28 January 2014

CCP fix Nullsec in Rubicon 1.1

Today saw the release of Rubicon 1.1. The patch notes documented many updates, fixes and new features. CCP does like to provide surprise changes which delight everyone and this patch was no exception. That's right folks, Rubicon 1.1 was the patch where CCP finally fixed nullsec.

common reaction from a nullsec pilot today

Elsewhere in nullsec pilots were struggling to deal with the harsh reality of living in a properly lawless place in space. I too cannot imaging dealing with a game where local doesn't work and standings aren't visible... Oh wait, I already deal with that everyday in wormholes.

Obviously never lived in wormholes
Of course CCP will have to deal with this really fast. Clearly there would be chaos if the rank and file in nullsec got to have too much fun or if the nullbears couldn't mine in safety with their intel network unable to report hostiles in system without ever laying eyes on them. I joyfully await the news of CCP rolling the database back to Sunday due to 'technical issues'. What dead hundered supercaps?? CCP troll, best troll.

Update 29 Jan 2014: CCP have broken this again and standings are visible once more. Boo, CCP.

24 January 2014

More Mobile Structures

Some of the new mobile structures have a theme of rewarding active players and punishing the inactive ones. One example of this would be the mobile depot which can still be scooped when reinforced and then reanchored somewhere else if you wish. Another is the syphon units which steal various reaction materials from a POS if the owner of the POS doesn't notice it's there.

I had an excellent idea for a couple of extra mobile structures I would hate to see in existence. The fact I would hate to see them means they must have some merit. The structures are the "POS Fuel Syphon" and the "POS Fuel Accelerator". Without going into actual numbers, these modules would act thus:

POS Fuel Syphon - This anchorable would behave in a similar manner to the other syphon structures. Every hour this structure takes a number of fuel blocks from the POS it is anchored near and stores them for anyone passing by to take. An additional percent of blocks is wasted during this process. The number of blocks would be related to the tower size meaning a small POS would only lose a quarter of the blocks per hour that a large POS loses.

POS Fuel Accelerator - This module causes the POS it is anchored near to burn its fuel at an accelerated rate. This anchorable has a similar effect to the syphon in that it makes the POS run out of fuel faster. This anchorable is a pure 'dick structure' as the person laying it down gains no material benefit from the module. I would make this module a one-time structure which cannot be scooped back up. I would also make the effect stronger than the syphon as its intention is purely to make the POS run out of fuel rather than some sneaky slight-of-hand theft.

Both of these modules punish people who have POSs but don't spend enough time at them. Defending against either of these modules would be trivial for the active player or corp who live in their POS or system containing it. People who put a POS on a moon then visit it once a month to fuel it up could get an early surprise in the form of low fuel alerts sooner than expected.

While writing this it also occurred that a similar module for accelerated fuel burn could be used to speed up strontium timers. For anyone looking to defend their POS this shouldn't be a problem as they could take care of the structure as it appeared. For undefended timers it would allow an offensive force to remove a tower more rapidly. So, what do you think? If everyone hates this idea equally it must be a good idea, right?

19 January 2014


The communications available in EVE are a total disaster. This is a problem you realise when you spend long enough playing the game socially. Initially you see the expected channels - local and corp - which every MMO I've played has an equivalent to. You also have the EVEmail system, a feature of many if not all MMOs. As time goes by you add in a few more chat channels, and before long you have several windows of blinking tabs which you generally ignore except when there's nothing to do. Right now I have 15 open chat channels of which I check maybe half when also doing stuff.

So far so good and you're wondering why this is a disaster. This is so bad because all these communications are poorly supported out of the game, if at all. Of course we have EVE Gate for checking emails, calendars and contacts. Excuse me if I don't get excited about that. If you've ever tried to use mail in EVE gate from your phone you'll know exactly what my complaint there is. You get a tiny little broken textarea to type into which displays exactly one word. Sending anything useful from there is traumatic to say the least. If I have to be at a proper computer to use EVE Gate why don't I just log in to the actual client? But if I'm logged into the client why would I want to be sending mails? What makes EVE Gate worse is you can't do basic things like create links to websites, characters, corps or items. Have you ever tried to change tags on mails or work through old pages of emails? The constant page refreshing drives me nuts, especially when said refreshing takes you from page 8 back to page 1!! The calendar at least works, although editing events can be torturous as the edit modal appears half-hidden in landscape mode and moves of the side of the screen when holding the phone in portrait mode.

All the wonderful real-time chat channels are even less accessible. There is no known way to interact in real time with corpmates when not actually in-game. I totally understand why this would not be desirable in many other games as the aim is to have people online and playing as much as possible to generate content through conflict. I would say the opposite actually happens in EVE. I often get distracted from doing anything other than chatting as scanning while holding several conversations is not any fun. Additionally, my experience with the jabber server I provide for my alliance is that the result is usually to draw people online from other games when site running starts or potential targets appear in-system.

