27 July 2015

At Rebukes

It's been too long since I took part in a blog banter. It seems appropriate that my return should be to talk about something which I've ranted on comms so much about I was sure I'd also blogged about it. Alas, it seems I hadn't so here we go.

BB65 - Attributes and Skills
Does Eve need attributes? It's been discussed a lot recently. Unlike other MMO's your characters attributes don't make a difference in day-to-day gameplay. They simply set how fast you train a skill. Is it time to remove attributes from the game or totally revamp their purpose? Do they add a level of complexity to the game that is not needed? If you really need to use a 3rd party application to get the most from it should it be in the game? Should they be repurposed with each attribute adding a modifier to your ship? Are attributes a relic from the past or are they an important part of Eve - You make your decision and deal with the consequences?

Including attributes seems one of the most obvious mechanics in a role playing game. By allocating points to different areas of your character you can customise and influence how well or how poorly they will faire in a given set of circumstances. If we take charisma, for example, someone who allocates a lot of points to that particular attribute will do so in the knowledge that they are paving an easier life for their character. They should expect easier and more profitable tasks than some mouth-breather lacking in both charisma and deodorant (they probably rent nullsec space to mine anyway). Equally, someone with perception knows they will gain much by understanding a given environment to a better extent. They can use that knowledge to better pick targets to shoot and/or routes to sneakily take.

Seems reasonable so far? Well in EVE we get none of this. Character attributes in EVE are the forgotten ginger stepchild of gameplay in New Eden. For your farsighted minmaxer these numbers are mana from the stars. Given a 6 year list of skills you can eke out every little bonus and shave weeks off your 2191 day training plan. As for charisma affecting your interaction with NPC mission agents; nope sorry. Does perception increase your awareness of which ships in a site might be the trigger? Hell no! Well definitely Willpower will help you keep your ship together under adverse conditions (read: heavy sustained incoming fire)? Ahahahaha, you make me laugh so hard...

In EVE attributes exist solely to punish the many and reward the OCD few. Once upon a time I used to plug all my plans into EVEMon and tell it to calculate the best attributes for the first year of this plan. I've heard of people who worked the other way and would move their skills around to cluster similarly affected skills into the same year. They would then avoid training skills which didn't fit into the bonused attribute pattern. They would forgo flying certain ships because to train them would negatively impact the number of skill points they accrued in a given year(!). What game punishes people for wanting to try something new? Seriously? So for the longest time I set all my skill points to an average where they mostly have the same number. I buy +3 implants to train a bit faster. I don't punish myself for choosing to train some leadership skills when I'm set up to train missiles instead (charisma + willpower vs. perception + willpower). I'll live with few skill points per hour and I'll be a happier player for it.

As far as I see it there is no interesting choice created by attributes as they stand. The timescale we get to remapping (annual) is so long that new players will totally ignore the option for fear of overly slowing themselves down. Either that or they will go full minmaxer and avoid anything which makes them a better pilot/have more fun playing EVE because it means they have 73 less skill points than they would have had in the first place.  Now don't get me wrong, I'm not necessarily calling for attributes to be removed from the game. An alternative is to increase the effect they have on the game as hinted at near the start of this post. For example would it be more interesting a choice if you can train skill x faster because of your intelligence but you'll earn less ISK from missions because you reduced charisma to do so? How about taking less incoming damage because your perception is high but this is at a speed cost to training for that Archon you always wanted?

I guess my feelings towards removing or revamping attributes are ambivalent in the true sense of the word. The only thing I can say for sure is leaving them in the game as they are is both pointless and meaningless. Hell, let me remap every month and I might reconsider. If there really is no developer time to write something new to take their place (as with clone costs) then they should simply be removed. Make New Eden a simpler place for the new player at little cost to us veterans.

