24 December 2013

New Pilots Rejoice

It has been a long time since I was a new player. I still remember the feeling of being totally lost in a massive universe with no signposts or direction to help me. Back in 2005 there wasn't a Certificates system (now replaced by ISIS) to help me figure out what I should be training. Ultimately I failed to understand EVE and didn't last past my trial. The same happened in 2007 when I tried EVE for a second time. By the time late 2009 swung around the certificate system had appeared and I had guidance what to train. There are other things to consider in my sticking around, but I believe the jump in user-friendliness introduced by the certificate system played no small part.

Click the image to read the guide

Today in the 'Latest Announcements' section of the launcher I noticed a link for something purporting to be a new pilot FAQ. I decided to have a skim through it and see how helpful this would have been for me if it existed back in 2005.

The guide is split into two main sections - "What is EVE" and "What can I do in EVE". The first section gives a brief but decent introduction to the main races of New Eden. It touches very, very briefly on how New Eden was populated by humans in the first place. This first section then goes on to introduce the concepts of skills, clones, system security ratings, the role of Concord, markets, and player corporations. The second section leaps right into PvP and, thankfully, notes that avoiding PvP entirely is not possible. Missioning, Mining, Trading, Exploration and Faction Warfare are all covered in some detail and with no obvious omissions that I could see. The one error I noticed was to do with Ore sites needing scanned down which hasn't been the case since summer 2013. The end of the guide is given over to a very brief couple of pages showing what the UI looks like when docked and when in space, something which could definitely do with more explaination.

All in all this is a decent guide for the newest arrivals to New Eden. Hopefully CCP are going to link this pdf in an email when new players sign up to EVE Online. As far as I could tell it covers all the opportunities and dangers someone may encounter in their first while playing EVE. At 38 pages long it is likely to encounter a lot of "tl;dr" and this could probably be avoided by splitting the single 'New Pilot FAQ' into two separate booklets, one for each of the main sections. If this happened it would hopefully allow CCP to expand on the UI explanation. Hell, the UI could probably do with a several section booklet all of its own.

No doubt people will bitch and whine about CCP dumbing down EVE without ever having read through this guide. They will be wrong. CCP have pitched this exactly right highlighting the opportunities and dangers without really going into too much detail about how to reap the rewards or play in safetly. People who know about the dangers are less likely to quit in frustration when those dangers come to get them.

11 December 2013

CCP Endorsed Wormhole Alliance

Did you watch the CCP telethon for the Philippines PLEX for Good initiative? Sadly I was unable to but I went back and watched the first hour or so of it on twitch.tv. CCP Dolan's cries of pain were pure delight. Not that I have anything against CCP Dolan - I was just glad it wasn't myself experiencing such pain. Anyway, during the 'Ask Me Anything' section, CCP Guard was asked a very important question regarding the official word on which wormhole alliance was the best. Let's listen to what he had to say...

That's right, you heard it direct from CCP Guard - Illusion of Solitude is the finest wormhole alliance. Ignore all that head shaking nonsense, just listen to the words coming out of his mouth.

On a more serious note, the Philippines PLEX for Good initiative raised almost $191,000 for the Icelandic Red Cross to use for the disaster in South East Asia. Each and every one of us should feel proud to be part of such a generous internet community.

10 December 2013

Nasty Wormhole Tune

It is often said that CCP hates people who live in wormholes. This is usually in reference to the heavily aged POS code and the inability to refit T3s in W-space. I generally ignore and possibly mock people making these complaints about wormholes being hard to live in from time to time. Sure the POS mechanics could be heavily improved but I don't ever want them to reach a level where everyone has their stuff segregated into personal storage. If I did want that I'd live in K-space. The T3 issue was a little more problematic given T3s are born in wormholes, but CCP have now addressed half the problem - refitting subsystems in wormholes - so this, too, can be swept aside and ignored. CCP do not hate wormholers.

... or do they...

The other night it was quiet in the hole. EU timed people had left and US timed people were yet to appear. I was alone. I decided to turn the volume up on the music. As that particular slider stiffly moved to half volume I was greeted with the sound of a very nervous cellist scratching away moodily at his cello. Very dark sounds for a very dark area of space. I waited with baited breath to see where this dark intro was going to lead. How would this moody piece of music develop to emphasise the solitude and danger hidden in these reaches of wormhole space?

An hour later I realised I was still listening to the cellist with the nervous twitch. Possibly he was just cold and shivering. At any rate I was of the opinion he should just give in to the cold and die so I didn't have to listen to this single track any more. CCP does hate wormholers, or at least the subset of us who actually turn the music on from time to time.

(sidenote - I miss the jukebox. At least with that I could have picked something worth listening to)

1 December 2013

CCP's other hard game

The Danger Game is the board game created by CCP in order to fund their dream of creating our beloved EVE. Although it arrived ages ago with my collector's edition box set I only just got around to setting it up and reading the rules.

Only the beginning...
I'm sure it's one of those games that will benefit massively from playing to learn the flow of it. At least, I really hope so because right now I am as lost as if someone asked me to FC a fleet fight.

Alliance (and friends) December Roam

Our industrial division kindly donated 50 Drakes to the alliance with the insistence that they be whelped on some foolishness. I added a handful of Ospreys I had lying around and we had ourselves a theme roam. For reasons unknown to me CVA have us set as "Kill On Sight" making destination number one obvious - Providence. I took a bunch of screenshots over the course of the roam but one of our Interceptor pilots was filming the whole thing and spliced together the Providence incursion while I slept.

With various people having to head off we went back to hisec for refreshments before discussing where we would go next. Nobody had any bright ideas so instead we started looking for hotspots of activity in the in-game universe map. While that was being trawled we set off in the general direction of Barleguet, home of Brave Newbies Inc. They seem to be a fun bunch always up for a fight so if we were going to dispose of all these surviving Drakes somewhere it would be a certainty that they would help do just that. En route to Barleguet our scouts discovered a hive of activity in Aulbres. It appeared to be a massive frigate fight was happening so all we could do was fly right in and give them something bigger to shoot at. And shoot us they did.

Primary is, um, shoot things...
All in all it was a really fun night. The only problem we had of the evening was the form-up time of just after midnight. This confused a whole load of people who took "Just after Midnight on Sunday" to mean "Sunday night". This meant people were going to be 24 hours late. Oh well, next time we know better. Thanks to the scouts, logi and of course the FC for making this a fun night. I love it when my alliance gets together and does stuff. This is what makes us more than just a gaggle of corps who happen to fly under the same banner without actually knowing each other.

26 November 2013


I can't remember if I posted it on this blog (and I'm too lazy to check), but one of the things I most expected to happen post-Rubicon was an excess of reinforced depots outside the major trade hubs. Given I spend most of my game time in various flavours of "Unknown Space" it has taken a week before I eventually found myself in any trade hubs. The sight that awaited me in Amarr was exactly as I suspected, if maybe a little less concentrated than expected.

A different kind of Red Ring Of Death
Later on I had the misfortune to find myself in Jita where a similar picture was painted. I am confused though. I was 100% certain these depots would be anchored outside the trade hubs and 100% certain they would mostly be reinforced. I was right on both counts but I don't know why this is the case. What was the motivation behind launching these depots? Did the people who put them out there seriously think they wouldn't be shot at? Do they really want 3000m3 of extra storage so close to a station? What about the people who bothered to shoot them? Anyone taking a pot-shot would have been flagged as a suspect resulting in the rest of the ships outside the station shooting at them. What's the point?