The Answer

Obviously I have a solution to the above problems otherwise I wouldn't be writing this. Let's take each item one-by-one:


Since 2003 there has been an internet protocol for accessing remote scheduling information. CalDAV supports multiple clients accessing and updating the same calendar concurrently. It is also possible to configure a lot of calendaring software to access and update this information, all without ever having to log into the game. This makes it possible for 'content creators' to schedule ops from locations where it is not possible to log into the game or EVEgate (and by that I mean from work).


This is a biggie for me. I don't want to log into the game to handle email. As a corp CEO and alliance leader I have plenty of mails I could be handling without logging into the game. Wouldn't that be some much easier from a proper email client sending and receiving in-game mail over IMAP and SMTP? Also, with most phones supporting email these days it becomes a more responsive way to get a hold of someone quickly.


As mentioned above, I provide a jabber server for my alliance to chat out of the game. There are plenty of different servers available for the open protocol of XMPP. There are also plenty of clients out there for all OSs. If we had live access to all the chat channels all of the time I predict many more fights which escalated quickly resulting in mass destruction of more ships. Exactly what CCP, and the rest of us, want. Another effect of this could also be to reduce the number of people who are online just for the purposes of social interaction. How many of the 30000 people are only on to chat? How many more would be in chat, ready to jump online at a moments notice of some excitement they would otherwise have missed?


My summary to all the above would be to go take a look at how Google handle their massive infrastructure. All the above is similar or identical to how Google provide their services to a much larger user-base than CCP have to support. Making communication easier for all the people playing EVE can do nothing to harm the game. Further more, as all these protocols are well defined and code already exists to support them, the development cost to CCP should be tolerable. Many, if not all, the major alliances provide out of game communications in the form of forums, TeamSpeak, jabber and some even have their own calendars. When this becomes so wide-spread it should be a clear message to CCP that the equivalent services they provide in-game are lacking and need replaced.

16 January 2014

Writers' Block

As you may have noticed I have been a bit lax in my posting recently. A large part of that was Christmas and New Year preparations and subsequent recovery. Since then I've sat down several times to write something but never really gotten anywhere. It's not that I don't have anything to write about. The problem is I come up with ideas for topics when away from the computer and can't remember them when I'm back at it. I guess I need to buy a little notepad or something to scribble down ideas. Who said paper was dead?

My lack of blogging is in no way mirrored by an equivalent lack of time doing EVE stuff. For the week between Christmas and New Year we had an alliance gathering in the wormhole of a third-party. What started as our C5 brethren trying to elucidate a fight from a nearby C3 escalated quickly to a fully-fledged eviction. I didn't make it to the initial reinforcement of the POS. I did make it in a couple of days later to help explode their tower. I was top damage dealer too which was nice even if doing so was simply pressing F1 then chatting on comms. Nasty meanies we are. It feels a little bad of us but being willing to fight is part of living in wormholes. It's one thing to not be able to stand up a fleet at any given time but the ships these guys evacuated showed they could have fought back if they wanted.

Just into the New Year and we were welcoming a new group of people into the wormhole. I was just about to log off when my long suffering corpmate, Epigene, announced on comms he had a couple of Ventures on d-scan. I said we had no chance of catching them but was still talked into combat scanning them down while Epi went back for an Onyx to bubble them. I've read the correct way to combat scan, using direction and range to pre-place your probes before actually calling them into range and catching the targets in one scan. I've tried this and I suck at it. I went for the more familiar route and treated scanning these Ventures down like I would a wormhole. One scan, two scans, three scans and I had them. Probes in and I waited for the Ventures to vanish spooked. That never happened and with Epi arriving in someone's Onyx and a new recruit in a Cruicifier I warped the three of us to the scanned ship sig. We landed on their heads, Epi bubbled up and we killed both Ventues and both pods. I got all four killmails. Not bad for going to bed.

Since then we also staged our second monthly alliance roam. We headed into Providence, as we had done previously for our December roam. For some unknown reason CVA have us set to kill on sight so we figure we may as well earn that standings for something. In December we had fun with them, driving a Naga fleet off and killing a few other things. This time around we were not so lucky and got squashed between two CVA fleets. But, well, it was a laugh anyway. The second part of the roam saw us trying out something called "Duck Fleet". This is a fleet dreamt up by Fatal Ascension which comprises a bunch of MWD Algos destroyers filled with drones. All the Algos anchor on a fast frigate who leads the way. Another fast frigate gets all the drones assisted to it and goes off to tackle things. The anchor keeps the ball of Destroyers moving rapidly around on the edge of drone range while the tackle frigate leads another ball, of drones, around. The drones deal massive instant damage to most things the tackle gets a point on. Flying this takes practice and we had a laugh getting the hang of it. Mostly it's just the tackle and anchor frigates who need to actually concentrate though. We got a couple of kills even if we did suck slightly at running this type of fleet.

All in all I've been having a decent time in EVE. Unusually for me it has involved a lot of PvP. Thankfully I'm almost only ever the grunt and not in charge of the pew.

1 January 2014

Happy New Year - YC116

As this gets posted I am in a club in Edinburgh partying the night away. A few small changes are planned for my corp for the coming year but right now I couldn't care less about that. :-)

Happy New year to everyone in New Eden and lets have lots of fun in YC116.