31 December 2012

Pussycat Goons

I was unpacking and putting away all the presents acquired by my children over Christmas when I came across this:

I always knew Mittens was a pussycat. I've recently been wondering why he's been fairly invisible in the machinations of New Eden over the last few months. It seems he's been modelling for a TOMY toy.

Mystery solved.

20 December 2012

The Final Stretch

There is just over two weeks left in the kickstarter for Elite: Dangerous. They have received over £800,000 in pledges but still need another £450,000 before the time runs out. For me, the sweet spot for a pledge is £60. For that I get into the beta, receive a boxed copy of the game and also get my name in the naming database used for NPCs. Going up to £100 gives you even earlier access to the beta tests which could be well worth it.

If the above video doesn't convince you to pledge cash to this worthy project then you are probably beyond saving. Direct control of the ships, people, direct control!!

17 December 2012

Tracking Camera d-scan buff

One of the things I've heard you can do with the new tracking camera is increase your d-scanning efficiency. I had someone mention this to me as soon as the new camera options were patched in but didn't really understand what they were explaining. Today I found this video linked on Google+ and it really helps.

This looks like a massive improvement for people living in K-space where the majority of people will be in locations which appear in the overview. I guess the main improvement for W-space will be for POS hunting, although that didn't exactly take long anyway. Like the advert says: "Every little helps".

13 December 2012

More Fanfest 2013

Hot on the heels of buying tickets for flights and accommodation for Fanfest 2013 comes an email to my inbox. The email tells me that tickets for the event itself are now on sale. Not only that, the tickets for excursions and evening events are also on sale. I quite fancy the golden circle tour with the devs followed by an evening listening to the Iceland Symphony Orchestra perform some of the tracks from EVE Online. I think the pub crawl with a dev will also be on the cards.

This is all getting exciting and it's still months away. Maybe my credit card will recover from all the purchasing of tickets to afford me some beer tokens so I can actually drink whilst there.

7 December 2012

Fanfest 2013

Okay so I did it. I didn't expect to this far in advance, but I have. Flights, accommodation and time off work are all booked and I will be attending Fanfest 2013. To be honest I am slightly stunned that I'm going. I can't say I've ever attended anything like Fanfest before, certainly not travelling there by myself. To be fair though, there are so many people going from my corp and alliance that I shouldn't be alone for long. This is going to be some party to celebrate ten years of EVE and I am really looking forward to it.

About a year ago I went to the EVE meetup in Edinburgh which was an interesting experience. Somewhat early on in the evening the group was split in two due to differences in opinion as to where to go next and it appears I ended up in the group who had less fun. I'm sure Fanfest will be a million times better than that experience though.

I'm a little concerned about the timing of the flight home though. It leaves rather early in the morning after the big party. I'm not expecting to make much use of the hotel bed on that last night.

4 December 2012

Extended downtime

Retribution is upon us. As I type this, it is ten minutes until the servers go down to allow CCP to release the Winter 2012 expansion to EVE Online - Retribution. With this expansion we get Bounty Hunting as a profession, we get an all new Crime Watch system waiting to be exploted; we get a whole menagerie of rebalanced ships as well as four new destroyers and a mining frigate. In what will probably be a shock to AFK mission runners the mission rat AI is being upgraded and will now switch targets. Finally, the UI has gone all web 2.0 with rounded corners on the targetting systems.

The only question left is: How long will downtime actually last?

CCP have published downtime as 09:00 until 11:35. My past experience is CCP always overruns on major patches by at least double so I'm going to predict 14:00 before we get back onto the servers.

30 November 2012

Goodbye Annoying Hangers

I read about the impending demise of corporate hangers in ship ages ago, so I was somewhat surprised to see a devblog only just appearing now. CCP tell us they are making this change to remove more unnecessary complexity from the system, which is something I fully support. As an added bonus, as I sometimes move stuff around in an Orca, I really like this change.

I never understood the reasons behind splitting up the Orca into so many different compartments when the Orca pilot is able to do what he wants with the contents of any of them. For me it has only ever meant I look through several tabs before finding what I'm actually looking for. Whenever I've dealt with accessing other peoples' Orcas they generally tell me what I'm looking for is 'probably in tab X but just rake around'.

For the few cases where access restrictions are required CCP have put more cargo containers sizes into New Eden. An Orca corporate hanger space is 40,000 m3 and CCP have conveniently added 10,000 m3 and 5,000 m3 containers. If you do want to restrict access simply put in three of the 10k m3 containers and one 5k m3 container to hold everything in. Doing it this way leaves 5k m3 of space where you can move stuff you want people to access. Simples.

Now, dear CCP, there are a handful of other places the breakdown into corporate hanger tabs needs removed. Whilst these corp tabs are essential in many POS modules, there are others where they are not needed. Eliminate these from mobile laboratories and their ilk and suddenly it becomes possible for alliance members to use labs for copying or invention. Eliminate them from other POS modules and suddenly reverse engineering and even manufacturing could be opened up.

If it was possible to remove the corp hangers from the Orca it could just be as doable to remove them from a handful more places.

28 November 2012

Always Recruitment

Recruitment seems to be a pretty constant task and one that I don't particularly feel comfortable doing. I have a general 'fear' of the unknown in that I like to have a rough idea of how a conversation will go. Obviously this is an unlikely event when chatting to a total stranger so I just have to swallow my apprehensions and get on with it. Know what, it really isn't that bad.

Most conversations are just about getting a feel for the person you are chatting with, finding out if they've been in wormhole space before or have seen enough action that wormholes shouldn't be too daunting for them. Most of that comes down to personality - are they going to log off when the wormhole is quiet or are they going to go do some scanning and find something to do (kill sleepers or kill capsuleers, either is fine). There is a whole other side I keep in my head while this conversation is ongoing. One of my directors wrote a fine post on what should be paid attention to and how a conversation should be managed. This adds to my tricky feelings when handling such chats as I sometimes feel like I am being devious or deceitful.

Assuming all the chatting goes well there is also the API check to go through. I am much more at home doing that. It's pretty straight forward to make sure people have basic skills to survive in wormhole space: can they cloak? Can they scan? Can they remote rep? Do they have a decent tank to survive? Even beyond those points, where things of interest become a bit fuzzy it is still enjoyable to research backgrounds and prior associates.

At the end of the day, though, it all comes back to the person and actual interaction with them. This is the most important aspect really for any corp like ours. I want people who are fun to hang around with, not people who are solely driven to earn ISK or people who complain there is nothing to do but never actually try and find something to do.

Not sure where I was going with this blog post, just a bit of a brain dump I guess. Bottom line is, our recruitment is open and we've had a small number of people join us already. You should come join us too, at the very least you get a chance to make me feel uncomfortable in our public recruitment channel for a bit.

21 November 2012

Much ado about nothing

There's been so much traffic in the EVE blogosphere recently about the death of the EVE blogosphere that I've been struggling to keep up. Sure there have been the disappearance of a handful of high profile bloggers but I wouldn't say there's a greater rate of attrition than normal. The only difference is the high profile guys announced their departure.

Old Man:     I think I'll go for a walk....
Man:      You're not fooling anyone, you know--
      (to Cart-master) Look, isn't there something you can do...?
Given the number of new posts I see in my google reader feed I'm quite happy with the volume of blog posts appearing daily. I rarely wander to either EN24 or themittani.com unless someone points me there for some reason.

My EVE feed stats from Google Reader - 21 Nov 2012
It's kinda hard to make any sensible comment from a single month of data like I have in the above grab. I'll post this here and try and revisit this topic in a month.

17 November 2012

New Eden Open

Just in case any one is planning on watching the New Eden Open tournament, I've put a page up at the top with a live stream to it. The Tournament program starts at 18:00 UTC with the first match at 18:12 UTC.

