30 October 2014

Hoi Fozzie, gimme a t-shirt

Last year I went to Fanfest. There was a massive number of t-shirts for sale. One of the things announced that year was the relaunch of the EVE store and. As my suitcase was already well packed I made the bad decision that the t-shirts would likely be for sale on the new EVE store and I could just order a bunch when I got home. History shows this was a terrible idea and over a year later the EVE store still only has a pathetic selection of clothing to choose from. The couple of t-shirts they do have to offer, whilst nice, are overpriced and not what I'm after at all.

Also wanted in Gallente and Minmatar (and Caldari I suppose)

In the Phoebe sneak peak video CCP Fozzie appears wearing a t-shirt listing Amarr ships. Not the race I would pick but still more in line with what I would buy. Please, CCP, please release more t-shirts like the ones you sell at Fanfest.


28 October 2014

CCP Buff Vacations

One of the annoyances for any EVE player who cares about continuous skill training is figuring out what long skill to train whilst on vacation. The other tricky part is padding in shortish skills on the lead up to vacation so you can start whatever skill you want to train so it doesn't finish halfway through your holiday. Today CCP released a devblog talking about this:

Good for two years or so
No more rocket-scientist levels of planning. No more Gantt charts to ensure the correct set of skills go in the correct order at the correct time. No more sneaking a laptop on holiday because you could only get skills to go 12 days into your two week holiday.

CCP's best buff ever! Coming soon in Phoebe.

26 October 2014

The Infinite Universe (part 2)

I should know better than to have promised part 2 of this during the week. Life rarely leaves me the time to focus on a long post like this. Plus, when I do have spare time during the week I prefer to actually play EVE. Crazy, huh?

If you've not read part one click the link and read it now.


The Arrival

With a loud bang our intrepid corp of explorers arrives in the distant system. As the Rorqual was using the sun as a destination lock the ship naturally lands in relative close proximity to it. There are no planets, no asteroid belts, and definitely no gates or stations available from the right click menu nor on the overview. The only thing on the overview is the sun and the system doesn't even have a registered name. The first order of business, therefore, is for the other pilots who travelled with the Rorqual to take their clones, jump into scanning ships and start scanning the system. The scanning pilots start hunting down the celestials, warping to them and making assorted tactical bookmarks like any good scouts should. This way they find where the planets, moon, and any other items of interest in the system are.

The Rorqual is vulnerable at the jump-in point and needs to be moved. Our Rorqual pilot, eager to secure the situation gets himself to one of the new tactical bookmarks as soon as possible. This is where the Rorqual reveals its next new trick. Once in position at a bookmark the pilot selects the 'Anchor' option for the Rorqual then moves his pod into another one of the ships stored in the Rorqual. After some period of time the Rorqual goes online and a forcefield is erected to protect the exploration group. Why carry a POS when one of the ships serve the function perfectly well? Our explorers are now working against the clock. They need to do whatever they came here to do and be ready to head home before their safe haven runs out of fuel for the forcefield.


In addition to scanning down planets and moons there also needs to be some worthwhile reason for our explorers to come to this distant system. I've already established there are no freebies on this trip. This means there are no anomalies for people to simply warp to. Everything has to be worked for. This means all ISK will be hidden behind signatures and the dangers within. Given these locations are brand new areas of space I wouldn't expect known NPC classes to exist in any significant numbers. The ship sizes which can be transported needs to be taken into consideration when designing these sites.

Exploration sites requiring little or no combat would add to the empty feeling of space - "someone had been here but has long since gone". Other sites would be well defended by tough NPCs. Some leads could be taken here from the recently unveiled Burner missions. Any NPC living this deep in space is likely to be very self-sufficient and readily able to defend itself. Finally, the complete absence of anything to do should always be an option. Exploration should not guarantee riches or, indeed, anything at all. I'd be quite happy to see people going home entirely empty handed from time to time.

