Thursday, July 30, 2015

Lessons: Name and Shame

Normally, I don’t call out pilots who fly like complete idiots, because that’s not very cool.  The goal of this blog is to help people improve their PvP by taking a critical look at their game and identifying not just tactics, but approaches to the game and ways of looking at things, too.

But, in rare cases, improving one’s game requires public ridicule as a motivator.  You have to be certain that you either a) never want to speak to that person again, or b) understand what makes that person tick.  And the mistake has to be particularly egregious.  This scenario suits both criteria.

Yesterday, I observed a loss that was just horrible.  The pilot in question was flying a Svipul – oddly enough a dual ASB fit – and slid into a FW plex to fight a lowly Catalyst.  As you might imagine, the catalyst was sitting right at zero, and the fight began quickly.  It ended almost as quickly, too.

That’s right, folks.  The Svipul pilot was me.  What was my egregious error, other than losing T3D to T1D?  Did I forget to overheat?  No.  Did I forget to load the right ammo?  No.  Did I delay before turning on my ASBs?  No.  I made the most basic error you can in a T3D.

I forgot to switch to defensive mode!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

BB65 - Easiest One Ever

I admit, I don’t see the blog banters all the time.  I’m very bad at that, and I apologize.  These topics are typically a really great way for readers to crowd-source the community’s opinions about certain topics, and it’s very helpful to read a variety of viewpoints on them.

This month’s blog banter is all about attributes:
Does Eve need attributes? It's been discussed a lot recently. Unlike other MMO's your characters attributes don't make a difference in day-to-day gameplay. They simply set how fast you train a skill. Is it time to remove attributes from the game or totally revamp their purpose? Do they add a level of complexity to the game that is not needed? If you really need to use a 3rd party application to get the most from it should it be in the game? Should they be repurposed with each attribute adding a modifier to your ship? Are attributes a relic from the past or are they an important part of Eve - You make your decision and deal with the consequences?

Should attributes be removed from the game?  Yes.

Moving on…

Monday, July 27, 2015

Lessons: Svipul Fight!

Svipul Fight!
This post is going to be a bit different from most lesson posts.  Instead of the usual path, I’m going to give the lesson right up front, then tell the story behind it.

The lesson is simple… it’s important to log in every day and interact with the game in some fashion, because you never know what may happen during that particular session.  Sometimes, you even stumble across a situation that’s so engaging and enjoyable that it leaves you feeling re-energized about the game as whole.  You wouldn’t want to miss out on that, right?

So sit back and I’ll tell you a tale of two Svipuls and the old schoolyard try.

I’ve been pretty open about being somewhat disengaged with Eve recently.  We all go through low points as a result of factors both within and beyond our control, and I was in the midst of one of them.  As I dig into the causes, I’m learning more about both my own interests and the game as a whole.  And that’s a good thing.

I’m one of those odd folks who seeks the unironic “good fight”, the kind that can result in a beautiful death or a proud victory.  These kinds of engagements require me to face the very real risk of both failure and success… too far in either direction robs it of the satisfaction.  I can count perhaps a dozen or so engagements I’ve had throughout my lifetime that I found intensely satisfying.  They not only top off my gas tank, they’re the equivalent of retrofitting me with a hybrid engine, replacing all the moving parts, and handing me free fuel for a year.

My standards are pretty high, and while few engagements meet them, a lot of them come close, “filling the tank”.  But I remember those special engagements like none other.  And over this weekend, I had one of those engagements. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The FozzieSov Experience From The Other Perspective

Rixx Javix recently posted about how he and (presumably) A Band Apart have been having a lot of fun since FozzieSov.  And that’s great.  I’m glad pirate groups are having a great time.

For me, the past six weeks have been utterly, soul-crushingly boring.

Now, it’s possible that this is just a personal experience, that the specific conditions of me in my coalition, my alliance, my corporation, and – most importantly – my play time all result in a boring, unengaging experience.  Other members of my corporation haven’t felt the same.  But I know I’m not at all interested in chasing around individual entosis pilots or ratting for sov indexes.  I don’t want to be a babysitter.  And I highly doubt I’m the only one.

The key question is how many people agree with me.  Am I representative, or am I an outlier?  Are others experiencing the sense that sov ownership is going to be a chain around the necks of players?  I don’t know the answer to that.  

Lulls are a hell of a thing in MMOs.  Many players have built Eve into their daily routines.  They have in-game obligations and build their schedules, expectations, and responsibilities around those times.  After 30 days, it becomes comfortable.

That’s all it takes to establish a habit… 30 days of repetitive behavior.

And it works in reverse, too.  If you spend too much time away from a thing, you start to not only learn to live without it, but you find that you start to prefer not having it.  This is how you slip into bad habits, too.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Theomachy: Battle of the Gods

In a game dominated by drones, it all ended with missiles.