I've listed the matches below the feed and will try and keep the winners updated with super, hi-tech application of a green colour. No promises though.

6 November 2012

Elite: Dangerous

Sorry, nothing about EVE in this post. Do read on though, if you love EVE this should interest you.

I awoke this morning to the news that David Braben has posted a project on Kickstarter. He's looking for £1.25 Million to release a new game in the Elite series - Elite: Dangerous. For anyone who grew up playing the original Elite or Frontier: Elite II this is massive news.

Highlights of the benefit list include:

  • Get your name on an NPC for £40
  • Get into the Alpha test for £200
  • Have a station named after you for £500
  • A planet named after you for £750
  • £3000 gets your name on a star system
There are a bunch of other benefits you can choose as well, but even if you can only spare a fiver you should go show your support for the next instalment of this ground breaking series. As soon as I calmed down a little and read through those benefit options I stuck a few quid in the pot. Just don't tell my wife.

5 November 2012

Nashh Kadavr's Leaving Party

Nashh Kadavr of the many coloured Kadavr corporations decided to call it quits in New Eden and hang up his pod. To ensure no easy return from retirement Nashh decided to go out with a bang, inviting everyone to come shoot his Thanatos and even providing frigates to help if you wanted. I've been reading Nashh's blog for a while now so it would have been remiss of me to not help send off a fellow blogger in style. I also couldn't turn down the offer of shooting at a carrier.

I should have joined a fleet
Typically, I almost forgot about the whole thing and at 20:00 I only just remembered to move some ships. I figured I would need more than one ship, so moved five of my pre-fitter rifters across  to Assiettes. I remembered to change my medi-clone location and even insured the ships. Just after 21:00 I jumped into Goinard half expecting to die on the gate. To my surprise the gate was empty so I made some safe spots and started jumping around while watching local to see what was what.

After a while Nashh announced in local that we should get to the customs office at planet three, so I did and landed in mayhem. There were already Archons on the field repping Nashh. Oh well, I was only here for the fun so I burned the 20 km at Nashh, locked him up and started shooting long before I could actually hit. Much to my surprise I was within optimal range, orbitting Nashh, and taking teeny tiny pieces of armour off him before my first death. Time Dilation was around 10% at this point so I easily got my pod out and went back for another ship - TiDi meaning I could both grab a beer from the fridge and drink it during the warp out.
Strike Two
On warping back to the scene of the fight I finally remembered to start taking screenshots for this post. I got in range again and started shooting at Nashh. I didn't last long. Also, Nashh didn't seem to be taking much, if any, damage from the fight. Again I got my pod out, reshipped and came back. This time the field seemed to have split up, I started to approach Nashh but decided something odd was up and warped off to assess from local chatter.
Scary d-scan analysis looks scary

Local yielded nothing useful so I warped back to the fight. Trying to be clever I warped to 20 km thinking that would place me nearer the fight. I was wrong. As I burned toward the battle a former corp mate locked me up and put a disrupter on me. Not sure if he knows my alt but I'll be asking him later. It was taking forever to get to Nashh and I was taking incoming fire. To try and whore on another killmail I locked a nearby Ashimuu and started firing. That guaranteed a rapid death for ship number three with ship number four following suit rapidly afterward.
One, two, many, lots
For my last ship I had a slightly different tactic. I warped to 100 from the POCO in the hope their would be a wreck I could use to warp into the heart of the battle. This worked in so much as I was away from the snipers picking off ships burning between the POCO and the fight, but I was still 40 km away and had to burn back.
Rifter: Engage many cap ships
I've never seen a sight like the above screenshot. Something seemed inherently wrong with me burning a frigate into that mess of cap ships. But burn I did, just in time to see Nashh's Thanatos explode right in front of me. Where's the pod? There it is. Lock it!!! I managed to gain lock and squeeze off a few rounds in its direction before it exploded too. Yay, I got on both killmails. At this point I warped out figuring there was no point dying to the caps on field. I then remembered that I wasn't taking this ship home, warped to the top belt and died to a Thrasher.

Goodbye Nashh and congratulations on hosting such a memorable departure.

Nashh Kadavr - Farewell Party 2012
(he's in there somewhere)

2 November 2012

Where I've Been

Mabrick over at Mabrick's Mumblings posted a snapshot of his visited systems as recorded by the EVE server. At the end he invited others to post their maps so I decided to take up that invitation.

Orea's Wanderings
You can see from this I spent the vast majority of my time hanging around in Gallente space. This betrays my first two year of EVE as a carebear missioneer. I can see a single route south into nullsec but I can't for the life of me remember what that was for. Other than that, the occasional dot shows where I've jumped out from a wormhole.
Dhal's Travels
It's really easy to see Dhal hasn't moved around much in New Eden. For a toon born in 2005 this map gives and idea of how long it took between my first trying EVE and actually subscribing to the game. Only notable thing I pick from this map is my time spent around Solitude.
Geo's Journey
Geo has only been around for this year but already his spread of travel covers a lot more of the right side of the map. Now he can fly a reasonable stealth bomber I should take him for a wander around the far right of the map and light some systems up there also.

There we go, my main characters' travels up in lights as suggested by Mabrick. So, dear reader, how about yours?

29 October 2012

What to do with Geo?

It has been a while since I last mentioned the toon I created specifically for PvP. My intention with Geo was to have someone I could jump to when W-space was quiet and/or I just wanted to shoot someone in the face. To be fair, my time as CEO is taken up a lot with various administrivia and actually shooting at sleepers. This generally doesn't leave much time for playing with Geo, but it does happen.

I've taken Geo on a couple of RvB Ganked roams and had great fun. If you want to experience flying in a relaxed atmosphere and landing on gates as a giant ball of purple death then you should try it. No matter what the theme is, make sure you fit your ship to lock fast otherwise you'll miss out on most kills. Even with that in mind I've still managed to get on 4.7 Billion ISK worth of destruction and, more imporantly, I've had a blast doing it. Shame I can't get out on those roams more often. I particularly enjoy that nothing is expected of me. Nobody even cares if I screw up and die early.

I tried doing some solo PvP but I don't seem to have the killer instinct to get involved with that. I think it has a lot to do with not really knowing what my ship is actually capable of, but there is also a lack of the social aspect to it. Flying around solo looking for people to explode doesn't feel like my style, I'd rather have someone there to discuss what to do and where to go. When I do go out on my own I just seem to fly around lowsec and not see anyone. Maybe this is something I'll shake with some combat experience, or maybe solo just isn't for me. Time will tell on that front.

I think what I need to do is find a casual PvP styled corp. I'm not in it for some nullsec powerplay, I just want to fly around in a group who have an idea what they are doing and shoot at people. While the Ganked roams are fun I think fleets of 150+ would get boring if that was all I did with Geo. At the same time, I don't feel like I would be any good in a fleet of only two or three. I guess I need to start trawling though the recruitment forums.

My plan right now is to polish up some more skills for flying Stealth Bombers and see if I can hang out with the Bombers Bar folks. Beyond that, who knows. Sometimes it's good to just be a grunt and fly 'somewhere' to shoot 'something'.

22 October 2012

Too Many Sites

It had been quite a while since I last did any major site running in our wormhole. Others had also been lazy at cleaning our sigs and as a result we had nine sites available. Whilst I like keeping a couple of sites around, having nine is a bit ridiculous. Another corp mate also decided this and put out a call for everyone to get online and we would clear our the nasty sigs in record time.

Unfortunately the organiser had to pull out of hosting this sig-busting event (something about very good painkillers) so I stepped in to ensure a fun night would be had. I logged in to find our nine sites had become ten. I also found almost nobody else had logged in. Maybe the notice was too short, maybe they all have so much ISK they don't need to murder sleepers. Whatever the reason we were only running with three people. Guess it would be only one site at a time then.

