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.

14 July 2012

Alliance Tournament X

Watch Live Right Here

It is the third weekend of EVE Alliance Tournament X. If you are like me you might struggle to remember the web address to watch the good fights live. As a special treat I have added a page to this site which will be streaming the fights live for your viewing pleasure.

You can either click the "Alliance Tournament X" link at the top of the page. Alternatively just click here.

13 July 2012

Thukk You, Frill Me! - Reminder

Just thought I'd post a quick reminder about Sunday's protest against CCP's butchering of the : Thukk You, Frill Me! I posted the what's and why's last week so you have no excuse for not showing up. In case you didn't check back I updated the timetable to include the final evening's endeavour of taking any and all survivors from M-MD3B and heading on to Delve for good times and parties.

I've already got myself three Stabbers fitted up for Geo. One is sitting in Jatate for the suicide gank raffle, the other two are in Jita for the main event. Hopefully I'll need them all!

See you in Jita.

11 July 2012

A Year In Wormholes

Today marks the first anniversary of my journey into wormhole space so I thought I'd try and do a little recap of that time. I find it most amusing to think that just over a year ago I was in a fairly unsocial corp living in Solitude running L4 missions and thinking I was making loads of ISK. At one time there had been a small group of us who chatted in the corp channel, and even a couple of lowsec roams, but not what you'd expect for a corp boasting 300+ members. Also, we kept being on the receiving end of wardecs and there weren't enough members willing to go out and fight. I was also not so inclined to go fight, but was starting to get to a point where I was fed up either not playing or dying to a war target gate camp after foolishly running missions thinking I would be okay.

I had started getting more interested in the community aspect of EVE. I was listening to a couple of podcasts including Jadecougar's Lost In EVE podcast. This meant when Splatus, one of the few people in corp I actually spoke to, mentioned to me he was considering leaving and trying out wormhole life I decided to accompany him. There were a couple of wormhole corps we considered. I can't remember who the first corp we chatted with were but they sounded a bit too militaristic for us. There was talk of timelimits on running Sleeper sites and ridicule should you fall outside those times. We decided that wasn't for us. Next up was Jadecougar's Z3R0 Return Mining Inc. and they sounded much friendlier so we submitted APIs and agreed to the interview. The interview was probably more intense than many job interviews I've been to. I'm sure it lasted at least an hour and then Splatus and I were in.

Moving in day was fun. I had been on a shopping spree fitting an omni-tank Myrm so I didn't have to fly Caldari. I had been practising my scanning with a lovely helios. I also took in a Covetor and a 'ghetto-Noctis' Catalyst salvager. I then went nuts and filled a bunch of GSCs with random ammo and modules to haul in my Itty. With some trepidation and what I perceived to be outstanding levels of organisation on the part of Z3R0 I managed to safely get most of my shopping into our POS. I was heading out to get the last ship when there were reports of some combat ships on our route. I jumping into my Nemesis and managed to help kill a Typhoon thus allowing Splatus to move in and me to fetch my last ship. My first taste of wormhole combat.

I quickly settled into a life of running my PI setup efficiently and making a stupid amount of ISK. I had the option of dropping out to lowsec through our static to go run missions when the wormhole was quiet but I did that fairly infrequently. I very quickly realised I needed a second account with a cloaky alt to make it easier to run Sleeper sites with only a couple of people on. Life was good, then came the management 'crisis' which resulted in an opportunistic corp theft.

At that time, Z3R0 existed in two wormholes - a C2 and a C4. When Jadecougar decided to take leave from New Eden, potentially permanently, there was an assumption by the person who ran the C2 that he would become CEO. This didn't happen so he quit one night leaving us helpless. There were two ways the corp could have went at that point: sink or swim. A small number of people chose to flee the corp (at least one taking other people's 'canes with them) but for the most part people stayed. The new CEO appointed some directors then wasn't heard of again, but quite quickly we were happy with that.

There was a little concern when Jade came back from hiatus and announced Z3R0 was moving to the C4. How would we cope with no direct access to K-space? How would we survive in the significantly more dangerous space that a C4 presented? Jade was adamant that the dangers of C4 space had been greatly exaggerated to us during our time in the C2 and moving would be simple. So we found some nice guys to buy the C2 from us and we moved. Funny thing we learned was that C4 space isn't actually any more dangerous than C2 space.  As long as you run proper intel you have exactly the same chance of a wandering capsuleer popping you back to hisec in either class of space.