Somewhere deep in my head I must understand why this happened because I knew it would be this way. I just can't unlock the rationale. So, dear reader, please enlighten me to this madness.

19 November 2013

More Posterity

On the eve of EVE crossing the Rubicon I took more screenshots to record for posterity. As many of you know, the old certification system is going away to be replaced by ship mastery. For a lot of people this will be considered a good thing as many of the certificates are a bit outdated now. For me, as useful as I hope the new mastery system will be, I will be a little sad at them passing into history. Certificates didn't exist when I first played EVE in 2005. A lot of the problems I had back then was from overload at the vast array of skills I could train. I had no idea what would be a good idea and what wasn't. In the end I didn't make it past the two week trial back then. The same story happened in 2007 when I gave EVE a second chance. By 2009 the certificate system existed and what a major difference it made to me.

I trained many skills since then, some following the certificates and others ignore them completely. There are two categories of certificates I got to elite level which I am rather proud of - Elite Core skills and Elite Defence.
Elite Core SkillsElite Defence Skills
I have no idea how my skills will shape up under the new mastery ratings so let the record show I once was Elite at something.

8 November 2013

My Little Caravan

One of the new personal structures coming with Rubicon is the Mobile Depot. This little structure will allow a limited amount of storage along with a personal fitting service so you can swap out ship modules while in space. The recently announced in-space changes to T3 subsystems will also be possible making this little structure potentially awesome. My friend splatus has already written about the three depots, along with their attributes, so I won't cover any of that in detail. I have been interested since these were announced to see how they would pan out for use in w-space. The main questions in my head were: does it appear on d-scan, can it be probed down, and how easily can it be shot. It was time to go to Singularity and find out.
No Dougal the depot is small... the Loki is far away.
Deploying the depot is simplicity itself. For the full wormhole experience I started cloaked and aligned to a celestial. In one fluid movement I decloaked, dragged the depot from my cargo into space, then warped off. No hanging around messing with right-click menus or anything. Once I landed I immediately about-turned to see if the depot had anchored properly to find it had.

The next thing was to answer my two questions about d-scan and probing. Warping off again I first launched Sisters core scanner probes and tried to find the signature. As expected I found nothing so swapped for Sisters combat probes. This time I got a weak signature but it was easy enough to whittle down the probe ranges before finally getting a 100% lock at the 1 AU probe range. Testing d-scan initially showed nothing on any of my presets. Digging a little revealed a new checkbox in the overview settings. Once I ticked that option the depot clearly appeared on d-scan.
Little bubbles of pingNew box to tick
At this point I was happy with how easy these things will be to find in space so the last remaining question was how easy are they to kill. From the screenshot I took it apparently took seven volleys from my cloaky loki to put the depot into reinforced mode. Something designed with damage in mind would be much quicker but, to be honest, seven volleys isn't exactly an ice age. Once reinforced a bright red reticule appears which is only visible when you are on-grid with the depot. I initially mis-read the countdown as 48 minutes but it's actually 48 hours before the structure leaves reinforced mode. While it was reinforced I was able to add and remove items from the storage space. I didn't think to try the refit option although I have read that will not work during the reinforced timer.
48 Hours!! Is Nick Nolte in there?
Given the ease by which I scanned this down I went to look for the meta versions of the basic depot. Unfortunately these were not seeded in the market on singularity. Discussions with some corp mates suggested scanning these meta objects will range from somewhat harder for the meta 2 'Wetu' depot to almost impossible for the meta 3 'Yurt' depot due to it's 1:1 sig to sensor strength ratio. If the meta items get seeded I'll give it a go, otherwise I look forward to trying to scan them down in space and hopefully shooting them 'just because I can'.

1 November 2013

For Posterity

With CCP turning off the old portrait server for the last time I decided to record my past and present looks here for posterity. I think Orea aged reasonably well, but Dhal is looking a bit tired. Dhal does have the excuse of being 4 years older.

Oreamnos Amric - circa YC111Oreamnos Amric - November YC115
Dhal Ramat - circa YC108 Dhal Ramat - November YC115

18 October 2013

Sisters are doing it for themselves

There's been a bit of excitement in my corp with people keen to get their hands on the new Sisters of EVE cruiser, the Stratios. There's less excitement about the frigate, the Astero, as we already have covops frigates and cloaky bombers. The Stratios, on the other hand, looks like a worthy replacement for some current scanning boats. It's better than a Covops frigate because it can fit guns. It should be better than my trusted cloaky Loki because it will hopefully be cheaper. Also, dying in one won't result in skill point loss. It does remain to be seen if I can tear myself away from my precious, rhyming cloaky loki...

When I was on SiSi the other night it was to check if the new anchorables were up yet for us to see. Sadly they weren't so I played around with getting the golden pod and then with the improved warp acceleration. I then set to finding the unskinned models of the SoE ships which I read were available. So you don't also have to dig around to see them, I present the screenshots I took for your perusal.

Astero Frigate

Stratios Cruiser
To be honest, the concept work showed skins which didn't look a million miles from the very white nekkid models above. Just add some red stripes here and there. I do look forward to seeing these fully skinned and live on TQ during November. I also look forward to the names and designs for the SoE Battlecruiser and Battleship which everyone should start clamouring for around November 20th..

17 October 2013

Quietly Scanning

I logged in to find nobody else online in my corp. Even alliance chat was silent when I waved hello. As CEO there's always plenty administrivia to take care of, but I decided to hell with that. Recently I was asked about getting EVE W-Space working by one of the guys in another hole in the alliance. After messing around I got it working fairly quickly and we've rapidly adopted it as the mapping tool of choice. Although I've scanned in groups using the new tool, tonight I decided to give our new mapping tool a proper workout alone. I would be able to learn its idiosyncrasies and just maybe find a bug or two to report and/or fix.

Starting with a clean slate in our home system I rapidly scanned down gas, gas, gas (yawn), wormhole. Our lone static unsurprisingly spat me out into a C3 which had six sigs to sift through. Someone in the alliance had already been here in the past as EVE W-Space showed me where the online POS should be. The intel was right and I stopped by to make a POS perch. I also mapped where the other, offline POSs are before launching probes. It didn't take long to identify the sigs as two Relic sites (boring) and three more wormholes in addition to the route back home. The wormholes filled all three K-space flavours - highsec, lowsec and nullsec. I jumped through the EOL hisec one first just to get the location, I repeated this for the lowsec and nullsec. All very boring and not a ship in sight to maybe shoot at.

With still nobody online I was considering giving up and calling it a night, but I really wanted to make a pretty map of our constellation. With the highsec EOL I decided to go scan the nullsec and see where it lead to. Ah, only one signature and it's where I just came from. Lowsec was marginally more exciting with two more wormholes to visit - a C1 and a C3. Neither hole had any life in it so I decided to give up and go home.

(post timed to make sure this intel is outdated)
I achieved my goal for the evening of getting to give EVE W-Space a decent workout. It's a really nice tool drawing pretty maps and making it very easy to share intel without expecting people to become ASCII art experts in the bulletin board. There are some quirks which need ironed out which is not unexpected for a code base as relatively new as this. One example is jumping into a new system isn't always detected and you have to fill in all the information manually. If the auto-detection works you get a window with most of the useful information pre-populated. It's a minor thing and when I work out a pattern to the behaviour I'll see if I can fix it. If you live in w-space and don't already have a nice tool to map your chains out you could do worse than setting up EVE W-Space for your corp.

