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.