Thursday, December 31, 2015

What's In My Hangar - 2015 Edition

A year and a half ago, I did a snapshot review of the ships I have fitted up in all of Talvorian’s ship hangars. It was an idea I stole wholesale from Ripard Teg; he used to do it every year, and I thought it was such an interesting idea I decided to take it for myself. The differences between this post and the last one are striking to say the least!

Unlike Ripard, though, I don’t name my ships anything interesting. I’ll chronically terrible at identifying ships by their icons, so I use their names and a group of different icons to help me remember which are fleet, gang, and solo ships. It really helps sift through why I bought them in the first place.

So, without further ado, here we are:

Tuesday, December 29, 2015


The day after Christmas, the family headed down to Ocean City for a quick one-day vacation with some relatives.  It was a nice get-away.  The temperature was a nice 70°, which was a little too cold for surfing (though the waves were awesome), but perfect for just enjoying the environment. In a 24-hour period, we went miniature golfing three times and ate out three times, in addition to having some quiet time away from the kids. Epic day.

But with that singular exception, I had a lot of time on my hands to sit down and just play Eve.  Not write about it, not focus on the drama or opening salvos of the CSM campaign season, but just play.

I try to make a little time each month to go off on my own and have a little solo fun. It’s easy to take Eve in two different directions. On the one hand, you can quickly find yourself inundated by fleets to participate in, and because a great many alliances don’t explain what the mission is for each fleet, you can tend to waste a lot of time on meaningless structure grinding, counter-entosis fleets, or strategic ratting.

But then there are those solo roams and small gang opportunities that are just delightful. The kinds of sessions where you just go back and forth avoiding gangs and killing targets you can find. The pure delight of just playing is reinvigorating, and I strongly recommend that you try it.

And it was glorious fun.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

It’s the Little Things…

CCP spends a lot of time working on features that have wide-ranging effects on the game. But it’s nice to see that they don’t neglect the little things, either.

I just fell for a null-sec procurer bait trick, and managed to escape with a nearly burned out MWD in about 80% hull.  This was the first time I escaped a fight in hull, so it was the first time I could see the new hull damage effects for myself.

 I absolutely love the new pock-marks and burning circuitry. It’s one of those features that helps you feel as if you’re really living in this world.  Immersion, I believe, is what the kids call it these days.

But that wasn’t it. When I docked up to repair the damage, I expected the image of my ship to suddenly shift from a damaged ship to a repaired version, the way it does when you swap ships.  But no, instead, the damage gradually repaired as if nanobots were running along the hull and effecting repairs. It wasn’t immediate at all, but rather gave an organic feel to my ship “healing”.

That’s one of those features that absolutely was no necessary, but shows that CCP takes their work to a whole new level. It’s a neat little treat for players that didn’t make it into a dev blog or even get any media attention.

But somewhere, there was a group of designers who a) thought to put that in, b) fought for time to develop it and “went to bat” for it with management, and c) spent man-hours designing and testing it, all so we’d feel more like we were playing a fully fleshed out game.

CCP, if you’re reading this, please let me know who we should give credit to. I hope they see this, and know how much we appreciate little touches like this. Somewhere, in a weekly meeting following the holidays, I hope someone brings up this little bit of appreciation so they know that their efforts directly improve my experience. Without them, this game just wouldn’t be as awesome.

Thank you!

Wishing Everyone a Happy Holiday

I'm thankful for a lot of things in my life, and while Eve Online is hardly the most important one, it is a meaningful one. Over the past year, we've had a lot of turmoil and frustration as a community. Our play styles have been disrupted, and we've been force to take in a lot of change.

I do believe that change is all for the good. The game needs to expand to grow, and you do need to break a few eggs to make an omlette. But that doesn't mean it's all going to be easy. In game, this year was a difficult one. On my part, it saw me make a pretty dramatic change by changing corps. It was hard decision, but while the players in my old corp would make me stay, my overall dissatisfaction with the circumstances being constantly reinforced within the CFC compelled me to leave. It was a hard one, though.

More generally, though, we've all been dealing with that awkward period before a big change when tension and frustration slowly mounts. Some of us are close to making the hard choices between expeirence and achievement in-game.  Others decided not to choose at all, and simply stopped logging in. Hopefully, 2016 will see your love for this game outweigh your weariness at the political baggage we sometimes load onto our backs. Just remember the fun, the joy, the glee of flying through space shooting each other.  We'll be here for you.

But despite all the tension and discomfort, I've also seen love, openness, and friendship. My new bros in TISHU accepted me with open arms.  Sure, they can shitpost with the best of them, and are masters at trolling folks into the ground, but they're also friendly people and welcoming of outsiders. And for that, I'm truly thankful.

So, as we sit back and reflect on the year past, I hope nothing more than that you recall the good, forget the bad, and look forward to the great times to come. 2016 is what we make of it, and while we can't control what happens TO us, we can control how we REACT to it. Here's wishing you a happy holiday and the strength to meet all that is to come with an open mind, an iron will, and the absolute faith that your future can be as bright as you hope!

Oh, and here's a little Eve fun posted by CCP Shadowcat last week.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Outgrowing Your Shell

We've all had some experience with hermit crabs. They're little crabs that seek the shelter of a conveniently local shell to live in until they grow too large and search for another, larger option. It's a balancing act between their size and their legs' ability to carry around more weight. So, every so often, you have to provide new, larger shells for your little critter to move into. One night he's scurrying around in smaller shell A, the next morning he's lumbering about in larger shell B.

It makes me wonder, what is it specifically that makes him decide, "Yup, I gots to move to a new house."  I'm sure there's a perfectly clear bodily reason why - perhaps the old shell starts to hurt and instinct drives him to look elsewhere. It's probably a pretty straightforward decision without much thought.

That couldn't be more different from pretty much everything we humans do. Often, change follows an exhaustingly thorough analysis of every nitpicking little detail, and we're still often uncomfortable with the decision until we see the effects some time down the road. I'm probably more guilty of this than most, what with my penchant for thinking things through more than is probably necessary.

So, when I sold off one of my PvP characters and decided to re-purpose Valeria, I'm sure you can imagine that it wasn't a simple decision. In the end, it was all about choices - the hallmark of Eve - and some of the upcoming changes about selling skillpoints and character sales.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

All of a Sudden, We're All Talking CSM

I don't talk about the CSM that often. It's not out of any specifically strong feelings. In fact, I've recommended that folks vote for CSM in the past, and mentioned how important I thought it was. But I typically don't follow their exploits with bated breath, or even read CSM summary posts by other bloggers.

Part of that is my firm believe that we as a society apply democracy a bit too liberally. Not everything needs or deserves a vote. Sure, I think it's the finest system in the world for organizing a government for citizens who are location-locked into a specific country. The key, though, is that everyone involved in that country and in that democratic system has equal amounts vested into the success of the enterprise, and equal amounts to lose if they get it wrong. Democracy needs seriousness and a deep familiarity and awareness of the issues, as well as no readily available and easy-to-access escape plan.

That said, it's a terrible idea for a lot of other things. While you may take your kids' feelings into account, you make decisions about them bilaterally (or unilaterally in single-parent homes). They don't get a vote, because they don't have the context and knowledge necessary to make an educated decision. Nor do you give airplane passengers a vote on the route the pilot should take.

When all parties aren't equally vested, you also don't utilize democracy. My mother wants to redesign her living room. I used to live in that house, and have somewhat of an interest in keeping it looking good. I also want her to eventually move out to where my family is located now, and I want to keep the house in good repair for them to sell it at a profit. But while I am slightly vested in how the living room looks, she's the one who owns the house, and she's living in it day-in and day-out. Her level of vestment is much higher than mine. It'd be ludicrous of her to give me an equal democratic vote with her in how the living room looks. Nor am I going to make career decisions because two of my friends - outnumbering me - feel I should.