15 October 2013

The Goose laid a golden what?

I don't often wander on to SiSi to play with new features or practice. A lot of my alliance swear by going there to try new doctines and such like. I'm of the opinion that EVE is something I do to relax and any 'practice' can take place on the live server. Sometimes though, there can be something worth jumping over there just to have a sneak peek. Yes, I opened my Collector's Edition Christmas presents early - bad Orea.

 This is my pod. There are many like it, but this one is mine. It is my life. I must warp it away lest I lose my life. Without me my pod is useless. Without my pod, I am useless. I must align my pod true. I must align faster than the enemy who is trying to lock me. I must warp away before he shoots me. I will. My pod and I know that what counts in war is not the round we dodge, the noise of our structure alarm, or the fire we trail in a narrow escape. We know it is the good fights that count. We will live.

This is my future golden pod. There and not as many like it, and soon this one will be mine. It is the shizzle. I must lose many ships to dazzle the enemy with its brilliance. Without me my golden pod is still the shizzle. Without my golden pod I am merely a 'green-dweller'...

...I'll stop with the bad rehashing of the Rifleman's Creed now. If you want a golden pod implant you should probably get yourself over to the EVE store now and preorder the Collector's Edition box set.

Also note the engine trail has changed colour between the green, apparently Gallente-powered pod and the seemingly Caldari-engined golden pod. I wonder if that's intentional.

9 October 2013

My Precious Ribbons

As many of you may know, us wormhole dwellers don't make any bounty ISK from killing sleepers in w-space. The exploding of red crosses is simply the first stage in earning our living out here in the deepest darkest recesses of inhospitable space. Once the sleeper drones have been sent to their final sleep we have to loot and salvage, not because it makes extra ISK, but because that's the only way we make any ISK. The main items of interest from looting are 'blue loot' (so called because of their blue icons) and melted nanoribbons. Thankfully blue loot is taken care of from NPC purchase orders around New Eden which means we are guaranteed a certain payout for running sites. The coveted melted nanoribbon has a price dictated by market forces.

Mountainous 12 Month Profile
Selling melted nanoribbons today makes me a very sad capsuleer so I've stopped. If you take even the slightest of glances at the above graph you will easily be able to tell why. From a twelve month high just three months ago we have fallen to a twelve month low today. Recently I could sell a nanoribbon for as much as 6.4 million ISK yet now I am lucky to get 4.4 million. That's almost a third of the price vanished into thin air.

What is causing these low prices? Nanoribbons are a key component in T3 ships. The decreasing prices must be due to an oversupply of ribbons. You can also see the graph tapering off in volume sold each day as fewer and fewer people elect to sell their ribbons on the market. Yet still the price is in decline. My theory is New Eden currently has a dire lack of conflict. I don't follow the news on nullsec politics particularly closely but I'm not aware of any large wars going on. No Tengu fleets eating up ribbons while trying to claim more territory to install dirty renters into. This makes me sad for two reasons: One, EVE is a game build around war and conflict so without war and conflict EVE is lacking something. Two, I can't sell my nanoribbons and make vast chunks of wealth for my corp. So, when and where is the next big conflict coming from? Mittens, it's over to you.

8 October 2013

Cry, babies

The complaining nature of the average, vocal EVE player seems to know no bounds. At every twist and turn there are people threatening to cancel their twelve accounts and go play My Little Pony online just because CCP elected to change some minor aspect of the game. Heaven forbid they actually make some broad sweeping change that would mean people had to, you know, play the game rather than make ISK some other easy way. More recently the pointless bitterness has spilled over into CCP planning to give out very rare or non-existent ships as prizes via Somer Blink. This may or may not have been the best executed plan ever by CCP but the fact remains that CCP own all these groups of pixels and can do what they want with them as they see fit. Nevertheless, CCP relented and changed the prizes to a different pattern of pixels which is apparently just fine.

Much ado about nothing

The latest stupid bitter debate that has kicked off is CCP deciding to give Somer Blink some Ishokone Watch Scorpions as a 'thank you' for their work towards promoting EVE to the community and also sponsoring in-game events. The latest batch of complaints is, in my opinion, just a weak arsed excuse to continue the previous assault on Somer Blink and CCP. While there may have been a point to the Gold Magnate and Guardian Vexor argument, complaining about CCP giving these ships to Somer Blink is bat-shit crazy. The ships exist to be given out by CCP as gifts. CCP can do what the bloody hell they want with them. The crux of the argument seems to rotate around Somer Blink is a profit making organisation and is already being rewarded enough. Now the last time I checked there was no way to move ISK out of the game. ISK is an in-game thing - it's not real, people! Ain't nobody making anything there, dipshits.

I really hope I'm just missing something here? I'd be pretty happy to bet these self-serving complainers would become amazingly silent if CCP gave out Ishokone Watch Scorpions to them as well. Jealousy is a terrible thing. Somer Blink does do good things to promote EVEOnline. CCP are right to encourage that and if you want one so bad how about putting your energies into something constructive rather than bitching all over the forums. Failing that, if all you really are capable of doing is spewing toxic vitriol over the forums then just maybe there is a place for you in Equestria after all.

7 October 2013


On Saturday my fellow Scots over at the Crossing Zebras podcast hosted a community free for all in the infamous Asakai system. Given the first I knew about this event was the posts on my alliance forum suggesting ship fittings what else could I do but haul a bunch of ships there and prepare to die lots.

Although the suggested ship fits had been on our forums for ages it was still the night before when I finally bought all the ships, mods and (most of the) drones. I decided I wouldn't stage out of Asakai's single station as it would probably be camped to hell and I at least wanted to be able to fly around looking for fights as well as fleet up with my alliance. I looked around and decided to stage my ships in Rakapas as that was the closest, non-hisec system with cloning facilities. I was reminded by someone how hard it should be to get podded in lowsec and, combined with discovering I couldn't reach from Jita to Rakapas in one jump with my jump freighter, decided to stage out of Okkamon. This would conveniently be on my route back to Asakai from Rakapas should I be unlucky enough to get podded. In the more likely situation where I found myself without ship but pod intact I would only have one jump to reship.

With all the hulls and modules bought in Jita and jumped across to Okkamon I left Geo to the repetitive task of fitting the ships up to be combat ready. Thankfully there is now a 'Fit' button on the in-game loadout browser making this task easier. Please CCP, could you make that group and load the guns too? Oh, adding my tobacco, spirits, wine and janitor automatically would be nice too. Once the ships were all ready it was time for Orea to make his nervous sojourn into K-space. I think I've mentioned before that Orea has a real fear of systems  featuring 'local'. That fear (or possibly, "beer") didn't stop him flying his cloaky, scanny loki right into a lowsec system where lots of people were staging for a fight. It's only lowsec though so it all worked out fine.
Dare to fly a Noctis down there?

The clock rolled around to 19:50 on Saturday. I got myself on comms, logged in and fleeted up. Sending Geo in a Hound to scout Asakai I was in and rolling around the safe spots I had already prepared. Once the rest of the alliance was all shipped up we met up and started nosing around for some trouble. Already there was a massive wreck field at the sun and we kept pouncing down to brawl with some of the other fleets adding to the wreck field. We were doing so well until another of the alliance was coming in from hisec. We headed over to the Ikoskio gate and were landed on by an armour HAC fleet from BALKAN and friends. We died.

