nullbear tears.


25 September 2014

Ships of Many Colours

This appeared in a dev blog today. It would appear we are getting ever closer to properly customisable paint jobs on our internet spaceships.

You really want to click this to make it bigger
People sometimes sound surprised when I mention I don't play EVE fully zoomed out. I like my pretty spaceships and play at a zoom level where I can appreciate them. I'm looking forward to CCP releasing another render like the above including my favourite looking ship - the Caldari Navy Megathron...

20 September 2014

EVE Probe

Back in July CCP announced a graphics testing and benchmarking tool they were working on. The tool is called EVE Probe and uses the same graphics engine as the main EVE client. The idea for CCP is to release this tool to gather as much information from as many different computers as possible. The information is uploaded to CCP and they hope to analyse all the data to help increase the stability of the EVE client for everyone.

Yesterday CCP finally released the first public version for us to play with. Of course I had to download and try it as soon as I could. The first PC I ran it on was one I have at work. Said PC is an aging Dell PC and generally loads EVE over lunch to chat with people, put on gas reaction or other administrivia. All of this needs done with the graphics set to minimum. The results from EVE Probe reflected the lack of oomph in this work PC. I forgot to screenshot the results window but all five scenes were in the low single digits. One or two showed a mere 2 frames per second. Yup, knew that would struggle.

My home PC faired better but still betrays the age of the ATI HD5770 graphics card I use to power my two monitors. Frames per second ranged from 8 fps for fleet 3 to 56 fps for the fireworks display.


Generally when I'm playing I'll have two clients running. My main client runs with the settings on the 'Quality' preset running in a 1920x1080 Fixed Window screen. I like EVE to look pretty. I generally run a second client with the settings turned down to the 'Performance' setting and in a much smaller window (1600x900). As long as I'm not sitting in a POS I find the graphics perfectly acceptable. If I'm sitting at a POS with both clients I'm doing something very wrong so this isn't an issue.

CCP have also added a new subforum so people can share their results. It's very tempting to be suckered into buying a graphics card to get higher numbers, particularly when I see what numbers others are achieving. Must... resist... shopping...

4 September 2014

Cloaking Porn



It's always the little things which leap out and grab me with excitement. Recently we had the pop/flash as people land on grid from warp. Not only does this add a little aural situational awareness it also looks really sci-fi cool. So on Sisi we have this new cloaking animation. It will make absolutely no difference to any mechanic in the game but oh my god does it look sexy! I can has now plz?

3 September 2014

Well Connected II

To highlight the incontinent nature of wormhole spawn I give you this screenshot from our intel tool
With more connections than Jita I really wouldn't want to be the poor corp stuck in there.

31 August 2014

Well Connected

With Hyperion nearly a week old the changes made are most definitely being felt in my corp. With the addition of a second static to class four wormhole systems we knew for sure that life would be busier. Instead of having one or occasionally two holes connected to our home system we would have two and occasionally three. It turns out, however, that we were very wrong. The new norm seems to be we have a whopping four connections into our system at any given time. This is not something we were expecting and massively changes the nature of our home system. Instead of being an outpost system in w-space we seem to be very much a thoroughfare. Even more mental adjustments need made than was expected and the number of online pilots to ensure proper security just quadrupled. Not terrible for us but the really small corps will feel the pain there.

The changes to jump distance based on mass has had it's desired impact on hole rolling. I've rolled our C3 static with my Orca once so far. This seemed to take a lot longer but had no more risk than before Hyperion as we had well scouted the system before declaring it dead. The C5 wasn't any better as we've not yet tooled up for running anything in C5s. Since then we've mostly been using battleships for rolling duties but more on that later. Thankfully, the increased length of chains and/or number of direct connections to home has given more potential for places to go scouting thus reducing the need to roll holes. With these longer chains we can keep ourselves amused by at least the prospect of finding someone to explode. Case in point, last night we went three or four jumps through wormholes to kill a poor miner. Even better, a C5 crew didn't like the look of us and tried to roll us away. I look forward to more opportunities like those.