Moving wormholes is a logistical nightmare. It's amazing the volume of stuff you acquire in there. We lost several Orcas due to people being silly on the move out, including one containing a Tengu - oops! The move into the C4 went more smoothly and it was at that time I finally abandoned my principles and started flying Caldari. I moved into the C4 as the proud owner of a scanning Tengu and an omni-tank Drake. Subsequently I replaced the Drake with another Tengu due to the peer pressure of greater range.

In the last six months since moving we've been forced into greater displays of teamwork. Scanning is much more important now than in the C2 as we are always at least two jumps to K-space and usually more. The big change for me is I am now the CEO of Z3R0 Return Mining Inc. as Jade has left to chase a dream of nullsec. Z3R0 probably has more active members now that it ever had and we are still recruiting. Not only that, we also helped create a wormhole academy with Splatus taking the lead there. The aim of our corp has always been primarily to enjoy the game in good company and that is what we continue to do. While the corp buys PI and Sleeper loot and takes a cut from the proceeds, the proceeds of this are used to keep us out here and ease the life of everyone. Not a tactic for the corp to become space-rich but, hey, it's not like we have any shareholders to answer to.

Here's to another year of Z3R0 and Wormholes.

9 July 2012

Fitting Ships

As anyone who knows me can tell you I am about as far away from being an EFT-warrior as is possible. I don't know if there is an official term for it, but I am a 100% fitting leach. Given access to a new ship I am more likely to wander around Battleclinic or FHC looking at the suggestions for ships there than actually fire up EFT to see what I can design for myself.

With the Thukk You, Frill Me! protest coming up I have been training Geo with the appropriate skills to fit and fly a Stabber. My first instinct was to disappear onto the web to find a suitable fit to guide his training and I came up with something on FHC. I plugged this into EFT and then EVEMon and, lo and behold, I had a skill plan.

Today I decided I wasn't satisfied with this approach and that it's maybe about time I learned how to fit my own damn ships. Given I can't for the life me remember the Stabber fit I found on FHC I decided that would be a good place to start. Firing up EFT and importing Geo's skills was the easy part. Loading up a new fit for the Stabber was also easy. From there I was presented with a blank canvas with the words "fit it to its bonuses".

Stabber: 5% bonus to Medium Projectile Turret firing speed per level and 5% bonux to max. velocity per level.

"Well, at least that's the guns picked for me" I think fitting four 425mm Medium 'Scout' Autocannon I's. This leaves me two high slots to either fit missile launchers or some utility modules which I'll come back to later when I know what powergrid and CPU I have left. So, shield or armour tanked? This being a Minmatar ship I have an equal number of mid and low slots so there is no obvious hint
which way to go first. As I'll be in a fleet I might as well try a shield fit first with some damage mods in the lows. In my mids I put a Large Shield Extender, a scram and a web. In the lows I put two Gyrostabilizers and a Shield Power Relay. Still having plenty of PG, CPU and Cap available I revisit the remaining high slots and stick in more damage dealing in the form of a couple of Assault Launchers. At this point I realise my resists are pretty terrible so I stick in two EM and one thermal shield rigs.

I'm not over the moon with this fitting. Although I'm not used to actually working out my own fittings so have no idea if my feelings are justified. My thought are that the resists and EHP are too low. So, let's try an armour version. After ripping out the Large Shield Extender, the rigs and the lows I add a 400mm plate, an armour repairer and an explosive resist mod. To give me back some speed I put a 10MN afterburner in my now spare mid slot. My resists are again a bit poor so I put a kinetic and thermic rig in and then add a trimark pump to give me a bit more buffer.

This looks more like I've read to expect a PvP fit ship to look like. I'm almost maxed out on powergrid and I am not cap stable. What about the rest of the stats? First off I notice I've lost about 1000 EHP and 70 DPS. Not a great start. I have gone up about 10% in my resists though which should help with the armour rep but I have no idea how to judge the effectiveness of this.

To my unskilled eyes I get the general impression my shield fit is the better of the pair, but how does this compare with what I found on FHC? The first thing I noticed from the two fits on FHC is they are both shield fit, which is what I figured was best. The second thing I notice is I totally forgot that Damage Control modules exist. While tempted to go back and rework the above fits to include a DCII I decided to go through with this little experiment.

I noticed that both FHC fits have about 25% more EFT than I do, but almost all of that is from the forgotten DCII so I don't feel too bad. Other than that, my resists are better, my DPS is better, but I'm going a hell of a lot slower and my falloff is shorter. This probably is a major oversight on my part as I need to be up close and personal for such short range guns. I suspect if I took my fit out to battle I'd never get a change to actually hit anything. Going back to my original fit, I swap a Gyrostab for a DCII and swap the web for a MWD. As a result of fitting the MWD I also have to go down a size in missile launchers.