BALKAN and friends.

I quickly reshipped and got myself back into Asakai. The others were not so well prepared as me and I spent a while bouncing around safes again. I should have went back for one of the disposable frigates I took to Okkamon but by the time I thought of that it was too late. We had a another good run killing some famous names and having a blast. Fighting had largely switched to a small faction warfare complex. These only let frigates use the acceleration gate but the mass of cruisers at the gate were doing their best to stop that happening. After a good run we lost all our ships again to the combined might of, um, everyone. Having learnt my lesson from last time I decided to blow a couple of the Incursus I took with me. The first one landed at the small plex just in time for me to realise I hadn't reordered the modules into a sensible manner. I activated my cap booster instead of my dual reps and died without firing a shot. Reshipping into another Incursus I reorganised the modules en route. Landing again on the small plex gate I was intending to take on Xander Phoena. He turned out to be 45 km away so I picked the nearest target and at least managed to shoot him before dying and getting podded. I have no idea how I got podded, I never yet saw the pod, just went from ship to session change to white screen to floating corpse...
Not my best angle.
The rest of the crew were reshipped and ready as I swung past Okkamon to pick up another cruiser then onwards to join them. The event was in its dying throes and targets were few and far between. We went from plex to plex and down to the sun looking for looters. It really was all over though and just as we were about to call it quits ourself I spied a lone Hurricane sitting at the medium plex. I had barely called it when I found Orea in a fleet warp to pounce on the poor guy. Of course the 'poor guy' had friends who conveniently landed on us when he was half into armour. Try and we might to take the 'cane down with us his logi-bros got him repped up nicely and our fate was sealed.

The 'Scoreboard'
Looking at the 'scoreboard' we killed more than we lost but we spent more ISK doing it. Who cares? I didn't go to Asakai to win any awards (although I did score points most on my alliance killboard for the event), I went there to have fun and fun is exactly what I had. I kicked the crap out of my security status. I can't remember how long ago it was last below 4. It's still pretty healthy at a heady 2.9 now so I won't have to go ratting in nullsec any time soon. The other thing I got other than having fun was adding a raft of notable names to my short list of kills - Bagehi, Mangala Solaris (twice), Sindel Pellion, House2twist, and of course Xander Phoena who joins the vanishingly rare ranks of people I've had a beer with and also exploded in EVE. My thanks go out to Xander and the others at Crossing Zebras for arranging this and I cannot wait for the next bout of pointless violence.

26 September 2013

Winter Expansion Notes

I managed to sit down and watch CCP's announcement on twitch.tv. I'm not really the kind of person to go into detailed, in-depth analysis of these changes. Indeed, there probably isn't enough out there as yet to do so. While watching the stream I was making notes. Ideally you would be best going to watch the recording of the announcement. If you don't have time, here are my notes for your perusal.

Rubicon: More than just a river in Italy

- Release date November 19 for EVE Rubicon. Not sure about that name.

- Player Customs offices in hisec. Destroy and replace with your own to tax hisec players as you feel like it.

- New deployable structures.
- Siphon Unit (steals moon minerals or reaction items from POS)
- Depot (Personal home base in space for storage or refitting including a reinforce timer)
- Auto tractor/loot pull all wrecks to one point. You will still need to salvage the wrecks but it will loot them all for you. Won't loot wrecks you don't own though.
- Cyno jammer preventing new cynos being lit within 70 or 100 km (to be decided).

- Fixing ship warp acceleration time. Cruisers will be the average: smaller accelerates faster; larger accelerates slower. About time this happened. Wonder if they'll fix the stutter when you switch from normal to warp engines?

- Interceptors buff, they may become immune to warp bubbles

- Maurauders getting 'bastion' mode plus micro jump drive buff to allow them to MJD every minute instead of every three minutes.

- Interdictor getting buffed to make them more useful.

- New dictor bubble artwork.

- Electronic attack frigs with increased ewar ranges

- New battleship rapid heavy missle launcher. 

- New faction ships - Sisters of EVE (frigate, cruiser, ...?) Amarr-Gallente training required.

- New certificate system to replace the current system with 'Mastery'. Basically a reworked collection of certificates.

- New character selection screen

- Adding twitch.tv integration in game. Would be nice if you can also watch twitch.tv streams in-game (on the TV in captains quarters).

So that's the notes I made during the stream. I don't think there is anything I'm massively excited about although I'm sure as more details on certain things comes out that could change. The personal structure for storage could be useful in wormholes depending on whether they can be scanned and how long the reinforce timer is. If they are quick enough to find and reinforce then it'll probably become standard practice to either find them and reinforce them to allow any other wormholers to blow them up when the timer is up. If enough wormholers do that it'll be a nice gift to each other.
The folks over at the Crossing Zebras podcast have organised a Community Free For All event. The idea is to get all us bloggers, the podcasters and the CSM members in one system at the same time to kill us repeatedly.

Where: Asakai
When: Saturday 5th October, 2000
Eve Ships: Frigates, Destroyers and Cruisers (T1, T2, T3 all allowed – no ship or module restrictions)
Length: I have no idea – until we exhaust all local supplies of frigs, dessies and cruisers I would guess!
Channel: CZ Community FFA

This should be awesomely destructive fun and I really hope to make it there. I've posted something about awarding prizes inside my alliance for members who get themselves over there too. I just need to work out what prizes and whether or not to make them all based around deaths rather than kills.

17 September 2013

Blog Banter #49: What is Rich?

I've not taken part in a Blog Banter since January. I figured I should get off my lazy arse and write something for this one. This month's blog banter topic comes from a few sources and focuses on that most important of measurements of an EVE Online Pilot: how much money do you have?
What is "rich" in EVE? Is it simply having more ISK than most everyone else, is it measured in raw numbers of some other ethereal quality? Can you actually be poor? Have you ever lost nearly everything and had to claw your way back? If you are rich, how do you know and how did you get rich?
ISK fixation is rife in New Eden. This likely applies to the native currency of any consumer based society. You need currency to buy things; you need currency to do things; life is full of people focused on getting more and more currency to spend on more and more things. So who is rich? The person with lots of currency or the person with lots of things? And what about the enlightened individuals who don't covet all that they see? If the people with lots are rich does that mean the people with little are poor?
For me, being rich in EVE is all about enjoyment. When I was a new player this meant a Friday night with some beers or wine, listening to EVE Radio and running L3/4 missions alone. Later on in my EVE career my definition of rich changed to include hanging out with a friendly bunch of people in wormhole space running sleeper sites or mining, with solo stuff being relegated to when strictly necessary. These days the idea of playing EVE solo is not a riveting concept and I'd rather not play. The stuff I do do solo is generally administrivia which revolves around making my corp a better place for the other members to enjoy. I am happiest, and feel richest, when I have a small fleet of people clearing sleeper sites, noising up someone else's wormhole, or giggling like schoolkids on comms after we just did something really dumb yet enjoyable.

So, what is rich in EVE? For me, to be rich in EVE is to put yourself in a friendly environment with people you like flying with. If you can log into EVE when you want to and go enjoy yourself then you too are rich in EVE. Of course you need some ISK. Maybe money can't buy you happiness but the total lack of money rarely makes you happy either - if you don't have a ship how can you play? But it's having friends that is most important. And where else but the harsh environment that is EVE could that be more true?