Then, there's the "bail option". When you're tied to the success or failure of an endeavor, you'll take it much more seriously than when you're passing through. I shouldn't have an equal vote as a hotel owner about how their room looks. I have to live there for one night; that hotel owner's very livelihood depends upon making design decisions that ensure profitability for decades, potentially. She's not going to let my wife and I out-vote her about how her hotel is designed.

Along the same lines, democracy is a ludicrous method for a gaming company to choose a trusted user group.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Lessons: Yup, the Micro Jump Field Generator Really Works

You may have heard that "station games are over", but that might not have meant very much to you. And you may have been vaguely familiar about a certain class of ship - Command Destroyers - changing the game in many ways during fleet fights. The theory goes that Command Destroyers will be instrumental in separating support wings from their main column of dps ships. And I can certainly see this happening to reduce the safety players feel while in fleet.

But that's not where players are going to feel the sting of Command Destroyers. That honor goes to station camping.

In the past, players would undock to see what's happening outside of a station, perhaps move around a bit and allow an enemy or two to attack them, then dock up again before they hit armor. It's called "station games" when you're toying with the aggressing force. It's called trying to get out of a station when you're not.

Command Destroyers' micro jump field generator spool-up time is around five seconds for most players. While the MJFG doesn't affect players who haven't broken their undock immunity, it does affect players who are aligning off station. So, now, if you change direction, activate a module, or do anything to break your immunity, you can be flung 50 to 100 km away from the station (depending on the direction the Command Dessie is facing and where the station is) and unceremoniously massacred.

As happened to me last night.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Tipping Point

The act of moving is a surprisingly complicated one.  Not only do you need pack up your stuff and unpack it at the other place – which takes at least twelve or fifteen hours in and of itself, for a small move – but you also need to go through a number of simultaneous processes at the same time.

First, you have the “keep or toss” debate about every object in your house.  As you spend time in a location, you accrue.  Some of the things you gather is “stuff” that is useful.  Some is “shit” that was formerly useful or the result of a temporary lapse in judgment. But each item has to go through that analysis.  I spent the last five days doing exactly that, and carted off two cars’ worth of “shit” for the dumpster.

At the same time, you also have the chance to “re-roll” the layout and positioning of everything. Always felt your dishes were inconveniently located? You get another chance to lay it out more efficiently. For me, I was never happy with the layout of my living room furniture, and now I’m able to redesign it a lot better, without spending a dime.

But, all of that is incredibly taxing, and this move – even though it’s a mere ten minutes away – has sapped me of any energy I might have. All of that is, of course, a roundabout way of saying, “Sorry for the drought” for the past few days as I moved.

Apparently, I'm not the only one moving; Bat Country and Blawrf McTaggart are too.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A Quick Note about the Sion Drama...

Just a quick note... the art of holding your tongue is a delicate one. Sometimes, drama erupts that is so amazing that you want to become involved, but shouldn't. So, I'm not going to weigh in on the drama currently erupting on reddit, among several other blogs, and in regards to Sion's continued self-assassination and attempt to demonize reddit as a means of keeping Imperium members from reading and being influenced by that community. I'm going to just sit back and watch. Sorry, guys.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Defensive Ratting

No, you haven’t stroked out and you aren’t suffering delusions. Why don’t you have a seat so we can talk. I think you have a problem.

Over the course of the past few days, I've been traveling through Guristas space hunting for ratters, miners, and other assorted PvE players. I talked about why I chose Guristas space in my last post, but as I started writing it, I realized I needed to do a separate article about best practices when ratting. I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least try to help.

Having spent about four years in the CFC, I did a lot of Guristas ratting, first in Pure Blind, then in Tenal, Deklein, and Vale. I have three Tengus fit for Guristas ratting that allow me to run cosmic signatures and escalations solo (including Mazes and No Quarter III). So, I know a thing or two about fitting for kinetic tank. You really only have to avoid roaming gangs, and I’m about to tell you how. Lean in close. Are you ready? The process is complicated and incredibly advanced.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Lessons: Stick-Handling in a Phone Booth

Over the course of the past few days, I've been traveling through CFC territory hunting for ratters, miners, and other assorted PvE players. I didn't select this area of space because they were CFC pilots, but rather because CFC territory perfectly aligns with Guristas ratting territory.  Pure convenience.

Having spent about four years in the CFC, I did a lot of Guristas ratting, first in Pure Blind, then in Tenal, then in Deklein and Vale. I have three Tengus fit for Guristas ratting that allow me to run every cosmic signature and escalation solo (including Mazes and No Quarter III escalations), so I know a thing or two about fitting a kinetic tank.

And I learned - through hard lessons - exactly how squishy those ships are to, say, EM damage. They're like ripe fruit just waiting to be plucked, and more often than not, they ave faction modules fitting to them.

On the other side of the PvE spectrum are the miners, who I'm classifying as both rock-munchers and the haulers that support them. These pilots are actually more durable, since the rats that spawn are very weak and the greater threat comes from roaming pilots, but pose less of a challenge and risk. Miners must operate in locations that are easy to warp to, be it belts or ore anoms, so the chances of catching a miner are higher than of catching a ratter. But miners are generally more aware, and aren't as arrogant about their safety; having no weapons tends to make one more cautious.

So I decided to use that PvE knowledge I had to exploit the weaknesses in those ships and cause a little damage.

Friday, December 4, 2015

A Lack of Purpose

Over at the Ancient Gaming Noob, Wilhelm Arcturus presents some very insightful thoughts about the current state of the Imperium that very clearly represent my thoughts about the only remaining coalition. In it, he pretty clearly represents the lack of purpose behind the Imperium these days.

When one person says a thing, it's an opinion. When two people say it, it's a fluke. When dozens of people independently come up with the same statement, it's a groundswell. Wilhelm's comments exactly represent the reasons I chose to leave the CFC and join Adversity.

More and more, folks are realizing an inevitable truth; having won Eve, the Imperium finds it self as a weapon without a target, bereft of purpose.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Schrodinger’s Die

I want to mention what I’m not going to talk about.  I’m not going to discuss what I think all the and RMT stuff means.  I’m not going to weigh in on my opinions about deriving RL profits from Eve Online.  I’m not going to discuss Endie’s supposed leak.

That doesn’t come from a lack of opinions about it.  On the contrary, I have very strong opinions about it, what it means for the game, and what each of you should think about it.  No, I’m not going to discuss it because – ultimately – none of that matters.

In the end, each of us establishes a sense of what we believe is right and what we believe is wrong.  We each identify what we believe benefits and what damages the game as a whole.  And we each make judgments about what we want to be part of.  I’m not going to get up on a soapbox and declare why I do what I do in this matter.

I made the choice to simulcast some articles for for 250 mil each, the same agreement I had made with EN24 previously.  I’m not going to sit here and criticize their business plan if I’m participating in it.  I can tell you that I’ve never witnessed or heard about anything even resembling RMT through the Trello, Slack, and web portal discussions, interactions, or posts.  Admittedly, my “level” is at the very bottom, so don’t take that as a statement that no RMT is going on; I simply haven’t seen any evidence of it first-hand.

But that’s not why I’m refusing to write about it; that decision comes from the fact that nothing you, I, or anyone else says about it matters.  The only opinion worth a fig is CCP’s.  It’s their game, they control the rules, and they adjudicate through an impenetrable wall.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Fall of Off-Grid Links: A Well-Deserved Death

Years of complaints. Hundreds of thousands of unequal solo battles. Enough tears to satisfy the water needs of the Syrian refugees for the next ten years. Heaps of travesty piled upon the very manifestation of abuse.

For years, we were told, “Changing the code would be too complex.” We were given words like “legacy code” to focus our hate upon.

And finally, after all the terror, the torture, the isk lost to frustrating engagements, off-grid links are dying a well-deserved death.

If I could dance in the halls through WiS, I would.

Let’s take a moment to bask in that. From about a month or so from now onwards, for that ship to go 8 km/s, you’ll have to see the links on grid with you. They’ll be exposed, vulnerable. And many of them will die. No longer can the same boosting ship survive for years on end. And no longer will links be an automatic win button that simply can’t be defeated.