Our explorers now have as long as their Rorqual-POS has forcefield fuel to make the most of the wealth they have unlocked. Why do they need a forcefield? I was just getting to that.


This wouldn't be EVE without there being a large possibility for explosions. A lack of local and no obvious pinch-points such as gates, stations or wormholes may make combat seem unlikely. Of course the initial arrival of the Rorqual leaves it fairly vulnerable. Anyone who happens to be combat scanning around the predictable arrival point of the sun will be able to warp in and grab point, hence the need for the explorers to take both exploration and combat ships on their journey. Once the Rorqual is anchored it isn't immune to attack either. Natural resists give it an appropriate number of hit points to defend from attack. This is particularly important given the lack of other automated defences. Should the Rorqual-POS be taken into armor the necessary reinforced timer starts counting down. No point messing around with hauling strontium on the journey for this, let's just use the same mechanism as POCOs and have the anchoring pilot set the time range for reinforced mode exit. If the odds are overwhelming maybe a rescue mission could be staged to save the Rorqual with a backup team (and another Rorqual). Doubling down is always an option.

Other sources of conflict are pretty identical to wormholes with the added difficulty of how the potential aggressors get themselves staged. EVE being EVE I find it incredibly likely that there would be the formation of corps whose sole mission in life was to build up a library of potential locations to jump to hunting for explorers to explode. Of course, this would just drive explorers onto deeper and deeper destinations. Without proper planning people have a real chance of getting stranded and/or need rescued.


I have no idea whether this is a good idea or not. I often feel there isn't enough mystery in New Eden, between the well mapped areas of k-space, the well documented routines of all NPCs and the triggers which affect their reinforcements. The infinite EVE universe could go a long way to addressing this. Simply going there should not guarantee instant wealth and sites should be slow to respawn. It should be hard to get there and challenging to exist there. Procedurally generated signatures would hopefully yield the randomness I desire and prevent people from being able to go into auto-pilot mode when running the sites. I also like the idea that people could scan themselves deeper and deeper. Of course, there would always be the challenge of getting home to Jita to turn riches of items into riches of ISK. Finally, there is no isolating yourself as people can arrive at any time. There is no wimping out on the commitment cost though so any potential gankers better be confident they can deal with the mysteries before committing their own Rorqual to the jump.

19 October 2014

The Infinite Universe (part 1)

There has been ongoing speculation for what the promised eventual future of player built stargates will bring. A lot of the speculation predictably revolves around finally unlocking access to Jove space. Others think the gates will unlock access to some other well defined long-forgotten region of space. My personal favourite is that CCP will use player built stargates to replace the distances about to be taken from carriers and other jump-capable ships allowing the largest alliance to ephemerally replace the logistical links they currently rely upon. I think it is time to stop thinking so small and really expand our online universe. Space is infinite so why shouldn't New Eden be so?


It's time to properly extend the exploration career to the discovery of entire new solar systems. Doing so should be a corporation wide endeavour requiring the expenditure of a large amount of resources. The basic premise of the discovery portion of this idea is a massive extension of the existing scanning skills except this will be on a galaxy map rather than a solar system map. In addition to this, each 'scanning bubble' will be controllable by a single character. This will require a minimum of four pilots to have any chance of successfully scanning a system and an optimum of seven or eight for more rapid discovery. Each pilot should be based in their own POS and each POS needs to be in a separate solar system. The further apart each pilot the greater the chance a deep scan will work.

Of course we're going to need new probes with their own mini jump drives. Like existing drives these mini jump drives will of course require fuel to jump to these distant regions of space. Deeper exploration may even expend all fuel on the outbound journey resulting in sacrifice of the probe. Will it be worth it? Of course the scan itself shouldn't be as passive as the solar-system scans. Let's introduce a new variant of the hacking mini-game. Rather than just be a random click-fest this should actually require some skill to play. Eight skilled players playing the mini-game at the same time... did I just create an online cooperative game *inside* an MMO?


