Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Post 400: A Refresh on the Mission

This post is my four hundredth post. Every time I hit a hundred, I’ve gotten into the habit of taking a moment to look back on the last hundred posts since the previous review. The prior ones are all listed here:

So, what to do this time?

This milestone comes a bit earlier than anticipated due to CCP pulling the Evelopedia in February. One of the sections I’d refer to normally was the cosmic signature guides, and rather than lose them forever, I copied, cleaned, and standardized the format of them on my own blog (you can reference all of them at the Cosmic Signature Page to the right).

Also during this interval, I made some changes to the blog of a more technical nature. On the right, I’ve changed the listing for my most popular posts to reflect the past week’s trends, not all-time trends. A minor thing, but I’ve noticed my post reads evening out a bit.

And, I’ve cleaned up my blogroll recently, too. Ripard Teg recently bemoaned the lack of meaningful blogs on reddit, and while I disagree with his premise, I do admit to seeing a lot of old favorites going dark (although, none of those listed on my post 300 are among them!). Is it because the nature of Eve chews up and spits out writers, or does it simply represent the community moving beyond the need for daily “reporter” blogs? Something has changed, and only the niche blogs seem to endure anymore.

And that brings me to the purpose of this summary post. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Revamping ECM

With one more post before my 400th (and the typical "past 100" review), I thought I might as well raise another thorny problem. What to do about ECM?

Each race has its own special electronic warfare abilities, of course. For instance, the Gallente warp disruption ability was absolutely vital for many fleets - albeit not as much now with the Orthrus - particularly for any fleet that focuses tackle ability on only a couple ships. This powerful ability was paired with the relatively useless sensor dampening. With the Minmatar, target painting is nice, but rarely makes a difference in small gang or solo fights, whereas the webbing range can help dictate engagement range in a meaningful way.

Perhaps owing to their status as the oldest of the four current empires, the Amarr have the best and most useful advantages for small gang and solo, the neuting range, neuting amount, and tracking disruption bonuses. Those three abilities make the Curse and Pilgrim fearsome beasts, able to hold down, suck dry, and render impotent any turret or missiles ships (with missile disruptors). Really, they only need fear drone boats.

And then, there's the Caldari ECM, the bane of nearly any fleet, of any size. If the other ECM ships can be considered a force multiplier, ECM is really a force halver. For, unlike the other abilities that all diminish the combat or defensive capability of a ship or a fleet, ECM completely annihilates it.

Or, it doesn't. An ECM ship either entirely removes an enemy vessel for the fight for the length of its successful jam, or it has absolutely no effect. It's effectiveness is based purely on chance. Even good fitting techniques - fitting the right jams for the kind of ship you're facing - only increases or decreases that chance. Ultimately, random-number generation determines the success.

That fact alone put ECM on the rebalance block. So, what should we replace it with? I certainly can't say for certain, but there are a few options being suggested.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Flagships or Bodyguards?

At the expense of getting two posts out of a single topic (I'm totally shameless enough to do it), I figured a different take on the "flagship" concept (covered in this month's blog banter) deserved a second post.

The blog banter itself was a reaction to CCP's suggestion about adding a new class of ship to the game, a flagship, which would be highly durable and serve the purpose of allowing a pilot to stay on grid for a significant period of time, specifically to counter headshotting by the enemy fleet.

Suffice to say, this provoked a bit of discussion.

One reader in particular was skeptical about having a special ship class have permanent effects tied to it, and suggested an effect that would buff the FC's ship instead:
I'd have it be a more nebulous mechanic born out of the Fleet window which applies an effect much like a Links but to only one pilot. The real trouble is bracketing this effect to only occur in 'real' fights where headshotting is an issue.
This line of thinking tied in so perfectly with a comment my wife made that I wanted to explore it a bit further.

Friday, June 17, 2016

BB76 - Are Fleet Commanders Special?

