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.