Saturday, March 29, 2014

Building a Stronger Alliance Time Zone Presence

This is a long post.  It addresses a complex problem, so it has to explain the causes of that problem, then propose some solutions.  If you keep reading, you’re signing on for a discussion.  You’ll probably disagree with some of it, but it’s valuable for those interested in it.

EUTZ is larger than USTZ; EU tops out at around 50,000 players, US at 32,000 or so.  There are natural consequences of this in null-sec: in EUTZ, finding targets are easier, finding cosmic signatures is harder, fleets tend to run larger, fleet discipline is more important than individual pilot skill, and solo roaming is more difficult since it’s harder to find fellow solo or 2-3 pilot gangs roaming about.

But, that’s not the point of this post.  Maybe I’ll do another one about preferred styles of fighting, valued characteristics, and which group of pilots is “better” in another post.  But my point here is that – as an alliance – recruiting and keeping good numbers in the USTZ is more difficult than doing so in the EUTZ.  There are just fewer people to go around.

And that inevitably skews towards the USTZ getting neglected.  But this is a very bad thing for an alliance, and the solution to it is not at all easy.  Yet it’s absolutely essential to maintaining a successful null-sec alliance, particularly if you want to be taken seriously as a major player.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Lessons: “But That Sh!t Ain’t the Truth”

Last night, I was roaming through Minmatar FW space in my Firetail when I came across a Slasher in a small complex.  I dutifully enter the site and saw him fairly close to the beacon, so I immediately webbed and scrammed him and began to attack.  He naturally locked me first and tried to pull range, but I overloaded my AB.  To keep him close.

Just then, I saw a Harpy appear on a 1 million km short-scan, indicating he was sitting on the other side of the gate.  I started to worry a little, so I overloaded my guns to end the fight faster.  By this point, we were both webbed and I was at around 2,500 m from him, so I aligned out slowly.  I figured that if the Harpy came to help him, I could warp immediately, provided I had time to kill the Slasher.  A quick look at the info of the other two people in system suggested that the Harpy was not friendly to the Slasher.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

100: A Review of the First 100 Posts

My last article was post number 100 of this blog.  100 posts in 8 months.  An average of 2.4 days between posts. Nice round numbers are a great time to look back on what went well, what went poorly, and – of course, generate lots of wonderful lists and summaries.

Committing to write a blog that provides new content every couple days takes a lot of work.  While we all have plenty to talk about in corp chat or on TS while we play, recalling the small revelations and lessons for a broad audience takes a little getting used to.  At times, it’s easy to feel completely tapped out, particularly since I don’t fall back on relinking fits I find on the Internet or rehashing losses of the day.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

We Are All Drazi

In my last post, I danced around the topic of nastiness in Eve's culture, a topic I thought deserved a little more attention.  I started thinking about this after reading Ripard Teg’s response to Blog Banter #54, in which his despair about the Eve community is palpable.  Go ahead and take a read.  I’ll wait.

Yikes.  I see a lot of despair in that post aimed at the culture and nature of Eve players.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I love Ripard.  His blog is one of the few I check every day, hoping for a new post.  It even inspired me to start this blog.  Of course, that doesn’t mean I agree with everything he says.  When it comes to Eve’s prevailing culture, I plain disagree.

An Ocean of Heroes’ Blood

So, I’ve never done a Blog Banter before, but I’ve read a few in response to Kirith Kodachi’s recent question about heroes that drew my attention.

First, I read this post on the Point Blank Diplomacy blog.  I kind of liked where he was going.  But, in it he identified a hero as “skilled, selfless, calm in the face of danger, and willing to risk themselves for the well-being of others.”