These big changes to wormhole space have necessitated a change to how we will be composing our fleets in future. Until now we have had our PvE ships, mostly Tengus with remote reps, and our PvP ships were just about anything else we fancied flying. For hole rolling we used Orcas, sometimes with but often without support. Now our plan is to be flying PvP-ready ships all the time. Logi support, points and webs spread on ships, maybe even some EWAR waiting in the wings. If we're running sites the same fleet should be able to warp to a hole for unexpect pewpew without a second though. Hole rolling will be in a similar vein - out go the Orcas and in come properly fitted battleships. Truth be told I've been wanting to make a switch to something like this since we tried to take on some site runners in a C4 connected to use some months back. They swatted us down like just another wave of sleepers, a fairly easy wave at that. Until now there hasn't been the motivation but it seems wormholes just got more dangerous.

So far I'm liking the changes. Time will tell if I keep that frame of mind.

16 August 2014

Wormhole Town Hall - 16 August

This evening at 22:00 GMT CSM member corbexx is running a wormhole town hall. CCP Fozzie has been confirmed to be attending. Read the forum post to keep up with any changing details.

If you care about wormholes and have the time to spare you should get yourself along to this. I think CCP already have a good idea of how we feel about the changes proposed for the Hyperion release but it does no harm to make sure.

9 August 2014

The only constant...

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, CCP have posted a devblog about changes coming in Hyperion. Hopefully my feelings on one of those changes came across clearly in that post a couple of days ago but I thought I should go through the rest of the changes coming towards the end of the month.

Wormhole effect rebalance

For as long as I have been in wormholes the Black Hole effect has been the most unwelcome to find. I can think of a single time we ever bothered to run sites in a Black Hole system. It was just before the heavy missile nerf of a couple of years ago and we didn't realise what the system effect was. It took a while to sink in why our missiles weren't hitting but once we did realise it was easy to see why nobody lived in Black Hole systems. Since then the default description we use for an uninhabited system is "might as well be a black hole with a nullsec". I never really paid too much attention to the other effects and didn't particularly hear anyone else complain about them. On the basis of improving Black Holes alone this is a good change. It was interesting to learn that rats are not affected by local effects.

Second static for class 4 wormholes

It's no secret that I live in a class 4 wormhole and I would be lying if I said reading this planned change didn't bring some trepidation to me. The change itself is awesome. I truly look forward to there being 100% more guaranteed holes directly connected to my home system. This (hopefully) guarantees more people to go visiting. I'm just eager to find out what our new neighbouring class will be. I just hope it isn't too much for us to handle.

More and new randomly spawning wormholes

This is an interesting addition. I can see us taking advantage of these new frigate and destroyer sized holes to go mess around in nullsec I can't really see what the wormhole to wormhole connections will bring. I like this change for shaking up the status quo. I look forward to whatever new meta will follow.

Mass-based spawn distance after wormhole jumps

This is 37 forum pages of dumb. In fact this is more than 37 forum pages of dumb. CCP claim to be considering their options with that and I hope they leave jumps the way they currently are. This change does not make it harder for people to isolate themselves; this change makes it easier.

Changes to K162 signature appearance

The initial blog post says the appearance of the K162 will only happen once ships have jumped through. CCP have since said they're considering adding a timer which will make the K162 appear eventually regardless whether anyone takes the jump. Assuming the timer gets implemented this is a good change. Combat forces will be able to form up in their local system on the outbound hole and be ready to jump through and surprise the other side. Without the timer this isn't so great as it makes it easier for people to stay isolated. I assume the timer will start on first warp to the wormhole grid. I think CCP should go futher and make the K162 spawn after half the outbound hole's life regardless whether anyone scans it down or not.

Loosening of bookmark copying restrictions

I can't say we have to deal with this much since the wonderful addition of corp bookmarks. On the odd occasion I do have to mess with bookmarks it is truly still a pain in the arse. There is, however, a wonderful hint dropped that alliance bookmarks are being edged ever closer towards. This will be superb when it happens.