So what happens once our industrious corp pins down the jump coordinates of a distant star worthy of further investigation? Well then the real exploration begins. How do they get there and back safely? Clearly we need a new class of ship. A deep exploration ship. Sounds like something ORE would build? Meet the newly refitted deep exploration Rorqual. This refitted Rorqual comes with a modified jump drive. Unlike existing drives this one has the ability to lock to on to the single gravity well of the distant sun and jump much greater distances. The emphasis on singular gravity wells obviates the possibility of abusing the Rorqual in known space (although future use in W-space could be an interesting option which I won't consider here). Whilst making this a one-way journey would be an interesting choice it's probably not a good idea. A 'point of origin' marker would guide the Rorqual home at the end of the voyage.

So our corp is ready for their jump to deep space. They load their Rorqual with the tools of their trade - more exploration ships and quite probably a smattering of combat ships for defence from the unknown. They 'board' the Rorqual by attaching their current clone to the clone vat bay. Once prepared the Rorqual pilot initiates the jump to the distant system and all the involved parties jump as one ready to brave the dangers of the remote system.


This turned into a longer post than expected. I'll continue during the week with what happens next.

16 October 2014

Pretty Lights

Welcome to the light show
Due to the changes in wormholes we recently retired our ancient fleet composition of remote repair shield Tengus. Our new fleet composition is based around a core of logi. The dps is provided by whatever people feel like taking so long as it has the appropriate tank type and enough buffer to not stress the logi guys out too much. The long range of the logi can make for pretty light shows as you can see above.

12 October 2014

Bob giveth

Since Hyperion came out there has been so much more scanning to do in wormhole space. Sadly this additional scanning doesn't seem to come with additional combat to make it worthwhile. Either we find nobody, someone hiding in their POS force field, or a force who simply dunk us into the ground. The latter of those options is still more fun than either of the others but I'd rather be the one doing the killing.

On Tuesday evening I was sitting in front of the computer eating dinner when my corpmate, Rhianna, sent a message out on Jabber - "Orca outside POS forcefield in 5a1". A screenshot followed showing the ship sitting just outside the forcefield - a fairly safe position for something with a likely high EHP. A quick discussion and we decided to set up a bombing run to at least wake up the Orca pilot if not actually kill him. Bomb perches were set up as I logged in Orea and another toon. Once I was shipped into a pair of Manticores I jumped through to get into position.

I was barely clear of the wormhole when a pair of Armageddons landed on the connection back home. They jumped through and back, obviously looking to roll the wormhole. We decided trying to kill a 'geddon on the wormhole was a much more exciting prospect than just a wakeup call to the Orca pilot. I manoeuvred my two bombers into position whilst Rhianna got back to the POS to watch what happened there. What happened was the two pilots logged off. Boo. Clearly I didn't cloak fast enough as they landed on the wormhole and they got scared off. With that it was time to log off myself and go help my wife with the kids lest I risk non-consensual 'pvp' IRL!

Several hours later we decided to go help out our logged-off Russian neighbours by clearing their expensive gas site. Since we gained our new C5 static we've discovered a couple of the gas sites are actually worth running. In fact the ISK earned is comparable to running C4 combat anomalies yet the risk after clearing the initial sleepers is only a handful of Ventures. We get to about 85% of the gas cleared when the locals start logging back on. Their POS is off d-scan from us but a Revelation somewhere isn't. Not unduly concerned about the Rev (we're in Ventures after all) we continue to suck gas whilst a scout gets eyes on the POS and then probes down the Rev.

Someone call the Red Cross?