Then I read Ripard Teg’s response on Jester’s Trek.  What strikes me about the groups and player types who made Ripard’s list is what it says about his definition of “hero”.  Look at that list.  Three new-player organizations, two “open arms” homes for players looking for a change, a number of community contributors, those who give to charity, and those who have close ties with (or are) CCP.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Lessons: A Good Day

In my last post, I talked about a terrible day and the series of mistakes I made.  As is wont to happen with one’s focus immediately after a shameful display of terrible piloting, you tend to pay attention to all the little things you neglected during your next roam.

And that’s exactly what happened to me last night.  I went out of Doril in my Harpy looking for a good fight against a couple of BRAVE war targets.  A couple hours earlier, some of my alliance mates killed a few targets in Chidah and Sooma, so I headed out into Derelik generally making my way there.

Part-way through, I received intel that a few BRAVE members were floating through the route to Rens, so I changed course, traveled through Sendaya again, and made my way up towards Gamis.  On the way, I saw a good number of war targets, though most of them were either docked up or mining (and on the ball too, by remaining aligned and warping off when in trouble).

Then, all of a sudden, I landed in the middle of a 14-man BRAVE T1 frigate fleet camping the Shedoo gate in Ihal.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Lessons: A Bad Day

Some days, you undock and you can’t seem to do anything right.  It’s like you’re experiencing a chain reaction of fail.  Or like you bump into a vase, lash your hand out to catch it and bump a glass, which falls and shatters soda all over you, so you jump back and step on the cat, then shuffle to get off the cat and bump into the vase again.  Nothing seems to work right.

I had one of those days last night, and everything had started out so well.  I was deep in high-sec following an Amarr armor roam last night.  We had killed a Marmite Proteus the night before (I have no idea why he aggressed), and I must have still had a little luck left over.  Though I passed a few war targets on the way back to Amarr to sell the ship – I don’t fly Harbingers often enough for me to keep it – no one wanted to fight.  On the positive side, though, I didn’t lose the ship – given how the rest of the night went, that was a highlight.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Lessons: Is There a Downside?

A lot of times, our fleets fit into the “kill all the things” category.  Sometimes we have a general idea where we’re going, but ultimately end up hitting targets of opportunity.

After our fun times in Venal (I kid; it was horribly boring structure shooting stuff) we moved back to Doril so we could fight the new H.E.R.O. coalition.  Thousands of new targets… of course we’ll be there.

The last time TEST deployed to a low-sec system, we war-decced them so we could shoot them without losing our sec status.  It was delightful fun.  We’d camp their station in Tornados and blap anything that undocked.  That month, I think I had 250 kills.

So, of course, we had to do it again.  And for good measure, we declared war on the entire coalition.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Raven Navy Issue Thing...

So, recently, TMC covered an interesting ALOD of a RavenNavy Issue.  I was actually laughing as I realized where the story was going while I read.

Suffice to say, the player was a WoW player who bought PLEX to pay for a very, very expensive ship (to the tune of 44 bil).  Naturally, this ship was ganked, and the pilot raged in local.  He threatened to find the players in real life and make them suffer.  At this point, a Goonswarm member contacted him, convinced him that he represented a group who defended and reimbursed ratters, got him to trade his second pimped out Raven Navy Issue (also purchased with PLEX) and paid him 500 mil for the service of moving his ship safely to a nice ratting system.  Suffice to say, it didn’t end well for him.  He ended up losing billions in isk.

Now, this player did a face-plant into the difference between Eve and WoW… namely that Eve is laissez-faire, while WoW is a playground with very observant babysitters.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

War (And Not In Eve)

You’d have to be a complete hermit not to realize that something big and important is happening in the Crimea right now.

Since we’re all Internet Spaceships dorks, let me summarize.  Ukraine used to be a province of the Soviet Union.  The Russians (who kind of ruled the Soviet Union) kind of want all their territory back, particularly since ever since Russia saw itself as Russia, they wanted a warm-water port.  They fought the Turks back in Catherine the Great’s time in order to get that territory, so they’re partial to it.  It doesn't hurt that one particular region, the Crimean peninsula, is about 40% Russian.