Summary

With five of these six changes being generally well received by the community it seems Hyperion could be a great wormhole expansion. I say 'could' because if CCP leave the mass-based jump distance change in then all the good changes will be overshadowed by this one terrible idea. We won't leave w-space if jump distances increase. We'll just be less likely to roll holes, roll less of them when we do and probably find less things to do as a direct result. I trust CCP to do the right thing. Hopefully that trust isn't misplaced.

7 August 2014

Safer wormholes for all

For the longest time wormholes have been untouched by CCP. It is widely accepted that wormhole space is one of the few parts of EVE which do not require direct iteration on as it Just Works™. That said, it was nice to see CCP sending some love our way with a variety of changes to shake w-space up a little. Unfortunately the largely welcome changes listed in the dev blog were overshadowed by the horrific addition of mass-based spawn distance when jumping through a wormhole

The suggestion is to have ships with larger mass spawn further away from the wormhole they jumped through. The poorly formed reasoning behind this is that slowing down hole rolling will make it more risky for groups to isolate themselves from the rest of New Eden. While this is a laudable design goal there doesn't appear to have been any deep thought applied to whether the implementation actually achieves the goal (hint: it doesn't).

In any given wormhole system there are two sources for connections. The first is the static connection which residents have control over. The second is incoming wormholes which residents have no control over. At any given moment in EVE there are people rolling their static to close it so they can run PvE sites and there are also people rolling their static to catch people running PvE sites. CCP is directly targeting the former group. It is not possible, however, to only target one group with changes to the hole rolling mechanics. Players who seek to isolate themselves will only roll one or two holes in an evening. Active corps rolling for content roll many more holes than that. The latter group is affected more due to this change for the simple reason that they are rolling more.

When we have a fleet running we are looking for people to shoot or sites to run. We're not too fussy but will pick shooting people first any day. If our static connection has nobody there we roll it. With this change CCP are not making it riskier to roll wormholes, instead they are making it slower. As it is slower there will be less K162 holes generated in a given evening. As K162s are the only source of finding isolationist who have closed their static holes the net reality of this change is that isolating yourself becomes easier.

I find it hard to believe CCP don't realise. They have a 27 page (and counting) threadnaught which hopefully opens their eyes to how bad an idea this is. If CCP go ahead with this change it will be clear that, despite their statement that they want to make hole rolling riskier, what CCP truly want is to make life easier for corps who want to isolate themselves.

31 July 2014

Empty Echoes

Last month I wrote a very short post bemoaning the apparent lack of people in wormholes. As if to further highlight this we scanned down the following chain at the start of this week.
More holes than Swiss cheese
In the whole time scanning I didn't see a single ship. Well actually that's a lie, there was a Buzzard who launched probes on a wormhole then burned right past me. Of course the single ship I saw all night decloaked me and meant I'd have no hope in hell of catching him. So unfair.

Adding insult to injury we discovered the other arm of connections from home only had a single other hole and lots of anomalies to run. Rather than hunting down people to shoot we would have been better rolling the long chain away and making some ISK. It was too late by the time we realised. Bah!

27 July 2014

Insurance Crooks

In real life I'm not much of a gambling man. For me this translates to generally not buying insurance of any sort unless it is either a legal requirement or the impact of not having it would be horrific. I have insurance for my motorbike as I legally have to. I have contents insurance for my house as that's a lot of money if I need to refit my entire house. I don't ever take out the stupid extended warranty insurance on electrical goods because stuff generally lasts long enough to replace if it dies usually negating the cost of insurance in the first place.

On the one occasion I had to deal with an insurance company I found it a horrifically stressful situation. I'd written off a motorbike after only owning it one week (yes, I rode it like an idiot and deserved to crash). I had cracked ribs and a broken thumb, which isn't too bad in the grand scheme of things, but the most painful part was trying to have the insurance company pay out. They were adamant that the second hand bike I owned one week had lost 50% of its value. What they were offering was some twisted version of 'fair market price' yet there was no replacement for my bike at that price anywhere on the second hand market. After a lot of to-ing and fro-ing they eventually paid me something and I ended up a third of the value out of pocket. This strengthened my distrust of insurance companies.