As much as I dislike FCing site running I took the lead whilst keeping my alt on wormhole guard and combat probe duty to ensure our safety. I also had wine, which helped. We ploughed through the first site and were moving onto a second when another corp mate logged on to find themselves directed at the nearest Noctis. Great, at least we don't have to pause to salvage.

After getting through six sites with the Noctis pilot swapping between salvaging and shooting one of our number had to call it a night (again, more top-notch painkillers). Now we were three but I was on a mission to kill each and every sleeper infesting our home. The seventh and eighth sites were fine but I would be lying if I said I enjoyed running the final two. It was a relief to see them die and get salvaged.

I headed off for a sleep at 3am knowing I would only get five hours sleep at best. My wallet was padded by over 300 Million ISK but I really didn't care. Ten sites is at least four too many.

17 October 2012


A friend reminded me today that your actions in EVE can have consequences. This is one of the main principles of the game, but it's sometimes possible to forget this. It was two entries side-by-side on our killboard which highlighted this for me today.

The kills above occurred from the bottom up and neither exchange cost any real ISK. What happened was my corp mate was lazily autopilotting through hisec in his pod. Randomly, in Hatakani, capsuleer Villq decided to pop mimori's pod with a Thrasher. A quick look at Villq on eve-kill suggests he's set himself a goal this week of killing pods as a change from the haulers that he normally targets.

So, mimori died a painless and cheap death to Villq's Thrasher. Not being happy at this turn of events, mimori returned to Hatakani in a Cynabal to exercise his kill rights. It took three hours before Villq undocked again. I don't know if Villq knew mimori was there or not, but he very quickly found out.

I think Villq's 'business model' may be about to go out of fashion real soon. This was just a little taste for him of what happens when someone decided to exercise their kill rights. This should change with Retribution as people are more likely to sell their rights and others will definitely buy them for hisec lolz.

11 October 2012

EVE 2.0

Just a quick post. Have you seen the new planned UI for Retribution? It looks like CCP have taken some tips from the 'Web 2.0' crowd and decided rounded corners are a good thing. Of course, being CCP they've taken the concept to the max and completely removed the sides.

Can't say I'd expect to gain a positive lock like this for long

Reading through the devblog there are more changes than just rounding of the targetting reticule. The yellow and red boxes will also become circles although I don't expect in-game terminology to change from getting "red boxed". Also there will be representative visual indicator of who is actually shooting at you and how much damage they are delivering. I personally think this has the potential to be a much better system than the current boxes of text telling you who did what that disappear too fast to read. Actually anything is better than giving someone two lines of text to read for each hit they take.

Finally, the targetting reticule is going to subtly change when you get into targeting range of a ship. This should mean less ignoring the pretty spaceships in favour of the overview panel when in combat. Personally I would prefer if this reticule changed when a particular module was within range. Drifting out of lock range is not as common as moving beyond the optimal and/or drop off limits of your guns or missiles. For that you'll still need to be glued to the overview.

A Weekend Deployment

I was all set for a relaxing weekend. I had prepared a couple of cruisers for the 40th RvB Ganked roam on the Saturday and I had no other fixed plans. For anyone who hasn't been on a Ganked roam, you should go on one. Just remember that you will not be taking your ship or clone back in one piece. Something has gone very, very wrong if you don't wake up in a new clone with a message from the insurers of your former ship. But I digress.

We had been aware for a while of a visitor in the class 2 wormhole system which houses our academy. He had been seen on d-scan and had been chatting in local. I'm not sure if he actually tried to blow anyone up. If he did try he definitely didn't succeed. At some point he decided to blow up a couple of warp bubbles my corp had left there when we handed the wormhole over the Corp that now runs the academy. Being a little bored I decided to have some fun. I sent the visitor a bill for 30 Million ISK and requested a written apology for the inconvenience.

Sadly his response was neither imaginative nor particularly polite. My reply pointed that out to him and I was delighted to receive a response he attributed to a corp mate:

In my travels through wormhole system J######, I found my ship battered and encumbered by multiple warp disruption bubbles belonging to your corporation. During that time, my travel was detrimentally effected. I lost valuable time (which is ISK). During my harrowing navigation, my ship suffered multiple scratches and dents, both when I ran into your warp disruption bubbles as well as when I was hit by pieces of debris when I disposed of them. I expect compensation for my time and damages to the tune of 30,000,000.01 ISK. Please remit payment ASAP to avoid further loss of your corporation assets and additional monetary damages of time and maintenance. Furthermore, I expect a written public apology on the EVE Gate forums for your negligence and oversight. Please also refrain from leaving your shit all over space for people to have to work around.

Now that was more like what I was hoping for. For his part I tried to sent the 0.01 ISK balance between what I requested and what he wanted for his ship. Sadly the EVE client will allow 0.10 ISK as the minimum so I chose 1.01 and a suitable reply. I also figured I might as well ask why he was hanging around the academy. If it was for easy kills he was going to be a bit disappointed as those guys are pretty savage against single targets. His reply was slightly unexpected as he told me his alliance was invading the C2. Ooo, change of weekend plans then.

After our success at forming a local defence against nothing it was good to now be testing how successful we were as an alliance at deploying from our local wormholes and meeting up in the academy. At least with a static lowsec wormhole it would be easy to get to the destination, but with the other corps living in class four systems there was going to be luck at play for good routes to K-space.

Plans and fleet compositions were drawn up by people with more knowledge than me. Money was deposited in a kitty in case anyone was short of ISK to buy what was asked of them. Come Thursday I scanned a very nice route out of our home system. Very nice apart from the 32 jumps to Jita. I then went shopping and bought the ships I was planning to take. I do like wilful shopping sprees that aren't just the result of a ship loss.

Come Friday I had the ships hauled up to a staging point near the appropriate lowsec system and flew my gaggle of ships into the C2. It was a bit like going home. That system is where I started my wormhole career over a year ago. It gave me a fuzzy feeling inside to go back. I even still had my 'safe' bookmarks. During this time we became aware that our visitor and one of his alts had left the C2. Watchlist triggered d-scans also meant we suspected the other alts had also left as we didn't see any ships appear when he logged off. Had our visitor gone? Sadly we received confirmation of this when we announced some other corp activity meant there would be no action for us. Not being particularly trusting we decided to maintain watch anyway just in case.

At some point after several beers and boredom I decided to wander off in a bomber to Tama with a slightly inebriated Emergent Patroller. This had the expected result of us losing both our ships to pirates. I'm fairly certain that would probably have happened if the beers hadn't been flowing given the expectation of tonight had been to lose ships or die trying. It just wasn't meant to be in the pirate bolt-hole of Tama.

For all the weekend didn't provide in combat activities, it did give us good practice at a defensive deployment to another wormhole system in our alliance. I found the planning and execution of this good fun as well. Rather than just logging in to hope there were people or sleepers to shoot we had a proper mission to execute. Great stuff.

Now if only CCP could find some way to make NPC missions involved and meaningful like that.

9 October 2012

Golden PLEX

Oh wow, how did PLEX prices get so crazy? Could it be some combination of resculpting faces for PLEX combined with bidding an uncertain number of PLEXs to enter a tournament? I have no idea if this is actually the reason but it seems plausible enough. Certainly the prices are high enough for me to decide not to PLEX one of my accounts this month.

When I first started playing EVE I made a rule to myself that I wasn't going to buy PLEX to turn into ISK. That would be too easy and ruin some of the challenge of building myself up. It didn't take too long before inexperience and foolishness lead me to be a bit short of ISK. Don't fly what you can't afford to lose, especially to a lowsec mission or during a wardec. As a result I decided to buy a GTC, turn it into two PLEX and sell one while using the other to keep my account running. I did this two months in a row and had more ISK that I knew what to do with. Each PLEX sold for a little over 300 Million ISK.