"Second Rev at POS plus the Orca is back. Other Rev is running sites!" is exclaimed across comms. Really? This guy is running sites and knows we are here. Another voice pipes up "hole home is critical". Ah bollocks, that's why he's unconcerned. We can't kill either Rev, or the Archon which just appeared from nowhere, but we can finish the plan to wake the Orca pilot from his boosting trance. As we leave to drop the gas off and reship their scout, glupishkin, does the unthinkable and breaks silence in local to say "bye bye". His thoughts must have changed as three of us head back in Manticores for some mischief. As we warp to the earlier bombing perch made for surprising the Orca all the cap pilots warp back to their POS.

"The Orca pilot has logged off". I'm aligned towards the Orca and closing distance as this message comes over comms. I start counting in my head ready to launch the bombs at the last moment I know I can still hit the Orca before his emergency warp kicks in. Our three Manticores loose their bombs and warp off. Only one of us gets a PvP timer. I'm feeling disappointed at this when Rhianna says "won't he have a timer too?". Oh hell yes! And he logged off already so doesn't know! We have 15 minutes to scan down his Orca which is no longer under the safety of the POS guns. Now we can really kill it.

Image courtesy of The Wormhole Diaries

It feels like forever while the Orca is scanned down, but scanned down it is. We all warp to it and the earlier unthinkable but now inevitable explosion happens. The pod immediately warps off under emergency warp mechanics but a quick scan locates that too. We loot what we can, shoot the rest, then head home deeply satisfied with Bob's gift of Orca and pod.

2 October 2014

It's called "space" for a reason

Yesterday CCP announced the first wave of planned changes to address stagnation in nullsec. There is a 220 page (and growing) threadnaught in the EVE-O forums. Whilst CCP Greyscale has to dedicate the time to read all the posts in that thread I have no desire to. Instead I restricted myself to dev posts answering valid and useful points and then I did a random sample of a handful of pages to get a more general feel for how people are reacting. Not scientific but who cares. The mood of the posters is not entirely predictable, however.

Of course there are the posts from idiots who announce they will stop playing (hint: bye bye). There are the other posts from people who say nullsec is impossible to handle without caps jumping (hint: caps haven't always been in EVE). There have been a fair few posts from people who totally don't understand the point of this change and want to know how their alliance is meant to rapidly defend territory spread far and wide across New Eden (hint: you don't). Yes it makes force projection harder but that is exactly the bloody point. Space is big yet in New Eden it has been shrunk so much by jump drives that large alliances think nothing of crossing the whole map for a fight then back home for kippers.

The other half of the posts seem to recognise this shake up for the good thing it is. Force projection for the largest alliances will be reduced. People will have to think carefully about where they live as their 'big blue doughnut' won't be as effective any more. What's the point of being in a large coalition if they can't really help you? Maybe it's better to have neutrals to shoot in close proximity to home? Hopefully super-massive alliances start to shrink back on themselves and new alliances are able to get a foothold in nullsec.

There have been valid points about Black Ops ships receiving the same penalty as Carriers and Supers. Black Ops should be fast in and out guerilla style ships as opposed to caps which are meant to be deployed in more protracted battles. Maybe CCP should link jump fatigue to ship mass? There has also been the valid point about new characters joining corps deep in nullsec and how they join their new space friends out there. These issues can all be dealt with for the good of EVE. More issues will no doubt rear their heads but either the players will figure out clever new ways to handle those or CCP will make more balancing passes if it is
deemed necessary.

With the last expansion wormholes were nerfed with what is possibly the exact opposite of the proposed changes to nullsec. We have been forced into massively large chains of systems, all of which we have to scan and map in order to find people to shoot at or go run sleeper sites to make ISK when no targets are around. We have been forced into larger space and had our ability to control our environment reduced with the hole rolling nerf. We have survived by adapting and figuring out how to do so has been more engaging than much of what I'd been doing for some time prior to these changes. Sensible people play games to be challenged. I am fairly confident that the existing nullsec alliances will adapt equally well. Some will fall by the wayside and make space for new, more enduring corps to make their mark on New Eden. I look forward to watching how these changes pan out, but in the meantime I'm also enjoying the tasty nullbear tears.