Conversely, and somewhat ironically, I've found insurance companies in New Eden to be particularly amiable. Not only will they pay you exactly the value of the policy you took out on your ship, even though you wilfully took the ship into harms way, they will even pay 40% insurance if you forget to insure the ship. I always thought real life insurance companies could learn something from New Eden insurance. Always, that is, until I lost my Gnosis in lowsec the other day.

Killmail Insurance Estimate

Actual Payout
The top image shows the estimated payout from the killmail generated when my Gnosis was lost. As you can see it's a fairly reasonable 10 Million ISK, considering I didn't insure it. The bottom image shows the notification text for the actual payout. A whole 2 ISK! I'll try not to spend all that at once, thanks very much.

Seems my dream of real life insurance companies learning from New Eden may be going the wrong way and the crooked tendencies of real life are merging into New Eden instead.


20 July 2014

A piece of history

In less than three weeks my alliance will be two years old. Since I started writing this blog I have progressed from being just another pilot in my corp to the leader of my very own alliance. Said alliance was borne out of some unfortunate circumstances which I have no real inclination to go over now. Suffice to say the original two corps which formed Illusion of Solitude were part of the wormhole purge of Li3 Federation as it marched its hammers into sovereign nullsec space.

Today I was checking out the number of pilots in Illusion of Solitude for a little birthday raffle I'm preparing for us when I had a sudden idea. I decided to check how the relative size of Illusion of Solitude was fairing against the size of the Li3 war machine.

I have to admit I felt a little smug at that. Now I know the bulk of Li3 have merged into some new nullsec alliance but I also know there would have been no place for wormhole corps in that new alliance even if we were still around. I guess back in 2012 I just got a massive headstart to build the wonderful alliance I still call home today.

SMUG POST ENDS...

15 July 2014

Let's End Asteroid Belts

There are some systems in New Eden which have a ridiculous number of asteroid belts. The top ten most populous have between 38 and 50 belts each. This is an absurd amount of belts in any one of those systems. Taking just the 50 from the top system and spreading those around the rest would be an improvement but still too many in my opinion. I also don't get the logic of making them all so small. Back in the dark days when I played EVE solo I would happily spend a Saturday or Sunday mining my way through an entire asteroid belt or two whilst doing other stuff around the house. I would do this with a single Hulk which offloaded to an Orca every now and then. Where is the idea that one ship could possibly mine a failed attempt at planet formation anywhere close to logical?

It's time for CCP to end this madness. Static asteroid belts need to go and what replaces them needs to grow. In wormholes the only mining offered to us is in ore anomalies. These used to be signatures which required scanning but for some dumb reason that was changed to allow anyone to instantly warp to them. Now only insane (or insanely bored) pilots mine in w-space. I am aware that these anomalies also spawn in k-space but my proposal is that should be the only source of asteroid to mine. Return ore sites to be signatures once more and force the miners to go scanning for them. In hisec, as enticement to keep searching for new sites, add in occasional higher-end ores to beef up the ISK/hr metric that some people find so important. In lowsec increase that ratio and just maybe the added security of requiring probes to find the sites will get more people mining there too (but probably not). And make the belts five to ten times bigger than they currently are. Get some sense of ridiculously huge scale planted in there.
A belt, today, in hisec (feeling sleepy already?)
Finally, miners still complain about how boring it is to mine. Why not liven this up by adding in a variation of the hacking mini game? Each pilot would have to 'unlock' the asteroid before they can start mining from it. Unlocking would take the form of analysing the rock looking for the most precious seam of ore to extract. Successfully analyse the rock and your mining would yield a better form of the ore. You would extract Fiery Kernite instead of plain old Kernite.

Of course there are downsides to this plan. People who don't actually want to mine but feel they have to do it to make ISK will complain that they have to pay attention to the game in order to make ISK. My opinion here is that of course you should be paying attention to the game when you're earning ISK. ISK shouldn't be something which just flows into your wallet. In any case you're paying attention for gankers anyway, aren't you? Plus we just made it a little safer for you to mine away from these gankers whilst giving you a (real world) skill-based way (how fast can you click?) to increase your potential earnings. If that isn't enough, go do something else and one of two things will happen - the cost of minerals will increase until it is worth your time to go mining again or other people who're still happy with the ISK/hr ratio will keep mining.