22 July 2015

The main EVE_NT

This year seems to be packed with EVE meets for me. So far I have been to Fanfest in Iceland; I went to the Edinburgh meet organised by Glasgow Dunlop; I also went to his Glasgow meet more recently. Next I will be heading 'abroad' again to the #EVE_NT meet in Nottingham, England organised by my friend and Bastard for life Mr. Nashh Kadavr. The event itself (should that be EVE_NT, ho ho) takes place on the 19th of September at the Antenna Media Centre, Beck Street, Nottingham. It is scheduled to run from 11 am to 11 pm although it remains to be seen how much of that I actually last.

I'm really looking forward to this one. Whilst the Edinburgh and Glasgow meets were really good the EVE_NT gathering feels more like a mini-fanfest. There is swag for guests, a charity raffle, even a tournament. On top of that there's going to be a lot of other EVE players having a great time chatting about the game and comparing notes from opposite sides of epic battles in space. If you are in England in September and interested in going you should check out the website, buy tickets, and add your support to the EVE-O forum thread. For the first time ever my wife is coming to an EVE meet with me. At least one other corp mate is also taking his missus so hopefully they're going to have a good time too. Worst case, our hotel is quite near so I can always get her home then sneak back out for more shenanigans later on :-)

I look forward to meeting yet more EVE players there later this year. You should come too, you know you want to!

15 July 2015

Glasgow Meet

A couple of Saturdays ago I managed to finally make it to a Glasgow meetup. I've been trying to go for ages but never yet made it. I decided to put in extra effort this time after the organiser, Glasgow Dunlop, identified me in Iceland as the person who keeps saying they're going to come through for a meet. I had the additional incentive that I would get to meet some people I know from the only additional alliance I have alts in - The Bastards. Despite moving to a new house and having plenty of boxes to unpack I had permission from my wife to disappear for a whole day and get drunk with a bunch of other internet spaceship captains.

Come the day it looked like fate wanted me to miss yet another Glasgow meet. First our car refused to start and it was through sheer willpower alone the battery didn't die as I churned the engine over and over and over.... Once it grumble to life the oil warning started flashing. FFS! In 5 years that car never once wanted oil outside a service. So I found the oil which by some miracle was left accessible and not packaged into a box somewhere at the back of the garage behind several tons of children's toys. By now there was no chance I'd get to the train station in time. I had 8 minutes to drive the 10 minutes to the station. Exactly 10 minutes later I got into the station carpark just as the train also arrived. I abandoned the car with the door flapping open and ran for the train. As the train pulled away I could see my wife still trying to extract herself from the back seat. Oops!

I have a history of getting lost in Glasgow. I managed to meet up with Ithica Hawk by using the powers of Whatsapp. He successfully guided me through Glasgow to the Hillhead Bookclub where everyone else was gathering. There was a good number of people already there so we grabbed some beers and got chatting with folk. Glasgow Dunlop presented me with a voucher work 300 Million ISK with Eve-Bet. Nashh Kadavr then inducted me as an honorary Bastard by giving me a t-shirt embroidered with The Bastards' logo. Of course I immediately changed into this.

Over the course of the day more and more people arrived including CCP Logibro and CCP Leeloo who were carrying a combined 40 kilos of swag! More drinking and chat about EVE was the order of the day until at some point we were all herded inside for the raffle draw to distribute swag. By this point I had swapped memory capacity for beer so can't remember all the things that were given away. I seem to recall the shiny new EVE Source book being passed around. I got to take home a foil pack of cards for the EVE trading card game as well as winning a set of high grade slave implants. The latter I will never dare plug in to my head. The draw went on for a long time emphasising the sheer amount of swag provided by CCP and EVE-bet.

At this point some of us were invited to a BBQ in some distant suburb of Glasgow. We decided to kidnap CCP Logibro and I was reminded by reading twitter that we slid him on his chair through the bar to the door before bundling him into someone's car and heading off on a long car journey. At the other end we were provided with very tasty sausages, burgers, kebab skewers and more alcohol. A perfect end to the perfect EVE meet up.