Sure, there are the obvious advantages to solo pilots. Fighting in a FW plex will be a fair fight now. Solo and small gang pilots will be able to see what they’re facing, and can even attempt to head-shot enemy links now. With the advent of T3Ds, expanded probe launchers are more common now, and that makes every ship on that grid a viable target.

This is a glorious day for the small-gang and solo enthusiast.

Never say CCP doesn’t give us what we want!

Taking Advantage of an Early Thanksgiving Dismissal

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! One of the grand traditions of Thanksgiving in the United States is the early close. Companies all across the country shut down around 1-2 pm instead of the usual 4-5, giving you a few extra hours to use as you see fit. We celebrated Thanksgiving last weekend when we went back home, and we’re only doing a slight dinner today. The kids were happy at preschool, so the wife and I took some time for ourselves, which, meant setting up for an adventure later that night.

Recently, I made the decision to head on into Guristas space and make a play at killing ratters. I resisted doing so out of a lingering sense of loyalty for more than two months after leaving the CFC. Somehow, it didn’t feel right to simply charge on over there and start popping ratters and miners.

I wanted to leave a little time so all of my services and APIs dropped, and allow time for folks to shift around their assets and habits enough that I wouldn’t feel as if I was using any special knowledge from my CFC time. It’s one thing to kill your former alliance mates – that’s understandable and acceptable. It’s another to use your knowledge of them against them. I remember sense of outrage I felt when a corp once left Razor and, on the way out, immediately began camping systems and killing folks; it seemed underhanded.

But, after two months, all is fair. So I packed up a Stratios and headed up to Venal to cause a little mayhem. The entertainment value of killing CFC PvE folks does not disappoint, nor did the famed CFC response time later that night.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Siggy is Much Better than Siri

My new alliance, Psychotic Tendencies, uses Siggy.  I love Siggy, even though my past use of it was limited to three weeks between CEI and RP when I was part of Sky Fighters.  As a tool to gather information and save time, it’s invaluable.

Siggy is a cosmic signature mapping tool that serves as a central repository for sig scan information among a corporation or alliance.  Curious what cosmic signature XYZ in system A is?  Click on that system in Siggy and see if anyone in your corp had previously scanned it down.  When mapping wormhole chains, it works like old-style D&D graph paper, allowing you to map your routes effectively and easily.

More often than not, one of the first things I do when I log in is to check for wormholes in our home system.  I’m looking for anything that shortens the way to Jita, or serves as a conduit to feeding grounds.  Typically, I’m looking for low or null exits.

You can imagine how delighted I was when I woke up and checked Siggy to find this:

That’s a tremendous amount of work, most of which was done by a single person in my corp.  He’s my new best friend.

Those of you who have been following action in null-sec recently will note one particular hole… a direct connection to a system in Cloud Ring, where the content lived (up until the Imp deployed there and smashed it with a mountain).  There’s still some fun to be had, though, including a brave lad ratting in a Vexor in an anomaly with numerous neuts passing through (I’m not going to link it out of respect for his brass cojones).

Without me logging in and seeing that robust chain mapped out in Siggy, I wouldn’t have gotten that kill.  If you travel through wormholes with more than just yourself, it, and the programs like it, are content-generators.

Have you folks played around with Siggy or any of the other mapping tools?  What’s your favorite?  Give me your best “content-creation” story!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Lessons: Take a Chance

A lot of Eve players operate under the principle that losing a ship is somehow a negative, and should be avoided at all costs.  These players view it as a negative ledger item, a debit in the overall accounting books of their character.  That’s one way to look at PvP, but it completely misses the point.

Ultimately, PvP is about squeezing enjoyment of the game.  I view it as the end game because it’s the only activity in Eve (other than giving your isk away or buying plex) that consumes resources by nature, when done effectively.  Everything else accrues assets, but without something to spend that money on, there really isn’t a point to that exercise.  Getting rich matters because of what it enables.

And the best PvP enjoyment happens on the edge, when you’re facing long odds and still manage to pull out a victory.  Not only is the victory sweeter when it isn’t certain, but when being defeated by greater numbers or stronger ships, you can avoid the “regret” and “anger” stages of the process and get right to learning what you did wrong and improving.  After all, if you take a fight you should probably lose, you can’t very well get mad at the result, right?

Sometimes, you have to take a chance, like I did in my Harpy.

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Perfect Fight

I wasn’t anticipating writing another article until I finished a Lessons post, but I just had to write about the experience I just had not two minutes ago.

It all started innocently enough.  I logged into to find TISHU knocking around a few ping-pong balls in Cloud Ring.  So, I jumped into a Heretic, caught a titan bridge, and made my way there.

It started as a gate camp farming all sorts of traffic between two Pandemic Horde systems, and it started to morph into some entosis fun a few jumps away.  I had just put up a bubble to kill a Catalyst, and was a little behind the rest of the fleet.

I was picking clean the carcass of my last kill when a Kestrel landed on the edge of my interdiction bubble, so I burned into him and killed him, just as a few of his friends arrived.  They had warped in from different vectors, so I had a little space between me and them… long enough for me to warp off.  However, the Kestrel got me into very light armor, about 95%.

As I bounced safes, I switched overviews to scan for bubbles.  My out-gate was clear, so I started making my way out of the system towards B-D, six jumps away.  At the time, I felt I was having a pretty good night.  All of my kills were small gang, and we were having good fun in someone else’s space.  It was exactly why I joined Adversity (well, that and taking 8 gates in a fleet of Archons to kill Tempest Fleet Issues).

But all of that was prelude to a moment of transcendent satisfaction.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Changes Coming to Pirate Ships?

Several months ago (or is it a year?  Who can keep it straight anymore?), CCP re-bonused some of the pirate frigates and cruisers and rebalanced a whole bunch of them.  Amid the changes, my dear, precious Cynabal, suffered some nerfs.  There was much weeping, and many tears.

On the other hand, the Worm and Gila were given purpose again, a welcome change from the ignominy they wallowed in for the several years prior. But, in providing them with purpose, CCP went a little too far, making both of those ships best-in-class damage dealers.  The Worm can easily get 250 dps and the Gila can breach 850 dps, both while kiting.  Suffice it to say, they’ve quickly dominated all of the fleet comps because of their significant advantages.

On the other hand, have you ever tried fitting out some of the other pirate ships?  It can be quite a challenge because of powergrid and CPU issues. Typical fits don’t quite work, and often need both CPU and powergrid 603 implants even with maximum skills… something which simply can’t be done. So, while the Gila and Worm became powerhouses, the remaining pirate frigs and cruisers always remained less than they could be as a result of “not quite enough” syndrome.

And, worst of all, one of my favorite ships, my dear, beloved Cynabal, was left to rot from nerfs.

But all of that may be changing soon.  And, I emphasize, “may”.  

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Pontifex. Stork. Magus. Bifrost.

The first enterprising souls have gone on Sisi and identified some new ships available for review; the command destroyers (inb4 we call them “commies” or “codies” (CoDes… though I doubt Code will use them). These ships are new T2 destroyer, a class sorely needed to make interdictors feel less alone.

The first thing I noticed was how stupid the name Stork was for a ship. It stretches credibility that they’d name a ship something as un-threatening and docile-sounding as “stork”. Jackdaw… okay, even if they took the name from Assassin’s Creed. Herons and buzzards aren’t threatening birds. I get Eagle, Vulture, Raptor, Vulture, Griffin, Raven… they all sound bad-ass. But “stork”? I suppose it’s terrifying to think someone’s going to drop a baby off on your doorstep, but…

The second thought I had was how cool it was that the new ships all focus on delivery, motion, or projection. Pontifex suggests “pontificate”, and projecting opinions. Storks are responsible for babies. Magi project power through magic and mysticism. And the bifrost is the coolest bridge in the history of literature (though, the Bridge of Hrethgir and Pons Sublicius are pretty awesome, too). It’s a pretty neat naming convention.