As a result I was able to continue running L3 missions without worrying too much about a ship loss. To fulfil my previous desire to not buy ISK I bought two PLEX some time later when I was flush for ISK and applied them to my account. It was a loan with a really high interest rate. By the time I paid it back PLEX were up to 350 Million ISK.

Today a corpmate told me PLEX have broken 600 Million. That's one hell of an increase from the prices I had paid. My memories are from mid to late 2010. Amusingly I can also remember Orca prices from back then as my corp bought one just after I joined and I helped scout it home. It cost 350 Mil. (As a random point of interest, today Orcas are just under 700 Mil. - Orcas and PLEX seem to be inflating together).

Part of my original plans to not sell PLEX for ISK was also to not turn ISK into PLEX. I have a Monday to Friday job and I didn't want to turn EVE into another job. Some people I've met are constantly working to earn their next PLEX to play for another month (to earn another PLEX, ad nauseum). In contrast to those plans, around the start of this year I decided to create another account with a pure PvP character on it. I would only keep that account running as long as I could afford to buy a PLEX for it. While I am still able to fulfil that decision, I'm not sure I'm willing to pay 615 Million ISK for a PLEX. I'm going to go back on that decision and use real money to run that account. At least until PLEX prices drop back to 500 Mil. Then I can refund my gametime in a perfect mirror of the initial loan scenario.

Prices are going to drop back aren't they?

1 October 2012

Scratch One Tengu

Ah well, it was almost inevitable what was going to happen this weekend. For the last few days I had been feeling a bloodlust not particularly common for me. Maybe it was a result of how quiet wormhole life has been, fake encounters notwithstanding, but I really just wanted to make someone explode.

Friday night I undocked in the hope of making said explosion happen. We had pilots out exploring and mapping our entire constellation of about six or seven wormhole systems. In our c2b there was a lowsec exit to Aridia and a Viator floating in the POS. I sat quite happily for over an hour watching the Viator, willing him to make a move to a POCO so I could send him on his merry way. A couple of other corp mates joined me so you would think one of us would have been on the ball to work out where he was going when he finally made a move. Unfortunately, the time sitting doing nothing dulled our reactions and we had to scatter to find him. "He's on the lowsec, I've got him pointed" someone called but he jumped through and away. Will he be stupid enough to come back? We sat waiting for half an hour until receiving a notification that the potential target had logged off. Damnit.

Someone now scanned a new K162 in our home system. Jumping through we had a C5a to go with our normal C4a static. A pilot floated in the POS in a Moa suggesting to me that he might be planning on sucking up some gas. He didn't warp off so I took the risk that he was otherwise distracted and scanned down two ladars in the system. Unfortunately he either saw me or decided to do something other than suck gas and logged off. Gah!

By now my corpmates were starting to bunk down for the night but I was still hopeful and jumped out into the lowsec of Aridia to see what was out there. Suffice to say I finished my evening jumping around a ring of five systems popping rats as I went. I was delighted to raise my sec rating from almost 4.1 to just over 4.1. Yeah, right...

Saturday had me looking for a route out of our home system to meet up with some folk and go shoot at people in nullsec. We had a K162 with a nullsec exit in our home system that wasn't particularly useful to me and our C4a led to another C4 and that led to a C5. I paused in C4b for some scanning practice. I'm still perfecting a technique involving four deep space probes and four core probes and the twenty signatures in C4b seemed perfect. It took about 45 minutes due to distractions before I had neatly catalogued all the sigs then I took a break.

Coming back I decided to peek into C5c. When I first connected to the corp and alliance channels there was some chatter about the Wormhole Engineers and I assumed they were in here. Being a fan of Tigerears' blog I decided taking a look was worth the risk of those elite wormhole PvPers. I jumped through the wormhole and "oh crap, grey boxes and a bubble". I held cloak for a short time while I formulated a plan of escape. I assumed I was dead but that wasn't going to stop me trying to get out in once piece. Jumping back to C4b I immediately broke the session cloak and activated my covops cloak while spamming the warp button to a random planet. The wormhole gods didn't smile at me as the attacking forces landed right on top of me forcing my cloak back off. I continued to align and spam warp while assessing what was there and what was preventing my escape. I first targeted a Hurricane before noticing the Ishkur and switching to it. Four separate points on me meant I was dead I just wanted to take someone with me.

Overheating everything and trying to burn away was futile but I tried anyway. With four people preventing my warp engines from engaging this was going to be very messy, plus there was a Onyx in the field so I didn't expect to get my pod out neither. I was slowly eating through the Ishkur's armour but HAMs aren't designed for frigates. It was simply a matter of spamming the warp button while waiting to die. For some reason I was allowed to leave with my pod. I left a 'ta' as thanks in local because my brain couldn't compute 'gf' and then I started to wonder why I didn't eject to save some skill points. D'oh!

At least I got my wish to shoot at someone. Me exploding wasn't exactly the plan though.

27 September 2012

Invasion, maybe? (part 2)

I finished the last entry with us having demolished an unexpected visitor with an unexpected POS. We were at a loss to understand the motives and we were now under wardec for some bizarre reason. I had just caught a Loki from a merc corp in my catch bubble. Was this the end? Would Zero Return Mining Inc. be looking for a new home soon?

While I was contemplating our survival chance if we attacked the Loki who was now eating my catch bubble, a corpmate jumped into C4a to gather intel. He reported fifteen ships, from Strategic cruisers to Logistics and HICs, all sitting waiting on the other side of the hole. It may have been my imagination, but his voice was a little higher pitched than usual. We decided not to engage. This was properly looking like an invasion except for one thing. There was a clue that the mercenary corp was not here to invade and displace us - their appearance was through our C4a static wormhole which led to a dead end. If they had been rolling holes to find us our visitors would have arrived via a K162.

The second clue was their announcement that we should convo them if we wanted to save our POCO. That's a threat to draw out a fight, nothing more and nothing less. Given they were going to ask for ISK and we were going to refuse there was no point in following those instructions. Frustrated, they sent a single Tengu off to plink away at one of our POCOs. I figured he'd be there a while before getting through 1% of the POCO defences. A mere eight minutes later our erstwhile invaders got bored and left. Their parting message in local informed us of their disappointment in us. Sorry guys, we saw your force and decided discretion was the better part of valour.

The rest of the evening was quiet. Our number of connections slowly decreased and I took a peek into the home system of our invasion force. Fifteen large towers?! Glad I don't have any part in their fuel logistics. But, what about our wardec and optimistic invader of the previous night? Was there more to come?

The following morning I was up early and ready for action. Chatting with come corpmates there was a sudden exclamation from the wife who had been roused from sleep a few nights earlier to help bash our invader. She'd just noticed her husbands EVEMon running with an unfamiliar character in it; a character who had a familiar name; a character who may have been anchoring a POS in our home system...

My mail to the alliance explains it best:

War update
From: Oreamnos Amric
To: Illusion of Solitude [IOS]

Hey folks, 
As you may have seen the wardec against IoS has been dropped. There is a funny story behind all this and there was never any danger (more than we normally have in W-space) behind Shirley's invasion and the subsequent wardec. 
It turns out one of Zero's members was a little bored and a little drunk. He decided to take an alt into our Shirley and plonk a tower down while at the same time assisting on the capture and killing of said alt, followed by the bashing of said POS, waking his wife to help and composing threatening mails to himself. 
All in all the response mounted by Zero to a perceived threat was excellent. While the antagonist's actions may have been known to one member of the response (himself), all the other people who got on to help had no idea and I commend them all for the reaction and eviction of our 'invader'. 
Said member of Zero is apparently a little sheepish of his actions and says 'sorry'. 
Back now we go to wormhole life as normal.