It's time to shake up the mining industry. CCP let's get it done.

1 July 2014

Crius is coming

I finally noticed CCP Seagull published a devblog entitled 'Coming in Crius'. While I read most, if not all, of the blogs covering the changes in Crius I figured I should read over this one too in case I missed anything. I also decided to write about each section and how I think it will affect my life in wormholes. This is all based on the devblog and absolutely no testing has been done on Sisi.

A new experience for manufacturing, research, blueprint copying, invention and reverse engineering


The new user interface looks very nice to use. The left-to-right flow of input, process, and output appears pretty clear on what you have, what you need, and what you get. In the current system it was always annoying to gather all the things you thought you needed into the one location and then not find out you were 100 Tritanium short until you clicked that final button. This new UI looks like it will all be clear from the very beginning.

Dynamic pricing across the universe


I really like the idea of a dynamic workforce moving across the galaxy in search of the best wages. I never really considered there were actual people performing my research and manufacturing jobs. Much in the same way I never think about the lore of how many non-capsuleers there are aboard my ship at any one time. The removal of slots is quite a big thing for wormholes. In my corp we provide a research and manufacturing POS as a perk for the members. The bottleneck is most definitely the research lab slots. Now this bottleneck will shift to what people are willing to pay to have research carried out.

Travelling worker teams


This really continues on from the above section. These teams add a nice little twist to manufacturing in known space. I've no idea if we would be able to recruit specialised teams into our wormhole system, never mind if we would even want to.

Reprocessing renewed


The UI shown in the devblog is nicer than the current interface but the existing interface was good enough for what I needed. Unlike manufactoring, reprocessing was quite often a case of 'select all → reprocess' and see what minerals turned up in the hanger. For me, though, the real improvement here is the removal of the perfect refine. That never made sense to me. Even the best manufacturing process should produce some waste, and no recycling process can recover absolutely all the materials present in a given item. Adding these inefficiencies up struck a hollow note when hearing how people would haul masses of minerals around space by building then reprocessing 425mm railguns.

Blueprints and research


I don't really have an opinion on the changes to material efficiency and production efficiency. It's just replacing one set of numbers with a different set of numbers. For new players coming into the game it will be more intuitive I guess. When I didn't know better I would just research everything to 10 anyway. Thankfully I knew better by the time I acquired an Orca BPO.

Starbases


Living in a POS means this directly applies to me. It will finally be worthwhile reprocessing ore in a wormhole due to the k-space reprocessing nerf. We rarely bother to mine but when we do it was always a pain to accept the large refining loss or haul out to K-space to avoid that. Now we'll have a better yield in the wormhole. Yay, one less chore. Also the new compression array will be sweet should we ever go full carebear and start giant mining fleets munching on the ore sigs in our system. But what about the poor Rorqual? The other changes are mostly the removal of slots so see comments in other sections above. The only addition is the bonus to costs by anchoring more than one of a given module. We're not an industrial corp so I can't see me bothering to do that. In fact, where we already have more than one of a given module I'll probably be pulling the spare one down.

Dynamic station sound


The sound changes based on the amount and type of industrial activity going on in a station? That sound pretty cool actually (sounds... geddit??)

New API endpoints for industry features


I'm sure the community will release some cool new tools off the back of this. For me though it's a pretty 'Meh' thing.

Fleet Warp Opt-out


This is going to be hilarious on RvB Ganked roams when splinters of people get left behind and have no idea why. I must sort out some time to get on one of those roams, post-Crius.

Fit modules without having the required skills


From time to time I put together a selection of ships for corp or alliance roams. I have a 'janitor' character out near Amarr who takes care of this for me. Usually he just bundles all the pieces together in a contract and leaves the recipient to assemble the ship. Now I'll have the option to actually fit the ships properly (if I spend the SP on being able to sit in them in the first place). Maybe I'll finally have a reason to activate dual-training on that account.