With wrecks littering the arena, all that remained were a Drake, a Caracal Navy Issue, and a Caracal that was outclassed and hoping to slip unnoticed for as long as possible.

Each ship tested out their enemies and each other’s piloting abilities.  The Caracal was the least threat, but held the most power in the situation.  Both the CNI and Drakes pilots were eyeing each other up, realizing that their stiffest challenge would be each other.  They were natural enemies, with victory laying on the opposite side of one of their wrecks.  But the Caracal was the wild card.  Which side would he support?

In the end, it didn’t matter.  The Caracal fell quickly, leaving only the faction cruiser and the battlecruiser.  On the surface, it seemed like an easy fight.  There was no need to remain in point range for this battle… for all intents and purposes, only two ships in the whole universe existed, fated to engage in this fatal dance to determine the lone survivor after four hours.

It was a classic battle more suited to 2009 than 2015.  The Caracal Navy Issue had been crafted into a killing machine.  The designer had called it a “hunter fit”, with T2 rigs and modules.  After a day of troll-fits and empty hulls, it seemed like the perfect weapon for a 1v1 for the prize.  This was a ship meant to strike hard and fast, and give an opponent no time to recover.

His opponent was fit with meta-0 missile launchers and shield recharges to maximize the Drake’s passive regen.  His dps was laughably pathetic by any standard.  To win, he’d have to outlast his enemy.  It wasn’t the fit he’d have chosen to win a tournament in a 1v1 battle.  If he had a choice… if any of them had a choice all day…

Slowly, painfully, and – to the viewers – thrillingly, the final battle contained no opportunity for retreat, and no disengaging.  And the relentlessly predictable dps of missiles and shield regen rates gave an inescapable result.  The Caracal Navy Issue exploded in a crash of color.  The Drake was still king, if even just for a moment.  But the Caracal Navy Issue pilot, Dan Radermaker, still earned a Barghest and 18 PLEX for earning second place.

Second place out of over two hundred.

Not bad for “the best Eve event” he had ever been a part of.  He had never been more excited to lose.  “CCP themselves would have had a hard time organizing something so engaging.”

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Long Live ECM?

Well, FozzieSov has hit, and the first set of timers has begun.  It looks like more than 280 timers were created yesterday alone.  So far, predictions from around the community that FozzieSov will succeed in burning down all the things are looking encouraging. 

So are predictions that the well-organized are more than capable of dealing with the hassle.

Suffice it to say, I’m incredibly disappointed in the enemies of the Imperium.  Very few systems were successfully pushed into reinforcement.  Apart from a MOA internal message, I didn’t see much in the way of significant efforts to attack.  It should surprise no one that Goonswarm came into FozzieSov with very high indexes throughout most of its core systems (ie. Deklein).  Indexes were around 5.5 or higher, providing plenty of time to react to reinforcement attempts.  With sufficiently compressed space, it looks as if Fortress Deklein is certainly still a thing, perhaps more so after FozzieSov.

As I was watching Slack, my corporation was responding to multiple attempts to shut down station services and swat off folks trying to entosis EC-, the gateway system to Torrinos and Caldari high-sec.  We saw a lot more traffic coming through that system, including a hostile gate camp made of three Orthrii.  That bump in activity was encouraging.

Yesterday did see the various Eve forums and Slack fill with a solution to troll entosising that pretty much headshots all of my concerns, though.  After all, to frustrate an entosis effort, you don’t need to pod the aggressor, or even kill his ship.  All you need is to disrupt his target lock to prevent his entosis cycle from succeeding.

That’s right my friends.  The supercap king is dead.  Long live ECM.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Patch Day, Past and Present

Well, FozzieSov is live.  I won't have a chance to play with it until my alliance’s reinforcement timer is well under way.  I’m sure I’ll have more to say about it shortly.  But I wish everyone luck in updating safely and causing a ruckus with your entosis links!

But as I write “updating safely”, I realize it may sound odd to some newer players.  If you only started playing Eve in the past year, the 6-week release cycle is just par for the course.  You joined Eve at a time of great change, with significant, bedrock systems being torn apart and put back together again.  And I’m sure it seems like it’s hard to keep up with all these changes.  Just when you figure something out, it changes again.

I imagine you probably find the whole patch cycle pretty mundane.  But for older players, it wasn’t always so.

Monday, July 13, 2015

A Real Benefit of Sov Ownership

In my last post, I made a comment that the PvE changes were unlikely to result in any great benefit to the null-sec community, and I wanted to go into a little more detail about why.