After these changes I find myself with an extra 1800 EHP compared with the FHC fit with almost 40 more DPS. I go a little slower but still pushing 2000 m/s which isn't too shabby. I have no idea how this would do in a fight though.

This has been an interesting little experiment but I'm not sure I could spend a vast amount of my time EFT warrioring. Does anyone care to comment on my though process throughout this? I realise my mistake in missing out the DCII was pretty silly and one I know I shouldn't have made. Getting speed to fight at my range is probably an experience thing and one that will only be rectified by flying in fights. So I guess that's what I'll just have to do.

Should I fly this on the 15th?

5 July 2012

BB 37: EVE is full of Idiots

Blog Banter 37 reads:
"EVE Online sits on the frontier of social gaming, providing an entertainment environment like no other. The vibrant society of interacting and conflicting communities, both within the EVE client and without, is the driving force behind EVE's success. However, the anonymity of internet culture combined with a competitive gaming environment encourages in-game behaviour to spread beyond the confines of the sandbox. Where is the line?"

The internet is full of idiots who are all wrong. EVE is a game played on the internet and, therefore, everyone who plays EVE is an idiot who is wrong. What the hell am I talking about? I'm talking about differences in opinion and how everyone is wrong to at least one other person. If everyone in the world agreed with each other we would be in a pretty dull place, particularly when talking about politics (hmm, if we all agreed would be need politicians? Maybe there is an upside, but I digress).

In 'Real Life' we are subject to social checks and balances which do not exist on the internet or in EVE. This means where we would simply nod and smile in a face to face discussion or maybe have a polite debate, on the internet there is a tendency to call each other a whole range of insults invariable leading to 'Nazi' and some then start to threaten others with violence.

In EVE it is widely recognised that the game spreads beyond the restrictive confines of the client itself. There are blogs and forums to read; a whole host of Twitter users to chat with; I can also chat with many members of my alliance in Jabber or TeamSpeak. Generally speaking, I do try and maintain a semblance of a boundary in my life with EVE. That boundary means I and only me should be the instigator of any interaction with EVE and EVE shouldn't be able to intrude on my life unbidden. Sure there are a (vanishingly) small number of people who know my email address but they also know that is for urgent things only and generally not for idle EVE stuff. EVE has a mail client and that is where I expect EVE mail to be. If someone starts to pollute my inbox with EVE stuff I don't want to see then I am perfectly happy to tell them to stop and I expect them to honour that request.

Now, if I upset an idiot in New Eden they are perfectly within their rights to bombard me with EVEmails and convos threatening the safety of my character in-game. Maybe some smack sent to my character's Twitter account will follow talking about in-game punishment coming my way. Comments on this blog may be starting to push that boundry a bit but are possibly still okay as long as it refers to in-game actions. I would hope to not upset someone to that level but, as I imply at the top, to some other people I am also an idiot. In the end I can always choose to block them from contacting me or stop logging in to that character. If the idiot works out who all my characters are I can always roll new ones. And if it all becomes too much then I can stop playing EVE.

What I do consider unacceptable is if I upset someone in game and I start receiving any communication threatening my personal safety, especially in a way that indicated they knew details of how to actually reach my physically. I would also consider any intrusion into my personal email as over the line (sending to it or breaking into it). Should servers I run come under attack just because I run them then that is unacceptable as would be any communication with my facebook account or personal twitter account. Basically, any part of my life I do not expect EVE to feature.

There are grey areas of course. Is it acceptable for one powerbloc to ddos another's TeamSpeak server during a war? Personally, I would say no. That is an illegal activity taking place in the Real World where a different set of laws apply. As a direct result of that activity, some real person is really getting hurt be it with downed servers or bandwidth charges or simply have an account somewhere suspended.

Sadly there is a minority of people who think it is acceptable to ddos servers, threaten  personal safety, hound people by any and all known contact methods. These people are truly scum and are probably sub-minimum intelligence to play our glorious game. These people should be removed from (life?) the game and CCP can and does make this possible. The important thing is for idiots such as ourselves to realise the vast majority of idiotic things other idiots say or threaten to do has no basis in reality and should rarely be taken at face value.

So there is a line, and that line is already defined by the letter and spirit of the laws we embrace in the countries we live in.

4 July 2012

Watch the Space

Last weekend I had Alliance Tournament X streaming on my PC. The battles are quite convenient little chunks of time lasting no more than ten minutes. This meant I could take care of non-EVE stuff while diverting my attention every now and again to the raging battles on my screen. However, I'm not going to write about those fights as I am far from qualified to do so.