So there we have it folks. My thoughts on the upcoming expansion patch release Crius thingy, which is coming to us on July 22nd.

27 June 2014

Handy Search Tip

For as long as I can remember there has been a search box at the top of hanger windows. In the wormhole I regularly use this feature to find any given ship by typing part of its name. To get an overview of all my own ships in our shared SMAs I can type my unique identifying characters into the search box and only my handful of ships show. As you can imagine this makes life much easier when 20+ people store their ships in the same place.

Many Ships
Name Search for 'Blue'
By complete accident the other day I discovered the search feature extends to ship types as well as ship name. I was hunting in our corp SMA for a particular ship with the letters 'mot' in the name. I didn't find the ship I wanted but another totally random ship appeared in the list whose name did not include the string 'mot'. It took a little while for me to realise I was looking at a Mammoth and that was why the match was made.

Type Search for 'Dominix'
Matches for 'nav' include Navitas and Navy Domi
I've already taken to this new found, and probably ancient, feature like a duck to water. Gone are the days hunting for familiar icons in the SMA window; now I can just type "noctis" when I want to bait people into shooting me. Hopefully some of you reading this post will also find this wonderful discovery useful to know too.

24 June 2014

Missed A Memo?

I've been flying around in wormholes for the past couple of weeks finding nothing but empty, offline POSs. This has lead to some paranoia on my part. Several times I've checked the overview settings, unticked the 'Use Active Overview Settings' tickbox on the d-scan. Nothing makes any difference.

I'm not going crazy. Really, probably not.
So what gives? Did I miss some memo that we all need to move out of wormholes. Is Illusion of Solitude about to become some unique relic of a time gone by when men were men and corps survived in the most inhospitable part of New Eden? I have no idea. Can someone tell me where everyone else is?

5 June 2014

Trust

In the real world there are many facets to abusing trust which can result in a myriad of outcomes. Sometimes the only repercussion is being outcast from a group of friends which, if you place little value in said friendship, may make whatever you gained worthwhile. Other times there can be legal ramifications if your position allows you to steal or otherwise break the law. In between these areas is a whole spectrum of variation. To add to the complexity the outcome of an abuse of trust also depends on how forgiving the people you betray are.

Online gaming takes the concept of 'trust' and screws with it somewhat. It takes the real-world ideal and looses off the moral restrictions we are normally subject to. In most areas of EVE there are many mechanisms available to mitigate the dangers of abuses of trust. If you are in a hisec/lowsec/nullsec corp you can keep all  your stuff in your own hanger. Corp directors have the largest burden of trust but even they cannot take from members' hangers leaving only the corp wallet and limited assets as pickable fruit. Here the risk rises from hisec through nullsec as the potential earnings of a corp rise. Still any theft is limited to corp assets and a properly prepared CEO should be able to mitigate the issue should it arise. If an unrecoverable theft is experienced then you were probably doing it wrong in the first place.

For corporations who live solely in wormholes we are presented with a separate set of challenges when it comes to managing risk and trust. While we have the same issues concerning the corp wallet there is also the additional problem that all assets in a POS are technically corp assets. Members are allocated to a POS and a hanger and are restricted by permissions to a particular tab in said hanger. There is always a risk, however, that one member could steal from another member due to screwed up permissions. If that occurs the fault ultimately lies with the CEO. Also there is a total lack of segregation beyond the POS level for ship maintenance arrays. This means a single thief can have a significant impact on the morale of a corp (but only if the corp lets them).

I was chatting with one of the guys in our newest corp to join my alliance. It was the end of a fairly quiet corp fleet night and I'd had some wine. The conversation topic went to the state of POSs and I was restating my standard position of being largely happy with the current state of POSs. I really don't have too many problems with them. It would be nice to have permission granularity right down the the hanger level - i.e. restrict pilot 'John Doe' to tab '1' in CHA 'a' at POS 'Praise Bob' - but I'm not keen on too much more security beyond that. To me living in wormholes is like an extended camping trip. Nothing in the hole is worth anything. To realise its value you have to take it back into K-space. People who forget this important detail are setting themselves up for failure and cannot blame CCP for lack of security features should the worst happen. I see a lot of talk about the 'sanctity of the sandbox' and how EVE is a game based on players creating content from the tools we are provided. If this is truly the case why do we so despise POSs? Why not embrace the 'tool' for what it is and learn to love our "pulsating bubble of trust".