The reason for that, of course, is the cool new ability command destroyers are going to have… the ability to serve as a mobile micro jump unit, projecting all ships within its effective radius 100 km in the direction they’re facing. That’s right boys and girls, ALL ships, both friendly and hostile. Need to scatter an enemy logi wing? Just burn directly for the logi anchor and spool up your mobile jump module to scatter them from their fleet.

Monday, November 9, 2015

What Makes a Good PvP Experience?

Here's a question for the community.  What essential characteristics define an enjoyable PvP experience for you?

Do you need to face an enemy that has a chance of killing you, or do you enjoy catching your target unawares?  Do you enjoy large fleets, or do you prefer fighting solo?  Are there specific kinds of ships you prefer?  Where do you prefer to find your PvP?

And, here's the big question: Which of these are truly essential?  If you had to boil down your PvP preferences to that which is common to all of them, what would remain?  What really satisfies you?

And, just as importantly, when you hear someone brag about or post a kill in local, what aspects make you want to reach through the screen and strangle them for bragging about it?

What kinds of fights give you the shakes?  Let me know in the comments!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Naglfar and Thanatos for Sale

This is a quick one and in no way "crowds out" a regular article.

I'm selling a Thanatos and a Naglfar, if anyone would like them.  Both are located in Ihakana.

The Naglfar includes 20,000 hydrogen isotopes and 3  Capital Trimark Armor Pump I rigs and is listed for 2.6 bil.  The Thanatos includes 20,000 oxygen isotoles and 3 Large Capacitor Control Circuit I rigs and is listed for 1.45 bil.

If you're interested and reference that you saw it on this blog, I'll take 100 mil off the Nag and 50 mil off the Thanny.  (You can either accept the contracts as-is and I'll reimburse you, or I can pull the contracts and private-contract it to you; the former will be faster, the latter more secure).

Friday, November 6, 2015

Re-thinking High-sec in Light of the Lore

This is not a post about nerfing high-sec.  Not at all.  In fact, my argument isn't going to be about player engagement, income distribution, or any of that stuff.  I just want to talk about a cool thing I thought of while replying to a comment on the reddit post for my last article.  To do that, I'm basing my argument on a bit of logic and some lore.

First, some context.  CONCORD exists to apply precise "rules of war".  In part, it also serves to protect the empires from capsuleers, who cannot be killed permanently and represent a borderline xenophobic threat to the empires, even as they represent the empires' key way of fighting each other.

But, Concord (no caps anymore, too annoying...) also serves to manage intel and payment for activity against pirates, as well as classifying the security status of every system of New Eden.  Yet, Concord hasn't revised it's security status calculations in a very long time.  To the point, they haven't revised them in response to the discovery of wormhole space, the change in customs office ownership, sleepers, drifters, and the general weakening of the military forces of the empires, both in comparison to the past and to capsuleer empires.  A full fleet of capsuleer titans is a thing, yo.

I think it's high time Concord revises it's security status calculations to reflect this shift in power away from the four main empires.

Plus, it's time pirates get a seat at the table.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Care About PvE Even If You Don't Care about PvE

You should all stop what you’re doing right now and read Neville Smit’s latest post about the silent half of Eve players who may never make it to Fanfest or speak too loudly in the community but who still play the game just like we do.  This is a post about giving a little love to the non-PvPers.  Pay attention to what he says; his point is a critical one.

Seriously.  I’ll wait.

“But Tal, are you seriously suggesting CCP should focus some attention on PvE?”

Yes, yes, I am.  And it’s absolutely critical for the PvP game you play that we not forget about these players.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Sneaky Devs and Pesky Patch Notes

So, the patch notes for Parallax are out.  It’s a fairly light patch, with a lot of fixes and user interface changes.  I honestly don’t see much that excites me.  Go ahead and read the notes if you’re interested in the minutiae.

But there were two changes that actually made me gasp as I was reading through the preparing the kids for Halloween.

The first is one CCP apparently can’t do much about.  The new code they’re rolling out over the next few patches includes some adjustments in how various calculations are performed.  One of those changes is to how bonuses are applied.  As a result:
Fleet bonuses from the skills Leadership, Skirmish Warfare, and Information Warfare are now stacking penalized together with bonuses from other sources like modules. Attention: This change only impacts the targeting speed bonus from the Leadership skill, the agility bonus from the Skirmish Warfare skill, and targeting range bonus from the Information Warfare skill. The bonuses provided by the warfare link modules have not changed.
No, this isn’t a first step in adjusting off-grid boosters to only apply when on-grid, and it only affects the effects of leadership skills themselves, not warfare links.  But it does influence the way some bonuses are applied, and that in itself is interesting.  I’m also intrigued that it was referenced as a throwaway line in the patch notes, with no real attention drawn to it.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Fallacy of the N+1 Problem

When CCP announced the capital changes, two thoughts struck me immediately.  The first was delight at the prospect of supercapitals being more vulnerable through losing their ewar immunity.  As it currently stands, blobs of supercapitals are incredibly difficult to pin down and fight, particularly in lowsec.  So difficult, in fact, that they’re a broken fleet concept, far too strong.

The second thought was that Archon blobs would be a thing of the past.  A split between damage dealing and repair abilities, coupled with the requirement for the new capital priests being in triage – and unable to receive incoming reps – means capital fleets will face the same choices and vulnerabilities as subcaps, albeit with a larger tank and greater consequences.

Both of these mean, I hope, that supercap and capital fights are more likely to result in some kills for each side, a critical factor affecting the enjoyment level of all parties.  It’s no fun having your entire fleet dunked without even a single kill to show for it.  I suspect we’ve seen the end of that for capital fights.

However, one thought that pointedly did not pop into my mind was, “This is a solution to the N+1 problem!”  Part of that reason is because it clearly isn’t.  The other part is because there is no “N+1 Problem”… not as folks tend to think of it.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Other “Stuff”

This is just a quick note before a longer post detailing some commentary stemming from the capital rebalance.  I was away for the weekend, and was really feeling the lack of a laptop that can sustain an Eve client.  I read a lot of the news coming out of Vegas on my phone… great for reading, not so great for taking notes.

I very nearly went to Eve Vegas this year.  Ultimately, we decided to pursue buying a house instead.  But, listening to the fun folks were having was very much a bittersweet experience of what could have been.  We’re eyeing Fanfest 2017, though.  Fingers crossed.  You may have the opportunity to tell me exactly what you think in person!

In the past couple days, I bought, outfitted, then sold again a couple Thanatoses (unrelated to the capital rebalance details, though).  I tried something with them, but changed my mind and sold them for a slight profit.  I’ve run a good number of Blood Raider sites to loot enough accelerators to keep my skill training boosted.  And I tallied my earnings from market trading, albeit primarily through PLEX trading: 3.6 billion profit and one PLEX for my account off of a 28 PLEX principle.  Not bad.

And, in so doing, I’ve actually found a little enjoyment for something I never thought I would… PvE.  Those Blood Raider sites really are a lot of fun, particularly when someone drops on you.  Is it just me, or have pilots who typically don’t PvP been finding themselves fighting other players in those sites?

