Thursday, September 8, 2011

Roids, and smashing them.

     I'm not sure exactly what it is about my personality that makes mining more tolerable.  In other MMOs I haven't minded grinding for certain aspects like rep or funky uber items, at least to a point.  I guess, that "point" is the . . point.  Everyone's point is at a different point, and some thresholds for boredom/monotony/nose-bleeds are at a lower point than other's.

     Solo mining is definitely not the most exciting aspect of game play, but it is mediated by other activities that one can do simultaneously, or at least at the same time.  Solo mining allows one to read, listen to music, watch Youboob videos, do copious amounts of Eve-related research, etc.  Something that takes away from the boredom though, is running multiple toons.

     Going from one toon to two seems like a big deal, but you quickly get used to running two boats, either as a miner/transport pair, a miner/miner pair shuttling to station, or a miner/miner jet canning for later pick up with a transport boat.  If there are a lot of dickheads about, obviously the jetcan option gets dodgy, so I usually used a miner and a transport with a mining laser on it in a .9 or 1.0 sec system where I could use mining drones without worrying about rats popping my drones.  Slightly lower security systems can also be handled by splitting up the drone fleet a little and adding a hob or two into the mix to lay some pew pew on the rats.  Two toons becomes routine fairly fast too though, so the options of concurrent activities comes back again.

     I've seen lots of mention of multi-boxing, but couldn't find any examples of how people were actually doing it.  Some people obviously use multiple computards, but that seems like a lot of hassle for me, plus, I don't have an extra laptop kicking around, and the extra computers aren't on suitable desks or close enough to be practically used at the same time.  As mentioned before, my box-stock HP seems to have the HP (short for "horsepower" in this case, but ALSO, short for Hewlett Packard.  Synchronicity is crazy, right?! :)) to run multiple clients, so I just do that.  Much more simple and while I started with a single monitor, after the better-half got a new computer, I used her old 17" monitor for a 2nd screen, so that was a bonus.  I set the Eve client to optimize the graphics for memory and so far, I've been having no issues.  The stupid station environment is an absolute memory hog and completely useless to me ATM, so I have that turned off.  I guess I won't always have that option though.

     For any mining, I just leave a bookmark in the can as the place holder.  If you use a single piece of ore, it can easily get scooped up by accident.  A bookmark is easy to identify.  If some sad, little can flipper rolls in, the best he gets is a bookmark, as I don't load the can with ore until the transport gets back.  If the can flipper has nothing better to do than sit there, I just fill up the orca and transport with it.  I'll take the transport toon and either put him in a miner too, or jump from belt to belt and slavage any wrecks laying around, or just for lolz, I'll see if I can bash the flipper around a little bit while waiting for the orca to fill, if he decides to just sit there motionless.  Also, if I'm going to leave the can for any length of time, I'll name it with the time I jettisoned the can so I know how old it is.  If I'm dropping a lot of cans that aren't going to be around any longer than about an hour, I'll just number them so I know what sequence to pick them up in with my transport.  With multiple toons, I'd just set each toon to concentrate on a specific type of ore so any "beam crossing" (DON'T CROSS THE BEAMS!! :)) is delayed until the end when few roids are left.  The transport toon holds extra mining crystals in station and brings them out if/when a crystal pops on one of the mining toons.  Depending on how I feel and where I'm mining, I'll run mining drones and swap them for hobs to deal with rats, or just leave hobs out all the time, or just run mining drones in .9/1.0 systems.  If rats are, or can be, about, I'm generally lazy and leave the hobs out all the time.

Two Clients
     So, initially with one screen, this is how I ran two toons windowed.  I just listened for the voice messages notifying me that the roids were popped and then I just switch back and forth.  I kept a bookmark in a jetcan and didn't transfer ore into it from the miner unless the transport was present.  Depending on the system, there would be nasty can flippers come along, but if they persisted in trying to flip the empty can, I just switched to shuttle mining and they'd get bored and leave in search of more easily aggravated targets.  Others run multiple clients full screen, but I like to keep things in sight.  I just keep an eye on cargo hold capacity, listen to/for the voice prompts and that's it.  This also works well for one mission runner and one salvager.  While I have a 24" flat screen monitor, this also works on a 17" too.  I mentioned before that while it's cool to look at the ship, for me, I quickly get more interested in the information rather than the pretty pictures so I arrange things so I can see the information I need, not to look at ships with pretty lines coming from them.