So there we have it. Our very own little live event complete with the unexpected garnish of wandering mercenaries. To be fair, almost everyone in the alliance thought the whole episode was both funny and brilliant. It changed up the pace of our life for a while and sharpened us up a little. None of that is bad.

Postface: I would like to thank people who read my previous post and mailed me offering support in the event we did need to defend our home system. While we're not bad at mounting a defence if we need to, it's really nice to know there are people who are willing to assist us. Especially as we often are targets to each other. You know who you are, thanks.

25 September 2012

Invasion, maybe?

Wormhole space can do strange things to the systems on your ship. It can also do strange things to the people who live there. Maybe it's the solitude of living in deep space, not knowing where your next exit to more accessible and mapped regions will be. Maybe it's the more-than-slightly hypnotic qualities of a pulsating wormhole when you're assigned to running intel duties. Whatever reason, strange things can happen.

Very recently something strange happened to one of our pilots which he has subsequently attributed to Quafe cider. It was late and I was scouting our newest member into our home system. The entry from K-space was  two jumps through W-space and there was also a link to a class six system from that wormhole. As we were coming in, I had just warped off to the next connection when the new pilot announced a Badger was on d-scan. Being tired I decided it was not a big deal and I couldn't be bothered hunting for it - the lure of a comfy bunk was too enticing. I hit the sack and killed comms.

Next morning I checked my mailbox to find a rather startling sequence of events had occurred whilst I was isolated.
From: ######
To: ######
Well sort of., Some 9 day old idiot in a badger has put up a tower in shirley. (Either he's an idiot, or the best bait in the world.)
Come on comms, get information and if you log in to game, do not log into an obvious pvp ship, Be in a cloaky ship.
Oh my, what has happened? It turned out the Badger I had flippantly ignored had arrived in our home system less than an hour after I switched off the lights and anchored a tower. Said 'idiot' was swiftly dispatched back to hisec using the fast lane. Thus followed requests for guns to dispatch the anchored tower, including one pilot waking his wife to help, and finally a report that there were two hours of Strontium in its bay.
Re: Invasion!
From: ######
To: ######
Enemy tower comes out of reinforcement at 0610 EVE time.
If you are available then, we would really appreciate the help.
If I'd been paying attention I could have been awake for that. Sadly I wasn't and on checking my mail the following message was already waiting:
Re: Invasion!
From: ######
To: ######
Kill: Amarr Control Tower Small 
today - Santa is dead!
The biggest question was: "What the hell was that all about?". Were we really dealing with a nine day old noob or was there a more experience hand guiding this new pilot? The actions and activities of this new pilot suggested something deeper was afoot. His ship was disguised using our naming convention, his tower was named similar to an existing tower of ours. Suspicions were raised that this was a fishing operation to see what our response would be. Did we have more coming? What the hell? A wardec by him? Now we were totally confused. If he was part of an invasion force why would he waste ISK on a wardec?

From: ######
To: ###### 
you pay for that. we just wanted to share. no need!!!!!!!!!!!
Re: :(
From: ######
To: ######

By now I was now fully awake, if somewhat confused. My morning was spent turning 'dickstar mode' to eleven on our POSs just in case. Non-essential structures were put offline and all resists and EWAR were onlined. After that we could only wait and see what was going to happen. And wait, and wait and wait.

That day we had no less that four connections into our normally solitary section of space. I decided it would be fun to drop a stop bubble between the route from our static C4 and our visiting C2. This was mainly because the C4 had a C6 static and I was hoping to relieve the excitement from the past few hours with an easy hauler kill... Oh, a Loki landed in my bubble. He's from a wormhole mercenary corp. Aw, crap...

---To Be Continued---

12 September 2012

Man Down

R.I.P. - Vile Rat

I never knew Vile Rat/Sean Smith or had any dealings with him. I did know of him and I heard only good things about him. Some things in the world truly make no sense and the senseless attack in which Sean Smith lost his life in is one of those things.

Someone somewhere suggested in a comment that there should be a permanent memorial put up in VFK. I mean, why the hell not. I could support that even though I'd likely never see it.

11 September 2012

Intel Gathering

I came online today to receive an IM from a corp mate. He was pointing out a new intel tool he had stumbled across on the very slick domain name of wormhol.es. The aim of this tool is to:

"provide wormhole adventurers with a quick and easy way of finding out more information about what has gone on in whichever wormhole they have ventured into. It analyses information from a variety of sources and attempts to identify significant activity that has occured, and using algorithms attempts to identify who is and has been resident."
 The information provided includes the expected static connections you might find, the recent PvE and PvP combat statistics, who probably lives there and what they like to fly, finally you are given the most recent kill in the system courtesy of eve-kill.net.

All the useful information you could ever need

Of course the first thing I checked was the intel available for the wormholes occupied by my corp and the academy corp in my alliance. The intel seems reasonably active although the active timezone guess was a little off. Closer inspection shows the percentages used to estimate the active timezone. Possibly a tweak to the code to allow more than one active timezone would be useful as our active periods are barely split on percentages.

The site has the facilities to use the extra information provided by the in-game browser. If you grant trust to this site you are able to hit the refresh button and fetch the intel for your current location. The site claims it only uses this information for updating the viewed page but I am paranoid - this is EVE after all. I'll definitely be using this site, but from the safety of an out-of-game browser.

6 September 2012

Pushing My Luck Too Far

After being away on holiday for a week I decided to make as much of a full day of EVE as I could today. I logged on before downtime to get a fix on the current sigs in my home system. Amazingly there were four grav sites kicking around. I was later told that these sites just wouldn't die and had been with us for too long now. The fifth sig was also bookmarked making my life nice and easy. I logged off and had lunch.

Logging back in a little while later found a corpie off into C4a scanning a route to hisec. I pottered around with other corp administrivia while she took care of scanning. Flashing from the 'Local' channel eventually caught my eye and it was a message from someone cheerily announcing they closed our static. I checked whether my corpie was home or not. She wasn't and now had no route home. Right, time for me to ignore the admin stuff and get to work  to find a route while she did the same.

A quick check revealed a sixth sig had cheekily appeared in our home system while I was doing paperwork. Checking C4a I found it had a static C3 somewhere. It also had pilots in a Curse and Tengu. I watched for a little while to see if they would turn into easy targets. They didn't and as I had a job to do I quickly got bored waiting and headed off to inspect our K162.

The K162 lead me to a class 3 wormhole with a static hisec. Music to my ears. I quickly scanned it all out while also watching a Badger do nothing interesting, then a pod do nothing interesting, then an Orca... You get the picture. The static hisec turned out nice and close to both Jita and Amarr. My corpie got herself back home safely while I exported some sleeper loot acquired by the corp over my holidays.

With such an easy route I then started to export all the corp PI purchasing I possible could. After eight return trips I then decided I should probably fly in some POS fuel. My first run went great but on the second run I landed on and jumped through the hole from hisec at exactly the same time as a Proteus did. I wasn't overly bothered by this as I could just jump back to hisec. I waited out the session timer, reapproached the wormhole and clicked the jump button. Strangely I didn't jump back to the safety of hisec. Instead I received a warning on my screen about being polarized. My brain processed this message as if jumping would make me polarized rather than the actual message that I was already polarized. It took three attempts before I recognised the wording of the error to actually say "You're screwed".


After getting my pod to safety I convoed my executioner to thank them for reminding me of the dangers of polarization. I had a nice chat with them talking about their life in a C6 and the relative ISK increase in payouts (about 50% greater per pilot). Eventually I bade them farewell and logged off. My intel informed me that the killer logged off about five minutes after me so I waited around an hour then flew back in with a perfect copy of the deceased Iteron V. Given it wasn't mine I figured I should probably replace it.