Thanks go to Glasgow Dunlop for organising such a great EVE meet. He put my own attempts at starting a regular EVE: Edinburgh meet to shame. Thanks also to EVE-Bet for the free ISK to blow on bets. Thanks to CCP for sending CCP Logibro, CCP Leeloo and all the swag. We promise we'll return Logibro at some point. Thanks to Nashh Kadavr for The Bastards t-shirt which my wife keeps having to prise from my back in order to wash. Finally, thanks to the Hillhead Bookclub for allowing us to invade their wonderful establishment for the day.

12 July 2015

Drunk n Roam

This was full...
The art of the drunken roam has long existed in New Eden. If you've watched the This Is EVE video you'll be familiar with someone saying on comms "Um, how do I warp to something?". The idea is simple, you take a ship and a bottle and/or cans of alcohol into hostile space and fly around drinking until you die. Of course there has to be rules otherwise this becomes no different to the average roam you've been on:

  • If you jump a gate you take a drink
  • If you dock you take a drink
  • If you undock you take a drink
  • If you change modes in a T3 destroyer, take a drink
  • If you lemming through a gate take an extra drink (in addition to the one for jumping anyway)
  • If you die you finish your drink

The above covers most reasons one should take a drink however there are always ad hoc rules which people create during the course of an evening. This creates an ancilliary set of rules:

  • If you invent a new rule you take a drink
  • If someone else invents a new rule you take TWO drinks for being too stupid to think of the new rule first

With the above bases covered there are two guarantees: a) You will have a brilliant night of playing EVE, and b) If done right you will wake up the following morning in physical pain and wondering where your wife and family are.

Ow my head hurts!

6 July 2015

A prisoner offline

I am currently on an involuntary hiatus from EVE. In fact I am pretty much disconnected from the internet in general. It seems moving into a brand new house is a mistake when it comes to maintaining contiguous connectivity to the internet at large. It appears to come as a shock to the single company responsible for pretty much every phone line in the UK that people moving into a new house will want a phone line. Three weeks after first telling them I want a phone line (*shock*) and they can only tell me they think they might be coming today to fit my line. I won't know for certain until after 1 pm. The tell-tale clue at 1 pm is the engineer not having bothered to come.

Of course I can use mobile internet** to fill in the gap whilst I wait for the 'real' internet to be delivered to my house over two narrow strands of copper. Unfortunately it appears my network decided this particular ex-field I now live in didn't need high speed mobile internet. I tried it and get a 10 second ping time to Google. FML. Kill me now.

My young son and I have been making Minecraft videos for a few weeks and we sat down to create the next couple of episodes. This should be doable because I host the server locally and record voices by plugging both mics into the same PC and using some virtual mixer software to sort the levels out on everything. Sure son, we can do that. Except we couldn't. First I needed to re-log his account into the Minecraft servers. By some miracle I managed to use the GPRS on my phone and get him onto the server. I swapped the phone onto my laptop and tried to log in. It took more attempts but eventually it worked. The his account got kicked from the server. I couldn't log in to the server. My nerves started to fray. I went around in circles getting more and more agitated before admitting defeat. In the meantime he was going to go off and watch stampylonghead videos on YouTube....... (and you think EVE players get upset?!)

So I've resorted to offline games. That's not too bad as I seem to have preloaded a bunch of random games from Steam at some point. I think they are all Humble Bundle games. I have absolutely no idea what any of them are. I picked one at random - English Country Garden - to see what the information said it was about. Much like the EVE server logs, the game info. said nothing. It appears that side of the games library in Steam is a webpage which is unavailable offline. Aargh!!! It turned out to be a fun, abstract, 3D puzzle game which you should totally try.

So it appears I'm addicted. Possibly my whole house has a data addiction and being disconnected is killing us. Conversations which normally end with "let me just Google that" have us stumped instead. How did we manage before the internet was everywhere? Actually, I probably know. I'm watching way more crap TV than I should - my house tends to go to sleep around 10 pm and I get to log in to EVE - crap TV is taking its place. But crap TV is no replacement for EVE. I miss my corp and alliance mates. I miss the drama and giggles on comms. I miss the very few blues we have and losing ships to random ganks or my plain stupidity.

I miss EVE.

**Posted over GPRS, which took bloody ages