I haven’t been able to do a lot of PvP, with most of my couple hours a day clogged up with the “stuff” you need to do to enable your PvP and keep the cash flow positive.  The things we do for enjoyment…

Friday, October 23, 2015

Capital Ship Rebalance Notes from Eve Keynote

I'm just about ready to take the weekend off to visit family back in Pittsburgh, but before I went, I wanted to share some news about the capital rebalance from Eve Vegas.  It looks like the Eve keynote contained some interesting tidbits, which will be expanded upon during the capital session tomorrow.  What we know right now, encapsulated in a Reddit post and subsequent YouTube video is:
  • New capitals that specialize in logistics, with limited combat capabilities,
  • Even titans will be able to dock in XL citadels.
  • Refitting mid-combat will not be possible while you have a weapons timer.
  • Supercarriers will lose their immunity to electronic warfare.
  • Special weapons, Sickle-class doomsdays, which will swath through space attacking all ships in a single vector.
  • Another doomsday, tentatively called the Hand of God, which can teleport ships away from the battle field into a random spot in the same solar system; it simultaneously warp disrupts capitals.
  • All capitals will receive fleet hangars and fitting services.
  • Titans will be getting more variety of abilities.
  • All sorts of new capital-sized modules, including shield extenders, armor plates, neuts ranging from T1, to meta, to faction, to T2 varieties.
  • Additional weapon modules that specifically target subcaps, called the high angle weapon batteries (better tracking than typical capital modules).
  • Existing capital weapons will be rebalanced to be useless against subcaps.
  • Capital remote repairs will only be effective when they're in triage.
  • Fighters are going to be replaced with squadrons, which will be unable to be repaired (because they're squadrons of ships, hp is measured in remaining members; "you can't rep what's dead").
Here's what we can assume:
  • Dreads will experience the least changes; they are characterized as having traditional weapon systems, as they do now.
  • Carriers may lose their remote rep bonuses, and could double-down on the fighter bonus.  The new logistics capitals mean they'll likely lose much, if not all, of their logistics capabilities.
  • We'll each have a new capital skill to train for each race (taken with the skill sink being introduced, means CCP's following a hybrid "train more" and "sink sp" approach).
So let's get into the analysis of what are, admittedly, sparse details.  But the details CCP has provided are enough to be tantalizing.

While I'm not going to be selling any assets or hedging any bets until the capital speech, some of these changes are well overdue, and great changes.  Carriers being both fighter boats and logistics in one left them heavily overpowered, and the idea that these two strengths will be separated is tremendous.  Now, CCP just needs to add an SMA-heavy capital with no offensive capability at all to be a space taxi (I'm talking 5 million m3 space baby!).

Likewise, refitting mid-fight took a lot of the risk out of flying capitals.  Limiting this ability so that once you commit, you're locked in for the same length of time as aggro on a gate... under those circumstances, a minute is a lifetime.  Firing choices have consequences now.  When you engage an enemy fleet, you've got what you've got, and have to live with your choices, just like every other pilot in space.

And, finally, supercarriers - in fact all ships - losing ewar immunity...  IT'S ABOUT TIME!  Fighting supers required a single ship type in all cases - hictors - and that struck me as very much being against Eve's mantra of offering pilots choices.  Ever since I heard about that ability, I thought to myself, "That's stupid."  They already had the ability to fly a whole mess of fighters, and had all sorts of interesting bonuses and huge swaths of hp.  Ewar immunity was just too much.

I'm eagerly anticipating news of tomorrow's speech, even though I'll be reading for it on my phone. I'm liking the variety of gameplay options these changes suggest.  I can see the evidence of a lot of different thought tracks leading to this.  From what I've seen, CCP is concerned about giving each capital a good role, new abilities, and new vulnerabilities to offset them.

Things are looking very good for capitals, based on these initial plans!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

We've All Got Blood Fever!

So, over the past couple days, I've been working on my revenue stream a bit more.  I'm all set now, and to my delight, I discover a whole new set of activities to engage in: Blood Raider hunting!

I've said before how delighted I am about all the lore work being done by CCP.  I love the story of Eve, and I'm definitely experiencing a deeper level of engagement because of the attention they're paying to it.

And now, we have some more fun activities to do.

I'm finding that the temporary Blood Raider Gauntlet sites are an enjoyable activity in lowsec.  In many ways, it's exactly the kind of variety i was asking for in high-sec (the sites also spawn in high-sec, as well).  Right now, the loot is actually quite expensive, though I suspect the price will drop as more people become aware of the kinds of fits you can use and they saturate their own characters with these injected boosters.

In particular, I'm really enjoying how this temporary opportunity presents a mix of PvP and PvE opportunities.  Every site I've been in has been challenged at some point- either by a friendly or a hostile.  You have to be on your guard when running these sites, for you should expect company.  And that's just good fun, all around!

In the interests of ruining that market, allow me to share the fit that I've used successfully:

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Strip It Down and Sell It for Parts

I’m going to start by focusing on the positive.  I’m sitting on 27 PLEX, and after about a week of the price sitting at 1.2 bil, they’ve crept up 20 mil in the past couple hours.  More importantly, we’re seeing spread compression – the buy and sell prices getting closer – as both continue to rise, suggesting that the price will only continue to increase.  Indicators are great for my profits!

"We can take it out as easily as we can put it in!"

The reason, of course, is the Exploring the Character Bazaar and Skill Trading dev blog.  In a nutshell, CCP is announcing a new NEX store item that will allow players to extract 500,000 sp from their characters and sell it, as a unit, on the market.  Effectively, this allows players to trade sp to each other, drawing down their character’s stock in exchange for isk.

This, in and of itself, isn’t bad.  Players have been asking for a means of eliminating sp for skills they don’t use (though, admittedly, this attitude tends to be a result of vestigial thinking back from when clone levels existed).  But added to this sp transfer is diminishing return.

Once your character has more than 5 million sp – a paltry sum equaling around three months of training – injecting transneural skill packets results in the reduction of the amount of sp you actually gain.  This loss is 20% for up to 50 million total sp, and becomes increasingly onerous as your total sp increases.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Pyrrhic Victory

What is good? All that heightens the feeling of power in man, the will to power, power itself. What is bad? All that is born of weakness. What is happiness? The feeling that power is growing, that resistance is overcome.
- Friedrich Nietzsche

Before reading this post, I’d like you to consider something for me.  Why do you PvP?  What do you measure as success?  In two months, what does improvement look like for you?  What satisfaction do you derive from it?

What is your goal with your PvP?  Do you simply want to “kill all the things”, no matter the means?  Do you remember certain fights more fondly than others?  Are you in it for statistics only – kill/death ratios, efficiency, total kill amounts, total value killed, etc? 

What do you want?

I can’t answer that for you, but when you look at yourself honestly, you’ll come to it yourself.  Lying to yourself won’t help… in fact, it’ll cause cognitive dissonance that might cause you to waste large amounts of time on in-game experiences you don’t find valuable.  There really isn’t a wrong answer.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

I Actually Used a Target Spectrum Breaker!

In the past year, CCP has released a lot of new modules.  I really haven’t been interested in sov warfare since Aegis – the wind has been knocked out of the conquest sails entirely – and I rarely fly anything larger than a cruiser these days.  That may change with the battlecruiser rebalance, but I’ll likely dip my toe in to test their new agility first, as that was my biggest problem with them.

There are some striking differences between life in the Imperium and life in an independent alliance.  Most noticeable is the difference in content.  With no sov to babysit through tedious timers and no “strategic rating fleets” – yes, this is a thing – the activities the alliance does are all centered around PvP.  And that PvP tends to involve rolling large to make up for a lack of numbers.  Our fleets tend to top out around 50 people, but those 50 people are using every bit of their sp and expensive doctrines to overcome any lack of numbers.

Forty Machariels can put out some serious damage.  And within that expense comes another sort of pleasure.  It’s liberating to flying a Machariel instead of a Caracal, and feeling the urgency in every action to preserve your ship.  The more expensive you roll, the more powerfully you feel the dopamine rush as you head into battle.

I can’t stress enough how much more enjoyable it is to fly into a fight with a thin margin for error.  You can’t do that when your ship is nearly worthless (bloc doctrines) or you have 300 other allies going into battle with you.  Being the scrappy one is tougher, and the victories are much sweeter as a result.  I’m heartily enjoying it. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Scaling Fatigue?

Yesterday, I was reading an article by Kyle Aparthos over at TMC talking about local mobility in Eve.  His comments coalesced around some of my own opinions about jump fatigue and mobility.  On the one hand, I absolutely agree that capital fleets should not be able to jump across the galaxy at a moment's notice to participate in fights the way they did before fatigue.