Lesson learned: Watch your polarization timers and don't work too fast.

3 September 2012

Podded by Concord

I figured it would be fun to go down a controversial route today. Looking forward to your comments of rage.

Concord should be punishing people who commit crimes in hisec by podding them and issuing a fine.

No, this is not an anti-goon rant against Hulkageddon type activities, or the recent trend to gank freighters en route between Amarr and Jita. While that is not my chosen thing to do I am happy with there being people out there who do that. I'm even happy that those people are able to do it. Let's face it, the main difference between hisec and lowsec is only a perceived feeling of safety. So far in 2012 there has been almost the same number of ships killed in hisec as in lowsec, nullsec and wormhole space combined. That's not particularly safe, is it? Yet people feel safe autopiloting around willy-nilly in untanked haulers and Orcas. Something they would never do in 0.4 but are happy to do in 0.5.

If I don't have a problem with the crime why, then, do I have an issue with the current punishment? On TV there is a vast number of Police car chase programs. While the sequence of events that leads up to each chase will vary, the general recipe is the same: police detect criminal in a vehicle; police try to stop criminal; criminal flees; police chase; criminal crashes.

In my mind the above sequence of events isn't too dissimilar to EVE. In New Eden what we find is: Crime happens which Concord instantly know about; Concord arrive at the scene of the crime; Concord blow up criminal. It's at this point things fall down. Once Concord blows up your ship you are free to go. Sure, players can take pot-shots at your pod but the police are happy for you to do whatever you want. Unless you get another ship too soon, that is.

Consider a scenario where the police are chasing a murderer and in order to stop the criminal they ram his car off the road. The car gets written off due to the resulting damage. Imagine the public outrage if the police then let they guy go provided he doesn't get into another car too soon. Said fellow waits out this period of time, gets a new car and goes off to kill someone else. Make sense?

Here's what I think should happen. Once Concord blow up the criminal they should try to catch his pod and explode that too. This is the equivalent to the police not only stopping a criminal but arresting him as well. Finally, that criminal should be fined in the station for criminal activities. From a gankers point of view all this does is increase the 'operating costs' for their illegal activities. Now, as well as replacing ships they need to replace clones and pay fines.

It is worth making life a little more fun for these hisec pirates though. They should have the ability to warp their pod free from the exploding ship if they are quick enough. The understanding here being that ship destruction is a guaranteed punishment but it may be possible to escape with your pod and without being fined. Simply docking or jumping out of system isn't a route to safety, however. Stations will be aware you are a criminal and won't let you dock. Gates will let you leave but if the next system is also hisec then Concord will start chasing you there too. In fact, the only way to avoid being podded and fined is to get to lowsec or nullsec (or jump through a wormhole).

What gains does this give us in game? Well, carebears get the satisfaction of a more robust penalty against the 'bad guys'. Hisec griefing becomes slightly less interesting due to higher costs. The 'professionals' will still do it as they can work the costs into making sure they only gank the best targets. Finally these criminals can choose the excitement of a 'car chase' across the skies seeking safe haven. Seems like a genius idea to me. What say you?

30 August 2012

First Solo Kill

For a character born in 2009 it has taken me a rather long time to get my first actual killmail. I've not be on the winning side of many as it is, but I was truly excited to finally get one of my own where I struck the final blow. Of course, any battle hardened PvP professionals would scoff at my getting excited over a Tengu killing a Helios. I don't care, you can't rain on my parade. I actually sat smiling like a loony for ages after the kill. Let me tell you the story.

It was quiet in our home system. There was a plethora of connections for a change - C4a, C5a, and dropping probes for a timely sig-check led me to discover a new C6a. Not only that, my scanner skills appeared vastly improved as d-scan suggested I was fielding 14 scanner probes. Hmm, visitors. After finding the C6a I sat at range and chatted with my corp over where the visitor was when he appeared on my d-scan. Not only appeared on d-scan but had a distance. The Helios was 3500 km from me and uncloaked, probably reloading his probe launcher. Now what?

Keeping eyes on the K162 to C6a I waited for the Helios to leave or more friends to join him. Another corpie was in C4a scanning for a route to K-space when he reported the Helios was there with him. Right, time for a plan. He would most likely jump C4a->C6a so I decided a stop bubble would be perfect for annoying him. I didn't think there would be any chance I would actually catch the Covert Ops ship but at least I would cause distraction and force him to slow boat a long way across space. I warped to the C4a then back to the C6a at about 70 km. Launching a medium bubble is easy and anchoring it to activate is a simple matter of right clicking and waiting, um, four minutes?! I really didn't expect this to work especially with such a delay. The Helios would probably be home before the bubble went up.

Four minutes takes a long time to go by but the Helios hadn't gone home. Finally the bubble inflated and I got myself to about 15 km from where I thought the Helios would land. In comms I was talking about how pointless this was when a white bracket with a yellow box landed on my optimal range. This puzzled me. Why wasn't he cloaked? I decloaked and started hitting my warp disruptor waiting for the recalibration delay to end. At this point I still don't expect to catch the... holy crap I got a point on him. Missiles. More missiles. Yet more missiles. I was trying to keep myself out of my own bubble, fully expecting his friends to come from C6a. As a result I kept moving out of range for my HAMs causing the kill to be dragged out way longer than it should. Finally the Helios explodes and I cloak up.

The bubble is there as is the pod... oh I could get the pod too. Damn, why did I cloak? Uncloaking I have to wait out the recalibration delay a second time but still manage to get a point on the pod. Now my heart is trying to escape from my chest and it's hard to concentrate with the adrenaline. Squish goes the pod without any sign of his friends coming to get me. This time I loot the Helios wreck and scoop the corpse before cloaking. Another corpmate tells me the victim goes offline almost straight away. Guess I upset him. Looking at the value of his implants I can see why. I would log off too if I just lost a 600 Mil clone. Mind you, I wouldn't be in W-space with that much ISK in my head.

This was a night of firsts: My first bubble anchored; my first killmail; my first solo kill; my first pod. Happy days for me if not the killee.

27 August 2012

Sweet Home Alabama

Welcome to the 39th Blog Banter. After a some heavy topics in the last few editions, this time we'll be taking a more relaxed trip through the thoughts of the blogosphere. The origins of this month's concept come from a suggestion from EON Magazine editor Richie "Zapatero" Shoemaker. 
"Some say a man's home is his castle. For others it is wherever they lay their hat. The concept is just as nebulous in the New Eden sandbox. 

In EVE Online, what does the concept of "home" mean to you?"

In both real life and EVE I have a somewhat fluid idea of what I call home. Fluid in that I don't consider anything wrong with travelling home to visit my parents and then back home to my own house. Nuts, eh? Well it makes sense to me and that's what counts. I think I'm conditioned to think this because my parents live where I grew up. That is the area which is more familiar to me. I know where everything is and all the shortcuts, even if I don't really know any of the people now.

How this translates to EVE is I have more than one home even if I only truly live in one place. In EVE my wormhole is my home. In fact, it is more than my home, it is my full neighbourhood. Many of my in-game friends are there, certainly all the ones I regularly spend time with. I have to work to live in my wormhole - we all do. Towers were built by us, fuel is hauled in, loot and ore is exported back out. This is where I live and call home.

As suggested above, I have more than one home. Auvergne V - Moon 5 was the office of my previous corp before I joined Z3R0 Return Mining and is still where I store all my ships which aren't in the wormhole with me. This is my old stomping ground; the place where I grew up; the place where I spent my time running level 4 missions. Of course, being Gallente also adds to my sense of belonging on the rare occasions I am there. Interestingly I never formed any bond when that previous corp moved to Solitude and I went with them. Maybe I didn't spend long enough time there and never properly integrated with the locals. Certainly when I was there I would nip home to Auvergne from time to time. I guess I only viewed that like some kind of deployment.