So, when Ukraine – who owned that patch of dirt until a week or so ago – had some internal disability and ousted their elected leader, Russia took the opportunity to smuggle the Ukrainian president out, and he conveniently asked for Russian help to reestablish control.  Thus, Russian troops in Crimea.  I doubt they’ll ever leave.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

A Pirate’s Life For Me

When I started playing Eve, I was a high-sec mission runner.  I remember watching with glee as my sec status ever so slowly began to tick upwards.  Somehow, it felt good to be +5.0 security status.    I felt like I was doing the “right” thing and getting rewarded for it.  Surely, the entire Eve community would appreciate and recognize my excellent work.

Then I joined a null-sec alliance which – surprisingly to me – went roaming through low-sec.  I attacked the primary and found my sec status actually drop!  This was impossible… I was “the good guy”.

Keep in mind, this was back when attacking someone in low-sec would drop your sec status by 0.8 or so.  So a single low-sec engagement would quite a bit of ratting to boost your status again.  Of course, this was also the age of the system-specific sec timer, so boosting it again wasn’t as much of a problem.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Enough With the Updates, Already!

We've had a new update pretty much every day for the past week, and I - for one - have had enough.  For God's sake, vet some of these updates through QA before putting them live.

Perhaps they don't know how their actions affect their players, so let me put it this way.  Most players have a couple hours a day to play the game.  Every time you send in a patch, it takes a hell of a lot of time to download and update.  For me, it's about half an hour (I have no idea why; my connection is fine, but the Eve repair tool is so unwieldy...).  That's a half an hour out of two hours I have to waste with another useless update that has no bearing on my game play (if it did, I'd have noticed the problem by now).

And last night, I couldn't get the damn updater to work any of the ways (direct .exe open, launcher, repair tool) despite multiple restarts.  I was trying to update for two whole hours... I even left my computer on all night, and it didn't pick up at all.

There has to be another way to send through these updates.  Stop wasting all of our time.  Every day this week?  This is flat-out disruptive.

I want to play this game, not watch a broken update process not do its job.  If I wanted to watch something not do what it was supposed to, I'd watch ratters in Tenal.

The Experience of Flying a Kestrel

I’ve already written about the importance of afterburners in any deadspace site, particularly FW sites.  And I’ve shared my thoughts about the shift in enemy ship compositions towards the T1 variety.

Obviously, I’ve been spending a lot of time fighting faction warfare pilots with my corp mates.

Now, at first glance, it may seem strange that a Razor Alliance pilot – let alone a significant amount of them – would spend a lot of time roaming through faction warfare low-sec space.  First of all, we’re deployed to Venal on a punitive campaign against Triumvirate. and Black Legion.  And null-sec alliances aren’t really known for their individual and small-gang skills; they tend to rely more upon fleet doctrine discipline and coordinated actions across a whole fleet, or sometimes several fleets.  And then there’s the security status requirement (all Razor pilots must remain above -2.0 sec status so the entire fleet can travel through any area space to support alliance operations).

Sunday, March 2, 2014

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the T1

So, during my last post, I mentioned how afterburner fits are essential when hunting faction warfare pilots (ie. about half of low-sec).  The natural starting point of any pilot in applying this thinking is to take your usual fits and adjust them by swapping out for an afterburner.  For me, this usually means T2.

Tiericide really annoyed me.  I personally believe pilots who have shown enough dedication to the game to be able to fly T2 ships well should be rewarded with ships that are better across the board, not simply in one specialized area.  Don’t get me wrong, I understand what CCP was trying to do with the effort… making PvP accessible to the newer players in the game.  But it still takes something away from the game.

What makes combat in Eve exciting?  How does Eve differ from any other game we could play?  Every single loss represents either time, isk, or effort.  Every single loss hurts.  When I’m flying a faction-fit Cynabal, my heart beats faster, my mind is whirling, and – most importantly – the dopamine goes drip, drip, dripping into my bloodstream.