But, on the other hand, it doesn't make much sense for a capital to be stuck in one system for at least 5 minutes or - if you're doing it right - 50 minutes to clear your fatigue.  That seems a bit ridiculous if you just want to jump to a nearby system.  Fatigue was meant to reduce the effective projection of capital forces, not to destroy the tactical advantage of jump drives entirely.

Let's get one thing straight... it is tactically unfeasible for capitals to take gates to defend a whole constellation under fire.  One set of bubbles can clog a capital fleet for 15-20 minutes, and when dealing with defense mechanics in place, that eliminates the value of capitals to attack multiple aggressing fleets.  Small entities are effectively hamstrung to having to deploy their limited capitals in only one system, perhaps two, during a reinforcement cycle.  That utterly defeats the purpose of the system in regards to allowing smaller entities to defend against larger ones.

So, long-range travel and force projection, bad.  Local force projection, good.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Why You Should Train Mechanics V

There are certain skills in Eve that you absolutely must train if you're interested in PvP.  These skills are different from those that you should train, like Sharpshooter V or Trajectory Analysis V.  No, there are certain skills that you absolutely must train to attain even a basic modicum of positive experience with PvP.  These are the skills like Weapon Upgrades V,  your capacitor, powergrid, and CPU skills, and the base shield, armor, and hull skills.

One of those is Mechanics V.  "But, Tal... hull is so incredibly unimportant... if you're in structure, you're already dead!

Not so, my friends.  Not so.

A lot of people have survived with 1% structure before, so this situation isn't remarkable, but rather demonstrative.  That 1% means the difference between repairing to get kills later in the night and having to take the long trek home in a pod, after which you may not go back out.  1% can mean the difference between a night of fun and a boring and uneventful slog back to reship.

In Eve, we live in the spaces between one-percents.  Squeeze out every bit of base hp, capacitor, CPU, powergrid, and dps you can for those skills that affect all ships equally.  Your crew will thank you when they don't die in the cold vacuum of space.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Station Trading - Initial Learnings

I have a business trip this week, so I’ll be doing little playing of Eve.  And this past weekend, I’ve been spending a lot of time with the family before I have to go.  Fortunately, I’ll have plenty of time to write.

One thing I did have time to fit in, other than some time in an Oneiros on a fleet this weekend, was my initial station trading.  I started with 20 bil, and set up about 40 buy orders to stock myself with some some fodder with a good buy/sell split.

I started buying a wide range of faction modules, ships, and subsystems I’ve used in the past and whose value I have a good handle on.  My buy orders started filling pretty well, and I learned one cardinal rule of station trading: be careful picking items that have a very low number of sales per day.  I got myself into a few items that had only a couple dozen resolved trades per day, and while the buy/sell split was very good, I had to babysit them to constantly refresh the sell price.  With one trade an hour, I didn’t have the luxury of being the third – or even second – best option on the table.  High-grade implants fit into that category as well, and I was stuck with four High-Grade Snake Deltas for nearly the whole week. 

Lesson learned: I’m going to stick to items that sell at least a hundred units a day. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Entitlement and the Brick Wall

As may be no surprise to readers, I'm a big fan of trying to improve myself through my life.  In the same way RPG players try to amass new skills, abilities, and assets to take on the big boss, I believe you should constantly assemble more tools to help you thrive as an individual.  Now, that "thriving" can mean different things to each individual, and the skills and situations you pursue are different from person to person.

What matters isn't that you seek a specific goal, of course, but rather that you regularly test yourself and throw yourself into the fire to be tempered by it.  To me, everyone is born in a state of uselessness, and you harden and improve yourself through your experiences.  It's not possible to "corrupt" or "ruin" yourself, and "purity" is synonymous with "untested" and "unimproved".

So, as one can imagine, in Eve, I genuinely look at losses and hardship as the very point of the game.  Let the simple level-grinding, pushing buttons to earn candy, and going through a process to achieve a desired result rest with single-player games.  Eve, at its core, to me is a live test environment, where the entire point is to implement your success strategies in an environment of friction, chaos, setbacks, and unpredictability.  Eve is the chaos and the resistance pushing against your desires, and within that tension lies all of the satisfaction when you finally overcome and succeed despite all the forces arrayed against you.

I desperately value this element in Eve specifically because the rest of the world seems to be sliding more and more towards a sense of entitlement.  Getting a college degree entitles you to a good job, or even A job, right?  And if you don't earn six figures, why we better sue to have our money returned or our student loan debt forgiven.  Never mind that your degree was in theoretical extraterrestrial sociology...

Or, when you forget to cancel your account by the start of the next billing cycle, you're entitled to have the charge pro-rated, right?  Or you're entitled to not being offended... ever.  Or you're entitled to play an online interactive game exactly the way you want without anyone interfering with your own ego-maniacal Vision playing out before you.  These days, we deem ourselves as gods of our own lives.

I ran into one of these little Gods who decided to throw a tantrum last night, and he exemplified the quintessential bad habit of failed Eve players.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Dipping My Toe in Station Trading

I’m not the richest person in the universe… comparatively.  But I am able to purchase whatever ships I want.  Losing that Archon loaded with T2 and T3 ships set me back about 4 billion, which represented about 9% of my liquid isk reserves.  But, a sting like that still hurt, particularly with PLEX prices rising.

So, though I can afford what I want to buy, I can’t do so indefinitely.  Moon mining is tricky business, with only a handful of profitable moons anymore and those all locked up by larger groups (particularly in lowsec, where they’ve all migrated). 

For a long time, I’ve wanted to try station trading.  I’m told you can make a lot of isk that way.  So, I figured I’d give it a go.  One of my characters can run over a hundred open market orders and has maxed skills to reduce transaction and market order fees.  I figure that’ll do for an initial foray.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Battlecruisers Are Cool Again!

When I began my Eve career, I made the mistake of trying to jump into the largest ships I could.  My support skills were weak, and since I was doing mostly PvE, I saw Ravens as the absolute best ships in the game.  There was little in-game information available to players that explained explosion radius, signature radius, and damage application, so I figured the biggest guns were simply more expensive, not focused in use.

My second ship loss was a Ferox (hilariously poorly fit, by the way…).  I loved my battlecruisers, proceeding to lose far more of them than I had any business losing in the next several years.  Before Tengus, the Drake was my preferred ratting boat, like many.

And then, battlecruisers became fat and slow, and fell through the fabric of the universe.  Combined with the cruiser buffs, battlecruisers were more of a liability than a benefit to a fleet, and more often than not were simply tackled as stragglers in any mobile gang.

The situation became so bad that prior to a week ago (when I purchased some faction doctrine battleships), my hangar included exactly one subcap larger than a cruiser, a hull-tanked Brutix Navy Issue.

But, my friends, deliverance is at hand!  In just three days, with the Vanguard release, we’re going to see battlecruisers become cool again. I’m not going to go through all of the changes, since Crossing Zebras put together a nice battlecruiser review that I’d be hard-pressed to top.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Into the Great Wide Open

Ultimately, Eve is a game that thrives on the desire of each player to log in and interact with the world.  The game is only as powerful and valuable to you as your engagement with it.

If you read my last post, you may be wondering why I was moving a carrier full of ships by myself.  The savvy among you recognized it as a relocation of assets.  That's not so surprising, right?  Null-sec alliances are relocating all the time, and Goonswarm recently redeployed.  Maybe I missed it and had to move on my own?

But, no.  Taken with some of my comments recently about the state of null-sec, it's not as simple as all that.  Increasingly, I'm finding being part of a null-sec alliance uninteresting, and after three months of building status-tension, I've decided I have to act.  The choice was between leaving a corporation I love to find the content I want, or leaving the game entirely.  And I just can't do the latter.

So, my time in Repercussus has come to an end, as a direct result of the changes happening in null-sec.  I'm doubling down on some lowsec "Adversity.".

Saturday, September 19, 2015

It Had to End Sometime...

I have been very luck with my expensive ships.  When I’ve flown carriers or dreads, I’ve done so safely and without incident. 