The wormhole I currently live in wasn't the first one with my current corp. We used to be in a class 2 system which now belongs to our alliance mates - Broken Wheel Mercantile and Trading. I recently went to visit them in my old home and lob some torpedoes at them as a live fire training exercise. I was surprised to find I still had my old safe spot bookmarks where I used to log off every night. In spite of this I still didn't feel like I was somewhere I would call home, even though I expected it to feel that way.

So what does this mean? I only have two places I call home - the place I grew up is statically defined and won't change and I will always go back to Auvergne to go home. The other home is where I spend most of my current time and is ephemeral in nature. Today home is my class 4 wormhole, next year it could be a class 5.

Champions of the Domicile

24 August 2012

Fishing with the Sleepers

I think the discussion about reworking POSs is all good and well, but what about in wormhole space? In the sparsely populated areas I call home CCP have a great opportunity to do something truly different. While it is accepted that we can take a POS structure through some wormholes and assemble it to call home, how about further differentiation these unknown regions of space further buy creating a second choice?

This idea of mine has cropped up a few times in various random discussion on comms but this is the first time I've tried to actually write it down. I was prompted to scribble this down having seen the very basic gameplay demo for Incarna toons exploring Sleeper structures. Forgive me if I wander in my thoughts.

In wormhole space we should be able to capture, occupy and live in some Sleeper structures.

This is my home, there are many like it but this one is mine.
How does that strike you as a genious idea?

Fleshing this out now. How would this work initially? Well, CCP would define a subset of Sleeper structures that would be inhabitable by Capsuleers. Maybe some new artwork to create additional structures would be in order to create something suitable. But I would be quite happy with owning something like this structure.

Obviously we wouldn't want this to be an easily attainable structure to acquire so there should be a new, hard to scan down signature type 'Sleeper Domicile' could be a good name. The spawn rate of such signature should be kept really low. The idea being that players shouldn't be able to move into a wormhole expecting such structures to appear within any particule time frame. The slow spawn randomness would also make it harder for a corp to hire someone in advance to do the hard combat. The very nature of this site would push it to be the hardest type to run requiring a large investment in player combat to clear the site before they could think about taking control. Actually, by control, what if this meant something similar to the incursion or faction warfare mechanic? Sleeper control is reduced by running numerous sites and only once sleeper control is removed does the 'Domicile' become vulnerable.

Clearing the 'Domicile' site isn't the end of this though. In order to gain access we need three areas to be hacked within a limited time frame. This time frame should be too small to allow a single player to hack all three alone but large enough to take into account the random chance of hacking success. Once control has been passed to the player they own it but cannot use it. There is still a risk of despawn.

To make the ownership permanent there would be a final step similar to assembling a customs office where a set number of PI products need deposited in the structure to make it inhabitable for Capsuleers. I have no idea what a suitable level of item volume should be here. It needs to be something feasible to achieve given the mass limits and potential poor routes to haul stuff into a wormhole system. Maybe tuning the requirements to what can be made through PI in each wormhole would work. A wormhole with the ability to make all top tier PI outputs would have a requirement spread across all their possible outputs; a wormhole with only one or two top tier products would require a higher number of each of the two outputs plus some lower tier items. Probably an upgrade process could be in order here so 'stabilising' a structure to not despawn is readily achievable but  actually being able to dock all your ships requires time and coordinated effort.

There also needs to be some form of fuel requirement. There is a temptation to say this should fully consist of things found in wormhole space, but that would take away from some of the current challange of living in wormholes. I'm also not sure what facilities should be available in the structure - should it just hanger space and "Captain's Quarters"? Should it be shared storage as in POSs or more like the privacy afforded in empire-based stations? What about manufacturing, research, invention facilities? I think this should really be kept in traditional POSs with the exception of T3 reverse engineering and construction. This would be the perfect time to allow us wormholers to actually follow the T3 production process from start to end in completeness in the wormhole. The missing piece being able to assemble the subsystems in W-space. What about forcing this to only be possible in W-space?! Well, the reverse engineering and subsystem/hull manufacture anyway. It's a bit much to expect a capsuleer to buy the parts in Jita then haul them to W-space before flying their new ship.

Of course, these structures should definitely be destroyable by hostile players. They should be tougher than large POSs but I'm not sure what the defences would consist of. If there are people docked in a structure when it explodes they should find themselves back in Empire space in a new clone. If they had any possessions in the structure they get destroyed. Simple. While this is harsh, it gives a real goal to fight for if you are invaded. Reinforced timers give you a chance to be organised and also for invaders to get bored and leave.

So, what do you think?

10 August 2012


*recorded message begins* I am not available to take your call. I have taken myself off-grid for a couple of days for some R&R. If you need me to get back to you, please leave a message after the tone... >>>BEEEEP<<<

8 August 2012

New Alliance

In around 36 hours from this article appearing online there will be a new alliance born into New Eden. What's that you say? Nothing unusual and probably many more than just one? Well, you may be right, but this one is different; this one is being formed by me around the sister corps of Z3R0 Return Mining and Broken Wheel Mercantile and Trading. If you've been vaguely following the going on with our alliance membership you'll be aware of why we need a new alliance.

Once that has been done we can get back to our proper business of fully enjoying wormhole life for all its glory. BWMT can get back to recruiting people unfamiliar with wormhole space and turning them into killing machines. In Z3R0 we can do what we like to do too - mostly shooting sleepers. At some point though the alliance must grow. The idea is that people from BWMT 'graduate' to other corps in the alliance. At some point, though, Z3R0 will be full (or require a professional team of fuel haulers to fuel a staggering number of POSs). As such, I've been told to write a mission statement to guide our forward path.

From the handful of management courses I've done I know this is an important thing for any real business to have lest they flounder around blindly. Knowing it needs done it one thing, but how do you put a rough idea in your head onto paper? Well, today I threw something down and passed it to Splatus for his opinion. I told him not to rewrite it. His response - "Can I rewrite it?". I think he was joking...

6 August 2012


Some time ago I read a very valid piece of advice on a random blog somewhere. The advice read something like:

In order to fully enjoy yourself in New Eden it is important to follow your own dream. Following someone else's dream will only lead to unhappiness.

This is important to remember. Play the game you want, not what someone else chooses for you.

1 August 2012

More IT

Hot on the heels of creating the loot submission system I suddenly found myself in possession of a corp and proto-alliance unexpectedly displaced from its forums and comms. Alliances are meant to be more about a common goal and shared 'belonging' rather than just some badge beneath the corp badge. Part of making that so is having shared comms and forums to communicate through. For me, if I wanted the wormhole side of our former alliance to survive, getting a replacement for these things as fast as possible was essential.

After setting up an emergency TeamSpeak server on a box I have in London I had a quick check with what would be best to use for the forums. I pretty much knew the answer already but wanted to confirm there wasn't some better choice out there. As I turned out, I was correct and needed to get myself Simple Machines Forum with Temar's EVE API to allow API authentication. This would also allow TeamSpeak integration with the forums to ensure only forum members in the correct corps would be able to get onto our comms.

Having attempted to fight with the development version of Temar's EVE API already on behalf of Li3 Alliance it was with some trepidation that I re-approached the task. I was well advised that the 'stable' version of TEA is exploitable so I didn't really have any choice other than to win this time. Renting a cheap server to run it all on was easy. Installing SMF was also pretty simple with a nice, easy to follow installation interface. Installing TEA was also pretty simple once I found the link to the development version. Now came the battle to understand the way TEA's 'rules' work.