4 September 2013

Long Skills

One of the things that happened during CCP's 'tiericide' of ship skills was the creation of racial destroyer and racial battlecruiser skills. Possibly somewhat foolishly someone at CCP uttered the immortal words "If you can fly it today then you can fly it tomorrow". I suspect that little sentence triggered the biggest stampede towards a single set of skills since EVE launched and people realised learning skills (remember them) were the first thing everyone should train. As a result there is a whole generation of EVE players who can fly every single tech 1 battlecruiser and below.
Shouldn't be long now??
The effect this had on me was, of course, to train the appropriate skills on the main character I have on each account. The secondary effect this had on me was to set me on a sub-capital class ship completionist frenzy with Orea. Fast-forward a little bit and I can fly every single subcap ship with the exception of some T2 haulers and all T2 battleships. This is changing. On EFT I have a planned queue to finish off these ships. There's only 18 skills in it but 186 days of training. This paints some picture as to why I'm not burning through the complete set of subcaps.
About a week ago I finally bit the bullet to put in a battleship V skill. Today this caught my eye in EFT - 27% done but over three weeks to go! Holy cow, I've got another three of these to do. I know for a fact I'll not be putting another BS V skill in once this one is done. I guess the sensible thing to do would be to get some T2 large guns to match my leet Gallente BS skills. Large Hybrid Turrent V is only 18 days away...


21 August 2013

Splash One Legion

It was a quiet night even though there were a few of us on. Most people were up to little pieces here and there but nothing organised was happening. I suggested we clear out some of the sites in the home system and one other person was good to go. Nobody else was up for it and with just two of us it would have been more of a chore than anything.

"The responsible thing to do would be to get some ice product hauled in" I was told. Our reserves had dropped below a month, and with a K-space connection only six jumps from our storage offices they were right. Reluctantly I switched from my PvE Tengu to an Iteron V and headed out. At the same time I logged in my hauling alt and had her take an Orca the 22 jumps from her current location near Hevrice to rendezvoux with Orea in the corp office. I got the first load of ice product hauled in and was back for a second load before the Orca arrived. Filling both the Itty and the Orca I got them to the entry system and hauled the ice in.

I was taking the Orca back for another fill of Ice when the scout in C3a announced a Legion on d-scan. With eight Itty V loads of ice now in the hole I was quite happy to call it a night of hauling. "Can we get the Legion?", I asked. Just then my newly returned corp-mate Epigene logged in and we appraised him of the situation. "Where do you want me" was his reply. Game on. Epigene jumped into c3a at exactly the same time as the Legion jumped into our home system. Talk about a perfect cross-jump. Gerandor in his Broadsword put a bubble up and I reshipped into a Brutix and aligned to the outbound hole.

The bubble had the desired effect: The Legion panicked and jumped right back out into the waiting clutches of Epigene. Polarized, he now had nowhere to go. I hit warp while Gerandor announced he was jumping through to get the Legion bubbled in c3a. This ship was not getting away. Evidently I had hit warp when Gerandor's bubble was still up and I landed 15 km from the hole. Burning the remaining distance I jumped through and burned at the Legion. I am very out of practice with drones and generally forget I have them. This time I didn't and set them loose on the target. Guns blaring, medium neut running, I settled into a lazy orbit around the Legion and watched as his armour melted away.

We didn't expect the self destruct message. In fact we didn't notice it until reviewing combat logs later. The Legion died with 60 seconds left on that clock anyway. The pod died very soon afterwards. This left us puzzled. Why did he initiate self-destruct? Is there some way to dodge a skill point loss by doing that? I need to get on SiSi at some point and check that, unless anyone here can clue me in.

It was with our home well replenished with fuel and a new kill or two on the killboard I went to bed. Sure we didn't get to run sites but who wants more ISK anyway...

18 August 2013

Been Busy

I mentioned recently that post-Fanfest was a really busy time for me in EVE but I never went back to say why. Now would probably be a good time to cover that. For some time the activity levels in Zero have been lower than I would like. Despite our best efforts at recruitment it was proving difficult to get new people into the corp and those we did recruit were largely failing to stick around. Living in W-space with Zero does require a healthy dose of self-sufficiency which many people seem to underestimate regardless of how that point is pressed home. For anyone living in W-space you have to go out and make things happen; nothing comes to those who float in a POS, except maybe eviction. Our home hole was a class 4 wormhole with a static class 4. This meant we always had a minimum of three jumps to K-space, and often more. This remoteness grew harder to live with as activity levels declined. Somewhat ironically it was the remoteness that was causing the drop in activity as potential recruits were put off by being cut off from K-space so. I don't know, kids these days want it all too easy.

Some time before Fanfest we had a corp meeting to discuss the situation and decided on a stay or move vote. The move would be to merge with another of the alliance corps in their C4 with a static C3. If we voted to stay then all was good. If we voted to move then we would move after Fanfest. The result was not as decisive as I had hoped and as I watched the results roll in I changed my mind several times. In the end, not counting my vote, the result was a 50:50 split. That left the decision down to me. I decided to go with my initial instinct which was to move. Where we were going was easy. How we were leaving was less easy. The very reason we were moving was the problem. We had been in our home system for about 18 months and the scale of the problem measured as 325 ships and 12 million m3 of 'stuff'. This all had to be safely moved to hisec via routes we scanned ourselves. Level four distribution missions can kiss my arse.

One of my directors turned in a project plan for the move out. He set the timing at three months to do the move out. I thought that would kill the corp dead and said we do it in six weeks. A little bit of bargaining fixed the plan at eight weeks and then we got started. People were expected to move their own stuff out and mostly this happened. One Rorqual pilot spent a night catching up on all the ore compression we hadn't done and that made a massive dent in the volume of stuff to move out. Another couple of pilots who were planning to leave the corp soon put in heroic efforts to move as many ships out as possible. There may have been self-destruct sequences set, but largely all the ships made it out intact. With all this happening it was great to see the first tower come down exactly on schedule

The second tower came down a week ahead of schedule and I had to think about the dreaded process of selling the hole. Best case, worst case and abandonment prices were worked out and just when I was about to advertise the hole for sale a random conversation on jabber essentially sold the hole without trying. Unbeknown to me, one of the alliance corps was going to be upgrading from their C3 to a C4 fairly soon. Being able to buy from another alliance member got them to ramp their plans up. Oh wow, how easy was this. In the end it was two weeks ahead of schedule when I handed over the keys to the new owner of our hole. The final score was all ships and junk made it out alive with no known losses to stupidity. Much better than last time we moved holes. We have had a few months to settle in our new home and having a guaranteed route to K-space each day is heavenly. Maybe I'm getting old but I just like the simplicity. Maybe those 'kids' have the right idea after all.

9 August 2013

Happy Birthday Dear Alliance

Today is exactly 12 months since we formed the Illusion of Solitude alliance. The formation of this alliance was in response to being unceremoniously dumped from Jadecougar's Li3 Federation. Z3R0 Return Mining and Broken Wheel Mercantile and Trading were the original core of Li3 before Jade instigated his nullsec campaign and we resolved to remain together and not failscade just because we were dropped without warning.

One year on and I am stunned by how we have grown. On formation we had two corps and around 70 pilots. Today we have 300 pilots spread over 13 corps and we continue to grow. Our academy corp, Broken Wheel, continues to be the most violent corp in the alliance both for killing and losing ships. This is great both ways because it means people are out playing EVE and, hopefully, enjoying themselves. In the past year we also liberated a C5 wormhole from pacifistic gas farmers thus increasing the danger in the dark reaches of wormhole space.