I use solid practices to move them around.  When I light cynos, I do it off of only stations with plenty of clearance in docking range.  I give plenty of distance between my 5 km sphere and all elements of the station, and have never bumped when I lit a cyno myself.  Before I hit the cyno, I do a quick dscan to make sure no one is inbound, so I know I won’t wind up in some random part of the system.

On very rare occasions, I’ll light a cyno in a system that has no station.  When I do, I watch the traffic for a while before I jump, and if it looks to get a fair bit of through traffic, I’ll use the self destruct cyno (setting your ship to self-destruct and lighting the cyno only during the last 10-15 seconds of the cycle, so the cyno is on grid for the barest amount of time), then immediately warp off to a safe and cloak up.

And, generally, that works really well.  So well, in fact, that I’ve never lost a carrier.  I’ve never lost a dread either, but I don’t fly them frequently enough for that to be a habit, as much as a lucky string of events.

So, I’d say I’m a very safe capital pilot.  Or, at least, I was.  My run ended yesterday.  All tolled, the butcher’s bill was about 4.5 billion isk.

And it all happened because of module positioning.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Lessons: Take the Bait

There are many different kinds of bait in Eve.

A lot of times, you see a situation that’s almost too good to be true – for instance, a veteran low-sec pirate in a corp that almost certainly has its own logistics team traveling gate-by-gate in a Megathron.  Sure, you may think you can tackle and whittle down that Megathron, and things are looking good when you get him into half-shield and he still hasn’t called in help.  So, you inch a bit closer to ensure you’re under his guns, and he hits you with dual webs and a scram as local fills up.

This isn’t an article about that kind of bait.  It’s obvious he wanted to be caught, and you should feel bad for falling for it (well, okay, only a little bad, as you were willing to fight and some pilots really do pilot around solo in exposed ships).

But on the other hand, a pilot who’s trying to bait you represents a pilot who thinks he’s in charge of the situation.  And as you know from reading this blog, thinking you know something is usually the first step in a great fall.  Sometimes, walking into a trap with either a firm exit strategy or a means of turning the tables on your opponent is worth the risk.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Tinkering with Soldiering

We’ve now had quite some time to see how AegisSov (I’m going with the generic name now, as there are too many good ones to pick from, including FozzieSov, Space Wands, and PotterSov) operates in a real-space environment.  Goons did their ProviSmash thing, demonstrating – if nothing else – the speed a which player assets can be wiped away.  The Russians protested the whole thing, which isn’t surprising since they were buying up renter space just as everyone else was getting rid of it.

The devs have clearly been listening to player reactions.  They made some modifications to the capture times and base capture status in Galatea.  Proof is building that the devs genuinely want AegisSov to be enjoyable, realize the limitations in this current iteration, and want to create a balanced yet engaging experience.  That’s incredibly reassuring, and shows that they haven't slipped into old, pre-Incarna habits as some had feared.

At the same time, AegisSov is here to stay and CCP isn't pulling back from weakening the need for coalitions and encouraging chaos in null-sec.  By this time next year, I think we'll be there.

Player engagement appears to be picking up, although a lot of the really capable PvP organizations are moving to low-sec from null.  Whether that’s a temporary reset or not is up for debate, but it’s happening.  Low-sec is booming as a result, albeit not for the reasons we’d like (the health of low, but rather, the perceived unhealthiness of null).

Some time ago, I predicted that hunters would leave sovereignty in favor of attacking sov holders without facing retaliation.  By and large, we're seeing that.  Corporations, players, and whole alliances are leaving for low-sec.  AegisSov makes sovereignty an isk-generating resource, with the obligation to spend most of your time cultivating indexes and repelling attacks.  That just doesn’t suit with the attitude of pre-Aegis null players, and they're adapting... by leaving null.

I’ve spoken before about the way tension and discomfort build up for several months before players make a change (moving to a new corp, moving an existing corp to a new area of space, or following some other paradigm).  We’re thickly in the midst of that tension-building stage, but as the months roll by, I’m certain we’ll see more and more people leaving null-sec alliances to join pirate and “aggressor” corporations.

And this may all be part of the design… to undermine the former main draw of null alliances to weaken and split them before adding in the added benefits CCP promised.  And yet, CCP still has a desire to keep those players in the game, and has a long-stated goal of reducing hassle without reducing the advantage of organization and player experience or increasing the safety.

So, with that context, I’m encouraged and excited by the changes Team Five-O announced for Vanguard and Parallax.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Without FCs, You Have No Fleet or Command

I've been spending a lot of time recently thinking about what the essential elements of a successful corporation are.  I can name more than a dozen factors that can lead to success and a variety of content, but which ones are absolute necessities?

One of those that I continue to value highly is having a group of dedicated FCs.  Note the qualification... I used the word dedicated, not excellent, successful, brilliant, or innovative.  The characteristic that seems to be most important is the willingness to consistently lead fleets.

Corporations thrive on stability... bring able to reliably provide or enable meaningful content that the membership wants.  That could mean mining fleets, mission running fleets, or PvP fleets.  It could mean counter-entosis fleets for null-sec or escalation fleets for wormholes.  Regardless, every corporation needs players willing to stand up and take responsibility for guiding others around.

The beauty of Eve is that players can create their own content; all you need is a ship and a goal.  But to have a strong, stable corporation, you need to provide something which compels players to choose YOUR corporation over all the other options out there.  That might be a unique offering, culture, objective, or combination of all of the above.  It might be being very accepting of a variety of playstyles, as Rixx Javix's Stay Frosty is, or it might mean having a narrow focus that attracts a certain kind of player.  You have to provide some content that satisfies player needs.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Lessons: Trial and Error

No one gets PvP right the first time.  No one gets PvP right the 50th time, either, for that matter.  Being able to PvP even halfway decently (I claim nothing more!) is as much about knowing the rock-paper-scissors of ship types as it is about being able to internalize the Flow of an engagement.  I've spoken about flow before, and may get around to doing so again at some point.

To me, there is no greater test of individual skill than competing against someone else.  The only match for a human brain devising strategy is another human brain.  We're a wily bunch, filled with the unexpected.  It's specifically because other pilots can't be predicted with certainty that PvP carries so much thrill.  In retrospect, we can easily ascribe causes for our failures and successes, but in the heat of the moment, we're met only with probabilities which we need to do our best to narrow down.  PvP in Eve is a very cerebral thing, with much of the result being decided before the first shot is ever fired.

But you don't get to that point without picking yourself up after a failure and trying again.  And that's true for engagements of all sizes, from solo roaming right on up to large fleets.  But let me give you a recent example from a small gang roam my corp's allies undertook.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Lessons: Patience

One of the keys to successfully killing targets in Eve is being willing to jump into an engagement.  If you aren’t willing to take action, you certainly aren’t going to kill anything.  But the other half of that equation – patience – is equally important.

The process of finding and successfully killing targets is a difficult one, with a number of steps.  Pilots aren't keen on being killed, so they usually do things to avoid you.  Warping off, staying aligned, fitting WCS, operating within deadspace or mission sites... anything to make it more difficult for you to find them initially.

When you initially enter system, most folks do a quick dscan to see what's around.  Depending on the location of the anoms and faction warfare plexes, you may decide to warp deeper into the system or even decide to warp directly to an ice or asteroid belt.  That's risky, though.  You need to break your jump cloak, and in so doing, may tip your hand to the local residents.

Obviously, it's easier to catch targets in a low-sec system - which is used to seeing pilots entering and leaving - than a null-sec system where only hostile roamers and data/relic hounds tend to go.  And a busy system, ironically, is usually more lucrative than one with few pilots.

As you warp around, you start to get a picture of which ships are where.  Narrow dscan is your friend.  Start with different ranges to narrow them down, then switch to a 5 degree scan in the direction of celestials within that range band.  But all of that takes time, and every second you're in space is another second you're being seen, reported on intel, and seeing targets slip through your fingers.