First, let me state again that my goal for null-sec is to make it a thriving economic center that justifies the cost and effort of maintaining it.  As value increases, so should difficulty.  As difficulty of holding sov increases, so should value, not just to an alliance, but to the individual members maintaining it.

Compared to Dominion sov, FozzieSov requires alliances to dedicate the vast majority of their time to cultivating and maintaining that space.  Industry and military indexes aren’t going to raise themselves, and every level those indexes rise results in reduced hassle when someone comes calling.

I say “reduced” because some entosis attempts each day are going to succeed, spawning the need to do “faction warfare for no LP” to clear the nodes and push the system back into safety.  If someone is dedicated to trolling your sov, that means you’ll need to manage both node-clearing and entosis-preventing on the second day, and third, and… you get the picture.  And all of that needs to be done even if the attacker’s is only trying to cause you aggravation (ie. he doesn’t intend to contest any of these notes).

And I haven’t even mentioned what happens if the attackers decide to escalate the fun by bubbling all the gates.  First, you’d have the hilarity of watching all those defenders warp their ratting ships to bubbled gates on the way to their staging system to reship into a PvP ship.  Then you have the hilarity of watching defenders have to slow-boat it from gate to gate as they attempt to contest the incursion.

Sure, there are lots of ways for attackers to counter these problems.  But at some point, players are going to ask, “Why should I spend all my time running around preventing entosising, when I could leave this alliance and be free to be the attacker?”

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Coping with the Effects of Aegis

The six-week release cycle has given players a lot of change to absorb in a very short period of time.  And while many of these changes are excellent, some of the recent changes, including the Aegis damage changes and FozzieSov, reveal an emerging trend within CCP’s rebalancing strategy.  And that trend raises some concerns.

First, we had jump fatigue, which had the admirable goal of trying to slow down supercap travel to regionalize Eve and give room for smaller groups to deploy capitals without the ever-present fear of hotdropping.  CCP couldn’t reduce apex forces, but they could reduce the mobility of them, a sort of “golden path” strategy.  And they achieved their goal, by and large.

But, the way this was done introduced tremendous hassles for players that CCP dismissed with, “Don’t worry, we’ll soon™ be fixing it so you don’t need to do Jita runs”.  It introduced annoyance and punished ship classes that were balanced along with those that were not (ie. suitcase carriers, industrial capitals, subcaps).  In particular, it crushed the ability of players to stock themselves with subcaps in null-sec, making individual resupplying non-viable in many cases.

Friday, July 10, 2015

God's Work Against the Great Enemy

“Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a human mind.”
- Orange Catholic Bible, Dune

Regular readers of this blog may have picked up on my extreme and fanatical disdain, one might say bordering on paranoia, about the prospect of artificial intelligence.  I firmly believe that, any way you slice it, an intelligent biological species would represent a dangerous variable in the calculations of any AI intelligence, and dangerous variables require elimination.  If we develop AI, I believe we’re creating our own executioner.

(Side note: to those who would argue that an AI would be bound by programming rules and that we could simply build in a killswitch, I submit that any computer program that cannot reprogram itself is by definition not an AI, but rather only a sophisticated program.)

In Eve, AI is in many ways our great enemy.  We have the sleepers, the circadian sleepers, and the rogue drones, all of whom represent a notch of difficulty over normal NPC rats.  In fact, the only relaly dangerous human enemy within the Eve universe is the Sansha, who utilize slave soldiers whose will is suppressed entirely.  What is it about free will that we so delusionally deem “safe”?  The most powerful forces in the history of humanity have been dedicated bands of passionate people freely dedicating themselves to a cause.  But, I digress.

Among other players, still, we find AI to be the enemy.  ISBoxer and botting are considered blights on our gameworld.  And while those who used the former maintain a firm and solid defense of its usefulness, the latter is universally hated for its negative effects on the gameworld.  In both cases, though, they provide an insurmountable advantage to the user… an advantage that demonstrates the danger of automation to the human experience.  Even if that experience is just space fun.

So, it will likely surprise no one to hear that I have a visceral, positive reaction to Drone Damage Amplifiers taking a punch to the face in the form of a reduction in bonux from 23% to 20%.  And yet, on the other hand, I do feel it’s the wrong change for balance.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

If You Want to Be Heard, Project!

Expansions can be a crazy, crazy thing.  Each one brings a new set of mechanic changes, some of which can throw the whole game into a tizzy.  There are two posts I’m going to be putting out in response to the lesser-discussed changes to Aegis, this one being the first.  And it’s about missiles.