So what's the plan for the coming year? I can't say I'm entirely sure. There are no grand alliance level plans. So far we've been pretty good at the occasional large scale Op such as the above mentioned invasion or mobilising to defend a hole when we think a member corp is in trouble. I'd like to see us do more regular organised roams but that doesn't seem to be a priority on the anyone else's mind. At the end of the day, as long as we're all having fun shooting sleepers, shooting people and occasionally maybe mining a little bit (it might not be a bait Hulk you know) I'm happy.

2 August 2013

Staying Frosty

A bit over a year ago I created a character called Geo to do more PvP. This was needed because I'd got a bit attached to Orea's lack of deaths and his good sec rating. During this past year with Geo I've participated in 38 kills worth 9 billion ISK and lost 17 ships worth about 250 million ISK. It's not a vast amount and most of that was on RvB Ganked roams. While I may have learned how to take orders and fly in a large fleet, I certainly haven't really learnt anything about how to compose myself in small gangs or solo combat.

A little while ago Rixx Javix over at Eveoganda had reason to split from his old corp, the Tuskers. This led him to form a new pirate corp that flies the way he wants to. A lot of his ideas match well with the ideals I hold for my wormhole alliance so I decided to take the plunge and become a part time ebil piwate.

Stay Frosty t-shirt: One size fits all
So far my ebil piwating has involved moving all my stuff to the vicinity of Hevrice and keeping up with goings on in the forums. I've been hanging out in the corp channel during the day but being at work means I can't exactly undock and shoot stuff. I've learned two things so far. Firstly, all the guys in corp seem to be a pretty cool bunch. There's no ego stuff going on, just a load of pilots enjoying their 'craft'. Secondly, all my ships are fit terribly and need a bunch of work before I undock. I also realised I haven't got a bloody clue how to go about roaming in lowsec.

Yesterday I was sure I was finally going to make it out with the corp for a little roam. The timing was a little early but I figured I could swing something with the wife to get on EVE for an hour or two. Unfortunately it was work that stuffed that plan up badly. I didn't get home until well after the roam started. Bah. Next time...

29 July 2013

EVE Really Is Real

EVE has some of the largest battles in any online game. For a long time I have enjoyed reading about these in various news sites with the occasional mega-battle making headlines in the more general gaming press. Today I was made aware of the following:
From the BBC's New Eden correspondent
Last night's battle of 6VDT-H between TEST and CFC resulted in a peak of 4,070 pilots in one system. That's a pretty awesome number and one which triggered the BBC to run an story on the battle. I watched a little on Mad Ani's twitch.tv stream and was quite glad to not be suffering the 90% system slowdown. It really is pretty weird having EVE news feature in what I generally consider a 'real' news website.

23 July 2013

Industrial Rebalance

I have been pretty stumped by the thinking behind the recent changes to industrial ships. First there was the changes to the skill requirements which basically destroyed any progression through small to large haulers by making 'Racial Industrial I' enough to fly all indy ships for that race. Although it was a long time ago I can still remember the pleasure at progressing to increasingly larger Iterons, something that new pilots will no longer experience.

CCP then followed the skill mangling with the more recent proposals to almost completely overhaul the various indy ships to pigeon-hole them into particular roles. On the face of it this could have been really good. ORE have been making inroads to their niche industrial category. For a long time now we have been familiar with the various mining barges, the Orca, and most recently we were introduced to the mining frigate. This would have been the prefect time to give ORE some hauling ships. What mining operation doesn't have haulers doing the heavy lifting while the mining captains drink themselves silly?

Unfortunately it appears there was no budget for art changes to the industrial ships. CCP should have changed the ships dramatically leaving one or two indy ships per race and creating a whole new range of ORE haulers. Instead we got an mix of fast and tanky or slow and capacious for all races plus the races with inconvenient extra hauler tiers got forced into the roles that ORE ships would have better dealt with. This meant we were left with very familiar ships filling some vastly changed roles and leading to much player rage. A new range of ships and retirement of the inconvenient existing ships could have avoided that. And no, changing the names doesn't really make much difference.


I was totally taken aback by the level of rage the players vented on the forums about the changes to the industrial ships. Even in my own alliance's jabber server there were heated debates on the changes, somewhat fuelled by my own inability to understand what the big deal was. A long time ago I trained Gallente Industrial I. I chose that because I am Gallente, not because ship fitting guides told me this was the biggest ship. I trained through all the tiers to get to the Itty V because it was the largest for my race. If I was Caldari I would have probably done the same with the Badger. It appears I am alone in this dirty-role-player frame of mind. The unhappiness I encountered was around CCP removing a choice someone once made to train Gallente Industrial V instead some other race because that would get them in the biggest hauler. A similar problem encountered when CCP remove Deep Space Probes rendering Astromentrics V less useful due to the decreased value of having level V in that skill. Both these changes have affected skills I had chosen to train and I have had very little of the annoyance exhibited by people against both these changes.

My opinion on the whole thing is people need to stop being so tied to absolute numbers and look at the bigger picture overall. In the real world competing products move their relative strengths and weaknesses against each other all the time. If you are using product A and suddenly product B becomes better at what you want to do then you switch loyalties. It's hard to replicate this in a game without eternal stat inflation. This means buffs to some ships have to come as debuffs to other ships in the same class. This was seen in the combat ship rebalancing but is somewhat diluted by the greater number of variables that can be tweaked in combat ships. We still saw great upset as people whined that their outstanding Drake and Tengus were nerfed to being more average. Making the game more balanced, by definition will see all ships in a given bracket become more like each other. The increased variation in viable ships is better than having world+dog in boring Drakes. Haulers had only agility and capacity to mess with largely removing any possibility for meaningful variation between races given there is more than one hauler per race. The second iteration of the rebalance addressed that by creating specialist roles for the spare ships but still means there is no real variation between races. This is where the ORE ships should have come in, or maybe some other large company making specialised haulers - Interbus? The Miasmos will forever be the Iteron IV no matter what you call it. People are also still most likely to train Gallente as that gives access to the largest number of specialised haulers.


Is it really worth getting so worked up about this change? Adapting to a changing environment keeps life interesting. In EVE the environment includes not only the solar systems we fly through but also how all the ships themselves are best put to use. Changes to offensive and defensive module fitting requirements result in changes to the current in vogue fleet doctrines. This has a knock-on effect to the skills needed by the pilots flying these doctrines. The people building and doing invention jobs also need the right skills for the right ships. Why shouldn't there also be a flux in which ships are the best for hauling requiring indy pilots to keep their skillset current?

22 July 2013

Back To Normal

Okay, it took a lot longer than normal to write up my fanfest stuff. I made a decision that I wouldn't write about anything else until I finished writing up FanFest. A lot has been happening in-game in that time which kept me too busy to write long blogs about FanFest. There have been plenty of small things I could have posted about for the past two and a half months which I had to leave alone due to this decision. Anyway, normal service will hopefully be restored now. I'm going to make a list of things I would have posted about and see what turns into real posts.

21 July 2013

FanFest 2013: Party at the Top of the World

After the 'CCP Presents' presentation there were only two things left for me to do, party and go home. Unfortunately both these things were to run concurrently and test my stamina somewhat. I'm fairly sure a decade ago when I first tried EVE this would have been a trivial matter, but now I'm older and allegedly wiser. Although if that was true I'd probably have booked a later flight home.