22 May 2014

EVEn on holiday

As I live in Scotland it is always nice to get away somewhere sunny and warm. It's nice to leave work behind and all the little niggling jobs around the house that I never get around to doing. On holiday you can sit around and relax guilt-free. Of course, to get on holiday there are many things which need taken care of: Pets need someone to look after them; Getting someone to stay at your house while you're away is also great (ignoring that it could be their house getting broken into instead); Wrapping up or handing over all your projects at work can be pretty exhausting. Once that's all taken care of, though, relaxation is key.

For all us EVE players there is one final detail which needs tended to - the skill queue. A unique selling point of EVE is the absence of level-grinding compared to other MMOs. In combination with the assertion that a new player can compete quickly with a veteran this seems a very compelling feature. Pretty much from the start most players realise that this offline progression means any time with an empty queue is 'levelling time' squandered. Thus they acquire 'skill queue anxiety'.

Thankfully for me it was rather easy to find skills for my three accounts to train. Orea got Large Hybrids V and Geo got Heavy Drones V. Dhal got Takmahl Technology V which is probably useless but will take him down to two skills left before he can build everything in the game. All of these skills started with well over two weeks of training so cover my break wonderfully. Before I had so many skills points I remember having to add skills to my queue almost every day. I can only assume I never went on any holidays when my characters were young as it would have almost certainly been impossible to find a 14 day skill back then. I also don't remember deliberately letting a skill queue run out so I guess I was just lucky.
The only thing which would improve this picture is a clean screen which is visible in the sun

One additional consideration I have when going on holiday is my role as both the alliance leader and as the admin of all the alliance IT services. Unfortunately I am way too controlling and paranoid to give anyone else admin access to our server or to have anyone other than myself in control of the alliance executor corp. This means I always feel compelled to take my laptop with me on holidays. This is strictly for emergencies only I tell my wife. I in no way, shape, or form did PI today before going to the beach. I was definitely not online two nights ago chatting with folk and seeking a route back to our home system for Orea.

So, dear reader, what actions and precautions do you take before going on holiday? Do you set any long skill regardless to whether you need that skill or not? Do you take a computer with you to maintain your normal training plan? Or do you simply forget about EVE and skill points and just finish your holidays to an empty queue?

16 May 2014

Pee Vee EVE

I'm typing this post from a much warmer location than normal. Right now I am on vacation with my family, but as they sleep (and I take a break from Hearthstone) my mind turns to EVE. Before I left the UK there was an ongoing topic thread regarding the state of PvE in EVE. At first I paid little heed to the topic expecting the usual "this is a PvP game so PvE-ers are in the wrong place" hyperbole. When I saw my good friend, splatus, over at A journey through the mind had written a post on the topic I decided there was no point to even weigh in on the subject as he'd almost certainly be wrong1 so I put it to the back of my mind. Then that very same splatus showed me an actual response from CCP Seagull to an open question from TurAmarth ElRandir and I started thinking again. So, here I am with beer, peace and quiet. Let's see where my mind runs with this...

The more vocal EVE players, and also CCP, are decidedly proud that EVE is a PvP game first and foremost. Sure there is crafting and PvE, and yeah the market is probably the most developed in any computer game around just now, but PvP is the most important aspect of the game and it should stay that way. One of the often bandied about problems with EVE is that the logged in player numbers are stagnant. This has been the case for as long as I can remember. From time to time we see Jester posting stats on this and the graphs mostly tell the same story of periodic growth and decline of player numbers as controlled by the season or expansion release. The average of this statistic is essentially a flat line going back several years. The question which most commonly follows is "How come games like World of Warcraft manager to have millions of subscribers when we have only half a million?".