This month's blog banter asked a compelling question, one that touches on the importance of content amplifiers within Eve:
At fanfest CCP Fozzie proposed a potential new ship class. Let’s call it the fleet commander’s flagship for now. This is to try and prevent “FC Headshotting” where the opposing fleet knows who the FC is and alpha’s them off the field leaving the rest of the fleet in confusion and disarray. Fozzie mentioned a ship with a great tank but no offensive abilities. Is this a good idea? Is FC head-shotting a legitimate tactic? If CCP do go down the route of a “flagship” how might this work? Also is a new ship the answer or is there another way of giving an FC the ability not to be assassinated 12 seconds into the fight without letting players exploit it?
Boy, this question only scratches the surface of the deeper issue beneath it. Too often, we as commentators choose to focus purely on raw numbers. How many players live in high-sec vs. null? What's out average PCU? What's your killboard efficiency?

We're taught to think with mathematical efficiency. In school, we're taught to quantify and substantiate with X number of proof points or number of paragraphs. And too often, we try to port this tendency over to rhetorical arguments as well.

Put simply, we make the mistake of believing that the purpose of the argument is to make the more logical argument. This, as anyone knows, is foolish. Logic has little to do with human nature and the current of human passion. And far more aspects of this game are based on emotion, perception, and narrative than any of these writers would like to believe.

Then again, maybe I'm more of an adherent to the German philosophers than they are. Our world is "will and idea" more than it is fact. Facts fail to capture all the really exciting parts of life that make it worth living, and very rarely does the optimal or ideal mathematical, factually predicted result occur.

And that's the foundation of my pretty strong position on this point.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Razor Leaves(ish) the Imperium

My in-game activity has been somewhat diminished over the past four weeks or so as the NHL playoffs came to an end. But now that they have ended - and successfully, with my Penguins winning the Cup! - I'm turning my attention back to Eve in a big way.

There are some groups in Eve I can't help but track based on fond memories. Alliances and corporations where I had a lot of great fun, but ultimately left for various reasons. Unlike when I was a member, I'm able to look at them a bit more honestly now and see them for their strengths and weaknesses... warts and all, as they say.

One of those groups is Razor Alliance, of whom I was a member for over two years. So, you can imagine that I was somewhat interested in the fact that they're leaving the Imperium. But thye are keeping blue status to "the Imperium" for the time being.

The first reddit posts announcing this departure didn't provide much more information than this, and my reaction was predictable. If you leave the Imperium but don't change your standings, you really haven't left. It's a cheap attempt to remove the target on your back without actually taking on any more risk. And the whole point of World War Bee was to smash a stable coalition to introduce more risk and more conflict into the game. Kill the "big blue doughnut" by smashing the entity most responsible for it.

Now, since then, more info came out in a soundcloud in which it became clear that the blue status would be short-term to help Razor extract its assets and ships from allied areas. And that's a very different animal than keeping permanent blue standing. This is a temporary status to help them disengage from coalition functions.

But, I had the inevitable person comment about unfair standards. And that just doesn't do to go unanswered.

Monday, June 13, 2016

This Is How You Succeed

On my latest post, a reader made a comment about the difficulty in applying the "lose 100 ships" theory to learning PvP:
Most players (most PEOPLE) have a low tolerance for failure. Add in the shame of a killboard and comments, as well as smacktalk in local, or taunting by alliance members, and you'll have people backing off from PVP entirely. You raise that threshhold and not give a crap what people think (including yourself!) then and ONLY then will you see results. Oh, yeah, expect to lose a billion or more before your first solo kill, most likely. Mainly because you wont find a solo player, just gank groups...and THEN you find that single pilot, he has to fight back and not run. THEN you have to WIN. Losing gains you experience but not knowledge; losing ships doesnt teach you what to do. It teaches you other people can beat you a lot.
I hear this argument a lot, and I wanted to decompress it a bit. I provided a quick response, but quickly realized I could put together a whole post in and of itself. There are a few things going on here:

  1. Players have a low tolerance for failure.
  2. Players don't want to be publicly shamed.
  3. Getting meaningful fights is difficult.
  4. Losing doesn't gain you knowledge, only that it's easy for you to lose.
At its heart, these four points speak to a very specific mentality that fulfills itself, one that is quite common these days. At its heart, it speaks to the fact that our society doesn't teach us how to either overcome adversity or how to learn.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Such a Small Thing, Such a Big Difference

I'm a big fan of the "lose a hundred ships" philosophy of learning to play Eve. Sure. you need to make sure you learn the right lessons from those 100 losses, but there's no better way to learn to PvP than to simultaneously lose your fear of loss and push the envelope to understand the different ways of flying and the counters to each style. A kiting frigate and a kiting cruiser face many of the same challenges - both when flying and when shooting it - and the lessons transfer pretty well.