I have a soft spot in my heart for missiles.  Good, old, reliable missiles.  When you push F1, they hit their target every time at exactly the same rate for the same amount of damage.  If it kills a target, it actually triggers a second early so you don’t lose time firing on the next one.  You can choose damage types to tailor them to your target.  They’re soothing, rhythmic… dependable.  They offer absolutely no unpredictability and provide either 100% of damage (if you hit) or 0% damage (if the target is out of range).  And you even had options!  You have faction missiles to shoot really far. You have T2 missiles to maximize damage.  And that’s pretty much all you need.  They’re the easy-going weapon system, perfect for relaxing and turning off your brain.

Oh, no, no.  I don’t use missiles for PvP.  That’s silly, with their delayed damage and long travel times.  Of course, I mean I use them for PvE, an activity exquisitely suited to mindless, repetitive activity.  My Guristas null Tengu gets 736 kinetic dps with implants, shooting heavy missiles.  My nice, reliable Tengu, which used to print isk for me use for PLEX.

So, naturally, I can see the utility in the Aegis changes that grant an extra 5% damage to all heavy missiles.  Now, I’ll be shooting 773 dps, and will be able to two-shot battlecruisers with Scourge Furies.  I may even be able to kill frigates and destroyers with a single shot of Fury instead of having to swap to Caldari Navy for the better explosion radius.  That’ll reduce my clearing time by quite a bit, in fact.  Crank those kills out.  Gotta complete instrumental tasks faster so you can get to the intrinsically good ones, right?


Okay, now that that’s out of my system, let’s talk missile changes. 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Eve 101: Eve Scams

At one point in nearly all of our Eve lives, we’ve be the victim of a scam.  That’s okay; it happens to everyone at least one.  For my part, it was a 1.5 bil margin trading scam that I was ready to drop another 1.5 bil on, if I had it.  Fortunately, when I asked to borrow some isk from someone, he pointed out what was happening and I was able to cut my losses (thanks again, sevyn nine!).

But it happens to everyone.  Scams are everywhere in Eve.  And new players, especially those coming from other games with GMs who actively police and monitor the gameworld, are particularly susceptible to falling for them.

Scam victims fall into two categories, the stupid and the unaware.  The first category… well, there’s not much you can do.  You can bombard them with information about all the different scams they might come across, but if they won’t listen, there’s no way to make them listen.  In the end, we all stand alone with our decisions, and all that.

But the majority of players fall into that second category… the unaware.  Some would call you naïve.  I prefer to think of you as optimistic and good-natured.  Those are good traits in the real world, but not in Eve.  We tell ourselves, “No one would really spend all that time to get my isk… it’s not that much and it’s not worth it to them.  Only, they would.  It’s not paranoia if everyone is, in fact, out to get you.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Reworking Core Skills

Recently, I was trolling Reddit/r/Eve.  I noticed that Ripard Teg is gradually coming back into the writing game.  I saw a lot of commentary about the logged-in user count.  But, most interestingly, I saw a post about the sp hurdles of core skills that aligned nicely with some thoughts floating around my head.

Core skills present a significant problem in my mind.  Just look at my challenges when starting an alt; for a 70-mil character, it cost me 28 bil.  To PLEX an account for the length of time needed to train that character, it’d cost 43.166 bil and 46 months.  Four years!

Now, granted, I could do somethings with that character during the interim, but pretty much the whole first year is wasted, being unable to fly anything well until I finish training those core skills.  But after that year, my ship, weapon, and defensive skills all come into play, as do my personal abilities.  After that first year, as long as I stick to ships I’ve mastered, I’m on parity with anyone else flying that ship.  So it really is a non-scaling barrier to entry.

So, let’s first define a couple tiers of “core” skills, then go into some suggestions to rework them to allow players to get into the action much faster, while still retaining long-term training goals.

Thursday, July 2, 2015


When Repercussus moved ourselves to Tamo for some low-sec shenanigans, I committed myself to torpedoing my security status.  I podded everyone I could to get it lower and lower, and yelled on comms any time fleet mates killed gate rats.

About two weeks in, I was in the mid-negatives, and I started looking into the cost of tags to repair my sec status.  I was just curious, you understand.  But I was surprised to see that going from -5.0 to 0.0 cost about 300 mil, while going from -10.0 to 0.0 cost about 340 mil (at the time).

So, it seemed like a no-brainer... obviously, I'd wait as long as possible to buy tags.  And I might as well go to -10.0, right?

For those who haven't tried to bottom-out their sec status before, it's not as easy as you may think.  Sec status doesn't decline in a linear fashion.  You lose more sec status for podding someone if you're at 5.0 than you do if you're at -9.0, for instance.  Once you reach about -9.2 or -9.3, each kill barely reduces it.  The last half point can take weeks, even if you're killing everything in sight.

So, reaching true -10.0 was a goal of mine.  As I crept closer, it became a bigger and bigger goal.

Living the dream, man.  Living the dream.