For some reason I found it all a lot easier to understand this time. You need to create the appropriate groups under SMF first and then it's a simple case in TEA to say "people in corp 226346106 go to group Z3R0R" and any new members will be put in that group. Piece of cake. So I set up rules for the main corp and the academy, created forum subsections, stuck a suitably dark theme on it and told people to sign up. Voila, one SMF forum integrated with new-style API keys thanks to Temar, whoever he is.

Next up was the TeamSpeak integration which I got myself a little confused over. I got the connection from TEA to TS3 sorted no bother and could see a list of available groups fine. I just could not figure out how on earth to make the rules apply to forum members and allow them access to the TS3 server. The sticking point was my impression that setting up TeamSpeak to use a database was optional. Turns out that this is not so. As soon as I got TS3 and SMF linked to the database everything just worked and people could register themselves with TS3.

So, what was left? Well some people had mentioned a jabber server. A number of Z3R0 were already hanging out on jabber.org but we could do cool things with our own jabber server. It turns out TEA only supports the Openfire jabber server. I battled with this for a while but it really wasn't up for running in the small amount of RAM available. Plan B - write my own authentication layer for some other jabber server. So some Python and a weekend later I rolled that out too.

Today our proto-alliance has all its IT needs taken care of. Just need to create the actual alliance in-game now.

30 July 2012

Loot buying

One of the features of my corp is that we buy any and all loot, gas and ore acquired through the running of sites in wormhole space. Of course, we take a cut for the hassle of shipping it out and selling it but folks are welcome to move things out themselves if they so choose. The main advantage for us running this scheme is this helps ensure a fair distribution of proceeds from wormhole activities to all that took part. Giving the corp 'pocket money' is an added bonus which only really benefits the corp members anyway.

We've always used a google docs spreadsheet for splitting the loot proceeds. In the old C2 it was filled out by the person responsible for payouts; in the current C4 it was the responsibility of the person who did the salvaging. There was always the danger of accidents in deleting the formulae which did all the calculations, and that did happen a couple of times, but the spreadsheet worked well. At least, it worked well for the submitter of loot.

Payday comes every two weeks and that basically meant I would spend a good hour or two tabulating all the payouts per person per op so the spreadsheet could add it all up. Talk about RSI? I think that was possibly the only task I've encountered due to EVE that was more laborious and repetitive than setting up five planets of PI. And with the PI you don't redo it twice a month. So I took it on myself to create a web-based form with a database back-end to do all the heavy lifting. This would save me loads of time and wear out less mice in the long run.

Leave all melted nano-ribbons here please.
After a couple of false starts because I got tied up on the auth side of things I eventually got going. My go-to language of choice is PERL as I've been writing in that for far too many years. It didn't take too long to design a decent database and create the submission form off the back of it. Of course, if people are submitting loot then they'll want some form of receipt showing what they put in and what it's worth. Again, not particularly hard. Then I added in the admin side of stuff, listing the submissions, confirming them, listing payout values. Crap, did I just spend 25 hours doing all this?

So once it was fully functional I had to make it pretty. It's a fact that HTML without style is, well, style-less. These days the entire world+dog is using Bootstrap, from Twitter. Given the clean look it produces I wasn't about to go against the grain. Bang goes another 25 hours while working out how to convince PERL to make nice webpages (unheard of, I know) and then doing so.

Testing is important so I unleashed a copy of the new site onto my corpies. Most people were happy during the testing except for one slight problem - the in-game browser doesn't support basic auth. Yes, I'd copped out of writing a proper auth system and was replying on something  not supported. Oops. Time to learn about cookies I guess...

Cookies were implemented in a day around other my real life stuff and I had a very shiny website that worked in-game. So I put it live and it seemed to work. Within a day I had four feature requests - a reference ID, adding notes, viewing past submissions, viewing everyones totals (i.e. a leaderboard). The reference ID was easy as it was already in place. The others are all done now except for the leaderboard. I just wonder how long it will be before I save the time doing payouts that I just spent creating this masterpiece.

The whole admin side is still pretty ugly as only I'll see that. There are also a few things I need to drop to the database to do, such as correcting item counts in submissions or adding missing members to a submission. It also assumes everyone gets an equal share as that's how we do it in Z3R0. All these things can be fixed though, when they need to be.

26 July 2012

Crazy Times

I've been neglecting my blog this week due to EVE exploding in my face. My corp mate Emergent Patroller gives a decent record of what just happened. This is good because it means I don't have to. Luckily for EP, she managed to avoid most of the drama as it happened and it probably gives a better balanced view. For the record, I think I'm more in the confused camp over it all.

Back to normal next week? I really hope so.

16 July 2012

Thukk You, Frill Me! - Aftermath

I've just found my way back to Jita after the 'Thukk You, Frill Me!' Protest run and subsequent RvB Ganked roam. This turned out to be a somewhat slow-burning event with a successful, die-in-a-fire ending. So, on that basis, I am quite happy. The fleet peaked out at almost 200 members which is apparently not a record for a Ganked night, but was up there quite high.

The fun began in Jita with a flashy Armageddon undocking and redocking as he was shot and ran out of shields. We decided this wasn't acceptable and headed over to unleash 100+ Stabbers on him. He died and we set off for Akora, the first lowsec system where we met up with our fellow fleet members with poor sec status. From there we headed to the Thukker head office of M-MD3B via N-RAEL. There were a few potential fights on the way but the only thing that actually materialised was a poor Thrasher that wandered into our path. Funnily enough when local spikes but something close to 200 people the tendency of the locals is to dock up.
Purple Stabber ball

Just before M-MD3B we had a sniff of a battle. Due to some cunning randomness on the EVE autopilot's behalf our fleet had split into two groups and was about to land on a gatecamp in a fantastic pincer movement. As I was in the smaller fleet we were ordered in first. We jumped in to find, well, nothing. Disappointed by this turn of events we headed to the Thukker Mix station to protest. It appears the Thukker Mix CEO had heard of Seismic Stan as the protest organiser as, when Stan and a few others opened fire on the station, it was only Stan who got popped.

Now the protest was out of the way, I stuck with the RvB Ganked fleet for the journey down to find some more fights. We headed down to Utopia in Curse and ran around a little trying to find someone to fight. People were getting a bit frustrated at this point and ended up chasing some non-flashy ships into Sendaya. As Sendaya is lowsec, the gate-guns took offence at this and started shooting. Eventually the offending Megathron died, but by then I was with the main body of the fleet heading for Catch.

Planet ahoy
We were told to set our destination for GE-8JV and we were never to make it past there. A couple of jumps out we received word of an Against ALL Authorities fleet in GE-8JV. We had been on the go for five hours or so and it was time to die. We jumped into the system and immediately re-approached the gate to see what the -A- guys would do. Obligingly they came to us at zero and we all jumped back into V-3YG7. I don't believe I've ever seen so many battleships in one place, nevermind ones that would like to blow me up. We aligned away from the gate to see what was going to happen and as -A- came through they bubbled up and the fight was on. Our FC started calling primaries and I actually managed to get myself sorted and shooting at the right things. First we took down a Phobos before switching to a Navy Armageddon. We couldn't break through the reps on the 'geddon so we switched targets and killed a Curse and then a 1.2 billion ISK Loki.

By this point the twenty or so Armageddons' smart bombs were taking their toll and I found myself in my pod. After a worrying minute where I thought nobody was going to pod me back to hisec I found myself in Hek. Hmm, why is my clone in Hek? Oh well, home to Jita. I had great fun. I went out to die and I managed that quite successfully. I also managed to help destroy almost 2 billion ISK worth of stuff so I died happy.

Oh, yeah, and bring back the Frill.