     With two screens, I ran one client on each screen, or stacked like this when I was using the other screen with a browser.

Three Clients
     With three toons, this is how I stacked the windows on one screen if/when I was using the 17" for tooling around the web and reading.  When I went to three toons, that seemed like a huge management step-up from two, but the biggest thing with any set-up, is process.  Once you get an efficient system, and the efficiency develops out of necessity, the time management load really drops off.  After another short period of time, you find you have ample time to do other things while two barges mine while a transport shuttles.  If I wasn't reading, I'd have two barges on the one screen and the transport on the 17".

     If the system was good, and by "good" I mean angry little can flippers were nowhere to be seen and/or a low population in local, I'd jetcan about an hour's worth and then put one toon in a transport to scoop up the cans, then switch back to a barge.  An Iteron 4/5 or a Mammoth is easily up to this task, and a Bestower can do it to but on the lower end of capacity.  Definitely aim for an Iteron or a Mammoth, not loser Bestowers like I did :)

Four Clients
     Big step up in information management again, but if I kept the mining barges on the one screen and the transport on the 17", it was easier to keep track of cargo capacity.  As my process became more efficient and I was using the 17" screen for other things (like Minecraft or WOT), with the Eve client at 1024 x 768 resolution, the 4 clients stacked nicely on the left side and I could keep track of cargo and lasers with no problems.  I'd only have the option of playing other games at the same time if I was ice mining as the longer cycle times and the huge ice roids cut down on the amount of attention Eve needed.  Too many rocks to keep track of to play other games if I was mining roids.

     Same as with three clients, in a good system, I'd jetcan for an hour then take the lowest SP toon and transport to station to empty the cans, then switch back and continue mining.  With 3 hulks and a retriever, I could do about one can every 6 or 7 minutes, depending on the roid size.

Five & Six Clients
     With 5 clients, running 5 miners on high sec ores is tough because once the roids start popping, it's tough to efficiently keep up.  The laser down-time that ends up happening makes it less efficient sometimes than running 4 miners.  That could be just me though.  Someone who can think and move faster than I would likely have no problem.  For me though, I run the 4 miners on one screen and the transport separately on the other screen which also has a scanner and a salvager, and sometimes a mining laser.  If I'm running 4 miners and an Orca, I have a transport for the lowest SP toon to switch out on when the Orca is full, and run the orca toon on the small screen by itself.  After the Orca is done jet-canning the ore, I switch the toon back into the mining barge til the Orca is full again.  Alternately, I'll also run 3 miners and the orca on the one screen, and run the scanning toon in full screen on the 17" while I look for grav sites.

     With 6 clients, I put the 4 dedicated miners on one screen, and run the orca and transport toon on the small screen, also in 1024 x 768.  When I'm looking for grav sites with the scanner toon, I'll run the orca and 3 miners on the same screen, and the scanner and transport toon on the smaller screen.

     For ratting or missions, I'll run a couple combat ships with a salvager and let the others just sit and break rocks with hulks shuttling back and forth.  For pvp, I'll generally concentrate on 2 boats full screen at most, usually with one cloaky scout and one actually in the pvp mix.  I won't mine at the same time.  In time, I'd like to be able to run two scouts and one pvp, or even 2 pvp and one scout - but that is more about pvp experience and being comfortable with pvp ops, rather than just running multiple toons.

The Point?  With pretty much a bog-standard HP computer (<$1000), multiple clients can be run if you aren't too worried about being able to see every rivet and paint scratch.  Also, you very quickly adapt and are able to process ( . . . as in, with your eyes and brain) multiple clients simultaneously.

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