Honestly, the biggest pain point to losing 100 ships is getting them to your staging system and fitting them all up. Sure, on occasion I complain about wanting to be able to haul my ships quickly, but generally speaking Red Frog does a great job of moving packaged ships to any high-sec system very cheaply, and a Viator can do the job of getting them into lowsec well enough once you get there.

Yet, until now, fitting was a giant pain in the ass.  Not anymore, ladies and gentlemen.  Bulkfitting is coming to Tranquility with the next patch. Now, you'll be able to plop 100 Tristans and their modules into your hangar, select bulkfitting, and end up with 100 fitted and named ships, all ready to go (after the server recovers from all that work, of course...).

Now, at first, you may think this isn't that big of a deal, but it's an absolute game changer for anyone who does alliance logistics, setting up all those ships for contract. Bulk fitting ships was tedious work that detracted from any engaging gameplay. You'd have to do it one at a time, laboriously flipping through multiple windows and dozens of mouseclicks to get uniform results quickly.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Sometimes, You Have to Give Up

Sometimes, persistence yields benefits. We've all read those stories about players carefully stalking targets over the course of days or weeks, lining up the perfect opportunity. Titans and supers tend to be a target of these kinds of players, and through them we learn never to be predictable when we're flying "the thing". Some players afk cloak for hours on end until the residents relax long enough that they finally let their guard down and get caught.

But for each carefully researched and laid trap is that opportunity that just doesn't pan out.

What separates the "persistent" from the "stubborn"? In the end, doesn't it have to come down to likelihood? The persistent player reviews the situation and recognizes an opportunity that may be somewhat distant. The stubborn player clings to a hope not borne out in evidence.

That afk camper knows - as sure as the sun rises in the east - that the people she's camping will eventually shrug their shoulders and put out a bait ratter. She might respond to comments in local hours after they're made, just to reiterate that she's not sitting at her computer. After nothing happens to it, more pilots will start ratting, then they'll bring out the bling. It's a certainty.

That titan hunter can point to the habits of the target, knows its travel routes, knows active time periods, and has scouts ready to relay intel. Evidence. Fact.

Then, there's the other type. Yesterday, I came across a stubborn player whom I kind of felt bad for.

Monday, June 6, 2016


This was a strange weekend for me. Sure, I joined a few fleets and had the chance to get a few nice kills with our fleet as Test decided to shoot one of our citadels. You may have heard, but White Legion headed over to FDZ to have a little fun. The Tartoken/Saranen area was getting a little crowded.

Then, there was the adjustment to zkill, where I learned I'm 75% dangerous and 15% solo. At first, I was a little offended. Then I started seeing the stats from some of my corpmates, and realized that 15% is actually pretty good, considering I've been part of either low-sec small gang alliances or null-sec fleet alliances for the past five years. I'm actually pretty good with that, all things considered.

But really, the past week has been all about capitals. The buying, selling, fitting, and studying of them.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Enough with the False Parallels

I really like Wilhelm Arcturus' perspective on the game. He's a good writer, but recently, he parroted the latest talking point in the Imperium's increasingly desperate repertoire of attempted propaganda:
"In their effort to defeat us, our enemy has had to become us. As the CFC/Imperium had often been called Band of Brothers 2.0, the Moneybadgers have begun to look a bit like the Imperium 2.0."
This is an obvious propaganda point, and a pretty bad one at that. Why? Because it relies upon a false parallel that assumes the reader is foolish enough to believe all coalitions are the same. It's disingenuous, and it frustrates me to know end.

Here's a tip to those who resonate with this argument: the people shooting you aren't a coalition, despite the naming.

Let's consider the nature of the two groups being compared.