A bunch of us went out for food together. It would be most of IoS's last meal together. To say meeting my corp and alliance mates was wonderful would be understating the point somewhat. They are all as great guys (and girl) in real life as they are as disembodied voices on comms. I'd happily go anywhere to hang out with them again. As a result of us going to eat we missed the first two hours of the party at the top of the world. Sadly this meant no Roxor for me. At least we got there in time for Skálmöld and I discovered a whole new genre of music to listen to. The harmonies, tempo changes and chanting without music really struck a cord with me and I've been listening to it since coming home. Seriously, go listen to Skálmöld now.

Skálmöld - The boys in blue
After watching Skálmöld's set we took a wander through the capsuleer's private lounge. As cheesy as it sounds this had me feeling as close in real life to pod pilot as I'm ever likely to come. No idea why, just knowing it was a private lounge was special. Maybe it's how I picture the clubs in the capsuleer areas of Jita 4-4 - dark room; banging tunes; full of eggers hanging out with their mates. There's an interesting video made it up on Facebook of me throwing some crazy shapes while bekilted. Thankfully I can't link it here to embarrass myself.

Continuing to drink £5 cans of Polar Beer and finishing the whisky in my hip flask I spent the rest of the evening bouncing between the two stages.

DJ set
I had never planned to stay to the bitter end of the party, knowing I had a very early flight home. Similarly I had no plans to get some sleep know I'd never wake up in time for the flight. Thankfully one of those plans worked and walking back to my hotel after the bitter end of the party saw me have almost an hour to stand in the shower and sober up before the bus to the airport. I was still in a bad state as I made myself some breakfast an hour later - my cup of coffee mostly ended in the saucer due to a rather shaky hand. Handing my room key in was troubling as I simply couldn't find it anywhere. The hotel clerk was okay about me losing it and said not to worry. Bizarrely, the key spontaneously appeared in my back pocket just before getting on the bus... WTF, I'd looked there more than once!??

The return journey was Bus→Airplane→Bus→Train→Another train→Walk and merely 12 hours after leaving a massive party in Iceland I was home in Scotland. This ended the longest journey I've ever had home from the pub. It also ended a very fun week where I got to hang out with a lot of EVE players and generally have a fantastic time. Once I recovered from the journey home I declared to my wife that I'm taking the family to the beautiful and wonderful country of Iceland for a holiday. I've not worked out how to say I'd like to go to another fanfest though.

If you are thinking about going to fanfest I can offer one piece of advice - do it. You won't regret it in the slightest.

27 June 2013

FanFest 2013: Saturday

Today was always going to be a monster day. Not only was there a full day of talks to go, there was also the famous Party At The Top Of The World to attend at night. To add to all that I had yet to visit the imposing Hallgrímskirkja church and was determined to do so before going home. With all this planned it was probably inevitable that I would sleep in and miss the EVE Movie Morning where I had promised to meet friends. This first I knew of that was a text message asking where I was. Oh well, guess I also missed breakfast...

I made it to Harpa in time to meet up with everyone at the end of the movie session. Apparently I didn't miss much. In my imagination I'd pictured the complete Clear Skies trilogy to  be played, but it wasn't to be. The EVE in China talk was very interesting. Their nullsec is even more homogenised that what we find in the west. Not only that but the price of PLEX in the China server is something like 5 times what we pay. This price pretty much matches up with inflated prices of minerals and battleships so life isn't as bad as it may first seem for our Chinese counterparts. The presentation from the Chinese team ended with a great clip of many players on the China server saying hello to us on the other server.

Next up was the final Make EVE Real talk. This one was from Michael Laine of LiftPort Group. The talk started discussing the difficulties of making a space elevator from Earth due to current known materials not being strong enough. The solution discussed was to build a space elevator down to the Moon from the Lagrange point between the Moon and Earth. This would have the two benefits of proving space elevator technology could work in practice while also claiming the microgravity environment of the Lagrange point for LiftPort Group. Truth be told, this second point seemed to be more of interest to Michael Laine. Out of the three talks this one set up the shortest timescale yet the speaker seemed the least confident that he would succeed. He started with talking about his failures and continued through the talk mentioning it and how close to running out of money his group is. The highlight of the talk was Michael announcing his EVE character name. Last time I looked the bounty on him was well into the billions.

I thought the Games as Art - EVE at the MoMA talk would be a nice change of pace. After grabbing something to eat I went in a bit late and missed the very start. I quickly decided I wasn't enjoying the "comfy chair coffee table chat on a stage" discussion and headed off for a walk to the Hallgrímskirkja church. Did I mention it was cold, windy and I was wearing a kilt? It didn't take too long to get to the church. There is a long road leading up to the imposing structure, which just keeps getting bigger and bigger as you walk up to it. Outside there is a statue to Leif Ericson who is regarded as the first European to land in North America. Inside the church you can pay to go to the top of the tower and look out across Reykjavik. Bizarrely, while up there I ended up explaining to a tourist who wasn't in Iceland for fanfest what EVE was all about. He said he'd give the game a go when he got home. Walking back to the Harpa attracted some attention to my kilt. Some kids stopped me to ask if I was cold - I wasn't particularly. Another car stopped when I was crossing and I got a thumbs up from the driver followed by his son shouting "Axl Rose" at me - I was in a red kilt and black leather jacket. I was glad to get back to Harpa though, I wasn't cold but I was definitely warmer indoors.

CCP Presents was the final presentation of FanFest. As with the previous end-of-day talks there was a certain feeling of surreality that I was there. This was the magical end to FanFest where CCP likes to tease with things that are coming and things that are dreamt of. Collectors Edition box set, Books, TV series, Player-built stargates. Wait... player built stargates? Holy shit!

13 June 2013

FanFest 2013: Friday

Most of today's events that I was interested in were scheduled to happen in the main 'Tranquility' hall. The morning started with a talk on a decade of Eve's economy. It's taken me so long to write this up that I can't remember any specifics though. What I do remember is that the amount of analysis done on the economy of New Eden is impressive. Dr. EyjoG clearly enjoys his job and that came across well in the presentation he gave. I went to the talk on merging econonmies on Thurday as well and he gave a good talk then. I wish he put more stuff out in dev blogs but I can understand why he doesn't.

Around after the economics talk were scheduled two talks on Dust - Planetary Conquest and Advancing the core. The whole planetary conquest looked really interesting. This could be a great hook to differentiate Dust from all the other FPS shooters out there. The galaxy map they made for the PS3 also looks really sweet and a few EVE players were asking when we would get it on the EVE client. All in all, a lot of cool stuff going into Dust.

After two hours of sitting in TQ I really needed food and a beer and it was time to wander the halls again. Having seen it all the day before meant there were no real surprises. I'm sure the EVE Store was putting more, different t-shirts out which were testing my resolve. I held my will restating to myself that I would buy some when I got home. This decision is still haunting me as the EVE store still doesn't have them for sale.

The "Make EVE Real - Asteroid Mining" talk was another good talk. I'd not read anything about real world asteroid mining so everything I heard here was new. It was fascinating to learn about the abundance of what we consider scarce metals we could acquire from mining real asteroids. I particularly liked their design for sending out swarms of probes which would autonomously function together to scan and return data on asteroid compositions. I'd love to work somewhere involved in designing such systems. Something for EVE to consider bringing into the game? A mining scanner mini-game perhaps which increases or decreases asteroid yield depending on how well you scan?