Let's just think about that for a bit. Why does a PvE rich game like WoW manage to attract several million paying customers but a game where PvE is considered a disease which must be eradicated struggles to get past half a million? Hmm, boss, I dunno... In case you missed it, that was sarcasm. I came to EVE from WoW. In fact I played both at the same time. The first twice I came to EVE (2005 and 2007) I didn't last past my trial mainly due to the dire state of PvE in the game. I came from PvE and I wanted to PvE. It wasn't until 2009 when I was largely bored of WoW when I finally dug a niche out in EVE and enjoyed it. I was still just missioning but I was fairly happy. CCP got me as a customer due to my persistence and boredom with their competition. Now I'm not a businessman but from what I know about salesmen it is meant to be their persistence which wins the sale to a reluctant customer. I was far from reluctant but it still took three bites of the cherry before I was able to stick around.

From December 2009 until July 2011 I almost exclusively ran level 3 and level 4 combat missions. I had very little interaction with anyone other than market sales and my interaction with corporations mostly showed me that joining them was a bad idea as I suddenly became vulnerable to wardecs which meant I couldn't play for a week or more. At this point you should jump in and say "wait Orea, this is exactly the game and your corp should have fought in the wardec". Even to this day I would say to you that there is little to no point fighting a hisec wardec. The people who engage in them do so in far safer conditions than most hisec miners expose themselves to. Even so, back then I didn't know that so well and tried to get my fellow corp-mates to join me in a fleet to attack the opposite party yet nobody would. At least one corp I was in totally folded due to a wardec issued for no reason other than lolz.

The entire nature of EVE is such that casual players are driven away. People who come from other online games are driven away almost instantly by the dire state of missions. People who don't necessarily want to interact with others are ridiculed out of the game for not knowing that (e.g.) Jita Burns is on2. People who quietly mine in hisec making bugger all ISK for their time suddenly find themselves without a ship as "mining is bad m'kay". Even those who do join a corp discover their monthly payment to CCP doesn't really guarantee they can play as hisec wardecs generally render that unfeasible.

So what, if anything, should be done about this? Well the "if anything" part is easy to answer. By CCP's own numbers they let 90% of people escape their clutches. Around half of that are people who try the PvE content then realise it is shite and leave. The 10% of us who stick around say "good riddance" but we are wrong. Like me, those 40% may be taking a longer time than some to find their feet and encounter a decent corp to join with. They may still believe that nullsec is a terrifying cacophony of lawlessness and not the carebear haven it truly is.They may even think that all of lowsec is like Rancer with gatecamps behind every jump they make. Who are we to judge them "bad at EVE" for this? They just have to learn. But how do they learn if they don't stick around?

Without adversely changing the nature of EVE there is only one focus CCP have. The quality of PvE content must, must, must be greatly improved. I don't know how many missions there are out there but there can't be that many given how often you have to rescue that damn Damsel from the pleasure hub. This number needs greatly increased. There also needs to be a number of corp-specific missions created. Things you only ever see when doing something for the Caldari Navy, and not just a change to the faction of people you are shooting at. More importantly than this, there should be a massive increase in the Epic Arcs. The way to engage people in the game is to give them a longer storyline to follow. I remember being deeply disappointed when I finished the Sisters of EVE epic arc to discover the other arcs required me to have awesome standings with the relevant empires. At some point along the way I decided these arcs would take me to lowsec at which point I never ever paid them any attention again.

So here is my challenge to CCP and to CCP Seagull in particular who says they "want EVE to have more things to do for small scale groups and solo pilots": Make 20 new Epic arcs in New Eden by the time you release Kronos. They don't have to be called 'Epic Arcs' if that would jar with the existing missions, just make a long storyline which threads through 30-50 missions and actually engages the player. Make these challenging. Encourage players into random lowsec locations in cheap ships to make a rendezvous or a drop-off. Put simply: Engage the casual player to stick around and, like me, become less casual and more addicted engaged.

1 Splatus and I so infrequenly agree it has become something of an in-joke.
2 I am also guilty of doing this.