But sometimes, it doesn't matter how long you're in system.  Some pilots are afk.  Sometimes, staying put can give your enemies a chance to form up a response fleet.  And some times, you get a gift handed to you on a platter.  But none of it happens unless you're patient.  And thorough.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Lessons: A Whirlwind of Assumptions

Assumptions are almost unavoidable in Eve.  On the one hand, we have to make assumptions to simplify the amount of information available to us as pilots. But taking too many shortcuts can be disasterous.  The challenge is in hitting that golden mean between information paralysis and hasty action.

That’s a tough skill to achieve, and even after you achieve it, it tends to come and go.  Take, for instance, this loss I suffered today.

Yup, that’s an insta-blap Tornado.  And yes, the moment that interceptor (an interceptor!) landed on top of me and my guns failed to hit him at a 0.01 rad transversal, I knew it was all over.  The trick of flying an alpha ship is in not letting them get close to me.

At the time, local consisted of me, a corp mate, a blue, and one other pilot I had seen enter system through my gate in in a Prowler.  This had been that Prowler’s second trip through, so I figured he was just doing some transport runs.  He was in a five-man corp of which he was the CEO.  That smelled distinctly of a private alt corp for industry.  No threat there.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Players and Accounts Courtesy of CCP Quant

Talk about responsive GMs!  I had done some speculating about the average number of accounts per player after the alt-login issue this past Tuesday, and came up with a number of 1.7 per player.  This number was based on a snapshot, so of course I can’t put any great authority to it, but I found it interesting.  I based the number on how many accounts were logged in immediately after the fix, compared to those logged in beforehand.

In no time flat, CCP Quant put together some statistics to understand how many accounts players maintain (not logged-in numbers, though):

Obviously, the giant story to this graph is the number of players who maintain only one account.  I admit, I’m surprised that 2 out of every 3 players have only one account.  CCP Quant mentioned that the data isn’t absolutely accurate, but if they published these numbers, I imagine they’re somewhat comfortable with the accuracy.  I’m going to have to keep that stat in mind when I write my articles.

Perhaps boosting alts aren’t as big of a problem as we all feared?

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Oops… Here’s Our Player Base

So, there’s an interesting development happening in Eve right now.  The client is bugged with an error which causes a second client opened on the same computer to crash.  The result is that players are only able to log in a single account at a time.  This started after downtime, and CCP is aware of the problem and actively working on repairing it.

But this presents a rare opportunity to gain a little insight into the true player base, rather than the PCU or active account base.  How many people are really playing Eve online?

At 12:00 Eve time, we had 7,700 players logged in to the game today during this glitch.  CCP was able to fix the problem by around 12:30, after which players restarted their clients and began to log in their alts.  By 12:50, the player count was up to 12,145.  At 13:00, we were at 13,068.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Lessons: Being the One Getting Shot

Normally, when I’m engaging in PvP, I’m the pilot traveling from system to system, hunting for targets.  Deciding what fights I want to take and hoping my target’s still there when I land.  A lot of that happens in faction warfare plexes.  Bring the aggressor, I tend to slide into a lot of situations that are marginal engagements at best.  That’s how you end up losing some ships.  But it’s great fun.

Normally, I’m a big proponent of the importance of aggression.  If you take the first action, you force your opponent to react to a situation of your creation, not his.  Many times, you can take the tempo of the fight and keep it the whole time.  That is, if you’ve chosen your fights well and accurately understand your strengths and abilities.

But recently, I’ve started to explore – and really enjoy – the pleasure of being the target who other people choose.  With my faction warfare alt, I’ve really enjoyed being the “victim”.

And I’m starting to see some advantages in giving up the initiative.  Or, rather, understanding that one can set up the circumstances favorably before the first action is taken, stealing the tempo by good preparation.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Bulldozing of Providence

When you commit to establishing a voice and a tone in a community, there are a lot of advantages.  People recognize you when you fly through space.  You gain the platform to share your thoughts and – importantly – improve them by having your readers point on where you’re wrong.  It’s a nice thing, most of the time.

But, you also make a promise to speak honestly about the things that affect you, your mission, and your readers’ trust in you.  Sometimes, that means you need to address the giant elephant sitting in the room, even though you may not want to. 

If you fail to deliver on those expectations, you risk alienating any credibility you have.  Sometimes, you need to comment on major happenings in Eve even though it can be awkward.  This is one of those times.

So, here it goes.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Eve Lotteries’ 2T Celebration

Some eagle-eyed readers may have noticed an advertisement on the corner of my blog for Eve Lotteries.  Earlier this month, I had occasion to try out their service.  They gave me 10 million isk to play a couple blinks and I ended up walking away with a Brutix Navy Issue and two Hookbills.  Not a bad take, all tolled!

Eve Lotteries began in the wake of the Somer Blink shutdown.  A real-life web developer, Thorr VonAsgard, was virtually addicted to blinking, and when one of his favorite pastimes was taken away, he decided that instead of complaining, he’d do something about it.  Eve Lotteries was born, a site operating in a similar fashion to Somer Blink, but with a far more appropriate and descriptive name.  It went live on February 18 of this year.

Fast forward to this month, when Eve Lotteries surpassed two trillion in payouts provided.  It’s a huge threshold they've reached very quickly, and they’ve decided to celebrate with a host of giveaways totaling 40 Bil isk, including a supercarrier and 14 separate billion-isk giveaways.

I encourage you to visit Eve Lotteries to get your piece of this prize pool.  The celebration ends on August 30!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Logistic Diagnostic

Ah, logi-bros.  The people who love them the most want to be them the least.  Logi doesn’t appear on killmails, despite how much they help the fleet.  And while a combat ship stands at least a chance of surviving if they have to disconnect mid-fleet, logi ships tend to be utterly helpless when traveling alone.  Sure, it’s a role that requires you to be actively thinking and responding to the battle – particularly if you’re a logi anchor – but when the fleet loses, you’re the second person (behind the FC) that your fleet blames.

But they’re absolutely essential to any fleet, right?  How many doctrines have you seen that won’t undock without at least 20% of the fleet flying logi ships?  In small gangs (though, you could argue that “gangs” have no logi, while “fleets” do), the presence of even one more logi can make the difference between victory and defeat.  I’ve seen fleets with three logi successfully brawl fleets with only two without taking any losses.  Every logi matters.

Only… let’s look at what logistics really accomplishes: it repairs damaged ships to keep them alive for longer.  When working correctly, it denies the enemy a kill.  When it works highly effectively, it denies the enemy any kills at all.

But the ripples in the pond don’t stop there. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

I Don't Think That Means What You Think That Means

For the past several months, I’ve been hearing how null-sec players are “risk adverse”.  It’s the insult du jour ever since the topic of sovereignty rebalancing and FozzieSov in particular were raised.  According to the narrative of those who use this term, null-sec players are too afraid of loss to engage in the behavior they would prefer, and as a result, like frightened sheep, they herd together in great big coalitions and collections of allies.  This, in turn, results in the “big blue donut” view of null-sec, in which everyone “who matters” got together to form cartel-like collusion agreements to avoid their possible risk.

This view of Eve downplays any possible mechanic-reliant issues with the game and instead places the blame on players taking actions out of fear or a desire for safety, resulting in a terrible experience for null-sec players.  The players are to blame, not the game.  In fact, only a few greedy players are to blame, the coalition-leaders who serve as a star chamber pulling the strings and forcing everyone to dance to their tune.

In this case, “risk adverse” players are the great evil facing Eve… if only we could change the attitude of players, the reality of a boring null-sec would change.

Only… that’s not what “risk adverse” means.  In fact, “risk adverse” doesn’t mean anything.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Searching for the Structure Fight

I’m an odd sort.  I spend my game time like Diogenes with his lamp, looking for an honest engagement.  I’m very particular about the kind of PvP that I enjoy.  I try to keep in mind that I’m intentionally choosy about my content.  I want high-quality content, and I’m willing to spend a lot of time to achieve it.  On the other hand, there’s a lot of PvP content I find of little value.  Thousands of those kills don’t balance out even one great fight.

But I wanted to share a little about myself to help you understand what I mean.