The final event of the day was, of course, the EVE Keynote. Having watched this on a stream in the past there was something special about actually being in the audience. And, oh my the shiny eye candy. I think it's all out now in Odyssey but if you haven't seen the presentation, here's the Youtube video for your enjoyment.

28 May 2013

FanFest 2013: Thurday

My halting walk home last night resulted in a rather late arrival to my hotel. This was exacerbated by discovering the alliance server was broken and nobody had Teamspeak, Jabber or our forums to communicate with. An hour spent fixing that and then I could sleep... Five hour later and I was awake again getting ready for day one of the actual Fanfest event.

In case you forgot why you were there. This was at the top of the main stairs.
There was no snow today but a pretty strong wind was making itself felt. This was particularly unfortunate as I had elected to wear my kilt resulting in a rather brisk half hour walk. When I got to the Harpa there was no immediate relief from the wind as I joined the queue about 100 meters from the entrance. Kudos to CCP for effecting such an efficient method for getting people into the event. I was sure it was going to take at least three times longer than it actually did. To be honest, once I got inside the door and away from the cold wind I wasn't particularly bothered about the queue anymore. Once at the front it was pretty straightforward getting my swag-bag, t-shirt and entry pass and then I was free to wander around.

Efficient registration table is efficient
Inside, a few things were still being set up. There was no sign of the Steelseries guys to collect the free mouse mat. Razor had some things out on their display but nothing I wanted to buy. The relaunched EVE store was well stocked with a wonderful variety of t-shirts which I foolishly decided to buy once I got back home. Foolish in that the EVE store isn't selling them, D'Oh! After wandering around the crush for a while the corpmate I was with had to head off to meet his partner and I was left to wander around on my own. Not for long though as more corpmates magically appeared and we got some food and beers.

The first talk I went to was "Make EVE Real - Bringing FTL to IRL". This seemed odd to be going to an EVE Fanfest yet starting at a talk only loosely related to the game. It was a rather interesting talk from Dr. Richard Obousy of Icarus Interstellar (now there's a cool name for your CV). He presented his very ambition timeline to make interstellar travel a reality by 2100. Interstellar travel on the scale of a human lifetime requires faster than light travel. Dr. Obousy's talk was based around past examples of the speed humans exploit a new technology - on average it seems to be about 50 years from discovery to widespread use of some game-changing breakthrough. The main thing I though he was missing in his talk was that Icarus Interstellar is yet to find this breakthrough. I guess they have about 30 years before their schedule becomes tight though. Other than that point the talk was very enjoyable but didn't really tell me anything new.

After some wandering around, meeting up with more corpmates, watching people play the very cool, very R-type-like EVE arcade game, and drinking a few more beers, we headed up to queue for the Dust 514 keynote. I've played a little of Dust and have my character in Dust Uni but I don't really have that great an understanding of what's going on. I run at people, shoot them and die, rinse then repeat. They announced new drop suits, new weapons, new vehicles and a much needed new skill tree. The best thing they announced was the updates to the graphics. I was glad to see this because I find Dust looks a bit dated compared to other shooters like the new Halo. Hopefully these new graphics would polish it up a bit. Still there were enough bitter EVE players mooching around complaining about Dust 514 taking dev time away from EVE. You'd think that would make them happy as anytime CCP make changes in EVE the forums turn into a war of "how dare you change stuff".

After the keynote we headed back to the Celtic Cross to find it packed out the door. Someone made a very ill-advised comment to a corpmate about her height and received a well deserved kick to the shins. Deciding that it was too busy we went elsewhere for a quiet drink then actually had the early night I had planned for the previous evening.

27 May 2013

FanFest 2013: Wednesday

Um, well so much for my plan to write up Fanfest in a week... There's a lot of stuff happening in-game just now that I'll try and write about later. For now let's get on with the story of my Iceland adventure.

After waking from not enough sleep I got myself ready and fed then headed off to the Harpa conference centre. There was a bit of a shock as I went outside and discovered it was snowing. This is what I had hoped for in Iceland so I wasn't too unhappy with this turn of events. After a thirty minute walk I met with some corp mates and we all piled onto bus number one. I'll probably remember that was the bus number forever as it was repeated many, many times by the guide. After a rapidly abandoned attempt to check our tickets the bus set off.

Our first stop was to be Þingvellir, a rift-valley where the original Icelandic parliament used to meet for two weeks each summer. It is also one of only two places in the world where you can walk between two continental plates as all other such gaps are underwater. We were told that this is a lovely place to come camping in summer with temperatures reaching as high as 20-30°C but it was hard to imagine that in the snow and wind. The scenery was beautiful thought and I would love to go back there in summer with a tent and try the camping.
America to the left, Europe to the right (or is it the other way around?)

Leaving Þingvellir we got back on our bus and headed for a long drive to the Gulfoss waterfall. On the way we were told a wonderful story about the rescue of this gorgeous waterfall from being used to generate electricity - something that would have ruined the beauty of the area. Gulfoss was first saved by Tómas Tómasson and then by his daughter, Sigríður Tómasdóttir. His daughter even went to the extreme lengths of threatening to throw herself into the falls. Thankfully she didn't have to go that far to save this picturesque spot in Iceland. We didn't really have enough time to visit the waterfall and enjoy lunch. Choosing to visit the waterfall first left us with about four minutes to eat. Another corp mate promised to web and scram the bus to give us a bit longer.
Gulfoss waterfall

Our final stop, Geysir, was only a short hop away and as you can possibly tell from its name is where all other geysers are named for. There is something odd about walking around in the cold with patches of snow on the ground while watching boiling water bubble away naturally in holes in the ground. I previously saw a cold geyser in Germany but that was just a piddly little thing compared to these giant erupting pools of sulphurous water. There is something rather compelling to standing around waiting for hot water to fling itself into the air in a gush of water, steam, and sulphur pong. There is also something rather eerie about being in a landscape with all the steam drifting around. I think the eeriness would have been wonderfully enhanced had I not been surrounded by hundreds of other people.
Did you bring any teabags?

That night a number of us had tickets to go see the Iceland Symphony Orchestra playing songs from EVE. After grabbing some noodle soup not to far from Harpa we headed back for the performance. I was happy to find our seats were almost right at the front of a very packed theatre. It seemed to take ages before the orchestra were ready, everyone quietened down, and we waited. The big surprise for me was watching the conductor shuffle to his position whilst also playing a didgeridoo. The whole event was magical. A large screen behind the orchestra was showing footage from various EVE promo videos and the orchestra played maybe nine tunes from the game. Most of them I recognised but a couple were not so familiar. It's been a long time since I last turned the music up in EVE. Maybe I should start turning it up again when I'm doing solo stuff.

After heading off for a couple of drinks the icing on the Iceland cake came in the form of getting to take pictures of the Aurora Borealis - the Northern Lights. We just on-spec headed down a pier at the harbour to get some black sky between us and where the Aurora should appear. We were almost about to give up and head back to our hotels when a green ribbon appeared in the sky. Cue furious long-exposure photography without a tripod. I suspect there may be a couple of humerous pictures of me sprawled flat on the ground propping my camera against rocks and anything else I could find. After leaving everyone it took ages for me to get back to my hotel as the display lasted over an hour and I kept finding new places to stop and take more pictures.
Beautiful Aurora Borealis

What a magical end to the perfect day of sightseeing around Iceland.