What did catch my attention was the intermission feed, live from space in a couple of locations around New Eden. I caught feeds from the popular market hubs of Jita 4-4 and Amarr 8 (Oris). Both of these feeds filled up rapidly with pilots showing off their blingiest ships or giving us laser shows and exploding ships. In a genius move by CCP they then set up a feed from the Osoggur gate in Amamake. What better way to create some good viewing than setting up a focus point in lowsec. Everyone wants their five minutes of fame and I'm sure the resident pirates gave them that and more. I certainly saw a few ships go pop.

As far as I know, this 'feature' provided during the intermissions was inspired by the actions taken by a player during the recent 'Burn Jita' campaign. During that event someone had a pilot undocked and was broadcasting the expected carnage live from the Jita 4-4 undock. Unfortunately most of the action occurred at the gates of the system, but the idea was there. And what a good idea I think it was and is.

So, what do I think CCP should be doing with this? Well the answer is pretty obvious. For some time people have been complaining about not being able to see the outside of a station when they are docked up. People also complain about 'station games' where people undock to take a look outside and then redock as soon as their session timer allow it. Add to that the complaints about there being nothing of any value on the Captains Quarters TV screen and you get a perfect recipe for success: Showing the outside of stations from the inside.

Now, with us EVE players being the devious people we are, the first challenge will be handling the inevitable parking of ships in front of the camera to obscure the view. The obvious way to handle this would be to reposition the camera to another location with a nice smooth fade effect, like a director switching camera angles at a concert. In fact, a cycling of the camera view every few minutes or so would possibly be a good idea anyway to generally make it harder to block the view even temporarily. I would suggest these positions be decided at random rather than set a finite number of positions, to further increase the difficulty of screwing with the system. I wouldn't want to make things too easy on people watching this for a safe undock. There would be no desire to display information such as standings or pilot names, etc. This really should be a single feed provided to everyone who wants to engage Captains Quarters and simply peer outside.

Setting this up on all stations in EVE is probably a real stretch from a technical point of view. A limited roll out to the most popular stations would be sufficient to prove the idea works. Following on from that CCP could roll out to at least one station per solar system, maybe even charging higher taxes for the services on these 'safer' stations.

However this is handled it would be really cool to have the Captains Quarters TV actually do something useful and may even prompt me to switch to CQ from time to time (on the odd occasion I'm actually in known space). What do you think?

2 July 2012

Thukk You, Frill Me! July 15th Protest March

As highlighted by Rixx Javix over at Evoganda, there has been an unfortunate fate visited on the Vagabond. The terrible fate in this case is the loss of its distinguishing neck frill. The net result of losing the frill for this ship is to take something special away from its Minmatar identity. What is a Minmatar ship without some form of paper-thin wingy bits? Sure, rust is essential but wingy bits are almost as important.

More concerning is the apparent disregard for personal ownership and privacy by the ship's manufacturer, Thukker Mix. Not satisfied with simply redesigning new Vagabonds, Thukker Mix actively infiltrated numerous hangers around New Eden and retrospectively applied these unwanted changes to privately owned and beloved capsuleer Vagabonds.

Now to be honest I can't remember ever actually seeing a Vagabond in space. I'm sure I must have but I'm not the most observant pilot. However, should a Vagabond be bearing down on me in space it would be much more terrifying with its cobra-like appearance. I would try to flee from it, screaming in fear, rather than spending a few moments trying to work out whether or not I'm being engaged by a battle Iteron.

To fix this injustice, Seismic Stan over at Freebooted has organised a protest march for Sunday, July 15th. The intention is to meet up in the, becoming traditional, location of the Jita memorial before heading in the general direction of the Thukker Mix HQ of M-MD3B. Additionally, Khalia at My Loot, Your Tears is organsing a suicide-gank raffle in nearby Jatate prior to the main event. This means you'll need at least two Stabber or Vagabonds to fully enjoy the day.

Protest Itinerary - Sunday, July 15th 2012

18:00 - Jatate - Suicide Raffle
19:00 - Jita Memorial - Meet up and general comedy
19:29 - Jita Memorial - Outlaw fly-by.
19:30 - Jita Memorial - Departure
20:00 - Rendez-vous with remaining outlaws in low-sec
21:00 - M-MD3B - Protest arrives at Thukker Mix Head Office (hopefully)
21:30 - Surviving Protesters will head to Delve via Curse and Catch.

After some modification to his skillqueue, Geo will be there in a reasonably fit Stabber, will you?